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- The Young Musician - 3/43 -
hero, and have him visit their homes. He was courteous to all, but made--no secret of his preference for Frank Dunbar.
When Philip parted from Frank, and entered the humble dwelling which had been his own and his father's home for years, there was a sense of loneliness and desolation which came over him at first.
His father was the only relative whom he knew, and his death, therefore, left the boy peculiarly, alone in the world. Everything reminded him of his dead father. But he did not allow himself to dwell upon thoughts that would depress his spirits and unfit him for the work that lay before him.
He opened his father's desk and began to examine his papers. There was no will, for there was nothing to leave, but in one compartment of the desk was a thick wallet, which he opened.
In it, among some receipted bills, was an envelope, on which was written, in his father's well-known hand:
"The contents of this envelope are probably of no value, but it will be as well to preserve the certificate of stock. There is a bare possibility that it may some day be worth a trifle."
Philip opened the envelope and found a certificate for a hundred shares of the Excelsior Gold Mine, which appeared to be located in California. He had once heard his father speak of it in much the same terms as above.
"I may as well keep it," reflected Philip. "It will probably amount to nothing, but there won't be much trouble in carrying around the envelope." He also found a note of hand for a thousand dollars, signed by Thomas Graham.
Attached to it was a slip of paper, on which he read, also in his father's writing:
"This note represents a sum of money lent to Thomas Graham, when I was moderately prosperous. It is now outlawed, and payment could not be enforced, even if Graham were alive and possessed the ability to pay. Five years since, he left this part of the country for some foreign country, and is probably dead, and I have heard nothing from him in all that time. It will do no harm, and probably no good, to keep his note,"
"I will keep it," decided Philip. "It seems that this and the mining shares are all that father had to leave me. They will probably never yield me a cent, but I will keep them in remembrance of him."
Phillip found his father's watch. It was an old-fashioned gold watch, but of no great value even when new. Now, after twenty years' use, it would command a very small price at the coming sale.
Ever since Philip had been old enough to notice anything, he remembered this watch, which was so closely identified with his father that more than anything else it called him to mind. Philip looked at it wistfully as it lay in his hand. "I wish I could keep it," he said to himself. "No one else will value it much, but it would always speak to me of my father. I wonder if I might keep it?"
Philip had a mind to put it into his pocket, but the spirit of honesty forbade.
"It must be sold," he said, with a sigh. "Without it there wouldn't be enough to pay what we owe, and when I leave Norton, I don't want any one to say that my father died in his debt."
There was nothing else in the desk which called for particular notice or appeared to be of any special value. After a careful examination, Philip closed it and looked around at the familiar furniture of the few rooms which the house contained.
There was one object which he personally valued more than anything else. This was his violin, on which he had learned all that he knew of playing. His father had bought it for him four years before. It was not costly, but it was of good tone, and Philip had passed many pleasant hours in practicing on it.
"I can take this violin, at any rate," said Philip to himself. "It belongs to me, and no one else has a claim on it. I think I will take it with me and leave it at Frank Dunbar's, so that it needn't get into the sale."
He put back the violin into the case and laid it on one side. Then he sat down in the arm-chair, which had been his father's favorite seat, and tried to fix his mind upon the unknown future which lay before him.
He had sat there for half an hour, revolving in his mind various thoughts and plans, when he heard a tap on the window, and looking up, saw through the pane the coarse, red face of Nick Holden, a young fellow of eighteen, the son of the village butcher.
"Let me in!" said Nick; "I want to see you on business."
NICK HOLDEN'S CALL.
Philip had never liked Nick Holden. He was a coarse, rough-looking boy, his reddish face one mass of freckles, and about as unattractive as a person could be, without absolute deformity. This, however, was not the ground for Philip's dislike.
With all his unattractiveness, Nick might have possessed qualities which would have rightly made him popular. So far from this, however, he was naturally mean, selfish, and a bully, with very slight regard for truth.
Will it be believed that, in spite of his homely face, Nick really thought himself good-looking and aspired to be a beau? For this reason he had often wished that he possessed Philip's accomplishment of being able to play upon the violin.
His conversational powers were rather limited, and he felt at a loss when he undertook to make himself fascinating to the young ladies in the village. If he could only play on the violin like Philip he thought he would be irresistible.
He had therefore conceived the design of buying Philip's instrument for a trifle, judging that our hero would feel compelled to sell it.
The reader will now understand the object which led to Nick's call so soon after the funeral of Mr. Gray. He was afraid some one else might forestall him in gaining possession of the coveted instrument.
When Philip saw who his visitor was, he was not overjoyed. It was with reluctance that he rose and gave admission to Nick.
"I thought I would call around and see you, Phil," said Nick, as he sat down in the most comfortable chair in the room.
"Thank you," responded Phil coldly.
"The old man went off mighty sudden," continued Nicholas, with characteristic delicacy.
"Do you mean my father?" inquired Philip.
"Of course I do. There ain't any one else dead, is there!"
"I had been expecting my poor father's death for some time," said Philip gravely.
"Just so! He wa'n't very rugged. We've all got to come to it sooner or later. I expect dad'll die of apoplexy some time-he's so awful fat," remarked Nicholas cheerfully. "If he does, it's lucky he's got me to run the business. I'm only eighteen, but I can get along as well as anybody. I'm kinder smart in business."
"I am glad you are smart in anything," thought Philip; for he knew that Nick was a hopeless dunce in school duties.
"I hope your father'll live a good while," he said politely.
"Yes, of course," said Nick lightly. "I'd be sorry to have the old man pop off; but then you never can tell about such a thing as that."
Philip did not relish the light way in which Nick referred to such a loss as he was suffering from, and, by way of changing the subject, said:
"I believe you said you came on business, Nicholas?"
"Yes; that's what I wanted to come at. It's about your fiddle."
"My violin!" said Philip, rather surprised.
"Oh, well, fiddle or violin! what's the odds? I want to buy it."
"To play on, of course! What did you think I wanted it for?"
"But you can't play, can you?"
"Not yet; but I expect you could show me some--now, couldn't you?"
"What put it into your head to want to play on the violin?" asked Philip, with some curiosity.
"Why, you see, the girls like it. It would be kind of nice when I go to a party, or marm has company, to scrape off a tune or two-just like you do. It makes a feller kinder pop'lar with the girls, don't you see?" said Nick, with a knowing grin.
"And you want to be popular with the young ladies!" said Philip, smiling, in spite of his bereavement, at the idea being entertained by such a clumsy-looking caliban as Nick Holden.
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