The knowledge of her cruel deception crept into his consciousness. He was chilled for several seconds. Grief at his lost love, implacable anger at her trickery, crowded into his unhappy brain. But he only bowed to Cilli, and summoning all his will he politely said:—
“It is quite true that when the Japanese choose to play the piano, we Europeans must shut up shop.” He hurried out to the road and walked desperately....
The next morning, as he nervously paced the platform of the Ischl railway station, he encountered his old friend Alfred Bruenfeld, the jovial Viennese pianist.
“Not going back to Vienna?”
“Yes—I’m tired of the country.”
“But, man, you are pale and tired. Have you been studying up here after your doctor bade you rest?” The concern in Bruenfeld’s voice touched Davos. He shook his head, then bethought himself of something.
“Alfred, you are acquainted with everybody in Europe. How is it you never told me about that strange Grabowski crowd—you know, the granddaughter of Chopin’s first love?” Bruenfeld looked at him with instant curiosity.
“You also?” he said. The young man blushed. After that he could never forgive! The other continued:—
“Granddaughter, fiddlesticks! They are not Poles, those Grabowskis, but impostors. Their real name is—is—” Davos started.
“What, you have met them?”
“Yes, the stupid father, the odious uncle, the fair Constantia—what a meek saint!—and that diabolical Japanese, who plays the piano like a house on fire.” Tears came to the eyes of Marco Davos.
“Did they—I mean, did she take you in, too?”
“Here, at Ischl, last summer,” was the grim reply.
THE TUNE OF TIME
Ferval returned to Rouen after a fatiguing trip down the Seine as far as Croisset, the old home of Gustave Flaubert. Here he viewed, not without a dismal sense of fame and its futility, the little garden-house in which the masterpieces of the great Frenchman had been conceived in joy and executed in sorrow. He met the faithful Colange, one-time attendant of Flaubert, and from him learned exacerbating details of the novelist’s lonesome years; so he was in a mood of irritation as he went ashore near the Boieldieu Bridge and slowly paced toward his hotel. He loved this Norman Rouen, loved the battered splendour of Notre-Dame Cathedral, loved the church of Saint-Ouen—that miracle of the Gothic, with its upspringing turrets, its portal as perfect as a Bach fugue. And in the Solferino Garden he paid his tribute of flowers at the monuments of Maupassant and Flaubert. Ferval was modern in his tastes; he believed nothing in art was worth the while which did not date from the nineteenth century.