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Verbal Expression
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The Village Street

by Edgar Allan Poe
  In these rapid, restless shadows,
    Once I walked at eventide,
  When a gentle, silent maiden,
    Walked in beauty at my side.
  She alone there walked beside me
  All in beauty, like a bride.

  Pallidly the moon was shining
    On the dewy meadows nigh;
  On the silvery, silent rivers,
    On the mountains far and high,–
  On the ocean’s star-lit waters,
    Where the winds a-weary die.

  Slowly, silently we wandered
    From the open cottage door,
  Underneath the elm’s long branches
    To the pavement bending o’er;
  Underneath the mossy willow
    And the dying sycamore.

  With the myriad stars in beauty
    All bedight, the heavens were seen,
  Radiant hopes were bright around me,
    Like the light of stars serene;
  Like the mellow midnight splendor
    Of the Night’s irradiate queen.

  Audibly the elm-leaves whispered
    Peaceful, pleasant melodies,
  Like the distant murmured music
    Of unquiet, lovely seas;
  While the winds were hushed in slumber
    In the fragrant flowers and trees.

  Wondrous and unwonted beauty
    Still adorning all did seem,
  While I told my love in fables
    ‘Neath the willows by the stream;
  Would the heart have kept unspoken
    Love that was its rarest dream!

  Instantly away we wandered
    In the shadowy twilight tide,
  She, the silent, scornful maiden,
    Walking calmly at my side,
  With a step serene and stately,
    All in beauty, all in pride.

  Vacantly I walked beside her.
    On the earth mine eyes were cast;
  Swift and keen there came unto me
    Bitter memories of the past–
  On me, like the rain in Autumn
    On the dead leaves, cold and fast.

  Underneath the elms we parted,
    By the lowly cottage door;
  One brief word alone was uttered–
    Never on our lips before;
  And away I walked forlornly,
  Broken-hearted evermore.

  Slowly, silently I loitered,
    Homeward, in the night, alone;
  Sudden anguish bound my spirit,
    That my youth had never known;
  Wild unrest, like that which cometh
    When the Night’s first dream hath flown.

  Now, to me the elm-leaves whisper
    Mad, discordant melodies,
  And keen melodies like shadows
    Haunt the moaning willow trees,
  And the sycamores with laughter
    Mock me in the nightly breeze.

  Sad and pale the Autumn moonlight
    Through the sighing foliage streams;
  And each morning, midnight shadow,
    Shadow of my sorrow seems;
  Strive, O heart, forget thine idol!
    And, O soul, forget thy dreams!

A PÆAN.

by Edgar Allan Poe

I.        How shall the burial rite be read?
            The solemn song be sung?
          The requiem for the loveliest dead,
            That ever died so young?
II.       Her friends are gazing on her,
            And on her gaudy bier,
          And weep!–oh! to dishonor
            Dead beauty with a tear!
III.     They loved her for her wealth–
           And they hated her for her pride–
          But she grew in feeble health,
            And they _love_ her–that she died.
IV.      They tell me (while they speak
           Of her “costly broider’d pall”)
         That my voice is growing weak–
           That I should not sing at all–
V.       Or that my tone should be
           Tun’d to such solemn song
         So mournfully–so mournfully,
           That the dead may feel no wrong.
VI.      But she is gone above,
           With young Hope at her side,
         And I am drunk with love
           Of the dead, who is my bride.–

VII.     Of the dead–dead who lies
           All perfum’d there,
         With the death upon her eyes.
           And the life upon her hair.
VIII.    Thus on the coffin loud and long
           I strike–the murmur sent
         Through the gray chambers to my song,
           Shall be the accompaniment.
IX.      Thou diedst in thy life’s June–
           But thou didst not die too fair:
         Thou didst not die too soon,
           Nor with too calm an air.
X.       From more than friends on earth,
           Thy life and love are riven,
         To join the untainted mirth
           Of more than thrones in heaven.–
XI.      Therefore, to thee this night
           I will no requiem raise,
         But waft thee on thy flight,
           With a Pæan of old days.

For the Consecration of a Cemetery

by Horatio Alger, Jr.

This verdant field that smiles to Heaven
  In Nature’s bright array,
From common uses set apart,
  We consecrate to-day.

