This scene takes place the morning after Dylan has heard Geoffrey play at the music hall.  . FYI: Schonberg is the aging violinist who is Geoffrey’s mentor.

(reminder: Counterpoint is unpublished at this time)


The next morning was fog-gray and as Dylan left the lodging-house he was disconcerted to find Dohnányi sitting like a beggar﷓boy on the bottom step. He was the last person Dylan expected or wanted to see. It was cold and the stupid fool did not even have the common sense to wear a coat.

Geoffrey leaped to his feet as Dylan came down the stairs. “Mr. Rutledge, may I please speak with you?”

Dylan said brusquely, “I enjoyed the performance. You are even more brilliant than Schonberg said. Now go away. I have work to do.” He hurried toward a cab, for the day was too wet to ride his bicycle.

“Please, I need to explain about—”

“You owe me no explanation.”

Geoffrey tagged after him. “But I do. The man you saw last evening—”

Dylan took a deep breath. “I met him at the Maestro’s party, if you recall. You owe me no explanation,” he repeated.

“But I want you to understand.”

Dylan rounded on him. “Why?”

Geoffrey’s gaze did not waver. “I don’t want you to tell Maestro Schonberg what you saw.”

“I saw nothing. Good day.” Dylan had one foot in the cab when Geoffrey spoke again, in anger.

“You judge me without knowing anything about me.”

“I’m not jud— What you do is no business of mine.”

“But you make my business yours when you look at me so.”

“What are you talking about?”

“As if I stole your chickens. That look.”

“Your imagination is overworked.” He climbed into the cab, shut the door, started to tap on the roof, changed his mind and got out. Geoffrey was walking away and he followed. Geoffrey kicked a large stone, hopped as if it hurt his foot, kicked it again, then reached for his bicycle. “Wait!” called Dylan, and when he was inches away from him demanded, “As long as you feel like explaining, explain why you changed my St. Joan?”

Geoffrey’s chin lifted. “It was made better, wasn’t it?”

“Whether it was or wasn’t is a matter of opinion, and at any rate that is not the point. The point is: you didn’t ask.”

“Do I ask Beethoven? Do I ask Mendelssohn? No. I’m an artist. I interpret.”

“Those composers are conveniently dead. I’m not.”

“Mr. Rutledge, you are a great composer. You’re also a great fool.”

“Oh, really! Well, you’re a great violinist. And no less a fool!”

“You think you are God!”

“And you would rewrite the Ten Commandments. Without asking permission of the Author.”

They glared daggers at one another. “If you truly consider me a great violinist—”

“I said as much, didn’t I?”

Geoffrey did not acknowledge his words. “If you consider me a great violinist,” he repeated, “why do you object to my playing St. Joan?”

Dylan pounded his fist into his other hand to emphasize each word. “You. Didn’t. Play. It. The way. I. Composed. It. Is that plain enough?”

“Anyone other than Dylan Rutledge would be flattered. Or is it that I played it? A nobody. A Gypsy orphan from nowhere. Is that it?” A muscle worked in his lightly whiskered jaw. “Very well. I give you my word. I shall never again perform your work.” He righted his bicycle.

“I didn’t mean that. All I ask is that you play it as I intended.”

“Am I to read your mind? I’ve never seen the score.”

Dylan was thunderstruck. “Not seen the score? Then how could you play it?”

“I remember it.”

“You heard it once, long ago.”

Geoffrey’s voice was low, the strain and anger were gone. “I loved it then. I still do.”

“You picked it to shreds that night!”

“I said the scherzo in the first violin and cello were flawed. If you’ve not revised them, they still are. It doesn’t affect my love for the work.”

At a loss for words, Dylan finally managed to say, “That is the strangest compliment I’ve ever had.”

“Perhaps if you could give me a score…?”

“Yes. Yes. Then you’ll play it as written, I presume?”

Geoffrey grinned. “Dine with the Maestro and me Sunday. Bring the score and we’ll discuss it.” He hopped on his bicycle and sped off.

“Wait!” Dylan called. “What do you mean ‘discuss?’ There’s nothing to discuss!” He heard Geoffrey’s laughter as he turned a corner and was gone from sight. “Damn him! If he thinks that I will change anything, he’s sadly mistaken. And there’s nothing wrong with the scherzo. I know there isn’t.” Dylan once again set off in the cab. “The scherzo is perfect,” he said to himself as the vehicle rattled through the street. “I’ll prove it. I’ll get it out tonight. If I can remember which box it’s in. Damn him!” Yet there was still the provoking memory of those grating double-stops which so aptly portrayed the fire and St. Joan’s terror. And which he had not written.

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