As she opened the door the twilight, shot by quivering spears of light from the fire’s dancing flames, seemed to rush out at her, bearing with it the mournful, heart-shaking music of some Russian melody. Magda uttered a soft, half-amused exclamation of impatience and switched on the lights.
“All in the dark, Davilof?” she asked in a practical tone of voice calculated to disintegrate any possible fabric of romance woven of firelight and fifths.
The flood of electric light revealed a large, lofty room, devoid of furniture except for a few comfortable chairs grouped together at one end of it, and for a magnificent grand piano at the other. The room appeared doubly large by reason of the fact that the whole of one wall was taken up by four immense panels of looking-glass, cleverly fitted together so that in effect the entire wall was composed of a single enormous mirror. It was in front of this mirror that Magda practised. The remaining three walls were hung with priceless old tapestry woven of sombre green and greys.
As she entered the room a man rose quickly from the piano and came forward to meet her. There was a kind of repressed eagerness in the action, as though he had been waiting with impatience for her coming.
He was a striking-looking man, tall, and built with the slender-limbed grace of a foreigner. Golden-brown hair, worn rather longer than fashion dictates, waved crisply over his head, and the moustache and small Vandyck beard which partially concealed the lower part of his face were of the same warmly golden colour.
The word “musician” was written all over him—in the supple, capable hands, in the careless stoop of his loosely knit shoulders, and, more than all, in the imaginative hazel eyes with their curious mixture of abstraction and fire. They rather suggested lightning playing over some dreaming pool.
Magda shook hands with him carelessly.
“We shall have to postpone the practice as I’m so late, Davilof,” she said. “I had a smash-up in the fog. My car ran into a bus—”
“And you are hurt?” Davilof broke in sharply, his voice edged with fear.
“No, no. I was stunned for a minute and then afterwards I fainted, but I’m quite intact otherwise.”
“You are sure—sure?”
“Quite.” Hearing the keen anxiety in his tone she smiled at him reassuringly and held out a friendly hand. “I’m all right—really, Antoine.”
He took the hand in both his.
“Thank God!” he said fervently.
Antoine Davilof had lived so long in England that he spoke without trace of accent, though he sometimes gave an unEnglish twist to the phrasing of a sentence, but his quick emotion and the simplicity with which he made no effort to conceal it stamped him unmistakably as a foreigner.
A little touched, Magda allowed her hand to remain in his.
“Why, Davilof!” She chided him laughingly. “You’re quite absurdly upset about it.”