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I. A Lover of Music Henry van Dyke

Section III.

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At last he let the bow fall. He patted the brown wood of the violin after his old fashion, loosened the strings a little, wrapped it in its green baize cover, and hung it on the wall.

"Hang thou there, thou little violin," he murmured. "It is now that I shall take the good care of thee, as never before; for thou art the wife of Jacques Tremblay. And the wife of 'Osee Ransom, she is a friend to us, both of us; and we will make the music for her many years, I tell thee, many years--for her, and for her good man, and for the children--yes?"

But Serena did not have many years to listen to the playing of Jacques Tremblay: on the white porch, in the summer evenings, with bleeding-hearts abloom in the garden; or by the winter fire, while the pale blue moonlight lay on the snow without, and the yellow lamplight filled the room with homely radiance. In the fourth year after her marriage she died, and Jacques stood beside Hose at the funeral.

There was a child--a little boy--delicate and blue-eyed, the living image of his mother. Jacques appointed himself general attendant, nurse in extraordinary, and court musician to this child. He gave up his work as a guide. It took him too much away from home. He was tired of it. Besides, what did he want of so much money? He had his house. He could gain enough for all his needs by making snow-shoes and the deerskin mittens at home. Then he could be near little Billy. It was pleasanter so.

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When Hose was away on a long trip in the woods, Jacques would move up to the white house and stay on guard. His fiddle learned how to sing the prettiest slumber songs. Moreover, it could crow in the morning, just like the cock; and it could make a noise like a mouse, and like the cat, too; and there were more tunes inside of it than in any music-box in the world.

As the boy grew older, the little cabin with the curved roof became his favourite playground. It was near the river, and Fiddlin' Jack was always ready to make a boat for him, or help him catch minnows in the mill-dam. The child had a taste for music, too, and learned some of the old Canadian songs, which he sang in a curious broken patois, while his delighted teacher accompanied him on the violin. But it was a great day when he was eight years old, and Jacques brought out a small fiddle, for which he had secretly sent to Albany, and presented it to the boy.

"You see dat feedle, Billee? Dat's for you! You mek' your lesson on dat. When you kin mek' de museek, den you play on de violon-- lak' dis one--listen!"

Then he drew the bow across the strings and dashed into a medley of the jolliest airs imaginable.

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The Ruling Passion
Henry van Dyke

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