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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPhil The Fiddler - Chapter 20. Pietro's Disappointment
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Phil The Fiddler - Chapter 20. Pietro's Disappointment Post by :getyours Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :1049

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Phil The Fiddler - Chapter 20. Pietro's Disappointment


Though Phil had not taken in much money during the first day of independence, he had more than paid his expenses. He started on the second day with a good breakfast, and good spirits. He determined to walk back to Newark, where he might expect to collect more money than in the suburbs. If he should meet Pietro he determined not to yield without a struggle. But he felt better now than at first, and less afraid of the padrone.

Nine o'clock found him again in Newark. He soon came to a halt, and began to play. A few paused to listen, but their interest in music did not extend so far as to affect their pockets. Phil passed around his hat in vain. He found himself likely to go unrewarded for his labors. But just then he noticed a carriage with open door, waiting in front of a fashionable dry-goods store. Two ladies had just come out and taken their seats preparatory to driving off, when Phil stepped up bareheaded and held his cap. He was an unusually attractive boy, and as he smiled one of the ladies, who was particularly fond of children, noticed him.

"What a handsome boy!" she said to her companion.

"Some pennies for music," said Phil.

"How old are you?" asked the lady.

"Twelve years."

"Just the age of my Johnny. If I give you some money what will you do with it?"

"I will buy dinner," said Phil.

"I never give to vagrants," said the second lady, a spinster of uncertain age, who did not share her niece's partiality for children.

"It isn't his fault if he is a vagrant, Aunt Maria," said the younger lady.

"I have no doubt he is a thief," continued Aunt Maria, with acerbity.

"I am not a thief," said Phil, indignantly, for he understood very well the imputation, and he replaced his cap on his head.

"I don't believe you are," said the first lady; "here, take this," and she put in his hand twenty-five cents.

"Thank you, signora," said Phil, with a grateful smile.

"That money is thrown away," said the elderly lady; "you are very indiscriminate in your charity, Eleanor."

"It is better to give too much than too little, Aunt Maria, isn't it?"

"You shouldn't give to unworthy objects."

"How do you know this boy is an unworthy object?"

"He is a young vagrant."

"Can he help it? It is the way he makes his living."

The discussion continued, but Phil did not stop to hear it. He had received more than he expected, and now felt ready to continue his business. One thing was fortunate, and relieved him from the anxiety which he had formerly labored under. He was not obliged to obtain a certain sum in order to escape a beating at night. He had no master to account to. He was his own employer, as long as he kept out of the clutches of the padrone.

Phil continued to roam about the streets very much after the old fashion, playing here and there as he thought it expedient. By noon he had picked up seventy-five cents, and felt very well satisfied with his success. But if, as we are told, the hour that is darkest is just before day, it also happens sometimes that danger lies in wait for prosperity, and danger menaced our young hero, though he did not know it. To explain this, we must go back a little.

When Pietro prepared to leave the lodging-house in the morning, the padrone called loudly to him.

"Pietro," said he, "you must find Filippo today."

"Where shall I go?" asked Pietro.

"Go to Newark. Filippo went there, no doubt, while you, stupid that you are, went looking for him in Jersey City. You have been in Newark before?"

"Yes, signore padrone."

"Very good; then you need no directions."

"If I do not find him in Newark, where shall I go?"

"He is in Newark," said the padrone, confidently. "He will not leave it."

He judged that Phil would consider himself safe there, and would prefer to remain in a city rather than go into the country.

"I will do my best," said Pietro.

"I expect you to bring him back to-night."

"I should like to do so," said Pietro, and he spoke the truth. Apart from his natural tendency to play the tyrant over smaller boys, he felt a personal grudge against Phil for eluding him the day before, and so subjecting him to the trouble of another day's pursuit, besides the mortification of incurring a reprimand from his uncle. Never did agent accept a commission more readily than Pietro accepted that of catching and bringing Filippo to the padrone.

Leaving the lodging-house he walked down to the ferry at the foot of Cortlandt Street, and took the first train for Newark. It was ten o'clock before he reached the city. He had nothing in particular to guide him, but made up his mind to wander about all day, inquiring from time to time if anyone had seen his little brother, describing Phil. After a while his inquiries were answered in the affirmative, and he gradually got on the track of our hero.

