He gave a toss of his head in the direction from whence the music came.
“That is what I have been trying to tell you,” he whispered. His voice was hoarse and shaken. “That is how I care, but that man’s genius is telling you for me. At last, you must understand.” In his eagerness, his words followed each other brokenly and impetuously. “That is love,” he whispered. “That is the real voice of love in all its tenderness and might, and—it is love itself. Don’t you understand it now?” he demanded.
Miss Warriner raised her head and frowned. She stared at Edouard with a pained expression of perplexity and doubt.
“He shows no lack of feeling,” she said, critically, “but his technic is not equal to Ysaye’s.”
“Good God!” Corbin gasped. He sank away from Miss Warriner and stared at her with incredulous eyes.
“His technic,” he repeated, “is not equal to Ysaye’s?” He gave a laugh which might have been a sob, and sat up, suddenly, with his head erect and his shoulders squared. He had the shaken look of one who has recovered from a dangerous illness. But when he spoke again it was in the accents of every-day politeness.
At an early hour the following morning, Mrs. Warriner and her daughter left Waterloo Station on the steamer-train for Southampton, and Corbin attended them up to the moment of the train’s departure. He concerned himself for their comfort as conscientiously as he had always done throughout the last three months, when he had been their travelling-companion; nothing could have been more friendly, more sympathetic, than his manner. This effort, which Mrs. Warriner was sure cost him much, touched her deeply. But when he shook Miss Warriner’s hand and she said, “Good-by, and write to us before you go to the Philippines,” Corbin for the first time stammered in some embarrassment.
“Good-by,” he said; “I—I am not sure that I shall go.”
He dined at the Savoy again that night, in company with some Englishmen. They sat at a table in the corner where they could observe the whole extent of the room, and their talk was eager and their laughter constant and hearty. It was only when the boy who led the orchestra began to walk among the tables, playing an air of peculiar sadness, that Corbin’s manner lost its vivacity, and he sank into a sudden silence, with his eyes fixed on the table before him.
“That’s odd,” said one of his companions. “I say, Corbin, look at that chap! What’s he doing?”
Corbin raised his eyes. He saw Edouard standing at the same table at which for the last two nights Miss Warriner had been seated. “What is it?” he asked.
“Why, that violin chap,” said the Englishman. “Don’t you see? He’s been playing to the only vacant table in the room, and to an empty chair.”