Dorothy Brown was extremely happy as
she sat in the theater listening to the music. "Lauren's first
concert," she thought. "I've waited for this moment for years and
years and now it is here at last. How pretty she is! What a
beautiful voice she has!" As she listened to her young daughter
singing, she remembered when she was Lauren's age.
As a young girl, Dorothy wanted to be a concert singer, too. She
studied in France, Italy, and in the United States. "You can be a
fine singer some day," her teachers told her, "but you must be
prepared to study hard and work for many years. There will be no
time for anything but music in your life."
Dorothy was eighteen at that time and she was positive — that
music was all she wanted or needed to fill her life.
For almost a year Dorothy thought of nothing else. Then she met
David, a young engineer traveling in Europe. They met in Italy
where Dorothy was studying with Professor Giovanni Bernini, one of
the finest voice teachers in the world. Dorothy and David saw each
other nearly every day and after a few months David asked her to
be his wife. Dorothy wanted to marry David, but she wanted a
career in music, too. She didn't know what to do.
Finally she told Professor Bernini. He was not pleased at all.
"No," he said. "If you really want to be a concert singer, you
must forget about getting married."
"But I can do both," Dorothy argued.
"No, no, no," Professor Bernini answered. "You can't possibly do
both! You must be prepared to sacrifice your life for your music.
How can you think about anything else just before your first
But then the teacher saw how unhappy his student was, and in a
quieter voice he advised her to wait a few years and then make a
choice. "Your young man will understand," he said.
But David wouldn't understand. "I have to return to the United
States next week and I want to take you with me. I won't wait a
few years — you'll have to decide now."
Dorothy and David were married. They returned to the United States
together, but Dorothy was never sure she had done the right thing.
She just wasn't able to forget about her music.
When Lauren was born, Dorothy decided her daughter would be the
singer she always wanted to be.
Lauren's childhood was filled with music. When she was only five
years oíd, she started taking singing lessons. "You can't begin
too early," Dorothy told her husband. Lauren had a phonograph and
records, frequently went to concerts, and took voice lessons every
In school, the young girl was in all the music programs and when
her teachers said Lauren had an unusual voice, her mother was
One evening, a few months before Lauren was to go to the
university, Dorothy told David, "I want Lauren to go to Italy."
"Italy!" David said. "But why? She has already decided to go to
the university here in town. They have a very good music program."
"I know, but I want her to study with my teacher, Professor
Bernini. He's still one of the finest teachers in the world."
"Are you sure this is what Lauren wants?" David argued.
"Of course she wants it. What young girl with a voice like hers
could say no?"
Lauren did say no — at first. "I'm sure Professor Bernini is a
fine teacher," the young girl said, "but I don't need to go to
Italy to study. I'd rather study here in town."
Dorothy wouldn't listen. "Professor Bernini doesn't take every
student who asks him, you know," she argued, "but you are my
daughter. I've written to him and he has agreed to take you. Will
you go, Lauren? Will you go for me?"
"All right, Mother, if that's what you really want."
A month later, Lauren went to Italy. Professor Bernini was very
pleased. "The work I began with your mother," he told Lauren, "I
will finish with you."
'I'll do my best," Lauren answered.
"That's all I ask. We'll begin tomorrow," the elderly teacher
For five years Lauren worked hard for the professor and for her
mother, but a few months before her first concert she wrote to her
parents, "I liked to be in the school music programs, but I'm not
sure I want a singing career."
"If Professor Bernini hasn't asked you to leave," Dorothy answered
in her letter, "then he believes in your talent and he knows best.
When will your first concert take place?"
Professor Bernini wasn't positive Lauren was ready for a concert,
but Dorothy was sure Lauren would be a success and she frequently
wrote to her oíd teacher asking him about it. He finally agreed to
let his student return to the United States.
And now Lauren Elizabeth Brown was in New York City finishing her
first concert in Town Hall. Professor Bernini wanted to be with
her, but he was an oíd man and couldn't travel. "You will telí me
all about your big success when you return to Italy," he said
before she left.
When the concert was finished, Dorothy went to her daughter and
said, "I was right there with you all the time. You are the
singer I never could be. This is the happiest moment of my life."
The newspapers reviewed the concert. The newspapermen were kind,
but they wrote that the new young singer still had many years of
study and hard work ahead of her.
Lauren was very quiet when she returned to her family's apartment
after the concert, but Dorothy couldn't stop talking. "You were a
success!" she said. "Every place you go, people will know you and
say, 'That is Lauren Elizabeth Brown — the concert singer.' Of
course you'll have to sacrifice other things — you'll have to
return to Italy to study more. I agree with the newspapers about
that — but there will be many more concerts. You'll travel and
David finally interrupted his wife. "Dorothy, please be quiet for
a while. It's very late. Can't you see that Lauren needs some
sleep? We can talk about all that some other time. Lauren will be
with us for a few weeks before she returns to Italy."
Every day that she was home, a letter came for Lauren from Italy.
It was always from the same person, a Jim Harris. At first Dorothy
didn't say anything, but finally she asked who Jim Harris was.
Lauren answered quickly. "Just a university student I met in
"You never told me about him," Dorothy said. "You're not thinking
of getting married or anything like that, are you? You've just
started singing and you know you have no time for anything but
"Mother," Lauren said, "I understand exactly what I have to do.
You don't have to remind me. I'm not thinking about marrying Jim
Harris or anyone else. Just forget about it."
A week later, Jim Harris telephoned Lauren. He was in New York and
he wanted to see her, but Lauren told him she was too busy.
Her parents could see that their daughter was unhappy and that
evening they decided to talk to her. "You've been quiet since
you've been home," David said to the young girl. "Is something
"It's nothing," Lauren answered, and left the room quickly.
"Perhaps it's only that Lauren doesn't want to return to Italy,"
Dorothy said to David. "We could have her study in New York now.
Professor Bernini is getting oíd. Maybe it's time to get a
different teacher for Lauren."
"Dorothy," David said, "we don't know what is bothering Lauren. It
might be that young man who telephoned today."
"Oh, no, David. Lauren's been too busy with her music. I'm sure
she hardly knows that young man."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Well, Lauren told me that she isn't going to get married. She has
her singing to think about."
"And that's just what she is thinking about. She knows how much
this means to you and she believes she must do what you
"But she's happy with her singing," Dorothy argued. "Can't you see
"Perhaps Jim Harris — or someone else — can make her happier."
"I don't agree with you, David. I think Lauren just wants to be in
New York. Let's go and tell her what we've decided about getting a
new teacher for her."
"We can't decide anything for Lauren, Dorothy. She's not a
child. Our daughter is grown up now and she must decide
what she wants to do with her life. Don't you understand that?"
"I understand that she has a fine voice and she can be a big
success as a concert singer. She ought to work hard to be that
"For herself — or for you?"
His wife didn't answer.
"Dorothy, we must not let Lauren sacrifice her life for us!"
With these words, David got up and started to go to Lauren's room.
"Must you go right now? Can't it wait until later, David?"
"No," her husband said. "We must tell her now. We've waited too
Dorothy sat looking out the window. She watched a young bird
learning to fly. At first, it wouldn't leave the tree, but soon
with the help of its mother, the little bird flew away.
"David," Dorothy said, "wait for me. We'll talk to Lauren