Chapter 1: Research
Summary: Grandpa's homecoming.
He thought of nothing but that music.
He hid in his room the entire morning, coming out only when he was called to have his breakfast. And after a hasty lunch later he sent a message to his friends - and to their disappointment- that he would not be coming for their weekly basketball session. He then when to the library and rummaged through his mother's enormous collection of classical albums. The reading room beside the library was dark, but at least it did not have the dusty smell of a disused place. And so, in the reading room he searched for the next few hours for that particular music, feverishly, quite unaware of his mother who occasionally passed by the room. A rare smile of satisfaction lit her face as she left her son, leaving behind a tall glass of lemonade on a stool beside him.
It was one of the nocturnes composed by Chopin.
He put the head phone down and wrote onto a blank piece of paper the title of the music. So it does exist, he though and his shoulders slumped forward in relief. He did not make it up. Someone played it this early morning and he heard it clearly with his ears. Smiling, he gulped down the lemonade and put the empty glass back on the stool. But his smile was short-lived and quickly turned up side down: his sister told him that she heard nothing. Maybe she was so engrossed in her revision that she missed the sound, he thought while flipping the pen in his fingers. Yet there was one other mystery: the door to that room was locked.
There surly was an explanation for it. Sighing, he put on the head phone and lay back down on the carpeted floor. Folding his hands over his chest, he closed his eyes and let the beautiful, haunting melody to overwhelm his senses. He would solve the puzzle later…
He had seen the elaborate process of lifting and shifting of the grand piano onto the first floor. Under the cautious surveillance of his grandfather, the outer wall of the eastern room was first broken down - this meant also the demolition of the windows and part of the balcony. Next, a rented crane lifted the piano up to the same level where there the workers transferred it with great care into the center of the room. Then there was finally the repairing and the rebuilding of the wall, the balcony, and the windows. The entire process lasted for three weeks. And only towards the end of the construction did he allow to visit the room.
The last batch of workers was plastering the ceilings when he entered the room. He wasn't surprised to find his grandfather standing there directing them on this and that, while sipping on his favorite herbal tea. His interest was on the piano the duke oh-so famously bought. He remembered that there was nothing extraordinary about the piano. Though not musically-trained, he could still discern that the piano was generally well maintained and was also quite usable, apart from the scratched surface and a few stained spots on the keys. If there were a pianist to perform on it, it would have sounded pretty well.
But a thing he wanted to clarify now was whether his grandfather had or had not attached some kind of device on it - a device that would make the piano play by itself. And whether he was hearing it right or just imagining it. So that was it: he decided to pay his second visit to the room.
It was a tedious wait. The day seemed to go by sluggishly. And it was around eight did his grandfather come back home for his belated dinner.
His grandfather was Roger Deere. He began his life as a simple farmer, toiling on a few acres of land owned by someone else. Yet struck by a lucky star during his late twenties he slowly began to prosper. Life became easier as the years went by. And with his hard earned wealth he bought the land from his landlord and built a new house for his growing family. Then at the later half of his life he joined into politics and climbed smoothly up the politician ladder, becoming at last a duke and the most honorable man of the state. Now at these twilight years he seemed to be quite fully enjoying the fruits of his labors, most of the time attending parties and entertaining guests.
An hour later Mike knocked on the door to his grandfather's study, before entering the room. The duke was sitting then in the light of one green shaded lamp on his desk. He held a black fountain pen in a hand, while the other rested on a page of his leather bound journal, the wrinkled fingers curving gently inwards. Those were large, farmer's hands - Mike thought of how fortunate he was to be born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
He stood before the desk. 'Grandpa,' he said. 'Would I, uh, I have a question to ask.'
The duke lifted his head. 'Yes, what is it?' he asked, looking down from his long patrician nose at his sixteen-year-old grandson, and - most probably - heir.
'Tomorrow you are opening the eastern room…'
'Yes,' replied the duke. 'There will be guests coming for a visit, and some of my old friends too. Why, you are welcome to have a look at my collections, if you want to, that is.'
'Thanks,' he stammered. 'So are you holding the key?'
Patiently the duke put the pen down and folded his fingers neatly over his journal. He did not expect his grandson to have such a keen interest on his private possessions. 'You have more then one question, haven't you?' he asked, looking at the teenager with bright steady eyes. 'Well, you can ask our butler for all the keys to all the rooms in this house, except…' He shrugged his shoulders in a silent laughter. 'If you are referring the key to that room, yes, I am holding it. And that is the only one the butler doesn't have.'
That settled it, thought Mike. It was indeed locked. And no one had been in it, not until the next morning when his grandfather would unlock the door and the maids would come into the room to clean it up. One could have entered the room through the windows. But then the security alarm would go off, for the windows were locked from the inside. Mike had one last question. 'So did you…' he began hesitantly, feeling a great surge of relieve as he was about to broach on the topic he had the whole day bottled up to himself. 'Did you install a…'
'Grandpa you are back!' interrupted an overly cheerful voice. Mike's mouth snapped shut as Selena barged into the study, slamming the door noisily behind her. Ignoring Mike who was glaring at her, she rushed towards her grandfather and gave him a brief hug. 'I didn't realize it when you came back. I was busy revising, you know, my school works and all. Anyway, grandpa, how is that garden party?'
The old man smiled fondly. 'I will describe it to you later. Mike,' the duke turned his attention back to his grandson. 'What is the next question you were asking?'
'It is nothing important,' he murmured, turning and walking towards the door. 'Well, I am looking forward to visiting that eastern room tomorrow. Good night, grandpa.' Without waiting for a reply he closed the door gently behind him.
A/N: not much plot...aww,what am I doing? This chapteris shorter then the Prologue!