Muzio first played several melancholy airs,—which were, according to his assertion, popular ballads,—strange and even savage to the Italian ear; the sound of the metallic strings was plaintive and feeble. But when Muzio began the last song, that same sound suddenly strengthened, quivered powerfully and resonantly; the passionate melody poured forth from beneath the broadly-handled bow,—poured forth with beautiful undulations, like the snake which had covered the top of the violin with its skin; and with so much fire, with so much triumphant joy did this song beam and blaze that both Fabio and Valeria felt a tremor at their heart, and the tears started to their eyes ... while Muzio, with his head bent down and pressed against his violin, with pallid cheeks, and brows contracted into one line, seemed still more concentrated and serious than ever, and the diamond at the tip of the bow scattered ray-like sparks in its flight, as though it also were kindled with the fire of that wondrous song. And when Muzio had finished and, still holding the violin tightly pressed between his chin and his shoulder, dropped his hand which held the bow—“What is that? What hast thou been playing to us?” Fabio exclaimed.—Valeria uttered not a word, but her whole being seemed to repeat her husband’s question. Muzio laid the violin on the table, and lightly shaking back his hair, said, with a courteous smile: “That? That melody ... that song I heard once on the island of Ceylon. That song is known there, among the people, as the song of happy, satisfied love.”
“Repeat it,” whispered Fabio.
“No; it is impossible to repeat it,” replied Muzio. “And it is late now. Signora Valeria ought to rest; and it is high time for me also.... I am weary.”
All day long Muzio had treated Valeria in a respectfully-simple manner, like a friend of long standing; but as he took leave he pressed her hand very hard, jamming his fingers into her palm, staring so intently into her face the while that she, although she did not raise her eyelids, felt conscious of that glance on her suddenly-flushing cheeks. She said nothing to Muzio, but drew away her hand, and when he was gone she stared at the door through which he had made his exit. She recalled how, in former years also, she had been afraid of him ... and now she was perplexed. Muzio went off to his pavilion; the husband and wife withdrew to their bed-chamber.
Valeria did not soon fall asleep; her blood was surging softly and languidly, and there was a faint ringing in her head ... from that strange wine, as she supposed, and, possibly, also from Muzio’s tales, from his violin playing.... Toward morning she fell asleep at last, and had a remarkable dream.