Lucy had been to the concert hall before, as part of school field trips, but tonight was different. For one thing, being there in the evening – with everybody dressed up, and big vases of real flowers in the niches along the lobby wall – suited her hunger for elegance. And then there was Schroeder. The city symphony had decided to stage a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony using both adult and children's choirs. Schroeder had auditioned to sing in the latter, and been accepted.
"I couldn't pass up the chance to be a part of something like that," he had told her, in one of his conversational moments. "I don't normally think of myself as a singer, but I do have perfect pitch, so that's something. There's no danger of me butchering the most glorious choral work ever written."
I'll have to think of something to say about it that will impress him, she thought now, sitting beside her father, who had chosen to sit between her and Linus, to keep them apart. Then the music started; but it was just the instrumentalists playing. I don't care about impressing them, she thought, waiting impatiently for the singing to begin. But as she waited the music begin to intrude on her attention. There was a part that seemed heartbreakingly sad; a part that reminded her of dancing; a part that was so peaceful that it reminded her of snow. Lucy had made it a part of her fundamental worldview to not be impressed by Beethoven, but privately, she had to admit it could be pretty powerful stuff.
Then there was a loud, clanging sort of chord, and finally, someone was singing. As the choirs joined in, she tried to pick out Schroeder's voice, but there was no way to hear a single voice in that mass of voices, perfectly together, singing that sweet familiar tune. The sound made her skin tingle and tears filled her eyes. Her jealous resistance to Schroeder's idol fell away as she let the voices soar over her and pierce her at once. Her body felt so light it might float away. A word came to her – euphoria. There was no other way to describe it.
Over the racket of the applause, she shouted to her father, "I'm gonna go find Schroeder!" and before he could protest she was off. She pushed her way through the crowd gathering coats and purses and found the stairs to the balcony. The choristers were drifting down in twos and threes, and she waited for a few minutes, watching for him. But soon the stairs were empty, and she wondered if she had missed him. She stood on tiptoes and looked around, trying to scan the crowd, but it was no use trying to find anyone in that press. On a hunch, she hurried up the stairs, and there he was, by himself in the back of the balcony.
He stood hugging himself, gazing at nothing, his face glowing with a strange inner light. As she drew near, he looked at her, and his eyes flashed with a startlingly intense burst of feeling. Instinctively, she knew what he was seeing – the lingering effects of the music on her, her flushed cheeks and dazzled eyes, a transformation similar to, if less than, his own. Without a word, he stepped toward her, unfolded his arms, and hugged her tightly.
Her breath caught, and for a second she felt a crazy urge to pull away. There was a sort of fierce triumph in the way he hugged her, triumph not for himself, but for…Beethoven, she thought. Always Beethoven. But that look at his eyes had told her that he was not really so indifferent to her; he had wanted this moment, watched and waited for it. She rested her head against his and thought for the first time how isolated he was in his lonely musical transports, surrounded by people who didn't get it.
He took her by the shoulders and pulled away a little, to look at her face again. Then he put one arm around her shoulders and turned a little to face the remains of the audience below.
"How many of them do you suppose really felt it?" he asked.
"Oh, I think all of them probably did, at least a little," she told him. "Not like you do, but you made everybody feel it, at least a little."
"Look at that!" she said, her attention caught by something below. "Peppermint Patty's wearing one of those fake ponytails, and Charlie Brown somehow managed to snag his watch on it. The blockhead."
He dropped his arm and rolled his eyes. But he was still smiling.