The orchestra was playing a Strauss waltz—it fired his blood. He walked across the room with his masterful, authoritative air—the manner of a man born to command. “Miss Ledoux,” he said, and the crowd around her instinctively made way for him, “this is our waltz, I believe!” and whirled her away before she could answer.
Ah! it was delicious, that waltz! In perfect rhythm they clung together, gliding about the polished floor, her bare shoulder pressing his arm, her head with its bewildering perfume so near his lips, their hearts throbbing fiercely in the ecstasy of their nearness—which was Love.
Oh to go on forever! forever!
The sweet cadence of the music died away, and they looked into each other’s eyes, startled.
“You seem to be acquiring the habit,” she pouted, but her lips quivered, and in response he whispered in her ear, “Whose waltz was it, sweetheart?”
“I don’t know, Paul—nor care!”
That was enough.
They left the room together.
In a secluded corner adjoining the ballroom, Paul and Opal stood hand in hand, conscious only of being together, while their two hearts beat a tumultuous acknowledgment of that =world-old= power whose name, in whatever guise it comes to us, is Love!
“I said I wouldn’t, Paul!” at last she said.
“See you again—like this!”
Paul smiled tenderly.
“My darling,” he whispered, “what enchantment have you cast over me that all my resolutions to give you up fade away at the first glimpse of your face? I resolve to be brave and remember my duty—until I see you—and then I forget everything but you—I want nothing but you!”
“What do you want with me, Paul?”
“Opal!” he cried impetuously. “After seeing these gay Lotharios making eyes at you all the evening, can you ask me that? I want to take you away and hide you from every other man’s sight—that’s what I want! It drives me crazy to see them look at you that way! But you have such a way of keeping a fellow at arm’s length when you want to,” he went on, ruefully, “in spite of the magic call of your whole tempting personality. You know ‘Die Walkuere,’ don’t you?—but of course you do. If I believed in the theory of reincarnation, I should feel sure that you were Bruenhilde herself, surrounded by the wall of fire!”
“I wish I were! I wish every woman had some such infallible way of proving every man who seeks her!”
“You have, Opal! You have your own womanly instincts—every woman’s impassable wall of fire, if she will only hide behind them. You could never love unworthily!”
“But, Paul, don’t you know? Haven’t they told you? I shall probably marry the Count de Roannes!”
Paul was astounded.
“Opal! No! No! Not that, surely not that! I heard it, yes—a moment ago. But I could not believe it. The idea was too horrible. It could not be true!”