Page:In the Roar of the Sea.djvu/64

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56
IN THE ROAR OF THE SEA.

"What shall I play?—I mean, strum?" asked Judith, looking at Uncle Zachie. "Beethoven? No—Haydn. Here are his 'Seasons’. I can play 'Spring.'"

She had a light, but firm touch. Her father had been a man of great musical taste, and he had instructed her. But she had, moreover, the musical faculty in her, and she played with the spirit and with the understanding also. Wondrous is the power of music, passing that of fabled necromancy. It takes a man up out of his most sordid surroundings, and sets him in heavenly places. It touches fibres of the inner nature, lost, forgotten, ignored, and makes them thrill with a new life. It seals the eyes to outward sights, and unfurls new vistas full of transcendental beauty; it breathes over hot wounds and heals them; it calls to the surface springs of pure delight, and bids them gush forth in an arid desert.

It was so now, as, under the sympathetic fingers of Judith, Haydn's song of the "Spring" was sung. A May world arose in that little dingy room; the walls fell back and disclosed green woods thick with red robin and bursting bluebells, fields golden with buttercups, hawthorns clothed in flower, from which sang the blackbird, thrush, the finch, and the ouzel. The low ceiling rose and overarched as the speed-well blue vault of heaven, the close atmosphere was dispelled by a waft of crisp, pure air; shepherds piped, Boy Bluet blew his horn, and milkmaids rattled their pails and danced a ballet on the turf; and over all, down into every corner of the soul, streamed the glorious, golden sun, filling the heart with gladness.

Uncle Zachie had been standing at the door leading into his workshop, hesitating whether to remain, with a pish! and a pshaw! or to fly away beyond hearing. But he was arrested, then drawn lightly, irresistibly, step by step, toward the piano, and he noiselessly sank upon a chair, with his eyes fixed on Judith's fingers as they danced over the keys. His features assumed a more refined character as he listened; the water rose into his eyes, his lips quivered, and when, before reaching the end of the piece, Judith faltered and stopped, he laid his hand on her wrist and said: "My—dear you play, you do not strum. Play when you will—never can it be too long, too much for me. It may steady my