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Mademoiselle had finished. She arose, and bowing her stiff,
lofty bow, she went away, stopping for neither, thanks nor
applause. As she passed along the gallery she patted Edna upon the
"Well, how did you like my music?" she asked. The young woman
was unable to answer; she pressed the hand of the pianist
convulsively. Mademoiselle Reisz perceived her agitation and even
her tears. She patted her again upon the shoulder as she said:
"You are the only one worth playing for. Those others? Bah!"
and she went shuffling and sidling on down the gallery toward her
But she was mistaken about "those others." Her playing had
aroused a fever of enthusiasm. "What passion!" "What an artist!"
"I have always said no one could play Chopin like Mademoiselle
Reisz!" "That last prelude! Bon Dieu! It shakes a man!"
It was growing late, and there was a general disposition to
disband. But some one, perhaps it was Robert, thought of a bath at
that mystic hour and under that mystic moon.
At all events Robert proposed it, and there was not a
dissenting voice. There was not one but was ready to follow when
he led the way. He did not lead the way, however, he directed the
way; and he himself loitered behind with the lovers, who had
betrayed a disposition to linger and hold themselves apart. He
walked between them, whether with malicious or mischievous intent
was not wholly clear, even to himself.
The Pontelliers and Ratignolles walked ahead; the women
leaning upon the arms of their husbands. Edna could hear Robert's
voice behind them, and could sometimes hear what he said. She
wondered why he did not join them. It was unlike him not to. Of
late he had sometimes held away from her for an entire day,
redoubling his devotion upon the next and the next, as though to
make up for hours that had been lost. She missed him the days when