Ella found herself momentarily without a voice. She rose from the chair slowly.
The room was in complete blackness and if not for the sound of a second person breathing and the rustle of fabric as he shifted position on the stool she would swear that she was completely alone. She took a tentative step while in her mind’s eye tried to recall the way to the door without disturbing the furniture or the musical instruments.
“I… I didn’t mean to disturb you. I just wanted to hear you play.”
Her hand brushed against the curved maple of piano. She took another step forward.
“Stay… please.” His voice, now so much closer, held a note of expectancy.
“I shouldn’t.” Ella was conscious of the uncertainty in her voice. Her eyes had also fully adjusted to the dark and in the gloom she could see the silhouette of the man behind the piano. His curly hair identified him as a Worsley. She recalled the portraits of the two young men in the entrance hall.
Ella’s long hesitation was taken as acquiescence. Warm resonate notes rose from the soundboard, a tune she did not recognise, beautifully melodic and dreamy in its form.
“Thank you…it’s been so long since I had anyone other than Mrs Mellor to talk to.”
The tune continued. Thomas did not attempt to engage her in further conversation. For her part, Ella remained rooted to the spot, her right hand on rim, the left across her stomach.
“You play beautifully,” she said, before grimacing to herself for uttering such inanity but her praise elicited from him a capriccio, a skilful showing off before returning to his nocturne.
“How is it that we never hear you play during the day?”