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Another long one.  I don’t suppose a story of this length belongs on a blog, really, but scraping through my archives I found this piece of my past and thought I might air it again.  Please read only if you have the time…..

Delphinia Morgan-Jett was mildly vexed, which would explain her tone as she reached the foot of a call centre staircase of numbers and a real voice enquired thinly:

“Can I help you?”

“He is there again.”

A pause at the end of the line:  “I’m sorry.  Who, exactly?”

Mrs. Morgan-Jett tutted dangerously (acquaintances feared that ‘tut’ as a postman might fear a Doberman’s snarl).  “Young man; it is not my habit to repeat myself.  I have telephoned concerning this vagrant at least a dozen times.  Kindly deal with it.”

“Ah.”  The thin voice took on a deeper timbre of understanding.  “You’re Mrs…(a further pause) …Morgan, that right?”

“Morgan –Jett.”

“Yeah, whatever.  And this is about the bloke on the corner of Christminster Avenue – him with the brolly?  So he’s there again, then?”

“Was that not the substance of my initial remark?”

“Right.  Look, Mrs. Morgan, is he is actually committing any offence?  I mean, is he doing anyone any harm?”

“He is loitering; he is a vagrant.  He is unpleasant and he is causing an obstruction!”  Delphinia Morgan-Jett was as close to seething as she could ever become.   “See to it that he is removed immediately!”

The thin voice capitulated.  “We’ll get someone sent round.”

Delphinia carefully wiped her finger-marks from the white plastic of her ‘phone, then, morning sherry grasped between index and thumb, crossed to one of two deep casement windows that overlooked Christminster Avenue.

This view, unchanging with the years, so appealed to Mrs. Morgan-Jett’s sense of order and place that she often spent her morning seated here before her desk.  The buildings facing her on the other side of Christminster Avenue were identical in almost every respect to hers: rows of stone five-step approaches ascending to polished wooden doors, dignified porches spoiled only by security buzzers stacked discreetly behind an outer arch.  There was, of course, the curse of the motor car – impatient growls and grunts, the bawling of ill-disciplined children desperate for all the things children were always desperate for:  toys, sweets, ice-cream, toilets, the sea.

Yet in rare moments of tolerance Delphinia might be forced to admit she even found music in those discordant street noises.  Not this morning.

He was there again.

At the seaward end of the Avenue, at the traffic lights where it joined the vulgarity of the Esplanade, the man had placed a wickerwork picnic basket.  Hunched beneath a voluminous beige mackintosh reaching nearly to his ankles, with a deerstalker hat jammed firmly down over his long grey locks, thick horn-rimmed spectacles, a smothering brown scarf, and a large, folded, red and yellow golf umbrella in his hand, he opened the picnic basket to extract a thermos, with which he poured himself a generous measure of tea.  Then he sat down atop the basket to drink. Refreshed, and carefully ignoring the attention of bemused passers-by, he next raised himself to his full height, drew his shabby coat about him, and stepped to the kerb at the very corner of the road.

Delphinia’s vagrant raised a commanding hand to the car nearest to him, and stood in front of it.  Oblivious to a squeal of brakes, he turned his back upon its aghast driver to strut to the centre of the road junction where, with sweeping gestures from his folded brolly, he made it clear to the traffic on the Esplanade that he wished it to proceed.   He remained, making these arms-length gyrations, for some time – directing, or obstructing the traffic upon both roads for long enough to attract a rising chorus of horn-blasting protestation.

The gesticulations he made were reminiscent of a graceful dance:  the order he imposed had logic of its own, though his directions bore no relation at all to the sequence of the traffic lights, so when the lights favoured a certain stream of traffic he would almost always be in its way.  After a while, certain of the motorists under his influence started to obey him rather than the lights, others not.   The outcome was chaos.

Delphinia, who had watched this scene enacted many times, waited for the grinding of metal and stream of obscenities which she was sure must come, but which somehow never did.  Those whose view was closer to events seemed to regard the man with humour, and even booed when a harassed-looking policeman in a van arrived.

