So this good, well-meaning Adam strode away, proud on the whole of his night’s work, leaving Bellew to frown up at the moon with teeth clenched tight upon his pipe-stem.
How Bellew began the game
Now in this life of ours, there be games of many, and divers, sorts, and all are calculated to try the nerve, courage, or skill of the player, as the case may be. Bellew had played many kinds of games in his day, and, among others, had once been famous as a Eight Tackle on the Harvard Eleven. Upon him he yet bore certain scars received upon a memorable day when Yale, flushed with success, saw their hitherto invincible line rent and burst asunder, saw a figure torn, bruised, and bleeding, flash out and away down the field to turn defeat into victory, and then to be borne off honourably to hospital, and bed.
If Bellew thought of this, by any chance, as he sat there, staring up at the moon, it is very sure that, had the choice been given him, he would joyfully have chosen the game of torn flesh, and broken bones, or any other game, no matter how desperate, rather than this particular game that Adam had invented, and thrust upon him.
Presently Bellew knocked the ashes from his pipe, and rising, walked on slowly toward the house. As he approached, he heard someone playing the piano, and the music accorded well with his mood, or his mood with the music, for it was haunting, and very sweet, and with a recurring melody in a minor key, that seemed to voice all the sorrow of Humanity, past, present, and to come.
Drawn by the music, he crossed the Rose Garden, and reaching the terrace, paused there; for the long French windows were open, and, from where he stood, he could see Anthea seated at the piano. She was dressed in a white gown of some soft, clinging material, and among the heavy braids of her hair was a single great, red rose. And, as he watched, he thought she had never looked more beautiful than now, with the soft glow of the candles upon her; for her face reflected the tender sadness of the music, it was in the mournful droop of her scarlet lips, and the sombre depths of her eyes. Close beside her sat little Miss Priscilla busy with her needle as usual, but now she paused, and lifting her head in her quick, bird-like way, looked up at Anthea, long, and fixedly.
“Anthea my dear,” said she suddenly, “I’m fond of music, and I love to hear you play, as you know,—but I never heard you play quite so—dolefully? dear me, no,—that’s not the right word,—nor dismal,—but I mean something between the two.”
“I thought you were fond of Grieg, Aunt Priscilla.”
“So I am, but then, even in his gayest moments, poor Mr. Grieg was always breaking his heart over something, or other. And— Gracious!—there’s Mr. Bellew at the window. Pray come in, Mr. Bellew, and tell us how you liked Peterday, and the muffins?”