“When is your next concert to be, M. Joyselle?”
“The third of June.”
“I—I always come. I have come for years, and last June I heard you in Paris. You must like playing with Colonne.”
“I do. He is a wonderful director. But—I did not know that you liked music, Mr. Carron.”
“I have always liked it. And no one plays the violin as you do.”
He would not have hesitated to lie about the matter, had it been necessary, but he happened to be telling the truth, and his weary voice carried conviction.
Joyselle smiled. “I am glad,” he said.
The two men eyed each other for a moment, and much was decided by their gaze.
Carron broke the silence. “Did I not see you the other day in Chelsea. I was motoring, and going very fast; but I think it was you.”
“It is possible. I have a studio in Tite Street. I go there to practise. It is very quiet there, at the top of the house, and I am very nervous when I am working.”
Carron nodded absently; this did not interest him. At the other end of the table one of the Italian secretaries was talking about the Ascot favourite to Freddy Fane, who had recently divorced his chorus girl and stopped drinking, and who was supposed to be looked on with a favourable eye by old Mrs. Banner, the aunt and chaperon of Lady Mary Sligo, the prettiest of the season’s debutantes.
“Is that man going to marry the beautiful girl I saw on the box-seat of his coach the other day?” asked Joyselle, suddenly.
“I daresay. His mother died last month and left him pots of money. Marmalade-pots—Peet’s Peerless.” After a moment Carron pursued, drawing lines on the tablecloth with a fruitknife: “I have a very fine violin—left me by my grandfather. It is a Strad, I believe. I wonder if you’d care to see it?”
Joyselle pursed up his lips. “I should, but I warn you, it is probably an imposture. Most cherished violins are—that are in the hands of non-players.”
“No doubt, but Sarasate has played on this one, and he believed it to be genuine.”
“Aha! When may I come?”
Carron named a near day, and then they went upstairs. He had obtained his immediate object, and now there remained to him that evening a far more difficult task.
Brigit was sitting by the window, fanning herself with a fan made of eagle-feathers. She wore white and looked very tired.
“May I sit down here, Brigit?”
She turned at his voice, and then stared at him. “You look very ill,” she said abruptly, “is your heart all right?”
Her face did not change as she spoke, and there was no friendliness in her tone, but he thanked God that he was, and looked, ill.
“My heart is weak, I believe; nothing organic. It is very warm, and I never can bear heat. You look tired yourself.”
She nodded absently. “Yes, I have been away—at the Bertie Monson’s. Nelly Monson always gives me a headache, she talks so loud. And my room was under the nursery. I do hate children.”