Main Story 37


The time for the listening party has now come.
To be perfectly honest, rather than Mari-sama’s performance, I wish to continue viewing “Furyou Shoujo To Yobarete”.
Monalisa’s in danger!


With much reluctance, I headed towards the auditorium.
The auditorium was adorned in the Art Deco style on the outside, while in the inside it was equipped with state of the art audio equipment.
The majority of the audience invited had entered the hall and taken their seats, while the rest engaged in lighthearted conversation in a corner of the lobby while drinking wine or coffee.


The three of us met with Hongou Takeru-sama in the lobby.
Youko-sama, as the principal organizer, was caught up in preparations.


“Hey, Rei-chan! It’s sure packed today.”

“Hello, Takeru-sama.
How strange.
So Mari-sama had really been popular.
The Mari-sama I knew was but an old lady who was very skilled at the piano.”


A terrifying old lady both willful and overbearing who practiced the discipline she had been taught directly from Matsuko-sama.


“She was truly wonderful.
A genius pianist with that kind of beauty.
Everyone deeply regretted that the accident happened.”

“I personally think that she would have been able to continue on as a professional had she allowed for adjustments to be made, but Mari-sama was a perfectionist.”


When we were talking as such, Madenokouji-sama and someone who looked like she might be his grandmother came and approached us.


“Kujouin-san, this is my grandmother.”


Beside Madenokouji-sama, there stood a woman with her back straight, not too stiff while also carrying herself with elegance.


“It is an honor to make your acquaintance.
My name is Kujouin Reiko.”

“My! A beauty just like Shirasagi Mari-sama.
And a manner of conduct strikingly resembling my own grandmother too.
That Youko-sama, to think that she wouldn’t do me the favor of introducing such a delightful young lady.”

“Grandmother, you should first introduce yourself.”

“I know, Yuu-san.
I am Yuu’s grandmother, Madenokouji Umeko.
My grandmother was Mari-sama’s governess, was she not? I feel a deep connection from you.”


Hongou Takeru-sama heard this and laughed wryly.


“I apologize.
She is a favorite of Youko’s.
Though she is sulking because Rei-chan would not let her be her patron.”

Does that mean that Reiko-san also plays the piano?”

“Oh? Has the invitation for the next recital not arrived yet?”


It would appear that Youko-sama was not inviting Umeko-sama.


“Pardon me.
There must have been a mistake.
I will make sure it is sent soon.”


Hongou Takeru-sama seemed like he had guessed at something.

Let’s ask the twins about Youko-sama and Umeko-sama later.


The listening party was about to start, so we each took our seats.

When Youko-sama made to address the audience, a photo of Mari-sama in her younger years appeared on the screen.
I believe she must have been in her 20s.
Unfortunately, I do resemble Mari-sama.
When I have advanced in my years, would I become an old woman just like that Mari-sama? I would hate that.


After which, Mari-sama’s performances from her later years rolled out from the speakers custom made for concert halls.
The piece was Rachmaninoff’s 3 Nocturnes.
A beautiful sound with which I was so familiar.

When the performance ended, an applause sounding as if it could break the hall sounded.
This even though it was but a recording?

I could even hear some sobbing.
Was it really such a moving performance?


Next was Liszt’s Transcendental Etude No.4, Mazeppa.
This was a piece that I had practiced much too.
I not only never forget a piece I have heard once, but also am able to memorize a music score after only seeing it once.
I therefore never had much trouble in practicing.
Though in the end, piano is all about how one practices.
So I never fail to do so.


Last came the piece I had also played the other day, Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque.
Ah, how nostalgic.
I closed my eyes and recalled the memories of that time past.

Huh…? This is my performance! So those cassette tapes had my performance mixed in too.
This was probably from when I was 6.


Although it was in the middle of the performance, I stealthily went to Youko-sama in order that I might inform her that it was me playing.
I cannot let the performance go on any longer.
Since this was not Mari-sama’s playing, we would be deceiving the audience if this was to continue.
However, the performance ended up being played until the end as is.


After all the pieces in the program had been played, Youko-sama went and addressed the audience.
It was during this address that she announced that Suite Bergamasque had been my playing.
I thought she would offer an apology, but she didn’t.
Instead, she called to me from up on the stage.


I cannot possibly not go when Youko-sama had called me so.
I walked straight to the spot on the stage beside Youko-sama.


“The last performance was by Kujouin Reiko-sama when she was 6.
Everyone, I apologize.
It was due to my lack of verification.
But was it not such a wonderful performance? She is Shirasagi Mari-sama’s only pupil and granddaughter.”


Eh… This event was one where people came to listen to Mari-sama’s performances, so should she not apologize properly?  It seems to me a horrid deed, as much as seeing “The Naked General” playing when you thought it would be “Furyou Shoujo To Yobarete” instead.
… That’s fine too! No, that’s not it.
It shouldn’t be “The Naked General” but, hmm, I can’t seem to find a good comparison!


As I went on thinking of trivialities like this, I was prompted to greet the audience.


