Mrs. Clarke rapidly opened the door to the back courtyard waving her hands at the group of young children enjoying the fresh summer air. “It’s visiting time!” she shouted gleefully. The woman knew that the children cherished their weekly visits.
The youngsters squealed in delight and ran toward the open door. Mrs. Clarke placed her stout hand on each child’s head in an effort to slow down the scurrying.
Henry was the last one to approach the door. He peered up toward the woman his face donning an expression of anguish. Mrs. Clarke smiled at the boy confirming that he, too, had a visitor this day.
He timidly entered the recreation area scanning the faces of the small number of visitors. He instantly saw Edwin, a young man who had become his frequent visitor. Henry ran over to Edwin gazing up at him with much delight.
“You didn’t think I would come?” the young man questioned. Henry’s cheeks reddened as he looked down at his feet. Edwin laughed saying, “I would never miss my weekly visits with you. Not for the world!”
Henry looked up at the towering man and beamed. “Me either!”
Edwin squatted downward to become eye level with the boy. With his hands hidden behind his back he stated, “I have something for you.”
Henry clapped his hands together shouting, “A present? For me?”
“Yes. A present for you,” Edwin replied. As he began to pull his left hand from behind his back he quickly stopped and held his right index finger up. “Now Henry. I want you to know this was used but I hope you don’t mind.”
The boy shook his head anxiously waiting to see what was behind the man’s back. Edwin revealed a small fiddle. An expression of amazement possessed Henry’s face. His jaw dropped open as he struggled to form any type of words.
Finally. “For me?” he asked his voice quivering.
Edwin nodded. “It was given to me when I was a lad your age. Do you like it?”
Tears filled Henry’s eyes as he reached out toward the tattered instrument. He gently took it from Edwin’s hand and cradled it as a mother would a child.
“Thank you, “ the boy whispered. He placed the instrument gently on the chair next to him and wrapped his arms around Edwin’s neck. Hugging him ever so tightly he asked, “How did you know I can play it?”
Edwin leaned back from the boy and responded, “Mrs. Clarke said you had become quite a good player. I thought perhaps you would like one of your own.”
“This was yours?”
“When you were my age?”
“And I can keep it?”
Henry picked up the fiddle and began stroking the strings.
“Oh wait! I need to go back out to my car,” Edwin stated. “I left the bow and case in there. I will be right back. I promise.”
Edwin briskly passed Mrs. Clarke who was joined by Mrs. Appley, the residing director of the orphanage.
“That is Edwin Chadwick,” Mrs. Clarke commented. “The one I told you about. He visits Henry every week.”
Mrs. Appley nodded waiting for the young man to return.
Minutes later Edwin reappeared holding a small, worn violin case. He grinned at the two women as he sped past them. He approached Henry and took the boy by the shoulder.
“Let’s sit over here,” he suggested pointing to an empty table. Henry followed close behind clutching the fiddle to his chest. Edwin placed the case on the table and opened the latch. Henry’s eyes grew large with excitement when he saw not one but two bows in the case.
“They are broken in for you but as you improve we can get you a better bow okay?” Henry stared at him smiling.
“I am sorry to say this but visiting time is over this week,” Mrs. Appley announced. Her statement was followed by boos and groans from the children. The children hoped these visits could last longer and perhaps their visitors would one day offer them real homes.
Sadness crept across young Henry’s face. Edwin placed his hand on the boy’s head and smiled.
“I promise I will be back next week. You have made me so happy today Henry.”
“How?” Henry asked in bewilderment. “You gave me a present. I’m the one who is happy.”
Edwin gazed in Henry’s eyes and explained, “I am happy because you liked it so much. It meant the world for me to give this to you.” The two hugged as Mrs. Clarke motioned the adults to the door.
“Next week!” Henry yelled.
Edwin turned and responding, “Next week!”