'…So it begins to rain outside the house,' Serezha scribbled. 'And this is what takes place in front of the windows. The ancient birch trees set their leaves free in whole swarms and wave them a ceremonious farewell from the hillock. In the meantime, fresh flurries of leaves, becoming entangled in their hair, whirl away and thin out in white gusts. Having waved them on and lost them from sight, the birches swing toward the cottage. Darkness falls, and, just before the first clap of thunder peals, Mr Y begins to play on the grand piano inside.