Page:In the Roar of the Sea.djvu/54

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46
IN THE ROAR OF THE SEA

animosity. He could not, that she could see, hurt herself in the execution of his resentment, but he might turn her aunt out of his house. That she had affronted her aunt she was aware; Mrs. Trevisa's manner in parting with her had shown that with sufficient plainness.

A strange jumble of sounds on the piano startled Judith. Her first thought and fear were that her brother had gone to the instrument, and was amusing himself on the keys. But on listening attentively she was aware that there was sufficient sequence in the notes to make it certain that the performer was a musician, though lacking in facility of execution. She descended the stairs and entered the little sitting-room. Uncle Zachie was seated on the music-stool, and was endeavoring to play a sonata of Beethoven that was vastly beyond the capacity of his stiff-jointed fingers. Whenever he made a false note he uttered a little grunt and screwed up his eyes, endeavored to play the bar again, and perhaps accomplish it only to break down in the next.

Judith did not venture to interrupt him. She took up some knitting, and seated herself near the piano, where he might see her without her disturbing him. He raised his brows, grunted, floundered into false harmony, and exclaimed, "Bless me! how badly they do print music nowadays. Who, without the miraculous powers of a prophet, could tell that B should be natural?" Then, turning his head over his shoulder, addressed Judith,

"Good-morning, missie. Are you fond of music?"

"Yes, sir, very."

"So you think. Everyone says he or she is fond of music, because that person can hammer out a psalm tune or play the 'Rogue's March.' I hate to hear those who call themselves musical strum on a piano. They can't feel, they only execute."

"But they can play their notes correctly," said Judith, and then flushed with vexation at having made this pointed and cutting remark. But it did not cause Mr. Menaida to wince.

"What of that? I give not a thank-you for mere literal music-reading. Call Jump, set 'Shakespeare' before her, and she will hammer out a scene—correctly as to words; but where is the sense? Where the life? You must play with the spirit and play with the under-