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- The Young Musician - 6/43 -


"Back so soon? Is the auction over!" asked his friend, Frank Dunbar, who was engaged in splitting wood in the rear of the house.

"No, Frank, not quite; but it's almost over..Who do you think bid on father's gold watch?"

"I don't know."

"Nick Holden."

"He didn't get it, did he?"

"I am glad to say not. Your father bought it."

"Did he! Why, he's got one watch already."

"I am glad he's got it. I couldn't bear to think of Nick Holden carrying my father's watch. He was disappointed about one thing besides."

"What was that?"

"The violin. He went to Squire Pope, and complained that it was not in the sale."

"That's just like his impudence. What did the squire say?"

"He came to me and ordered me to get it, so that it might be sold."

"Shall I get it for you, then?"

"Not much!" answered Philip emphatically. "It is mine, as I have already told you. If the auction doesn't bring in enough to settle up everything, I may agree to sell it for a fair price; but I am sure, from the prices, that it won't be necessary."

"Squire Pope's a dreadful obstinate man," said Frank doubtfully. "He may insist upon your selling the violin."

"Let him do it!" said Philip contemptuously. "I should like to see him get it. Where have you put it, Frank?"

"Where Squire Pope won't be apt to find it--in an old chest up in the garret. It's full of old clothes, belonging to my grandfather, and hasn't been looked into by any one except me for years. I put it away under all the clothes at the bottom. No one knows where it is except you and me, not even mother."

"That's good. I guess we can defy the squire, then."

Half an hour later, Mr. Dunbar came home from the auction.

Philip went to meet him.

"Thank you for buying father's watch," he said. "But for you, Nick Holden would have had it, and I should have been sorry for it."

"He was badly disappointed," said Mr. Dunbar smiling. "But I didn't buy the watch for myself, Philip."

"For whom, then?" asked Philip, in some surprise.

"For the one that has the best right to it--for you," and the farmer took the watch from his pocket, and handed it to Philip.

"But I haven't the money to pay for it, Mr. Dunbar," said our hero.

"Then I give it to you as a present," said Mr. Dunbar.

"I am very grateful," said Philip; "but I ought not to accept it. You are too kind to me."

"Let me be the judge of that."

"Besides, it wouldn't be safe for me to take it. Squire Pope will try to get my violin away from me in order to sell it, and he would be sure to try to do the same by the watch if he found that I had it."

"But, Philip, I don't need the watch myself."

"Then, Mr. Dunbar, will you be kind enough to keep it for me, and when I can afford to pay for it, and there is no danger of its being taken from me, I will ask you for it. I shall be very glad, indeed, when I am older, to carry my father's watch, for I have seen it in his hands so often that it will constantly remind me of him."

"Perhaps that will be the best arrangement," said Mr. Dunbar. "You might have it stolen from you, if you carried it yourself just at present. As you request, I will keep it, subject to your order; but I would rather let it be a gift from me, and not require you to pay for it."

"We won't talk about that now," said Philip, smiling. "At any rate, you must let me thank you for your great kindness to me."

"Don't speak of that, Phil," said the farmer kindly. "I had a great respect and liking for your father, and I verily believe my Frank loves you as well as if you were his own brother. So, come what may, you have a friend in our family."

"I indorse all that father says," Frank said.

And he extended his hand to Philip, who grasped it heartily.

It warmed his heart to think that he had such good friends, though he was an orphan and alone in the world.

After supper, Mr. Dunbar went to the village store, while Frank and Philip remained at home.

Suddenly Frank said:

"Philip, you are going to have a visitor, I guess."

"A visitor!"

"Yes; I saw Squire Pope stumping along the road, nourishing his gold-headed cane. He is headed this way, and it's likely he is going to honor you with a call. He's got somebody with him, too. Who is it!"

Philip shaded his eyes with his hand, for the Sun was near its setting, and shining with dazzling brightness from the quarter toward which he was looking.

"It's Nick Holden!" he said.

"So it is! What can he want?"

"I understand very well. He wants my violin. He couldn't get it at the sale, so he has come here to see if he can't make me give it to him."

"And will you?"

"You ought to know me better than to ask, Frank," said Philip firmly. "Nick might as well have stayed away, for he won't accomplish anything."

Nick, however, held a different opinion. After Philip left the cottage, he had gone to Squire Pope, and cunningly asked:

"Are you going to let Philip keep his fiddle in spite of you, squire?"

"What do you mean, Nicholas?" demanded the squire, in a stately way.

"Why, seems to me he's kinder settin' up his will agin yours. You say the fiddle shall be sold, and he says it shan't. He told me he didn't care what you said, he should keep it."

"Did he say that, Nicholas?" asked the squire, who felt that his dignity was outraged by such insolence.

"I'm sartain he did. He's pretty big feelin', Phil is. He always wants to have his own way."

"He will find that he can't defy me with impunity," said the squire stiffly.

"Just so. Then you'll sell me the fiddle?"

"I will!" said the squire emphatically.

"You won't ask too much, will you?" asked Nick anxiously.

Now Squire Pope, who knew nothing of the price of violins, and had a very inadequate idea of their value, after some haggling on the part of Nick, agreed to sell him the instrument for two dollars and a half, and to see that it was delivered that evening.

"Do you know where it is, Nicholas?" he asked.

"Why, Phil is staying over at Frank Dunbar's, and I guess he's got it there somewhere. I guess we'd better go over there and get it."

"Very well, Nicholas. After supper, if you will come to my house, I will go over there, and see that you have the instrument."

"All right, squire!" said Nick gleefully, "Phil will find that he can't have his own way this time."

"I apprehend he will," said the squire complacently.

Now the reader understands how it happened that Squire Pope and Nick Holden made a call on Philip. As to what passed at the interview, we must refer him to the next chapter.

CHAPTER VI.

FUSS ABOUT A FIDDLE.


The Young Musician - 6/43

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