BOOK DETAILS

The Enchanted Harp [Kindle Edition]

The Enchanted Harp [Kindle Edition]

by Clinton Festa

ISBN: 9780744321319

Publisher SynergEbooks

Published in Religion & Spirituality/Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy/Paranormal, Science Fiction & Fantasy/Fantasy, Literature & Fiction/Contemporary, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Children & Teens (Young Adult), Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

Lillian Paisley lost her saintly mother when she was too young to remember. Her prayers are answered when her mother returns in the form of an enchanted concert grand harp. A fast-paced book filled with quirky characters, The Enchanted Harp is a story of love, humor, music, and miracles.

Sample Chapter

“Hello?” called Lilly. “Anybody here?”

She creaked open the old, heavy front doors to Holy Cross.

“Hello? Father McBriar? Hello?”

The supposedly dangerous walk to New London was uneventful. Lilly had a prayer she planned to say when she got to the church, and the long walk gave her the chance to think of exactly how she wanted to say it. She was glad to be alone for a moment.

She walked past the doors, past the small poor box on the wall, and across the creaky wooden floor. She waved and said hello to a wooden painting of Jesus, then sat down.

“God?” she exhaled. “Please reveal to me one thing about my mother that no one else knows. Please show me one secret about her that no one can turn into… into, some ridiculous story about—”

Sensing she was getting angry, Lilly stopped to control her emotions. All right, as we rehearsed, she thought.

“Dear Lord, please reveal to me a secret about my mother that is neither false nor exaggerated and known by none other. Be it of her joy or her suffering, please reveal it only to me, as I wish to know my true mother as a daughter should.”

Okay, that came from a can, but that’ll do, thought Lilly.

Still, her eyes began tearing as she strolled through the church alone. I was christened here. I think. She held me in her arms, wrapped in a little white gown. Probably.

When she saw a painting of Mary weeping for her son as he was taken down from the Cross, the tears broke free. After sobbing for a moment, she collected herself and laughed, That’s the kind of relationship I want with my mother. Is that too much to ask?

And then there’s this, thought Lilly, rolling her eyes at the next wooden painting. It depicted St. George in shining armor riding a stunning white horse while driving a lance into a dragon’s heart. Dragon slayer, huh? He must have been an ace. Nabbed every last one on Earth.

Still waiting for someone to give the king’s note to, Lilly found the music and choir platform near the altar.

What is this? she wondered, approaching something that looked like a giant oven mitt. Taller than I am. She unbuttoned a cloth cover and set it aside. A harp? Beautiful. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one up close.

The harp was a rich brown color. It was made of wood, but the base was shaped like the bottom of a marble Greek column. And the harp did have a column, about as thick as an arm. It was grooved and decorated, designed to be as beautiful to look at as it was to listen to. All harps are fashioned this way. After years of play, many slip into disuse and become furniture. The column rose to just over six feet tall, where it met the curved upper portion called the neck. The neck sloped down then up, meeting the broad part called the body and the soundboard, which tilted to rest on a harpist’s shoulder when he or she played. The base had seven black pedals. The soundboard held forty-seven strings, which also attached to the neck in a series of intricate bridge pins and tuning pins.

Lilly looked around to see if the old church was still empty. She smiled and plucked a string.

And another.

She smiled a little more and reached her hand all the way to the longest strings, the low notes. She ran a finger across the entire assembly, making a glissando.

Lilly giggled.

She looked for a chair or a bench to sit on to see if she could play any simple songs she knew. It took her less time to find a bench than it did to think of a song.

She remembered a tune she heard coming from JoAnna’s room, something playing off Jo’s record player.

She played it flawlessly. She didn’t know how or why, but was too excited to stop. It was easier than whistling. As simple as it was to think of the melody in her mind, it was just as effortless for the melody to come through her fingers onto the harp strings.

“Well that was lovely,” said an old man’s voice, standing just a few feet behind her.

“What?” Lilly jumped, turning around. “Oh, Father McBriar. I’m sorry, I just… I thought I was alone.”

“I thought I heard Carmen,” smiled the old priest, looking at the harp.

“Father, no, I’m Lilly. Lillian Paisley, remember?”

“I know! How have you been, my dear?” Father McBriar approached to hug her. Nervous, Lilly hugged back.

Father Joseph McBriar was the lone steward of the Holy Cross Church in New London. His skin was usually rose-colored, and his hair had gone white a long time ago. He was a short man who always had a soft, gentle smile.

