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The Child On Platform One by Gill Thompson Read Online (FREE)

The Child On Platform One by Gill Thompson

Read The Child On Platform One by Gill Thompson full novel online for free here.

 

Prologue

 

Prague, 1930

Eva had already scraped back the piano stool and was about to slide the music books into her bag when Professor Novotny lifted a hand to delay her.

‘Just one more minute, my dear.’ His thin finger pointed skywards, in imitation of the number. ‘I have a piece I would like you to take home.’

While the professor rifled through the tottering pile of manuscripts on top of the piano, Eva cast a glance at the wooden clock on the wall. Four thirty. She hoped this wouldn’t take long. Already the conservatoire rehearsal room was gloomier than when the lesson had started, shadows stretching across the floor. Come on. Come on. She placed her fingertips on the yellow keys, allowing the cool ivory to calm her.

‘Ah, here it is.’ Professor Novotny was wheezing from the effort of finding the score. ‘Hector Berlioz. It’s a villanelle from Les Nuits d’Été. One of his lesser-known pieces.’ He switched on the overhead light and the room brightened.

‘A villan . . . ella?’ Despite her anxiety about the time, Eva was intrigued. She stood up as her teacher gestured for her to relinquish her place at the keyboard and positioned herself to the side of the piano, ready to watch Professor Novotny play.

‘Yes. A secular Italian song.’ The professor sat down on the padded piano stool with a thump. ‘This one is a celebration of spring and new love. Perfect piece for a young girl.’ He reached for the round black glasses on a cord round his neck, put them on as though preparing to play, then removed them again. The glasses swung loose on their moorings. ‘There’s to be a concert at the Rudolfinum next year, a tribute to Berlioz’s work. I thought you could perform the villanelle as your first public solo.’

Eva drew an indignant breath, but the professor flapped his hand at her.

‘Those children’s competitions don’t count.’

Those children’s competitions! She straightened her back. Hadn’t she won every one? Even the prestigious Dvořák Prize for Young Talent. A memory of lifting the heavy metal cup and hearing a crescendo of applause flashed into her mind.

The professor propped the folded pages of music against the metal prongs of the rest. ‘I’ll play you a bit. Please turn the page for me.’ The glasses were perched in position.

Eva took up her place behind her teacher, trying to remain still; it would be rude to appear impatient. But inside her head she was begging Professor Novotny to play only a few bars. She knew he worked her so hard because he was proud of her, and she was keen to be the best she could, but the ornate hands of the clock showed twenty to five now. Today of all days she couldn’t afford to be late.

‘Listen. You’ll hear the lovers wandering through the woods to gather wild strawberries.’