His mind, of course, except in certain moments when it all unconsciously was subjugated by her will, was a closed book to her.
For he was not only a man (and no woman can ever wholly understand any man’s mind), but he was nearly twenty years older than she, and he was a Norman—a race very complicated, in its mixture of shrewd cunning and simplicity, and difficult for even other French people to comprehend. But groping in the dark though she was, the girl had grasped two essential facts: if Joyselle learned that she loved him, he would go away if it killed him; and if, though remaining in ignorance of her love, he was led to betray his, the result would be the same.
So her aim must be to keep him well under his own control, and to avoid betraying her personal feelings in the very least degree.
It was easy that first day. He was still more or less dazed and taken up with his discovery that he loved her, and therefore not so shrewd as usual. The future, she knew, would be harder.
But that one day was a delight to them both. He told her about his youth—as truthful an account as his wife’s, but oh, how infinitely more picturesque and interesting.
His acquisition of the Amati was recounted with a wealth of detail that enchanted her, and she closed her eyes the better to see the little dark shop on the quai at Rouen, and the old man who would not sell his treasure, even for a good price, until he had heard the would-be purchaser play on it. “And then, my dear, I tuned it, and played. It was a bit from Tschaikovsky’s Pathetic Symphony—the adagio movement. It was dark in the shop, with the velvety darkness old places get on a sunny day, and on the other side of the street lay the sunshine like gold. He sat, le vieux, in his chair away from the light, for his eyes were bad, and listened. And I played well, for I was playing for the greatest price I had ever commanded!”
“And then?” she asked softly, stroking her cheek with some young beech-leaves.
“And then he kissed me, and—I took out my cheque-book,” returned Joyselle simply.
It was after four, and the wind had gone down, freeing the common from the beautiful cloud-streams that had chased over it earlier in the day.
The red-headed girl and her young man had disappeared, and from where they sat Joyselle and Brigit saw no signs of life.
“To-morrow it will be crowded with odious people,” Brigit sighed.
“Well, I mean vulgar, noisy people.”
He shook his head in a way that ruffled his halo of silver hair, and laughed.
“You should not be a snob,” he teased. “After all, you are marrying the son of peasants.”
“Peasants are different,” she insisted, a little sulkily.
“Peasants are picturesque only in books, my dear. As for me, I like happy people, and even your English ‘noisy and vulgar’ ones are happy, I suppose, when they come up here on Sunday. Some day you and I will come again. And bring Theo,” he added suddenly.