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Bridal Ballad

by Edgar Allan Poe
  The ring is on my hand,
    And the wreath is on my brow;
  Satins and jewels grand
  Are all at my command.
    And I am happy now.

  And my lord he loves me well;
    But, when first he breathed his vow,
  I felt my bosom swell–
  For the words rang as a knell,
  And the voice seemed _his_ who fell
  In the battle down the dell,
    And who is happy now.

  But he spoke to reassure me,
    And he kissed my pallid brow,
  While a reverie came o’er me,
  And to the churchyard bore me,
  And I sighed to him before me,
  Thinking him dead D’Elormie,
    “Oh, I am happy now!”

  And thus the words were spoken,
    And thus the plighted vow,
  And, though my faith be broken,
  And, though my heart be broken,
  Behold the golden keys
    That _proves_ me happy now!

  Would to God I could awaken
    For I dream I know not how,
  And my soul is sorely shaken
  Lest an evil step be taken,–
  Lest the dead who is forsaken
    May not be happy now.

The Sleeper

by Edgar Allan Poe
  At midnight, in the month of June,
  I stand beneath the mystic moon.
  An opiate vapor, dewy, dim,
  Exhales from out her golden rim,
  And, softly dripping, drop by drop,
  Upon the quiet mountain top,
  Steals drowsily and musically
  Into the universal valley.
  The rosemary nods upon the grave;
  The lily lolls upon the wave;
  Wrapping the fog about its breast,
  The ruin moulders into rest;
  Looking like Lethe, see! the lake
  A conscious slumber seems to take,
  And would not, for the world, awake.
  All Beauty sleeps!–and lo! where lies
  (Her casement open to the skies)
  Irene, with her Destinies!

  Oh, lady bright! can it be right–
  This window open to the night!
  The wanton airs, from the tree-top,
  Laughingly through the lattice-drop–
  The bodiless airs, a wizard rout,
  Flit through thy chamber in and out,
  And wave the curtain canopy
  So fitfully–so fearfully–
  Above the closed and fringed lid
  ‘Neath which thy slumb’ring soul lies hid,
  That, o’er the floor and down the wall,
  Like ghosts the shadows rise and fall!
  Oh, lady dear, hast thou no fear?
  Why and what art thou dreaming here?
  Sure thou art come o’er far-off seas,
  A wonder to these garden trees!
  Strange is thy pallor! strange thy dress!
  Strange, above all, thy length of tress,
  And this all-solemn silentness!

  The lady sleeps! Oh, may her sleep
  Which is enduring, so be deep!
  Heaven have her in its sacred keep!
  This chamber changed for one more holy,
  This bed for one more melancholy,
  I pray to God that she may lie
  For ever with unopened eye,
  While the dim sheeted ghosts go by!

  My love, she sleeps! Oh, may her sleep,
  As it is lasting, so be deep;
  Soft may the worms about her creep!
  Far in the forest, dim and old,
  For her may some tall vault unfold–
  Some vault that oft hath flung its black
  And winged panels fluttering back,
  Triumphant, o’er the crested palls,
  Of her grand family funerals–
  Some sepulchre, remote, alone,
  Against whose portal she hath thrown,
  In childhood many an idle stone–
  Some tomb from out whose sounding door
  She ne’er shall force an echo more,
  Thrilling to think, poor child of sin!
  It was the dead who groaned within.

First Epistle to Cavie, A Brother Poet

by Robert Burns
I.

    While winds frae aff Ben-Lomond blaw,
    And bar the doors wi’ driving snaw,
      And hing us owre the ingle,
    I set me down to pass the time,
    And spin a verse or twa o’ rhyme,
      In hamely westlin jingle.
    While frosty winds blaw in the drift,
      Ben to the chimla lug,
    I grudge a wee the great folks’ gift,
      That live sae bien an’ snug:
        I tent less and want less
          Their roomy fire-side;
        But hanker and canker
          To see their cursed pride.

II.