At twelve o'clock Phil went into a restaurant, and invested thirty cents in a dinner. As the prices were low, he obtained for this sum all he desired. Ten minutes afterward, as he was walking leisurely along with that feeling of tranquil enjoyment which a full stomach is apt to give, Pietro turned the corner behind him. No sooner did the organ-grinder catch sight of his prey, than a fierce joy lighted up his eyes, and he quickened his pace.

"Ah, scelerato, I have you now," he exclaimed to himself. "To-night you shall feel the stick."

But opportunely for himself Phil looked behind him. When he saw Pietro at but a few rods' distance his heart stood still with sudden fright, and for an instant his feet were rooted to the ground. Then the thought of escape came to him, and he began to run, not too soon.

"Stop!" called out Pietro. "Stop, or I will kill you!"

But Phil did not comprehend the advantage of surrendering himself to Pietro. He understood too well how he would be treated, if he returned a prisoner. Instead of obeying the call, he only sped on the faster. Now between the pursuer and the pursued there was a difference of six years, Pietro being eighteen, while Phil was but twelve. This, of course, was in Pietro's favor. On the other hand, the pursuer was encumbered by a hand-organ, which retarded his progress, while Phil had only a violin, which did not delay him at all. This made their speed about equal, and gave Phil a chance to escape, unless he should meet with some interruption.

"Stop!" called Pietro, furiously, beginning to realize that the victory was not yet won.

Phil looked over his shoulder, and, seeing that Pietro was no nearer, took fresh courage. He darted round a corner, with his pursuer half a dozen rods behind him. They were not in the most frequented parts of the city, but in a quarter occupied by two-story wooden houses. Seeing a front door open, Phil, with a sudden impulse, ran hastily in, closing the door behind him.

A woman with her sleeves rolled up, who appeared to have taken her arms from the tub, hearing his step, came out from the back room.

"What do ye want?" she demanded, suspiciously.

"Save me!" cried Phil, out of breath. "Someone is chasing me. He is bad. He will beat me."

The woman's sympathies were quickly enlisted. She had a warm heart, and was always ready to give aid to the oppressed.

"Whist, darlint, run upstairs, and hide under the bed. I'll send him off wid a flea in his ear, whoever he is."

Phil was quick to take the hint. He ran upstairs, and concealed himself as directed. While he was doing it, the lower door, which he had shut, was opened by Pietro. He was about to rush into the house, but the muscular form of Phil's friend stood in his way.

"Out wid ye!" said she, flourishing a broom, which she had snatched up. "Is that the way you inter a dacint woman's house, ye spalpeen!"

"I want my brother," said Pietro, drawing back a little before the amazon who disputed his passage.

"Go and find him, thin!" said Bridget McGuire, "and kape out of my house."

"But he is here," said Pietro, angrily; "I saw him come in."

"Then, one of the family is enough," said Bridget. "I don't want another. Lave here wid you!"

"Give me my brother, then!" said Pietro, provoked.

"I don't know anything of your brother. If he looks like you, he's a beauty, sure," returned Mrs. McGuire.

"Will you let me look for him?"

"Faith and I won't. You may call him if you plase."

Pietro knew that this would do very little good, but there seemed nothing else to do.

"Filippo!" he called; "come here. The padrone has sent for you."

"What was ye sayin'?" demanded Bridget not comprehending the Italian.

"I told my brother to come."

"Then you can go out and wait for him," said she. "I don't want you in the house."

Pietro was very angry. He suspected that Phil was in the rear room, and was anxious to search for him. But Bridget McGuire was in the way--no light, delicate woman, but at least forty pounds heavier than Pietro. Moreover, she was armed with a broom, and seemed quite ready to use it. Phil was fortunate in obtaining so able a protector. Pietro looked at her, and had a vague thought of running by her, and dragging Phil out if he found him. But Bridget was planted so squarely in his path that this course did not seem very practicable.

"Will you give me my brother?" demanded Pietro, forced to use words where he would willingly have used blows.

"I haven't got your brother."

"He is in this house."

"Thin he may stay here, but you shan't," said Bridget, and she made a sudden demonstration with the broom, of so threatening a character that Pietro hastily backed out of the house, and the door was instantly bolted in his face.

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