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Phil, the Fiddler   By: (1832-1899)

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PHIL, THE FIDDLER

By Horatio Alger, Jr.

PREFACE

Among the most interesting and picturesque classes of street children in New York are the young Italian musicians, who wander about our streets with harps, violins, or tambourines, playing wherever they can secure an audience. They become Americanized less easily than children of other nationalities, and both in dress and outward appearance retain their foreign look, while few, even after several years' residence, acquire even a passable knowledge of the English language.

In undertaking, therefore, to describe this phase of street life, I found, at the outset, unusual difficulty on account of my inadequate information. But I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of two prominent Italian gentlemen, long resident in New York Mr. A. E. Cerqua, superintendent of the Italian school at the Five Points, and through his introduction, of Mr. G. F. Secchi de Casale, editor of the well known Eco d'Italia from whom I obtained full and trustworthy information. A series of articles contributed by Mr. De Casale to his paper, on the Italian street children, in whom he has long felt a patriotic and sympathetic interest, I have found of great service, and I freely acknowledge that, but for the information thus acquired, I should have been unable to write the present volume.

My readers will learn with surprise, probably, of the hard life led by these children, and the inhuman treatment which they receive from the speculators who buy them from their parents in Italy. It is not without reason that Mr. De Casale speaks of them as the "White Slaves" of New York. I may add, in passing, that they are quite distinct from the Italian bootblacks and newsboys who are to be found in Chatham Street and the vicinity of the City Hall Park. These last are the children of resident Italians of the poorer class, and are much better off than the musicians. It is from their ranks that the Italian school, before referred to, draws its pupils.

If the story of "Phil the Fiddler," in revealing for the first time to the American public the hardships and ill treatment of these wandering musicians shall excite an active sympathy in their behalf, the author will feel abundantly repaid for his labors.

NEW YORK, APRIL 2, 1872.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I. PHIL THE FIDDLER II. PHIL AND HIS PROTECTOR III. GIACOMO IV. AN INVITATION TO SUPPER V. ON THE FERRY BOAT VI. THE BARROOM VII. THE HOME OF THE BOYS VIII. A COLD DAY IX. PIETRO THE SPY X. FRENCH'S HOTEL XI. THE BOYS RECEPTION XII. GIACOMO'S PRESENTIMENTS XIII. PHIL FINDS A CAPITALIST XIV. THE TAMBOURINE GIRL XV. PHIL'S NEW PLANS XVI. THE FASHIONABLE PARTY XVII. THE PADRONE IS ANXIOUS XVIII. PHIL ELUDES HIS PURSUER XIX. PIETRO'S PURSUIT XX. PIETRO'S DISAPPOINTMENT XXI. THE SIEGE XXII. THE SIEGE IS RAISED XXIII. A PITCHED BATTLE XXIV. THE DEATH OF GIACOMO XXV. PHIL FINDS A FRIEND XXVI. CONCLUSION

PHIL THE FIDDLER

CHAPTER I

PHIL THE FIDDLER

"Viva Garibaldi!" sang a young Italian boy in an uptown street, accompanying himself on a violin which, from its battered appearance, seemed to have met with hard usage.

As the young singer is to be the hero of my story, I will pause to describe him. He was twelve years old, but small of his age. His complexion was a brilliant olive, with the dark eyes peculiar to his race, and his hair black. In spite of the dirt, his face was strikingly handsome, especially when lighted up by a smile, as was often the case, for in spite of the hardships of his lot, and these were neither few nor light, Filippo was naturally merry and light hearted.

He wore a velveteen jacket, and pantaloons which atoned, by their extra length, for the holes resulting from hard usage and antiquity. His shoes, which appeared to be wholly unacquainted with blacking, were, like his pantaloons, two or three sizes too large for him, making it necessary for him to shuffle along ungracefully... Continue reading book >>




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