Normally at this stage of events the man would  succumb to a few words of wisdom and allow himself to be led away, but not today.  He snarled his dissent; he wrapped his arms around the pillar of the traffic lights on Delphinia’s corner, and – she must have imagined it – he looked directly up at her; looked her straight in the eyes!

No!   Delphinia took an instinctive backward step.  Those eyes had found her so quickly they must have known she was watching!   Her curiosity sharpened by unwonted guilt, she moved into view once more.  A policewoman had arrived to lend extra weight to the constabulary argument, a substantial presence in every way, but the umbrella man’s gaze was unswerving.  He stared fixedly at Delphinia’s window with an unmistakeable plea in his expression: he was seeking her help!

Delphinia found herself making a decision – one which she would have been unable to explain to anyone sensibly, and certainly not one she would have confessed to her cocktail evening friends.  Snatching her coat she hastened to the lift, and managed to reach the street just as the vagrant was being bundled unceremoniously into the policeman’s van.

“Just one minute!  Officer, wait if you will, please?”

It was not a request.  The policeman, whose day was already becoming something of a trial, glared towards the source of this imperious voice, his right hand still securely clamped to the umbrella man’s collar.  He met the crystal stare of a woman clearly used to obedience.

“I shall be glad to take responsibility for this gentleman.”  Delphinia clipped her consonants precisely.  “You may deliver him into my care.”

“I’m delivering him to a nice comfy room in our detention suite.”  The policeman responded, although not too brusquely.  Delphinia’s upright bearing, immaculate coiffure and expensive burgundy suit flashed warnings he should not dismiss.  Such attire was consistent with that of a councillor’s wife, or maybe a member of the Watch Committee.

The woman constable was more sympathetic:  “Are you acquainted with this person, madam?”

“We received a complaint.”  The policeman said.  “We’ve had a number of complaints.”

“Yes, yes I know.  I am the complainant.”  Delphinia brushed this argument aside.  “And now I’m telling you I will be responsible for this – this person.  I assure you he will not repeat the offence.”  She fixed the vagrant with her coldest, most incisive stare.  “You won’t, will you?”

The vagrant grinned three teeth from his top jaw, two from his lower jaw.  “No!  No offencing!  No!”

The woman constable seemed puzzled.  “Are you saying you know this person, Mrs…..?”

“Morgan-Jett.   Not exactly, no.”

“Then you realise what you’re saying?”


The two representatives of the law exchanged glances, and within their silent communication were all sorts of unuttered discussions about avoidance of paperwork and use of police time.  “Well, chummy;” said the policeman.  “It looks as if you’ve found yourself a friend.”

Delphinia waited patiently through a number of formalities.   When they were concluded, and the police presence was receding in a fog of exhaust, she said:   “Would you care for a cup of lapsang souchong?”

The vagrant grinned those teeth again.  “Yes;” He said in a surprisingly cultured voice.  “I rather think I would!”

Throughout this process Delphinia Morgan-Jett had suppressed a desire to shout at herself.  Why, in heavens’ name, was she doing this?  What was it about this eccentric man that drew her to him?  Pillar of the community though she was, such acts of charity were completely foreign to her.  As she guided the umbrella man to her door, accompanied by muted applause from a small crowd, she wondered what insanities would visit her next?

“I am Delphinia. What is your name?”

“Tom.  I’m Tom.”

In her hallway she persuaded Tom out of his deerstalker and coat, revealing an Arran sweater from better years and grey trousers that were possibly even older.  Delphinia consigned the umbrella and basket to a corner.  “You were looking at me as though you seemed to recognise me – do you?”

“No.  No, I don’t.”  Tom said abruptly; then, in gentler tone:  “These are nice.”

The walls of a corridor which formed the spine of Delphinia’s apartment were lined with oil paintings, detailed landscapes and character studies lyrical in colour and brilliantly executed.  Their creator had a fine hand.

