Chapter 31 For Music... Forever
Chapter 31 For Music...Forever
As he put away his stethoscope Doctor O'Shaughnessy looked down at the unconscious man on the bed. Lars Lynnsehn was a phantom of the man he had first examined a year ago. True, Lars had a good two days, but in the last few hours his condition had deteriorated rapidly. He thought to himself that it often was this way, the patient seemed to improve, to get better, only to rapidly fail. Yes, it would be soon, the signs were there; weakening pulse, irregular heartbeat, steadily dropping blood pressure, labored breathing, unresponsive reflexes. Now a coma; an indication that his patient's time was very near. Lars' extreme physical exertion during the shooting incident had hastened things. Zee-zee entered the room.
"Lars? Aubrey?" was all she said.
"Zee-zee dear, I believe he's slipped into a coma. I'm afraid it won't be long now."
"When? How much . . . Oh! There's still so much I wanted to say!" she began to cry softly.
The doctor put her head on his shoulder, "I know, there's always something left unsaid. I think he would understand."
At that moment they heard the sound of the organ. Distant, yet powerful.
Zee zee's head came up with a start, "Mr. MacLeod! Johnny, the boys! Aubrey, they got it working!"
"I told you if anyone could that young Keith MacLeod and those two wonder boys could do it!" said the doctor.
"I must go thank them for Lars! Oh! Is it too late?" she began to cry again.
"Zee-zee! Maybe not, look." he said in a hushed voice.
Lars had moved his head and now his eyes began to flicker. Zee-zee held his hand tightly and said softly in his ear, "Lars, darling, can you hear it? Your organ darling, they've fixed it. Darling, do you hear?"
At first the gravely ill man could only manage unintelligible sounds. Soon, however, he seemed to be conscious and tried to sit up.
"No, darling you mustn't exert yourself! You must rest easy!" cried Zee-zee.
Lars struggled to sit up, "Must go there! MUST GO!" It was clear that Lars intended to go to the music.
"Aubrey, what can I do? He won't be quiet. Can't you give him something?" Zee-zee cried.
Quietly the doctor said, "Yes Zee-zee, I think we must give him what he wants." He pressed the button that would summon Tung-pau. "We must take him to the music. Anything I might give him now may weaken him further and it wouldn't do him any good anyway."
Tung-pau arrived and the doctor sent him to bring the wheelchair. The two men lifted the emaciated Lars into the chair, swaddling him with blankets. The doctor and Zee-zee followed the wheelchair to the lift. The closer they got, and the better the organ could be heard, the more animated Lars became. Finally, preceded by the good doctor, they entered through the peacock doors into the ballroom.
The room was filled with music and light. They passed through the arch and on to the center of the room. Tung-pau turned the chair around so that Lars could face the magnificence of the sound. Zee-zee stood beside the chair holding his hand tightly. The frail man seemed to be transformed, as if the illness was dispelled for the moment, and a certain strength could be seen in his eyes.
When Jimmy saw the doctor enter from under the arch, he touched Mr. Mac and Harry on the arm. The three went down the stairs to greet him. About half way they saw that Tung-pau was pushing Lars in the chair and that Zee-zee was at his side. As they turned to face the organ loft Jimmy saw that she was crying. The men stood, watching at the foot of the stair. Mr. Edwin played on, oblivious to the scene behind him.
Jimmy saw a frail ghost of a man. As he watched the man's face began to change from a skeletal appearance to a pale resemblance of the man in the library portrait. Zee-zee knelt before him her uplifted hands holding his uplifted face. Lars' hands reached toward the organ as if he could touch the sound. His eyes seemed to clear and a smile spread across his face. He looked down at Zee-zee seeming only just then to see her.
Caressing her face in one hand and wiping away her tears with another he said, "Zee-zee my love, the music, the organ, it is so beautiful! Can you hear it? Oh! My darling one, why are you crying? Angels!" he gazed up at the loft, "Surely those angels . . ." his voice trailed off, his strength abandoning him, he sank back into the chair. His arms fell to his sides, his head inclined toward the organ loft, eyes wide open, a smile on his face, drinking in the triumphant final notes of the music. Then, as the last echoes of the chord dissolved in the air, the light in his eyes seemed to fade with them, and the earthly body of Lars Lynnsehn became very still.
Zee-zee remained motionless for a moment. She took his hands into her own and kissed them, placing them one atop the other in his lap. Then she stood and kissed him on the cheek and tenderly smoothed back his hair.
"He's gone, Aubrey." she simply said.
In a businesslike manner Doctor O'Shaughnessy used his stethoscope to listen for a heart beat. He turned to Zee-zee.
"Yes, Zee-zee, he's gone. I'm so sorry." he said.
"Please don't be, Aubrey. It was peaceful and beautiful. I think he was happy to go. Did you hear him mention angels?" A great weight seemed to lift from her shoulders. She held her slight figure straight and announced to them all; "Lars is at peace and I'll not cry for him anymore!"
Mr. Edwin had thought he was alone with his music. He finished playing and turned to see the assemblage on the main floor behind him. Sensing that something profound had just happened he quietly slipped down the stairs and stood next to Jimmy and Harry. About the same time Teng-Ting and her husband, Wan-koo T'ang, and Tung-pau and his wife, Shang-tee, joined the group.
After her announcement Zee-zee went to Teng-Ting and Tung-pau who seemed to be deeply affected by Lars' death. They comforted each other and embraced. There was a brief conversation in soft Chinese. The Chinese then bowed to Zee-zee, turned and bowed to the others, and quietly left.
"Our little family have decided to have a memorial service for Lars on Sunday afternoon. It will be a simple graveside service. I would like you all to be here."
She embraced Mr. Edwin. "Johnathan, you will never know how much I must thank you. Words cannot say enough!"
She turned and embraced Doctor O'Shaughnessy. "Aubrey, you have done so much. Not only have you been a wonderful physician to Lars but you are a truly wonderful friend. I cannot thank you enough. Lars and I are Methodists. Would you talk to your pastor, the Reverend Page, about officiating at the service?" The doctor made assurances.
She managed to gather Mr. Mac and both the boys in her slight arms. "Keith, you have made my one wish of late come true; that Lars would hear this organ before he passed. You saw how much it meant to him! I thank you so much. You boys are brave lads and I want to thank you for being gracious men. You and your families could have made my last few days with Lars a disaster. Instead, you two have brought me great happiness even in grief. God protected you and God sent you to me."
She stood by the form in the wheel chair. "All of you are welcome in this house at anytime. I intend to carry out Lars' and my wish that Azavilla should become a place of much music and happiness. I will mourn in my own way for a time, but someday there will be concerts, and parties, and this house will be what Lars wanted it to be. A place for music, for love, for friends, forever!"