Vanstein Copyright - Chapter 20
Chapter 20 – Secret Conversation
Ms. Jacquelyn could not conceal her incredulity at Angela’s recent striking progress.
Well, that was not such a simple way of phrasing it. You could describe it as buoyant.
While attending a salon where the wealthy and influential figures of the music world congregate, she established connections with those affiliated with this year’s London competition and even extended an invitation to them to her home.
The purpose was to have them listen to Angela’s performance, who was still an unknown artist, so that they would recognize her as a potential winner of the London competition.
This sort of behind-the-scenes arrangement was openly conducted in advance of major competitions.
For the wealthy individuals who considered themselves to be music critics, it was an effective means of boosting the reputation of their patron pianists, as well as a source of flattery for the pianists who were still unknown and talented.
Angela’s performances were highly acclaimed universally, further convincing Ms. Jacquelyn that the championship was a realistic possibility.
Thus, her outreach accelerated into appeals to more prominent and influential figures.
“Oh my, how wonderful. You have earned a remarkable achievement for discovering a young and gifted artist like her, Ms. Jacquelyn.”
Lord Roswalt – a music critic who has served as a judge in various competitions – shook hands with Ms. Jacquelyn with a broad smile on his face after listening to Angela’s performance.
“I’m looking forward to the upcoming London Competition! I shall mention this to the other judges as well. Angela, when it’s your turn, make sure you stay awake!”
Laughing, Lord Roswalt downed the wine from his glass. Although it was still daylight, he seemed to be in an intoxicated mood.
“I am honored by your compliments, Lord Roswalt.”
Despite her inner thoughts, Angela responded with a fake smile and thanked him for his compliments.
Although she was not accustomed to this kind of reception, it was clear that Ms. Jacquelyn was putting forth her best effort to bring Angela to victory.
To respond to that, she could put her experience in “Crazy Louis” to good use with an ingratiating smile or two.
“Angela. Go and prepare new wine and cheese for Lord Roswalt. And bring something else to nibble on.”
Ms. Jacquelyn beamingly prompted Angela as she inclined the bottle of wine.
After Angela briefly replied, “Yes,” and withdrew from the room, Ms. Jacquelyn set down the empty bottle and cut to the chase.
“Lord Roswalt. So, may I have your opinion? In your estimation, would Angela be able to claim the championship…?”
“Oh, you’re asking me that… Well, of course you’re going to ask that.”
“I would like to hear your honest opinion, Lord.”
For the first time today, Lord Roswalt removed the wine glass from his hand, folded his hands in front of him and plopped himself down on the deep sofa.
“I would not lie to you. In terms of ability, she is at a very high level. From what I have listened to the other contestants performance, there is no doubt that Angela will be in the upper ranks of the leading contenders… but I would not go so far as to claim that she is outstanding in that group. If so, winning the championship will also require some luck… on the part for instance.”
Lord Roswalt paused deliberately, letting out a cough.
“You see, Mabel Faze is going to be a special judge this time. Her opinion will be given priority over anything else, so if you can get her on board, the chances of success will be greater.”
“So that is to say… she has to put in a good word?”
“Ms. Jacquelyn. I am aware of your situation. After the early passing of your husband, who was a landowner, you have inherited a large property, and yet you are not accompanied by your family at social gatherings, which inevitably makes your presence all the more awkward.”
Narrowing his small eyes even further, Lord Roswalt proceeded to point out exactly what Ms. Jacquelyn’s distress was about.
“When a patron’s pianist proves to be the winner of a London competition, he or she will be the center of attention in the social circles. This could be the catalyst for a return to the upper echelons of society, you know. Wouldn’t this be an excellent avenue for you to introduce an unknown, talented pianist to Mabel Faze at the earliest stage possible?”
“I suppose you could say that.”
“In that case…”
Ms. Jacquelyn retrieved a large accessory case from a shelf and opened it for Lord Roswalt. Within the case was a large pile of gold coins.
“How about a lovely accessory to add to the gift?”
＊ ＊ ＊
“What are you doing, Angela?”
When a voice called out to her from behind, Angela was so startled that her heart skipped a beat.
