Gateway to the Classics: American History Stories, Volume III by Mara L. Pratt
American History Stories, Volume III by  Mara L. Pratt

Jefferson's Fiddle

Jefferson's fiddle was, I fancy, as dear to him as Robinson Crusoe's man Friday. At any rate it was well understood among the members of his household that any lack of care, any neglect or carelessness towards his precious fiddle could not easily be atoned for.

He used to often say, in joking with his wife, as he so enjoyed doing, "It was the fiddle that won the 'Widow Skelton.' "

The Widow Skelton was quite a belle in Virginia society, and had, as the stories say, "throngs of admirers."

One day, two of her suitors, bent on learning their fate from her own lips, met in the hall of her house.

The sound of music caused them to listen. The widow was playing on the harpsichord and singing a love-song, while Jefferson accompanied her with voice and violin.

Something in the song, and in the manner of her singing, showed them that they might as well go away. So quietly leaving the hall, they mounted their horses and rode away, sadder but wiser men. In a week or two, the engagement of Mrs. Martha Skelton to Thomas Jefferson was among the rumors of the day.

Jefferson was always fond of the violin. When his paternal home was burned he asked, "Are all the books destroyed?"

"Yes, massa, dey is, but we saved de fiddle," answered the old family servant, who knew his master's pet vanity.


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