I hope that His Majesty, the Lord Chamberlain, the late Dr. Bull, or whoever is most concerned, will sympathize with me when I say that this time I remained seated. I have my living to earn.
From that day Johnny has interpreted Dr. John Bull’s favourite composition nine times every morning. As this has been going on for three months, and as the line I mentioned has two special rehearsals to itself before coming out right, you can easily work out how many send-him-victoriouses Johnny and I have collaborated in. About two thousand.
Very well. Now, you ask yourself, why did I not send a polite note to Johnny’s father asking him to restrain his little boy from over-composition, begging him not to force the child’s musical genius too quickly, imploring him (in short) to lock up the piano and lose the key? What kept me from this course? The answer is “Patriotism.” Those deep feelings for his country which one man will express glibly by rising nine times during the morning at the sound of the National Anthem, another will direct to more solid uses. It was my duty, I felt, not to discourage Johnny. He was showing qualities which could not fail, when he grew up, to be of value to the nation. Loyalty, musical genius, determination, patience, industry—never before have these qualities been so finely united in a child of six. Was I to say a single word to disturb the delicate balance of such a boy’s mind? At six one is extraordinarily susceptible to outside influence. A word from his father to the effect that the gentleman above was getting sick of it, and Johnny’s whole life might be altered.
No, I would bear it grimly.
And then, yesterday, who should write to me but Johnny’s father himself. This was the letter:
“Dear Sir—I do not wish to interfere unduly in the affairs of the other occupants of these flats, but I feel bound to call your attention to the fact that for many weeks now there has been a flow of water from your bathroom, which has penetrated through the ceiling of my bathroom, particularly after you have been using the room in the mornings. May I therefore beg you to be more careful in future not to splash or spill water on your floor, seeing that it causes inconvenience to the tenants beneath you?
“Yours faithfully, Jno. McAndrew.”
You can understand how I felt about this. For months I had been suffering Johnny in silence; yet, at the first little drop of water from above, Johnny’s father must break out into violent abuse of me. A fine reward! Well, Johnny’s future could look after itself now; anyhow, he was doomed with a selfish father like that.
“Dear Sir,” I answered defiantly, “Now that we are writing to each other I wish to call your attention to the fact that for many months past there has been a constant flow of one-fingered music from your little boy, which penetrates through the floor of my library and makes all work impossible. May I beg you, therefore, to see that your child is taught a new tune immediately, seeing that the National Anthem has lost its first freshness for the tenants above him?”