“Five dollars. You see, he would have to come six miles.”
“I’ll come for three dollars and my supper and lodging,” said Philip.
“All right! You shall have supper and lodging at our house. There it is, down that lane. Come right along, for supper must be on the table. After supper I’ll go and tell the committee I’ve engaged you.”
Philip’s spirits rose. Help had come from an unexpected quarter. He felt that a new career was opening before him.
On his way to the farmhouse, Philip ascertained that his companion’s name was Abner Webb, and that he and his brother Jonas carried on a farm of about a hundred acres. Abner appeared to be about twenty-five years old.
“You seem pretty young to be a fiddler,” said the young man, surveying Philip with a glance of curiosity.
“I am almost sixteen.”
“I am twenty-five, and I can’t play at all.”
“It isn’t all in the age,” returned our hero. “Did you ever try to learn?”
“Yes, I took one or two lessons, but I had to give it up for a bad job. I couldn’t get into it somehow.”
“You didn’t try very long,” said Philip, smiling.
“I reckon I’d never do much at it. How long have you been a fiddler?”
“I’ve been playing three or four years.”
“Sho! You don’t say so! Do you like it?”
“Yes; very much.”
“Well, I’m glad you happened along. It would have been a pity to have our dance spoiled.”
By this time they had reached the farmhouse, and Abner went in, followed by our hero.
A young woman, his brother’s wife, looked at Philip in some surprise.
“You see, I’ve got a fiddler, after all,” said Abner gleefully. “We won’t have to put off the dance.”
As he spoke, his brother Jonas came into the room, and the explanation was repeated.
“That’s good,” said Jonas heartily. “You’d better go down to the store after supper, Abner, and tell the boys, for they’ve just heard that Paul Beck can’t come.”
“You just save me some supper, and I’ll go now. The boy’ll stay with us to-night. That’s the bargain I made with him.”
“He’s heartily welcome,” said Jonas Webb, a pleasant-faced man, with sandy complexion, who was probably from two to three years older than his brother. “You’ve happened along just at the right time.”
“I am glad of it,” said Philip; and there is no doubt he was sincere, for we know how much he stood in need of employment, though he naturally did not care to let his new friends know of his destitution.
“My brother didn’t tell me your name,” said Jonas.
“My name is Philip Gray,” answered our hero.
“Do you go round playing for dances?” inquired Jonas.
“I have only just begun.”