He had taken off his hat, and his dark, handsome, excited face was distinctly visible under the untidy, slightly curly mass of peculiarly silky, silver-grey hair. Brigit drew a deep breath. Victor Joyselle! She had often heard him play. Those were the hands, in the brown dogskin gloves, that worked such witchery with his violin. That was the violin in the shabby box beside him. His dark eyes, over which the lids dropped at the outer corners, were now fixed on hers, he was trying to see through her veil. He was a magnificent creature, even now, with his youth behind him: his big nose had fine cut, sensitive nostrils, his mouth under a big moustache was well-cut and serene, and his strong chin was softened by a dimple. And he was to be—her father-in-law.
For the first time for months the girl felt the youth and sense of fun stir in her. Then he spoke—irrepressibly, as if he could not help it.
“I beg your pardon, madame, for singing,” he burst out, “I—forgot that I was not alone.”
She bowed without speaking. Madame!
“May I open the other window?” he pursued, rising restlessly and tearing off his gloves as if they hurt him, thereby revealing a large diamond on the little finger of his right—the bow-hand.
He did so, and then sat down, and taking an open telegram from his pocket, read it through several times, his nostrils quivering, his mouth dimpling in an uncontrollable and enchanting smile. Then again, as if impelled by some superior force, he turned to her and said: “I am not a lunatic, madame. I am Victor Joyselle. I have played—my very best this afternoon, and my son, mon bebe—is engaged to the most beautiful woman in England!”
Inspired to a dramatic act totally foreign to her nature, impelled by his sheer strength of imagination and his buoyant personality, Lady Brigit Mead threw back her veil.
“Theo is engaged—to me,” she answered.
Joyselle stared at her, his eyes like two lamps. Then rushing at her, he took her hands in his and bent over her. “Good God! Good God!” he cried rapidly in French, “you are Lady Brigit Mead? You—you Diana—you splendeur de femme? But I dream—I dream!”
“Indeed, no, I am Brigit Mead, M. Joyselle,”—she was laughing, laughing with delightful amusement. He was too delicious! Then she added hastily, “You are crushing my hands!”
Sitting down by her, he patted her reddened fingers tenderly. “Chere enfant, chere enfant, forgive an old papa—qui t’a fait bobo—and you are actually going to marry my Theo?”
“Then,” with a solemnity that was as overwhelming as his joy, he returned, bowing his head as if in church, “il a une sacree chance. He is—the luckiest boy in the world.”
Brigit had forgotten what boredom meant. This spontaneous, warm-hearted person with—oh, horror,—a white satin tie, and a low, turned-down collar, filled her with the gentlest and most affectionate amusement. And as he was to be her father-in-law, why not enjoy him? “It is kind of you to be so pleased,” she said, “it is very interesting, our meeting like this——”