Marcos Harrington despised the poor and showed them their place without hesitation (once he put garbage in a blind beggar’s hat instead of money). But one day, when he woke up to the sound of a melody played by a poor girl, his view of the poor changed, and he decided to do something shocking. What was so special about this melody?
Everyone in Marcos’ neighbourhood knew about his picky attitude towards the poor and the high opinion he had of himself only because he was rich. He never invited anyone to his house and lived alone. No visitors. No relatives. No friends.
While most people would go crazy in such an environment, Marcos was not bothered by it. He preferred to live alone because he thought it was better to live alone than to be surrounded by people who were not as intelligent or well-off as he was.
He even lectured people in his neighbourhood about how they should stop supporting people in need and start standing up for themselves, which no one liked except Marcos.
One morning, on his way to the market, he noticed that his neighbour Laura O’Brien had put up posters in their neighbourhood to raise money for heart surgery for her 11-year-old daughter. Marcos read the ad and laughed: “How silly you are!” – he said, mocking her.
“Excuse me?” Laura said, looking at him.
“This poster,” he remarked, pointing at it. “Do you really think people will donate money to support you? What a pity!”
“Well, Mr. Harrington, why don’t you mind your own business? If you can’t help someone, it’s better to shut up and leave. I’ve never asked your opinion about what I’m doing.”
“You haven’t seen as much in the world as I have, young lady,” he began his lecture on “morality.” “No one cares about other people. They are all greedy and will only help you if they see a benefit…”.
Before he could finish, Laura went home, for she had no desire to listen to him. But he continued…
“Stop looking for help and think about helping your daughter on your own. You came into this world alone and you will leave it alone too. YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN HELP YOURSELF. Too bad most people don’t understand this,” he muttered as she was leaving.
What Marcos used to do was to look down on people and criticise those who sought help from others. But one day everything changed…
One Sunday morning, at 11 o’clock, Marcos woke up to the sound of a violin. Normally he would have been furious that his sleep had been interrupted. But today it was different, because the melody he heard was unlike any other. The music was familiar and reminded him of his tragic past.
Tears rolled down his cheeks as he went to the windowsill to look for the source of the melody. There he saw a little girl playing the violin. For a moment Marcos thought it was a sad dream, but everything seemed too real to be a dream. He noticed people slowly surrounding the girl and leaving money in a hat next to her.
Overwhelmed with emotion, especially guilt and sadness, he wiped away his tears, changed his clothes and a few minutes later was on Laura’s doorstep.
She was surprised to see him there and realised that he had probably come to tell her off for her daughter Madeline’s violin ‘concert’ this morning. However, she was puzzled when she saw the bouquet of flowers he was holding, as well as a box of chocolates.
“I just want to apologise,” he explained, handing her flowers and chocolates. “I’m sorry about yesterday.” Marcos failed to mention that he was so touched by the tune that he couldn’t resist paying her a visit.
“Well,” Laura hesitated before accepting his gifts. “Thank you for your attention. Why don’t you come in? I can make you some tea.”
“Of course… I mean, thank you,” he said and followed her into the house.
Sitting in the living room, he watched as Laura’s husband Adam helped her in the kitchen while she made tea. He could not believe it, but he felt a pang of envy. They were not as rich as he was, but they were happy and together. They had someone to love and he didn’t.
When Laura brought him his tea, he asked softly: “Does your daughter like to play the violin? I heard her this morning and she’s fantastic.”
“Oh, thank you. She’s still learning. But yes, she loves it. We intend to sign her up for lessons, but we’re waiting for surgery….. She can’t be stressed too much before surgery….. But,” she added sadly, “although we have managed to raise some money for the operation, we still have a long way to go.”
While Laura was talking about money, Marcos came up with a plan. As he left their house that day, he noticed the poster that Laura had put up outside and the amount of money needed for Madeline’s operation.
The next morning he sent them a cheque for the amount of the operation along with a message. “I hope my violin star makes a speedy recovery. Best wishes, Marcos Harrington.”
Laura and Adam were over the moon and deeply grateful for Marcos’ help. But that was not the only thing Marcos did for them. He visited the O’Briens a few days after Madeleine’s operation and told them of his desire to see Madeleine, who was still in hospital.
The little girl was pleased to see him and thanked him for his help. “Mummy and Daddy told me you helped us, Mr Harrington. Thank you very much. I know you’re not as bad as everyone thinks. When I get better, I’ll play the violin for you! You like that, don’t you?”.
“I love it, Madeline! Thank you!” – he said with a smile.
Suddenly the girl’s doctor entered the room. “Madeline, you must rest now,” she said softly, smiling. “Please excuse me, sir. Visiting hours are over. Let Madeline rest,” she said to Marcos, who had been looking at her from the moment she entered.
His jaw dropped and he had no words for her. He froze as she entered, his gaze fixed on her. He had no doubt that she was his daughter – Amy – an exact replica of her mother, with black curls and deep brown eyes.
For a moment he remembered her as a little girl. He imagined her holding a violin, a happy expression on her face, her hands leading the violin stick rapidly and making a melody – the same one he had heard Madeline playing that he could not forget, that he could never let go of in his mind. The melody echoed in his ears and he cried before he knew it.
“Amy! It’s you!” – he whispered.
“Daddy?” Amy dropped Madeline’s folder from her hands, tears welling up in her eyes. “I can’t believe it! It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?”
“I thought you wanted to go to music school and become a violinist. I didn’t think I’d see you here.”
She crossed her arms and said sternly: “Well, THANK YOU FOR THAT, DAD! Remember when my teacher asked you to buy me a violin, but you refused because you didn’t want to spend money on it? Well, I gave up my passion and decided to become a doctor to save people’s lives. My mother and I were poor, but we succeeded. I got a scholarship and my mother’s work allowed us to survive.
“Oh, I see,” he said calmly. “I’m sorry for what I did. Can you forgive me, give me another chance?” – he asked, his eyes filling with tears.
“You know, I really hated you as a child. I couldn’t understand why you suddenly left us. But I know that it was my mother who left you because you didn’t get along with each other. I’m not going to comment on what happened between you two because it was your decision. But I’m glad we finally met. Come here!” She hugged Marcos. “I forgave you a long time ago … I understand that you didn’t leave me on purpose.”
“You know, I still remember the music you played as a child,” Marcos added. “I wish I had bought you a violin. I was having a hard time at the time. I didn’t have enough money, so I decided to spend it on your education. Your mother left me because she thought I was deliberately suppressing your passion. Madeleine plays the violin, too, by the way. She reminds me of the girl you used to be. In fact, she plays the same tune as you did when you were a child.”
“Really? It’s amazing… And yes, let’s put the past behind us, Dad. It’s all good now. Maybe if I became a violinist, I wouldn’t be saving lives today. So thank you!”