‘You think I am happy,’ said Diaz, gazing at me with a smile suddenly grave; ’but I am not. I seek something which I cannot find. And my playing is only a relief from the fruitless search; only that. I am forlorn.’
‘You!’ I exclaimed, and my eyes rested on his, long.
Yes, we had met. Perhaps it had been inevitable since the beginning of time that we should meet; but it was none the less amazing. Perhaps I had inwardly known that we should meet; but, none the less, I was astounded when a coated and muffled figure came up swiftly to me in the emptying foyer, and said: ’Ah! you are here! I cannot leave without thanking you for your sympathy. I have never before felt such sympathy while playing.’ It was a golden voice, pitched low, and the words were uttered with a very slight foreign accent, which gave them piquancy. I could not reply; something rose in my throat, and the caressing voice continued: ’You are pale. Do you feel ill? What can I do? Come with me to the artists’ room; my secretary is there.’ I put out a hand gropingly, for I could not see clearly, and I thought I should reel and fall. It touched his shoulder. He took my arm, and we went; no one had noticed us, and I had not spoken a word. In the room to which he guided me, through a long and sombre corridor, there was no sign of a secretary. I drank some water. ’There, you are better!’ he cried. ‘Thank you,’ I said, but scarcely whispering. ’How fortunate I ventured to come to you just at that moment! You might have fallen’; and he smiled again. I shook my head. I said: ’It was your coming—that—that—made me dizzy!’ ‘I profoundly regret—’ he began. ‘No, no,’ I interrupted him; and in that instant I knew I was about to say something which society would, justifiably, deem unpardonable in a girl situated as I was. ‘I am so glad you came’; and I smiled, courageous and encouraging. For once in my life—for the first time in my adult life—I determined to be my honest self to another. ’Your voice is exquisitely beautiful,’ he murmured. I thrilled.
Of what use to chronicle the steps, now halting, now only too hasty, by which our intimacy progressed in that gaunt and echoing room? He asked me no questions as to my identity. He just said that he would like to play to me in private if that would give me pleasure, and that possibly I could spare an hour and would go with him.... Afterwards his brougham would be at my disposal. His tone was the perfection of deferential courtesy. Once the secretary came in—a young man rather like himself—and they talked together in a foreign language that was not French nor German; then the secretary bowed and retired.... We were alone.... There can be no sort of doubt that unless I was prepared to flout the wisdom of the ages, I ought to have refused his suggestion. But is not the wisdom of the ages a medicine for majorities? And, indeed, I