For Reggie’s unquestionable musical talent found its nourishment in love affairs dangerously unsophisticated. He refused to consider marriage with any of the sweet young things, who would gladly have risked his lukewarm interest for the chance of becoming an Ambassador’s wife. He equally avoided pawning his youth to any of the maturer married ladies, whose status and character, together with those of their husbands, license them to practice as certificated Egerias. His dangerous penchant was for highly spiced adventuresses, and for pastoral amourettes, wistful and obscure. But he never gave away his heart; he lent it out at interest. He received it again intact, with the profit of his musical inspiration. Thus his liaison with Veronique Gerson produced the publication of Les demi-jours, a series of musical poems which placed him at once in the forefront of young composers; but it also alarmed the Foreign Office, which was paternally interested in Reggie’s career. This brought about his banishment to Japan. The Attente d’hiver, now famous, is his candid musical confession that the coma inflicted upon him by Veronique’s unconcern was merely the drowsiness of the waiting earth before the New Year brought back the old story.
Reggie would never be attracted to native women; and he had not the dry inquisitiveness of his predecessor, Aubrey Laking, which might induce him to buy and keep a woman for whom he felt no affection. The love which can exchange no thoughts in speech was altogether too crude for him. It was his emotions, rather than his senses, which were always craving for amorous excitement. His frail body claimed merely its right to follow their lead, as a little boat follows the strong wind which fills its sails. But ever since he had loved Geoffrey Barrington at Eton it was a necessity for his nature to love some one; and as the haze of his young conceptions cleared, that some one became necessarily a woman.
He soon recognized the wisdom of the Foreign Office in choosing Japan. It was a starvation diet which had been prescribed for him. So he settled down to his memories and to L’attente d’hiver, thinking that it would be two long years or more before his Spring blossomed again.