A Musician's Muse

By Parafora

It was a harder day's journey than yesterdays, for there were long and weary hills to climb; and in journeys, as in life, it is a great deal easier to go down hill than up. However, they kept on, with unabated perseverance, and the hill has not yet lifted its face to heaven that perseverance will not gain the summit of at last.

-An excerpt from Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby

Chapter One

What happens if too early in our lives we loose a parent; or two for that matter? When we are too young to understand, things seemingly breeze over with ease until we are grown enough to know the truth. But, it is when we are at an age where we can understand and comprehend death, when death itself strikes us the hardest.

This is exactly what happened to the three sons of Jack and Annabel Portman. They were a gifted family, musically and socially. That fateful day came upon them quickly when Lady Portman suddenly became ill after supper one night and did not pull through. The entire family was devastated. But, this was only the beginning of their troubles.

Having gone mad with grief, Mr. Portman started spending their money on things that were useless to them, if only to cover up his sorrow. They were soon met with financial ruin. It was a chilly, rainy night in October when the Portman house erupted with shouts of anger and spite, and Mr. Portman had finally reached his limit. Dashing swiftly up the stairs to his study he roughly shut the heavy wood door behind him and locked himself in. He was not seen or heard from all night.

The next morning the housekeeper, Mrs. Sharp, came up to the door and rapped on the worn wood several times calling, "Mr. Portman? Sir, are you well?" There was no answer. She tried the handle to the door, but it would not budge. She had no key, but being with smarts, she pulled a hair pin from her grey locks and picked the lock until she heard a small faint click.

Now Mrs. Sharp was a woman of great mental strength and a sharp wit. She had been with the Portman's since the day they bought the house, and she had loved the family dearly as if they were her own, for she had no children, and was never married. Signs of age were written clearly upon her knowing brow and in the deep folds and crevices of her worn life-filled face. She was at a great age now, but it would not be proper of me to tell you an elderly woman's age now would it?

Opening the door slowly Mrs. Sharp didn't see anyone at first, but coming in further she could smell the heavy stench of alcohol. Looking over to Mr. Portman's desk she saw him there still with his head upon his arms down on his desk. Tiptoeing over she tapped him lightly, there was no movement. Slowly moving his head to the side she saw what she had feared. There was Mr. Portman's tired and weary face drained of all color, and in a calm state. She breathed out a heavy, yet solemn sigh and excused herself from the room. Coming slowly into the parlor she saw the three boys asleep in the same state as where they were last night after the argument.

Now before I go on I must describe the boys, otherwise you will have no idea as to whom I am talking about, and would have good reason to just simply give up on my tale.

The Portman boys were the fancy of all the girls. They were all handsome young men, and each very different. James was the eldest of the bunch, being now of 19 years. He was a strong, broad shouldered boy who was outgoing, daring, and the biggest ladies man of the group. With golden brown curly locks and a deep brown eye he could woo any woman who made eye contact with him. He was closest to his father.

William was the second oldest at 18 years. He was the most shy and reserved of all his brothers, but the most musically gifted. Taking incredibly well to the piano and guitar at a young age, he made them his passions in life. He, like his older brother, was tall and broad shouldered (from the father). His hair was dark and had a slight wave to it. His eyes were a pale and piercing blue. He had been closest to his mother and often bumped heads with his father.

Ralph was the youngest son. A strapping young man of 17 years, he was the life of his family. He had never been afraid to push the boundaries and get under people's skin. He was one to pull the wool over anyone's eyes at any moment. He had bright features, having golden hair and bright blue eyes. He had been the baby of the family and was doted upon from a very young age, but that didn't make him greedy. Despite his love of trickery, he had a good head on his shoulders.

Seeing the boys asleep on the parlor chairs, the Mrs. Sharp looked upon them with pity and sadness as she wiped a lone tear from her cheek. She had known these boys since childhood could not bear to wrench them out of their peaceful dreams and deliver such harsh news, but she knew sooner would be better than later. Tapping James lightly on his arm he awoke quicker than she had expected and sat up bolt right in a moment which startled her.

Seeing the elderly housekeeper looking so grave, he furrowed his brow in suspicion. "Please James; arouse your brothers for me, because I have not the heart to awaken them." She gave a heavy sigh as she sat upon the sofa, which was warm from having James sleep upon it for hours. Soon all three boys were awake and looking at Mrs. Sharp with a weary yet still tired eye.

"Young Masters," Mrs. Sharp began slowly, "I have come to tell you of a tragedy that must have happened sometime during the night. My sympathies dears...your father is dead."