By PDB News about Evageline’s prowess on the keyboard was soon on every tongue. Invitations arrived at Mallards for soirees at which hopefully Evageline would honour them with her dexterity on the keys.
Poor Evageline was mystified but to please her Aunt agreed to several such occasions as long as they were fairly imminent. She and Miss Mapp both knew there would be hard and perhaps unforgiving times ahead ,caused by the more unkind nature of some of the gossips that lived in the very head of the town.
The first of the occasions was at her friend Katerina’s. Dr. and Mrs. Pemberton (who knew more than most), had taken to their daughters new friend and now found an excuse and opportunity to show she and her aunt hospitality with no strings attached —apart from, that is,a request for Evageline to play.
The piano tuner had never been busier. It seemed as if every piano in Tilling needed to be tuned on the off chance that Evegeline’s fingers would be gliding over their keys.
Evageline practised daily as she always did but with with the invitations arriving – and not wanting to let her aunt down, she put together several varied programmes.
The first engagement was with the Pembertons and a group of about fifteen had been invited to partake of a light supper followed by a musical feast. Lucia was of course the premier guest, followed closely by the Mayor and his wife and the new Rector and his rather dowdy wife. No one really knew her yet — but it was acknowledged that those who had managed to break through the shyness barrier found her gentle and kind. Her husband, a man who relished his ‘position’ in the town, looked forward to an evening amongst those who he knew would be some of the most important burgers of Tilling.
Evageline took a little trouble over her appearance. Her black hair shone and her skin glowed with health. She wore a blue dress that skimmed her slender figure and was in no way tight. Miss Mapp looked her up and down and grunted her approval. Tonight they were to arrive by taxi. The few hundred yards over the cobbled streets was too much for Miss Mapp. Tonight she wanted to arrive in style and not have to struggle down the light gradient and along the High Street to The White House.
That the evening was a success was an understatement. The supper, though light, was perfection. An excellent Vichyssoise followed by lightly poached chicken breasts served with a little green salad and new potatoes. Mrs. Pembertons cook I housekeeper knew what she was about in the kitchen. For dessert they had a delicious sherry trifle that managed to neatly fill any corners left in the stomach.
After a short while the ladies repaired upstairs and the gentlemen, remaining in the dining room, lit up their cigars or cigarettes. After a while, and at their hosts request they then all proceeded to the drawing room where the seats were arranged with care. The baby grand piano normally tucked a little to the left by one of the windows so that Mrs. Pemberton who was no mean pianist herself benefited from the light, was now more centrally positioned in front of the fireplace — the grate of which was filled with pine cones the weather being so clement.
Everyone was seated when Evageline and Dr. Pemberton came into the room. ‘Quite an entrance’, thought Lucia crossly wishing she had hung back rather than slightly rushing to obtain the best position. Dr. Pemberton took the opportunity to welcome his guests once again and concluded by saying that Katerina’s dear friend Evageline was going to provide a programme of music that would last approximately half an hour.
The Rector cleared his throat as if to say something. ‘Not a prayer please’ thought Lucia flashing him such a stem look that it made him settle himself more comfortably back into his chair. His wife, as ever by his side put her hand momentarily on his arm. He glanced briefly at her as if to acknowledge her presence and then like everyone present watched as the graceful Evageline settled herself on the piano stool.
It was, all present acknowledged, a blissful half hour that passed all too quickly. Evageline’s skills were evident and her choice of music was eclectic enough to cover all tastes. At the end she stood and slightly inclined her head in acknowledgment of the applause then glanced warmly towards her aunt who was beaming happily — proud of her niece.
‘Pride comes before a fall’ Lucia thought somewhat prophetically – not a little annoyed that she was not herself the centre of attention. She engaged fellow guests with a conversation about how she — Lucia, had discovered this girls talent. “Marvellous really,” she continued. “We would never have known had it not been for me!” For once scant attention was being paid to her comments. It was Evageline and her aunt who were the centre of attention.
(to be continued)
Rye’s Own September 2010
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