    It’s hardly in a body’s power
    To keep, at times, frae being sour,
      To see how things are shar’d;
    How best o’ chiels are whiles in want.
    While coofs on countless thousands rant,
      And ken na how to wair’t;
    But Davie, lad, ne’er fash your head,
      Tho’ we hae little gear,
    We’re fit to win our daily bread,
      As lang’s we’re hale and fier:
        “Muir spier na, nor fear na,”
          Auld age ne’er mind a feg,
        The last o’t, the warst o’t,
          Is only but to beg.

III.

    To lie in kilns and barns at e’en
    When banes are craz’d, and bluid is thin,
      Is, doubtless, great distress!
    Yet then content could make us blest;
    Ev’n then, sometimes we’d snatch a taste
      O’ truest happiness.
    The honest heart that’s free frae a’
      Intended fraud or guile,
    However Fortune kick the ba’,
      Has ay some cause to smile:
        And mind still, you’ll find still,
          A comfort this nae sma’;
        Nae mair then, we’ll care then,
          Nae farther we can fa’.

IV.

    What tho’, like commoners of air,
    We wander out we know not where,
      But either house or hall?
    Yet nature’s charms, the hills and woods,
    The sweeping vales, and foaming floods,
      Are free alike to all.
    In days when daisies deck the ground,
      And blackbirds whistle clear,
    With honest joy our hearts will bound
      To see the coming year:
        On braes when we please, then,
          We’ll sit and sowth a tune;
        Syne rhyme till’t we’ll time till’t,
          And sing’t when we hae done.

V.

    It’s no in titles nor in rank;
    It’s no in wealth like Lon’on bank,
      To purchase peace and rest;
    It’s no in makin muckle mair;
    It’s no in books, it’s no in lear,
      To make us truly blest;
    If happiness hae not her seat
      And centre in the breast,
    We may be wise, or rich, or great,
      But never can be blest:
        Nae treasures, nor pleasures,
          Could make us happy lang;
        The heart ay’s the part ay
          That makes us right or wrang.

VI.

    Think ye, that sic as you and I,
    Wha drudge and drive thro’ wet an’ dry,
      Wi’ never-ceasing toil;
    Think ye, are we less blest than they,
    Wha scarcely tent us in their way,
      As hardly worth their while?
    Alas! how aft, in haughty mood
      God’s creatures they oppress!
    Or else, neglecting a’ that’s guid,
      They riot in excess!
        Baith careless and fearless
          Of either heaven or hell!
        Esteeming and deeming
          It’s a’ an idle tale!

VII.

    Then let us cheerfu’ acquiesce;
    Nor make one scanty pleasures less,
      By pining at our state;
    And, even should misfortunes come,
    I, here wha sit, hae met wi’ some,
      An’s thankfu’ for them yet.
    They gie the wit of age to youth;
      They let us ken oursel’;
    They make us see the naked truth,
      The real guid and ill.
        Tho’ losses, and crosses,
          Be lessons right severe,
        There’s wit there, ye’ll get there,
          Ye’ll find nae other where.

VIII.

    But tent me, Davie, ace o’ hearts!
    (To say aught less wad wrang the cartes,
      And flatt’ry I detest,)
    This life has joys for you and I;
    And joys that riches ne’er could buy:
      And joys the very best.
    There’s a’ the pleasures o’ the heart,
      The lover an’ the frien’;
    Ye hae your Meg your dearest part,
      And I my darling Jean!
        It warms me, it charms me,
          To mention but her name:
        It heats me, it beets me,
          And sets me a’ on flame!

IX.

    O, all ye pow’rs who rule above!
    O, Thou, whose very self art love!
      Thou know’st my words sincere!
    The life-blood streaming thro’ my heart,
    Or my more dear immortal part,
      Is not more fondly dear!
    When heart-corroding care and grief
      Deprive my soul of rest,
    Her dear idea brings relief
      And solace to my breast.
        Thou Being, All-seeing,
          O hear my fervent pray’r!
        Still take her, and make her
          Thy most peculiar care!

X.

    All hail, ye tender feelings dear!
    The smile of love, the friendly tear,
      The sympathetic glow!
    Long since, this world’s thorny ways
    Had number’d out my weary days,
      Had it not been for you!
    Fate still has blest me with a friend,
      In every care and ill;
    And oft a more endearing hand,
      A tie more tender still.
        It lightens, it brightens
          The tenebrific scene,
        To meet with, and greet with
          My Davie or my Jean!

