Chapter 3: Music, Violets, and the Letter "S"
It so happened that Lucy, who found daily life rather chaotic,
entered a more solid world when she opened the piano. She was
then no longer either deferential or patronizing; no longer
either a rebel or a slave. The kingdom of music is not the
kingdom of this world; it will accept those whom breeding and
intellect and culture have alike rejected. The commonplace person
begins to play, and shoots into the empyrean without effort,
whilst we look up, marvelling how he has escaped us, and thinking
how we could worship him and love him, would he but translate his
visions into human words, and his experiences into human actions.
Perhaps he cannot; certainly he does not, or does so very seldom.
Lucy had done so never.
She was no dazzling executante; her runs were not at all like
strings of pearls, and she struck no more right notes than was
suitable for one of her age and situation. Nor was she the
passionate young lady, who performs so tragically on a summer's
evening with the window open. Passion was there, but it could not
be easily labelled; it slipped between love and hatred and
jealousy, and all the furniture of the pictorial style. And she
was tragical only in the sense that she was great, for she loved
to play on the side of Victory. Victory of what and over what--
that is more than the words of daily life can tell us. But that
some sonatas of Beethoven are written tragic no one can gainsay;
yet they can triumph or despair as the player decides, and Lucy
had decided that they should triumph.
A very wet afternoon at the Bertolini permitted her to do the
thing she really liked, and after lunch she opened the little
draped piano. A few people lingered round and praised her
playing, but finding that she made no reply, dispersed to their
rooms to write up their diaries or to sleep. She took no notice
of Mr. Emerson looking for his son, nor of Miss Bartlett looking
for Miss Lavish, nor of Miss Lavish looking for her
cigarette-case. Like every true performer, she was intoxicated by
the mere feel of the notes: they were fingers caressing her own;
and by touch, not by sound alone, did she come to her desire.