Chapter 65793523

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Chapter NumberIV.
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65793523
Full Date1888-01-21
Page Number22
Corrections0
Word Count1937
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)
Trove TitleFiddle-John's Family
article text

tflulta's Mttiuu. FIDDLE-JOHN'S FAMILY. ( From St. Nicholas. ) Chaptib IV. It was a beautiful sunny morning in Ma; when the steamer cast anchor in tbe bay of Sew York. Fiddle John and his children and a thousand other poorly clad people from all parts of the world were carried by little steam-tngs to a large building by tbe water, where there was a babel of noise and con* fusion. Everybody was shouting at the top of his voice ; children were crying* women hunting for their husbands, hnsbands hnntinjr for t&eir baggase ; policemen were poshins back the crowd of screaming hotel-runners who were besieging the doors, and an official sanding on the top of a barrel was yelling instructions to the emigrants in half a dozen different languages. Fiddle-John, to whom this spectacle was positively terrifying, osuld do notbing but stare abont him in a hopeless and dazed manner j while he pressed his violin-case tightly io his arms and allowed himself to be pnshed hither and thither by tbe surging motion of the crowd. He was finally poshed up to a gate where an omcul sat writing at a desk. ' How old are yon V asked the official, or rather the interpreter who was standing at his elbow. ' Thirty-five years,' said Fiddle John ; bat a vague alarm took possession of him at tbe question, and his heart began to beat un easily. ?? What is yonr occupation;' 'Occupation! Well, I sing. I am a singer.' 'A singing teacher? Is that what you *' No, I don't teach.' 'What do you do, then, for a living? Perhaps you. are a sort of theatrical chap— an actor?' Fiddle John looked greatly mystified ; he had never heard of -each a tamg as a theatre in all his life, and the word ' actor' vas not found in his vocabulary. Nevertheless, he thought it best to keep on good terms with the great official, and he therefore made one more effort to explain the nature of his occu pation. 'If yon wfll pardon my boldness,' be began, with a quaking voice, 'I may aay that I am a kind of poet— a minstrel' ? 'Aha, thafs what you are,' roared the official with a laugh, as if he had at last found the solution of the problem ; yon are a negro-minstreL' Fiddle-John stood aghast, as the inter preter repeated tba official's words. He was not a combative character, but tile recent scene witb the American gentleman on ship board had aroused his suspicion, and the con clusion now suddenly flashed upon him that the official was making fun of him. The blood mounted to his lead and bis whole frame trembled. 'How dare you mock me?' he cried pas siouately ; -- how dare yon call me a negro? Don't yon see with yonr own eyes that 1 am as white as you are ?' ' Be carefol, now, or Til have you arrested on the spot,' the other replied coolly. 'I can't afford to waste my time on you. So far as I can learn, yon are a beggar who walla about in the street, singing. Mow that kind of thing won't do well over here ; aad yon'd better not try it How much money have ' I haven't any money.' ' And what is your destination ? Where do you intend to go ?' ' I am going to see the American President and sing to him.' Sing to the President ! Well, I expected as much. Why, my good friend, it seems you are a lunatic as well u a beggar. I shall send you to an asylum, and yon will be re turned by the neit steamer to Norway. It is only ahle-bodied, self-supporting emigrants we receive here, not etreet-eingers and crazr people I' ' I he poor Norseman stood as if riveted to toe spot. A sudden faintuess one over him and he felt as if he were going to sink into the ground. He made desperate attempa to speak, but his words stock in his throatand he could not utter a sound. A policeman was called, and Fiddle-John to nncere moniouBly httstkd through the crowd and forced to board a BmJl steam-tug, where, with three other fcrlomand miserable-Iookine individuals, he was locked up in a dirtv and Ul-smrlling cabin. All thi« Ead been d?ne so *'''\ quickly that he scarcely had time to realise what was happening to him. But now the J thought or his three children came over him *T with terrible force, aud a sickening aenao of his helple-sness took pouesniou of him. In one mo rent the blood throbbed in his face and temples, and he burned with heat and indignaiion ; in the next, tbeTtbonght of whtt was to become of his dear ones-alone and friendless as they were iu a foreign land— . suddenly drove tbe blood away from his cheeks, a:id he ihk-cred wilh dread. He was in tbe mi.Ist of theso tormenting fancies when the tog Bave a couple of sniill whistles at.d steamed a«av through the harbour toward an ieland covered with grey, dumal-lnking atona

