She was playing something of
Beethoven’s—Isabel knew not what, but sherecognised Beethoven—and she touched the piano softly and discreetly, butwith evidentskill . Her touch was that of an artist; Isabel sat down noiselessly on the nearest chair and waited till the end of the piece. When it was finished she felt a strong desire to thank the player, and rose from her seat to do so, while at the same time the lady at the pianoturned quickly round, as if she had becomeaware of her presence.
“That isvery beautiful, and your playing makes it more beautiful still,” said Isabel ,with all the young radiance with which she usually uttered a truthful rapture.
“You don’t think I disturbed Mr. Touchett
,then?” the musician answered ,as sweetly as this compliment deserved. “The house is so large ,and his room so far away ,that I thought I might venture—especially as I played just—just du bout des doigts.”
“She isa Frenchwoman,” Isabel said to herself; “she says that as if she were French.” And this supposition made the strangermore interesting to our speculative heroine. “I hope my uncle isdoing well,” Isabel added. “I should think that to hear such lovely music as that would really make him feel better.” “I amafraid there are moments in life when even Beethovenhas nothing to say to us. We must admit, however, that they are our worst moments.”
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady.