Olga had noticed. “Are you very like your mother?” she asked.
“I am better-looking than she ever was,” said Violet, without vanity. “You see, my father, Judge Campion (he was nearly sixty when he married her, by the way), was considered the handsomest man in India at the time. She was a Californian, and very Southern in temperament, I believe. I often rather wish I could have seen her, though she would probably have hated me for not being the child of the man she loved. She died almost before I was born however. I daresay it’s as well. I’m sure we shouldn’t have got on.”
“Violet! How can you say those things?”
“I always say whatever occurs to me,” said Violet. “It’s so much simpler. Mrs. Briggs was all the mother I ever knew or wanted. Of course as soon as Bruce settled down, I was taken to live with them. But I never liked either of them. They always resented the Judge’s second marriage.”
“Why didn’t he take care of you himself?” asked Olga.
“My dear, he was dead. He died before she did. He was assassinated by a native before they had been married three months. I’ve always thought it was rather poor-spirited of her to die too; for of course she never cared for him. She must have married him only to pique Kersley. By the way, Major Hunt-Goring met them in his subaltern days. He said everyone fell in love with her. I supposed that included himself, and he smiled and said, ‘Calf-love, senorita!’ Allegro, I wonder if I really like that man.”
“I’m sure you don’t,” said Olga quickly. “You couldn’t.”
“But I must amuse myself with someone,” reasoned Violet pathetically. “Besides, he gives me such lovely cigarettes. Have one, Allegretto. Do!”
“No!” said Olga almost fiercely.
“I will, Miss Campion.” Coolly Max came forward from the open window behind them. “You promised me one, you know.”
“Did I?” She tossed him her cigarette-case carelessly. “They are not made for masculine palates. However, as you are so anxious—”
“Thank you,” he said.
He opened the case. Violet was lying back with eyes half-closed. Olga’s eyes were keenly watching. He glanced up and met them.
Abruptly he held up a warning finger. For one instant his eyes commanded her, compelled her. Then deliberately he extracted two cigarettes, slipped one into his pocket, stuck the other between his lips. She watched him in silence.
He returned the case to its owner with the slight, cynical smile she knew so well, and began to smoke.
“What time is Sir Kersley Whitton going?” asked Violet.
“Soon. His train starts at seven.”
Olga rose suddenly. “Well, I am going to the evening service,” she announced, with a touch of aggressiveness. “Are you coming, Violet?”
“No, dear,” said Violet.
“Nor you either,” said Max, blowing a cloud of smoke upwards.