“That German!” Emilia enlightened him.
“Your old music-master?”
“I wish it, I wish it! I should soon be free from him. Don’t you know that dreadful man I told you about, who’s like a black angel to me, because there is no music like his? and he’s a German! I told you how I first dreamed about him, and then regularly every night, after talking with my father about Italy and his black-yellow Tedeschi, this man came over my pillow and made me call him Master, Master. And he is. He seems as if he were the master of my soul, mocking me, making me worship him in spite of my hate. I came here, thinking only of you. I heard the water like a great symphony. I fell into dreaming of my music. That’s when I am at his mercy. There’s no one like him. I must detest music to get free from him. How can I? He is like the God of music.”
Wilfrid now remembered certain of her allusions to this rival, who had hitherto touched him very little. Perhaps it was partly the lovely scene that lifted him to a spiritual jealousy, partly his susceptibility to a sentimental exaggeration, and partly the mysterious new charm in Emilia’s manner, that was as a bordering lustre, showing how the full orb was rising behind her.
“His name?” Wilfrid asked for.
Emilia’s lips broke to the second letter of the alphabet; but she cut short the word. “Why should you hear it? And now that you are here, you drive him away. And the best is,” she laughed, “I am sure you will not remember any of his pieces. I wish I could not—not that it’s the memory; but he seems all round me, up in the air, and when the trees move all together...you chase him away, my lover!”
It was like a break in music, the way that Emilia suddenly closed her sentence; coming with a shock of flattering surprise upon Wilfrid.
Then she pursued: “My English lover! I am like Italy, in chains to that German, and you...but no, no, no! It’s not quite a likeness, for my German is not a brute. I have seen his picture in shop-windows: the wind seemed in his hair, and he seemed to hear with his eyes: his forehead frowning so. Look at me, and see. So!”
Emilia pressed up the hair from her temples and bent her brows.
“It does not increase your beauty,” said Wilfrid.
“There’s the difference!” Emilia sighed mildly. “He sees angels, cherubs, and fairies, and imps, and devils; or he hears them: they come before him from far off, in music. They do to me, now and then. Only now and then, when my head’s on fire.—My lover!”
Wilfrid pressed his mouth to the sweet instrument. She took his kiss fully, and gave her own frankly, in return. Then, sighing a very little, she said: “Do not kiss me much.”
“But, look at me.”
“I will look at you. Only take my hand. See the moon is getting whiter. The water there is like a pool of snakes, and then they struggle out, and roll over and over, and stream on lengthwise. I can see their long flat heads, and their eyes: almost their skins. No, my lover! do not kiss me. I lose my peace.”