Fiorsen’s bedroom was—as the maid would remark—“a proper pigsty”—until he was out of it and it could be renovated each day. He had a talent for disorder, so that the room looked as if three men instead of one had gone to bed in it. Clothes and shoes, brushes, water, tumblers, breakfast-tray, newspapers, French novels, and cigarette-ends—none were ever where they should have been; and the stale fumes from the many cigarettes he smoked before getting up incommoded anyone whose duty it was to take him tea and shaving-water. When, on that first real summer day, the maid had brought Rosek up to him, he had been lying a long time on his back, dreamily watching the smoke from his cigarette and four flies waltzing in the sunlight that filtered through the green sun-blinds. This hour, before he rose, was his creative moment, when he could best see the form of music and feel inspiration for its rendering. Of late, he had been stale and wretched, all that side of him dull; but this morning he felt again the delicious stir of fancy, that vibrating, half-dreamy state when emotion seems so easily to find shape and the mind pierces through to new expression. Hearing the maid’s knock, and her murmured: “Count Rosek to see you, sir,” he thought: ’What the devil does he want?’ A larger nature, drifting without control, in contact with a smaller one, who knows his own mind exactly, will instinctively be irritable, though he may fail to grasp what his friend is after.
And pushing the cigarette-box toward Rosek, he turned away his head. It would be money he had come about, or—that girl! That girl—he wished she was dead! Soft, clinging creature! A baby! God! What a fool he had been—ah, what a fool! Such absurdity! Unheard of! First Gyp—then her! He had tried to shake the girl off. As well try to shake off a burr! How she clung! He had been patient—oh, yes—patient and kind, but how go on when one was tired—tired of her—and wanting only Gyp, only his own wife? That was a funny thing! And now, when, for an hour or two, he had shaken free of worry, had been feeling happy—yes, happy—this fellow must come, and stand there with his face of a sphinx! And he said pettishly:
“Well, Paul! sit down. What troubles have you brought?”
Rosek lit a cigarette but did not sit down. He struck even Fiorsen by his unsmiling pallor.
“You had better look out for Mr. Wagge, Gustav; he came to me yesterday. He has no music in his soul.”
Fiorsen sat up.
“Satan take Mr. Wagge! What can he do?”
“I am not a lawyer, but I imagine he can be unpleasant—the girl is young.”
Fiorsen glared at him, and said:
“Why did you throw me that cursed girl?”
Rosek answered, a little too steadily:
“I did not, my friend.”
“What! You did. What was your game? You never do anything without a game. You know you did. Come; what was your game?”