“It was the beginning of all our misfortunes! My father was taken and locked up in a place as a tipsy man. That he has never forgiven the English for! It has made me and my mother miserable ever since. My mother is sure it is all since that night. Do you know, I remember, though I was so young, that I felt the music—oh! like a devil in my bosom? Perhaps it was, and it passed out of me into him. Do you think it was?”
Wilfrid answered: “Well, no! I shouldn’t think you had anything to do with the devil.” Indeed, he was beginning to think her one of the smallest of frocked female essences.
“I lost my piano through it,” she went on. “I could not practise. I was the most miserable creature in all the world till I fell in love with my harp. My father would not play to get money. He sat in his chair, and only spoke to ask about meal-time, and we had no money for food, except by selling everything we had. Then my piano went. So then I said to my mother, I will advertize to give lessons, as other people do, and make money for us all, myself. So we paid money for a brass-plate, and our landlady’s kind son put it up on the door for nothing, and we waited for pupils to come. I used to pray to the Virgin that she would blessedly send me pupils, for my poor mother’s complaints were so shrill and out of tune it’s impossible to tell you what I suffered. But by-and-by my father saw the brass-plate. He fell into one of his dreadful passions. We had to buy him another wig. His passions were so expensive: my mother used to say, “There goes our poor dinner out of the window!” But, well! he went to get employment now. He can, always, when he pleases; for such a touch on the violin as my father has, you never heard. You feel yourself from top to toe, when my father plays. I feel as if I breathed music like air. One day came news from Italy, all in the newspaper, of my father’s friends and old companions shot and murdered by the Austrians. He read it in the evening, after we had a quiet day.