“Nonsense! If he didn’t know you, why should he suppose himself competent to form any opinion about you at all—good, bad, or indifferent?”
“I don’t know,” replied Magda slowly. Then, speaking with sudden defiance: “Yes, I do know! A pal of his had—had cared about me some time or other, and I’d turned him down. That’s why.”
“Oh, Magda!” There was both reproach and understanding in Gillian’s voice.
Magda shrugged her shoulders.
“Well, if he wanted to pay off old scores on his pal’s behalf, he succeeded,” she said mirthlessly.
Gillian looked at her in surprise. She had never seen Magda quite like this before; her sombre eyes held a curious strained look like those of some wild thing of the forest caught in a trap and in pain.
“And you don’t know who he was—I mean the man who came to your help and then lectured you?”
“Yes, I do. It was Michael Quarrington, the artist.”
“Michael Quarrington? Why, he has the reputation of being a most charming man!”
Magda stared into the fire.
“I dare say he might have a great deal of charm if he cared to exert it. Apparently, however, he didn’t think I was worth the effort.”
IN THE MIRROR ROOM
Shouts of mirth came jubilantly from the Mirror Room as Davilof made his way thither one afternoon a few days later. The shrill peal of a child’s laughter rose gaily above the lower note of women’s voices, and when the accompanist opened the door it was to discover Magda completely engrossed in giving Coppertop a first dancing lesson, while Gillian sat stitching busily away at some small nether garments afflicted with rents and tears in sundry places. Every now and again she glanced up with softly amused eyes to watch her son’s somewhat unsteady efforts in the Terpsichorean art.
Coppertop, a slim young reed in his bright green knitted jersey, was clinging with one hand to a wooden bar attached to the wall which served Magda for the “bar practice” which constitutes part of every dancer’s daily work, while Magda, holding his other hand in hers, essayed to instruct him in the principle of “turning out”—that flexible turning of the knees towards the side which gives so much facility of movement.
“Point your toes sideways—so,” directed Magda. “This one towards me—like that.” She stooped and placed his foot in position. “Now, kick out! Try to kick me!”
Coppertop tried—and succeeded, greeting his accomplishment with shrieks of delight.
It was just at this moment that Davilof appeared on the scene, pausing abruptly in the doorway as he caught sight of Magda’s laughing face bent above the fiery red head. There was something very charming in her expression of eager, light-hearted abandonment to the fun of the moment.
At the sound of the opening door Coppertop wriggled out of her grasp like an eel, twisting his lithe young body round to see who the new arrival might be. His face fell woefully as he caught sight of Davilof.