“I don’t want you—not that it isn’t very kind of you to come. I want—him. And he won’t come.”
Joyselle frowned at Brigit, who was about to speak. “Well—I am going to play for you, and it may amuse you till he does come.”
He tuned his violin and began to play.
Brigit sat down by the bed and laid her hand in Tommy’s.
It was a simple nursery melody that Joyselle played:
“Il etait une bergere, he ron ron ron, petit pa-ta-pon——” She had known it all her life, but to Tommy, who had always sternly refused to have anything to do with the French governesses his mother had got for him, it was new.
He listened with an intent frown, the fingers of his left hand curled inwards and moving as though he were trying to follow the air on imaginary strings.
Then as Joyselle went on to the delightful Pont d’Avignon, his hand relaxed, and he closed his eyes for a moment.
The room was nearly dark, and rain beat in gusts on the windows.
“Fais dodo,” sang the fiddle softly, “fais dodo.”
“I like that. Play it again. Ah, Master—it is you. I am so glad——”
Joyselle did not stop, but he smiled down at the boy as he played on very softly. “Of course it is I. I am delighted to see you so much better. Do you know ‘Ma Normandie’? This is it——”
Tommy moved a little and settled his head more comfortably.
The boudoir was in an angle of the house opposite to which, a floor higher, was the gallery. As he played, someone in the picture-gallery turned on the electric lights, and one long shaft, coming through the window, shone down on the player’s head.
“See the Halo, Bicky?” asked the boy in a natural voice. “Isn’t he splendid?” Then he added, with the frown she so dreaded: “Take me away before they begin to clap, will you?”
“No clapping allowed, Tommy,” Joyselle assured him quietly. “Know this?”
And he played on.
His face, full of tender solicitude, was, Brigit thought, almost divinely beautiful as she watched it. And by some curious freak of the down-falling light only his head and shoulders were visible, and seemed almost to be floating in the gloom. Never had he been so handsome, and never so pitilessly remote. He had forgotten her; he had forgotten love; he was not even the Musician—he was a Healer, a being miles above and beyond her and her weak human longing.
Tommy’s eyes had closed, and the low music went on and on. The room was now quite dark, save for the light that encircled Joyselle’s head. It was like a wonderful picture, and the innate nobility of the man obliterated for the time all else from his fine face.
Tommy was asleep, and still the music went on.
“Salut demeure chaste et pure,” he was playing now, and Brigit recalled with a great heart throb the evening she had met him in the train. “Salut demeure——” The high note, pure and thrilling, lingered long, and then, as it had come, the light went, and it was dark.