“It is the gypsy dulcimer, Lora; I read all about it in Liszt’s book on gypsy music,” said Aunt Lucas, in an airy soprano.
Mr. Steyle was impressed. Lora paid no attention, but continued to gaze curiously at the antics of the player, who hammered from his instrument of wire shivering, percussive music. With flexible wrists he swung the felt-covered mallets that brought up such resounding tones; at times his long, apelike arms would reach far asunder and, rolling his eyes, he touched the extremes of his cymbalom; then he described furious arpeggios, punctuated with a shrill tattoo. And the crazy music defiled by in a struggling squad of chords; but Arpad Vihary never lifted his eyes from Lora Crowne....
The vibration ceased. Its withdrawal left the ear-drums buzzing with a minute, painful sensation, like that of moisture rapidly evaporating upon the naked skin. A battalion of tongues began to chatter as the red-faced waiters rushed between the tables, taking orders. It was after eleven o’clock, and through the swinging doors passed a throng of motley people, fanning, gossiping, bickering—all eager and thirsty. Clarence Steyle pointed out the celebrities with conscious delight. Over yonder—that man with the mixed gray hair—was a composer who came every night for inspiration,—musical and otherwise, Clarence added, with a laugh. And there was the young and well-known decadent playwright who wore strangling high collars and transposed all his plays from French sources; he lisped and was proud of his ability to dramatize the latest mental disease. And a burglar who had written a famous book on the management of children during hot weather sat meekly resting before a solitary table.
The leader of the Hungarian band was a gypsy who called himself Alfassy Janos, though he lived on First Avenue, in a flat the door of which bore this legend: Jacob Aron. The rest of the band seemed gypsy. Who is the cymbalom player? That is not difficult to answer; the programme gives it.
“There you are, Miss Lora.”
She looked. “Oh, what a romantic name! He must be a count at least.”
“Lora, dear, gypsies never bear titles,” remarked Aunt Lucas, patronizingly.
“How about the Abbe Liszt?” triumphantly asked her charge.
Aunt Lucas laughed coldly. “Liszt was Hungarian, not Romany. But your artist with the drumsticks certainly is distinguished-looking. If he only would not wear that odious scarlet uniform. I wonder why he does not sit down, like the rest of his colleagues.”
Arpad Vihary leaned against the panelled wall, his brow puckered in boredom, his long black mustaches drooping from sheer discouragement. His was a figure for sculpture—a frame powerfully modelled, a bisque complexion. Thin as a cedar sapling, he preserved such an immovable attitude that in the haze of the creamy atmosphere he seemed a carved, marmoreal image rather than a young man with devouring eyes.