“Voila!” Virginie drew back to survey the results of her labours, turning for approval to Gillian, who was in attendance in her capacity of accompanist. “Is it not that mademoiselle looks ravishing?”
“Quite ravishing, Virginie,” agreed Gillian. “Did you expect her to look anything else by the time you had finished decking her out?” she added teasingly.
“It is nothing that I do,” responded the old Frenchwoman seriously. “Mademoiselle cannot help but be beautiful to the eye—le bon dieu has created her like that.”
“I believe He has,” assented Gillian, smiling.
As she spoke the bell of the telephone instrument on the table beside her rang imperatively and she lifted the receiver. Magda, watching her face as she took the message, saw it suddenly blanch.
“Coppertop! . . . He’s ill!” she gasped.
“Ill?” Magda could hardly credit it. Two hours ago they had left the child in perfect health.
“Yes.” Gillian swallowed, moistening her dry lips. “They’ve sent for the doctor. It’s croup. Oh!”—despairingly, and letting the receiver fall unheeded from her grasp—“What am I to do? What am I to do?”
Magda stepped forward, the filmy draperies of the dress in which she was to dance floating cloudily about her as she moved. She picked up the receiver as it hung dangling aimlessly from the stand and replaced it on its clip.
“Do?” she said quietly. “Why, you’ll go straight home, of course. As quickly as the car can take you. Virginie”—turning to the maid—“fly and order the car round at once.”
Gillian looked at her distractedly.
“But you? Who’ll play for you? I can’t go! I can’t leave you!” Her voice was shaken by sobs. “Oh, Coppertop!”
Magda slipped a comforting arm round her shoulder.
“Of course you’ll go—and at once, too. See, here’s your coat”—lifting it up from the back of the chair where Gillian had thrown it. “Put it on.”
Hardly conscious of what was happening, Gillian allowed herself to be helped into the coat. Suddenly recollection returned.
“But your dance—your dance, Magda? You’ve forgotten!”
Magda shook her head.
“No. It will be all right,” she said soothingly. “Don’t worry, Gillyflower. You’ve forgotten that Davilof is playing here to-night.”
“Antoine?” Gillian stared at her incredulously. “But you can’t ask him to play for you! You’d hate asking him a favour after—after his refusal to accompany you any more.”
Magda smiled at her reassuringly.
“My dear,” she said, and there was an unaffected kindliness in her voice which few people ever heard. “My dear, I’m not going to let a little bit of cheap pride keep you away from Coppertop.”
She bent suddenly and kissed Gillian’s white, miserable face just as Virginie reappeared in the doorway to announce that the car was waiting.