Ludwig's Last Song

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: Booksie Classic

About Ludwig, a boy that loved music.

Ludwig lived at a time and place where most boys his age were  apprentices. This means that they worked for masters who were bakers, smiths, carpenters, and so on, and who taught them the tricks of the trade.  When the boys grew up they too became masters who earned their own living and trained up their own apprentices, who in turn became masters who … well, you get the idea.

Ludwig’s master was a tailor, which means he made and repaired clothes.  Ludwig's parents had been overjoyed to place him with Mr. Stitch (that’s the tailor's name) who was an excellent tailor, and very successful.  Unfortunately, Mr. Stitch was so excellent and successful that he had very little time for anything besides his own work, and very VERY little time to teach Ludwig how to make and repair clothes for himself.

It also didn’t help that Ludwig was not particularly interested in making clothes.  He could scarcely focus on his work, especially since most of the time he didn't know what he should be doing.  Ludwig often botched his stitches, and Mr. Stitch would have to undo Ludwig’s slipshod work and start all over again.  Whenever this happened, Mr. Stitch became very cross – a cross Stitch, one might say!  Well you’d probably be angry too, if you had a gazillion things to do and had to do someone else's work for them as well. 

On the other hand, if Mr. Stitch had spent a little more time teaching Ludwig, maybe Ludwig could have done a better job.  Anyway, we don't need to blame anyone, because it all worked out very well in the end, as you'll see.  At the time, though, it was quite nasty for both of them, and they blamed each other quite a bit (though Ludwig never said anything out loud).

Mr. Stitch soon decided that Ludwig would never become a befitting tailor.  But he’d agreed with Ludwig's parents to take the boy, so he couldn't send him away.  Besides, his parents by then had moved far away, to another country—but that’s another story.  So Stitch was stuck with Ludwig, and Ludwig was left with Stitch.

Mr. Stitch was a fair-minded person, and not overly stingy, so he still gave Ludwig clothes to eat, a bed to wear and food to sleep in … Did I get that right?  Anyway, since Stitch did so much for Ludwig, he felt that Ludwig ought to do something in return.  Ludwig could have done some of the cleaning -- but Mr. Stitch was sort of particular, and had to have things cleaned the RIGHT way.  Of course he was much, much to busy to show Ludwig what the RIGHT way was -- so Mr. Stitch ended up doing most of the cleaning as well.  The same went for the cooking, and pretty much anything else that needed doing around the house.

Meanwhile, Ludwig was most content when he was left alone to sit and listen to sounds.  Sounds fascinated him -- leaves rustling, water running, the kettle whistling, whatever. Even the buzzing of flies he thought was kind of interesting.  "Someday I will find out how they make that sound", Ludwig said to himself.

But Mr. Stitch couldn't stand to see Ludwig sitting around doing nothing.  Mr. Stitch hated idleness in every way, shape, or form.  The  only thing that Mr. Stitch hated worse than idleness was ... BUZZING FLIES.  This gave Mr. Stitch a BRILLIANT IDEA.Why not set Ludwig to work swatting flies?  So Stitch weaved a swatter out of rattan, and instructed Ludwig to keep the whole house clear of the noisy pests.

After a couple of days of killing flies, Ludwig  admitted to himself that there was ONE sound (at least) which he hated -- the SWAT of the swatter slapping the table, the walls, the ceiling, Mr. Stitch's bald head (Ludwig did that ONCE, but never again!).

As long as Mr. Stitch didn't see Ludwig sitting idle, he wasn’t bothered and was happy with his work. But every time the tailor saw Ludwig just sitting quietly, immediately his ears would start buzzing and he’d shout out, "Quick, Ludwig, the swatter!  How many times have I told you to keep this house clear of flies!" So Ludwig tried to keep out of sight as much as possible.

One day Mr. Stitch was exceptionally exasperated with Ludwig’s idleness.  Unfortunately, that day there were no flies in the house to speak of.  The tailor was toiling tirelessly at a torn tuxedo, and couldn’t bear being bothered. So he hollered out as he hovered over his handiwork, “Ludwig!  Go out and swat all the flies you can find.  That’s where they’re all coming from  You need to take care of this fly problem once and for all!”  Ludwig could have answered that all Mr. Stitch had to do was keep the windows shut, but he knew that would only start an argument. So he snatched up the swatter and scurried outside (he knew Stitch would be steamed  if he shambled).

