Philip The Story of a Boy Violinist
The Story of a Boy Violinist
T. W. O.
Lamson, Wolffe and Company
Boston, New York and London
By Lamson, Wolffe and Company
All rights reserved
Rockwell and Churchill
|VI.||A New Friend||73|
|VII.||A Mining Tragedy||87|
|VIII.||A Great Change||106|
|IX.||Trials and Pleasures||120|
|X.||Aunt Delia’s Secret||134|
|XI.||A Day at Ashden||148|
|XII.||The Renewal of an Acquaintance||163|
|XIII.||Lord Ashden’s Plan||175|
|XIV.||Off for Italy||190|
The Story of a Boy Violinist
HIS days were nearly all spent in aplace where there were greatheights and depths, long corridors andgalleries, with many people passing toand fro, many chambers above andbelow, and elevators running up anddown. A great hotel, do you say? No,nothing so grand or pleasant as that,but a deep, dark, dismal mine; andthere, from dawn till after nightfall,Philip and his mother spent the long,sun-bright days in a sort of living death.It was really like that, for what is lifeworth in a place where the sun nevercomes, where there is no grass norflowers nor trees, where the beautifulblue sky with its snow-white flyingcloudlets or great, gray, snow-cappedcloud-mountains cannot be seen, andwhere there is nothing but the darknessof night all the day long!
But Philip was quite accustomed tothis strange underground life, and as heknew nothing of anything different orbetter he was as happy as the day waslong. After all, our lives are verymuch what we make them, and Philipwas blessed with a very sweet andcheerful nature, which could make itsown sunshine even at the bottom of adeep, dark mine; he had beside a verystrong and healthy fancy, and he hadpeopled the dark recesses of the minewith all kinds of imaginary beings, whowere real companions for the lonelychild. Instead, however, of creating, assome foolish children would have done,only gnomes and goblins to inhabit thedeep caverns and underground chambers,Philip chose rather to pretend thatthe soft sound of dropping water, whichcould always be heard if one listened,was the musical language of the coal-fairieswho guarded the secrets of themine, a language which only those whowere very pure and good could understand.
There was another sprite who livedin the mine, with whom Philip used tohold long conversations, and who couldalways reply to him, although the answerwas sometimes unsatisfactory; thiswas the echo of his own voice, and oneday the little boy lost his way andcaused his mother great alarm by followingthis mocking voice deep intothe intricate windings of an unworkedshaft. He found his way out again onthis particular occasion by the aid ofsome other spirit-friends of his, the littlelamps or candles which the miners carryin their hats. At a distance these lights,glancing here and there as the menmoved about their work, looked exactlylike large fireflies, and it was by followingthese and answering the friendlyvoices of the miners who shouted directionsto him that Philip found his wayback to his mother’s side again.
And so you see that Philip led whatI suppose most boys and girls wouldhave called a very hard and lonely life,for he had few companions of hisown age, and spent most of the timewhich other children have for play insober work, yet he was quite happy andcontented; and indeed he was muchmore fortunate than many of the peopleabout him, who did not, like him, comeup when the day was over, but whospent days and sometimes weeks ormonths down in the darkness of themine, with never a glimpse of theblessed light of day, except what littlecould be seen from the long well-likeshaft, up and down which went thebuckets or elevators by which the minerswere carried to and from their work.But when Philip’s day in the mine wasover he had only to step aboard therough elevator which carried the minersup and down, and looking upward, ashe always did on this journey back tothe outer world, he could see the tallderrick which pointed skyward fromthe mouth of the shaft like a blackfinger grow gradually more distinctagainst the blue sky, and then in amoment more he would come out intothe daylight once again.
The bright sunshine always hurthis eyes at first, but how pleasant andwarm it seemed after the damp twilightdown below! And how glorious itwas to be able to run straight aheadfor miles without being obliged tostoop beneath low, dripping walls, orto squeeze through narrow openingsinto close, rocky chambers where thestagnant air made one cough and choke!It was almost worth while, Philipthought, to spend eight hours of theday away from this beautiful world ofnature in order to come back to itagain each afternoon.
“Do ye think, mother dear,” hesaid thoughtfully, one beautiful summerevening as they were walking hometogether through a field gay and fragrantwith innumerable wild flowers—“doye think that heaven can be anicer place than this?”
His mother smiled at her boy’searnest question, and laid her hard,rough hand on his curly head in a lovingway she had. “I reckon it is, mylittle lad,” she said, “though we can’tquite think of it; but they says theflowers there never wither nor die, andthe sky is always blue, not loweringand black as our sky is sometimes—yemind how it looked before the thunder-stormlast night. The pleasures inthat land will leave no ugly sting behindthem, folks tells us, as they doeshere ’most always.”
She spoke with a sad wistfulness inher voice which Philip was quick tonotice, and he slipped his little handinto hers and looked up into her facewith troubled eyes.
“Tell me, mother dear,” he saidgently, “why you are always so sadwhen we cross this field, especially indaisy time. Is it because my fatherused to walk here with you in thetime ye said ye was used be happy?”