“God’s Acre” be it fitly called,
  For when, beneath the sod,
We lay the dead with reverent hands,
  We yield them back to God.

And His great love, so freely given,
  Shall speak in clearer tones,
When, pacing through these hallowed walks,
  We read memorial stones.

Here let the sunshine softly fall,
  And gently drop the rain,
And Nature’s countless harmonies
  Blend one accordant strain;

That they who seek this sacred place,
  In mourning solitude,
In all this gracious company
  May have their faith renewed.

So, lifted to serener heights,
  And purified from dross,
Their trustful hearts shall rest on God,
  And profit by their loss.

Love’s Baptism

by Emily Dickinson
I’m ceded, I’ve stopped being theirs;
The name they dropped upon my face
With water, in the country church,
Is finished using now,
And they can put it with my dolls,
My childhood, and the string of spools
I’ve finished threading too.

Baptized before without the choice,
But this time consciously, of grace
Unto supremest name,
Called to my full, the crescent dropped,
Existence’s whole arc filled up
With one small diadem.

My second rank, too small the first,
Crowned, crowing on my father’s breast,
A half unconscious queen;
But this time, adequate, erect,
With will to choose or to reject.
And I choose — just a throne.

by Emily Dickinson

Our share of night to bear,
Our share of morning,
Our blank in bliss to fill,
Our blank in scorning.

Here a star, and there a star,
Some lose their way.
Here a mist, and there a mist,
Afterwards — day!

Places of Nestling Green for Poets Made

by John Keats

I stood tip-toe upon a little hill,
The air was cooling, and so very still.
That the sweet buds which with a modest pride
Pull droopingly, in slanting curve aside,
Their scantly leaved, and finely tapering stems,
Had not yet lost those starry diadems
Caught from the early sobbing of the morn.
The clouds were pure and white as flocks new shorn,
And fresh from the clear brook; sweetly they slept
On the blue fields of heaven, and then there crept
A little noiseless noise among the leaves,
Born of the very sigh that silence heaves:
For not the faintest motion could be seen
Of all the shades that slanted o’er the green.
There was wide wand’ring for the greediest eye,
To peer about upon variety;
Far round the horizon’s crystal air to skim,
And trace the dwindled edgings of its brim;
To picture out the quaint, and curious bending
Of a fresh woodland alley, never ending;
Or by the bowery clefts, and leafy shelves,
Guess were the jaunty streams refresh themselves.
I gazed awhile, and felt as light, and free
As though the fanning wings of Mercury
Had played upon my heels: I was light-hearted,
And many pleasures to my vision started;
So I straightway began to pluck a posey
Of luxuries bright, milky, soft and rosy.

A bush of May flowers with the bees about them;
Ah, sure no tasteful nook would be without them;
And let a lush laburnum oversweep them,
And let long grass grow round the roots to keep them
Moist, cool and green; and shade the violets,
That they may bind the moss in leafy nets.

A filbert hedge with wild briar overtwined,
And clumps of woodbine taking the soft wind
Upon their summer thrones; there too should be
The frequent chequer of a youngling tree,
That with a score of light green brethen shoots
From the quaint mossiness of aged roots:
Round which is heard a spring-head of clear waters
Babbling so wildly of its lovely daughters
The spreading blue bells: it may haply mourn
That such fair clusters should be rudely torn
From their fresh beds, and scattered thoughtlessly
By infant hands, left on the path to die.

Open afresh your round of starry folds,
Ye ardent marigolds!
Dry up the moisture from your golden lids,
For great Apollo bids
That in these days your praises should be sung
On many harps, which he has lately strung;
And when again your dewiness he kisses,
Tell him, I have you in my world of blisses:
So haply when I rove in some far vale,
His mighty voice may come upon the gale.

Here are sweet peas, on tip-toe for a flight:
With wings of gentle flush o’er delicate white,
And taper fulgent catching at all things,
To bind them all about with tiny rings.