Once outside, Ludwig slowed down and ambled along.  If there was one thing he liked better than just listening, it was listening while walking through the countryside. Since Ludwig was basically an honest fellow, he did try to swat flies here and there.  He really did want to please Mr. Stitch, who was quite kind to him in his own way.  However, it was hard to put his heart into swatting. 

Suddenly Ludwig’s ears pricked up.  He heard a sound he’d never heard before.  An amazingly, fabulously, wonderfully beautiful sound!  It came from a little shop over on the village square. Ludwig wasn’t ambling any more as he dashed over and peeked in the door.  There he saw--

A piano!  You probably know what a piano is, but Ludwig didn’t. It was the first time he’d ever seen or heard one.  There was a little fat man sitting behind the piano, tinkling away at the keys.  He didn’t play very well, but it sounded heavenly to Ludwig. The man saw Ludwig peering in the doorway. “Come in, young pup!” he bellowed, his round face beaming like the moon. “Care for a cup of tea?” Ludwig inched in timidly at first but soon warmed to the jovial shopkeeper, whose name was Mr. Rondo. Mr. Rondo quite enjoyed talking, and  Ludwig scarcely got a word in edgewise as they sipped from their steaming cups. From Mr. Rondo Ludwig learned that the shop was in fact a music shop, which sold all types of instruments and sheet music.

After that first encounter, every chance Ludwig got he went back to the music shop.  Mr. Rondo was very kind, and patiently taught Ludwig what he knew about music (which wasn’t very much).  Ludwig learned to read sheet music in a single afternoon. He eventually learned to play many different instruments, but the piano was always his favorite.  It was not long before Ludwig played the piano quite a bit better than Mr. Rondo did.

Ludwig would have loved to become Mr. Rondo’s apprentice.  Unfortunately, Mr. Rondo barely earned enough to support himself, let alone Ludwig.  Mr Rondo was an easygoing chap who kept the shop because he loved music, not because he made money by it.  Very few people ever came to the shop to buy music or instruments--which was why Mr. Rondo had so much time to spend with Ludwig.  Most people were more practically-minded, like Mr. Stitch. If they had extra time, they went to  pig-wrestling matches at the arena; and if they had extra money, they spent it on pretentious estate homes, or new-model carriages with snazzy extras,to show off in front of their friends.

Soon Ludwig fell hopelessly in love with music. Music was the sun of his sky, the sugar in his tea, the lemon in his lemonade.  It wasn’t long before playing music at Mr. Rondo’s just wasn’t enough for Ludwig. He began to get up in the middle of the night to write down the melodies which sprang up spontaneously from his heart.  He put the music in his drawer without showing it to anyone—“Who would care?” so he thought.. He did play a few of his pieces for Mr. Rondo, without telling him who’d written them.  Mr. Rondo said they sounded nice -- but Mr. Rondo always said that no matter how bad the music was.

One day, Mr. Stitch's niece Dorothy happened to be in the village square running some errands, when she heard an agreeable and interesting sound coming from a doorway.  She went over and peeked in and -- you guessed it! -- Ludwig was playing Mr. Rondo's piano.  Ludwig was a little embarrassed, and more than a little scared that she might tell Mr. Stitch what he was doing.  But Dorothy started talking to him in a very friendly way.  It turned out that Dorothy liked to sing, so she sang along as Ludwig played.  For Ludwig, this was heaven on earth.

Eventually Mr. Stitch did find out about Ludwig’s musical activities, and most definitely did not approve.He was disappointed with his niece for wasting time on music, which he called “useless nonsense”.  He was annoyed with Ludwig for leading his niece down the wrong path.  But Mr. Stitch was too busy to do anything about it.  Only his mouth turned down a bit more, and the wrinkles in his forehead were a bit deeper, especially when he saw Ludwig. 

Ludwig’s future looked as bleak as a black hole.  He would never make a living as a tailor.  His only “skill” was swatting flies, and who would hire him to do that?  He scarcely dared to dream that he could make his living with his music.  So rather than think about the future, Ludwig buried himself in his music.  He even begged Mr. Stitch to cut down his allowance, in exchange for allowing him to spend more time at Mr. Rondo’s.  Mr Stitch snorted like a peevish pig,  but in the end he agreed.

