To Edouard the return of the beautiful girl to the restaurant appeared not as an accident, but as a marked favor vouchsafed to him by Fate. He had been given a second chance. He read it as a sign that he should take heart and hope. He felt that fortune was indeed kind. He determined that he would play to her again, and that this time he would not fail.
As the first notes of La Lettre d’Amour brought a pause of silence in the restaurant, Corbin, who was talking at the moment, interrupted himself abruptly, and turned in his chair.
All through the evening he had been conscious of the near presence of the young musician. He had not forgotten how, on the night before, his own feelings had been interpreted in La Lettre d’Amour, and for some time he had been debating in his mind as to whether he would request Edouard to play the air again, or let the evening pass without again submitting himself to so supreme an assault upon his feelings. Now the question had been settled for him, and he found that it had been decided as he secretly desired. It was impossible to believe that Edouard was the same young man who had played the same air on the night previous, for Edouard no longer considered that he was present on sufferance—he invited and challenged the attention of the room; his music commanded it to silence. It dominated all who heard it.
As he again slowly approached the table where Miss Warriner was seated, the eyes of everyone were turned upon him; the pathos, the tenderness of his message seemed to speak to each; the fact that he dared to offer such a wealth of deep feeling to such an audience was in itself enough to engage the attention of all. A group of Guardsmen, their faces flushed with Burgundy and pulling heavily on black cigars, stared at him sleepily, and then sat up, erect and alert, watching him with intent, wide-open eyes; and at tables which had been marked by the laughter of those seated about them there fell a sudden silence. Those who fully understood the value of the music withdrew into themselves, submitting, thankfully, to its spell; others, less susceptible, gathered from the bearing of those about them that something of moment was going forward; but it was recognized by each, from the most severe English matron present down to the youngest “omnibus-boy” among the waiters, that it was a love-story which was being told to them, and that in this public place the deepest, most sacred, and most beautiful of emotions were finding noble utterance.
The music filled Corbin with desperate longing and regret. It was so truly the translation of his own feelings that he was alternately touched with self-pity and inspired to fresh resolve. It seemed to assure him that love such as his could not endure without some return. It emboldened him to make still another and a final appeal. Mrs. Warriner, with all the other people in the room, was watching Edouard, and so, unobserved, and hidden by the flowers upon the table, Corbin leaned toward Miss Warriner and bent his head close to hers. His eyes were burning with feeling; his voice thrilled in unison to the plaint of the violin.