XI.

    O, how that name inspires my style
    The words come skelpin, rank and file,
      Amaist before I ken!
    The ready measure rins as fine,
    As Phoebus and the famous Nine
      Were glowrin owre my pen.
    My spaviet Pegasus will limp,
      ‘Till ance he’s fairly het;
    And then he’ll hilch, and stilt, and jimp,
      An’ rin an unco fit:
        But least then, the beast then
          Should rue this hasty ride,
        I’ll light now, and dight now
          His sweaty, wizen’d hide.

by Emily Dickinson

The heart asks pleasure first,
And then, excuse from pain;
And then, those little anodynes
That deaden suffering;

And then, to go to sleep;
And then, if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor,
The liberty to die.

Miss Billy’s Decision, CHAPTER XI

by Eleanor H. Porter

A CLOCK AND AUNT HANNAH
Mrs. Kate Hartwell, the Henshaw brothers’
sister from the West, was expected on the tenth.
Her husband could not come, she had written,
but she would bring with her, little Kate, the
youngest child.  The boys, Paul and Egbert,
would stay with their father.

Billy received the news of little Kate’s coming
with outspoken delight.

“The very thing!” she cried.  “We’ll have
her for a flower girl.  She was a dear little creature,
as I remember her.”

Aunt Hannah gave a sudden low laugh.

“Yes, I remember,” she observed.  “Kate
told me, after you spent the first day with her,
that you graciously informed her that little Kate
was almost as nice as Spunk.  Kate did not fully
appreciate the compliment, I fear.”

Billy made a wry face.

“Did I say that?  Dear me!  I _was_ a terror
in those days, wasn’t I?  But then,” and she
laughed softly, “really, Aunt Hannah, that was
the prettiest thing I knew how to say, for I
considered Spunk the top-notch of desirability.”

“I think I should have liked to know Spunk,”
smiled Marie from the other side of the sewing
table.

“He was a dear,” declared Billy.  “I had
another ‘most as good when I first came to Hillside,
but he got lost.  For a time it seemed as if I never
wanted another, but I’ve about come to the conclusion
now that I do, and I’ve told Bertram to find
one for me if he can.  You see I shall be lonesome
after you’re gone, Marie, and I’ll have to have
_something_,” she finished mischievously.

“Oh, I don’t mind the inference–as long as
I know your admiration of cats,” laughed Marie.

“Let me see; Kate writes she is coming the
tenth,” murmured Aunt Hannah, going back
to the letter in her hand.

“Good!” nodded Billy.  “That will give time
to put little Kate through her paces as flower
girl.”

“Yes, and it will give Big Kate time to _try_ to
make your breakfast a supper, and your roses
pinks–or sunflowers,” cut in a new voice, dryly.

“Cyril!” chorussed the three ladies in horror,
adoration, and amusement–according to whether
the voice belonged to Aunt Hannah, Marie, or
Billy.

Cyril shrugged his shoulders and smiled.

“I beg your pardon,” he apologized; “but
Rosa said you were in here sewing, and I told
her not to bother.  I’d announce myself.  Just
as I got to the door I chanced to hear Billy’s
speech, and I couldn’t resist making the amendment.
Maybe you’ve forgotten Kate’s love of
managing–but I haven’t,” he finished, as he
sauntered over to the chair nearest Marie.

“No, I haven’t–forgotten,” observed Billy,
meaningly.

“Nor I–nor anybody else,” declared a
severe voice–both the words and the severity
being most extraordinary as coming from the
usually gentle Aunt Hannah.

“Oh, well, never mind,” spoke up Billy, quickly.
“Everything’s all right now, so let’s forget it.
She always meant it for kindness, I’m sure.”

“Even when she told you in the first place
what a–er–torment you were to us?” quizzed
Cyril.

“Yes,” flashed Billy.  “She was being kind to
_you_, then.”

“Humph!” vouchsafed Cyril.

