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A Village Stradivarius   By: (1856-1923)

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This etext was produced from the 1904 Gay and Bird edition by David Price, email

A Village Stradivarius

by Kate Douglas Wiggin


"Goodfellow, Puck and goblins, Know more than any book. Down with your doleful problems, And court the sunny brook. The south winds are quick witted, The schools are sad and slow, The masters quite omitted The lore we care to know." EMERSON'S April.

"Find the three hundred and seventeenth page, Davy, and begin at the top of the right hand column."

The boy turned the leaves of the old instruction book obediently, and then began to read in a sing song, monotonous tone:

"'One of Pag pag'"

"Pag a ni ni's"

"'One of Paggernyner's' (I wish all the fellers in your stories didn't have such tough old names!) 'most dis as ter ous triumphs he had when playing at Lord Holland's.' (Who was Lord Holland, uncle Tony?) 'Some one asked him to im provise on the violin the story of a son who kills his father, runs a way, becomes a high way man, falls in love with a girl who will not listen to him; so he leads her to a wild country site, suddenly jumping with her from a rock into an a b y s s'"


"' a rock into an abyss, where they disappear for ever. Paggernyner listened quietly, and when the story was at an end he asked that all the lights should be distinguished.'"

"Look closer, Davy."

"'Should be EXtinguished. He then began playing, and so terrible was the musical in ter pre ta tion of the idea which had been given him that several of the ladies fainted, and the sal salon sAlon, when relighted, looked like a battle field.' Cracky! Wouldn't you like to have been there, uncle Tony? But I don't believe anybody ever played that way, do you?"

"Yes," said the listener, dreamily raising his sightless eyes to the elm tree that grew by the kitchen door. "I believe it, and I can hear it myself when you read the story to me. I feel that the secret of everything in the world that is beautiful, or true, or terrible, is hidden in the strings of my violin, Davy, but only a master can draw it from captivity."

"You make stories on your violin, too, uncle Tony, even if the ladies don't faint away in heaps, and if the kitchen doesn't look like a battle field when you've finished. I'm glad it doesn't, for my part, for I should have more housework to do than ever."

"Poor Davy! you couldn't hate housework any worse if you were a woman; but it is all done for to day. Now paint me one of your pictures, laddie; make me see with your eyes."

The boy put down the book and leaped out of the open door, barely touching the old millstone that served for a step. Taking a stand in the well worn path, he rested his hands on his hips, swept the landscape with the glance of an eagle, and began like a young improvisator:

"The sun is just dropping behind Brigadier Hill."

"What colour is it?"

"Red as fire, and there isn't anything near it it's almost alone in the sky; there's only teeny little white feather clouds here and there. The bridge looks as if it was a silver string tying the two sides of the river together. The water is pink where the sun shines into it. All the leaves of the trees are kind of swimming in the red light I tell you, nunky, just as if I was looking through red glass. The weather vane on Squire Bean's barn dazzles so the rooster seems to be shooting gold arrows into the river. I can see the tip top of Mount Washington where the peak of its snow cap touches the pink sky. The hen house door is open. The chickens are all on their roost, with their heads cuddled under their wings."

"Did you feed them?"

The boy clapped his hand over his mouth with a comical gesture of penitence, and dashed into the shed for a panful of corn, which he scattered over the ground, enticing the sleepy fowls by insinuating calls of "Chick, chick, chick, chick! COME, biddy, biddy, biddy, biddy! COME, chick, chick, chick, chick, chick!"

The man in the doorway smiled as over the misdemeanour of somebody very dear and lovable, and rising from his chair felt his way to a corner shelf, took down a box, and drew from it a violin swathed in a silk bag... Continue reading book >>

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