Brigit stood, unable to move. It is always an uncanny thing to watch for any length of time a person who believes himself to be absolutely alone, and when, as in this case, the person is undergoing, and giving full vent to a very strong emotion, the strangeness is increased tenfold.
The man was, it was plain, after a week’s tremendous and for him wholly unusual self-restraint, now giving full rein to his great rage over his miserable situation. As he played, she could see the muscles of his strong neck move under the brown skin, and his shoulders rise and fall tumultuously with his uneven breaths. The din he made was almost unbearable, and she pressed her hands to her ears to shut it out.
The room was very large, and high, and round it, half-way up the dull yellow walls, ran an old carved gallery, relic of the time when it had been the studio of a hare-brained painter, a friend of Hazlitt and Coleridge, a believer in poor young Keats while the rest of the world laughed at him—in the very early days.
In those days feasts had been held here, and in the gallery, hidden behind flowering dwarf peach-trees in tubs, stringed instruments were played—very softly, for the painter of one good picture and dozens of bad ones, had taste—while his guests sat at his board. Stories are still told of the small table that used to be brought into the room at the end of dinner by two little Ethiopians in white tunics. An ancient table with faded gilding just visible on the claw feet that looked out from under its petticoat of finest damask; and on it priceless gold and silver bowls and salvers of all shapes, full of the most marvellous fruits from all countries, some of which fruits were never seen elsewhere in England. All dead and gone to dust years ago, host and guest and grinning little Ethiopians. Joyselle had told Brigit this story, and now as she stood watching him vent his wrath and anguish on his faithful Amati, a kind of vision came to her; and she seemed to see the room as it used to be—vaguely, the big table with six or eight men sitting around it drinking wine, and, more distinctly, the heaped-up bowls and plates of fruit——
Half hypnotised she stood there, her hands pressed to her ears until, with a final excruciating dig into the strings, he dropped his left arm and turned.
For a moment he, in his square of light, did not see her in the dusk under the gallery. Then he took a step forward, and with a low cry caught her in his arms and crushed her and the violin painfully to his breast.
“Mon Dieu, mon Dieu,” he repeated over and over, kissing her roughly, “you have come. Then you know, ma Brigitte, you know!”
“Yes, I know,” she admitted sullenly. “Let me go, Victor, you—you hurt me.”
He dropped his arms and she withdrew a few steps. He was very pale and his hair was ruffled.
“You—it was good of you to come,” he said after a pause. “Then, you are not angry?”