« AnteriorContinuar »
THE POWER OF MUSIC.
"When such music sweet
Their hearts and ears did greet
Such music (as 'tis said)
Before was never made."
ELLA's eyes followed her brother with an expression of the truest interest, as he made his sudden exit, and she seemed on the point of going after him, when Lady Starley, divining her purpose, and rightly supposing that Sir Edward would feel even her presence a restraint in his present frame of mind, suggested that they should fill up the time until luncheon with music.
“Ō mamma,” exclaimed Lucy, recovering her wonted vivacity, "Mr Seymour is such a brilliant performer himself, that our poor attempts will not be likely to yield him the smallest gratification."
Herbert started out of a reverie on hearing his name thus pronounced, and coming quickly forward, hastened to open the pianoforte, saying as he did so,—
"I should be sorry to accuse you of insincerity; but if you will persist in giving me credit for talents which I do not really possess, I see no other alternative."
“Now that is a most uncharitable speech," gaily returned the young lady," and I propose that we punish you, by insisting on the instant repetition of the glorious symphony with which you unconsciously greeted our arrival last evening!
You shall be obeyed," replied Herbert, smiling quietly," but only on condition that I am first permitted to listen to your own performance."
"Do you call this obedience?" asked Lucy, playfully shaking her head; "if you submit at all, it should be unconditionally. However, we must humour you, I suppose, as mamma tells us you are still an invalid-what shall it be?"
"You can have no difficulty in making a selection," remarked Herbert, laying his hand upon a pile of new music.
"Perhaps not," she answered, running her fingers lightly over the keys, "but you must bear in mind that what pleases me would not necessarily suit you; my taste is gay, whereas yours" A slight shrug completed the sentence.
"You think me too grave to take pleasure in anything that does not savour of dulness or gloom?" rejoined Herbert, in mingled surprise and amusement.
Scarcely that," said the animated girl, glancing archly up into his face; "still, from all I have heard of you, and the little I have seen, I confess I am disposed to regard you with a degree of awe and veneration quite foreign to my nature."
"My dear Lucy," interposed her mother, "Mr. Seymour will form
a very extraordinary opinion of you, if you entertain him with these strange sentiments. But, indeed," turning with a smile to Herbert, "you must not suppose she is in earnest in half she says."
'Oh, if my veracity is going to be called in question," cried Lucy, assuming an injured air, "I had better change the subject without wasting more time. Come, Ella, and join me in this duet," she added, as she opened a difficult piece, and placed it on the musicstand.
Her sister hesitated for a moment before complying with this request. Then she approached them with evident reluctance, as if she would gladly evade the task assigned to her if possible, not from nervousness or affectation, but because her thoughts were still with her brother, and she was only waiting for Lucy to commence playing, before making her escape from the room.
"Do not trouble yourself about Edward, my love," said Lady Stanley, observing the expression of her face, as she took her seat at the instrument; "he will soon return to us again."
"Of course he will," assented Lucy, in a half-mocking tone, and with a merry glance of her eye, which might have disconcerted Ella, had her own not been at that moment fixed upon the page before her; "he is as fond of music as we are, and I have a very strong suspicion that he will reappear almost immediately."
But notwithstanding this strong suspicion, Sir Edward seemed in no hurry to return.
One beautiful piece followed another in rapid succession; and Herbert, who, whatever his own impression on the subject might be, possessed an exquisite ear for music, listened to their performance with intense pleasure.
"You sing, do you not?" he said at length, addressing for the first time Ella, instead of Lucy.
"Yes," was her reply, given with characteristic simplicity; but Lucy's voice is far superior to mine."
"Nonsense, Ella," exclaimed the latter, laughing and frowning; "why should you underrate your vocal powers? I have often assured you that I would willingly exchange my loud, harsh—
"It is you who are talking nonsense now, my dear," quietly interrupted Lady Stanley; "Ella's singing is, I am well aware, always liked; but though she has without doubt a very sweet silver-toned voice, it cannot for a moment be compared to your own."
That fact has been long known to every one except herself, mamma," said Ella, lifting her eyes and fixing them upon her sister's face with a look of such deep and tender affection, such perfect good nature, and such pure and unselfish consideration, that Herbert instinctively felt as if she had by that one trifling action revealed more of her inner character than he had yet seen.
"She is not the beautiful statue I at first thought her," was his mental comment, as he continued to gaze upon her changing countenance; "neither is she deficient in kindness or warm-hearted devotion. Where she loves, she loves long and well, and is capable, if I read that glance aright, of making any personal sacrifice for the sake of others; I cannot now wonder at Edward's partiality"
A low silvery laugh broke in upon his reflections, and he turned to encounter the scrutiny of Lucy's mischief-loving eyes.
"I beg your pardon," he said, somewhat confusedly; "did you speak?"
"Yes; I was reminding you that we have done our part towards the morning's entertainment; now it is your turn."
"I thought you were going to favour us with a song," returned Herbert.
Really, the more one indulges you, the more exacting you be. come," cried Lucy, in feigned amazement; "but we are not inclined to give you your own way in this instance. Otherwise," she continued, glancing at her watch, "we should not leave you sufficient time to fulfil your promise. Perhaps, however, a few songs may be forthcoming this evening."
"In that case I must be patient, I suppose," said Herbert; "and in the meantime I shall be happy to obey your commands, merely premising that, although a great lover of music, I am never satisfied with my own execution."
"But if others happen to be satisfied, you have no reason to complain," was the prompt rejoinder.
