"I'm impressed." And she wasn't just saying that, because there was genuine warmth in her soft voice - unless, of course, she was a very good actress. But I doubted it. I could hear things that other people couldn't hear, and the false note of a lie was pretty obvious if you knew what you are listening for. "I've never had a beginner that progressed so fast. You must have practised a lot."
I was still holding the violin, even after playing her my scales, and I didn't really want to put it down. I'd given it a name: Elenora. It seemed right, somehow. Perhaps naming instruments was batty but I didn't see that there was a problem with it; it wasn't as though as I was going to tell anybody, anyway, so why a big deal? "Yeah, I did. But I haven't got anything else to do."
"Hmm." Anna came over and took the violin from my hands. I almost resisted, tugging it slightly so that she could not take it away, before relenting and giving it to her when she added, "I'll give it back! I just want to see something."
I wanted to see something too. It wasn't likely to happen any time soon.
"What is it?" I asked, keeping my sarcastic comments to myself, since they probably wouldn't be appreciated by present company. "What do you want to know?"
"I was just seeing what make your violin is. It's got a nice sound." Well, I'd hoped to be able to answer her question but found myself stumped, since I hadn't discussed that with Mum. "Oh, I see." She didn't tell me what it was, but I wouldn't have been able to do anything with the name. "Must have cost your parents a bit. These are usually around a thousand pounds." I felt a sudden rush of gratitude to my family.
"I didn't know," I said quietly. She patted my shoulder.
"I know you didn't. It explains a few things, though. Now, would you like to learn a piece of music? They're not concertos but they're quite fun to play - it's the sort of thing I'd normally give to someone who'd been playing for about six months. Of course, if you want to stick with bowing for now we can do that, too." Her kind words were meant to remind me that I still wasn't quite grasping the concept of not hitting two strings at once, but I didn't take offence.
For a moment I pondered the question. "I think I'd like to move on," I said, turning my blind face towards my Russian teacher. "But I'll keep practising those bowings, if that's what needs to be done."
"It probably is," she said. "Any beginner can pluck a scale but it takes a lot of patience to get it with the right sort of bowing. The coordination is difficult and the hardest bit is only hitting the string you need. But I suppose you know that already, don't you?"
I nodded and she gave me back the violin. "But I can't see the music," I said, expressing a concern that had been plaguing me since I had begun.
"I'll play it for you, on the piano, and tell you what fingers to put down. Gradually I won't have to do that any more. It's difficult for those with sight to pick up things by ear but you're pretty good at listening, aren't you? I suppose you have to be."
I hadn't known there was a piano in the room. Gingerly, I nodded, returning Elenora to my chin and grasping the bow in firm fingers. I was pretty sure I'd got the bow hand right now.
Anna played something on the piano, a simple little tune, about two bars long. "Play it back to me," she said. Nothing else. No help. She didn't even tell me the fingerings, although she'd said that she would. "Go on, play it to me."
And I did.