Enchanted?! That's one way of putting it! Who? What? In her entire story there is not one case of enchantment...not one! I suppose the gossip mill has been working as usual, and people say that it was Gezelle's singing that caused the man to fall helplessly in love with her...but anyone who knows that land will tell you that if anything, her singing must have pulled him out of an enchantment.
The people there...I don't know exactly...
The first thing that struck Gezelle, of course, was the utter lack of any music in their faces and bearing. She couldn't express it even to herself; her mind doesn't work that way, but she realized of course that something was wrong, even before that man took her crown without leaving so much as a quip in return, let alone an adventure. And when she met a man who was about to be married and had never even whistled to think of his love, she realized that of course, that was it. Some few people there--they were from another, much more normal land, as she guessed by their accents and garments--were able to help, and for a brief, glorious minute she pulled a few hundreds out of the cords that hold the people of New York in bondage--not to anyone, but away from music, from dance, from free speech, from each other... But she did not, and could not, reach any who were not already there in the park, looking at the green, moving through fresh air; listening to what they could hear without those stones in their ears...the ones that connect by strings to little tiles, and are now the chief instruments of the enchantment, or whatever it is.
For the matter with them is this, that their ears are continually filled with sound--mostly music of some sort, though often as well a voice breaks in to offer irrelevant commentary on some merchandise or service; it is there, constantly in their ears if they use the stones, certainly in their carriages and in all buildings--or else they sit before the magic mirror that is in nearly every room and listen to the sound that accompanies the vision. But it is never sung or played by any visible person, and they need not seek it or strain their ears for it, or give sign of appreciation to the musician, much less make any music themselves, and so they don't. Even many of those who dance, I have heard, do so as moved by the simplest rhythms of the music, and not as adding something of their own to its beauty. And this causes, in many of them, a curious deadness of spirit, whereas others (among them fortunately Gezelle's new husband) become simply unaware of music--they think they know it, for it dins constantly in their ears, and it is nothing to them, but they have never had the joy of a single note sung by themselves; never given of their own joy and exuberance in dancing, as a return for the joy of music and life.
It is from this enchantment, if you can call it that, that Gezelle has freed her husband, and while I hope that is what the title means, I am inclined to doubt that the people of his country would be aware enough of their own bonds to understand what has happened among them! It is indeed tragically ironic, that their story should be made an instrument to perpetuate the enchantment...just two more hours of the magic mirror's time. But when I heard him sing--chant--his vows to her at their wedding, and saw the magic in the motion of their dance together, I knew that their children, at least, will be no thralls to that enchantment, and through one such family, how many more might be released from bondage?
Perle (Gezelle's godmother)