For a moment no one spoke.  Cyril’s eyes were
on Marie, who was nervously trying to smooth
back a few fluffy wisps of hair that had escaped
from restraining combs and pins.

“What’s the matter with the hair, little girl?”
asked Cyril in a voice that was caressingly irritable.
“You’ve been fussing with that long-
suffering curl for the last five minutes!”

Marie’s delicate face flushed painfully.

“It’s got loose–my hair,” she stammered,
“and it looks so dowdy that way!”

Billy dropped her thread suddenly.  She sprang
for it at once, before Cyril could make a move to
get it.  She had to dive far under a chair to capture
it–which may explain why her face was so
very red when she finally reached her seat again.
On the morning of the tenth, Billy, Marie, and
Aunt Hannah were once more sewing together,
this time in the little sitting-room at the end of
the hall up-stairs.

Billy’s fingers, in particular, were flying very
fast.

“I told John to have Peggy at the door at
eleven,” she said, after a time; “but I think I
can finish running in this ribbon before then.  I
haven’t much to do to get ready to go.”

“I hope Kate’s train won’t be late,” worried
Aunt Hannah.

“I hope not,” replied Billy; “but I told Rosa
to delay luncheon, anyway, till we get here.  I–”
She stopped abruptly and turned a listening ear
toward the door of Aunt Hannah’s room, which
was open.  A clock was striking.  “Mercy!
that can’t be eleven now,” she cried.  “But it
must be–it was ten before I came up-stairs.”
She got to her feet hurriedly.

Aunt Hannah put out a restraining hand.

“No, no, dear, that’s half-past ten.”

“But it struck eleven.”

“Yes, I know.  It does–at half-past ten.”

“Why, the little wretch,” laughed Billy,
dropping back into her chair and picking up her work
again.  “The idea of its telling fibs like that and
frightening people half out of their lives!  I’ll
have it fixed right away.  Maybe John can do it
–he’s always so handy about such things.”

“But I don’t want it fixed,” demurred Aunt
Hannah.

Billy stared a little.

“You don’t want it fixed!  Maybe you like
to have it strike eleven when it’s half-past ten!”
Billy’s voice was merrily sarcastic.

“Y-yes, I do,” stammered the lady,
apologetically.  “You see, I–I worked very hard to
fix it so it would strike that way.”

“_Aunt Hannah!_”

“Well, I did,” retorted the lady, with
unexpected spirit.  “I wanted to know what time it
was in the night–I’m awake such a lot.”

“But I don’t see.”  Billy’s eyes were perplexed.
“Why must you make it tell fibs in order to–to
find out the truth?” she laughed.

Aunt Hannah elevated her chin a little.

“Because that clock was always striking one.”

“One!”

“Yes–half-past, you know; and I never
knew which half-past it was.”

“But it must strike half-past now, just the
same!”

“It does.”  There was the triumphant ring of
the conqueror in Aunt Hannah’s voice.  “But
now it strikes half-past _on the hour_, and the clock
in the hall tells me _then_ what time it is, so I don’t
care.”

For one more brief minute Billy stared, before
a sudden light of understanding illumined her
face.  Then her laugh rang out gleefully.

“Oh, Aunt Hannah, Aunt Hannah,” she
gurgled.  “If Bertram wouldn’t call you the limit
–making a clock strike eleven so you’ll know it’s
half-past ten!”

Aunt Hannah colored a little, but she stood
her ground.

“Well, there’s only half an hour, anyway, now,
that I don’t know what time it is,” she maintained,
“for one or the other of those clocks strikes the
hour every thirty minutes.  Even during those
never-ending three ones that strike one after
the other in the middle of the night, I can tell
now, for the hall clock has a different sound for
the half-hours, you know, so I can tell whether
it’s one or a half-past.”

“Of course,” chuckled Billy.

“I’m sure I think it’s a splendid idea,” chimed
in Marie, valiantly; “and I’m going to write it
to mother’s Cousin Jane right away.  She’s an
invalid, and she’s always lying awake nights
wondering what time it is.  The doctor says
actually he believes she’d get well if he could find
some way of letting her know the time at night,
so she’d get some sleep; for she simply can’t
go to sleep till she knows.  She can’t bear a light
in the room, and it wakes her all up to turn an
electric switch, or anything of that kind.”

