|Chapter Title||ANTOINE BECOMES TOO ILL TO FIDDLE.|
|Newspaper Title||Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||The Blind Fiddler. A Tale for Children|
AKTOIXE BECOMES TOO ILL TO FIDDLE.
From that day dee]) affection was esta blished between Antoine and Victor, for Antoine not only, did not lessen his good opinion of bis guide, but noticed in him on all occasions such frankness and goodness of
heart as made the old man never tired of listening to his little arguments on the few subjects that the two could talk about.
The old man, who had read a good deal, found pleasure in instructing the child by telling him a thousand different stories, ana making them amusing while Victor listened to .them with such great interest that he passed all his spare time in Antoine's com
Little by little, what the old man told him benefited equally his mind and his heart; for he saw that, in ancient history as well as in the society of the present, those men who
were happiest on earth were the men who 1 were honest and good. '
A year had passed since Jerome left, and the blind man, never having hear>l of him, bad no doubt but that he had left Paris for good,' never to return. He decided to tell Madame Dubois and Victor that his nephew had left him for good, without telling them of the dishonour of his brother's son. This tacit secret which the old man was always shutting up in his soul, became the great grief of Lis life. At length he would remain whole hours sitting in his arm-chair and giving himself up to the most heartrending Te:oUections, and the less he could speak the more it encroached on his rest and upon his
health, which latter became feebler day by ! day. I
His only joy, his only distraction, was the
r of Vic'
company of Victor.
As soon as he heard the little pastrycook whistling or singing as he came up the stairs, the old man would jump up and run to the door and open it with a smile on his lips, as though that voice had the power to drive away the grief from his heart and the pain from his enfeebled limbs.
He never again spoke of giving any money to Victor: only from time to time he told Madame Dubois to buy him a pound of good chocolate, so that he could eat it with his bread for breakfast.
And, it being now the first day of the new year, he gave the boy. for a New Year's gift, a History of France illustrated with pictures.
At the sight of this superb book Victor
reddened with pleasure; hut his joy was I calmed when he thought of how much such a splendid book must nave cost.
It is magnificent!" he said, turning over j the leaves with the greatest care imaginable. "It is magnificent! Only I"
"What?" interrupted the blind man,
"would you have liked something else 1
"No, certainly not, certainly not; you could not have given me anything more amusing 'or more handsome; but you have spent a great deal of money on it, and"—
"And I have hut little, you would say. Make yourself easy, Victor, I have more than enough money to last me to the end of my life ;• which will not be very long." ,
"If lgo again to play in the square, my friend, it is because that otherwise I shall be too dull, for my only pleasure is to play my violin, especially when people listen to me.
? " And they listen well to you, I con assure you," said Victor. "You cannot see them, Monsieur Antoine, but it is a large audience that surrounds you; a crowd."
" I know tbatby my daily receipts," replied the blind man, smiling with a certain amour propre. " Thanks to heaven I do not tire them, and my little treasure growB every day.
" What you tell me gives me great plea sure," replied Victor, " because I think that soon you will be able to live a little better than you do now."
" But 1 live very well, my cuud, lor a man who is not accustomed to every luxury, and who is not a gourmand. I live very welL Ask Madame Dubois if I deprive myself of anything. More than that, if you would like to judge for yourself shall I ask you to dinner one of these days?"
" Oh, I could not come," Baid Victor with
a little embarrassment.
" Why not?"
"Because don't you see a dinner takes time, and as I have not yet told Monsieur Alareau that I come here
"You promised me, Victor, that you would tell your master, interrupted the old man in a grave tone.
" I know I did, Monsieur Antoine; I know I did, but M. Marcau has such a rough way, j .and he treats me sometimes so hard that 1 j
am terribly afraid of him; and as to Madame Marcau, she is such a fine lady that I dare
not speak to her." . '
"Monsieur Marcau is your friend, Victor, and you ought, my child, to conceal nothing
" But suppose he forbids me to go on lead ing you to your placef
Antoine did not answer at once, for the idea of being parted from Victor any more Btruck his heart. The poor man felt that his death was near; could he give up, in his last days, his only earthly joy? He had not the courage, and, as the child's interest was the same as bis own, he thought he might as well delay such a great misfortune.
" As you have not told him yet,' said he, "leave things as they are. In a month, two months perhaps, all will be arranged more simply."
Antoine's .ad presentiment was not long in being realised! In scarcely six weeks he became too ill to leave bis room, and even his
Then Victor's visits became his only con solation ; and Victor, distracted at seeing his old friend so ill, devoted all his spare time to him, and sometimes he would go up the five flights of stairs several times the same day.