Jenny Lind: the Swedish Nightingale

By Gladys Denny Shultz | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
Year of Humility

WHEN Jenny later described this incident to Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, she told him that never in her life had she suffered such anguish. She had known that her voice was roughening, that she had had to force it. But the possibility that it might be ruined, gone forever, had not once occurred to her.

In that catastrophic moment many agonizing images flashed through Jenny's mind. There was the disappointment to her countrymen, who had been so proud of this Northern Nightingale of theirs that her downfall would be in the nature of a national calamity. Queen Desideria would have to learn that her protégée was not even considered worthy to receive instruction. Jenny thought of her friends and teachers. Herr Berg would be completely crushed, kind Madam Eriksson and Herr Forsberg devastated. What would become of her parents, whose support she had been for years now; what of her little group of pensioners? She thought of the crowd of admirers who had gathered at the dock in Stockholm to wave farewell to her. How could she return defeated, a failure?

The tears poured down her cheeks. "What am I to do?" Jenny implored Garcia. "How can I go back to Sweden and tell them I have no more voice left?"

Garcia had been sincere in refusing Jenny as a pupil, thinking it would only waste her money. But he could not resist her evident distress. He told her finally, "There is one thing you may try, if you wish to. Your

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