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   Chapter 26 CONCLUSION

Phil, the Fiddler By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 9595

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:07


It was a strange thing for the homeless fiddler to find himself the object of affectionate care and solicitude-to feel, when he woke up in the morning, no anxiety about the day's success. He could not have found a better home. Naturally attractive, and without serious faults, Phil soon won his way to the hearts of the good doctor and his wife. The house seemed brighter for his presence, and the void in the heart of the bereaved mother was partially filled. Her lost Walter would have been of the same age as Phil, had he lived. For his sake she determined to treat the boy, who seemed cast by Providence upon her protection, as a son.

To begin with, Phil was carried to the village tailor, where an ample wardrobe was ordered for him. His old clothes were not cast aside, but kept in remembrance of his appearance at the time he came to them. It was a novel sensation for Phil, when, in his new suit, with a satchel of books in his hand, he set out for the town school. It is needless to say that his education was very defective, but he was far from deficient in natural ability, and the progress he made was so rapid that in a year he was on equal footing with the average of boys at his age. He was able at that time to speak English as fluently as his companions, and, but for his dark eyes, and clear brown complexion, he might have been mistaken for an American boy.

His popularity with his schoolfellows was instant and decided. His good humor and lively disposition might readily account for that, even if his position as the adopted son of a prominent citizen had no effect. But it was understood that the doctor, who had no near relatives, intended to treat Phil in all respects as a son, even to leaving him his heir.

It may be asked whether the padrone gave up all efforts to recover the young fiddler. He was too vindictive for this. Boys had run away from him before, but none had subjected him to such ignominious failure in the effort for their recovery. It would have fared ill with our young hero if he had fallen again into the hands of his unscrupulous enemy. But the padrone was not destined to recover him. Day after day Pietro explored the neighboring towns, but all to no purpose. He only visited the principal towns, while Phil was in a small town, not likely to attract the attention of his pursuers.

A week after his signal failure in Newark, the padrone inserted an advertisement in the New York Herald, offering a reward of twenty-five dollars for the recovery of Phil. But our hero was at that time wandering about the country, and the advertisement did not fall under the eyes of those with whom he came in contact. At length the padrone was compelled to own himself baffled and give up the search. He was not without hopes, however, that sometime Phil would turn up. He did hear of him again through Pietro, but not in a way to bring him any nearer his recovery.

This is the way it happened:

One Saturday morning in March, about three months after Phil had found a home, the doctor said to him: "Phil, I am going to New York this morning on a little business; would you like to come with me?"

Phil's eyes brightened. Though he was happy in his village home, he had longed at times to find himself in the city streets with which his old vagabond life had rendered him so familiar.

"I should like it very much," he answered, eagerly.

"Then run upstairs and get ready. I shall start in fifteen minutes."

Phil started, and then turned back.

"I might meet Pietro, or the padrone," he said, hesitating.

"No matter if you do, I shall be with you. If they attempt to recover you, I will summon the police."

The doctor spoke so confidently that Phil dismissed his momentary fear. Two hours later they set foot in New York.

"Now, Phil," said the doctor, "my business will not take long. After that, if there are any friends you would like to see, I will go with you and find them."

"I should like to see Paul Hoffman," said Phil. "I owe him two dollars and a half for the fiddle."

"He shall be paid," said the doctor. "He shall lose nothing by trusting you."

An hour afterward, while walking with the doctor in a side street, Phil's attention was attracted by the notes of a hand-organ. Turning in the direction from which they came, he met the glance of his old enemy, Pietro.

"It is Pietro," he said, quickly, touching the arm of his companion.

Pietro had not been certain till then that it was Phil. It looked like him, to be sure, but his new clothing and general appearance made such a difference between him and the Phil of former days that he would have supposed it only an accidental resemblance. But Phil's evident recognition of him convinced him of his identity. He instantly ceased playing, and, with ea

ger exultation, advanced to capture him. Phil would have been alarmed but for his confidence in the doctor's protection.

