The door to Nemo’s study was open a crack. Leticia reached for it, but before she could touch the latch with its elaborate ‘N’ emblem she felt a hand around her wrist.
As she turned, she recognized the young Russian who served as Nemo’s valet. “Misha!?”
“Stay still,” he mouthed, then put a finger to his lips.
He pulled her aside, then gestured towards the narrow opening into the study.
Nemo was sitting at the organ that took up most of the back of his living space. Did he build it himself, Leticia wondered, or did his crew construct it and all of its delicate decorations for him unbidden, hoping to see him happy?
Letitia watched him slowly unbutton the heavy coat he almost never let anyone see him without and toss it over a chair, then bend over the keys, his heavy blond hair falling over his shoulder until he pushed it back with long fingers. He suddenly seemed very young and tired.
“He sings, sometimes, when he thinks nobody can hear him,” Misha explained in a whisper as Nemo began to play.
Letitia realized, watching him lean over the organ, that up until now—even though she knew his background—Nemo had only allowed her to see him as the cool and self-contained Captain, full of command and assurance for the islanders seeking refuge on Matoka. But within the armor of Captain Nemo was a lonely, grieving young man, torn away from his home and people.
It seemed wrong to let him be alone, but she couldn’t bring herself to open the door and break the spell that allowed him this respite from the role of Captain.
“Gdybym ja była ptaszkiem z tego gaju,
Nie śpiewałabym w żadnym obcym kraju.
Ani na wody…”
“What is he saying?” Leticia whispered in Misha’s ear.
Misha smiled a little guiltily—ever since learning the crew’s circumstances, Leticia had suspected his intense devotion to Nemo was largely due to feeling complicit in what he went through before his escape.
“If I was a bird from the forest, I wouldn’t sing in any foreign land, not the lakes, or the trees…”