The Voice

The voice floated out over the listeners like a shimmering silver cloud, soft and serene, and it seemed that the whole audience had leaned far back to gaze in rapt wonder on a rare sight. Then there was a darkening in the orchestra and like a sudden diving flock of birds the voice struck deeply into the minds and souls of the audience, bringing forth low gasps and tremulous sighs. Then the music changed, reversed itself, like a high tide which has reached its uppermost limit and is now being drawn back into the sea. But here the sea was up above us, and again the voice soared, ever higher and higher, unbelievably high, pulling each avid, spellbound listener up with it to the very limits of all he had ever desired. Tears rolled down the lifted faces, eyes brightened or eyelids closed, and some hands reached silently upward. Then the voice ceased, lost in the waves of the strings of the orchestra, which then descended, circling ever more leisurely down and down, and down to a peaceful conclusion.

We all paused breathless for a moment, as if still listening intently to the vibrations of that pure voice in the quiet air. Then we burst, leaping to our feet, and we cheered, shouted, bravoed, clapped our hands in thundering applause, still vibrating to the ultimate ideal which we held so sacredly and rapturously within us. We had been metamorphised into warm and quivering, gloriously living instruments and we gave ecstatic voice to one grand, triumphing note of joy!

She, she who had mastered us, who had struck us with her perfect knowledge and her conquering, supreme ability, she heard us, heard the deepest, truest chord of us. We knew it, for she stood in front of the curtain on the stage, her golden head level, absorbing it, as if it were an instrument, too, of her own making. Then she nodded her head as if about to begin a bow, but the crowd, in a moment of great awareness, shouted, “No! No!” and a man leapt up on the edge of the stage and gave a great, full, diginified bow to her, and all the audience followed suit, bowing to her where they stood, slow and solemn, then rose and looked around smiling. And so she leaned back and smiled and raised her hands, and the audience stood up straight and loudly, but calmly, applauded once again.

When I walked out into the night I knew there were buildings and cars and lights and people around me, but they didn’t really exist, somehow; they weren’t important. A voice and a smile pulled me like a magnet into the future and all was radiant as a new spring day.

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