Song of the Lark HTML version

Chapter II.4
AFTER that evening Thea's work with Harsanyi changed somewhat. He insisted
that she should study some songs with him, and after almost every lesson he
gave up half an hour of his own time to practicing them with her. He did not
pretend to know much about voice production, but so far, he thought, she had
acquired no really injurious habits. A healthy and powerful organ had found its
own method, which was not a bad one. He wished to find out a good deal before
he recommended a vocal teacher. He never told Thea what he thought about her
voice, and made her general ignorance of anything worth singing his pretext for
the trouble he took. That was in the beginning. After the first few lessons his own
pleasure and hers were pretext enough. The singing came at the end of the
lesson hour, and they both treated it as a form of relaxation.
Harsanyi did not say much even to his wife about his discovery. He brooded
upon it in a curious way. He found that these unscientific singing lessons
stimulated him in his own study. After Miss Kronborg left him he often lay down in
his studio for an hour before dinner, with his head full of musical ideas, with an
effervescence in his brain which he had sometimes lost for weeks together under
the grind of teaching. He had never got so much back for himself from any pupil
as he did from Miss Kronborg. From the first she had stimulated him; something
in her personality invariably affected him. Now that he was feeling his way toward
her voice, he found her more interesting than ever before. She lifted the tedium
of the winter for him, gave him curious fancies and reveries. Musically, she was
sympathetic to him. Why all this was true, he never asked himself. He had
learned that one must take where and when one can the mysterious mental
irritant that rouses one's imagination; that it is not to be had by order. She often
wearied him, but she never bored him. Under her crudeness and brusque
hardness, he felt there was a nature quite different, of which he never got so
much as a hint except when she was at the piano, or when she sang. It was
toward this hidden creature that he was trying, for his own pleasure, to find his
way. In short, Harsanyi looked forward to his hour with Thea for the same reason
that poor Wunsch had sometimes dreaded his; because she stirred him more
than anything she did could adequately explain.
One afternoon Harsanyi, after the lesson, was standing by the window putting
some collodion on a cracked finger, and Thea was at the piano trying over "Die
Lorelei" which he had given her last week to practice. It was scarcely a song
which a singing master would have given her, but he had his own reasons. How
she sang it mattered only to him and to her. He was playing his own game now,
without interference; he suspected that he could not do so always.
When she finished the song, she looked back over her shoulder at him and
spoke thoughtfully. "That wasn't right, at the end, was it?"