Linger awhile upon some bending planks
That lean against a streamlet’s rushy banks,
And watch intently Nature’s gentle doings:
They will be found softer than ring-dove’s cooings.
How silent comes the water round that bend;
Not the minutest whisper does it send
To the o’erhanging sallows: blades of grass
Slowly across the chequer’d shadows pass.
Why, you might read two sonnets, ere they reach
To where the hurrying freshnesses aye preach
A natural sermon o’er their pebbly beds;
Where swarms of minnows show their little heads,
Staying their wavy bodies ‘gainst the streams,
To taste the luxury of sunny beams
Temper’d with coolness. How they ever wrestle
With their own sweet delight, and ever nestle
Their silver bellies on the pebbly sand.
If you but scantily hold out the hand,
That very instant not one will remain;
But turn your eye, and they are there again.
The ripples seem right glad to reach those cresses,
And cool themselves among the em’rald tresses;
The while they cool themselves, they freshness give,
And moisture, that the bowery green may live:
So keeping up an interchange of favours,
Like good men in the truth of their behaviours
Sometimes goldfinches one by one will drop
From low hung branches; little space they stop;
But sip, and twitter, and their feathers sleek;
Then off at once, as in a wanton freak:
Or perhaps, to show their black, and golden wings,
Pausing upon their yellow flutterings.
Were I in such a place, I sure should pray
That nought less sweet, might call my thoughts away,
Than the soft rustle of a maiden’s gown
Fanning away the dandelion’s down;
Than the light music of her nimble toes
Patting against the sorrel as she goes.
How she would start, and blush, thus to be caught
Playing in all her innocence of thought.
O let me lead her gently o’er the brook,
Watch her half-smiling lips, and downward look;
O let me for one moment touch her wrist;
Let me one moment to her breathing list;
And as she leaves me may she often turn
Her fair eyes looking through her locks auburne.
What next? A tuft of evening primroses,
O’er which the mind may hover till it dozes;
O’er which it well might take a pleasant sleep,
But that ’tis ever startled by the leap
Of buds into ripe flowers; or by the flitting
Of diverse moths, that aye their rest are quitting;
Or by the moon lifting her silver rim
Above a cloud, and with a gradual swim
Coming into the blue with all her light.
O Maker of sweet poets, dear delight
Of this fair world, and all its gentle livers;
Spangler of clouds, halo of crystal rivers,
Mingler with leaves, and dew and tumbling streams,
Closer of lovely eyes to lovely dreams,
Lover of loneliness, and wandering,
Of upcast eye, and tender pondering!
Thee must I praise above all other glories
That smile us on to tell delightful stories.
For what has made the sage or poet write
But the fair paradise of Nature’s light?
In the calm grandeur of a sober line,
We see the waving of the mountain pine;
And when a tale is beautifully staid,
We feel the safety of a hawthorn glade:
When it is moving on luxurious wings,
The soul is lost in pleasant smotherings:
Fair dewy roses brush against our faces,
And flowering laurels spring from diamond vases;
O’er head we see the jasmine and sweet briar,
And bloomy grapes laughing from green attire;
While at our feet, the voice of crystal bubbles
Charms us at once away from all our troubles:
So that we feel uplifted from the world,
Walking upon the white clouds wreath’d and curl’d.
So felt he, who first told, how Psyche went
On the smooth wind to realms of wonderment;
What Psyche felt, and Love, when their full lips
First touch’d; what amorous, and fondling nips
They gave each other’s cheeks; with all their sighs,
And how they kist each other’s tremulous eyes:
The silver lamp,–the ravishment,–the wonder–
The darkness,–loneliness,–the fearful thunder;
Their woes gone by, and both to heaven upflown,
To bow for gratitude before Jove’s throne.
So did he feel, who pull’d the boughs aside,
That we might look into a forest wide,
To catch a glimpse of Fawns, and Dryades
Coming with softest rustle through the trees;
And garlands woven of flowers wild, and sweet,
Upheld on ivory wrists, or sporting feet:
Telling us how fair, trembling Syrinx fled
Arcadian Pan, with such a fearful dread.
Poor nymph,–poor Pan,–how he did weep to find,
Nought but a lovely sighing of the wind
Along the reedy stream; a half heard strain,
Full of sweet desolation–balmy pain.

