“Oh, yes,” said William, “it’s all true; but how did you find out she was fond of me?”
“That is such a hard question,” said the harper, “that I must take time to think.”
He tuned his harp, as he thought, or seemed to think, and at this instant two boys, who had been searching for birds’ nests in the hedges and who had heard the sound of the harp, came blustering up, and pushing their way through the circle, one of them exclaimed, “What’s going on here? Who are you, my old fellow? A blind harper! Well, play us a tune, if you can play a good one—play—let’s see, what shall he play, Bob?” added he, turning to his companion. “Play ‘Bumper Squire Jones.’”
The old man, though he did not seem quite pleased with the way in which he was asked, played “Bumper Squire Jones.” Several tunes were afterwards named by the same rough voice.
The little children shrunk back shyly, as they looked at the bold boy. He was the son of Attorney Case, and as his father had not cured his temper when he was a child, it became worse and worse as he grew up. All who were younger and weaker than himself were afraid of him and disliked him. When the old harper was so tired that he could play no more, a lad who usually carried his harp for him came up, and held his master’s hat to those around, saying, “Will you please remember us?” The children readily gave their halfpence to this poor, good-natured man, who had taken so much pains to amuse them. It pleased them better even than to give them to the gingerbread-woman, whose stall they loved to visit. The hat was held to the Attorney’s son before he chose to see it. At last he put his hand into his pocket and pulled out a shilling. There was sixpenny-worth of halfpence in the hat. “I’ll take these halfpence,” said he, “and here’s a shilling for you.”
“God bless you, sir,” said the lad; but as he took the shilling which the young gentleman had slyly put into the blind man’s hand, he saw that it was not worth one farthing. “I am afraid It is not good, sir,” said the lad, whose business it was to look at the money for his master.
“I am afraid, then, you’ll get no other,” said young Case, with a rude laugh.
“It never will do, sir, look at it yourself; the edges are all yellow. You can see the copper through it quite plain. Sir, nobody will take it from us.”
“I have nothing to do with that,” said the rude boy, pushing away his hand. “You may pass it, you know, as well as I do, if you look sharp. You have taken it from me, and I shan’t take it back again, I can tell you.”
A whisper of “that’s very unjust,” was heard.
“Who says it’s unjust?” cried the Attorney’s son sternly, looking down upon his judges.
“Is any one here among yourselves a judge of silver?” said the old man.
“Yes, here’s the butcher’s boy,” said the Attorney’s son; “show it to him.”