Gwilan got up from her chair and went into the hearth room. The rest of the household were asleep. In the light of her candle she saw the two harps hung against the wall, the three-heifers harp and the gilded Southern harp, the dull music and the false music.
She thought, “I’ll take them down at last and smash them on the hearthstone, crush them till they’re only bits of wood and tangles of wire, like my harp.” But she did not. She could not play them at all any more, her hands were far too stiff. It is silly to smash an instrument you cannot even play.
“There’s no instrument left I can play,” Gwilan thought, and the thought hung in her mind like a long chord, till she knew the notes that made it I thought the harp was myself. But it was not. It was destroyed, I was not. I thought Torm’s wife was myself, but she was not. He is dead, I am not. I have nothing left at all now but myself. The wind blows from the valley, and there’s a voice on the wind, a bit of a tune. Then the wind falls or changes. The work has to be done, and we did the work. It’s their turn now for that, the children. There’s nothing left for me to do but sing. I could never sing. But you play the instrument you have.”
So she stood by the cold hearth and played the melody of Orioth’s Lament. The people in the household wakened in their beds and heard her singing, all but Torm; but he knew that tune already.
The untuned strings of the harps hung on the wall wakened and answered softly, voice to voice, like eyes that shine among the leaves when the wind is blowing.
Thought to ponder: The false self is made up of what we do, what other people say about us, and what we have.
Next time: “The Magic Brocade.”