ROGUE OF ROUXVILLE by Adam Yamey is available at:
On the evening of the day of the celebrations, Sese put Max and Arthur in their beds. They were exhausted after having taken part in the fancy dress parade, disguised in white fleeces as Little Bo Peep’s little lambs. Their parents walked through the cool evening air towards Wiarda’s place. Jakob was carrying a battered violin case and Hendrina was balancing a heavy plate piled high with the sticky sweet koesisters, which she had baked earlier. When they reached Wiarda’s warehouse, Jakob held the door open to allow her to enter the large, already crowded, room.
“I’ll see if I can find a space for these cakes over there,” she said, pointing at a table already crowded with dishes and trays. “And, then I’ll help the ladies serve the food.”
“Alright, and I’ll be heading over there,” Jakob announced, beginning to stride towards a table where Mr and Mrs Van Cleef were pouring drinks.
On his way, he passed an upright piano. It had been transported from the hotel earlier.
“Liven it up,” he said, slapping the elderly pianist from the Anderson on his shoulder. “This is a birthday celebration, not a bleddy wake. Here, look after my fiddle. I’ll join you when I had a drink. Now keep hitting those ivories, man!”
Jakob reached the drinks table, and said:
“What’s on offer tonight?”
“There’s beer…”Mr Van Cleef replied.
“That insipid stuff you serve at the hotel?”
“I didn’t hear you say that!” exclaimed the Anderson’s owner, before saying: “No, we’ve got some of this.”
“Let me see,” said Jakob, seizing a small brown ceramic container. “Ach, how did you get hold of a bottle of Heisenberger Pils?”
“Wiarda took delivery of these this morning,” Van Cleef explained, watching Jakob opening the bottle and pouring its contents down his throat.
“That brings back memories. Now let’s have a real drink: brandy, please.”
Van Cleef began filling a glass.
“On second thoughts, pour out two. Actually, you might as well be filling the third whilst I finish the first two.”
After downing several more glasses of brandy, as well as a beer or two, Jakob returned to the pianist, who seeing him approaching, shouted:
“How am I doing? Lively enough is it?”
“Not bad,” said Jakob, bending over to open his violin case.
Having applied rosin to his bow, he put his lips to one of the instrument’s f-holes, and blew into it, causing a cloud of dust to shoot out of the other hole. Then, placing the instrument on his shoulder, he began sawing away at its strings. The pianist stopped, and listened to him playing a polka. He played well, and with gusto. Hendrina, who was in the midst of serving cakes to an elderly man, looked up, amazed. She had seen the violin case lying around on the floor under the bed, but had never seen nor heard Jakob playing. Sigmund, who was across the room chatting to a group of young men, exclaimed:
“That’s my older brother. I had no idea he could play the fiddle.”
“He plays like the devil,” someone commented.
“Fiddling: that’s the only thing he’s good at,” Leopold Reitlinger muttered in a dark corner of the room.
“Bravo, Jakob,” yelled Mr Wiarda who was standing some distance away.
“Play us a waltz,” shouted someone holding a bottle in his hand.
“No, something faster,” chimed another voice.
“Keep up with me, man,” Jakob yelled, poking the pianist in the ribs with the sharp tip of his bow.
And then, still playing furiously, he approached the Van Cleefs, yelling:
“More brandy. Keep me going.”
Clutching the violin to his shoulder with his chin, Jakob continued bowing with one hand and pouring drink into his mouth with the other. When a glass was finished he tossed it on the floor, and his playing became wilder. The pianist was sweating, barely able to keep up with him.
“Come and join us, Zinn.” Jakob shouted to a man carrying a cornet. “Don’t be shy!”
Mr Zinn strolled over to the piano.
“I don’t know the tune,” he hissed into Jakob’s ear.
Zinn repeated himself.
“He doesn’t either,” Jakob said thumping the pianist’s back. “Just join in.”
“Meier’s brought his guitar,” said Zinn before applying his lips to the horn’s mouthpiece.
“Here, Meier,” Jakob shouted to the young clerk, who had recently arrived from Germany. “Don’t be shy.”
Meier, who had felt diffident, stepped forward carrying a badly scratched guitar with a missing string, and began strumming.
“Do they consider this to be music?” Leopold Reitlinger grumbled, as he made his way out of the building into the cool night air. “It’s mayhem, not music. It’s disgraceful. And they call themselves Germans.”