She turned around to be met by Carla, who was staring down at her with wondering eyes, carrying a silver tray of cheese and nuts, and a bottle of wine in her hand.
“T-Thanks. I’ll take them.”
Angela rose to her feet and accepted the silver tray and bottle.
Carla then took Angela’s place and crouched down under the window to peer into the piano room.
“Wow… that’s one hell of a belly he got there, that bald guy. Watch out, Angela. Most of those guys like big tits. They’ll ask you to let them squeeze your breasts if you win.”
Laughing wickedly, Carla got up, and after giving Angela’s defenseless breasts a squeeze with her hands occupied, she returned to the kitchen.
Angela’s hands trembled as she grasped the tray.
My head is all messed up and I feel like I’m going to start crying without understanding what’s going on.
What should I do?
＊ ＊ ＊
Lacking the inclination to head back to the Jacquelyn house immediately after the closing of “Crazy Louis,” Angela was playing “Requiem” by herself.
Adonis was not here at this time.
With the London competition only a week away, she of course carried on with her daytime lessons, but her night lessons had come to an end with the completion of the presentation of “Piano Solo for the Right Hand”. Apparently Adonis was mindful of the fatigue in Angela’s fingers and felt that the lessons should not be excessive, particularly during the final week.
Even so, when the store eventually closed, Angela would end up facing the piano in this way.
She didn’t feel like practicing the competition piece.
What she spontaneously started to play was “Requiem” or “Piano Solo for Right Hand”. Even when playing a piece that she held a strong emotional attachment to, she somehow lacked concentration.
After finishing playing, Angela heaved a deep sigh.
No matter what she did, she could not shake the secret conversation between Lord Roswalt and Ms. Jacquelyn, which she overheard in passing, out of her mind.
Ultimately, Angela couldn’t discuss it with Adonis or anyone else.
For the sake of her winning the competition, Adonis was willing to offer his full cooperation, accompanying her to lessons day and night. He must be hoping for her to be crowned the winner of the London competition even more than Angela did.
Even Ms. Jacquelyn was providing tremendous support to help Angela win the competition, regardless of the means used to achieve this goal.
Although she was grateful, Angela didn’t want to become her child or accuse her of cheating and bribery, based solely on her sense of righteousness.
If Angela was ignorant of the fact that this was how the winners of every London competition had been decided, then perhaps she was justified in saying that it was a necessity.
More than anything else, if she continued to play the competition piece without any difficulties, she might actually triumph in the competition.
Should she be victorious in the London Competition, Angela Greenfield’s name will appear prominently in the newspapers and tabloids.
Her name would be known not only in Inglez, the land of the capital, London, but also throughout the whole of the United Kingdom.
Perhaps she may even be approached by the coveted Mabel Faze, who will elevate her to an even grander platform as a professional pianist.
Then she could repay her debt to Ms. Jacquelyn, and as promised, she would become an adopted daughter, meaning that from now on she would be able to devote herself to piano practice without doing chores.
And most importantly, my mom who spotted her own daughter’s name in the newspaper might come to meet me… and if possible, I hope she’ll come forward before I become an adopted daughter.
Adonis would surely be thrilled if I won.
At the championship party, I would boldly leap into his chest and ask him to continue to support me and then…
“I’m closing, Angela. Adonis has asked me not to let you play too much.”
Before she knew it, the master, who had finished washing up, called out to her, and Angela was snapped out of her musings and back to reality.
“Oh… um… wait a minute. Just one more song…”
“Well, until the boiler is turned off, then.”
The master circled around turning off the steam lights in the bar.
This will be the end, and she felt like playing something until the very last minute.
Maybe I should play and sing a song like the one Adonis played, “Liebeslieder Waltze” which I had heard some time ago.
As her fingers begin to move, Angela attempted to follow their movements.
“Look, you’re out of it. Adonis told you to rest your fingers, didn’t he? Playing it this way won’t be any different than your regular practice.”
Replying with an absentminded answer, Angela played the opening of the piece her fingers indicated once more.
When Angela raised her head, she called out to the master, who was standing there with a troubled look on his face.
“Hey, Master… I have a little favor to ask you.”
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