Ellen disappeared as Max popped the cork of a soda-water bottle with unexpected violence. He clapped his hand over the top and carried it bubbling to the window.
“Awfully sorry,” he said. “The beastly stuff is so up this weather.”
Olga followed him with his glass. “Thank you for rescuing my raspberries,” she said.
Max rubbed himself down with a handkerchief and took the glass from her. He was somewhat red in the face. He looked at her with a queer smile.
“Confound that girl!” he said.
“Have you discovered any specially beneficial properties In raspberries?” asked Sir Kersley in the tone of one seeking information.
“Not yet. I’m experimenting,” said Max.
And Olga laughed, though she could scarcely have said why.
“There goes Nick, escorting the undesirable,” observed Max, a moment later. “I begin to think there really must be a spark of genius in that little uncle of yours. Hunt-Goring looks as if he had been kicked, while the swagger of Five Foot Nothing defies description. Ah! And here comes Miss Campion! She looks as if—” He broke off short.
Olga bent forward sharply to catch a glimpse of her friend, and then as swiftly checked herself and remembered her guest. She moved sedately back into the room, only to discover that he also had risen, to look out of the window over Max’s shoulder.
Instinctively she glanced at him. His deep-set eyes were fixed intently as if held by a vision. But his face was drawn in painful lines. She had a curious feeling of foreboding as she watched him. There was something fateful in his look. It passed in a moment. Almost before she knew it, he had turned back to her and was courteously conversing.
She gave him her attention with difficulty. Her ears were strained to catch the sound of Violet’s approach. She was possessed by a ridiculous longing to rush out to her, to keep her from entering this man’s presence, to warn her—to warn her—Of what? She had not the faintest idea.
By a great effort of will, she controlled herself, but the impulse yet remained—a striving, clamouring force, impotent but insistent.
There came the low, sweet notes of Violet’s voice. She was singing a Spanish love-song.
Sir Kersley Whitton fell silent. He looked at the door. Max wheeled from the window. Olga waited tensely for the coming of her friend.
The door swung back and she entered. With her careless Southern grace she sauntered in upon them.
“Good Heavens!” she said, breaking off in the middle of her song. “Is it a party of mutes?”
Olga hastily and with evident constraint introduced the visitor, at sound of whose name Violet opened her beautiful eyes to their widest extent.
“How do you do? I had no idea a lion was expected. Why wasn’t I told?”
“He is not one of the roaring kind,” said Max.