“Father, are you all right? You called me Carmen. It’s me, Lilly.”

“I know. I’m not senile yet, dear. The song you were playing. It was Habanera, from the opera, Carmen. You played it beautifully. Since when do you play the harp?”

“I… I don’t. I mean, since now. Tonight was the first time I ever have… played anything. What was the name of the song?”

McBriar paused, confused. “Habanera, from Carmen, an opera by Bizet. Lilly, are you sure you’re all right?”

“Yes, Father.”

“Dear, there isn’t a chance on Earth you could have played the harp so well if that were your first time.”

“There’s not?”

The two looked at each other. “Would you mind playing again, dear?”

Lilly sat down and leaned the harp on her right shoulder, tilting it as it was designed to do. She pulled her arms out wide and settled her hands on the strings. She looked down at the pedals, which change notes from flat to natural to sharp, getting her feet in position. She looked nervously at Father McBriar, who waited with kind patience.

She played the same song again, as perfectly and effortlessly as before. McBriar’s eyes were wide after just a few notes. After watching Lilly’s hands and feet all move with such precision and fluidity, his jaw was completely open by the end of the song.

“Well it’s settled, then. The harp’s yours.”

“What? No, Father… I can’t… I can’t just take this, not from you, not from a church.”

“Sure you can! I’ve never even seen the thing before. Didn’t even know we had a harp, and I wouldn’t have missed a big concert grand like this. I hardly consider it mine.”

“Wait, this harp just appeared?”

He held a hand up, “Before we get carried away, I have people anonymously drop discarded donations here at the church all the time. Loose change, old furniture, babies…”

“Yes, but never a harp I bet. Did you say babies?”

“Yes. This has been going on my whole career. After only a few short decades, I finally learned there was a lesson in it for me: give your treasure back to God before the devil takes it away.”

“Yes, but they gave their treasure to God, here. I can’t walk off with it.”

“Lilly, I just heard you play for the… second time in your life? You played like an angel. God wants you to have this harp. Just take it.”

“Thank you, Father.”

“You know, I’m really not too surprised.”

“What, that I can play? I am.”

“You shouldn’t be! You’re the daughter of Lucy Paisley.”

Oh, no.

“Did I ever tell you the story about you and your mother at the zoo?”

Here we go.

“Your mother, God rest her soul, took you to the zoo when you were barely dry from one of my baptisms. A lion had gotten out of his cage and was chasing the carousel’s wooden horses.”

“Okay?”

“The lion was chasing those horses round and round, round and round… there were people on that carousel! They were terrified!”

“And dizzy, I’m sure.”

“Yes! The ride operator had to turn it up to full speed so the lion couldn’t catch any of the horses.”

Great. We just added that to the story permanently.

“So, your mum went to the hot dog stand and bought five hot dogs. She tossed the buns aside… actually, no… first, she fed the buns to some pigeons. Then! Then, taking the hot dogs, she spoke to the lion. She told him, ‘Lion, leave these people alone, go back in your cage, and I will give you these hot dogs.’ The lion listened, went back into his cage, got his hot dogs, and your mother locked the door.”

“I have an envelope for you.”

“All while breastfeeding you the entire time. Huh? An envelope? From the king? Oh, dear, I think I know what it is.”

Lilly noted the king’s wax seal. “I didn’t open it, of course.”

Father McBriar’s head sank as he read. “As I thought. Behind in my taxes.”

“The king handles that?”

“Defender of the Faith is one of his many titles. Believe me, better him than some others.”

“Like who?”

“Forget I said anything.”

“Father, if you need the harp back to sell it—”

“No! Listen to me, Lilly. What belongs to the king belongs to the king. But what belongs to God, belongs to God.”

“Then at least let me play here sometime, if I don’t forget how.”

“Why, that would be lovely,” said McBriar, as his gentle smile returned.

Continues...

Excerpted from "The Enchanted Harp [Kindle Edition]" by Clinton Festa. Copyright © 2014 by Clinton Festa. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Clinton Festa

Clinton Festa

Clinton Festa is the author of Ancient Canada (mythology/epic/fantasy) and The Enchanted Harp (YA/historical fiction/comedy). He is also a former writer and cartoonist for his alma mater's humor magazine, the Cornell Lunatic.

View full Profile of Clinton Festa

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