Page:Queen Lucia.djvu/23

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19
"QUEEN LUCIA"

—you know my views about music and the impossibility of hearing music at all if you are stuck in the middle of a row of people—even then, the moment it is over you are whisked away to supper, or somebody wants to have a few words. There is always a crowd, there is always food, you cannot be alone, and it is only in loneliness, as Goethe says, that your perceptions put forth their flowers. No one in London has time to listen: they are all thinking about who is there and who isn’t there, and what is the next thing. The exquisite present, as you put it in one of your poems, has no existence there: it is always the feverish future.”

“Delicious phrase! I should have stolen that gem for my poor poems, if you had discovered it before.”

She was too much used to this incense to do more than sniff it in unconsciously, and she went on with her tremendous indictment.

“It isn’t that I find fault with London for being so busy,” she said with strict impartiality, “for if being busy was a crime, I am sure there are few of us here who would ’scape hanging. But take my life here, or yours for that matter. Well, mine if you like. Often and often I am alone from breakfast till lunch-time, but in those hours I get through more that is worth doing than London gets through in a day and a night. I have an hour at my music not looking about and wondering who my neighbours are, but learning, studying, drinking in divine melody. Then I have my letters to write, and you know what that means, and I still have time for an hour’s reading so that when you come to tell me lunch is ready, you will find