“I am Shirasagi Mari’s grandchild, Kujouin Reiko.
I sincerely apologize for earlier events.
I must apologize for doing this from up on the stage, but I offer my deepest apologies for letting you hear such atrocious playing.”


I bowed my head deeply.
 Youko-sama became flustered at my gesture and whispered into my ears.


“Rei-chan, there is no need for you to apologize.
It was a splendid performance.”

“It might be rude of me but, the people came all the way here to listen to Mari-sama’s performance.
I believe it is only right that I apologize.”


We had intended to be speaking in low whispers, but the mic caught it all.
A buzz went through the audience.

I bowed once more and descended the stage, returning to my former seat.


At any rate, the listening party was now over.
I could not think that the Mari-sama who is definitely in hell and not heaven could be happy with it either.
Such a perfectionist as she would certainly not want that recording to be thought of as her own.


When I and the rest made to exit into the lobby that we might go home, I was unexpectedly grabbed by the wrist.


“Kujouin Reiko… Let me hear your playing.”


On the other end of the hand grabbing my wrist was a Shiroyama Mihael Madoka-sama shedding floods of tears.


“What is it, so suddenly?”


Behind him his parents stood.
They seemed shocked at their son’s eccentric behavior.
Though from my perspective I rather wish they would admonish him instead of standing there in shock.


“I want to hear your playing!”


Just what is this person saying.
I cannot believe that story about him having let a dove perch on his head.
Wouldn’t the dove not be able to be still? … No, in a sense, I might actually be able to believe it.
In any case he’s not normal!


“Kujouin-san, we apologize.
Now! Mihael! Release her!”


It somehow feels like they were reprimanding a dog on a walk.
Perhaps they were not used to reprimanding him?


“Shiroyama-san, what are you doing?”


Souju-sama had entered into rage mode.
Sara-sama too.
They’re twins after all, being so in step with one another.
I rubbed the wrist he had taken hold of.
His grip was strong and my wrist was hurting.


“Ah, on behalf of our son, we are very sorry.”


Shiroyama-sama’s father, upon seeing the state my wrist was in, bowed his head to me.


“Please don’t mind it.”


I said that and wanted to leave, but Shiroyama-sama called out to me.


“Let me hear it! Your playing, let me hear it!”


Why does he so strongly wish to hear my playing?


“Shiroyama-sama, why do you want to hear it so?”


When I asked him this, he seemed choked by his own words.
It would appear that he was not particularly good at articulating his thoughts.

Seeing this, Souju-sama tugged at my sleeve.


“Rei-chan, let’s go.
Shiroyama-san, you can hear her playing in the competition, can’t you?”


Youko-sama had also taken note of the commotion and was coming over here.


“If you want to listen to it so badly, do come to the next recital.
I extend you an invitation.”


From Youko-sama’s back, another voice could be heard.


“Youko-sama! You’re inviting me too, are you not? You did not tell me about Shirasagi Mari-sama’s granddaughter Reiko-san.
Truly, you are as ill-natured as always.”

“My, Umeko-sama.
What are you saying? It just so happens that a chance to introduce her to you has yet to come.
You have always liked what was mine since long ago, have you not?”

“What? Are you not talking about yourself?”

“No, it’s you!”


I had thought of them as such sophisticated people.
How off-putting.
And their dispute only escalated further.


“Rei-chan, the two of them have always been this way.
They probably think of each other as rivals.
Just leave them alone.” (Sara)


It is true that aside from me and the Shiroyama husband and wife, the rest of the audience were only looking on at them tepidly.

After a while, Madenokouji-sama too made his way to our spot.


“My grandmother seems to be causing some trouble.”

“I don’t quite understand it myself, but I suppose they each consider the other as their worthy opponent?”

“Kujouin-san, it’s not such a grandiose thing.”

“Rei-chan, both in terms of personality and preferences, the two of them are too much alike.
That’s why they get along so badly.” (Souju)


Their grandchildren were fed up and in talks of breaking them apart and escorting them home soon.
In the meantime, Shiroyama-sama had been led away by his parents.
Before which, his father had expressed a wish to apologize once more, but since I did not incur any wounds from it, I told him that there was no need to.
As a matter of fact, I only had my wrist gripped, that’s all.


Madenokouji-sama and Souju-sama waited for a suitable time to escort each of their grandmothers away.
The two of them, who were always refined and fair, were like children that day.
They reminded me of Mari-sama.


Could it be that it was the norm for rich ladies with upper class upbringings to be willful?

Prejudice is not good.
Prejudice is not good.
But they so resemble Mari-sama! And so unlike Fuki-san.


Fuki-san has never become emotional the way there had.
She was always calm.

Was she perhaps repressing her emotions?

I have never seen her angry, although if it’s her grieved face then I have witnessed it countless times.


Though Fuki-san had rejected me when we met during the cultural festival, I still believe there was a reason for that.
Or perhaps I should say I wanted to think that way.
This is my desire.
My earnest desire.


We left the auditorium without having the leisure to enjoy the reverberations of Mari-sama’s performances.

Youko-sama, who had returned to her usual self, was even more cheerful.
Her complexion seemed to have somehow gotten better.
In the end, I do think that the two of them view each other as worthy rivals.

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