What happened? One night a woman called on Paul at the hotel. He went down, not knowing who it was or anything about her. He said afterward that she started in flattering him and asking him to play for her some time.... Then Sbarovitch rushed in, seizing the woman and cursing Paul with mouthfuls of Slavic hate. So that dream ended!
But why? Was it Sbarovitch’s wife?
No, worse luck—it was his mistress. Ah, you can’t imagine the re-action from such disappointments! The long, slow warming to the full possibility of the occasion, until the artist’s mind and body become one leaping flame—and then the sudden fall into icy water. It takes months to work up to the same pitch again.... And then Rome.
Oh, yes. Again. This time—for a wonder everything went smoothly. I had watched over him like a cat, to save him from others’ stupidity and his own impetuousness. It came the very moment when he had to go to the theatre. He asked me if I were ready, I wasn’t. I didn’t want to go.
You didn’t want to go?
No. It’s difficult to explain, but somehow by then I had grown aware that the long series of little obstacles, each one accidental and temporary, seemed to express something unseen, something impersonal, a kind of fate ... as if the verdict had gone forth from the lords of things that Paul was not to succeed. And everything seemed to hang in the balance that night. I thought that the fact I was aware of Paul’s bad luck made me all the likelier instrument for it to work through. So I told him I had a headache.... He must have felt something in my voice. He dropped his violin and demanded I tell him why I didn’t want to go. His intuition told him it was a matter of will with me. I hadn’t thought to have a story ready. Besides, I was so worn out that I was on the verge of hysteria. He stormed, and I sat staring at him without a word, wondering only why he didn’t forget poor insignificant me and go forth to his glory. I despised him for considering me at such a moment. I didn’t understand. My opinion, my feeling, was more important to Paul than the rest of the world. So, after all, I was the instrument.
But why didn’t you just get up and go?