Herbert did not reply except by a depreciatory gesture; and as he proceeded to open the organ, Lucy observed in a low tone to her
"Is it possible that he actually entertains this erroneous idea of his playing? Surely he cannot be altogether unconscious of the talent with which he is so richly endowed."
"I will reserve my judgment until I hear him," replied Lady Stanley, in the same suppressed tone; "but you may be very sure that he would not on any consideration stoop to equivocate or designedly wish to deceive you; if, therefore, his musical skill is such as you describe it, his unwillingness to admit the fact must proceed, I should think, from the same feeling of humility which seems at all times to characterise him."
Still," returned Lucy, thoughtfully for her, "there is a nameless something in his lofty bearing, together with an occasional curl of the lip (evidently quite involuntary), and quick flash of the eye, which makes me fancy that he is not wanting in a certain kind of pride, though I have not yet been able to ascertain
"Hush!" said Lady Stanley, softly, as a few harmonious notes fell soothingly upon her ear, gradually increasing in sound and volume until the silent room was filled with glorious melody.
Five minutes later they were rejoined by Sir Edward, who, after quietly opening the door, and glancing eagerly around him, stood like one entranced, breathlessly listening to the music, as it rose and fell-now swelling into loud, deep tones of solemn grandeur-now softly floating past them in gentle modulated strains of exquisite sweetness and indescribable pathos !
Neither of them spoke or moved, till, having finished his task, Herbert calmly rose from his seat, and closed the organ-lid.
"Now, mamma, was I not right?" cried Lucy, triumphantly. "You were, indeed," she answered, smiling pleasantly; "it is quite a treat to listen to such music."
"By the bye, Edward," continued the young lady, accosting him as he was advancing to speak to Herbert, "how is it that in enumerating your friend's 'exalted merits'"-here she glanced laughingly at Herbert, as if to remind him that she was quoting his own words'you omitted to mention this accomplishment?"
"Because it was unknɔva to myself," replied Sir Edward, "else
I should certainly have spoken of it. You must tell us the secret of your success," he added, turning with much earnestness to Herbert: "what is it that gives you such marvellous power over the instrument?"
"I am afraid," said Herbert,—a smile of amused incredulity coming to his lips,-"there are not many besides yourself who would suspect me of possessing this wonderful power."
Sir Edward shook his head.
"However much I might practise," he thoughtfully rejoined, “I could never hope to acquire a tithe of your skill."
"Do you play these?" inquired his friend, opening a volume of sacred music, containing selections from the most celebrated and sublime compositions of the old masters.
"Some of them: we can get through 'Oh, rest in the Lord: ''Zion spreadeth her hands for aid;' 'O come, every one that thirsteth:' and others of the same kind, very well; but Mendelssohn's Elijah, which we are now learning, is not so easily mastered.”
"I dare say Mr. Seymour will assist us, Edward," exclaimed Lucy, eagerly; " and then we may perhaps make a little more progress than we have yet done." "Can we
"An excellent idea," said her brother, with animation. induce you to undertake the office, Herbert?"
"It will afford me the greatest pleasure," was the cheerful response. "Oh, thank you," cried Lucy; "when shall we begin, mamma?” "Whenever you like, my dear; but I would suggest that, as Edward has obtained Dr. Gibson's permission to show Mr. Seymour what is worth seeing in the neighbourhood, we ought to have luncheon immediately, so that there may be time for a long drive before dinner."
Thus saying, Lady Stanley left her seat, and taking Herbert's arm, led the way to the dining-room.
ANOTHER DROP OF BITTERNESS TO HERBERT'S CUP.
"Tribulation patience works,
Hope from thence we borrow;
THE week which Herbert had resolved should terminate his visit passed away, and two others followed, before he finally left the hospitable roof of his kind friends.
This lengthened stay proved of great benefit to him, both mentally and physically; for, though he was now well enough to dispense with the professional services of Dr. Gibson, and could not complain of any particular symptom of remaining illness, he still found himself subject to constant fits of unaccountable weariness and lassitude; and it is possible that had he been left entirely to his own companionship at this time, he would have endured much additional suffering, and perhaps relapsed into a state of severe mental depression.
But Sir Edward tried by every means in his power to dissipate the effects of his recent sickness, and call his thoughts from the melancholy regions of the past. He saw, without being told, that it was often a great effort for Herbert to join them in their walks and drives; and his kind heart experienced a pang of sorrow as he noted the expression of intense pain which would sometimes overspread his noble countenance even in the midst of his most agreeable occupations.
Still, though the young baronet did much towards alleviating his grief, Lucy and Ella unconsciously did more. They-especially the former-kept him perpetually employed, scarcely allowing him a moment for indulging in those morbid reflections which could only be productive of unnecessary disquietude and bitter regret.
Every day witnessed the planning of some new scheme of pleasure, or the accomplishment of some cherished design; while Lucy's fertile brain invented a hundred novel kinds of amusement; and the joyous gaiety of her disposition, her sparkling humour, and unfailing flow of girlish spirits, united to render her a truly valuable acquisition in the various excursions they undertook for the purpose of introducing Herbert to some of their numerous friends, besides making him better acquainted with the scenery round about Lanchester; until at length he began almost imperceptibly to recover something of his former cheerfulness and animation.
Occasionally, it is true, the sight of Lady Stanley's placid face, as her eyes rested with mingled complacency and affection upon her children, would nearly unman him, by causing the deep surgings of bygone emotions to revisit his memory so freshly and distinctly that it seemed but yesterday since he too had in like manner been the object of a fond mother's tender regard, and the happy recipient of her devoted love.