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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Young Musician - Chapter 18. A Professional Engagement
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The Young Musician - Chapter 18. A Professional Engagement Post by :louis1899 Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :2079

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The Young Musician - Chapter 18. A Professional Engagement

CHAPTER XVIII. A PROFESSIONAL ENGAGEMENT

A depressing feeling of loneliness came to Phil after he had parted with Frank. He was going out into the world with no one to lean upon, and no one to sympathize with him or lend him a helping hand. No wonder he felt friendless and alone. But this mood did not last long.

"I shall find friends if I deserve them," he reflected, "and I don't mean to do anything dishonorable or wrong. I am willing to work, and I believe I can make a living."

Leaving him to proceed, we go back to the poor-house, where his absence was not noticed till morning.

Joe Tucker, in spite of the blow which his nasal organ had received, slept pretty comfortably, and was awakened at an early hour by his vigilant spouse.

"You'd better go up and wake that boy and set him to work, Mr. Tucker," she said. "There are plenty of chores for him to do."

"You are right, Abigail," said Mr. Tucker, with approval. He reflected that he could assign to Philip some of the work which generally fell to himself, and the reflection was an agreeable one. He had tried to get work out of Zeke, but he generally found that it was harder to keep him at work than it was to do the job himself.

After he had made his toilet--not a very elaborate one--Mr. Tucker went up-stairs to arouse his young prisoner. He found the key in the outside of the door. Everything seemed right.

"I wonder how he feels this morning?" chuckled Mr. Tucker. "Wonder whether he's tamed down a little?"

He turned the key in the lock and threw open the door. He glanced at the bed, started in amazement to find that it had not been slept in, and then his wonder ceased, for the telltale rope explained how the boy had escaped.

He ran down-stairs in anger and excitement.

"What's the matter with you, Joe Tucker?" demanded his wife. "Are you drunk or crazy?"

"Enough to make me both, wife," he answered. "The boy's gone!"

"Gone!" exclaimed Mrs. Tucker, stopping short, with a saucepan in her hand.

"Gone!" ejaculated Zeke, his mouth wide open.

"I don't believe it," said Mrs. Tucker positively. "He couldn't go. He'd have to jump out of the third-story window."

"Sure enough!" said Zeke.

"I can't help it--he's gone," declared Mr. Tucker. "He tied a clothesline to the bedstead and let himself down from the window. Now, I want to know who left a clothesline in the room?"

"There wasn't any," said Mrs. Tucker.

"Maybe he had one in his pocket," suggested Zeke.

But this suggestion was not considered worthy of notice by his parents.

"Now I know who hit me in the nose!" exclaimed Mr. Tucker, light flashing upon him. "There was two of 'em--the ones I took for burglars."

"Then the other one must have been Frank Dunbar," said Mrs. Tucker.

"Zeke," said his father, "go right off and tell Squire Pope that Philip Gray has escaped. Ask him if I can't have him arrested for assault and battery. It's likely he's at Frank Dunbar's now. We'll have him back before the day is out, and then I'll see he don't get out!"

"All right, dad! As soon as I've had breakfast I'll go."

The result of Zeke's message was that Squire Pope hurried over to the poorhouse and held a conference with Mr. and Mrs. Tucker.

The next step was that he and Joe rode over to Mr. Dunbar's, to demand the return of the fugitive.

They found Frank splitting wood in the yard. To him they made known their errand, requesting him to call Philip out.

"He isn't here," answered Frank.

"Isn't here? I don't believe it!" said the squire hastily.

"Sorry you doubt my word, Squire Pope, but it's just as I say."

"Where is he, then?" demanded the squire suspiciously.

"He has left town."

"Left town?" repeated the squire and Joe Tucker, in dismay. "Where is he gone!"

"He's probably ten miles away by this time," answered Frank, enjoying their perplexity. "I guess you'd better wait till he comes back."

Joe and the squire conferred together, but no satisfactory result was arrived at, except it wouldn't pay to pursue Philip, for two reasons--one, because they were quite uncertain in what direction he had gone; another, because, even if overtaken, they would have no authority to apprehend him, since he had been guilty of no crime.

Finally a bright idea came to the squire.

"Bring me out his fiddle," he said to Frank. "I'm his guardian, and I will take care of it for him."

"He carried it away with him," said Frank. The squire's lower jaw fell. He was defeated at all points. "I guess we can't do nothing, under the circumstances, squire," said Joe Tucker, scratching his head.

"I shall have to reflect upon it," said Squire Pope, in a crestfallen tone.

"That's as good as a circus," thought Frank, as his roguish glance followed the two baffled conspirators as they rode out of the yard. "It's a pity Phil was not here to enjoy it."

At the end of the second day, Philip was some forty miles distant from Norton. He had not walked all the way, but had got a lift for a few miles from a tin-peddler, with whom he had a social chat.

It cannot be said that he was depressed, or that he regretted having left Norton, but he certainly did feel uncomfortable, and his discomfort sprang from a very homely cause.

To tell the plain truth, he was hungry. He had not had anything to eat for six hours except an apple, which he had picked up by the roadside, and during those six hours he had walked not far from fifteen miles.

"I believe I never was so hungry before," thought Philip. "The question is, where is my supper to come from?"

Although he knew pretty well the state of his finances, he began to search his pockets to see if he could not somewhere find a stray dime, or, better still, a quarter, with which to purchase the meal of which he stood so much in need. But his search was unproductive, or, rather, it only resulted in the discovery of a battered cent.

"So that penny constitutes my whole fortune," thought Philip.

There were two houses in sight, one on each side of the road.

Probably they would have given Philip a supper at either, but our hero's honest pride revolted at the idea of begging for a meal, much as he stood in need of it. He might as well be a pauper, as he justly reflected. So he pushed on.

Evidently he was drawing near a village, for houses began to appear at nearer intervals.

"Hello, my boy! Where are you traveling!" asked a hearty voice.

Philip turned round, and his glance rested on a stout young farmer, whose face, though very much sunburned, was pleasant and good-natured.

"I don't know," answered Philip.

"Don't know?" was repeated in surprise.

"I am in search of work."

"Oh, that's it! Are you a musician?" asked the young man, looking at the violin.

"Yes; a little of one."

"Are you looking for a job at fiddling?" asked the young man.

"Yes, if I can find one," answered Philip, smiling.

"Can you play dancing-music?"

"Yes."

"Then I guess I can get you a job for this evening."

"I wish you could," said Philip hopefully, catching at a way out of his troubles.

"You see, there's to be a little dance in School-house Hall to-night," said the farmer; "or there was to be one, but the fiddler's took sick, and we was afraid we'd have to give it up. Now, if you'll take his place, we can have it, after all."

"I'll do it," said Philip promptly.

"What'll you charge?"

"How much was the other one going to charge?"

"Five dollars. You see, he would have to come six miles."

"I'll come for three dollars and my supper and lodging," said Philip.

"All right! You shall have supper and lodging at our house. There it is, down that lane. Come right along, for supper must be on the table. After supper I'll go and tell the committee I've engaged you."

Philip's spirits rose. Help had come from an unexpected quarter. He felt that a new career was opening before him.

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