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“Not to the Swift” — Chapter 2

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 14, 2011

“Not to the Swift”

By Deone R. Sutherland

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Chapter 2

Synopsis: Julie Markham, whose father died when she was six years old, lives in Chicago with her mother who was once a musician, but is now employed as a secretary. Julie, who had studied voice under Madam Heinrich, is registered in a music school. She finds that Professor Carlson, one of the teachers, is a member of the Church.

After Sunday School, some of the ward members who sat near Julie and Mr. Carlson introduced themselves. Julie was greeted by many who asked about her mother. “Craig Carlson,” Julie heard again and again.

“You’ll have to call me by my first name at church, anyway.” Craig had led the way to the front sidewalk again. “Are you boarding near here?”

“No.” Julie again was filled with confusion. “I live down in Chicago with my mother. You see, we moved back here when I was around six, just beginning school, so I’m almost a native.”

“Well, that almost saves you. I have my car just down the street. I’d like to drive you home.”

“Oh, no thank you,” Julie murmured. “I’m used to taking the elevated, really.”

Julie was acting awkwardly, she knew, but she hurried away across the street to the bus stop. It was silly not to be able to take a casual lift home in stride, but she was naturally shy. There had been a boy in high school who had wanted to come to her apartment and study with her, but it interfered with her practicing, and he had stopped coming after a few times. She’d had an invitation to the senior dance, too, but she had had to turn that down because of an engagement to sing at the Good Fellowship Club. They paid enough to make it worthwhile, and her mother worked hard getting her the few engagements she had.

“The bus is never there when you want it. Climb in, dear; we’ll drive you home.” It was Bishop Sherman’s wife. The children in the back seat squeezed over to make room.

“It will take you so far out of your way,” Julie said, but she sat in beside the children.

“We enjoy a drive, and Earl had no meeting today. Craig said you lived down in the city; now I’m ashamed to say it, but you’ll have to give us your address.”

Julie repeated it. Mr. Carlson then had mentioned she needed a ride after she had left him. Well, he needn’t trouble himself, though she admitted to herself, that was kind of him.

What were they asking about her mother? “Oh, she’s fine, very well now. She did have that virus last winter, but we’re hoping she’ll get through this one without too much trouble, and soon she can come to meetings with me.”

There were so many nice people whom her mother could talk with and enjoy. It was true that most women had husbands, but there were some older single women, and her mother had missed the meetings so much.

That winter always seemed the happiest that Julie could remember, and before she realized it, it was her second winter at school. The campus slept warmly while Julie shivered in the winter storms, but she was too happy to care. She joined the L.D.S. Club at school, and her mother allowed her to go to an occasional dance at Mutual. “Just so long as your studies don’t fall off,” her mother warned.

Julie reassured her mother happily. Languages had always been easy for her, she had begun them so early because of her singing. And her classes in the school of music were wonderful. But she did have to study for her other courses.

“If this weren’t one of the best schools of music in the country, I’d have you drop the classes that don’t apply directly to your major. Perhaps we should somehow have managed to get you to New York to study, but it’s hard for me to give up a good job and start again,” Julie’s mother confided.

Julie felt her heart beat normally again. “Oh, Mother, going summers I’m going to finish a year earlier now, and I’ve already started upper division classes on my major. There’s plenty of time for New York. Mr. Carlson said if I’m really ambitious, there are plenty of scholarships available for graduates.”

“Yes, I know.” Her mother massaged the cold cream into her face carefully. “Sing that little ‘Lament’ again, will you, dear. You know, the little piece by Sandoval. I thought you could do that as your second number at meeting next Sunday night.”

Craig Carlson often accompanied Julie when she sang in the ward. He was very busy both studying and teaching, and he had begun singing with a quartette on a local television program. Julie’s mother nearly always made the effort to go to meeting with Julia, and Craig Carlson often insisted on picking them up and driving them home.

“He’s a very fine young man,” Julie’s mother said to her one night after Craig had been up to the apartment for cake after church. He and Julie sometimes sang duets at their own ward and other wards and branches in the stake.

“He’s a wonderful person,” Julie agreed. “I’m sorry I’m no longer an undergraduate, so I can’t have him for a teacher anymore. All the girls like him specially, though that’s probably because so many of the teachers are older or married or are so temperamental. Mr. Carlson is liked by the fellows, too. I guess because he’s always so natural acting. He doesn’t stamp his feet or shout if you make a mistake, but he makes you work and like it.”

“Or call you Fraulein Markham and hit the piano the way Madame Heinrich used to.” Julie’s mother laughed and started the water running in the bathroom.

