Chapter 160163581

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Url
Full Date1882-11-11
Page Number42
Word Count1111
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Blind Fiddler. A Tale for Children
article text




[Translated from the French by Dieudonsee




One Sunday, a fine frosty day in January, Francois Gerard, a stonemason, and Jerome, bis sou, aged twelve years, were journeying on foot along the road which leads from Paris to Montrouge. Both were dressed in their best clothes, and were walking so quickly as hardly to feel the cold. The little boy from

time to time ran into the fields which bor dered the road, and broke all the branches of the fruit-trees which he could reach, for the mere love of mischief, until his father called him back again ; and when forced to remain in the road lie picked up stones and threw them at all the dogs he Baw pass, althongh his father called him more tnan once, and said—" You will make them bite you, and it will be no more than you deserve." But. Jerome only left off teasing the dogs when he Eaw a little girl coming along with a pitcher of water, which she carried with great care. He sprang forward and ran against her, and knocked her down. The poor child rose'up in fear, crying with all her might, and Jerome giggled until his father came up, and soundly boxed his ears, and spoke kindly to the child, and gave her a franc to buy a new pitcher with. The poor child dried her eyes, and thanking Francis Gerard with all her heart, continued her journey.

After this adventure the father and son walked side by side for several minutes without saying a word. Then the father began—" You are not good, Jcrfime," said he, with a tone of sadness and severity, " You are Dot good. It will bring you misfortune all your life. God will not bless you. and men will hate you."

" In what way am I not good ?" replied Jtrfime, with a coarseness which was habitual to him, " was it my fault that the little girl fell?"

" I should be vei-v pleased if I thought that it was not your fault," replied Francois, " but have I not seen you strike your little comrades ? I never took yon to mix mortar on the Quai d'Orsay without receiving com plaints from the other masons that you knocked down their little boys."

" Ah, but if I knock them down to-day," said the boy, " they return me plenty more

to-morrow. Attezr

"That is possible, but they do not take

Jou for a traitor, although you are one.

(home, you are cowardly, untruthful, and

lazv. That is what gives me such trouble."

Jerflme said nothing, but contented him self with murmuring in a low voice, " Why is it he chooses to-day to lecture me ? I wish he were drunk; when he is drunk he leaves

me alone."

To explain this it is necessary to say that, though an honest man and an excellent work man, Francois Gerard used to drink. Nearly every evening he returned home drunk, and, owing to this, little Jerome since the death of his mother, had been deprived of the

watchful care which the child needs from the parent. This misfortune was not the only one which the fearful habit of drink heaped on the head of Gdrard; for although

he was known as one of the best masons in Paris, and always bad work, and could always earn four francs and sometimes five, he never made the slightest provision for the time when old age would no longer permit him to work, and thus besides the dishonour of being a drunkard he had the misery of looking forward to a helpless old age.

On the day in question, however, he had only drunk water, and so was in full enjoy ment of his reason, and his better nature showed itself. Seeing his son remain silent,

he continued—

"I say all this to you today, Jerome, because we are gmng to sea my brother Antoine, and I desire you to conduct your self well at his house, for your uncle is good. He is good and honest, besides, he knows a great deal more than 1 do, and I do not wish him to think that there will be a scrape grace in the family.

"He knows more than you do!" replied Jerome, charmed that the conversation changed. " Docs he know anything else than liow to plav the violin ?"

"I should think so," cried GSrard, who was always proud to be able to praise his

brother. " I should think he did ! Antoine has read more books than I have laid stones in my life. He knows all that has passed on the earth, and all that happens in the heavens. His writing is like a picture. He adds the most difficult sums as quickly as I could count the money in my purse. Yo.i think, perhaps, that the country dances which he plays sometimes he knows liy having heard them as you and I know songs'' But not at all; these country dances ire written on ruled paper, with little black dots, which Antoine has learned to read as easily as writing. He sings the airs of optras without ever making a mistake in the misie, because lie does not know them only by


Gdrard stopped to take breath.

" And who taught him all this?" asked


"A citizen who was a neighbour of ours," answered Francois. " I did not know bin, because he died before I was bora, for, as you know, I am twelve years younger tlau your uucle. This good man was godfatlor to Antoine, and took a liking to bim: indent, so much that if he had not been taken avay by a fit of apoplexy, he would have feft something to his godson. My father sad

mother often ssidso."

" But my uncle ought to be rich," siid Jerome, ''now lie has been earning monej so many years in the dancing rooms.

" Ab to being rich, I do not think tba he is," replied Gerard. " When our paunts became too old to work we kept them tcthe best of our ability until they died, am, as Antoine earned more than I did, he save more. But, at all events, he lives at Mont rouge like a prince, with curtains to his windows, and I will answer for it we are going to nave a good dinner."

Jerome doubled his pace at hearing this, for he added an unequalled gluttony b his

other faults.