Nicolo's Little Friend by H. A. F.
NICOLO, Nicolo, where are you?
Where have you hidden yourself?
Come here; I want you.”
It was a very bright-eyed little girl who
spoke these words—under a bright sky,
too—the sunny sky of Italy.
But Nicolo, a boy some years older
than herself, looked far from bright or
happy; he was lying full length on the
ground in the sunlight; but his face was
overcast and melancholy.
“Lazy fellow!” said little Gianetta,
laughingly, as she came up to him; “I am
out of breath calling to you. Come along;
I want you. Mother has done with me,
and we can make some music together.”
But Nicolo shook his head, though he
smiled at his little friend.
“What is it?” asked Gianetta. “Why
can’t you come? Is it the father again?”
Nicolo sighed. He was a cheerful,
happy-tempered boy by nature. And yet
Gianetta often found him looking very sad.
“Tiresome, bad man!” broke forth the
little girl. “He has been scolding you
again; but no. Stop; I will say no
wicked things of him, for he is your father;
and we must honor our parents, be
they bad or good, Father Clement says.
But tell me, Nicolo, what has he said or
“It is nothing,” said Nicolo, rousing
himself at length—“nothing, my little
Gianetta; but it wearies me. It is the
old tale; he likes not my music—thinks
it an excuse for idleness. Listen, little
one. I make my plans now. I cannot
bear this life. I must do as he wishes—learn
a trade or somewhat, and give up
“That you never shall do,” said Gianetta,
earnestly. “You think me naughty,
Nicolo; but I am not. I only see it
plainer than you or your father. God has
given you this talent,—this great one,—and
you shall not hide it, you shall not
bury it.” The little girl’s face was so
eager, that Nicolo smiled at her.
But she went on, more excitedly:—
“Get up this moment, Nicolo, and come
in with me. We will play somewhat together.
Your father never scolds you
when I am by. And you shall not give
up your music.”
The boy, half in earnest, and half
amused, let the child drag him into a
little house near, put his violin into his
arms, and then seat herself at the piano,
while in the distance sat Nicolo’s father,
gloomily watching the pair.
“Begin,” said Gianetta, “and tell me
when I play wrongly.”
But for such a mere child, Gianetta
played with marvellous correctness. As
for Nicolo, his countenance cleared with
every sound that he drew from his beloved
violin; he forgot his gloomy father;
he thought no longer of his dull, sad home.
He was wrapped in that wonderful content
which the possession of some great
With the last chord the brightness
faded, however, out of his face.
“Take me home now,” said the little girl.
Home was only across the street; but
Gianetta wanted another word in private
with her friend.
“Nicolo,” she said, gravely, “never
speak more of giving up the music; it is
not to be. I am sorry for you, my poor
boy; I know it is a hard life, but—”
“But I will make a name for myself at
last,” said Nicolo, catching her enthusiasm;
“and then, perhaps, my father will
have faith in me. Till then I will be
brave, little one; so good night.”
It was a hard life for Nicolo—his
mother dead, his father with no care for
his son’s one great passion—music.
Many a time the boy’s spirit failed, and
he even grew to doubt his own powers
under the cold glance and cruel taunts
which daily met him.
He was sitting one day, feeling even
sadder than usual,—discontented even
with the sounds he drew from his instrument,—when
Gianetta’s mother stood in
“The child is ill,” she said, hurriedly—“very
ill, and calls ever for you. Come.”
So Nicolo went, and, though tossed
with fever, his little friend smiled on him.
There was, however, a longing look in
her eyes; but her parched lips could not
form a word.
“Is it the violin?” asked Nicolo, softly.
She smiled again, and Nicolo fetched
“A sleeping song?” he questioned.
The little face grew calm and soft at
his question. Sweetly the music floated
through the room, stilling the little sufferer,
and comforting the watchers. When
he had finished, Gianetta stretched out
“Thank you, dear Nicolo,” she said;
“that was pleasant. Now I shall sleep;
but you must never sleep; you have much
else to do; you must go out into the
world, and be famous—go away far, far
from here. Do you mind my words?
Will you remember them?”
And she lay back exhausted on her
pillow, never more to ask for music in
this world. Gianetta was listening even
then to the angels’ song.
That night Nicolo sat beside the dead
body of his little friend. Lights burned,
flowers were scattered round her, and
prayers were said without ceasing in all
those long hours. It was the custom of
the country; it did not disturb the dead,
and it comforted the living.
And when morning dawned, the friendless
boy went back to his little room
across the road, and there he poured out
his heart in a farewell strain to his dear
companion who had thus suddenly been
snatched from him.
There was no more now to be done but
to fulfil her last command—to go out into
the world, and to make himself famous.
Did he do so?
Ask those who love music, and hold
dear all great names in its roll of fame, if
they ever heard of Nicolo Paganini; for
it is of his boyhood that I write.
How far he owed his success in life to
a little girl, each reader may judge for
himself. She certainly inspired him with
courage when he was very down-hearted;
and through all his brilliant career, I think
he at least must always have remembered
her with gratitude.