“Do you like them?  My son Clarence was the artist.  Once, this apartment was his studio.   He exhibited at the Royal Academy, you know.”


“Yes.  He simply adored the light in this place; the reflections from the sea intensify it:  it inspired him.”

They had reached the kitchen.   “He moved?”  Tom asked.  “Where’s he now?”

Tom’s host did not answer at once.  She busied herself preparing tea, arranging two bone china cups and saucers on a silver tray.  “One’s children should survive one; that is what I do not understand.  Life is as it is, I suppose.”

“He died?”

“An accident; a complete accident – in Romania, of all places.  Some years ago now.”

“You’ve got his paintings.  You can remember him by them.”

Delphinia smiled sadly.  “Yes, I have his paintings.  Some of them at least.   Shall we take tea in the drawing room?”

“That would be nice.”  Tom said.

They sat upon brocaded chairs watching the sun’s patterned creep across the floor; and they sipped at lapsang souchong from those fine china cups, regarding each other in comfortable silence.  Tom, despite his somewhat unusual appearance, seemed to fit into Delphinia’s elegant backcloth in a way she would be at a loss to describe, but she found solace in his presence.  Perhaps she did not choose to analyse or describe it:  she was content to bask in the peculiar intensity of his light.

“It’s a nice apartment.”  He said at last.  “You must have a lot of money.”

Delphinia gave a ghost of a smile: she was unaccustomed to talking about money.  “I have enough.”  She said.

“That piano.  That’s a nice piano.”

“It is a Beckstein.  I believe Yehudi Menuhin may have owned it once.”

“You play?”

“I do, but not habitually.  My favoured instrument is the harp.”

“Harp, ah.”  Tom nodded sagely.  “Where’s the harp?”  He asked, after a pause.

“It’s downstairs – in another apartment.”

“Ah.  You’ve lent it to somebody?”

“Goodness no!  I would never dream…”  Delphinia bit back on her words.  She was going to rebuke Tom for daring to imagine that an instrument so temperamental and so precious could ever be loaned to anyone!  But Tom, of course, could not be expected to know such things.  “I keep it in a separate apartment.  Harps are sensitive to alterations in temperature or humidity, you see:  they do not live fulfilling lives with people.    By keeping it in a separate apartment I may maintain exactly the atmosphere it requires for perfect tone.”

“So you’ve another apartment – like this – for your harp?”

“Well, rather smaller actually.  But yes.”

Tom shook his head with profundity.  “I think you must be very rich.”  He said.  Then:  “I’d like to see it.”

Delphinia rewarded him with another of her faintly patronising smiles.  “Perhaps another time?” She said.

“I’d better be going.”  Tom suggested.

“Yes, of course.  Shall I arrange for a taxi?  Where do you live?”

Tom demurred.  “I Don’t get on with taxis.”

So, by fits and starts, began the most unlikely of friendships, a connection the existence of which neither party would accept, yet existed nonetheless.  At first, whenever Tom appeared with his traffic director’s accoutrement at the corner of Christminster Street Delphinia would hasten downstairs to ply him with tea, and Tom would accept, staying long into the morning in that warm, comfortable drawing room.  In time he pursued his role as traffic controller less and less:  instead, he would arrive at her door bereft of all but the clothes he stood up in, standing upon the threshold with his hair greased liberally and plastered to his head with mathematical precision.  On one such morning Delphinia gave him a tour of her apartment, in which she took care to include a very special room.

The door was at the end of the corridor.

“I keep this room as something of a shrine.”  Delphinia said.   “It’s rather dusty, I’m afraid.”

She opened the door, revealing a large, well-illuminated space.  There was no covering upon the floor and no decoration.  Around all of the walls were stacked canvases – hundreds of them.  Artwork was visible on some, not on others:  completed pictures leant against primed but naked canvasses, sketches against half-finished works.  Tom stood amazed, his eyes drinking in the profusion of colour.

