Oliver Haddo stopped playing. Neither of them moved. At last Margaret regained her self-control.
“I begin to think you really are a magician,” she said softly.
“I could show you strange things, if you wanted to see them,” he answered again, raising his eyes to hers.
“I don’t think you will ever make me believe in occult philosophy,” she laughed.
His voice grew very low, and it was so seductive that Margaret’s head reeled.
“Believe me, that for this art nothing is impossible. It commands the elements of the earth and knows the language of the stars. Heaven and Hell are in its province, and all forms, beautiful and ugly; love and hate, life and death are in the power of him who knows its secrets…”
Margaret could not hear what he said. A gradual lethargy seized her, and she had not even the strength to wish to free herself. She seemed to be bound to him already by mysterious chains.
“If you have powers, show them,” she whispered.
Haddo gave Margaret some magic powder to breathe in and took her to the wonderful and terrifying world of his fantasies. She took part in some festival of hideous lust, and the wickedness of the world was patent to her eyes. Then the spell was dispelled and she realised that she was sitting in the studio and that Haddo stood by her side. Shame overcame her. She hid her face in her hands and burst into tears.
“Go away,” she said. For God’s sake, go.”
He looked at her for a moment and a strange smile came to his lips.
‘When you want me you will find me in the Rue de Vaugiraud, number 209,” he said. “I’ll write it down for you.”
He wrote the address on a sheet of paper that he found on the table. She did not answer. She sobbed as though her heart would break. Suddenly, she realised that Haddo was gone. She had not heard him open the door or close
it. She fell on her knees and prayed desperately, as though some terrible danger threatened her.
But when she heard Susie’s key in the door, Margaret sprang to her feet. She was afraid that Susie would see her agitation, but Susie was too much annoyed to notice it.
“Nancy has not come,” she said irritably. “I can’t understand it. I waited till the train came in, but there was no sign of her. I walked about the station for half an hour.”
She went to the table, on which had been left the telegram and read it again. She gave a little cry of surprise:
“How silly of me! I had not noticed the postmark. It was sent from Paris. I wonder if someone has played a silly practical joke on me. If I were a suspicious woman,” she smiled, “I should think you had sent it yourself to get me out of the way.”
The idea occurred to Margaret, that Oliver Haddo was the author of the note. He might have seen Nancy’s name on the photograph in Susie’s bag. She had no time to think as there was a knock at the door. Margaret, her nerves shattered, gave a cry of terror. She feared that Haddo had returned. But it was Arthur Burdon. She greeted him with passion that was unusual for her, because by nature she was a woman of great self-possession. They began to speak of trivial things. Margaret tried to take part in the conversation, but her voice sounded unnatural. Soon she could control herself no longer and burst into tears.
“Oh, take care of me, Arthur. I’m so afraid that some awful thing will happen to me. Why can’t we be married at once? I can’t feel safe tin I’m your wife.”
Arthur comforted her very gently. After all they were to be married in a few weeks. The day had been fixed by her. She listened silently to his words.