And when Joyselle at length stopped playing and came back to sit by her, she smiled at him in very good imitation of her own smile of half an hour before.
But he was not satisfied.
“You did not like it?” he asked simply.
“Of course I did—it was splendid.”
“Yet I could not hold you,” he persisted, his vanity evidently a little hurt. He could not hold her!
“Didn’t we like it, Theo?” she urged, turning to the young man.
“To tell the truth, I didn’t hear a note,” he admitted, not in the least shamefacedly. “I was looking at you.”
“Lucky young beggar,” laughed Joyselle, “small wonder! You two make a very pleasant picture,” he added, “and in a year or two——”
“Father,” protested Theo, blushing scarlet in quick French sympathy for the strange susceptibilities of his English fiancee, “don’t!”
Brigit rose slowly. “I must go and say good night to Tommy,” she said. “I shall be down in a few minutes.”
Tommy was in bed, reading a very large book by the light of an electric lamp.
“What have you got there?” his sister asked, lying down by him and pressing her face to the cool pillow.
“Oh, nothing. I just thought I ought to know something about—Amatis. It’s very interesting,” he returned solemnly, and then burst out: “Oh, Bick, isn’t he simply glorious!”
“There was never anyone like him. Not only the fiddling, but—everything. Don’t you think so? Don’t you, Bicky?” he persisted anxiously.
“Yes, Tommy, dear.”
“I do think you the luckiest girl in the whole world. Just fancy being his daughter.”
Her head whirled, her heart beat hard, her hands were as cold as ice. This, she told herself, was the plunge; it would be better shortly. And when it was better, then she could begin to fight. For she would fight. It was a monstrous thing, a nightmare, and she would fight it down.
“Yes, Tommy?” With an effort she roused herself and sat up.
Tommy had closed the book and put it away. He now sat hunched in bed, his thin arms in their pale blue sleeves clasping his knees. “Brigit, do you think a peer could ever be a really great violinist?”
A sleepless night is always a bad thing, but it is full of horror when its victim is haunted by an ever-recurring thought.
Brigit Mead went to her room, dismissed what her brother called her half of Amelie, the French maid, put on a dressing-gown, and sat down by the fire to think.
Her room was very exposed, and the wind howled dismally round the corner of the house, while the rain fell in violent gusts against the ancient panes. It was a comfort to hear the storm, for it made the fire welcome, and a fire is comforting.