41. CHAPTER FORTY-ONE
Amy's lecture did Laurie good, though, of course, he did
not own it till long afterward. Men seldom do, for when women
are the advisers, the lords of creation don't take the advice
till they have persuaded themselves that it is just what they
intended to do. Then they act upon it, and, if it succeeds,
they give the weaker vessel half the credit of it. If it
fails, they generously give her the whole. Laurie went back
to his grandfather, and was so dutifully devoted for several
weeks that the old gentleman declared the climate of Nice had
improved him wonderfully, and he had better try it again.
There was nothing the young gentleman would have liked better,
but elephants could not have dragged him back after the scolding
he had received. Pride forbid, and whenever the longing
grew very strong, he fortified his resolution by repeating
the words that had made the deepest impression, "I despise you."
"Go and do something splendid that will make her love you."
Laurie turned the matter over in his mind so often that he soon
brought himself to confess that he had been selfish and lazy,
but then when a man has a great sorrow, he should be indulged
in all sorts of vagaries till he has lived it down. He felt
that his blighted affections were quite dead now, and though
he should never cease to be a faithful mourner, there was
no occasion to wear his weeds ostentatiously. Jo wouldn't
love him, but he might make her respect and admire him by doing
something which should prove that a girl's no had not spoiled
his life. He had always meant to do something, and Amy's
advice was quite unnecessary. He had only been waiting till
the aforesaid blighted affections were decently interred.
That being done, he felt that he was ready to `hide his
stricken heart, and still toil on'.
As Goethe, when he had a joy or a grief, put it into a song,
so Laurie resolved to embalm his love sorrow in music, and to
compose a Requiem which should harrow up Jo's soul and melt the
heart of every hearer. Therefore the next time the old gentleman
found him getting restless and moody and ordered him off,
he went to Vienna, where he had musical friends, and fell to
work with the firm determination to distinguish himself. But
whether the sorrow was too vast to be embodied in music, or
music too ethereal to uplift a mortal woe, he soon discovered
that the Requiem was beyond him just at present. It was evident
that his mind was not in working order yet, and his ideas
needed clarifying, for often in the middle of a plaintive strain,
he would find himself humming a dancing tune that vividly recalled
the Christmas ball at Nice, especially the stout Frenchman,
and put an effectual stop to tragic composition for the time being.