At 20 years old, beautiful Countess Josephine Brunsvik von Korompa has become the pawn in an arranged marriage to Count Deym (aka Müller), a count nearly 30 years her senior and high in debt. Desperate and heartbroken, Josephine goes to Ludwig for consolation. Ludwig, meanwhile, is furious that her mother has covertly arranged this marriage behind everyone’s backs.
A tug on his sleeve turned him around. He gulped with both delight and sorrow. “Countess Josephine.”
Even with her puffy wet eyes and flushed skin, she remained beautiful. Her humiliation became his own. But he resisted showing his aching for her. Josephine belonged to another man now. He tried to break away. She caught him again. “I do not want us to part this way. We have spent such wonderful days together.”
“And I with you.” His head throbbed from a hot flush. “These were the happiest days of my life.”
“But you are happy no more. Oh, look what I have done to you.”
“No, it is not you. Never you.”
She covered her face in anguish. “What is this new life she is casting me into?” Her hands dropped and fresh tears poured forth. “Oh, Ludwig, I am terrified of what will become of me.”
When she spoke his first name, she spoke her desire: She wished to be intimate with him.
“Josephine, listen to me. Never let that man abuse you. If ever he makes you so miserable that you think death is more beautiful than life, come to me, I will protect you. Your station may be higher than mine, but I have my connections, too, much more powerful than Müller’s.”
“How can that be? He is a businessman, he knows everybody—”
“A count who is a businessman? The nobility shun him because he acts like a commoner. Your mother knows nothing about him. He’s not who she thinks he is.”
Horrified, Josephine pressed her curled fingers against her mouth. Instantly regretting his hastiness, Ludwig cupped her face in his hands.“Forgive my rashness. I am a blunt man who says too much. But I have had time to observe you, Josephine. This I know: You are noble of heart, true in character, and beautiful in body and soul. You will always do the right thing, even in the face of great sacrifice. I believe in your strength. Believe in the freedom of your own mind. No man can erase who you are.”
She squeezed her eyes shut and nestled her face in his hands.
Softly, he sang into her ear: “‘I am with you/However far away you might be/You are near me.’”
She gazed at him, her blue eyes glistening like indigo glass. A kiss upon her swollen lips would have been so easy to steal. He tore himself away and stood back. She grabbed his hand as if not bearing to lose him.
“Send me your music,” she pleaded, “then I will be strong.”
“No matter what note I write, every one belongs to you.”
“Your music relieves others of their misery. I will need much of it.” She smiled sadly. Though they stood apart, their clasp connected them like two ends of a bridge meeting in the middle.
“My best wishes for you in your new life, My Lady Josephine Brunsvik.” How difficult to unstick the next words from his throat: “May you be safe and happy with your new husband.” He caught his breath. “May your children be many.”
They would not let go.
“Josephine, never forget me who lo—“
Her eyes grew wide. His inference was unmistakable.
“—who likens you to all that is beautiful and good in this world,” he finished hastily.
Josephine stepped forward, her lips open in wonder. Snatching his hand away, Ludwig bowed his head too abruptly and ran for home.
He threw himself before his pianoforte, scribbling out the music he banged out an hour before, and named it as the first movement, grave— allegro di molto e con brio. The pensive adagio cantabile followed. He finished the third movement as a quick rondo, and called this whole new work the Sonata Pathétique, Number 8 in C Minor, Opus 13.
He dedicated it to Prince Lichnowsky. But upon his honor, every note belonged to Josephine.
© L.A. Hider Jones. All rights reserved.