One midnight Ludwig woke up with music burning in his heart.  He couldn’t quite catch it and put it down on paper, so he went out for a walk.  He walked for miles and miles, without paying much attention to where he was going.  Suddenly lightning flashed, thunder smashed, and Ludwig was drenched in a cold downpour. 

Several hours later, Ludwig finally got back to Mr. Stitch’s house, and went straight to bed with a cold.  The cold soon became a fever which wouldn’t go away.  In those days, getting a fever could be very serious.  After a few days, Ludwig no longer turned his head when Mr. Stitch spoke to him.  Mr. Stitch clapped his hands next to Ludwig’s ear.  Ludwig didn’t notice.  Ludwig had lost his hearing.

Even though he couldn’t hear, be behaved as if he were listening to music. His body would sway and he would wave his finger, like he was conducting an invisible orchestra. He often asked for music paper and a pen, but Mr. Stitch wanted Ludwig to rest and get better, so he never brought any.

The illness dragged on, and Ludwig grew steadily weaker. Mr. Stitch began to get really worried, and called in a doctor.  The doctor felt Ludwig’s wrist, looked down his throat, peered into his ears, and tapped his chest.  The doctor’s face became very grave.  He mumbled something to Mr. Stitch, shook his head, and shuffled out.  Mr. Stitch stood still for quite some time.  Then he slowly went over to Ludwig’s desk, took out the music paper, a pen, and a tablet to write on, and brought them to Ludwig.

Ludwig began to write.  He ate little, and slept less.  All he did, hour after hour, day after day, was write music.  Sometimes he would pause and lean back in his pillow, smiling as he listened to what no-one else could hear.

Ludwig’s last month was his happiest.  The news of his illness had spread, and he had many visitors.  Ludwig gave each person some of the music that he was writing.  Each visitor got music with his or her own name on it.  Mr. Rondo got several piano pieces.  Dorothy received quite a few songs, which took much longer for Ludwig to write.  Ludwig even gave Mr. Stitch some music.  Out of respect, Mr. Stitch kept the music on his mantelpiece.  He didn’t know quite what to do with it. 

One evening Ludwig stopped writing and lay awake the entire night, tossing and turning on his bed.  The next day, at about nine o’clock in the morning, he began again to write -- slowly, and with great difficulty.  His friends who came to visit begged him to stop, but he would not.  At three o’clock, he could scarcely hold up his pen.  He reached the end of the page, and drew a double bar to finish the piece.  Then his head slumped; his eyes closed, never to opened again.  Though he’d been in great pain as he wrote his last piece, now his face held the most beautiful smile you could imagine. 

The title which Ludwig had put on his last song was, “Don’t Weep for Me”.  Here are some of the words to the song:

 

No sounds can make

My ears to wake

but though they sleep

I’ll always keep

the  happy sounds that I have heard --

laughing  children, brooks, and birds,

Forever ringing in my heart

Forever they will be a part

of what is really, truly me,

Which I will soon more clearly see

When I leave this broken body.

Please don’t weep  for me.

 

To my ears I’ve said goodbye

Soon ‘adios’ also to my eyes

My arms, legs, fingers, body, brain

never to be known again

At our parting please agree

Please don’t weep for me

 

Do you wonder where I go?

Inwardly I see the glow

As I near the shining wall

wide as wide, and tall as tall.

Smooth and blank and  nothing more

save a simple, wooden Door

not so tall, and not so wide --

Music from the other side

though  muffled, still comes wafting through.

This song that I present  to you

merely echoes  what I hear,

Ever louder and more clear.

More refreshing than deep sleep --

so though I’m wakeful do not weep.

 

Though my hands I cannot raise

I lift my heart and set its gaze

upon the Door, through which bright  rays

pierce, and show things that amaze

 

How happy are those on the other side!

For far as far and wide as wide

they run and clamber, stroll and play

in field and forest, beach and bay.

The  waterfall’s roar, the mountain’s height

and countless beauties bring delight.

 

Every person sings a song

which especially belongs

to himself, and yet all share,

adding richness to  others’ airs.

They sing to ocean, field, and sky,

and understand the soft replies.

From these sweet answers, beauties more

are added to the singers’ scores.

 

Now my heart knows sounds from there

I’ve no more use for those from  here.

For my own song, I seek such sounds

as cannot in this world be found

 

I’m at the Door, I’ve stood and knocked,

a Voice within says, ‘It’s not locked

Enter now, your time has come

to serve your Master  at His home.’