“Clarence worked here.”  He breathed.

“He did, yes.”  Delphinia did not mention that the contents of that room included thirty completed canvases, or that her son’s work, if an example ever reached the market, could command sums in excess of two hundred thousand pounds.  She lacked that much trust in Tom, at least for now.

Tom said the right thing.  “You must be very proud of him.”  He said.

Delphinia almost beamed.  “Yes, Tom.  I believe I am.”

The summer passed.  Tom came for tea once, twice, three times a week; and during those visits little was said, much implied.    Upon one occasion Delphinia played a Chopin prelude on the Beckstein and Tom sat in a reverie so deep he seemed to be almost sleeping.

Then came a day in autumn when Delphinia, having passed a morning shopping, took her usual taxi home from the town centre.   She consoled herself with having taken advantage of the best of the day, for the last hour of fading daylight, which had been warning of things to come was now fulfilling its promise.  Rain hammered upon the taxi roof, bounced from the pavements.  Caught on the street, soaked pedestrians dashed or cringed beneath umbrellas, frozen moments of their discomfort brought into transplendent relief by sheets of lightning.   There was a queue of traffic building at the corner of Praed Street.   Delphinia’s driver muttered something.

“I beg your pardon?”  She enquired.

“I said, oh no not him again.”  The taxi driver repeated, omitting the profanity of the first utterance. “He needs sorting out, this one.”

Suspicion darker than raincloud filled Delphinia’s mind.  She strained her eyes against  the gloom.   The arc of colour described by a golfing umbrella was unmistakeable.  “Tom!”  She sighed.   “Is he often here?”

“Know him, do you?  Lately, yes missus.  He used to be down your way, didn’t he – Christminster Avenue?  He’ll get himself arrested again, for sure.  I was talking to Wayne, a copper mate of mine?  He reckons if they catch him again they’re going to get him sectioned:  you know, put away?  ‘Bout time, too.”

“Pick me up again at the lights, if I don’t come back to you.”  Delphinia instructed.  Once again in Tom’s case, it seemed as though she would act without thought for the consequences.  Fortunately she had the foresight to pack a brolly in her bag that morning, so she would avoid the full punishment of the elements, but the angry tea-tray shatter of thunder was warning enough as she hastened down the pavement to where Tom’s elegant ballet played to an unappreciative audience.

“Tom!  Come out of the road at once!”

Either ignored or unheard, she watched Tom wave insistently at the traffic jam, guiding one ensnared car deeper into his trap.   Sirens whined in the distance.  The sound galvanised Delphinia into action.  She stepped out into the road with urgency renewed.  A determined Delphinia was not to be ignored, certainly not to be disobeyed.  She snatched Tom’s arm in a commanding grip, virtually frog-marching him back to his basket, which waited dutifully beneath the traffic light.

“Pick that up, and hurry!”

Shouldering their way through crowds whose angry muttering rivalled the storm, and without once releasing his arm, Delphinia led Tom mutely back to her taxi.   The taxi driver looked doubtful.

“He’s a tramp!  I don’t want him in my cab.”

Delphinia was in no mood to be diplomatic.  “He’s my guest, and I insist upon it.  Who should I report you to?”

Mouthing darkly, the cabby conceded.  “But keep him quiet.  I don’t want no trouble with the law.”

Outside, sirens were evolving into blue flashing lights.  A quick-thinking Delphinia thrust Tom’s signature brolly out of sight on the cab floor.  “Now remove that ridiculous hat!  It’s soaked anyway.”

Clearing the pandemonium Tom had left behind him took a little while, during which Tom twice tried to exit the cab and offer his assistance, each time to be restrained by Delphinia’s surprising strength.  Eventually the threat of police detention was behind them and the taxi got under way.

“Where do you live?”  Delphinia asked.

