Philip turned to Squire Pope, and said quietly:
“As you had no right to sell it, the sale amounts to nothing. If you had a right, I should say you were not very shrewd to sell an instrument that cost twenty-five dollars—and was considered a bargain at the price—for two dollars and fifty cents.”
“The violin cost twenty-five dollars!” ejaculated the squire, in genuine surprise.
For, as it has already been stated, he had no idea whatever of the usual price for a violin.
“Don’t you believe him, squire,” said Nicholas, afraid that he would lose what he knew to be a good bargain. “No fiddle that was ever made cost twenty-five dollars. It’s ridiculous!”
“It does seem a large price,” said the squire guardedly.
Squire Pope would doubtless have been surprised to learn that certain violins of celebrated make—such as the Cremonas—have sold for thousands of dollars. Probably he would have disbelieved it.
Nevertheless, he began to think that he had been too precipitate in accepting Nick Holden’s offer.
If he should sacrifice, or sell at an utterly inadequate price, any article belonging to the boy whom he considered his ward, he knew that he would be blamed, and he began to consider how he could recede from the bargain.
“Nicholas,” he said, “I didn’t exactly sell the violin to you. I will ascertain what is a fair price for it, and then I will consider your proposal.”
“You sold it right out, squire,” said Nick, “and I can prove it. Didn’t you just say it was mine. There, now!”
Nick turned triumphantly to Frank and Phil, but, for very good reasons, they did not care to side with him.
“I say, you haven’t treated me right,” persisted Nick, who had no particular respect nor veneration for the squire, and was not to be deterred from speaking as he felt. “I offered you two-fifty, and you said I should have it, and you got me to call at your house to come here for it.”
“I cannot sacrifice the property of my ward,” said Squire Pope. “I must ascertain how much the violin is worth.”
“A bargain is a bargain, every time!” said Nick, irritated.
“I will let you have it as cheap as anybody,” said the squire, who thought it possible that Nick might be the only one who desired to purchase it. “That ought to satisfy you. Philip, go and bring me the violin, and I will carry it home and dispose of it to the best advantage.”
“You must excuse me, Squire Pope. I shall not let it leave my possession.” Just then Squire Pope espied Mr. Dunbar returning from the village, and hailed him as a probable ally. He laid the matter before him, and requested him to compel Philip to get the violin.
“You must excuse me, squire,” said Mr. Dunbar coldly. “Philip is my guest, and he shall be protected in his rights as long as he remains here.”
Without a word, Squire Pope walked off, in angry discomfiture, in one direction, while Nick, equally dissatisfied, walked off in another.