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   Chapter 19 PIETRO’S PURSUIT

Phil, the Fiddler By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 9232

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:07


The distance from New York to Newark is but ten miles. Phil had been there once before with an older boy. He was at no loss, therefore, as to the proper place to get out. He stepped from the cars and found himself in a large depot. He went out of a side door, and began to wander about the streets of Newark. Now, for the first time, he felt that he was working for himself, and the feeling was an agreeable one. True, he did not yet feel wholly secure. Pietro might possibly follow in the next train. He inquired at the station when the next train would arrive.

"In an hour," was the reply.

It would be an hour, therefore, before Pietro could reach Newark.

He decided to walk on without stopping till he reached the outskirts of the city, and not venture back till nightfall, when there would be little or no danger.

Accordingly he plodded on for an hour and a half, till he came where the houses were few and scattered at intervals. In a business point of view this was not good policy, but safety was to be consulted first of all. He halted at length before a grocery store, in front of which he saw a small group of men standing. His music was listened to with attention, but when he came to pass his cap round afterward the result was small. In fact, to be precise, the collection amounted to but eight cents.

"How's business, boy?" asked a young man who stood at the door in his shirt-sleeves, and was evidently employed in the grocery.

"That is all I have taken," said Phil, showing the eight cents.

"Did you come from New York this morning?"

"Yes."

"Then you haven't got enough to pay for your ticket yet?"

Phil shrugged his shoulders.

"I don't believe you'll make your fortune out here."

Phil was of precisely the same opinion, but kept silent.

"You would have done better to stay in New York."

To this also Phil mentally assented, but there were imperative reasons, as we know, for leaving the great city.

It was already half-past twelve, and Phil began, after his walk, to feel the cravings of appetite. He accordingly went into the grocery and bought some crackers and cheese, which he sat down by the stove and ate.

"Are you going farther?" asked the same young man who had questioned him before.

"I shall go back to Newark to-night," said Phil.

"Let me try your violin."

"Can you play?" asked Phil, doubtfully, for he feared that an unpracticed player might injure the instrument.

"Yes, I can play. I've got a fiddle at home myself."

Our hero surrendered his fiddle to the young man, who played passably.

"You've got a pretty good fiddle," he said. "I think it's better than mine. Can you play any dancing tunes?"

Phil knew one or two, and played them.

"If you were not going back to Newark, I should like to have you play with me this evening. I don't have anybody to practice with."

"I would not know where to sleep," said Phil, hesitatingly.

"Oh, we've got beds enough in our house. Will you stay?"

Phil reflected that he had no place to sleep in Newark except such as he might hire, and decided to accept the offer of his new friend.

"This is my night off from the store," he said. "I haven't got to come back after supper. Just stay around here till six o'clock. Then I'll take you home and give you some supper, and then we'll play this evening."

Phil had no objection to this arrangement. In fact, it promised to be an agreeable one for him. As he was sure of a supper, a bed and breakfast, there was no particular necessity for him to earn anything more that day. However, he went out for an hour or two, and succeeded in collecting twenty-five cents. He realized, however, that it was not so easy to pick up pennies in the country as in the city-partly because population is sparser and partly because, though there is less privation in the country, there is also less money.

A little before six Phil's new friend, whose name he ascertained was Edwin Grover, washed his hands, and, putting on his coat, said "Come along, Phil."

Phil, who had been sitting near the stove, prepared to accompany him.

"We haven't got far to go," said Edwin, who was eighteen. "I am glad of that, for the sooner I get to the supper table the better."

After five minutes' walk they stopped at a comfortable two-story house near the roadside.

"That's where I put up," said Edwin.

He opened the door and entered, followed by Phil, who felt a little bashful, knowing that he was not expected.

"Have you got an extra plate, mother?" asked Edwin. "This is a professor of the violin, who is going to help me make

some music this evening."

"He is welcome," said Mrs. Grover, cheerfully, "We can make room for him. He is an Italian, I suppose. What is your name?"

"Filippo."

"I will call you Philip. I suppose that is the English name. Will you lay down your violin and draw up to the fire?"

"I am not cold," said Phil.

"He is not cold, he is hungry, as Ollendorf says," said Edwin, who had written a few French exercises according to Ollendorf's system. "Is supper almost ready?"

"It will be ready at once. There is your father coming in at the front gate, and Henry with him."

Mr. Grover entered, and Phil made the acquaintance of the rest of the family. He soon came to feel that he was a welcome guest, and shared in the family supper, which was well cooked and palatable. Then Edwin brought out his fiddle, and the two played various tunes. Phil caught one or two new dancing tunes from his new friend, and in return taught him an Italian air. Three or four people from a neighboring family came in, and a little impromptu dance was got up. So the evening passed pleasantly, and at half-past ten they went to bed, Phil sleeping in a little room adjoining that in which the brothers Edwin and Harry slept.

After breakfast the next morning Phil left the house, with a cordial invitation to call again when he happened to be passing.

Before proceeding with his adventures, we must go back to Pietro.

He, as we know, failed to elicit any information from Paul likely to guide him in his pursuit of Phil. He was disappointed. Still, he reflected that Phil had but a quarter of an hour's start of him-scarcely that, indeed-and if he stopped to play anywhere, he would doubtless easily find him. There was danger, of course, that he would turn off somewhere, and Pietro judged it best to inquire whether such a boy had passed.

Seeing two boys playing in the street, he inquired: "Have you seen anything of my little brother?"

"What does he look like?" inquired one.

"He is not quite so large as you. He had a fiddle with him."

"No, I haven't seen him. Have you, Dick?"

"Yes," said the other, "there was a boy went along with a fiddle."

This was true, but, as we know, it was not Phil.

"Did you see where he went?" demanded Pietro, eagerly.

"Straight ahead," was the reply.

Lured by the delusive hope these words awakened, Pietro went on. He did not stop to play on his organ. He was too intent on finding Phil. At length, at a little distance before him, he saw a figure about the size of Phil, playing on the violin. He hurried forward elated, but when within a few yards he discovered to his disappointment that it was not Phil, but a little fiddler of about his size. He was in the employ of a different padrone. He was doubtless the one the boy had seen.

Disappointed, Pietro now turned back, and bent his steps to the ferry. But he saw nothing of Phil on the way.

"I would like to beat him, the little wretch!" he said to himself, angrily. "If I had not been too late for the boat, I would have easily caught him."

It never occurred to Pietro that Phil might have taken the cars for a more distant point, as he actually did. The only thing he could think of, for he was not willing to give up the pursuit, was to go back. He remained in Jersey City all day, wandering about the streets, peering here and there; but he did not find Phil, for a very good reason.

The padrone awaited his report at night with some impatience. Phil was one of the smartest boys he had, and he had no mind to lose him.

"Did you find him, Pietro?" he asked as soon as his nephew entered his presence.

"I saw him," said Pietro.

"Then why did you not bring him back?"

Pietro explained the reason. His uncle listened attentively.

"Pietro, you are a fool," he said, at length.

"Why am I a fool?" asked Pietro, sullenly.

"Because you sought Filippo where he is not."

"Where is he?"

"He did not stop in Jersey City. He went farther. He knew that you were on his track. Did you ask at the station if such a boy bought a ticket?"

"I did not think of it."

"Then you were a fool."

"What do you want me to do?"

"To-morrow you must go to Newark. That is the first large town. I must have Filippo back."

"I will go," said Pietro, briefly.

He was mortified at the name applied to him by his uncle, as well as by the fact of Phil's having thus far outwitted him. He secretly determined that when he did get him into his power he would revenge himself for all the trouble to which he had been put, and there was little doubt that he would keep his word.

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