“You won’t be able to keep away,” she replied.
“I will never play for you again,” he repeated. “Never! I will teach myself to hate you.”
She shook her head lightly.
“It’s not impossible. There’s very little difference between love and hate—sometimes. And I want all or nothing.”
“I’m afraid it must be nothing, then.”
“We shall see. But if I can’t have you, I swear no other man shall!”
She glanced up at him, lifting her brows a little.
“Aren’t you going too far, Antoine? You can hate me, if you like, or love me—it’s a matter of indifference to me which you do. But I don’t propose to allow you to arrange my life for me. And in any case”—after a moment—“I’m not likely to fall in love—with you or anyone else.”
“You think not?” He stood looking down at her sombrely. “You’ll fall in love right enough some day. And when you do it will be all or nothing with you, too. You’re that kind. Love will take you—and break you, Magda.”
He spoke slowly, with an odd kind of tensity. To Magda it seemed almost as if his quiet speech held the gravity of prophecy, and she shivered a little.
“And when that time comes, then you’ll come back to me,” he added.
Magda threw up her head, defying him.
“You propose to be waiting round to pick up the pieces, then?” she suggested nonchalantly.
But only the sound of the closing door answered her. Davilof had gone.
Lady Arabella was in her element. She had two brilliant and unattached young men dining with her—one, Michael Quarrington, a lion in the artistic world, and the other, Antoine Davilof, who showed unmistakable symptoms of developing sooner or later into a lion in the musical world.
It was Davilof who was responsible for the artist’s presence at Lady Arabella’s dinner table. She had expressed—in her usual autocratic manner—a wish that he should be presented to her, and had determined upon the evening of the first performance of The Swan-Maiden as the appointed time.
Davilof appeared doubtful, and declared that Quarrington was leaving England and had already fixed the date of his departure.
“He’s crossing from Dover the very day before the one you want him to dine with you,” he told her.
But Lady Arabella swept his objections aside with regal indifference.
“Crossing, is he?” she snapped. “Well, tell him I want him to dine here and go to the show with us afterwards. He’ll cross the day after, you’ll find—if he crosses at all!” she wound up enigmatically.
So it came about that her two lions, the last-arrived artist and the soon-to-arrive musician, were both dining with her on the appointed evening.