“It’s that devil of a Japanese woman,” he muttered testily. He waited for nearly an hour, and in a vile temper took up his hat and stick and went away. Decidedly this was his unlucky day, he grumbled, as he reached the water. He saw Grabowski and Pelletier, arm in arm, trudging toward the villa, but contrived to evade them. In ten minutes he found himself spying on the house he had quitted. He skirted a little private way back of the villa, and to his amazement father, uncle, and Constantia came out and hailed the omnibus which travelled hourly to Aussee. Davos was furious. He did not risk following them, for he realized he had been treated shabbily. His wrath softened as he reflected; perhaps Constantia, agitated by his rudeness,—had he been rude?—persuaded her family to follow him to Ischl. The sky cleared. That was the solution—Marco Davos straightened himself—his pride was no longer up in arms. Poor child—she was so easily wounded! How he loved her!
His body trembled. He could not believe he was awake. Incredible music was issuing from behind the closed blinds of the villa. Music! And the music he had overheard that first night. But Constantia had just gone away; he had seen her. There must be some mistake, some joke. No, no, by another path she had managed to get back to the house. Ay! but what playing. Again came that purling rush of notes, those unison passages, as if one gigantic hand grasped them—so perfect was the tonal accord. He did not hesitate. At a bound he was in the corridor and pushed open the door of the drawing-room....
At first the twilighted room blinded him. Then to his disgust and terror he saw the apelike features of the squat Japanese governess. She sat at the piano, her bilious skin flushed by the exertion of playing.
“You—you!” he barely managed to stammer. She did not reply, but preserved the immobility of a carved idol.
“You are a wonderful artiste,” he blurted, going to her. She stolidly answered:—
“The Japanese have the finest sense of touch in the world. I was once a pupil of Karl Tausig.” Involuntarily he bowed his head to the revered name of the one man he had longed to hear. Then his feelings almost strangled him; his master passion asserted itself.
“Your fingers, your fingers—let me see them,” he hoarsely demanded. With a malicious grin she extended her hands—he groaned enviously. Yes, they were miracles of sculpture, miracles of colour and delicacy, the slender tips well-nigh prehensile in their cunning power. And the fingers of Constantia, of his love, of the woman who loved Chopin—that Chopin whose first passion was for her grandmother, the opera singer Constantia Gladowska!