Inside we found my father busy practising on the flute beside the fire. This he always did, every evening, after his work was over.
The Doctor immediately began talking to him about flutes and piccolos and bassoons; and presently my father said,
“Perhaps you perform upon the flute yourself, Sir. Won’t you play us a tune?”
“Well,” said the Doctor, “it is a long time since I touched the instrument. But I would like to try. May I?”
Then the Doctor took the flute from my father and played and played and played. It was wonderful. My mother and father sat as still as statues, staring up at the ceiling as though they were in church; and even I, who didn’t bother much about music except on the mouth-organ—even I felt all sad and cold and creepy and wished I had been a better boy.
“Oh I think that was just beautiful!” sighed my mother when at length the Doctor stopped.
“You are a great musician, Sir,” said my father, “a very great musician. Won’t you please play us something else?”
“Why certainly,” said the Doctor—“Oh, but look here, I’ve forgotten all about the squirrel.”
“I’ll show him to you,” I said. “He is upstairs in my room.”
So I led the Doctor to my bedroom at the top of the house and showed him the squirrel in the packing-case filled with straw.
The animal, who had always seemed very much afraid of me—though I had tried hard to make him feel at home, sat up at once when the Doctor came into the room and started to chatter. The Doctor chattered back in the same way and the squirrel when he was lifted up to have his leg examined, appeared to be rather pleased than frightened.