What first inspired a bard of old to sing
Narcissus pining o’er the untainted spring?
In some delicious ramble, he had found
A little space, with boughs all woven round;
And in the midst of all, a clearer pool
Than e’er reflected in its pleasant cool,
The blue sky here, and there, serenely peeping
Through tendril wreaths fantastically creeping.
And on the bank a lonely flower he spied,
A meek and forlorn flower, with naught of pride,
Drooping its beauty o’er the watery clearness,
To woo its own sad image into nearness:
Deaf to light Zephyrus it would not move;
But still would seem to droop, to pine, to love.
So while the Poet stood in this sweet spot,
Some fainter gleamings o’er his fancy shot;
Nor was it long ere he had told the tale
Of young Narcissus, and sad Echo’s bale.

Where had he been, from whose warm head out-flew
That sweetest of all songs, that ever new,
That aye refreshing, pure deliciousness,
Coming ever to bless
The wanderer by moonlight? to him bringing
Shapes from the invisible world, unearthly singing
From out the middle air, from flowery nests,
And from the pillowy silkiness that rests
Full in the speculation of the stars.
Ah! surely he had burst our mortal bars;
Into some wond’rous region he had gone,
To search for thee, divine Endymion!

He was a Poet, sure a lover too,
Who stood on Latmus’ top, what time there blew
Soft breezes from the myrtle vale below;
And brought in faintness solemn, sweet, and slow
A hymn from Dian’s temple; while upswelling,
The incense went to her own starry dwelling.
But though her face was clear as infant’s eyes,
Though she stood smiling o’er the sacrifice,
The Poet wept at her so piteous fate,
Wept that such beauty should be desolate:
So in fine wrath some golden sounds he won,
And gave meek Cynthia her Endymion.

Queen of the wide air; thou most lovely queen
Of all the brightness that mine eyes have seen!
As thou exceedest all things in thy shine,
So every tale, does this sweet tale of thine.
O for three words of honey, that I might
Tell but one wonder of thy bridal night!

Where distant ships do seem to show their keels,
Phoebus awhile delayed his mighty wheels,
And turned to smile upon thy bashful eyes,
Ere he his unseen pomp would solemnize.
The evening weather was so bright, and clear,
That men of health were of unusual cheer;
Stepping like Homer at the trumpet’s call,
Or young Apollo on the pedestal:
And lovely women were as fair and warm,
As Venus looking sideways in alarm.
The breezes were ethereal, and pure,
And crept through half closed lattices to cure
The languid sick; it cool’d their fever’d sleep,
And soothed them into slumbers full and deep.
Soon they awoke clear eyed: nor burnt with thirsting,
Nor with hot fingers, nor with temples bursting:
And springing up, they met the wond’ring sight
Of their dear friends, nigh foolish with delight;
Who feel their arms, and breasts, and kiss and stare,
And on their placid foreheads part the hair.
Young men, and maidens at each other gaz’d
With hands held back, and motionless, amaz’d
To see the brightness in each others’ eyes;
And so they stood, fill’d with a sweet surprise,
Until their tongues were loos’d in poesy.
Therefore no lover did of anguish die:
But the soft numbers, in that moment spoken,
Made silken ties, that never may be broken.
Cynthia! I cannot tell the greater blisses,
That follow’d thine, and thy dear shepherd’s kisses:
Was there a Poet born?–but now no more,
My wand’ring spirit must no further soar.–

Exclusion

by Emily Dickinson

The soul selects her own society,
Then shuts the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more.

Unmoved, she notes the chariot’s pausing
At her low gate;
Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
Upon her mat.

I’ve known her from an ample nation
Choose one;
Then close the valves of her attention
Like stone.

Miss Billy’s Decision, CHAPTER XV

by Eleanor H. Porter

“MR. BILLY” AND “MISS MARY JANE”
On the fourteenth of December Billy came
down-stairs alert, interested, and happy.  She
had received a dear letter from Bertram (mailed
on the way to New York), the sun was shining,
and her fingers were fairly tingling to put on paper
the little melody that was now surging riotously
through her brain.  Emphatically, the restlessness
of the day before was gone now.  Once more
Billy’s “clock” had “begun to tick.”

After breakfast Billy went straight to the
telephone and called up Arkwright.  Even one
side of the conversation Aunt Hannah did not
hear very clearly; but in five minutes a radiant-
faced Billy danced into the room.

“Aunt Hannah, just listen!  Only think–
Mary Jane wrote the words himself, so of course
I can use them!”

