Fiorsen was standing at the window in a fume of cigarette smoke. He did not turn round. Gyp put her hand within his arm, and said:
“So sorry, dear. But it’s only just half-past twelve.”
His face was as if the whole world had injured him.
“Pity you came back! Very nice, riding, I’m sure!”
Could she not go riding with her own father? What insensate jealousy and egomania! She turned away, without a word, and sat down at the piano. She was not good at standing injustice—not good at all! The scent of brandy, too, was mixed with the fumes of his cigarette. Drink in the morning was so ugly—really horrid! She sat at the piano, waiting. He would be like this till he had played away the fumes of his ill mood, and then he would come and paw her shoulders and put his lips to her neck. Yes; but it was not the way to behave, not the way to make her love him. And she said suddenly:
“Gustav; what exactly have I done that you dislike?”
“You have had a father.”
Gyp sat quite still for a few seconds, and then began to laugh. He looked so like a sulky child, standing there. He turned swiftly on her and put his hand over her mouth. She looked up over that hand which smelled of tobacco. Her heart was doing the grand ecart within her, this way in compunction, that way in resentment. His eyes fell before hers; he dropped his hand.
“Well, shall we begin?” she said.
He answered roughly: “No,” and went out into the garden.
Gyp was left dismayed, disgusted. Was it possible that she could have taken part in such a horrid little scene? She remained sitting at the piano, playing over and over a single passage, without heeding what it was.
So far, they had seen nothing of Rosek at the little house. She wondered if Fiorsen had passed on to him her remark, though if he had, he would surely say he hadn’t; she had learned that her husband spoke the truth when convenient, not when it caused him pain. About music, or any art, however, he could be implicitly relied on; and his frankness was appalling when his nerves were ruffled.
But at the first concert she saw Rosek’s unwelcome figure on the other side of the gangway, two rows back. He was talking to a young girl, whose face, short and beautifully formed, had the opaque transparency of alabaster. With her round blue eyes fixed on him, and her lips just parted, she had a slightly vacant look. Her laugh, too, was just a little vacant. And yet her features were so beautiful, her hair so smooth and fair, her colouring so pale and fine, her neck so white and round, the poise of her body so perfect that Gyp found it difficult to take her glance away. She had refused her aunt’s companionship. It might irritate Fiorsen and affect his playing to see her with “that stiff English creature.” She wanted, too, to feel again the sensations of Wiesbaden. There would be a kind of sacred pleasure in knowing that she had helped to perfect sounds which touched the hearts and senses of so many listeners. She had looked forward to this concert so long. And she sat scarcely breathing, abstracted from consciousness of those about her, soft and still, radiating warmth and eagerness.