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   Chapter 14 THE TAMBOURINE GIRL

Phil, the Fiddler By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 8998

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:07


Arriving at Trinity Church, Phil turned into Wall Street, looking about him in a desultory way, for he was at present out of business. Men and boys were hurrying by in different directions, to and from banks and insurance offices, while here and there a lawyer or lawyer's clerk might be seen looking no less busy and preoccupied. If Phil had had three thousand dollars instead of three, he, too, might have been interested in the price of gold and stocks; but his financial education had been neglected, and he could not have guessed within twenty the day's quotations for either.

As he walked along his attention was suddenly drawn to a pair of Italians, a man and a girl of twelve, the former turning a hand-organ, the latter playing a tambourine. There was nothing unusual in the group; but Phil's heart beat quick for in the girl he thought he recognized a playmate from the same village in which he was born and bred.

"Lucia!" he called, eagerly approaching the pair.

The girl turned quickly, and, seeing the young fiddler, let fall her tambourine in surprise.

"Filippo!" she exclaimed, her eyes lighting up with the joy with which we greet a friend's face in a strange land.

"Why did you drop your tambourine, scelerata?" demanded the man, harshly.

Lucia, a pretty, brown-faced girl, did not lose her joyful look even at this rebuke. She stooped and picked up the tambourine, and began to play mechanically, but continued to speak to Filippo.

"How long are you in the city?" asked Phil, speaking, of course, in his native language.

"Only two weeks," answered Lucia. "I am so glad to see you, Filippo."

"When did you come from Italy?"

"I cannot tell. I think it is somewhere about two months."

"And did you see my mother before you came away?" asked Phil, eagerly.

"Yes, Filippo, I saw her. She told me if I saw you to say that she longed for her dear boy to return; that she thought of him day and night."

"Did she say that, Lucia?"

"Yes, Filippo."

"And is my mother well?" asked Phil, anxiously, for he had a strong love for his mother.

"She is well, Filippo-she is not sick, but she is thin, and she looks sad."

"I will go and see her some day," said Phil. "I wish I could see her now."

"When will you go?"

"I don't know; when I am older."

"But where is your fiddle, Filippo?" asked Lucia. "Do you not play?"

Filippo glanced at the organ-grinder, whom he did not dare to take into his confidence. So he answered, evasively:

"Another boy took it. I shall get another this afternoon."

"Are you with the padrone?"

"Yes."

"Come, Lucia," said the man, roughly, ceasing to play, "we must go on."

Lucia followed her companion obediently, reluctant to leave Phil, with whom she desired to converse longer; but the latter saw that her guardian did not wish the conversation to continue, and so did not follow.

This unexpected meeting with Lucia gave him much to think of. It carried back his thoughts to his humble, but still dear, Italian home, and the mother from whom he had never met with anything but kindness, and a longing to see both made him for the moment almost sad. But he was naturally of a joyous temperament, and hope soon returned.

"I will save money enough to go home," he said to himself. "It will not take very much-not more than fifty dollars. I can get it soon if I do not have to pay money to the padrone."

As may be inferred, Phil did not expect to return home in style. A first-class ticket on a Cunarder was far above his expectations. He would be content to go by steerage all the way, and that could probably be done for the sum he named. So his sadness was but brief, and be soon became hopeful again.

He was aroused from his thoughts of home by a hand laid familiarly on his shoulder. Turning, he saw a bootblack, whose adventures have been chronicled in the volume called "Ragged Dick." They had become acquainted some three months before, Dick having acted as a protector to Phil against some rough boys of his own class.

"Been buyin' stocks?" asked Dick.

"I don't know what they are," said Phil, innocently.

"You're a green one," said Dick. "I shall have to take you into my bankin' house and give you some training in business."

"Have you got a bankin' house?" asked Phil, in surprise.

"In course I have. Don't you see it?" pointing to an imposing-looking structure in front of which they were just passing. "My clerks is all hard to work in there, while I go o

ut to take the air for the benefit of my constitushun."

