Susie could not get out of her mind the smile on Haddo’s face that followed the first passionate look of deadly hatred. Her fantasy suggested various dark means by which Oliver Haddo might take revenge on his enemy, and she tried to warn Arthur. But he only laughed.
“What on earth do you suppose he can do? If he kills me he’ll be hanged, and he won’t be such a fool as to risk his head.”
Margaret was glad that after the incident Oliver had not appeared in their company. She began to discuss with Arthur the date of their wedding. She was filled with delight at the thought of the happiness she would give him.
A day or two later Susie received a telegram. It ran as follows:
Please meet me at the Gore da Nord, 2:40. Nancy Clerk.
It was an old friend of hers, who was apparently arriving in Paris that afternoon. She had not seen Nancy for such a long time that it surprised her to receive this urgent message.
“I don’t want to go,” said Susie, but I suppose I must meet her”
Margaret had a class that afternoon and after it she went home alone. As she walked through the courtyard she started nervously, for Oliver Haddo passed slowly by. He did not seem to see her. Suddenly he stopped, put his hand to his heart and fell to the ground. Margaret had to go up to him. Her heart beat violently. She looked down at Oliver, and he seemed to be dead. She forgot that she hated him. Instinctively she knelt down by his side and took his hand. He opened his eyes.
“For God’s sake, take me for one moment into the studio,” he whispered. “I shall die in the street.”
She could not refuse him. With the help of some people she raised him to his feet, and together they brought him to the studio. He sank heavily into an armchair.
“Shall I bring you some water?” asked Margaret.
“I’m very sorry to cause you this trouble,”
he stammered. “I suffer from, a disease of the heart, and sometimes I am very near death.”
“I’m glad that I was able to help you,” she said.
He seemed to be able to breathe more easily. She left him to himself for a while, so that he could regain his strength. She took up a book and began to read. Presently, without moving from his chair, he spoke.
“If you knew how lonely I was and how unhappy, you would have a little mercy.”
His voice was strangely sincere.
“You think me a charlatan because I can do things that are unknown to you. You look upon me with disgust and scorn. You don’t give me a chance to explain everything to you.”
“It can make no difference to you how I look upon you,” she whispered.
She did not know why his soft, low voice produced such a mysterious effect on her. Her pulse began to beat more quickly.
“It makes all the difference in the world. It is horrible to think of your contempt. You turn your eyes away from me as though I were unclean.”
She turned her chair a little and looked at him. She was amazed at the change in his appearance. His eyes had a new expression; they were so tender now, and they were full of tears. Margaret had never seen so much unhappiness on a man’s face, and she felt sorry for him.
“I don’t want to be unkind to you,” she said. “But let us talk about something else.”
For a moment he kept silence. He was looking at a copy of “La Gioconda” which hung on the wall. Suddenly he began to speak. He spoke of Leonardo da Vinci, mixing his own fantasies with the words of different essays on art, which, so wonderful his memory was, he seemed to know by heart. His voice, low and musical, intoxicated Margaret with its beauty.