The shock of Lilly’s death had put an end to my immaturity. I was definitely committed in my own mind to complete the advanced or artist’s course in music, requirements of which were set forth in the School of Music catalogue.
The lighter research I had anticipated carrying on to determine the potency of my power to influence the common man had early run onto the shoals and I had since kept discreetly away from sentimental wash. The Rich Young Man and I were on a chaste, business basis and would remain so. I had no intention of digging pitfalls for myself. Not that I was hard. On the contrary, Lilly’s death had so softened me and sharpened my perspective that I wondered how I could ever have been so unaware of the sufferings of others. As I looked about and saw grief and sorrow reflected on so many faces, it seemed as if the entire world was in travail and playing the piano seemed, all the more, a shallow sort of occupation.
Playing for a group of underprivileged mothers and children at the University Settlement further disturbed my peace of mind and at my next lesson the storm broke.
“I want to do something that will help the world!” I bleated. (Nothing less than the universe for my nut to crack!) “I’m not satisfied with just entertaining people.”
He might have laughed but the Dean was a very understanding man and he heard me through. Putting my problem into words had helped clear the air already. Bach and Beethoven were set aside for the morning and Mr. Lutkin delivered a short sermon in which he pointed out the sacred office of music, how it was constantly lifting the masses, quietly and effectively though not in a spectacular way.
I was immensely relieved, for right at that moment I was keenly aware of the importance of turning in my weekly stipend to keep the home fires burning and delighted to feel justified in postponing my super-woman role to a more convenient season. As I walked home my mind was easier but the truth I had stumbled on, the knowledge that unalloyed happiness was unattainable, had come to stay.