Swithin bowed to a man with a small forehead, who had appeared softly, and stood with his gloved hands touching his waist. Swithin conceived a sudden aversion for this catlike man. About Boleskey there was that which made contempt impossible—the sense of comradeship begotten in the fight; the man’s height; something lofty and savage in his face; and an obscure instinct that it would not pay to show distaste; but this Kasteliz, with his neat jaw, low brow, and velvety, volcanic look, excited his proper English animosity. “Your friends are mine,” murmured Kasteliz. He spoke with suavity, and hissed his s’s. A long, vibrating twang quavered through the room. Swithin turned and saw Rozsi sitting at the czymbal; the notes rang under the little hammers in her hands, incessant, metallic, rising and falling with that strange melody. Kasteliz had fixed his glowing eyes on her; Boleskey, nodding his head, was staring at the floor; Margit, with a pale face, stood like a statue.
‘What can they see in it?’ thought Swithin; ‘it’s not a tune.’ He took up his hat. Rozsi saw him and stopped; her lips had parted with a faintly dismayed expression. His sense of personal injury diminished; he even felt a little sorry for her. She jumped up from her seat and twirled round with a pout. An inspiration seized on Swithin. “Come and dine with me,” he said to Boleskey, “to-morrow—the Goldene Alp—bring your friend.” He felt the eyes of the whole room on him—the Hungarian’s fine eyes; Margit’s wide glance; the narrow, hot gaze of Kasteliz; and lastly—Rozsi’s. A glow of satisfaction ran down his spine. When he emerged into the street he thought gloomily, ‘Now I’ve done it!’ And not for some paces did he look round; then, with a forced smile, turned and removed his hat to the faces at the window.
Notwithstanding this moment of gloom, however, he was in an exalted state all day, and at dinner kept looking at his brother and Traquair enigmatically. ‘What do they know of life?’ he thought; ’they might be here a year and get no farther.’ He made jokes, and pinned the menu to the waiter’s coat-tails. “I like this place,” he said, “I shall spend three weeks here.” James, whose lips were on the point of taking in a plum, looked at him uneasily.
On the day of the dinner Swithin suffered a good deal. He reflected gloomily on Boleskey’s clothes. He had fixed an early hour—there would be fewer people to see them. When the time approached he attired himself with a certain neat splendour, and though his arm was still sore, left off the sling....