First there had been Michael Quarrington’s plain and candid utterance of his opinion of her. Then had followed Davilof’s headlong wooing and his refusal, when thwarted, to play for her again. He, too, had not precisely glossed things over in that tirade of accusation and reproach which he had levelled at her!
And now, just when it seemed as though she had put these other ugly happenings behind her, Kit Raynham, who for the last six months had been one of the little court of admirers which surrounded her, had seen fit to complicate matters by vanishing without explanation; while his mother, in an absurd maternal flurry of anxiety as to what had become of him, must needs write to her as though it inevitably followed that she was responsible for his disappearance!
Magda was conscious of an irritated sense of injury, which Gillian’s rather apprehensive little comments on the absence of further news concerning young Raynham scarcely tended to allay.
“Oh, don’t be tiresome, Gillian!” she exclaimed. “The boy’s all right. I expect he’s been having a joy-day—which has prolonged itself a bit.”
“It seems he hasn’t been seen or heard of since the day before yesterday,” responded Gillian gravely. “They’re afraid he may—may have committed suicide”—she brought out the word with a rush. “They’ve been dragging the lake at his home.”
“Where did you hear all this—this nonsense? You said nothing about it last night.”
“Lady Raynham told me. She rang up half an hour ago—before you were down—to ask if by any chance we had had any news of him,” replied Gillian gently.
Magda pushed away her plate and, leaving her breakfast unfinished, moved restlessly across to the window.
“There’s nothing about it in this morning’s paper, is there?” she asked. Her tone sounded apprehensive.
Gillian’s eyes grew suddenly compassionate.
“Yes. There is—something,” she returned, laying her hand quickly over the newspaper as though to withhold it.
But Magda swung round and snatched it from her. Gillian half rose from her chair.
“Don’t look—don’t read it, Magda!” she entreated hastily.
The other made no response. Instead, she deliberately searched the columns of the paper until she found a paragraph headed: Disappearance of the Honourable Kit Raynham.
No exception could reasonably be taken to the paragraph in question. It gave a brief resume of Kit Raynham’s short life up to date, referred to the distinguished career which had been predicted for him, and, in mentioning that he was one of the set of brilliant young folks of whom Magda Wielitzska, the well-known dancer, was the acknowledged leader, it conveyed a very slightly veiled hint that he, in particular, was accounted one of her most devoted satellites. The sting of the paragraph lay in its tail:
“It will be tragic indeed if it should eventually transpire that a young life so full of exceptional promise has foundered in seas that only a seasoned swimmer should essay.”