“Most of ’em are royalties,” Joyselle explained with a certain naif pride, “beginning with your late Queen. I used to play Norman folk-songs to her. There is the Kaiser’s, the late Kaiser’s, the Czar’s, Umberto’s, Margarita’s, who loves music, more than most—and toute la boutique. Then there are also those of all the musicians, and—but you will see to-morrow.”
He had brought his violin-case upstairs, and now opened it and took out his Amati. “I will play for you, ma chere fille,” he declared.
And he played. Brigit watched him, amazed. Where was the rowdy, loud-voiced, amusing and almost ridiculously boyish middle-aged man with whom she had come to town?
This man’s face was that of a priest adoringly performing the rites of his religion. His head thrown back, his fine mouth set in lines of ecstatic reverence, he played on and on, his eyes unseeing, or rather the eyes of one seeing visions.
He was a creature of no country, no age. His grey hair failed to make him old, big unwrinkled face failed to make him young. And as he played—to her, she knew—years of imprisonment and sorrow seemed to drop from the girl; she forgot all the bitterness, all the resentment that had spoiled her life hitherto, and she felt as she leaned back in her chair and listened as if she had at last come to a haven and found youth awaiting her there.
It is pleasant to wake to the sound of exquisite—and sufficiently distant—music. It is also pleasant to wake to the odour of good—and sufficiently distant—coffee.
The morning after her remarkable arrival in Golden Square Brigit Mead awoke to both these pleasant things. Somewhere downstairs someone was playing a simple, plaintive air on a violin, and still further away someone was making coffee—delicious coffee.
The girl for a moment could not remember where she was; the room, with its dark-grey paper and stiff black-walnut furniture, was foreign-looking, so were the coloured pictures of religious subjects on the walls. On the chimney-piece stood two blue glass vases filled with dried grasses, and the lace curtains flaunted their stiff cleanliness against otherwise unshaded windows.
Where was she?
And then, as the music broke off suddenly, she remembered, and smiled in delighted recollection of the evening before. Waking was usually such a bore; the thought of breakfast, always a severe test to the unsociable, was horrid to her. There would be either a solitary meal in the big dark dining-room, or what was worse, guests to entertain (for Lady Kingsmead never appeared until after eleven), and the disagreeable hurry and scurry contingent on the catching of different trains. But here she seemed to have escaped from what Tommy called Morning Horrors, and it was delightful to lie in her bed and wonder what, in this extraordinary house, was likely to happen next.