Chapter XXXIII. The Dream Come True
Years have passed. I now live in the home of my ancestors, Milligan Park. The miserable little wanderer who slept so often in a stable was heir to an old historical castle. It is a beautiful old place about twenty miles west of the spot where I jumped from the train to escape from the police. I live here with my mother, my brother and my wife.
We are going to baptize our first child, little Mattia. To-night all those who were my friends in my poorer days will meet under my roof to celebrate the event and I am going to offer to each one as a little token a copy of my “Memoirs,” which for the last six months I have been writing and which to-day I have received from the bookbinder.
This reunion of all our friends is a surprise for my wife; she will see her father, her sister, her brothers, her aunt. Only my mother and brother are in the secret. One will be missing from this feast. Alas! poor master! poor Vitalis! I could not do much for you in life, but at my request, my mother has had erected a marble tomb and placed your bust, the bust of Carlo Balzini, upon the tomb. A copy of this bust is before me now as I write, and often while penning my “Memoirs,” I have looked up and my eyes have caught yours. I have not forgotten you; I shall never forget you, dear master, dear Vitalis.
Here comes my mother leaning on my brother’s arm, for it is now the son who supports the mother, for Arthur has grown big and strong. A few steps behind my mother comes an old woman dressed like a French peasant and carrying in her arms a little baby robed in a white pelisse. It is dear Mother Barberin, the little baby is my son Mattia.
Arthur brings me a copy of the Times and points to a correspondence from Vienna which states that Mattia, the great musician, has completed his series of concerts, and that, in spite of his tremendous success in Vienna, he is returning to England to keep an engagement which cannot be broken. I did not need to read the article for, although all the world now calls Mattia the Chopin of the violin, I have watched him develop and grow. When we were all three working together under the direction of our tutors, Mattia made little progress in Latin and Greek, but quickly outstripped his professors in music. Espinassous, the barber-musician of Mendes, had been right.
A footman brings me a telegram:
“Sea very rough! Alas! Have been very ill, but managed to stop on my way at Paris for Christina. Shall be with you at 4 o’clock. Send carriage to meet us. Mattia.”
Mentioning Christina, I glanced at Arthur, but he turned away his eyes. I knew that Arthur loved Mattia’s little sister, and I knew that in time, although not just yet, my mother would become reconciled to the match. Birth was not everything. She
had not opposed my marriage, and later, when she saw that it was for Arthur’s happiness, she would not oppose his.
Lise comes down the gallery, my beautiful wife. She passes her arm round my mother’s neck.
“Mother dear,” she said, “there is some secret afoot and I believe that you are in the plot. I know if it is a surprise and you are in it, it is something for our happiness, but I am none the less curious.”
“Come, Lise, you shall have the surprise now,” I said, as I heard the sound of carriage wheels on the gravel outside.
One by one our guests arrive and Lise and I stand in the hall to welcome them. There is Mr. Acquin, Aunt Catherine and Etiennette, and a bronze young man who has just returned from a botanical expedition and is now the famous botanist – Benjamin Acquin. Then comes a young man and an old man. This journey is doubly interesting to them for when they leave us they are going to Wales to visit the mines. The young one is to make observations which he will carry back to his own country to strengthen the high position which he now holds in the Truyère mine, and the other to add to the fine collection of minerals which the town of Varses has honored him by accepting. It is the old professor and Alexix. Lise and I greet our guests, the landau dashes up from the opposite direction with Arthur, Christina and Mattia. Following in its wake is a dog cart driven by a smart looking man, beside whom is seated a rugged sailor. The gentleman holding the reins is Bob, now very prosperous, and the man by his side is his brother, who helped me to escape from England.
Let us now play for those we love
“Let us now play for those we love.”
When the baptismal feast is over, Mattia draws me aside to the window.
“We have often playful to indifferent people,” he said; “let us now, on this memorable occasion, play for those we love?”
“To you there is no pleasure without music, eh, Mattia, old boy,” I said, laughing; “do you remember how you scared our cow?”
From a beautiful box, lined with velvet, he drew out an old violin which would not have brought two francs if he had wished to sell it. I took from its coverings a harp, the wood of which had been washed so often by the rain, that it was now restored to its original color.
“Will you sing your Neapolitan song?” asked Mattia.
“Yes, for it was that which gave Lise back her speech,” I said, smiling at my wife who stood beside me.
Our guests drew round us in a circle. A dog suddenly came forward. Good old Capi, he is very old and deaf but he still has good eyesight. From the cushion which he occupies he has recognized the harp and up he comes, limping, for “the Performance.” In his jaws he holds a saucer; he wants to make the rounds of the “distinguished audience.” He tries to walk on his two hind paws, but strength fails him, so he sits down gravely and with his paw on his heart he bows to the society.
Our song ended, Capi gets up as best he can and “makes the round.” Each one drops something into the saucer and Capi delightedly brings it to me. It is the best collection he has ever made. There are only gold and silver coins – 170 francs.
I kiss him on his cold nose as in other days, and the thought of the miseries of my childhood gives me an idea. I tell my guests that this sum shall be the first subscription to found a Home for little street musicians. My mother and I will donate the rest.
“Dear Madam,” said Mattia, bending over my mother’s hand, “let me have a little share in this good work. The proceeds of my first concert in London will be added to Capi’s collection.”
And Capi barked approval.