A few men in tailcoats carrying instruments passed them. Peter wondered at their indifference to his presence as they acknowledged Ivy. Surely they did not know who he was! If they did not, than being a friend of Mr. Byrne’s was the passport to many wonderful things.
He had felt for a long while that his calling was music, and now to experience it so closely was elating. Even for him, such concerts were a treat.
Ivy gave his hands a long, penetrating glance. She had noticed that he kept his fingernails trimmed abnormally low on his left hand and the innate pulsating of his fingers, as if he were playing music–on his knee, on the furniture; in the air. Ivy had lived with a musician her entire life. She knew the nature of a virtuoso and wondered why she had not realized it before.
He couldn’t help smiling. She had called him a man. To a fifteen-year-old, it was a high form of a compliment.
He savored the roughness of the strings beneath his fingers and the hard form of the violin on his shoulder, for he had missed playing sorely. He was so absorbed that he missed when Mr. Byrne turned half-way on the podium and exchanged gruntled smiles with Ivy.
Peter froze. England was fading on the horizon; his family melted into the distance with it. Pangs tore at his chest. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Now or never.
Peter gazed downward at the violin. It was meaningless to him, like the face of a stranger. “It’s mine?”
Peter cast a guarded glance at her as she seated herself, settling her skirts about her with daintily gloved hands. It appeared to Peter rather as though she had gotten in a bind with a couple of rosebushes, but the effect was charming.
“You don’t understand,” Peter sighed, “I’m not what you think.”
“Oh? I imagine it’s hard going pretending you’re a virtuoso violinist.”
Peter stepped out and waded through the orchestra to the front of the stage. What bright lights! He felt he must look like a young owl.
Peter poured his whole heart and soul and being into the music, stirred by the memories that Ivy’s conversation had wakened, and the violin sang and laughed and cried. He was not struggling now to create emotion in the song; it was overflowing from the depths of his soul.