Max held the glass against the pale lips, and suddenly she remembered. It was the magic draught he had given to her two days before.
Violet seemed to be unconscious, but she drank nevertheless very slowly, with long pauses in between. Gradually the glassy look passed from her eyes, the long lashes drooped.
Max held out the empty glass to Olga. “You go back to bed now,” he said. “She will sleep for some time.”
“I can’t leave her,” Olga whispered.
He was lowering the senseless girl upon the pillow and made no reply. Having done so, he stooped and set his ear to her heart for a space of several seconds. Then he stood up and turned quietly round.
“You can’t do anything more. Thanks for fetching that stuff! Why didn’t you put on your slippers as I told you?”
His manner was perfectly normal. He left the bedside and took up the medicine-bottle, holding it against the lamp.
“Are you sure she will be all right?” whispered Olga.
“Quite sure,” he said.
She turned her attention to the bottle also. “What is that stuff?” she asked.
He looked at her, and for an instant she saw his sardonic smile. “It’s sudden death if you take enough of it,” he said.
“Yes, I know,” said Olga. “It’s what you call ‘the pain-killer,’ isn’t it?”
“Exactly,” said Max, “Hence the legend on the label. But what do you know about the pain-killer? Who told you about it? I know I didn’t.”
“It was Mrs. Briggs,” said Olga, and then turned hotly crimson under his eyes.
There fell a sudden silence; then, “You go back to bed,” said Max. “And you are to settle down and sleep, mind. Don’t lie awake and listen.”
“You are sure she will sleep till morning?” said Olga, lingering by the bed.
“Yes.” He put his hand on her shoulder, and wheeled her towards the door. “There’s Nick waiting to tuck you up. Run along! I am going myself immediately.”
She went, more to escape from his presence than for any other reason. There was undoubtedly something formidable about Max Wyndham at that moment notwithstanding his light speech, something that underlay his silence, making her curiously afraid thereof.
She did not lie and listen when she returned to bed, but a very long time passed before she slept.
Olga slept late on the following morning, awaking at length with a wild sense of dismay at having done so. She leaped up as the vivid memory of the night’s happenings rushed upon her, and, seizing her dressing-gown, ran out into the passage and so to Violet’s room.
Very softly she turned the door-handle, and peeped in. The curtains were drawn, but the morning-breeze blew them inwards, admitting the full daylight. Violet was lying awake with her face to the door.