“Oh, you can’t never have come already to play for the Fairy Lady!” he exclaimed in accents of dire disappointment.
“Fairy Lady” was the name he had bestowed upon Magda when, very early in their acquaintance, she had performed for his sole and particular benefit a maturer edition of the dance she had evolved as a child—the dance with which she had so much astonished Lady Arabella. Nowadays it figured prominently on her programmes as “The Hamadryad,” and was enormously popular.
“It’s not never three o’clock!” wailed Coppertop disconsolately, as Davilof dangled his watch in front of him.
“I think it is, small son,” interpolated Gillian, gathering together her sewing materials. “Come along. We must leave the Fairy Lady to practise now, because she’s got to dance to half the people in London to-morrow.”
“Must I really go?” appealed Coppertop, beseeching Magda with a pair of melting green eyes.
She dropped a light kiss on the top of his red curls.
“’Fraid so, Coppertop,” she said. “You wouldn’t want Fairy Lady to dance badly and tumble down, would you?”
But Coppertop was not to be taken in so easily.
“Huh!” he scoffed. “You couldn’t tumble down—not never!”
“Still, you mustn’t be greedy, Topkins,” urged Magda persuasively. “Remember all the grown-up people who want me to dance to them! I can’t keep it all for one little boy.” He stared at her for a moment in silence. Suddenly he flung his arms round her slender hips, clutching her tightly, and hid his face against her skirt.
“Oh, Fairy Lady, you are so booful—so booful!” he whispered in a smothered voice. Then, with a big sigh: “But one little boy won’t be greedy.” He turned to his mother. “Come along, mummie!” he commanded superbly. And trotted out of the room beside her with his small head well up.
Left alone, Davilof and Magda smiled across at one another.
“Funny little person, isn’t he?” she said.
The musician nodded.
“Grown-ups might possibly envy the freedom of speech permitted to childhood,” he said quietly. Then, still more quietly: “’Fairy Lady, you are so beautiful!’”
“But you’re not a child, so don’t poach Coppertop’s preserves!” retorted Magda swiftly. “Let’s get to work, Antoine. I’ll just change into my practice-kit and then I want to run through the ‘Swan-Maiden’s’ dance. You fix the lighting.”
She vanished into an adjoining room, while Davilof proceeded to switch off most of the burners, leaving only those which illumined the space in front of the great mirror. The remainder of the big room receded into a grey twilight encircling the patch of luminance.
Presently Magda reappeared wearing a loose tunic of some white silken material, girdled at the waist, but yet leaving her with perfect freedom of limb.
Davilof watched her as she came down the long room with the feather-light, floating walk of the trained dancer, and something leaped into his eyes that was very different from mere admiration—something that, taken in conjunction with Lady Arabella’s caustic comments of a few days ago, might have warned Magda had she seen it.