Chapter 160163807

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter Url
Full Date1882-11-18
Page Number43
Word Count1525
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Blind Fiddler. A Tale for Children
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tTianslated from tbe French by Dieudonnee





Six months had not yet passed when Antoine/bythis time completely blind, was established in his brother's house, whither he had taken his bed, his violin, and four or five hundred francs which made up his fortune, and with which he proposed to pay for his keep until such time as he could nna the means of earning a living, or could enter ,

an almshouse.

During nearly a year none of his attempts succeeded, nor did he hit upon any idea by which he could emancipate himself from his

unfortunate position.

He was very sad except on Sundays and holidays, Fraapoisand Jer6me went out in . the morning' and did not return till the . evening, leaving him his scanty food in the

cupboard. He'passed the day all alone, ' deprived of the Bunshine and of all occupa tion, and envied those whom fortune con

demned'to the roughest work. " They have ' trouble,", thought he, " but at least they do nbt know, what weariness is—weariness is the greatest trial of man."

Tiredof groping about in the chamber, his1 only resource against the unhappy thoughts which overwhelmed him was to take up the instrument which had kept him since his boyhood, and play some of his old contra donees. But sometimes these joyous airs, which carried him back to the happy times of his life, brought bis misery home to trim all the more when he played them in darkness and solitude. Then the poor blind man would drop his violin and throw himself into a chair and begin to weep. How much unhappier would ne have been if he had known of the trials which awaited him, if he had known his brother better, and above all his nephew! But Jerfime, with the desire to get little presents from hiB uncle, behaved so well that the latter thought him both gentle and dutiful, and loved him with all his heart. Francois, who had an unfortunate tendency to drink, had, with commendable shame, con cealed it from his brother. It was not diffi cult as long as they saw one another but rarely, but since they lived together good Franpois, with the idea that Antoine would soon want his assistance, had sworn to him

self to drink no more. Unluckily he had 1 arrived at an age when men's faults are cured with difficulty, especially those of long standing, as drink was with him. He often went three or four times a day into a canteen, but, thanks to the oath hfe had made, and the recollection of the poor blind man he would find at home, made him return in time and always before he had drunk too much: so, during the year his brother had lived with him, he had never gone home drunk.

The consequence was that Antoine was painfully surprised when one evening he was awaked from a sound sleep by loud songs and a great uproar in the next room, from which he was separated by an iron partition, I and, thinking ne knew the voice of his

brother, he called him, and Francois, who 1 could scarcely stand, entered the room.

"What is the matter!" asked the blind manwhat is the matter !"

"It is nothing, Antoine," replied Francis, in a husky voice: "It is—you see—I have met an did friend who took me to tipple a little—when I say a little I make a mistake, a large and excellent tnerrimaking or carouse of wine—of wine—such as you never drink— as truly as I call you Antoine—and—and— you see."

fc." Very well, go to bed, brother," said the blind man, " it i3 late, and your son wants


Francois, drunk as he was, obeyed the ; voice which he bad respected since his child hood. He went into his room, but not without twenty times charging against the

walls, and threw himself upon the bed, ' which he shared with Jerome without un dressing, and slept like lead.

It was not necessary for Antoine to see his brother's tottering walk to know that he was intoxicated, but lie thought that once was not always, and would have flattered himself that in future his brother would avoid failing into such company, if Jerome, on the morrow, had not made mischief about the affair of the night before.

"Yes," said the blind man, "your father had dined too much with some old friend, and they made him drink too much; but I nope that he has slept well, and that he has gone away well to his work.

"Ah," replied Jerome, giggling, " it would be a bad afiair if every time he got drunk he

was ilL"

" What ?" cried Antoine, with asmuch grief as surprise.

"Zounds!" continued Jerome, "does he not drink every day ? and before you were here it was much worse—they carried him home oftener than he walked."

" You lie!" cried the blind man. " I hope yon lie; but, if you do not lie, you are a wicked boy to speak thus of your father, and if you were not a child I would not pardon


Jerome remained eilent, an he did not wish to lose the friendship of his uncle.

His malice had the desired effect, for from

that moment Antoine watched his brother as he had. never done before: the result of which was that he was made aware of the sad fact that his brother was a drunkard. Antoine soon made up his mind to make a

few gentle suggestions on the subject to his brother. ' Francois listened with resignation, and reproached himself and Bwore not to drink any more. But the wicked pasBion took hold of hint too often for Antoine to

hope that his advice had had any good effect.

Several months passed in this way, when one day, when the mason was sober, Antoine propounded a plan by which he proposed to earn a living.

"Veryfar from having forgotten how to play the violin." he said, '• I have made great progress since I have been Shut up here, because Ihave often played all day long for my own amusement. Now I can. play all my contre-darwa better than ever. But I also practice some grand pieces and the overtures of operas which I know by heart, and which I play like a musician of the first order; my idea is to go and establish myself in one of the squares in Paris and give little concerts there, and the people can pay me or not as they please."

"Aii!" said Francois, and his face ex pressed more discontent than satisfaction.

"It is true," continued Antoine, who could not see the effect these words produced on the usually jovial-face of the mason, "it is true, my mend, that it would be necessary for little Jerome to take me every morning and come and fetch me every evening, aud I can earn a good sum while 1 am alone in the meantime. Do you think that it could be done without interfering with the boy's learn ing his tradf ?"

" The thing could be done without injuring

theboj," replied Francois, with an embar-. rassed air, "certainly the thing could be done, but"

" What ?" asked the blind man.

" I should be eorry to vex you," said Fran cois, hesitating at every word, " but what you have just told me seems to me very much like asking for charity."

"How, brother?" replied the blind man with warmth, "is not every man expected to live by what he knows? Did they not pay me for my dance music at Montrouge and the villages round? God forbid I should impor tune the public, or ask a passenger for a cen time; but if those who are pleased by my talent choose to pay me for my time ana trouble, should I not be able to say that I lived on bread honourably earned? Certainly," continued he, sighing, "I would rather be a good workman uke you. If 1 were not old and blind, should say to yon,' Brother, teach me all you know,' and if I remained a mere labourer till the end of my day, I should prefer that to the painful occupation I now propose; but lam now sixty-five years old, anacannot see-clearly any longer. Frajois I mustfsubmit to the will of God."

The poor man let his head fall on his breast, and remained plunged in gloom.

" I am mistaken, Antoine," said Francois, shaking hands with him, " your idea is good, very good, and J6r6me is at your service; only, when he has taken you to your place, send him to me where I am at work, and I will take care that be does not dawdle, for the young rascal is fond of amusing himself ; and although he is fifteen, he is not good for anything.

{To be continued.)