And I held up my mouth to be kissed.
Wondrous, the joy I found in playing the decorative, acquiescent, self-effacing woman to him, the pretty, pouting plaything! I liked him to dismiss me, as the soldier dismisses his charmer at the sound of the bugle. I liked to think upon his obvious conviction that the libretto was less than nothing compared to the music. I liked him to regard the whole artistic productivity of my life as the engaging foible of a pretty woman. I liked him to forget that I had brought him alive out of Paris. I liked him to forget to mention marriage to me. In a word, he was Diaz, and I was his.
And as I lay in bed I even tried to go to sleep, in my obedience, because I knew he would wish it. But I could not easily sleep for anticipating his triumph of the early future. His habits of composition were extremely rapid. It might well occur that he would write the entire opera in a few months, without at all sacrificing the piano. And naturally any operatic manager would be loath to refuse an opera signed by Diaz. Villedo, apparently so famous, would be sure to accept it, and probably would produce it at once. And Diaz would have a double triumph, a dazzling and gorgeous re-entry into the world. He might give his first recital in the same week as the premiere of the opera. And thus his shame would never be really known to the artistic multitude. The legend of a nervous collapse could be insisted on, and the opera itself would form a sufficient excuse for his retirement.... And I should be the secret cause of all this glory—I alone! And no one would ever guess what Diaz owed to me. Diaz himself would never appreciate it. I alone, withdrawn from the common gaze, like a woman of the East, Diaz’ secret fountain of strength and balm—I alone should be aware of what I had done. And my knowledge would be enough for me.
I imagine I must have been dreaming when I felt a hand on my cheek.
‘Magda, you aren’t asleep, are you?’
Diaz was standing over me.
‘No, no!’ I answered, in a voice made feeble by sleep. And I looked up at him.
‘Put something on and come downstairs, will you?’
‘What time is it?’
‘Oh, I don’t know. One o’clock.’
‘You’ve been working for over three hours, then!’
I sat up.
‘Yes,’ he said proudly. ’Come along. I want to play you my notion of the overture. It’s only in the rough, but it’s there.’
‘You’ve begun with the overture?’
’Why not, my child? Here’s your dressing-gown. Which is the top end of it?’
I followed him downstairs, and sat close by him at the piano, with one limp hand on his shoulder. There was no light in the drawing-rooms, save one candle on the piano. My slipper escaped off my bare foot. As Diaz played he looked at me constantly, demanding my approval, my enthusiasm, which I gave him from a full heart. I thought the music charming, and, of course, as he played it...!