"I have got you at last, scelerato," said Pietro, roughly, grasping Phil by the shoulder with a hostile glance.

The doctor instantly seized him by the collar, and hurled him back.

"What do you mean by assaulting my son?" he demanded, coolly.

Pietro was rather astonished at this unexpected attack.

"He is my brother," he said. "He must go back with me."

"He is not your brother. If you touch him again, I will hand you to the police."

"He ran away from my uncle," said Pietro.

"Your uncle should have treated him better."

"He stole a fiddle," said Pietro, doggedly.

"He had paid for it over and over again," said the doctor. "Phil, come along. We have no further business with this young man."

They walked on, but Pietro followed at a little distance. Seeing this, Dr. Drayton turned back.

"Young man," he said, "do you see that policeman across the street?"

"Si, signore," answered Pietro.

"Then I advise you to go in a different direction, or I shall request him to follow you."

Pietro's sallow face was pale with rage. He felt angry enough to tear Phil to pieces, but his rage was unavailing. He had a wholesome fear of the police, and the doctor's threat was effectual. He turned away, though with reluctance, and Phil breathed more freely. Pietro communicated his information to the padrone, and the latter, finding that Phil had found a powerful protector, saw that it would be dangerous for him to carry the matter any further, and sensibly resolved to give up the chase.

Of the padrone I have only further to say that some months later he got into trouble. In a low drinking saloon an altercation arose between him and another ruffian one evening, when the padrone, in his rage, drew a knife, and stabbed his adversary. He was arrested and is now serving out his sentence in Sing Sing.

Pietro, by arrangement with him, took his place, stipulating to pay him a certain annual sum. But he has taken advantage of his uncle's incarceration to defraud him, and after the first payment neglected to make any returns. It may readily be imagined that this imbitters the padrone's imprisonment. Knowing what I do of his fierce temper, I should not be surprised to hear of a murderous encounter between him and his nephew after his release from imprisonment, unless, as is probable, just before the release, Pietro should flee the country with the ill-gotten gains he may have acquired during his term of office. Meanwhile the boys are treated with scarcely less rigor by him than by his uncle, and toil early and late, suffering hardships and privations, that Pietro may grow rich.

Paul Hoffman had often thought of Phil, and how he had fared. He was indeed surprised and pleased when the young fiddler walked up and called him by name.

"Phil," he exclaimed, grasping his hand heartily, "I am very glad to see you. Have you made a fortune?"

"He has found a father," said Dr. Drayton, speaking for Phil, "who wants to thank you for your past kindness to his son."

"It was nothing," said Paul, modestly.

"It was a great deal to Phil, for, except your family, he had no friends."

To this Paul made a suitable reply, and gave Phil and his new father an earnest invitation to dine with him. This the doctor declined, but agreed to call at the rooms of Mrs. Hoffman, if Paul would agree to come and pass the next Sunday with Phil as his visitor. Paul accepted the invitation with pleasure, and it is needless to say that he received a hearty welcome and agreed, in the approaching summer, to make another visit.

And now we bid farewell to Phil, the young, street musician. If his life henceforth shall be less crowded with adventures, and so less interesting, it is because he has been fortunate in securing a good home. Some years hence the Doctor promises to give himself a vacation, and take Phil with him to Europe, where he will seek out his Italian home, and the mother with whom he has already opened communication by letter. So we leave Phil in good hands, and with the prospect of a prosperous career. But there are hundreds of young street musicians who have not met with his good fortune, but are compelled, by hard necessity, to submit to the same privations and hardships from which he is happily relieved. May a brighter day dawn for them also!

I hope my readers feel an interest in Paul Hoffman, the young street merchant, who proved so efficient a friend to our young hero. His earlier adventures are chronicled in "Paul, the Peddler." His later history will be chronicled in the next volume of this series, which will be entitled "Slow and Sure; or From the Sidewalk to the Shop."

THE END

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