“He can’t take away Peter’s title, or yours, can he?”
“No. But Bertram’s is mastery and influence, and if he disowns me, he can keep it from Peter.” He took her arm as he spoke and led her back into the drawing room.
His exile had only been a few weeks, but he was aching to make music come from an instrument. He went to the closet and took out his violin case. It had sat for the past nine months in the closet, for he had reoccupied his old apartments upon the family’s return to Lyttelton. He placed it unceremoniously on the desk, opened the lid and lovingly touched the varnished wood and plucked the strings.
“Heinrich!” Lord and Lady Bertram gasped together.
Lord Bertram rose half-way from his chair. “When did he say that?”
PARIS, France— August 29, 1914
(‘Dear Peter’, seems a rather familiar way to start out a letter, since you are not my sweetheart or my brother. But since ‘Most Respected Sir’ didn’t seem fitting either, and because you are a friend, I will go ahead, and I hope that you shall pardon me.)
‘He is not angry about the Guarneri either; he said that it is not the instrument that counts, it is the person who plays it, and he would have dearly regretted it had you been hurt. He sent it the day after you left to a luthier in Austria. It is reparable, happily, but I think it will likely be a while before we hear of it again.’
“But I never said good-bye. I didn’t even get to attend his funeral.” There was a catch in Peter’s voice. “When I was away his absence seemed natural, but now that I’m home, I have to experience it, and I feel it so deeply, so acutely!” He broke off and covered his face to hide his emotion. Lady Bertram pried them away and took his wet cheeks in her hands, directing Peter’s vision into her humid eyes.
“My love,” she said, in a wavering voice, “Roger will always be in our hearts, and his memory will always be with us. No one can take that away from us, no?”
“They expect to be sent abroad by next year. I spoke to him over the ’phone this morning after I read about it. He was elated! Walter has the spirit of the veriest patriot.”
Winnie seemed to sense a sanctity in the place. She stepped into the middle of the arch and sprinkled the flowers she had lovingly gathered into the tinkling waters and watched them dance away, while her siblings watched her ritual in silence.
Peter, Anthea, and Patsy thought of their friend and godfather, who had offered them so much support and wise counsel as they crossed the structure that he had had erected and turned upstream towards the cave. A bit of tell-tale white was clutched in Patsy’s hand, and they all wondered silently where he was at that moment.
I thought of our club this morning and the times we’ve since starting it, both good and bad. Of, course in those days, we had real butter,” He looked wistfully at his bread.
“I realized today, Wins, that you had never been made a member. Roger was seven when he became one, and now you’re eight, so I decided we should do this now. There’s no telling what might happen—before we’re together again.”