“Billy, dear, _can’t_ you say `Mr. Arkwright’?”
pleaded Aunt Hannah.

Billy laughed and gave the anxious-eyed little
old lady an impulsive hug.

“Of course!  I’ll say `His Majesty’ if you like,
dear,” she chuckled.  “But did you hear–did
you realize?  They’re his own words, so there’s
no question of rights or permission, or anything.
And he’s coming up this afternoon to hear my
melody, and to make a few little changes in the
words, maybe.  Oh, Aunt Hannah, you don’t
know how good it seems to get into my music
again!”

“Yes, yes, dear, of course; but–”  Aunt
Hannah’s sentence ended in a vaguely troubled
pause.

Billy turned in surprise.

“Why, Aunt Hannah, aren’t you glad?  You
_said_ you’d be glad!”

“Yes, dear; and I am–very glad.  It’s only
–if it doesn’t take too much time–and if
Bertram doesn’t mind.”

Billy flushed.  She laughed a little bitterly.

“No, it won’t take too much time, I fancy,
and–so far as Bertram is concerned–if what
Sister Kate says is true, Aunt Hannah, he’ll
be glad to have me occupy a little of my time with
something besides himself.”

“Fiddlededee!” bristled Aunt Hannah.

“What did she mean by that?”

Billy smiled ruefully.

“Well, probably I did need it.  She said it
night before last just before she went home with
Uncle William.  She declared that I seemed to
forget entirely that Bertram belonged to his Art
first, before he belonged to me; and that it was
exactly as she had supposed it would be–a
perfect absurdity for Bertram to think of marrying
anybody.”

“Fiddlededee!” ejaculated the irate Aunt
Hannah, even more sharply.  “I hope you have
too much good sense to mind what Kate says,
Billy.”

“Yes, I know,” sighed the girl; “but of course
I can see some things for myself, and I suppose
I did make–a little fuss about his going to
New York the other night.  And I will own that
I’ve had a real struggle with myself sometimes,
lately, not to mind–his giving so much time
to his portrait painting.  And of course both of
those are very reprehensible–in an artist’s wife,”
she finished, a little tremulously.

“Humph!  Well, I don’t think I should worry
about that,” observed Aunt Hannah with grim
positiveness.

“No, I don’t mean to,” smiled Billy, wistfully.
“I only told you so you’d understand that it
was just as well if I did have something to take
up my mind–besides Bertram.  And of course
music would be the most natural thing.”

“Yes, of course,” agreed Aunt Hannah.

“And it seems actually almost providential
that Mary–I mean Mr. Arkwright is here to
help me, now that Cyril is gone,” went on Billy,
still a little wistfully.

“Yes, of course.  He isn’t like–a stranger,”
murmured Aunt Hannah.  Aunt Hannah’s voice
sounded as if she were trying to convince herself
–of something.

“No, indeed!  He seems just like one of the
family to me, almost as if he were really–your
niece, Mary Jane,” laughed Billy.

Aunt Hannah moved restlessly.

“Billy,” she hazarded, “he knows, of course,
of your engagement?”

“Why, of course he does, Aunt Hannah
everybody does!”  Billy’s eyes were plainly surprised.

“Yes, yes, of course–he must,” subsided
Aunt Hannah, confusedly, hoping that Billy
would not divine the hidden reason behind her
question.  She was relieved when Billy’s next
words showed that she had not divined it.

“I told you, didn’t I?  He’s coming up this
afternoon.  He can’t get here till five, though;
but he’s so interested!  He’s about as crazy over
the thing as I am.  And it’s going to be fine, Aunt
Hannah, when it’s done.  You just wait and see!”
she finished gayly, as she tripped from the
room.

Left to herself, Aunt Hannah drew a long
breath.

“I’m glad she didn’t suspect,” she was
thinking.  “I believe she’d consider even the _question_
disloyal to Bertram–dear child!  And of course
Mary”–Aunt Hannah corrected herself with
cheeks aflame–“I mean Mr. Arkwright does
–know.”