banaiDgB, the very right of which filled Fiddle-John's breast with fear. The children, in the meanwhile, bad an experience hardly Sen discouraging. They had seen their father led away by a police man and had shouted to him with all their might : but their voices had been drowned in the general confusion, and in spite of all their efforts they had not been able to make their way to him through the dense throng. They searched for houra. hot could 6nd no trace of him. Being afraid of the nun at the desk who bad been so severe with their father, they hit upon the plan of slipping through the gate m the train of a German family which had so many children that it aeemed hopeless to count them. This scheme soc ceeded admirably, and toward evening they found themselves in a broad square planted with trees and budding shrubs. They still had some hope of finding their father, thinking that perhaps his detention would merely be temporary ; and they sit upon the benches or roamed along the Battery esplanade with a miserable feeling of IondinesB gnawing at their hearta. They were hnngry, hot they did oot know where te turn to obtain bread. The world seemed bo fast and strange and bewildering, that it g.ve one a headache only to look at it. To ears accustomed only to the murmer of the pines in the cummer night, and the song of the birds, and the river's mono tonous roar, the huge city, with its varied noises and its incessant deafening rattle of wheels over stoue pavements, seemed over whelming and terrible. OJj Tnila, who had a epirit less sensitive and less easily daunted than his brother and fiifiter, could summon courage to think ? to devise a way, if possible, out of their per plexities. He carefully investigated first ^s «wn pockets, then bis brothers, in the hope of finding something that might be exchangeable for a loaf of bread. Bat be could find nothing except a couple of buttons, some curious snail BbeUs, and a folding kuife, the blades of which had been sharpened until there was scarcely anything left of them. After a few minutes' meditation, he resolved, although with an aching heart, to part with his valuable treasures ; and he took Karen by one hand and Alf by the other, and led the way through the Battery Park toward Green wich-Btreet, -where he hoped to find a bakerV ehop. They had advanced but a short distance, however, when they caught eight of their friend Annlb&Ie, who was sitting on a bench, swinging his legs with an air of deep defec tion. His eyes lighted op a little when he recognised TrnU ; he jumped up, ami, point ing to something resembling a large muff under the bench, exclaimed in a tearful voice — 'Garibaldi is very sick. Garibaldi will die. He has been ill a long time ; he will not stand np any more. He liangB his head like this.' Annibale here demonstrated, with pathetic absurdity, the pitiful manner in which the little bear hung bis head. There could be no doubt ; it was a serious case. Truls was especially conscious of this, after having stooped down and noted Garibaldi's symp toms. Bis eyes were much inflamed, his nose was hot, and he frothed slightly at the corners of bis mouth. Yes, it was plain that Garibaldi was going to die. Alt and Truls nearly forgot their hunger and their distress at the thought of this great calamity. By signs and gestures, they per suaded Annibale to seek lodgings where his pet might receive proper care, and perhaps stand some chance of recovering. This seemed sound advice, and Annibale was not alow in following it, when once he understood it. But it was a very sad march ; for Gari baldi refused to move, and the three boys had to cany him as best they could, A lodging-house was finally found where supper and bed could be procured for twenty centa ; and though neither was particularly inviting, the boys were too hungry and tired to be fastidious. The Savoyard fortunately had a little money, -which he was very willing to share with the Norse friends as soon as be had gained an inkling of the day's adventures. Moreover he had relations in the city, and knew the addresses of many Italian friends. He therefore had no fear of enffering want, and, as he asserted in words and explained in pantomime, could irell afford to be generous. The boys and the bear slept in a little square box of a room in which there were two beds, while a kind-hearted servant carried weary little Karen to her own apartment. Tfuls, out of gratitude to Annibale, offered to watch over the bear ; bat unhappily, Mb gratitude was not lively enough to keep him awake, though he struggled brarely to keep his eyes open. Toward midnight his head aank slowly down upon Garibaldi's back, and when the daylight peeped in through the dusty window panes, he was yet sleeping peacefully. The sunbeams crept, inch by inch, across the floor, until they lighted on Truls's chin, then c!iml-ed up to his nose and reached bis eyes. Then he awoke with a pang, sprang up, and stared confnsedly about Snddenly his eyes fell upon Garibaldi, who lay immovable at the foot of the bed ; be stooped down and touched him. The poor bear was Btone cold ! It must have died quietly in the night. Tmts, with a dim notion that Garibaldi's death was Hoe to his otd lack of vratchfu loess, made baste to rouse —his friend, and explain to bim, with tears of grief and remorse that he bad, without meaning to do it, used Garibaldi as a pi i loir, and the poor animal had probably died in I 4MU£eqcence. Annibale, however, eh owed no j disposition to reproach Truls, but, leaping I out of bed with a frightened face, flang him- { self down upon the bear, hngced it, and wept J ovt it, overwhelming it with caresses and j endearing names. But it was all in vain, i Poor Garibaldi was really dead. He had caught & violent cold flaring the night of the j storm at sea, from which he had never re- 1 covered. I (Tobcomtinwd) I