Cloud Atlas: Chapter Summary (Chapter 2: Letters from Zedelghem)
29th, VI, 1931: Robert Frobisher writes to Sixsmith about a strange dream. He is in a shop full of porcelain and he keeps breaking the statues. When he awakes, collectors are knocking on his door. He escapes the room. Robert is broke, so he decides to travel to Belgium in search of his admired musical genius Vyvyan Ayrs and ends up at Zeldelghem, Ayrs’s Chateau. He asks Ayrs if he can be his protégé. Arys agrees to let him stay the night at the Chateau and to give him a chance in the morning.
6th, VII, 1931: It seems Robert is in some serious debt, and he owes his collectors. They are hounding his family for money, and searching for him. The audition with Ayrs was held two days ago, and Robert performed, in his mind, terribly. The next day, Ayrs gives Robert his first assignment. He fails miserably and laments ever coming to Zedleghem. Since he used the last of his money getting to Belgium, he asks Sixsmith for a loan.
14th, VII, 1931: Sixsmith sent Robert a loan. After failing his first assignment the previous day, he became sullen and wandered around town. When he arrived back at the chateau, Ayrs apologizes for being hard on him and asks for another chance. Robert agrees to stay on. They develop a work routine and become friends. One day in the library, Robert happens upon the journal of Adam Ewing. He is curious about the nature of the journal and speculates that it might be a fake. The journal is incomplete, and Robert searches everywhere for the rest of it. He asks Sixsmith for help identifying the strange journal.
28th, VII, 1931: Robert and Ayrs complete their first collaboration, and a conductor friend of Ayrs, Augustowski, wants to showcase it. Robert is now on excellent terms with everyone at the estate. They give him a bigger bedroom, and Robert swears Mrs. Crommelynck, Arys’s wife, is flirting with him.
16th, VIII, 1931: Robert is having an affair with Ayrs’s wife. News arrives of the success of Robert and Ayrs’s composition. Eva, Ayrs’s daughter, is becoming suspicious about Robert’s background, and wonders why he has no contact with his family. He tells Sixsmith that he will meet Otto Jansch, a dealer, in town to sell him some of Ayrs’s books.
Evening 16th, VIII, 1931: Sixsmith’s forged letter from a member of Robert’s family arrives, and everyone buys it. On the way into town, Robert worries that the valet knows about his affair with Jocasta. Robert meets with Jansch, sells him some of Ayrs’s books, and Jansch propositions him for sex, which he accepts. He kills time afterward by wandering around town, where he spies Eva in the company of a married man. It turns out the man is the head of the family with Eva’s boarding school, and Robert apologizes for his assumptions.
29th, VIII, 1931: Robert and Jocasta are interrupted during their affair by Ayrs, who wants Robert to pen a melody for him. Robert has no choice but to open the door and let him in. Robert dismisses the servant and begins his work with Ayrs, with Jocasta still in hiding. The melody is hypnotizing, and Ayrs reveals that he heard it in a dream, in a cafe, where the waitresses’ faces were all the same. Arys asks Robert if he is having an affair, and Robert denies it.
14th, IX, 1931: Ayrs receives a visit from English composer Edward Elgar. They talk into the night.
Three days later: Ayrs has plans for a final masterpiece involving his “dream music”. He asks Robert to stay on for another half year, and Robert says he will think about it.
28th, IX, 1931: Robert is becoming annoyed with Jocasta, as she is becoming obvious about the affair. Robert agreed to Arys’s proposal to keep Jocasta quiet.
Later, same day: Fall is transitioning to winter.