Julie sat down on the edge of her bed with a start. Madame Heinrich! Oh, how awful. She hadn’t thought of her for ages, and she’d promised her so faithfully she’d come by and see her often after she quit taking lessons. Was that really two years ago? All her life it seemed had stood still, waiting, and now it was flying past so fast she could hardly catch her breath. Craig was taking her down to the Wayne Auditorium to sing tomorrow night. Maybe there’d be time to stop at Madam Heinrich’s on the way.

The phone was ringing, and she picked up the receiver quickly. It was Ted Talbot from the L.D.S. Club at school. Julie had gone to a dance with him at the ward. He was tall and blond and as shy as she was, so she felt very comfortable with him. “The club party this month is at the Edgewater Beach Hotel – same room as we get for the Gold and Green Balls. I thought – that is, I’d like you to go with me.”

“I’d love to,” Julie assured him happily. She was sure her mother would let her go. After she had done her practicing, her mother would say yes. She didn’t have to sing anywhere that night! What would she wear? She had a new dress for tomorrow night at the Auditorium – pale blue and ballerina length. If she wore ballet slippers and rhinestones and all her petticoats maybe it would look “partyish” enough for next Friday night, too. She had scarcely listened to the details Ted had given her, but there they were – jotted down on the phone pad: Friday night, about half-past eight.

Julie slipped into bed and then got out quickly to say her prayers. She had so many things to be thankful for. Then she squeezed down into the bed, missing the hump in the middle and pulled the comforter up to her chin. Now she knew why she had always loved the fairy tales so. At some time, everyone’s life must become a little bit of a fairy tale.

Craig was early, just as Julie had hoped he’d be. Julie had mentioned stopping at Madame Heinrich’s, and Mary Markham had seemed very pleased. “I’m sure that’s thoughtful of you, Julie, and give her my love, too. She’s a wonderful woman.”

“You’ll have to point the way,” Craig smiled at Julie as he shut her door. “Down here the numbering is wild, and it will save time if I don’t have to hunt.”

“I’ve been here so many times, I could find it with my eyes shut,” Julie assured him.

They parked the car in the street and walked to the flat. Julie had tried to tell Craig what a wonderful woman and artist Madame Heinrich was, but he would have to see for himself. She had a good reputation in the city, and she was noted for her integrity. Even Professor Rossi had said that at school. They waited at the door of the flat. They could hear music within. Julie should have called. Madame Heinrich had a pupil.

“I’ll be with you in a minute, my Julie sweet. I’ve missed you. No, no, sit here, not so dusty.”

The flat was large, and the rent much higher than the Markham’s apartment, but the clutter of piles of music, pictures, and dirty cups made the flat seem more dreary and shabby than Julie remembered. Madame Heinrich was smaller and older, too. Her shapeless dress dragged the floor behind her when she walked. She really needs someone to take care of her, Julie thought. Had she no family, no relatives? She had never seen pictures of them, and she had never heard Madame Heinrich talk of them.

The pupil had a beautiful voice, and Julie began to listen intently.

I wonder how many pupils Madame Heinrich has had who have had better voices than mine, Julie thought. Then she felt guilty about thinking such a thing. She must believe in her own talent and future. She had often been assured she had great possibilities, and she loved her music so much.

“At last, Julie, and how is your dear Mama? You are lucky to have a Mama so dedicated to your career. You like your school as always?”

“Yes, Madame Heinrich,” and Julie presented Craig.

Madame Heinrich uncovered chairs for them in front of the ash-filled fireplace, and settled herself on a shabby divan. Julie told her about school and the classes she was taking.

“Herr Carlson, are you like Julie, no coffee, no tea?” Madame Heinrich was struggling to her feet.

“Yes, I’m like Julie in that respect,” Craig agreed.

Madame Heinrich sank back on the sofa. “Then there is nothing to give you. I do not even have a quart of milk. My milkman comes in the morning. Ah, I know what I’ll show you. I have a lovely long letter from a former student who has just given her concert at Town Hall in New York.”

The letter was most complimentary to Madame Heinrich, and the references to the success of the concert were abundant.

“Julie, it’s getting late; we should be starting …” Craig had handed the letter back after scarcely glancing at it.

Julie jumped up. It was late. She kissed Madame Heinrich on the cheek, and at the door was kissed twice in return by Madame Heinrich. She stood in the doorway waving goodbye to them in her long, shapeless dark dress, her wispy gray hair thinned about her face. Julie had never thought of her as lonely before, but now she seemed so. She seemed indescribably lonely standing there in her doorway with her hand half raised in salute, and the dusty, empty rooms behind her filled with souvenirs of the past. Why had she never seemed so before to Julie? Was it that Julie had always come and left alone herself? Was it that Julie had been lonely without knowing it?

