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Phil, the Fiddler by Horatio Alger, Jr.

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"You are young to travel alone. How long have you been in this

"A year."

"And have you been traveling about all that time?"

"No, signore; I have lived in New York."

"I suppose you have not gone to school?"

"No, signore."

"Well, I am glad to see you here; I shall be glad to have you
stay and listen to our exercises."

The teacher walked back to his desk, and the lessons began. Phil
listened with curiosity and attention. For the first time in his
life he felt ashamed of his own ignorance, and wished he, too,
might have a chance to learn, as the children around him were
doing. But they had homes and parents to supply their wants,
while he must work for his livelihood.

After a time, recess came. Then the boys gathered around, and
asked Phil to play them a tune.

"Will he let me?" asked the young fiddler, again referring to
the teacher.

The latter, being applied to, readily consented, and expressed
his own wish to hear Phil. So the young minstrel played and sang
several tunes to the group of children who gathered around him.
Time passed rapidly, and the recess was over before the children
anticipated it.

"I am sorry to disturb your enjoyment," said the teacher; "but
duty before pleasure, you know. I will only suggest that, as our
young friend here depends on his violin for support, we ought to
collect a little money for him. James Reynolds, suppose you pass
around your hat for contributions. Let me suggest that you come
to me first."

The united offerings, though small individually, amounted to a
dollar, which Phil pocketed with much satisfaction. He did not
remain after recess, but resumed his wanderings, and about noon
entered a grocery store, where he made a hearty lunch. Thus far
good fortune attended him, but the time was coming, and that
before long, when life would wear a less sunny aspect.



It was the evening before Christmas. Until to-day the winter had
been an open one, but about one o'clock in the afternoon the snow
began to fall. The flakes came thicker and faster, and it soon
became evident that an old-fashioned snowstorm had set in. By
seven o'clock the snow lay a foot deep on the level, but in some
places considerably deeper, for a brisk wind had piled it up in

In a handsome house, some rods back from the village street,
lived Dr. Drayton, a physician, whose skill was so well
appreciated that he had already, though still in the prime of
life, accumulated a handsome competence.

He sat this evening in his library, in dressing-gown and
slippers, his wife nearby engaged in some needlework.

"I hope you won't be called out this evening, Joseph," said Mrs.
Drayton, as a gust of wind tattled the window panes.

"I echo that wish, my dear," said the doctor, looking up from the
last number of the Atlantic Monthly. "I find it much more
comfortable here, reading Dr. Holmes' last article."

"The snow must be quite deep."

"It is. I found my ride from the north village this afternoon
bleak enough. You know how the wind sweeps across the road near
the Pond schoolhouse. I believe there is to be a Christmas-eve
celebration in the Town Hall this evening, is there not?"

"No; it has been postponed till to-morrow evening."

"That will be better. The weather and walking will both be
better. Shall we go, Mary?"

"If you wish it," she said, hesitatingly.

Her husband understood her hesitation. Christmas day was a sad
anniversary for them. Four years before, their only son, Walter,
a boy of eight, had died just as the Christmas church bells were
ringing out a summons to church. Since then the house had been a
silent one, the quiet unbroken by childish noise and merriment.
Much as the doctor and his wife were to each other, both felt the
void which Walter's death had created, and especially as the
anniversary came around which called to mind their great loss.

"I think we had better go," said the doctor; "though God has
bereft us of our own child, it will be pleasant for us to watch
the happy faces of others."

"Perhaps you are right, Joseph."

Half an hour passed. The doctor continued reading the Atlantic,
while his wife, occupied with thoughts which the conversation had
called up, kept on with her work.

Just then the bell was heard to ring.

"I hope it is not for you, Joseph," said his wife,

"I am afraid it is," said the doctor, with a look of resignation.

"I thought it would be too good luck for me to have the whole
evening to myself."

"I wish you were not a doctor," said Mrs. Drayton.

"It is rather too late to change my profession, my dear," said
her husband, good-humoredly. "I shall be fifty next birthday.
To be sure, Ellen Jones tells me that in her class at the Normal
School there is a maiden lady of sixty-two, who has just begun to
prepare herself for the profession of a teacher. I am not quite
so old as that."

Here the servant opened the door, ushering in a farm laborer.

"Good-evening, Abner," said the doctor, recognizing him, as,
indeed, he knew every face within half a dozen miles. "Anything
amiss at home?"

"Mrs. Felton is took with spasms," said Abner. "Can you come
right over?"

"What have you done for her?"

"Put her feet in warm water, and put her to bed. Can you come
right over?"

"Yes," said the doctor, rising and exchanging his dressing-gown
for a coat, and drawing on his boots. "I will go as soon as my
horse is ready."

Orders were sent out to put the horse to the sleigh. This was
quickly done, and the doctor, fully accoutered, walked to the

"I shall be back as soon as I can, Mary," he said.

"That won't be very soon. It is a good two-miles' ride."

"I shan't loiter on the way, you may be sure of that. Abner, I
am ready."

The snow was still falling, but not quite so fast as early in the
afternoon. The wind, however, blew quite as hard, and the doctor
found all his wrappings needful.

At intervals on the road he came to deep drifts of snow through
which the horse had some difficulty in drawing the sleigh, but at
length he arrived at the door of his patient. He found that the
violence of her attack was over, and, satisfied of this, left a
few simple directions, which he considered sufficient. Nature
would do the rest.