“Him, he don’t live nowhere.”  The taxi driver had overheard.  “He gets into hostels from time to time, but mostly he sleeps rough down by the stock sheds, don’t you, mate?”

Delphinia gave Tom one of her most piercing looks.  “Is this true?”  She asked.  Tom said nothing.  “Very well.  Take us to Christminster Avenue, driver.”

For once, Delphinia was disposed to tip heavily.  As he unloaded her bags, the cabby warned:  “Don’t you let him take advantage of you, lady.  Be careful, alright?”

“My good man;” Delphinia snapped; “do I look as if I am to be taken advantage of?”

She had come to a decision.  When Tom had finally surrendered his wet clothes and was perched upon her settee looking ridiculous in one of her older, larger housecoats, she confronted him:

“I have ample room.  You must stay here, with me.”

Thus Delphinia’s relationship with Tom entered a new phase.   She never once questioned the motives which led her to buy him clothes, cook meals for him, or use all her powers of persuasion when he seemed disposed to return to his former traffic-organising life.  She asked few questions of him.  Although with time he became a trifle more erudite, they conversed very little.   It was as if she had found a role she was always meant to play; and if, somehow, memories of her departed son played a part, or if she was motivated simply by loneliness, that was a matter for others to question, not she.

Others did, of course.  Her friends – perhaps acquaintances would be a better term – were slow to accept the apparently retarded man with his unruly appearance.  Many stayed away, a few, for the first time in her life, possibly, became true confidants: interested in Tom, concerned about his life, concerned, for once, about Delphinia.

Tom, for his part, kept pace with change without effort or eloquence.   He seemed to move easily whichever way the wind blew and somehow always ended up ahead of events; untouched by them and splendidly untouchable.  The taxi-driver’s warning had been needless:  although he accepted kindness when it was offered, Tom never sought favours or money.  For large measures of his time he sought nothing at all:  he could be happy for hours just sitting upon the edge of his bed staring at the wall, or in Delphinia’s drawing room gazing out of the window at the Avenue and its glimpse of the sea beyond the Esplanade.   There was only one request he had to make, one which took considerable effort and a month of agonising to be put into words.

“The harp.  I want to hear you play.”

Delphinia looked across their luncheon table into the eyes of the sanguine figure who even in the most expensive clothes managed to look ill-arranged and dishevelled, and sighed.  She knew this moment would come, – had waited for it in an apprehensive, almost excited way.  “Very well.”  She agreed.  “Come this afternoon.”

Unlike Delphinia’s living apartment which occupied the whole of the second floor, the floor below was divided into two smaller apartments.  Several locks defended Number 3A, each of which Delphinia opened, using keys from two separate rings.   She led Tom inside:  “I have a complete temperature and humidity control system.”  She explained as she closed the door behind them, waving a dismissive hand at a control panel in the lobby.  “Come through.”

There, behind a plain panelled door in a light and airy room, its dark wood polished to a luxuriant depth of shine, its inlaid scrollwork picked out in white beech, Delphinia’s harp stood waiting.

“American, a Lyon and Healy harp.  Do you like it?”   She took Tom’s arm gently.  “Come now, sit down, won’t you?  I will play for you.”

Delphinia guided him to a green velvet upholstered salon chair at the window end of the room.  Only when Tom was seated, only when she sat before her instrument and met his expectant look, did the import of this moment dawn upon her.   For so many years she had played alone, in this soundproofed, closeted space.  No-one had heard, no-one had seen until now, and all at once an auditorium of years ago yawned dark and deep before her, the sounds of settling people, the suppressed coughs, the murmured words that always followed that first, polite applause, returned to her.  She drew the knee of her harp over her shoulder, rested the body there, and she played.  She played as she always did and yet with more, her head lost inside her music, her eyes closed to all but the fleeting touch of the strings.

