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A Character Description

written by: S.K.G.Hunter

I walked down the stairs from the office of my agent. I was tired from his constant persistence for me to play in different places, countries even. I didn't know that playing piano, something I enjoyed so much, could be so stressful. I pushed open the door and stepped outside into the cold damp air of Northern Ireland. I looked around; people were about, going this way and that, delivering parcels and greeting friends. That's when I looked towards the street corner and saw him.

A crowd was gathered at the corner and I heard music. Being musically inclined I was drawn to the tune. I walked across the street, pushed though part of the crowd and looked over a woman's head. There was a boy, in his teenage years, standing in the centre of the crowd. He had a kilt on, even in the frigid cold, and a scarf and hat of the same tartan as his kilt. His foot was tapping to the music that he was playing on a fiddle. His hair stretched below his hat and was red, common in Ireland. His face was stern and red from the cold. Poor lad, I thought, He probably needs to do this to afford his food and keep.

He began stomping with his foot, and his face got sterner as his lips became a white line. A man in the crowd started laughing, then another. I wanted to quiet them; they were an embarrassment. More people started to laugh as he began stomping around in a circle and shaking his head. His face got redder and dust flew up from his dance. The piece of music was coming towards an end as most of the crowd was guffawing around him. He prepared for the last cord and his bow went up for the stroke... but he checked himself with an awkward expression. The crowd pealed with laughter. He grinned and, unable to keep his unseen merriment inside, bent over with a great guffaw.

As he straightened he said, "That was ol' George alright!" I caught the jest. The young fiddler was mocking a violinist who put so much concentration into his performance; he often messed up on the last note. I grinned.

The boy walked over to his violin case and took out his resin, which he rubbed on his bow. I noticed with surprise that a cat was curled up in the case asleep. I chuckled.

"Well," The boy said turning around and flicking the resin back in his case. "Anytin' else?"

"Can you play, Dan 'ughie?" I heard someone say from the crowd.

"Hmmm," He said. "I haven' for a while, but I'll give it a whorl."

He chinned his fiddle and straightened his bow arm. He began to tap his foot in quick rhythm as he tried a string. He lifted his bow, brought it down and began to play. A very fast and complicated piece came out of his instrument. His fingers were like lightening as they danced on the neck of the fiddle. His bow hand swirled this way and that, catching the strings and vibrating them into the music. People began to clap to the tune and the boy began to start up an Irish jig while playing.

Opposed to the first time I saw him play, his face was smiling in merriment and the cold did not seem to bother his hands as they did their work on the fiddle. He danced around, in and out of the crowd and the people enjoyed it thoroughly. I was amazed at how he could keep the song in a beat. I could equal him easily on the piano, but the way he moved his fingers was dizzying. As the song came to an end the piece got faster and he began to hoot while he danced.

His cat had woken and started to watch him, blinking. The creature must be used to this playing. The boy had stopped dancing as he concentrated on the music more now at the end. As he played the last stroke the crowd applauded him greatly.

"Thank ye all!" He said, and he doffed his cap. "I hav' to be off nou! I'll be back tomara!"

He went over to his case and carefully put his instrument in. The crowd disappeared and went their separate ways. The cat had jumped out of the case and was licking its paw beside him. I walked over to him, preparing a coin. He looked up and caught the coin I threw to him. He looked at it smiling.

"Ye must be new to m' crowd," He said. He flicked the coin back at me. "I don't take money. I come from a good family and I already get m' food and shelter. If I were to beg for money, I would rip up m' clothes and sit with a cup on the street and plead. I don't play m' violin on this corner to get money, I play it to bring people joy and laughter."

I smiled putting the coin back in my pocket. The boy stood with his violin case in one hand and his cat in the other.

"Gooday," He said politely. He walked down the road and turned down another, out of my sight. I smiled again.

"He plays to bring people joy and laughter," I repeated, thinking. "This is a lesson I need to learn..."

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