Phil looked puzzled, not quite understanding Dick's chaffing, and looked rather inquiringly at the blacking box, finding it a little difficult to understand why a banker on so large a scale should be blacking boots in the street.

"Shine your boots, sir?" said Dick to a gentleman just passing.

"Not now; I'm in a hurry."

"Blackin' boots is good exercise," continued Dick, answering the doubt in Phil's face. "I do it for the benefit of my health, thus combinin' profit with salubriousness."

"I can't understand such long words," said Phil. "I don't know much English."

"I would talk to you in Italian," said Dick, "only it makes my head ache. What's come of your fiddle? You haven't sold it, and bought Erie shares, have you?"

"A boy stole it from me, and broke it."

"I'd like to lick him. Who was it?"

"I think his name was Tim Rafferty."

"I know him," said Dick. "I'll give him a lickin' next time I see him."

"Can you?" asked Phil, doubtfully, for his enemy was as large as Dick.

"In course I can. My fists are like sledge-hammers. Jest feel my muscle."

Dick straightened out his arm, and Phil felt of the muscle, which was hard and firm.

"It's as tough as a ten-year-old chicken," said Dick. "It won't be healthy for Tim to come round my way. What made him steal your fiddle? He ain't goin' into the musical line, is he?"

"He was angry because I didn't want to lend it to him."

Just then Tim Rafferty himself turned the corner. There was a lull in his business, and he was wandering along the street eating an apple.

"There he is," said Phil, suddenly espying his enemy.

Dick looked up, and saw with satisfaction that Phil was right. Tim had not yet espied either, nor did he till Dick addressed him.

"Are you round collectin' fiddles this mornin'?" he asked.

Tim looked up, and, seeing that his victim had found an able champion, felt anxious to withdraw. He was about to turn back, but Dick advanced with a determined air.

"Jest stop a minute, Tim Rafferty," said he. "I'm a-goin' to intervoo you for the Herald. That's what they do with all the big rascals nowadays."

"I'm in a hurry," said Tim.

"That's what the pickpocket said when the cop was gently persuadin' him to go to the Tombs, but the cop didn't see it. I want the pleasure of your society a minute or two. I hear you're in the music business."

"No, I'm not," said Tim, shortly.

"What made you borrer this boy's fiddle, then?"

"I don't know anything about it," said Tim, in a fright.

"Some folks forgets easy," returned Dick. "I know a man what went into Tiffany's and took up a watch to look at, and carried it off, forgettin' to pay for it. That's what he told the judge the next day, and the judge sent him to the island for a few months to improve his memory. The air over to the island is very good to improve the memory."

"You ought to know," said Tim, sullenly; "you've been there times enough."

"Have I?" said Dick. "Maybe you saw me there. Was it the ninth time you were there, or the tenth?"

"I never was there," said Tim.

"Maybe it was your twin brother." suggested Dick. "What made you break my friend's fiddle? He wouldn't have minded it so much, only it belonged to his grandfather, a noble count, who made boots for a livin'."

"I don't believe he had a fiddle at all," said Tim.

"That's where your forgetfulness comes in," said Dick "Have you forgot the lickin' I gave you last summer for stealin' my blackin' box?"

"You didn't lick me," said Tim.

"Then I'll lick you harder next time," said Dick.

"You ain't able," said Tim, who, glancing over his shoulder, saw the approach of a policeman, and felt secure.

"I will be soon," said Dick, who also observed the approach of the policeman. "I'd do it now, only I've got to buy some gold for a friend of mine. Just let me know when it's perfectly convenient to take a lickin'."

Tim shuffled off, glad to get away unharmed, and Dick turned to Phil.

"I'll give him a lickin' the first time I catch him, when there isn't a cop around," he said.

Phil left his friend at this point, for he saw by the clock on Trinity spire that it was time to go back to join Paul Hoffman, as he had agreed. I may here add that Phil's wrongs were avenged that same evening, his friend, Dick, administered to Tim the promised "lickin'" with such good effect that the latter carried a black eye for a week afterwards.

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