It was just here, however, that Aunt Hannah
was mistaken.  Mr. Arkwright did not–know.
He had not reached Boston when the engagement
was announced.  He knew none of Billy’s friends
in town save the Henshaw brothers.  He had
not heard from Calderwell since he came to Boston.
The very evident intimacy of Billy with the
Henshaw brothers he accepted as a matter of
course, knowing the history of their acquaintance,
and the fact that Billy was Mr. William Henshaw’s
namesake.  As to Bertram being Billy’s lover–
that idea had long ago been killed at birth by
Calderwell’s emphatic assertion that the artist
would never care for any girl–except to paint.
Since coming to Boston, Arkwright had seen
little of the two together.  His work, his friends,
and his general mode of life precluded that.
Because of all this, therefore, Arkwright did not–
know; which was a pity–for Arkwright, and
for some others.

Promptly at five o’clock that afternoon,
Arkwright rang Billy’s doorbell, and was admitted
by Rosa to the living-room, where Billy was at
the piano.

Billy sprang to her feet with a joyous word of
greeting.

“I’m so glad you’ve come,” she sighed happily.
“I want you to hear the melody your pretty
words have sung to me.  Though, maybe, after
all, you won’t like it, you know,” she finished
with arch wistfulness.

“As if I could help liking it,” smiled the man,
trying to keep from his voice the ecstatic delight
that the touch of her hand had brought
him.

Billy shook her head and seated herself again
at the piano.

“The words are lovely,” she declared, sorting
out two or three sheets of manuscript music from
the quantity on the rack before her.  “But there’s
one place–the rhythm, you know–if you could
change it.  There!–but listen.  First I’m going
to play it straight through to you.”  And she
dropped her fingers to the keyboard.  The next
moment a tenderly sweet melody–with only a
chord now and then for accompaniment–filled
Arkwright’s soul with rapture.  Then Billy began
to sing, very softly, the words!

No wonder Arkwright’s soul was filled with
rapture.  They were his words, wrung straight
from his heart; and they were being sung by
the girl for whom they were written.  They
were being sung with feeling, too–so evident
a feeling that the man’s pulse quickened, and his
eyes flashed a sudden fire.  Arkwright could not
know, of course, that Billy, in her own mind, was
singing that song–to Bertram Henshaw.

The fire was still in Arkwright’s eyes when the
song was ended; but Billy very plainly did not
see it.  With a frowning sigh and a murmured
“There!” she began to talk of “rhythm” and
“accent” and “cadence”; and to point out
with anxious care why three syllables instead of
two were needed at the end of a certain line.
From this she passed eagerly to the accompaniment,
and Arkwright at once found himself lost
in a maze of “minor thirds” and “diminished
sevenths,” until he was forced to turn from the
singer to the song.  Still, watching her a little
later, he noticed her absorbed face and eager
enthusiasm, her earnest pursuance of an elusive
harmony, and he wondered: did she, or did she
not sing that song with feeling a little while before?

Arkwright had not settled this question to his
own satisfaction when Aunt Hannah came in
at half-past five, and he was conscious of a vague
disappointment as he rose to greet her.  Billy,
however, turned an untroubled face to the newcomer.

“We’re doing finely, Aunt Hannah,” she cried.
Then, suddenly, she flung a laughing question
to the man.  “How about it, sir?  Are we going
to put on the title-page:  `Words by Mary Jane
Arkwright’–or will you unveil the mystery
for us now?”

“Have you guessed it?” he bantered.

“No–unless it’s `Methuselah John.’  We
did think of that the other day.”

“Wrong again!” he laughed.

“Then it’ll have to be `Mary Jane,’ ” retorted
Billy, with calm naughtiness, refusing to meet
Aunt Hannah’s beseechingly reproving eyes.
Then suddenly she chuckled.  “It would be a
combination, wouldn’t it?  `Words by Mary
Jane Arkwright.  Music by Billy Neilson’!
We’d have sighing swains writing to `Dear Miss
Arkwright,’ telling how touching were _her_ words;
and lovelorn damsels thanking Mr. Neilson for
his soul-inspiring music!”

“Billy, my dear!” remonstrated Aunt Hannah, faintly.

“Yes, yes, I know; that was bad–and I
won’t again, truly,” promised Billy.  But her
eyes danced, and the next moment she had whirled
about on the piano stool and dashed into a Chopin
waltz.  The room itself, then, seemed to be full
of the twinkling feet of elves.

