“You can pay us a part with the money you have,” said the agent.
“I owe Mr. Gates for nearly two days’ board,” he said. “That is my own affair, and I must pay him first.”
“I don’t see why he should be preferred to me,” grumbled the agent; then, with a sudden, happy thought, as he termed it, he said: “I will tell you how you can pay us all.”
“How?” asked Philip.
“You have a violin. You can sell that for enough to pay our bills.”
Poor Philip! His violin was his dependence. Besides the natural attachment he felt for it, he relied upon it to secure him a living, and the thought of parting with it was bitter.
“Gentlemen,” he said, “if you take my violin, I have no way of making a living. If you will consider that I, too, am a victim of this man, I think you will not wish to inflict such an injury upon me.”
“I do not, for one,” said the publisher. “I am not a rich man, and I need all the money that is due me, but I wouldn’t deprive the boy of his violin.”
“Nor I,” said the bill-sticker.
“That’s all very fine,” said the agent; “but I am not so soft as you two. Who knows but the boy is in league with the professor?”
“I know it!” said the landlord stoutly. “The boy is all right, or I am no judge of human nature.”
“Thank you, Mr. Gates,” said Philip, extending his hand to his generous defender.
“Do you expect we will let you off without paying anything?” demanded the agent harshly.
“If I live, sir, you shall lose nothing by me,” said Philip.
“That won’t do!” said the man coarsely. “I insist upon the fiddle being sold. I’ll give five dollars for it, and call it square.”
“Mr. Gunn,” said the landlord, in a tone of disgust, “since you are disposed to persecute this boy, I will myself pay your bill, and trust to him to repay me when he can.”
“But, Mr. Gates—” said Philip.
“I accept!” said the agent, with alacrity.
“Receipt your bill,” said the landlord.
Mr. Gunn did so, and received a five-dollar bill in return.
“Now sir,” said the landlord coldly, “if you have no further business here, we can dispense with your company.”
“It strikes me you are rather hard on a man because he wants to be paid his honest dues!” whined Gunn, rather uncomfortably.
“We understand you, sir,” said the landlord. “We have not forgotten how you turned a poor family into the street, in the dead of winter, because they could not pay their rent.”
“Could I afford to give them house-room?” inquired Gunn.
“Perhaps not. At any rate, I don’t feel inclined to give you house-room any longer.”
Mr. Gunn slunk out of the room, under the impression that his company was no longer desired.
“Mr. Gray,” said the publisher, “I hope you don’t class me with the man who has just gone out. I would sooner never be paid than deprive you of your violin. Let the account stand, and if you are ever able to pay me half of my bill—your share—I shall be glad to receive it.”