Davos decided, as he smoked a mild cigarette, that he would remain at Alt-Aussee for the night. The peace of the landscape purified his soul of its irritability, though he wished that the Dachstein would not dominate so persistently the sky-line—it was difficult to avoid the view of this solitary and egotistic peak, the highest in Styria. He was assigned a comfortable chamber, but the night was too fine for bed. He did not feel sleepy, and he went along the road he had come by; the church was an opaque mass, the spire alone showing in the violet twilight, like some supernatural spar on a ship far out at sea. He attempted to conjure to his tired brain the features, the expression, of the girl. They would not reappear; his memory was traitorous.
The murmur of faint music, piano music, made his ears wince—how he hated music! But afar as were these tonal silhouettes, traced against the evening air, his practised hearing told him that they were made by an artist. He languidly followed the clue, and soon he was at the gate of a villa, almost buried in the bosk, and listening with all his critical attention to a thrilling performance—yes, thrilling was the word—of Chopin’s music. What! The last movement of the B flat minor sonata, the funeral march sonata, but no more like the interpretation he had heard from others—from himself—than—than....
But, good heavens! Who was playing! The unison passages that mount and recede were iridescent columns of mist painted by the moonlight and swaying rhythmically in the breeze. Here was something rare. No longer conscious of the technical side of the playing, so spiritualized was it, so crystalline the touch, Davos forgot his manners and slipped through the gateway, through the dark garden, toward an open window in which burned a solitary candle. The mystery of this window and the quicksilver dartings of the music—gods, what a touch, what gossamer delicacy!—set his heart throbbing. He forgot his sick nerves. When the trumpet blows, the war-horse lusts for action—and this was not a trumpet, but a horn of elf-land. He moved as closely as he dared to the window, and the music ceased—naturally enough, the movement had concluded. His ears burned with the silence. She came to the window. Arrested by the vision—the casement framed her in a delicious manner—he did not stir. She could not help seeing this intruder, the light struck him full in the face. She spoke:—
“Dear Mr. Davos, won’t you come into the house? My father and my uncle will be most happy to receive you.”
* * * * *
She knew him! Stunned by his overstrung emotions, he could only bow his head.