“Don’t be silly, dear! You know I’m as hideous as—”
“As I am? Oh, no, not quite, believe me. I always pride myself I am unique in that respect. Now you mustn’t talk,” said Nick judiciously, “or you will spoil my inspiration. Who’s that going across the lawn?”
He was writing rapidly as he spoke. Olga raised herself on her elbow to look.
“How on earth did you know? I never heard anyone. Oh!”
“What’s the matter?” said Nick.
“It’s Major Hunt-Goring!”
Nick ceased to write and peered into the garden. “It’s all right. He’s only violeting. An interesting pastime!” He turned unexpectedly and gave her one of his shrewd glances. “You don’t seem pleased,” he observed.
“Oh, Nick, he’s so hateful! And—and Violet actually likes him.”
“Every woman to her taste,” said Nick. “Why shouldn’t she?”
Olga was silent.
Nick returned to his writing. “I’ll go and kick him for you if you like,” he said. “Let me just finish my letter to Jim first, though, or it may never get written.”
His pen resumed its energetic progress, and Olga fell into a brown study.
Half an hour later Nick turned swiftly and looked at her. Her eyes met his instantly.
“Not asleep?” he said.
“No, Nick. Only thinking.”
“India,” said Olga.
He got up and came and sat on the edge of the sofa. “Look here, kiddie,” he said, “if you’ve thought better of it, just mention the same before I post these letters. I shall understand.”
She smiled at him, her quick, sweet smile. “Nick, you’re a darling! But I haven’t.”
“Quite sure?” said Nick.
“Quite sure,” she replied with emphasis.
He looked a little quizzical. “By the way, did you ask Max—what you wanted to know?”
She knew that she coloured, but she faced him notwithstanding. “No, I didn’t. I decided it wasn’t important enough.”
“Oh, all right,” said Nick. He got up. “Now can I trust you to lie quietly here while I go and post these letters?”
“Of course you can,” she said.
“I shan’t be more than five minutes,” he said, turning to the door.
She watched him go, and then closed her eyes, slightly frowning. She wished with all her heart that Major Hunt-Goring had not seen fit to come again, even though it was obviously her friend and not herself that he had come to see.
She was still pondering the unpleasant subject when the housemaid suddenly presented herself at the open door.
“Cook wants to know what she’s to do about the raspberries, miss.”
“Raspberries!” said Olga, with a start. “Oh, I’m afraid they’re done for. It’s no good thinking about them. I will go round to-morrow, and see if there are any left worth having. But I expect they will all be spoilt by this hot sun.”