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Learning to Forget
Amy's lecture did Laurie good, though, of course, he did not own it till long afterward.
Men seldom do, for when women are the advisers, the lords of creation don't take the
advice till they have persuaded themselves that it is just what they intended to do. Then
they act upon it, and, if it succeeds, they give the weaker vessel half the credit of it. If it
fails, they generously give her the whole. Laurie went back to his grandfather, and was so
dutifully devoted for several weeks that the old gentleman declared the climate of Nice
had improved him wonderfully, and he had better try it again. There was nothing the
young gentleman would have liked better, but elephants could not have dragged him back
after the scolding he had received. Pride forbid, and whenever the longing grew very
strong, he fortified his resolution by repeating the words that had made the deepest
impression, "I despise you." "Go and do something splendid that will make her love you."
Laurie turned the matter over in his mind so often that he soon brought himself to confess
that he had been selfish and lazy, but then when a man has a great sorrow, he should be
indulged in all sorts of vagaries till he has lived it down. He felt that his blighted
affections were quite dead now, and though he should never cease to be a faithful
mourner, there was no occasion to wear his weeds ostentatiously. Jo wouldn't love him,
but he might make her respect and admire him by doing something which should prove
that a girl's no had not spoiled his life. He had always meant to do something, and Amy's
advice was quite unnecessary. He had only been waiting till the aforesaid blighted
affections were decently interred. That being done, he felt that he was ready to `hide his
stricken heart, and still toil on'.
As Goethe, when he had a joy or a grief, put it into a song, so Laurie resolved to embalm
his love sorrow in music, and to compose a Requiem which should harrow up Jo's soul
and melt the heart of every hearer. Therefore the next time the old gentleman found him
getting restless and moody and ordered him off, he went to Vienna, where he had musical
friends, and fell to work with the firm determination to distinguish himself. But whether
the sorrow was too vast to be embodied in music, or music too ethereal to uplift a mortal
woe, he soon discovered that the Requiem was beyond him just at present. It was evident
that his mind was not in working order yet, and his ideas needed clarifying, for often in
the middle of a plaintive strain, he would find himself humming a dancing tune that
vividly recalled the Christmas ball at Nice, especially the stout Frenchman, and put an
effectual stop to tragic composition for the time being.
Then he tried an opera, for nothing seemed impossible in the beginning, but here again
unforeseen difficulties beset him. He wanted Jo for his heroine, and called upon his
memory to supply him with tender recollections and romantic visions of his love. But
memory turned traitor, and as if possessed by the perverse spirit of the girl, would only
recall Jo's oddities, faults, and freaks, would only show her in the most unsentimental
aspects--beating mats with her head tied up in a bandana, barricading herself with the
sofa pillow, or throwing cold water over his passion à la Gummidge--and an irresistible
laugh spoiled the pensive picture he was endeavoring to paint. Jo wouldn't be put into the
opera at any price, and he had to give her up with a "Bless that girl, what a torment she
is!" and a clutch at his hair, as became a distracted composer.
When he looked about him for another and a less intractable damsel to immortalize in
melody, memory produced one with the most obliging readiness. This phantom wore
many faces, but it always had golden hair, was enveloped in a diaphanous cloud, and
floated airily before his mind's eye in a pleasing chaos of roses, peacocks, white ponies,