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I. A Lover of Music Henry van Dyke

Section IV.

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Thirty years brought many changes to Bytown. The wild woodland flavour evaporated out of the place almost entirely; and instead of an independent centre of rustic life, it became an annex to great cities. It was exploited as a summer resort, and discovered as a winter resort. Three or four big hotels were planted there, and in their shadow a score of boarding-houses alternately languished and flourished. The summer cottage also appeared and multiplied; and with it came many of the peculiar features which man elaborates in his struggle toward the finest civilization--afternoon teas, and amateur theatricals, and claw-hammer coats, and a casino, and even a few servants in livery.

The very name of Bytown was discarded as being too American and commonplace. An Indian name was discovered, and considered much more romantic and appropriate. You will look in vain for Bytown on the map now. Nor will you find the old saw-mill there any longer, wasting a vast water-power to turn its dripping wheel and cut up a few pine-logs into fragrant boards. There is a big steam-mill a little farther up the river, which rips out thousands of feet of lumber in a day; but there are no more pine-logs, only sticks of spruce which the old lumbermen would have thought hardly worth cutting. And down below the dam there is a pulp-mill, to chew up the little trees and turn them into paper, and a chair factory, and two or three industrial establishments, with quite a little colony of French-Canadians employed in them as workmen.

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Hose Ransom sold his place on the hill to one of the hotel companies, and a huge caravansary occupied the site of the house with the white palings. There were no more bleeding-hearts in the garden. There were beds of flaring red geraniums, which looked as if they were painted; and across the circle of smooth lawn in front of the piazza the name of the hotel was printed in alleged ornamental plants letters two feet long, immensely ugly. Hose had been elevated to the office of postmaster, and lived in a Queen Antic cottage on the main street. Little Billy Ransom had grown up into a very interesting young man, with a decided musical genius, and a tenor voice, which being discovered by an enterprising patron of genius, from Boston, Billy was sent away to Paris to learn to sing. Some day you will hear of his debut in grand opera, as Monsieur Guillaume Rancon.

But Fiddlin' Jack lived on in the little house with the curved roof, beside the river, refusing all the good offers which were made to him for his piece of land.

"NON," he said; "what for shall I sell dis house? I lak' her, she lak' me. All dese walls got full from museek, jus' lak' de wood of dis violon. He play bettair dan de new feedle, becos' I play heem so long. I lak' to lissen to dat rivaire in de night. She sing from long taim' ago--jus' de same song w'en I firs come here. W'at for I go away? W'at I get? W'at you can gif' me lak' dat?"

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The Ruling Passion
Henry van Dyke

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