Emilia gazed at no one now. She rose, without a word or an apology, keeping her eyes down.
“Fiasco!” cruelly cried Mr. Pericles.
That was better to her than the silly kindness of the people who deemed it well to encourage her with applause. Emilia could not bear the clapping of hands, and fled.
The night was warm under a slowly-floating moon. Full of compassion for the poor girl, who had moved him if she had failed in winning the assembly, Wilfrid stepped into the garden, where he expected to find her, and to be the first to pet and console her. Threading the scented shrubs, he came upon a turn in one of the alleys, from which point he had a view of her figure, as she stood near a Portugal laurel on the lawn. Mr. Pericles was by her side. Wilfrid’s intention was to join them. A loud sob from Emilia checked his foot.
“You are cruel,” he heard her say.
“If it is good, I tell it you; if it is bad; abominable, I tell it you, juste ze same,” responded Mr. Pericles.
“The others did not think it very bad.”
“Ah! bah!” Mr. Pericles cut her short.
Had they been talking of matters secret and too sweet, Wilfrid would have retired, like a man of honour. As it was, he continued to listen. The tears of his poor little friend, moreover, seemed to hold him there in the hope that he might afford some help.
“Yes; I do not care for the others,” she resumed. “You praised me the night I first saw you.”
“It is perhaps zat you can sing to z’ moon,” returned Mr. Pericles. “But, what! a singer, she must sing in a house. To-night it is warm, to-morrow it is cold. If you sing through a cold, what noise do we hear? It is a nose, not a voice. It is a trompet.”
Emilia, with a whimpering firmness, replied: “You said I am lazy. I am not.”
“Not lazy,” Mr. Pericles assented.
“Do I care for praise from people who do not understand music? It is not true. I only like to please them.”
“Be a street-organ,” Mr. Pericles retorted.
“I must like to see them pleased when I sing,” said Emilia desperately.
“And you like ze clap of ze hands. Yez. It is quite natural. Yess. You are a good child, it is clear. But, look. You are a voice uncultivated, sauvage. You go wrong: I hear you: and dese claps of zese noodels send you into squeaks and shrills, and false! false away you go. It is a gallop ze wrong way.”
Here Mr. Pericles attempted the most horrible reproduction of Emilia’s failure. She cried out as if she had been bitten.
“What am I to do?” she asked sadly.
“Not now,” Mr. Pericles answered. “You live in London?—at where?”
“Must I tell you?”
“Certainly, you must tell me.”
“But, I am not going there; I mean, not yet.”