Bi-Centennial Ode

by Horatio Alger, Jr.
(June 13, 1860.)

* Sung at the bi-centennial celebration of the incorporation of Marlboro, Mass.

From the door of the homestead the mother looks forth,
  With a glance half of hope, half of fear,
For the clock in the corner now points to the hour
  When the children she loves should appear.
For have they not promised, whatever betide,
  On this their dear mother’s birthday,
To gather once more round the family board,
  Their dutiful service to pay?

From the East and the West, from the North and the South,
  In communion and intercourse sweet,
Her children have come, on this festival day,
  To sit, as of old, at her feet.
And our mother,– God bless her benevolent face!–
  How her heart thrills with motherly joys,
As she stands at the portal, with arms opened wide,
  To welcome her girls and her boys.

And yet, when the first joyful greetings are o’er,
  When the words of her welcome are said:
A shadow creeps over her motherly face,
  As she silently thinks of the dead,
Of the children whose voices once rang through her fields,
  Who shared all her hopes and alarms,
Till, tired with the burden and heat of the day,
  They have fallen asleep in her arms.

They have gone from our midst, but their labors abide
  On the fields where they prayerfully wrought;
They scattered the seed, but the harvest is ours,
  By their toil and self-sacrifice bought.
As we scan the fair scene that once greeted their eyes,
  As we tread the same paths which they trod,
Let us tenderly think of our elders by birth,
  Who have gone to their rest, and their God.

God bless the old homestead! some linger there still,
  In the haunts which their childhood has known,
While others have wandered to places remote,
  And planted new homes of their own;
But Time cannot weaken the ties Love creates,
  Nor absence, nor distance, impede
The filial devotion which thrills all our hearts,
  As we bid our old mother God-speed.

Miss Billy’s Decision, CHAPTER IV

by Eleanor H. Porter

FOR MARY JANE
“I have a letter here from Mary Jane, my
dear,” announced Aunt Hannah at the luncheon
table one day.

“Have you?” Billy raised interested eyes
from her own letters.  “What does she say?”

“She will be here Thursday.  Her train is
due at the South Station at four-thirty.  She
seems to be very grateful to you for your offer to
let her come right here for a month; but she says
she’s afraid you don’t realize, perhaps, just what
you are doing–to take her in like that, with her
singing, and all.”

“Nonsense!  She doesn’t refuse, does she?”

“Oh, no; she doesn’t refuse–but she doesn’t
accept either, exactly, as I can see.  I’ve read the
letter over twice, too.  I’ll let you judge for yourself
by and by, when you have time to read it.”

Billy laughed.

“Never mind.  I don’t want to read it.  She’s
just a little shy about coming, that’s all.  She’ll
stay all right, when we come to meet her.  What
time did you say it was, Thursday?”

“Half past four, South Station.”

“Thursday, at half past four.  Let me see–
that’s the day of the Carletons’ `At Home,’
isn’t it?”

“Oh, my grief and conscience, yes!  But I had
forgotten it.  What shall we do?”

“Oh, that will be easy.  We’ll just go to the
Carletons’ early and have John wait, then take
us from there to the South Station.  Meanwhile
we’ll make sure that the little blue room is all ready
for her.  I put in my white enamel work-basket
yesterday, and that pretty little blue case for
hairpins and curling tongs that I bought at the
fair.  I want the room to look homey to her, you
know.”

“As if it could look any other way, if _you_ had
anything to do with it,” sighed Aunt Hannah,
admiringly.

Billy laughed.

“If we get stranded we might ask the Henshaw
boys to help us out, Aunt Hannah.  They’d
probably suggest guns and swords.  That’s the
way they fixed up _my_ room.”

Aunt Hannah raised shocked hands of protest.

“As if we would!  Mercy, what a time that
was!”

Billy laughed again.

“I never shall forget, _never_, my first glimpse of
that room when Mrs. Hartwell switched on the
lights.  Oh, Aunt Hannah, I wish you could have
seen it before they took out those guns and
spiders!”

“As if I didn’t see quite enough when I saw
William’s face that morning he came for me!”
retorted Aunt Hannah, spiritedly.

