Thank you once again for taking the time to review. I've always been glad to know what you think, and will be especially curious to hear what you make of this as an ending. I can't quite bring myself to give these characters up, so if you think you'd be interested in reading what becomes of Carl, Persis, Nina and Stuart let me know -I'm not without ideas and they're beginning to coalesce into something that looks like a plot. With gratitude once again to LM. Montgomery, whose characters these are, but especially to you for reading. I hope you've enjoyed doing so even half as much as I have the writing.
O wär ich schon mit dir vereint…*
Through the open window of the parlour drifts the rapturous sound of Nina's singing.
Und durfte Mann dich nennen!
Ein Mädchen durf ja, was est meint,
Zur Hälfte nur bekennen!
'Nina's making a very convincing Marzelline,' says Leslie, pausing in her perusal of a letter from Anne.
'I wonder what's caused her to sound like that?' She looks to Persis for guidance but Persis shakes her head.
'I don't know anything about it.'
'Why, of all the languages to sing in,' grumbles Owen Ford, 'of all the music at her disposal, why must it be German?'
'We're hardly at war with Beethoven,' says Leslie mildly.
'Anyway, you can't start chucking German music out the window or you would have to do without your beloved Mozart.'
Die hoffnung schon, erfüllt die Brust,
Mit unaussprechlich süsser lust…
The music seems to swell and Nina as Marzelline is running up the garden walk, letter in hand, letting herself in through the parlour windows. She breaks off singing to cry out with an exultation to rival Stuart, 'they want me to come sing for them! Sing Rusalka!'
'Who do dear?' asks Leslie perplexed.
'Here, look, see,' says Nina, holding out the letter in jubilation, 'they came and heard my Rusalka after all and someone likes my voice enough to ask me to come and sing –not an audition or an understudy but really sing, a performance. Someone will give me money to come and sing on the stage of an opera house.'
Her eyes are shining with the light of thousands of small and radiant moons.
'But of course they like your voice, you sing like an angel.'
'When did this happen?
'Why didn't you say something?' Persis wants to know.
'But she did,' says Owen affectionately, his grudge against German music forgotten, 'in that Beethoven. 'A lady only tells half of what she knows,' aren't I right?'
'Not so much that,' says Nina, 'more a conviction it would come to nothing the minute I let anyone in on the secret. I had a letter ages ago now saying they had liked my Tatyana and if a second performance bore out the first impression I might expect to hear back from them about a possible production. I thought nothing had come of it until this morning.'
In the back of Persis's mind something falls neatly into place.
'All that watching the post, it was for this, wasn't it?'
'What else?' says Nina, clasping her hands together in relief and excitement combined.
'You almost found out once –do you remember saying I looked as if I'd been given the moon? –That was the afternoon I'd received a letter to say they would come and listen to Rusalka, but I didn't really think they would. I thought the petrol ration or something else would intervene at the last moment. But nothing did and they came after all.'
Rising up onto points worthy of a dancer and sure to destroy the shoes she has on, Nina whirls about the room, arms extended. She catches Persis's hands in hers and pulls her with her, singing again,
In ruhe stiller häuslichkeit,
Erwach ich jeden morgan…
'Well done m'dear,' says Owen, 'well done. You must be pleased. How shall we mark the occasion? To grand for tea –much to grand.'
A thought strikes Persis and she says as she settles herself on the ledge where the windows lead into the garden, 'what about Stuart?'
'Stuart will be all right,' says Nina, coming and sitting by her friend.
'He couldn't have had me for a teacher always. Not if he's determined to sing High Cs while 'cycling across the city. You watch, see if he doesn't overtake me for virtuosity some day. Give him three years and he'll be installed at University Avenue studying at the conservatory, lauded as the best tenor they've had in a long while.'
'I still think he'll miss you. Goodness knows I will.' Then hugging Nina close, 'but dad's right, well done!'
In the event Stuart is almost as pleased as Nina.
'Brava!' he says and kisses her cheek with boyish impulsiveness.
'Will we be able to come hear you?' his luminous eyes are the size of dinner plates in his wonder and excitement.
'You must,' says Nina. 'You and Persis are the only people in the world who will tell me how I sound in a house that isn't Massey Hall; if you don't come I'll never know where I'm going wrong.'
'That's all right then,' says Stuart. He considers for a moment then tilting his head to one side, 'I guess I'd better get to work if I want to catch you up. Don't forget I'll be singing opposite you some day.'
"Forget!' says an incredulous Nina, 'you goose, don't think for a minute I shan't be watching for you.'
In the wake of such excitement life regains some of its former glory. Under the Sherbourne viaduct the trees are ablaze in autumnal colours and the world begins to whisper of a surrender on the horizon. When Faith writes to say Carl will certainly lose his eye but is otherwise well, Persis writes the only thing she can think to ask, is Lucy all right?
I don't know about Lucy, is Faith's apologetic answer, I think you must know more than I do after all. I've only been told is that he's being sent home –the first of our Glen set to come back –and Una is glad because she will have someone to fuss over. Little Bruce is beginning to say, in his words, that he is 'all growed up' and anxious to be treated accordingly.
It is Carl whose letters settle the question of Lucy. I won't feel right about being back, he writes, until I know she's safely out of this mess they're patching up for once and for all. She's the best messenger dog they've got –in terms of sheer stubbornness to see a thing through I mean –so of course they won't pull her out of the war just because I'm not there to give her orders, much as I would like them to. I don't think they could discharge her easily anyway. She came to us by way of Battersea. But you know if we do ever get a treaty sorted, it will be Lucy who sorts it for us. I only wish I could be there to take the message from her when it happens.
That is autumn. It is an evening late in November when Carl comes back. Nina, packing to go away is singing to a full and silvery moon the song that has brought her to the attention of the world;
Silvery moon in the great dark sky,
Thy beams see farther than we do…
Her voice can be heard all down Sussex Avenue but that does not matter because when Carl hears her he is hovering indecisively at the edge of the Sussex Avenue house. The automobile is not in evidence and the house is in darkness. Suddenly nervous he stands stock still listening to Nina sing, hearing again Persis's murmured translation of years ago,
May he though far away know my thoughts,
Tell him, o tell him, I am here, waiting.
In the front room of the Sussex Avenue house a candle flares to life, just discernable on the side of Carl's good eye. Persis has remembered after all. And if the candle is lit then she will be in the front room, he knows –drawing possibly –and the door will be unlatched. Like Nina's Rusalka she has been waiting, but she needn't wait any longer, he will let himself into the house and go to her.
From nearby comes the glimmering sound of top B-Flat sung with precision,
Moon o moon, do not wane,
Do not wane,
Moon –O –moon,
Do not wane.
Or possibly, do not go depending on the mood of the linguist. But he has come back, and with the sound of the moon-song ebbing into the night air Carl makes his way up the walk and into the house.
*'O Wär Ich Schon' is an aria from the first act of Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio. It is sung by Marzelline, daughter of a prison guard as she confesses to having fallen in love with Fidelio of the title. Fidelio is really a young woman disguised in an effort to rescue her husband, but here, an unknowing Marzelline imagines what life with him might look like.
Finally, if you're wanting a translation of the Geran, Aria Database does what I think is a good one -there was no way of gracefully working one into the text here or I would have done. Rest assured that understanding the German or not has no bearing on the chapter; I picked the music not for the words but the emotion they convey.