The carelessly spoken words drove at Magda with the force of utter certainty. It was true, then—quite true! The fact that the Spaniard had been a dancer gave an irrefutable reality to the tale; Michael so worshipped every form of dancing.
“Never give your heart to any man.” Her mother’s last cynical warning beat in Magda’s brain with a dull iteration that almost maddened her. She put her hand up to her throat, feeling as if she were choking.
Then, dimly, as though from a great way off, she heard Antoine’s voice again:
“I’m glad Quarrington’s married. He was the man who saved you in the fog—you remember?—and I’ve always been afraid you might get to care for him.”
Magda was conscious of one thing and one thing only—that somewhere, deep down inside her, everything had turned to ice. She knew she would never feel anything again—much. . . . She thought death must come like that sometimes—just one thrust of incredible, immeasurable agony, and then a dull, numbed sense of finality.
“. . . afraid you might get to care for him.” The meaning of Antoine’s last words slowly penetrated her mind. She gave a hard little laugh.
“Why should I? Does one ‘get to care’ for a man just because he does the only obvious thing there is to do in an emergency?”
She was surprised to hear how perfectly natural her voice sounded. It was quite steady. Reassured, she went on, shrugging her shoulders:
“Besides—do I ever care?”
Antoine, sitting on the grass at her feet, suddenly raised himself a little and put his hand over hers as they lay very still and folded on her lap.
“You shall care—some time,” he said in a low, tense voice. “I swear it!”
DAN STORRAN’S AWAKENING
“Fairy Lady, we’re going to have a picnic tea!”
Coppertop’s excited voice, shrilling across the garden as he came racing over the grass, put an abrupt end to a scene that was threatening to develop along the familiar tempestuous lines dictated by Antoine’s temperament.
The child’s advent was somewhat differently received—by Magda with unmixed relief, by Antoine with a baulked gesture of annoyance. However, he recovered himself almost immediately, and when, a moment later, June reappeared, laden with the paraphernalia for tea, he rushed forward with his usual charming manners to assist her.
Presently Gillian joined them, exclaiming with surprise as she perceived who was the visitor.
“Why, this is like a bit of London appearing in our very midst,” she declared, shaking hands with Davilof. “Where have you hailed from? I heard the car but never suspected you were the arrival.”
“I’m on holiday,” he replied. “And it struck me”—his hazel eyes smiled straight into hers—“that Devonshire might be a very delightful place in which to spend my holiday.”