Nor had Lady Arabella sought to dissuade her. Although she and Magda were the best of friends, she had latterly found the onus of chaperoning her god-child an increasingly heavy burden. As she herself remarked: “You might as well attempt to chaperon a comet!”
It was almost inevitable that Magda, starred and feted wherever she went, should develop into a rather erratic and self-willed young person, but on the whole she had remained singularly unspoilt. Side by side with her gift for dancing she had also inherited something of her mother’s sweetness and wholesomeness of nature. There was nothing petty or mean about her, and many a struggling member of her own profession had had good cause to thank “the Wielitzska” for a helping hand.
Women found in her a good pal; men, an elusive, provocative personality that bewitched and angered them in the same breath, coolly accepting all they had to offer of love and headlong worship—and giving nothing in return.
It was not in the least that Magda deliberately set herself to wile a man’s heart out of his body. She seemed unable to help it! Apart from everything else, her dancing had taught her the whole magic of the art of charming by every look and gesture, and the passage of time had only added to the extraordinary physical allure which had been hers even as a child.
Yet for all the apparent warmth and ardour of her temperament, to which the men she knew succumbed in spite of themselves, she herself seemed untouched by any deeper emotion than that of a faintly amused desire to attract. The lessons of her early days, the tragedy of her mother’s married life, had permeated her whole being, and her ability to remain emotionally unstirred was due to an instinctive reserve and self-withdrawal—an inherent distrust of the passion of love.
"Take everything. But do not give—anything—in return." Subconsciously Diane’s words, wrested from her at a moment of poignant mental anguish, formed the credo of her daughter’s life.
No man, so far, had ever actually counted for anything in Magda’s scheme of existence, and as she drove slowly home from Lady Arabella’s house in Park Lane she sincerely hoped none ever would. Certainly—she smiled a little at the bare idea—Kit Raynham was not destined to be the man! He was clever, and enthusiastic, and adoring, and she liked him quite a lot, but his hot-headed passion failed to waken in her breast the least spark of responsive emotion.
Her thoughts drifted idly backward, recalling this or that man who had wanted her. It was odd, but of all the men she had met the memory of one alone was still provocative of a genuine thrill of interest—and that was the unknown artist whom she had encountered in the woods at Coverdale.
Even now, after the lapse of ten years, she could remember the young, lean, square-jawed face with the grey eyes, “like eyes with little fires behind them,” and hear again the sudden jerky note in the man’s voice as he muttered, “Witch-child!”