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- The Young Musician - 5/43 -
"Not at present. I'll tell you why I want it put away."
And Philip told his friend about Nick's application to purchase it, and the liberal offer he had made.
"Nick's generosity never will hurt him much," said Frank, laughing. "What in the world did he want of your violin?"
"He wants to make himself popular with the girls."
"He'll never do that, even if he learns to play like an angel!" said Frank. "You ought to hear the girls talk about him. He couldn't get a single one of them to go home with from singing-school last winter. He teased my sister to go, but she told him every time she was engaged to some one else."
The two days that intervened between the funeral and the auction passed, and the last scene connecting Philip with the little cottage which had been his home was to take place.
In a country town, an auction-however inconsiderable-draws together an interested company of friends and neighbors; and, though no articles of value were to be sold, this was the case at the present sale.
Philip didn't at first mean to be present. He thought it would only give him pain; but at the last moment he came, having been requested to do so by Squire Pope, as information might be required which he could give.
The bulk of the furniture was soon disposed of, at low prices, to be sure, but sufficiently high to make it clear that enough would be realized to pay the small bills outstanding.
Philip's lip quivered when his father's watch was put up. He would have liked to buy it, but this was impossible; for he had only about a dollar of his own.
Nick Holden's eyes sparkled when he saw the watch. He had forgotten about that, but as soon as he saw it he coveted it. He had a cheap silver watch of his own, which he had bought secondhand about three years before. He had thought that he might some day possess a gold watch, but he was not willing to lay out the necessary sum of money.
By dint of actual meanness, he had laid up two hundred dollars, which he now had in the savings-bank in the next village, and he could therefore have bought one if he had chosen; but, like Gilpin,
"Though on pleasure bent, he had a frugal mind."
Now, however, there seemed a chance of getting a gold watch at a low price. Nick reasoned rightly that at an auction it would go much below its value, and it would be a good thing for him to buy it-even as an investment-as he would probably have chances enough to trade it off at a handsome profit,
"I shouldn't wonder if I could double my money on it," he reflected.
Accordingly, when the watch was put up, Nick eagerly bid two dollars.
Philip's lip curled when he heard this generous bid, and he heartily hoped that this treasured possession of his dead father might not fall into such hands.
Nick rather hoped that no one would bid against him, but in this he was destined to be disappointed.
"Five dollars!" was next heard.
And this bid came from Mr. Dunbar, the father of his friend Frank. Philip's eyes brightened up, for there was no one he would sooner see the possessor of the watch than his kind friend.
Nick looked chopfallen when he heard this large increase on his original bid, and hesitated to continue, but finally mustered up courage to say, in a rather feeble tone:
"Five and a quarter."
"Five dollars and a quarter bid!" said the auctioneer. "Do I hear more?"
"Six dollars," said Mr. Dunbar quietly.
The bid was repeated, and the auctioneer waited for a higher one, but Nick retired ignominiously from the contest.
He wasn't sure whether he could get much over six dollars for it himself, and he foresaw that Mr. Dunbar intended to have it, even if it cost considerable more.
"It's kinder hard on a feller," he complained to the man standing next him. "What does Mr. Dunbar want of the watch? He's got one already,"
"Perhaps he thinks it is a good bargain at the price."
"It's what I've been wantin' all along," said Nick. "He might have let me have it."
"Why don't you bid more?"
"I wanted to get it cheap."
"And the auctioneer wants to get as much as he can for the articles, and so do Philip's friends," This was a consideration which, of course, had no weight with Nicholas. However, he had one comfort. He would bid on the violin, and probably no one else would bid against it. He did not see it, to be sure, but concluded, of course, that it would be bid off. When the sale drew near the end, he went to Philip, and said:
"Whereabouts is the fiddle, Phil?"
"It isn't here," answered our hero.
"Ain't it goin' to be sold?"
"Of course not! It's mine. I told you that once already."
"We'll see!" said Nicholas angrily.
And going up to Squire Pope, he held a brief conversation with that gentleman.
The squire nodded vigorously, and walked over to Philip.
"Philip," said he, "go and bring your violin."
"What will I do that for!" asked our hero quietly.
"So that it may be sold."
"It is not to be sold," returned Philip quietly. "It belongs to me."
"Nothing belongs to you except your clothes!" said the squire angrily. "I require you to go and fetch the instrument."
"And I decline to do it," said Philip.
"Do you know who I am," demanded the squire, with ruffled dignity.
"I know you perfectly well," answered Philip "but I am the owner of the violin, and I don't mean to have it sold."
"YOU will repent this!" said Squire Pope, who felt that his lawful authority and official dignity were set at naught.
Philip bowed and left the house. He did not know what steps the squire might take, but he was resolved not to give up his cherished violin.
AN ALLIANCE AGAINST PHILIP.
Squire Pope was not a bad man, nor was he by nature a tyrant, but he was so fully convinced of his own superior judgment that he was in all things obstinately bent on having his own way. He had persuaded himself that our young hero, Philip, would be better off in the poorhouse than in a place where he could earn his own living, and no one could convince him to the contrary.
As to the boy's feelings on the subject, he considered those of no importance. He had good reason to know that Philip would object to being an inmate of the almshouse, but he was determined that he should go there.
In like manner, before the auction was over, he saw clearly that it would realize a sum more than sufficient to pay the funeral expenses of the late Mr. Gray and the few small bills outstanding against his estate, and that there was no necessity that Philip's violin should be sold, but none the less he resolved that it should be sold.
"Shall I allow a young lad to dictate to me?" Squire Pope asked himself, in irritation. "Certainly not! I know better what is right than he. It is ridiculous that a town pauper should own a violin. Why, the next thing, we shall have to buy pianos for our almshouses, for the use of the gentlemen and ladies who occupy them. A violin, indeed!"
This Squire Pope regarded as irresistible logic and withering sarcasm combined.
He saw Philip go out of the cottage, but, as the sale was not over, he was unable to follow him.
"Never mind, I'll fix him as soon as I have time," he said to himself.
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