And Tom?  He watched and listened in his own private rapture, utterly absorbed, letting the sweet, quiet insinuation of Delphinia’s music envelop him like a warm blanket.  Kessner’s Sonatina, Parry’s Sonata, Pachelbel’s Canon flowed over him as gently as sleep.  He did not know for how long she played, or the titles to all of the pieces he heard, although he knew many.  He only knew he was in the presence of hands whose eloquence was faultless.  He did not want it to end.

“Yes, I was a soloist many, many years ago.”  Delphinia admitted as they ascended the stairs.  “When my husband was alive we travelled frequently, and then Clarence came along so it was no longer possible to pursue a career.  I was forced to give up.”

“But you kept your harp.”

“Yes, I kept my harp.”

“You should go back to it again.  You play very well.”

Delphinia laughed a little musical laugh she had been cultivating of late.  “Oh, Tom, one can’t simply ‘go back’.  Anyway my dear, I’m too old.  I like to practice, though.  I enjoy the discipline.”

Those true friends who remained in Delphinia’s circle noticed a new intimacy in her manner, a softening of the autocratic glare, even an alteration in her speech, which now included familiar nouns with a freedom hitherto beyond her compass.   She seemed – well, she seemed happier.  This was quickly attributed to Tom’s influence and by some to a very much closer relationship than was the case.  If Delphinia got to hear of this version she did not show it or resent it; and Tom?  Resentment was not part of Tom’s makeup.

Over years fast friendships must inevitably spawn a form of love.  More unlikely companions would be hard to find:   Delphinia, essentially a very private person with high standards; Tom who could be described at best as eccentric.  Yet Delphinia opened her life to this rumpled man, and he responded with unique sensitivity.  The balance between them was perfect; so much so that those around them quickly forgot Tom’s dubious past.  One day a month after Tom moved in, Delphinia quietly sequestered his golf umbrella and hid it from view.  She waited another month before taking the picnic basket.  In each case, when he discovered their absence, Tom paced the corridor mouthing his distress for a while, but he did not otherwise complain.

There were rifts: one such occurred just before Christmas of their first year.  This was the only time in any year when Delphinia had to acknowledge the existence of relatives.  For all but a week of every twelve months her younger brother’s family were completely oblivious to her existence, only to appear bearing gifts unfailingly at a weekend in Advent.  Geraint Morgan eyed Tom up and down.

“Who is he?”  He demanded.  “What’s he doing here?”

Delphinia’s response was icily controlled.  “Tom is my friend.  He is here by my invitation.”

Tom ambled forward with his best attempt at a smile much improved by Delphinia’s insistence that he visit a dentist, offering his hand.   Morgan deliberately ignored it.   “It’s strange time of day for him to be visiting, isn’t it?” He said.

“Tom isn’t visiting.  He is my companion.  He lives here.”

Rachel Morgan made her first contribution to this conversation in the form of a derisory snort.

“Well!”  Said Geraint:  “Whatever would Robertson think of this, now?”

Delphinia pursed her lips:  “It has been many years now, Geraint.   If he was here, though, I believe he would thoroughly approve.”   The reference to Robertson Jett, her deceased husband, made her bridle.  “My decisions and actions are scarcely your affair, now are they?”

“We do want to see you kept safe;” Rachel chipped in.  “We don’t want to see you taken advantage of by some disgusting old man.”

“Tom is neither disgusting nor particularly old!”  Delphinia snapped back.  “And I insist you stop referring to my acquaintances as if they were not in the room!”

The visit was as brief as it was acrimonious.  The Morgans stayed only to observe the formalities while Tom retired discreetly.  He re-emerged after they had left.

“Don’t concern yourself, Tom.”  Delphinia soothed. “My brother’s family always rather lacked the social graces.” She unwrapped the present Rachel had thrust into her hand and stared at it disparagingly.  It was a book.  “I find this woman such an uninspiring author.  Do consign it to the kitchen bin, there’s a dear, will you?”

