Budapest, Hungary 1952
Margia examined the small clock. It had been such an odd encounter with that woman she thought. She had been so haughty, as though Eastern Europe was so wonderful and yet she gave her this beautiful Hungarian clock. It looked old and valuable. Margia sighed, what was it she said?
‘It was of old Hungary and why keep it, but she, Margia might like it.’
Margia did, there was something quaintly charming about it. Then the woman said the oddest thing, almost indifferently,
‘you may wish to get it cleaned, just remind them not to boil it, polishing would be better.’
Margia had almost started at that, but something in the woman’s eyes was pleading with her to understand.
‘Thank you,’ was all Margia said. ‘It’s lovely, I’ll always cherish it.’
And Margia started. ‘Oh no,’ she thought, ‘who would tell me not to boil a clock? What was she really trying to tell me?’
Margia leapt up off the bed and knocked on her Manager’s door.
“Peter,” she said, “I’ve left something behind. I need to go back to the State Theatre.” “What?” said Peter answering the door.
“I left something behind,” repeated Margia firmly, “I need to go back.”
“Can’t it wait til morning?” he asked.
Margia shook her head, “no,” she said, “I’ll be all right, I’m sure the cleaner is still there.”
“Come on,” said Peter good-naturedly, “I’ll come with you.”
The two headed downstairs and bumping into the concierge along the way explained where they were heading.
“I’ll call the State Theatre and ask the cleaner to wait,” said the Concierge helpfully. “Thank you,” said Margia gratefully. “I would appreciate that.”
Margia leapt into the building and saw the woman dressed in her outdoor clothes standing by the stage waiting for her. She was staring at the piano when Margia entered the auditorium.
“The first concert I ever played at, I was so nervous,” said Margia softly.
“I can’t imagine ever being good at something like this,” mused the woman reflectively. “I was always invariably at the bottom of my form at school. My husband is a teacher; fortunately our three children take after him. They’re so bright and they love school.”
“Did you love school when you were young?” smiled Margia.
The woman nodded a little sadly.
“It’s so long ago,” she said with a sigh. She became almost brisk, “what did you leave behind?” She asked.
“A photo,” said Margia still smiling. “I carry two photos with me whenever I’m on tour and I tend to leave them in the piano for luck. May I have a look please?”
The woman nodded surprised by the statement.
“Here they are,” said Margia a few minutes later. She hadn’t left anything behind but knew she needed a reason and didn’t want the woman to get in trouble for knowing an English woman.
“It’s of my family,” she said handing the photo over to the woman. “My parents, with my sister Amy and me. Amy is married now with two little girls Margaret and Cecilia. She still writes poetry and is so very happy. Her husband is lovely. The other photo is of me with my friends from school Corney, Evvy, Elsie and Lonny.” The woman started to see the group.
“Corney is married and living in America. She has a little girl Meg. Evvy lost her fiancé during the War and married a widower a year or two ago. She has three step children a boy and two girls. Lonny became a Professor at the London University. She’s married with a boy and a girl. Elsie was a PT Mistress at Red Gables until she married and she has two gorgeous children.”
The woman looked almost hungrily at the photo. “You look like a nice group of girls,” she said almost formally.
“They are,” said Margia softly, when she realized Peter was talking to the Theatre Manager.
“It’s alright,” Margia called out cheerfully. “They’re here. I always put these photos in the piano for luck. Thanks for letting me in.”
“Anything to be of service,” said the Theatre Manager politely.
“And I won’t boil the clock either,” Margia said in undertone to the woman.
“It would probably make it chime more than it probably should,” the woman responded almost humorously.
The two stared at each other for one long moment.
“Good-bye Margia,” the woman said quietly.
“Take care, Cyrilla,” said Margia and slowly walked out the door.