How marvellously wise love makesus all! Philip’s mother looked downat him wonderingly.
“However did the lad guess?” shesaid as though to herself; “for it was inthis very field we used to wander inthose happy, foolish days. Oh, it wouldhave been far better had we never”—shedid not finish the sentence, butbroke off quite suddenly, telling Philipto run on ahead; and the boy did as hewas bidden, but half reluctantly, foralthough he seldom spoke of his father,feeling instinctively that the subjectwas a painful one to his mother, yethe thought about him very often, ponderingas children will upon a themenot understood or only half explained.He knew that his father was dead—somuch his mother had told him; andmany a time he had heard her say thatif it were not for her boy she could findit in her heart to wish herself dead too.He also knew that a locket which hismother always wore on a chain abouther neck contained a portrait whichshe had once shown to him, and whichshe had told him was a perfect likenessof his father. Philip looked wonderinglyat the face of the handsomeyoung gentleman, who had clusteringcurls like his own, but whose clotheswere of a cut and texture quite unlikethose worn by the men whom Philipsaw every day; and then as his glancehad fallen upon his mother in herrough dress, he said with a kind ofawe, “What fine clothes my fatherwore, didn’t he, mother dear?”
And his mother had snatched theminiature almost fiercely from his hand,saying proudly:
“Of course he did, lad; your fatherwas a gentleman.”
A gentleman! Philip thought of itoften afterward, wondering what hismother could have meant, for the onlygentlemen the boy had ever seen livedin fine houses, and their wives rode incarriages and wore silk dresses andfine bonnets, while their home was ahumble miner’s cottage, and his mother—andthen Philip, half ashamed of thethought, had run and put his arms abouthis mother’s neck and smoothed thecoarse cotton cloth of her dress withhis loving hands, telling himself thatalthough she did not wear the fineclothes of a lady, yet she was as sweetand beautiful and good as any lady inthe land.
It never occurred to Philip to wonderthat Mag (the only name by which hismother was known) could neither readnor write, for the people who lived allabout them, and who spent the greaterpart of their lives in the mine, were ofcourse very ignorant, there being nosuch things in those days as compulsoryeducation or laws forbidding child-laborin the mines. Philip, therefore,at ten years of age did not know asingle letter of the alphabet, and hadseen only one or two books in his life.But although his mother was no wiserthan her child so far as books went,she seemed somehow to have gained astrange knowledge of life; indeed, noone could look at her without feelingsure that she had loved and felt andsuffered much. She was a large, grand-lookingyoung woman, with a face andfigure like a Greek statue, and she wasalmost as silent. Philip had neverheard her laugh, and she seldom talkedwith the miners or joined in their roughmerriment and sometimes rather coarsejokes. In reply to their greetings orquestions she always gave short, civilenough answers, never voluntarily prolongingthe conversation. But hersilence was never sullen, and they allseemed to understand her; indeed,there was not one of them who wouldnot gladly have done her a good turn,and she always acknowledged theirfavors gratefully.
It was often remarked that sheseemed to take a sort of fierce pleasurein doing the hardest and roughestkinds of work, labor which usually wasgiven only to the men; but she wasstill young and very strong, and it mayhave been that she dreaded the timefor thought which idleness might havebrought. At any rate, she chose thework and labored faithfully and patientlyfor the wages which supportedher father and child.
Philip was constantly with hismother, and as he was a trifle shyand made few friends among the roughboys and girls of the neighborhood, heseemed to have concentrated all theaffection of his warm little heart uponMag, who loved him in return with apassionate devotion.
Philip and Mag and her old fatherwere happy together in their humblehome, which, although it was preciselythe same as all the other huts whichwere huddled together around theopening of the mine, had about itan unusual air of comfort and refinement.There were white curtains atthe small windows, a honeysuckleclimbed over the porch, and at oneside was a small garden, where it wasPhilip’s delight to work with his grandfather;it was always gay with flowers,which seemed to thrive in spite of thepoor soil, and there were vegetables andberries too, which often found their wayto the tables of less fortunate neighbors.Within the cottage were a few smallcomforts not usually to be found in theminers’ dwellings, a square or twoof carpet, faded and worn, but warmand comfortable under the feet oncold nights, a red table-cover to replacethe white one used for meals(a most unusual luxury), and a lampwith a colored silk shade. There wasbesides an easy-chair or two, and in onecorner a plain oak writing-desk whichwas regarded by the neighbors withsome awe; it was carefully locked, andPhilip had often wondered where thekey which fitted it might be, but somehowhe had always hesitated to ask,feeling, perhaps almost instinctively,that the explanation might cause hismother pain or embarrassment.
NEXT to Mag and his grandfatherPhilip loved his dog Dash betterthan anything else in the world. Hewas a ragged little terrier with a headmuch too large for his body, a shortstump of a tail, and an awkward wayof getting under people’s feet and oftumbling all over himself when heran; but he was a marvel of faithfulnessand affection, and could do a multitudeof the clever tricks which Philipdelighted to teach him.
He had come to the door of the cottageone wild, stormy night, and hadwailed so