Sonata for Second Fiddle

Penelope Fitzgerald

  • A Half of Two Lives: A Personal Memoir by Alison Waley
    Weidenfeld, 326 pp, £10.95, September 1982, ISBN 0 297 78156 1

Great sobs shook him. His whole body seemed buffeted, as in a gale at sea. Leaning back against a far bench, his head jerked down on his breast: ‘It is my turn to cry now,’ he cried between deep-rising sobs. My turn. My turn. My turn to cry. And I think my tears will never stop.’

I rose and flew to him, all but carried him to the armchair... Above us was a kitchen ceiling-rack on which May-the-maid had hung socks to dry ... With the damp woollen things I wiped his face – cheeks, eyes, matted hair – again and again; and then my own; our tears mingled in the damp wool. And soon I became aware that the pounding heart was quiet; tears continued to ease themselves from under the closed lids; but – he was asleep.

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