Music lessons



‘She sawed up your violin?’

‘Yes,’ said Tillie, ‘I was playing the partita and she said I was an assassin and she ran out and came back with a saw, and –’

‘Tillie,’ said her mother, ‘tell me what really happened.’

‘It’s true!’

Her mother sighed. ‘I’m going to ring Mrs Kopp, Tillie. This is your last chance.’

Tillie frowned and set her lips, though there was a swirl of panic inside. Her mother went into the next room. Tillie heard the smooth tones of her voice change to surprise.

‘Well, talk about a peculiar woman!’ she said, reappearing. ‘She said it was a crime for you to play the violin. Really, these Russians are so extreme.’

Tillie waited.

‘Sawing up your violin! I ought to report it to the police, but she’s going to pay for it, so –’

‘I’m no good, honestly. And I really really hate it.’

‘Oh, all right. Just go and see the wretched woman and get the money and that’ll be the end of it.’


‘Aha!’ rumbled Mrs Kopp when she opened the door. ‘You’re not scared of the crazy woman with the saw?’

‘I’m sorry, Mrs Kopp, I don’t know why I said it.’

‘Where is the violin?’

‘I threw it in the river.’

‘That’s good. Poor thing can have some peace now.’

‘Why didn’t you tell her?’

‘Sometimes it’s good for a music teacher to be crazy. People think, very high standards.’

‘But what about the money?’

‘You pay me back some day. So you know lies are not free.’


‘Completely crazy,’ said Tillie’s mother, reaching for another scone. ‘She called Tillie an assassin because she made a few mistakes.’

‘Ooh,’ said Alicia Fairbanke, ‘she has got high standards! I wonder if she could squeeze Tarquin in?’


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