Many and startling were the visions that filled her sleeping hours that night but each one of them served but to impress upon her the same thing. When she arose in the morning she told herself with a little shiver of sheer excitement that the gates of the world were opening to her, and that soon she would actually behold those wonders of which till then she had only dreamed.
When remembrance of the previous day’s happenings came to Olga, she was already so deeply engrossed in household duties that she was able to dismiss the matter without much difficulty. It was one of the busiest mornings of the week, and no sooner had she finished indoors than she donned a sun-bonnet and big apron and betook herself to the raspberry-bed to gather fruit for jam.
The day was hot, and Violet had established herself in the hammock under the lime-trees with a book and a box of cigarettes. The three boys had gone with Nick on a fishing expedition, and all was supremely quiet.
The sun blazed mercilessly down upon Olga as she toiled, but she would not be discouraged. The raspberries were many and ready to drop with ripeness, and the jam-making could not be deferred. So intent was she that she really almost forgot the physical discomfort in her anxiety to accomplish her task. She had meant to do it in the cool of the previous evening, but her talk with Nick had driven the matter absolutely from her mind.
So she laboured in the full heat of a burning August day, till her head began to throb and her muscles to ache so unbearably that it was no longer possible to ignore them. It was at the commencement of the last row but one (they were very long rows) that she became aware that her energies were seriously flagging. The rest of the garden seemed to be swimming in a haze around her, but she stubbornly ignored that, and bent again to her work, fixing her attention once more with all her resolution upon the great rose-red berries that were waiting to be gathered. She must finish now. She had promised herself to clear the bed by luncheon-time. But it was certainly very hard labour, harder than she had ever found it before. She began to feel as if her limbs were weighted, and the fruit itself danced giddily before her aching eyes.
Suddenly she heard a step on the ash-path near her. She looked up, half-turning as she did so. The next instant it was as if a knife had suddenly pierced her temples. She cried out sharply with the pain of it, staggered, clutched wildly at emptiness, and fell. The contents of her basket scattered around her in spite of her desperate efforts to save them, and this disaster was to Olga the climax of all. She went into a brief darkness in bitterness of spirit.
Not wholly did she lose consciousness, however, for she knew whose arms lifted her, and even very feebly tried to push them away. In the end she found herself sitting on an old wooden bench in the shade of the garden-wall, with her head against Max’s shoulder, and his hand, very vital and full of purpose, grasping her wrist.