Craig had taken her hand to steady her down the steep stairs. Was it Craig who made her feel sorry for Madame Heinrich? For a moment it became difficult to breathe evenly, simply because he was holding her hand. She had never been aware of him like this before. She averted her face. Her hand meant nothing to him. She must not let him see how she felt. Besides, she didn’t know how she felt except that she was being silly over nothing.

It was quite dark when they reached Wayne Auditorium, and Julie busied herself smoothing her hair and greeting everyone to whom she was introduced with a radiant smile. She sang “Alleluja” from the Motet Exsultate, K. 165 by Mozart, and, finally, as a last encore, she sang “Juliet’s Waltz Song” from Romeo and Juliet, by Gounod. Each time she glanced toward Craig at the piano, his eyes were on her. But they were dark and expressionless, and she couldn’t guess what he was thinking. Well, it didn’t matter. She would sing better than she had ever sung. At least he would have to approve of her singing.

They had stayed for the dinner, so it was late before Craig finally drove up before the Markham apartment. Julie knew her mother would be waiting up for her, but she unlocked the downstairs door with a key without ringing the buzzer and stepped into the empty hall with the endless red carpet that stretched through so many Chicago apartment houses.

Craig laid his hand lightly on her arm and stopped her at the first flight of stairs. “I almost forgot. I wanted to ask you to the dance at the Edgewater Beach Hotel Friday night.”

Julie bit her lip in vexation that she had already accepted a date; then she remembered her manners. She explained she’d already accepted Ted Talbot.

“He’s arrived in there ahead of me quite a few times lately. You know, it just occurred to me that we’re both starting on our last year here. I’ll get my final degree in the spring.”

“Dr. Carlson,” Julie murmured.

“And you’ll be going on to New York for more study and to have a fling at the professional grind.”

Why did her heart begin to feel so heavy? She was beginning to feel utterly wretched.

“So, if I’m to do any courting, I’ve only this year in which to do it, Julie,” and Craig kissed her full on the lips, so surely and briefly that Julie wasn’t sure for a moment it had really happened and that she hadn’t dreamed it all.

She fairly flew up the rest of the stairs beside him. She went into the apartment alone, without meeting his eyes again. Her mother was in bed, though the lights were on. She slipped into the bathroom and stared at herself in the mirror. The kiss didn’t show! Except in her eyes and on her cheeks which were extra rosy, she had to admit as an afterthought.

She took off her dress and filled the washbowl with warm water. Then a terrible thought struck her. If Craig couldn’t take her to the dance, he would be taking another girl. He would take one of the pretty Gleaner girls from the ward, or maybe Ann Stephens from the club at school. Julie had seen them walking across the campus together several times. Julie began scrubbing her face vigorously with soap and water. Life was terrible; there were so many problems.

“Julie, is that you, Julie?” It was her mother calling sleepily from the bedroom.

Julie sighed with relief. Her mother was awake. She would tell her everything. She would tell her about this wonderful feeling she had discovered she felt toward Craig tonight, and that he had … her mother would have an answer to her problems. Julie buried her face in her pink hand towel and hurried to her mother’s bedroom.

“Darling.” Her mother had dozed off with mounds of letters and catalogues stacked around her, but she roused herself and now spoke sleepily, “Julie, darling, I’ve been filling out application blanks for a scholarship next year in New York. Now, as I see it, the choice is between the Fuller School of Music where you’d be able to study under …”

Julie leaned against the doorway and listened. The sounds of the city softened a little at night, but the muted sounds still went on. There was the clang and bang of a truck somewhere, and the screech of buses and trolleys.

“You’ll have to get busy on your letters of recommendation, Julie, and we’ll get everything off early. Maybe you should cut a new record – well, we’ll get expert advice about that. Are you listening, dear?”

“Yes, Mother, I’ll see the teachers at school Monday. Will that be soon enough?”

“Fine, fine.” Her mother was putting the papers on the little table beside her bed. “Did you have a nice time? How did you do tonight?”

Julie went into the living room and sat on the edge of her bed. “They said everything was excellent, Mother, I’ve never sung better.”

She said her prayers quickly and climbed into bed. Now all was dark. The blinds were pulled tight against the street lights and the city signs that blinked back at the stars. It was silly to have a lump in your throat because life seemed confusing, and you weren’t sure what was going to happen. Maybe other people were sure what was going to happen to you, but you didn’t know. Julie folded her arm under her cheek. Something wonderful had happened to her tonight, she knew it had, and she would never forget it. Then she fell asleep.

(To be continued)



1 Comment »

  1. Oooh, Mama’s not gonna like this!

    Comment by Tiffany — September 15, 2011 @ 9:25 am

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