day. Almost without him having noticed, the city has alienated
itself from him. And yet he can look back upon a happy life. His
mother would have been proud of him. Musing thus, Giambattista
each day takes a little more leave of the world of the living. And one
misty morning in May he decides never more to awaken.
Antonio’s younger sister Zanetta comes, weeping, to rouse her
brother. She does not have to explain the reason for her tears.
Father! Leaping from bed, Antonio rushes to the old man’s room
and falls upon his knees at the bedside. ‘Father!’ he screams, panic-
stricken. Giambattista’s features look unnatural; his countenance
is that of a dead man. The priest makes the sign of the cross and
takes his father’s hand, cold and stiff, in his own. With the utmost
tenderness he strokes these ﬁngers which for a lifetime gently
encircled the neck of a violin, settled upon the bow; this hand that
lovingly inscribed so many countless notes of music. The same
ﬁngers that were lifted against him in anger or admonishment
when his father disagreed with some deed or decision of his. ‘Oh
father,’ sobs Antonio, unable to comprehend this change. He feels
himself fainting, the familiar iron band closing about his chest.
He sinks, clasping his father to him as he loses consciousness.
Opening his eyes at last, it is Paolina’s face he sees. Antonio is in
his own bed and she is gazing compassionately down at him. ‘How
are you feeling?’ He tries confusedly to wake from what seems a
bad dream, struggles upright. ‘Where is my father?’ he asks
Looking into the shocked features with their red-rimmed eyes,
Paolina answers softly, ‘I am so sorry, my love. Your father is dead.’
The words hit him like a sledgehammer. Your father is
dead! He falls back on the pillows, ﬁghting for breath. So it is true.
It is a fact! The vice-like grip about his chest is unendurable.
Helplessly he stares at Paolina. ‘What am I to do?’ he gasps,
She offers him a sip of water, stroking his face. ‘Everything
will be all right, my love, don’t despair.’ But that is exactly what he is
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