‘Pardon me,’ observed Vandeloup, blandly, ’I do; we can talk afterwards if you like.’
Their eyes met, and then Kitty arose and took his arm, with a charming pout. It was no good fighting against the quiet, masterful manner of this man, so she allowed him to put his arm round her waist and swing her slowly into the centre of the room. ’One summer’s night in Munich’ was a favourite valse, and everyone who could dance, and a good many who could not, were up on the floor. Every now and then, through the steady beat of the music, came the light laugh of a woman or the deeper tones of a man’s voice; and the glare of the lights, the flashing jewels on the bare necks and arms of women, the soft frou-frou of their dresses, as their partners swung them steadily round, and the subtle perfume of flowers gave an indescribable sensuous flavour to the whole scene. And the valse— who does not know it? with its sad refrain, which comes in every now and then throughout, even in the most brilliant passages. The whole story of a man’s faith and a woman’s treachery is contained therein.
‘One summer’s night in Munich,’ sighed the heavy bass instruments, sadly and reproachfully, ‘I thought your heart was true!’ Listen to the melancholy notes of the prelude which recall the whole scene—do you not remember? The stars are shining, the night wind is blowing, and we are on the terrace looking down on the glittering lights of the city. Hark! that joyous sparkling strain, full of riant laughter, recalls the sad students who wandered past, and then from amid the airy ripple of notes comes the sweet, mellow strain of the ’cello, which tells of love eternal amid the summer roses; how the tender melody sweeps on full of the perfume and mystic meanings of that night. Hark! is that the nightingale in the trees, or only the silvery notes of a violin, which comes stealing through the steady throb and swing of the heavier stringed instruments? Ah! why does the rhythm stop? A few chords breaking up the dream, the sound of a bugle calling you away, and the valse goes into the farewell motif with its tender longing and passionate anguish. Good-bye! you will be true? Your heart is mine, good-bye, sweetheart! Stop! that discord of angry notes—she is false to her soldier lover! The stars are pale, the nightingale is silent, the rose leaves fall, and the sad refrain comes stealing through the room again with its bitter reproach, ’One summer’s night in Munich I knew your heart was false.’
Kitty danced for a little time, but was too much agitated to enjoy the valse, in spite of the admirable partner M. Vandeloup made. She was determined to find out the truth, so stopped abruptly, and insisted on Vandeloup taking her to the conservatory.
‘What for?’ he asked, as they threaded their way through the crowded room. ‘Is it important?’
‘Very,’ she replied, looking straight at him; ’it is essential to our comedy.’