"Now for home!" he said to himself. "I hope this will be my
last professional call this evening. Mary will be impatient for
my return."

He gave the reins to his horse, who appeared to feel that he was
bound homeward, and traveled with more alacrity than he had come.

He, too, no doubt shared the doctor's hope that this was the last
service required of him before the morrow.

Doctor Drayton had completed rather more than half his journey,
when, looking to the right, his attention was drawn to a small,
dark object, nearly covered with snow.

Instinctively he reined up his horse.

"Good heavens!" he exclaimed, "it must be a boy. God grant he
is not frozen!"

He leaped from his sleigh, and lifted the insensible body.

"It is an Italian boy, and here is his violin. The poor child
may be dead," he said to himself in a startled tone. "I must
carry him home, and see what I can do for him."

So he took up tenderly our young hero--for our readers will have
guessed that it was Phil--and put both him and his violin into
the sleigh. Then he drove home with a speed which astonished
even his horse, who, though anxious to reach his comfortable
stable, would not voluntarily have put forth so great an exertion
as was now required of him.

I must explain that Phil had for the last ten days been traveling
about the country, getting on comfortably while the ground was
bare of snow. To-day, however, had proved very uncomfortable.
In the city the snow would have been cleared off, and would not
have interfered so much with traveling.

He had bought some supper at a grocery store, and, after spending
an hour there, had set out again on his wanderings. He found the
walking so bad that he made up his mind to apply for a lodging at
a house not far back; but a fierce dog, by his barking, had
deterred him from the application. The road was lonely, and he
had seen no other house since. Finally, exhausted by the effort
of dragging himself through the deep snow, and, stiff with cold,
he sank down by the side of the road, and would doubtless have
frozen had not the doctor made his appearance opportunely.

Mrs. Drayton was alarmed when her husband entered the
sitting-room, bearing Phil's insensible form.

She jumped to her feet in alarm.

"Who is it, Joseph?" she asked.

"A poor Italian boy, whom I found by the side of the road."

"Is he dead?" asked the doctor's wife, quickly.

"I think not. I will restore him if there is any life left in

It was fortunate for Phil that he had been discovered by a
skillful physician, who knew the most effectual means of bringing
him to. The flame of life was burning low, and a little longer
exposure would have closed the earthly career of our young hero.
But he was spared, as we hope, for a happy and useful career.

By the application of powerful restoratives Phil was at length
brought round. His chilled limbs grew warm, and his heart began
to beat more steadily and strongly. A bed was brought down to
the sitting-room, and he was placed in it.

"Where am I?" he asked faintly, when he opened his eyes.

"You are with friends, my boy. Don't ask questions now. In the
morning, you may ask as many as you like."

Phil closed his eyes languidly, and soon fell into a sound sleep.

Nature was doing her work well and rapidly.

In the morning Phil woke up almost wholly restored.

As he opened his eyes, he met the kind glances of the doctor and
his wife.

"How do you feel this morning?" asked the doctor.

"I feel well," said Phil, looking around him with curiosity.

"Do you think you could eat some breakfast?" asked Dr. Drayton,
with a smile.

"Yes, sir," said Phil.

"Then, my lad, I think I can promise you some as soon as you are
dressed. But I see from your looks you want to know where you
are and how you came here. Don't you remember the snow-storm

Phil shuddered. He remembered it only too well.

"I found you lying by the side of the road about half-past eight
in the evening. I suppose you don't remember my picking you up?"

"No, sir."

"You were insensible. I was afraid at first you were frozen.
But I brought you home, and, thanks to Providence, you are all
right again."

"Where is my fiddle?" asked Phil, anxiously.

"It is safe. There it is on the piano."

Phil was relieved to see that his faithful companion was safe.
He looked upon it as his stock in trade, for without it he would
not have known how to make his livelihood.

He dressed quickly, and was soon seated at the doctor's
well-spread table. He soon showed that, in spite of his exposure
and narrow escape from death, he had a hearty appetite. Mrs.
Drayton saw him eat with true motherly pleasure, and her natural
love of children drew her toward our young hero, and would have
done so even had he been less attractive.

"Joseph," she said, addressing her husband, "I want to speak to
you a moment."

He followed her out of the room.

"Well, my dear?" he said.

"I want to ask a favor."

"It is granted in advance."

"Perhaps you will not say so when you know what it is."

"I can guess it. You want to keep this boy."

"Are you willing?"

"I would have proposed it, if you had not. He is without friends
and poor. We have enough and to spare. We will adopt him in
place of our lost Walter."

"Thank you, Joseph. It will make me happy. Whatever I do for
him, I will do for my lost darling."

They went back into the room. They found Phil with his cap on
and his fiddle under his arm.

"Where are you going, Philip?" asked the doctor.

"I am going into the street. I thank you for your kindness."

"Would you not rather stay with us?"

Phil looked up, uncertain of his meaning.

"We had a boy once, but he is dead. Will you stay with us and be
our boy?"

Phil looked in the kind faces of the doctor and his wife, and his
face lighted up with joy at the unexpected prospect of such a
home, with people who would be kind to him.

"I will stay," he said. "You are very kind to me."

So our little hero had drifted into a snug harbor. His toils and
privations were over. And for the doctor and his wife it was a
glad day also. On Christmas Day four years before they had lost
a child. On this Christmas, God had sent them another to fill
the void in their hearts.



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

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

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

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 eager
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

"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

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

"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

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."


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