She had chosen her moment well, and as the door faced a long mirror between the windows she saw, as she stood on the threshold, not only Joyselle, who, alone in the room, stood staring in amazement, but also that at which he stared—herself. Clad in a dress made apparently entirely of flexible dull gold scales, the long lines of her figure unbroken by any belt or trimming, the woman in the glass stood smiling like a witch of old, a deep colour in her cheeks, the palms of her hands held down by her side, the fingers outspread and slightly lifted as if in water. Quite silently she stood and smiled until the man before her dropped his violin—for the first time, she knew instinctively, in his life.
Then she spoke, saying his name, the name by which the world knew him: “Joyselle.”
“Mon Dieu!” he returned softly. Coming slowly forward he caught her hand with clumsy haste and kissed it. Her heart stopped its mad beating, for she had won. Here was no Beau-papa. Here was the man, Victor Joyselle.
“I did not know you,” he said. “I thought—juste ciel, how do I know what I thought? You are so beautiful, I——”
She laughed gently. “Beau-papa! Beau-papa! Where is Theo?”
For she knew now that she would not break her engagement to-night. The end was not yet. And by the strange laws that govern things emotional between men and women, her self-control, hitherto utterly lamed by his presence, was now, in face of his involuntary, as yet evidently unconscious awakening, restored to her tenfold strong. She could have spent weeks alone with the man without betraying her secret, now that she had established her power over him. It had been his acceptance of the fact of her future relationship to him, his unexpressed feeling that she was a being of another generation, his tacit refusal to see in her the woman per se, that had beaten her. Now she had, by the plain assertion of her beauty, the enforcing of the appreciation of it as a thing appertaining to her as a woman, not a daughter, got the reins—and the whip—into her own hands.
“Where,” she repeated, still smiling, “is Theo?”
“He is in his room; he will come—ah, mon Dieu!” Kneeling by his violin, which luckily had fallen on a bearskin, he took it up and looked at it shamefacedly. “See what you made me do,” he said to Brigit, “you and your golden dress! Mon pauvre Amati.”
She continued to look at him in silence, her instinct telling her that the strange smile she had seen on the face of the woman in the glass could not be beaten for purposes of subjugation. She continued to look and smile, but she was sorry for him, even while every fibre in her thrilled with triumph.
He realised her now; if she wanted him to love her, he would.
“Will you call Theo?” she asked as he rose. Without a word he left the room, and a few moments later Theo’s arms were around her, his fresh lips on hers.