“Dear Uncle William!  What an old saint he
has been all the way through,” mused Billy aloud.
“And Cyril–who would ever have believed that
the day would come when Cyril would say to
me, as he did last night, that he felt as if Marie
had been gone a month.  It’s been just seven days,
you know.”

“I know.  She comes to-morrow, doesn’t she?”

“Yes, and I’m glad.  I shall tell Marie she
needn’t leave Cyril on _my_ hands again.  Bertram
says that at home Cyril hasn’t played a dirge
since his engagement; but I notice that up here
–where Marie might be, but isn’t–his tunes
would never be mistaken for ragtime.  By the
way,” she added, as she rose from the table,
“that’s another surprise in store for Hugh
Calderwell.  He always declared that Cyril wasn’t a
marrying man, either, any more than Bertram.
You know he said Bertram only cared for girls
to paint; but–”  She stopped and looked
inquiringly at Rosa, who had appeared at that
moment in the hall doorway.

“It’s the telephone, Miss Neilson.  Mr.
Bertram Henshaw wants you.”

A few minutes later Aunt Hannah heard Billy
at the piano.  For fifteen, twenty, thirty minutes
the brilliant scales and arpeggios rippled through
the rooms and up the stairs to Aunt Hannah, who
knew, by the very sound of them, that some
unusual nervousness was being worked off at the
finger tips that played them.  At the end of forty-
five minutes Aunt Hannah went down-stairs.

“Billy, my dear, excuse me, but have you
forgotten what time it is?  Weren’t you going out
with Bertram?”

Billy stopped playing at once, but she did not
turn her head.  Her fingers busied themselves
with some music on the piano.

“We aren’t going, Aunt Hannah,” she said.

“Bertram can’t.”

“_Can’t!_”

“Well, he didn’t want to–so of course I
said not to.  He’s been painting this morning on
a new portrait, and she said he might stay to
luncheon and keep right on for a while this
afternoon, if he liked.  And–he did like, so he
stayed.”

“Why, how–how–”  Aunt Hannah stopped
helplessly.

“Oh, no, not at all,” interposed Billy, lightly.
“He told me all about it the other night.  It’s
going to be a very wonderful portrait; and, of
course, I wouldn’t want to interfere with–his
work!”  And again a brilliant scale rippled from
Billy’s fingers after a crashing chord in the bass.

Slowly Aunt Hannah turned and went up-stairs.
Her eyes were troubled.  Not since Billy’s engagement
had she heard Billy play like that.

Bertram did not find a pensive Billy awaiting
him that evening.  He found a bright-eyed,
flushed-cheeked Billy, who let herself be kissed
–once–but who did not kiss back; a blithe,
elusive Billy, who played tripping little melodies,
and sang jolly little songs, instead of sitting
before the fire and talking; a Billy who at last
turned, and asked tranquilly:

“Well, how did the picture go?”

Bertram rose then, crossed the room, and took
Billy very gently into his arms.

“Sweetheart, you were a dear this noon to
let me off like that,” he began in a voice shaken
with emotion.  “You don’t know, perhaps,
exactly what you did.  You see, I was nearly
wild between wanting to be with you, and wanting
to go on with my work.  And I was just at that
point where one little word from you, one hint
that you wanted me to come anyway–and I
should have come.  But you didn’t say it, nor hint
it.  Like the brave little bit of inspiration that you
are, you bade me stay and go on with my work.”

The “inspiration’s” head drooped a little
lower, but this only brought a wealth of soft
bronze hair to just where Bertram could lay his
cheek against it–and Bertram promptly took
advantage of his opportunity.  “And so I stayed,
Billy, and I did good work; I know I did good
work.  Why, Billy,”–Bertram stepped back
now, and held Billy by the shoulders at arms’
length–“Billy, that’s going to be the best
work I’ve ever done.  I can see it coming even
now, under my fingers.”

Billy lifted her head and looked into her lover’s
face.  His eyes were glowing.  His cheeks were
flushed.  His whole countenance was aflame with
the soul of the artist who sees his vision taking
shape before him.  And Billy, looking at him, felt
suddenly–ashamed.

“Oh, Bertram, I’m proud, proud, _proud_ of
you!” she breathed.  “Come, let’s go over to
the fire-and talk!”

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