My inner heart begins to throb,

I see the turning of the knob …

 

In a moment I’ll be free,

so do not weep, rejoice with me!

 

Both Dorothy and Mr. Rondo could tell that there was something very special about the Last Song, so they both spent many hours learning the music to perform it together at Ludwig’s funeral. 

As Mr. Rondo practiced the Song, he felt it stirring up something hidden deep down inside of him.  He began having strange dreams at night.  More than once, he dreamed that he was a post stuck in the sand, while the music played around him.  A grapevine sprang up at his feet, swaying to the music, and wrapped gently around him.  Leaves sprouted and covered the post, and bunches of grapes began to appear.  Birds and animals came to eat, but the more they ate, the more the vine was covered with grapes.  Mr. Rondo didn’t understand the dream, and it frightened him.  He had always been very relaxed and easygoing, but now he was often shaken with strong feelings of joy or grief, like a tree shaking in an invisible wind.  Sometimes he burst into tears for no reason that anyone could see.

Dorothy also began acting differently.  Before she learned the Last Song she had always loved to chatter on and on about nothing in particular like a babbling brook. Now she became more like a deep, still pool.  When she wasn’t singing, she said  little, but her face held a smile that looked rather like Ludwig’s.  When Dorothy sang, it seemed like the whole world stood still.  She closed her eyes, and through her voice she poured out her whole heart and soul. 

Many people came to Ludwig’s funeral.  They sat very still and listened as Dorothy and Mr. Rondo performed Ludwig’s Last Song.  When they finished, there was a long silence.  Then Dorothy began to weep.  Mr. Rondo buried his face in his hands.  Mr. Stitch’s face started twitching, and his eyes became wet.  Soon most of the people present were sobbing.  Some were just sad that Ludwig was gone. But many were crying because in their own hearts they too could hear echoes of the music mentioned in Ludwig’s song.  They envisioned the bright wall and wooden Door, and through the half-open Door caught a glimpse of the beautiful country where all the rivers and lakes were fit for swimming; the mountains for climbing, the fields for playing, the fruit for picking, the sun for shining. They remembered now that as children they’d seen the same country in their own dreams  -- but the cares and worries of life had choked out their dreams and made them forget.  So they cried for the hopes and dreams they had lost for so many years. 

Slowly, their childhood dreams began to trickle back into their hearts and minds. It dawned on them that the land of their dreams really was, that Ludwig had gone there ahead of them, and had left behind the music as a souvenir.  The sobbing began to turn into laughter and shouts of joy.  Ludwig’s music resounded through the air as many others took up the tune --  no longer slowly and seriously, but with exuberance and upwelling joy.  They changed the words, too -- instead of “Don’t weep for me”, they sang, “Rejoice with me”.

After that, life in the village was filled with music.  Mr. Rondo suddenly had more music students than he could handle.  All of Ludwig’s friends wanted to learn the music he had written especially for each one.  Mr Rondo taught them, but not the way he had taught Ludwig.  He did much more than just teach them to read and play the notes -- he also taught them how to feel the music in the depths of their hearts.  Some of his students were even more talented than Ludwig had been.  They too wrote music for others, as Ludwig had done.

Dorothy was invited everywhere to sing.  Soon she was singing in other villages, and even other countries. She even met up with Ludwig’s parents -- but that’s another story.

Even Mr. Stitch learned the music Ludwig had written for him, and hummed it while he worked. The flies never bothered him any more after that.  He started smiling instead of frowning, and the wrinkles in his forehead disappeared.  There was a new zest in his voice and a new sparkle in his eye.He also became somewhat less particular. 

Eventually Mr. Stitch found the earlier music which Ludwig had written secretly and hidden in his drawer.  He brought it to Mr. Rondo, who gave it to his best students to perform.For many years, Ludwig’s music was heard throughout the village.But people always liked best the music from Ludwig’s last month -- the music from the other side of the Door. 


Submitted: September 17, 2015

© Copyright 2022 thornbush. All rights reserved.

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Sir AK87

One word, POWERFUL. Now check something out that you would more than likely describe with two words...MORE POWERFUL. Click my profile and let your mind be free.

Thu, September 17th, 2015 2:49am

hopefulpengram

So very delightful to read, with a powerful message shining through. I would recommend to any of my friends or family to read it. Great job holding reader to the very end. Thank You so much.

Fri, September 18th, 2015 8:06am

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