The Trespasser (Chapter 1, page 2 of 6)


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Chapter 1

The three candles on the dark piano burned softly, the music fluttered
on, but, like numbed butterflies, stupidly. Helena played mechanically.
She broke the music beneath her bow, so that it came lifeless, very
hurting to hear. The young man frowned, and pondered. Uneasily, he
turned again to the players.

The violinist was a girl of twenty-eight. Her white dress, high-waisted,
swung as she forced the rhythm, determinedly swaying to the time as if
her body were the white stroke of a metronome. It made the young man
frown as he watched. Yet he continued to watch. She had a very strong,
vigorous body. Her neck, pure white, arched in strength from the fine
hollow between her shoulders as she held the violin. The long white lace
of her sleeve swung, floated, after the bow.

Byrne could not see her face, more than the full curve of her cheek. He
watched her hair, which at the back was almost of the colour of the
soapstone idol, take the candlelight into its vigorous freedom in front
and glisten over her forehead.

Suddenly Helena broke off the music, and dropped her arm in irritable
resignation. Louisa looked round from the piano, surprised.

'Why,' she cried, 'wasn't it all right?' Helena laughed wearily.

'It was all wrong,' she answered, as she put her violin tenderly to
rest.

'Oh, I'm sorry I did so badly,' said Louisa in a huff. She loved Helena
passionately.

'You didn't do badly at all,' replied her friend, in the same tired,
apathetic tone. 'It was I.' When she had closed the black lid of her violin-case, Helena stood a
moment as if at a loss. Louisa looked up with eyes full of affection,
like a dog that did not dare to move to her beloved. Getting no
response, she drooped over the piano. At length Helena looked at her
friend, then slowly closed her eyes. The burden of this excessive
affection was too much for her. Smiling faintly, she said, as if she
were coaxing a child: 'Play some Chopin, Louisa.' 'I shall only do that all wrong, like everything else,' said the elder
plaintively. Louisa was thirty-five. She had been Helena's friend
for years.

'Play the mazurkas,' repeated Helena calmly.

Louisa rummaged among the music. Helena blew out her violin-candle, and
came to sit down on the side of the fire opposite to Byrne. The music
began. Helena pressed her arms with her hands, musing.

'They are inflamed still' said the young man.

She glanced up suddenly, her blue eyes, usually so heavy and tired,
lighting up with a small smile.

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