Joyselle had crossed the room and was sitting by Bicky now. By Jove, he was patting her hand! And before everybody!
Suddenly he rose, she smiled up into his dark face, and he called Tommy.
“Tommy, will you go to my room and bring me my Amati?”
Why Tommy did not then and there burst with joy, that enraptured little boy never knew. When he put the violin into the master’s hand the child trembled so that the master saw it. “When I have played one thing, you are to go to bed,” he said gravely. “You are tired.”
And the spoiled and headstrong Tommy, he whose word was law to his mother and many other people, nodded obediently. “I will play again for you alone to-morrow,” added Joyselle.
Then he went and stood near the fire, the red light flashing on him, and played.
The first thing, plainly for Tommy, was a Norman cradle-song, very slow and monotonous, and full of strange harmonies. When it was over, Tommy quietly withdrew. To-morrow was to be his day.
Brigit Mead had stayed at the house in Golden Square for a full week, and during that week she had heard her future father-in-law play a dozen times or more.
He had played in the crimson velvet dressing-gown, in morning clothes, in evening dress, once even in the fur-lined coat. Yet it seemed to her, as she watched and listened now, in the great hall of the house of her fathers, that she had never heard quite this same man play.
At home he had been “Beau-papa,” noisy and demonstrative, or solemn with artistic responsibility and reverence, but always the oldish man playing to his family. Now, in some way, he was metamorphosed. He was now “Joyselle”; he was, as she listened and watched, an unusually handsome, not yet middle-aged gentleman, playing the violin as an artist, but indisputably a gentleman.
She recalled, with a shudder, his awful lack of taste displayed the day Pontefract called; she remembered her amusement on his insisting on wearing a pale blue satin tie one day when he was lunching at a club to meet a great pianist, and Theo’s subsequent search among his belongings for other similar horrors.
She remembered his over-loud laugh and his too-ready gesture. She smiled, however, as she told herself that he was a peasant.
As she listened, her love for music quite subordinated to her strange interest in the mere man, Theo leant forward and whispered quietly: “Brigit, do you really care a little for me?”
“Yes.” She smiled affectionately at him, for was it not he who made her so happy?
And then the poor girl drew a long, shuddering breath, and leant back behind the curtain, for she had suddenly realised that it was not Theo who made her happy. It was the fact that he was Victor Joyselle’s son.
And it was the big man with the violin who—who—who made her happy.
It was a miserable end to her childish dream of felicity, for she was brave enough to admit to herself without the least hesitation what it was that had happened.