The following morning Delphinia answered her door to a policewoman.  Geraint Morgan had voiced his suspicion that ‘a helpless old lady was being victimised by a confidence trickster’, and although she was quickly able to allay those fears she took heed of the warning Geraint’s behaviour implied.  That same day she went to see her solicitor.

For five years Tom and Delphinia pursued an idyllic existence, he a devoted audience for her playing whether upon the piano or the harp, she often bemused, sometimes amused, but always stimulated by his stilted conversation, his unpredictable ‘ways’.  Theirs was a very private life, one in which they rarely ventured out beyond the usual demands of shopping or a limited social round, though exceptionally in their second summer they spent a month in France, renting a small house Delphinia had visited in her younger days.  But she fretted when she was deprived of her instruments and Tom understood this better than any.

To all things must be a beginning, a middle and an end, and the end came to Delphinia one spring morning.  Sitting opposite Tom at the breakfast table with a soft sun shining through her window she suddenly leaned towards him:

“Dearest Tom…” She began, trying to say something she would never complete.

A stroke was the doctor’s verdict, when Tom found the presence of mind to call him.   Mercifully quick, in his medical opinion – she would have known very little about it.  Tom, who would grieve for Delphinia in his own, very silent way, recovered his picnic basket and brolly (he had always known where Delphinia had hidden them) and made for the door.

Cynthia Braithwaite met him on the stair.  Cynthia was Delphinia’s most intimate acquaintance outside her companionship with Tom, and she had readily agreed to take care of him if anything happened to her.  Tom was not to become homeless; he was to continue to live as tenant in Delphinia’s apartment, on condition he looked after her harp.  In the events that followed, Cynthia honoured her promise.

At the funeral (he was the only one of the solemn gathering to be kept dry by a brightly coloured umbrella) Tom wept uncontrollably; and at the reading of the will he showed very little emotion when he learned he was Delphinia’s principal beneficiary.  An annual income and tenure of her apartment, with an additional allowance for the harp.  Cynthia was bequeathed twenty thousand pounds as a remembrance of her friendship and ‘patience with a cranky old woman’.  The Morgans were left three paintings from her son’s collection; they were to be allowed to choose which three.

The Morgans were outraged, of course, because they had seen the entire inheritance as rightfully theirs, and Tom had, in their view, taken it from under their noses.  Without Cynthia’s terrier-like tenacity Tom might still have been legally bullied out of his entitlement, but with her help he stood firm and survived the legal challenges which followed.

Finally, there came a day when Geraint and Rachel Morgan arrived at the apartment to select their choice of canvases.  Cynthia received them and Tom was not to be seen, but as they examined the pictures on the corridor wall the gentle strains of the Leibestraum wafted out to them from the drawing room.  So well-known a piece might have passed them by, yet it had a divinity even they could not ignore.

“That’s a fine recording.”  Geraint commented.  “Wonderful tonal quality.  Who is the artist, do you know?”

Cynthia was standing at the end of the corridor, next to the kitchen door.  “Yes, I do.  This…” she waved towards a substantial canvas hung to take full advantage of the light; “…is his portrait.  I think it’s a true Jett masterpiece.  It captures a virtuoso at the height of his powers, don’t you agree?”

Geraint Morgan stared at the picture.  Cynthia went on:  “He was booked to perform the Brandenburg at the Festival Hall that September; the end of a triumphant world tour.  Then one day he just stood up and walked out of rehearsals.  He was never seen again – a nervous breakdown, maybe?  No-one knew.  Delphinia was the only one who did, and she found out just a few weeks before she died, going through the paintings in Clarence’s old studio.  I’m sure she had a premonition.”

Rachel Morgan had joined her husband.  She read the appellation at the foot of the work aloud:  “Thomas Brabham DeVere, pianist.  Oh my god!  Isn’t that….?”

Geraint nodded.  Wordlessly he walked back to the drawing room door and opened it.  Tom looked up from the Beckstein, but he did not cease playing.


© Frederick Anderson 2017.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Frederick Anderson with specific direction to the original content















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