Chapter 160164047

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Chapter NumberIV
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1882-11-25
Page Number42
Word Count978
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Blind Fiddler. A Tale for Children
article text



[Translated from tlie French hy Dieudonnee




The next day Antoine was led liy Jerome to a place near the Picture Gallery, where he found a bench in a- corner, and began to play the overture to " Jeune Henri" with such a remarkable execution that it was not long before he collected a large crowd round hint. The result of that day exceeded all his hopes. Francois could not believe his eyes when the poor man showed liim nearly twelve fraucs. It is tiue that every day was not equally pro ductive, but it was rare for Antoine to bring home less than his daily keep. He began from the first to economise, and his savings would have been considerable had not two causes tended to diminish them. The first was his desire to recompense Jerome for bis trouble (for he frequently gave him half a franc), and the second was that Jerome, not content with what his uncle gave him, often found tlic means of taking pari; of the savings, without the least feeling of shame at robbing a blind man who wholly trusted him. What Jerome did with this money dragged him

further down the road of vice. Some he

spent in gambling with bad companions, with whom he mixed, and whose advice made him woise, and some of tiie money he spent in sweetmeats, which he would devour alone and in secret with a gluttony that increased every day. Then he began to dislike work more and more, until lie would_ tell the most fearful lies if he could excuse himself for only an hour a day from attending to his father's

work. Then the money which Antoine gave , him, even with what he stole, was not enough ! for the hoy's tastes. Hut he could not pro cure larger sums from his uncle, as the latter on returning home put all his gains into a

drawer and locked it, and always took the J key about with bin;. j

After having thought over the means of filling his purse. Jerome entertained the in

famous thought of robbing his uncle of a|

cold -watch which he had, and which had belonged to his grandfather, and which Antoine would not nave sold on any account unless he had been starving, so much did he prize the family relic.

Antoine's despair was great when one day he found that the watch was not in its place, but Jerome bore with the boldness of a hardened heart the grief of his uncle and father while they searched in every corner to assure themselves of the theft, though it was impossible to imagine by whom it had been committed. Both were convinced that some

one had entered the room in their absence, and it was Jer6me who had the effrontery to suggest that the locks ought to be changed, which, in fact, was done the next day.

A few days afterwards the little wretch, when he had taken his uncle to his place by the Museum of Fainting, retained home, put


on his Sunday clothes, and went to the other

-end of the town, and offered the watch for sale to a watchmaker. The boy, not aware that no shopman bought his goods at the price offered him by the first comer, particu larly when that first comer was a child, was very uneasy when the watchmaker looked at him seriously and asked him how it was that he came by. such a treasure.

•• it is my tather s watch, answered Jerome with assurance, "and, as he iB ill and wants money, he told me to go and sell it."

" Where does your father live ?' asked the shopman, looking at him fixedly. Jerome, who saw himself lost if he tola the truth, answered without hesitation, giving a false address and name.

"Some one will call and Bee your father,'' said the watchmaker writing down the ad dress and name. He then returned the

watch; for the assurance of so young a child had got over all his fear or suspicions.

Jerome was scarcely out of the shop when he ran home as hist as his legs could carry him. He ran up the stairs of his home four steps at a time, and replaced the watch in the straw mattrass where he hid hidden it all along, and put on his working suit again, and swearing all the time at tradesmen who would not buy stolen articles. He did not lose an instant in going to his father, who was engaged on a very high building.

From fault to fault Jerome at last arrived at the last degree oi degradation so far as to associate with several young thieves, whose company was certain to bring him to ruin.

But poor Francois escaped the misfortune of knowing of his son's criminal career, for one day being drunk, he fell from the scaffold upon which he was working and died on the spot.

Antoine grieved a long time, for his brother had a good heart, which would cover a mul titude of fauits, and Fran^oia only had one, and he had paid dearly for it, for, alas, it first reduced him to the level of a beast, and then brought him to an untimely death.

As to Jerome, far from lamenting the death of his father, he rejoiced at being his own master, and took no notice of the trouble his uncle bad taken to recommend bim to a clever mason, an old friend of his father's, who was to teach the boy his trade. On the contrary, Jerdme thoroughly re solved never to take up the trowel again, but to lead a life of feasting and riot.