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boisterous voice to their songs from home. Barbarians! Vivaldi tries
with closed eyes to ward off the smell of musty straw and stale
urine, and quickly falls asleep.
He awakes the following morning with a slight headache and hears
the wind tugging at the roof. It is cold. Next to him lies Andrea
Farsetti, snoring and also wrapped in his cloak. Vivaldi feels his
way downstairs and tries to blow new life into the fire; the huffing
and puffing make him dizzy but he manages to get the tiny twigs
to burst into flame and after a few minutes the fire begins to give
out a pleasant warmth. Scraping a window clean, he glowers
outside. It is still hardly light, but Antonio sees that snow must
have been falling all night. Now and then the wind picks up a
whole drift of the stuff, scatters and deposits it in a cloud
elsewhere. Things do not look too promising. Both landlord and
coachman looking outside a while later arrive at the same
conclusion: there’s no question of travelling today. The Englishmen
are still in bed sleeping off their hangovers. Signor Farsetti sits by
the fire reading. Antonio tunes his violin in a leisurely fashion then
plucks lazily on a string, trying out a new melody. Time slowly
passes.
By later that morning the Englishmen and their guide from
Turin have appeared and, very subdued, joined the others at the
fireside. Vivaldi, restless from idleness, feels the urge to play and,
unperturbed by his audience, tries out some of the tunes he has
invented during the course of the morning. ‘You appear to have an
extraordinary gift for the violin, priest,’ observes Farsetti. It is the
first time this morning that he has opened his mouth. Vivaldi gives
a short laugh. Farsetti has shut his book and is attentively following
the priest’s playing. The Englishmen mumble at one another; it’s
unlikely that they are in any state to appreciate the violin this
morning, anyway.
‘Your ability is clearly far above average,’ says Farsetti,
flattering now, but with genuine interest. ‘I also play the violin, but
always have difficulty with the changes in position you have just
79
43-97 Chapter 2.indd 79 22-11-2007 14:09:13
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