In 1963, closeted homosexual Sinclair Ross had still not yet been canonized by McClelland and Stewart – much less come out as a geriatric “gay lib” figurehead. As in Gudrun Parker’s adaptation of the same short story, A Musician in the Family (1953, 17) the mentor is still blond and plays a masculine brass instrument. But Jackson’s musician is now a soft-handed, soft-skinned (probably tubercular) urban band player who fails miserably both at Tom’s father’s hay-stooking test and Tom’s own fantasy that he will join the farm family and stay in the adjoining bunkhouse forever. Too bad, for the cornet player embodies an alternative both to the model of workaholic masculinity represented by his father and to the maternal repression enforced by his mother through Sabbath hymn-playing on the feminized parlour piano. Again, a pantheistic rural universe hums along to the uncanny melody of this alternative (it’s an opera tune, wink, wink), and the boy grows up to redeem this failure as a lesson learned and memory savoured, a bittersweet adult narrator who talks and protests a bit too much (1).