‘Then his heart fell into his stomach with surprise. At the bottom of the front page was his picture, and in bold lettering, the title:
‘SEARCH FOR MISSING HEIR OF BERTRAM’S ENTERS SECOND MONTH.’‘
Today I have my first of many forthcoming interviews. Meet Peter Bertram, the leading man in The Good Adventurers. A dark, curly-haired young man who is ever vacillating between extreme mischief and great heroism.
‘Peter hesitated. Ivy’s renewed weeping reached his ear and cut straight to his heart. The gun seemed to sear his hand. He flung the pistol into the brush; he would die like a man.’
–The Good Adventurers
(Seeing as he’s the main character, I couldn’t settle for just two excerpts. Or maybe I am just indecisive.)
So, first off, who has had the most impact on your life?
My mother. I don’t recall it personally, but she found me pretending to play the violin with a toy soldier and a toy drumstick when I was two. She played as a girl, and still did in those days, so expect that I had observed her and was imitating what I had seen. She bought a little violin that was my size and started teaching me what she could, and when I was three she took me to Sir Edward Elgar because she wanted to know if I had any talent worth nurturing. If it hadn’t been for her pluck many times I would not have played at all, or beyond my tenth birthday, or when grandfather began to oppose my playing. Of course, there are countless people who have played significant roles in helping me become who I am today; Walter Gilbreth is certainly one, and so is Sir Edward. But after my mother, I think Mr. Byrne would be the closest second.
What is something you hate?
Attics. If I ever fell into hardship I would sooner live on the street. Also, porridge. I would rather die than be lonely. My captivity in Switzerland affected me so adversely that if I am alone for a long period of time I must go and seek out company. Were I confined like that again, I might lose my head.
What is a word which best describes you?
Visionary. I never want to stop improving. Mr. Byrne says talented, however, my mother calls me unselfish; but Ivy says I’m a Romantic.
What do you like to wear?
White tie with tails. It gives me a thrill, as if I were about to perform.
What is your greatest fear?
An injury that would debilitate my hands in any way.
Do you have a favorite composition?
I used to enjoy playing from composers such as Sarasate best, but I now have a deeper appreciation for the romantic pieces, like the adagio from Bruch. That one is a favorite nonetheless; my audition performance for Mr. Byrne which Ivy made me play.
Do you have any birthmarks or scars?
I have a very notable scar. The artist’s rendering above omits it. I wish that they had included it, however, for it is a significant part of me. It goes from my left eyebrow on a bias all the way across my forehead to where I part my hair. It represents two or three times I have thwarted Death, and I wear it proudly.
Who is the person on Earth who you despise most?
I used to avowedly hate the person who was behind the Henchmen. But since I met my uncle I have found it difficult to outright despise him. I still dislike him, but I pity him too. He was very disillusioned and unhappy. Of the Henchmen, I hated Glockner most, for his slyness and cleverness. He was worse than Abendroth. Half of Abendroth’s vice was his ugliness, the other half was his grip. If you try to pin my arms to my sides on the sly I will punch your nose, regardless of your identity. That said, I would punch Abendroth on sight for the things he did to Ivy.
And Ivy. What is her significance?
. . .
(We must let this one pass, I’m afraid. Our interviewee seems a bit at a loss for words.)
What is your greatest regret?
That I did not think to resolve my differences with grandfather. Because of that, I never had the opportunity.
What is your worst vice?
Rashness. It has costed me much happiness, and there are many examples to be had. Too many. (Scientific experiments and marriage proposals included.)
What is your education?
I went to Stubbington House Preparatory School in Hampshire as little boy, Harrow School for secondary, and Christ Church, Oxford. Despite the prestige, I had very irregular training, and was under tutelage a great deal because I had been naughty or absent. I did well at first at Harrow, but I was constantly behind on account of running away from home. At that point I missed nearly an entire year, and my entrance into Oxford was delayed by nearly three years on account of the war and a gunshot wound.
Are you well-traveled?
I didn’t travel much in my childhood. Stubbington House was near the seashore in Hampshire, and I used to go to the beach and look across the Channel in the direction of France and probably Spain, wanting to go there. We had many hunting trips in Scotland, but my first continental travels were when I was kidnapped. I anticipate visiting many countries while touring, but as of now they are limited to short stays in Switzerland and Ireland. I have, however, spent a notable portion of my life in France. So, to answer your question, no.
How would you describe yourself?
Tall, medium-build leaning toward slender. Hazel eyes. Dark curly hair. Too curly. It’s maddening. No matter what I do to it refuses to lie down. Ivy calls it a sign of my destiny. (And she says I’m the Romantic. Her notions are utterly adorable.)
‘Peter was as one who had been turned to stone. Not play the violin! His dear instrument! His very soul, that fragile, tender mystery of life, was crushed within him. His eyes were downcast, his shoulders drooped sadly, and his throat ached. It was not a manly thing to cry—but to never play the violin! Ever! He could not bear it! And with a maddening cry, Peter sprang up, out of the room and into his own chamber, where he threw himself on to his bed and wept.’
–The Good Adventurers, by Lydia Carns