“Why doesn’t she have one of those phosphorous
things?” questioned Billy.

Marie laughed quietly.

“She did.  I sent her one,–and she stood it
just one night.”

“Stood it!”

“Yes.  She declared it gave her the creeps,
and that she wouldn’t have the spooky thing
staring at her all night like that.  So it’s got to
be something she can hear, and I’m going to
tell her Mrs. Stetson’s plan right away.”

“Well, I’m sure I wish you would,” cried that
lady, with prompt interest; “and she’ll like it,
I’m sure.  And tell her if she can hear a _town_
clock strike, it’s just the same, and even better;
for there aren’t any half-hours at all to think of
there.”

“I will–and I think it’s lovely,” declared
Marie.

“Of course it’s lovely,” smiled Billy, rising;
“but I fancy I’d better go and get ready to meet
Mrs. Hartwell, or the `lovely’ thing will be telling
me that it’s half-past eleven!”  And she
tripped laughingly from the room.

Promptly at the appointed time John with
Peggy drew up before the door, and Billy, muffled
in furs, stepped into the car, which, with its
protecting top and sides and glass wind-shield, was
in its winter dress.

“Yes’m, ’tis a little chilly, Miss,” said John,
in answer to her greeting, as he tucked the heavy
robes about her.

“Oh, well, I shall be very comfortable, I’m
sure,” smiled Billy.  “Just don’t drive too rapidly,
specially coming home.  I shall have to get a
limousine, I think, when my ship comes in, John.”

John’s grizzled old face twitched.  So evident
were the words that were not spoken that Billy
asked laughingly:

“Well, John, what is it?”

John reddened furiously.

“Nothing, Miss.  I was only thinkin’ that if
you didn’t ‘tend ter haulin’ in so many other
folks’s ships, yours might get in sooner.”

“Why, John!  Nonsense!  I–I love to haul
in other folks’s ships,” laughed the girl, embarrassedly.

“Yes, Miss; I know you do,” grunted John.

Billy colored.

“No, no–that is, I mean–I don’t do it–
very much,” she stammered.

John did not answer apparently; but Billy
was sure she caught a low-muttered, indignant
“much!” as he snapped the door shut and took
his place at the wheel.

To herself she laughed softly.  She thought she
possessed the secret now of some of John’s
disapproving glances toward her humble guests of
the summer before.

Miss Billy’s Decision, CHAPTER VII

by Eleanor H. Porter

OLD FRIENDS AND NEW
At ten minutes before six on the afternoon of
Arkwright’s arrival, Billy came into the living-
room to welcome the three Henshaw brothers,
who, as was frequently the case, were dining at
Hillside.

Bertram thought Billy had never looked prettier
than she did this afternoon with the bronze sheen
of her pretty house gown bringing out the bronze
lights in her dark eyes and in the soft waves of
her beautiful hair.  Her countenance, too, carried
a peculiar something that the artist’s eye was quick
to detect, and that the artist’s fingers tingled to
put on canvas.

“Jove! Billy,” he said low in her ear, as he
greeted her, “I wish I had a brush in my hand
this minute.  I’d have a `Face of a Girl’ that
would be worth while!”

Billy laughed and dimpled her appreciation;
but down in her heart she was conscious of a
vague unrest.  Billy wished, sometimes, that she
did not so often seem to Bertram–a picture.

She turned to Cyril with outstretched hand.

“Oh, yes, Marie’s coming,” she smiled in
answer to the quick shifting of Cyril’s eyes to the
hall doorway.  “And Aunt Hannah, too.  They’re
up-stairs.”

“And Mary Jane?” demanded William, a
little anxiously

“Will’s getting nervous,” volunteered Bertram,
airily.  “He wants to see Mary Jane.  You see
we’ve told him that we shall expect him to see
that she doesn’t bother us four too much, you
know.  He’s expected always to remove her quietly
but effectually, whenever he sees that she is
likely to interrupt a t<e^>te-<a!>-t<e^>te.  Naturally, then,
Will wants to see Mary Jane.”

Billy began to laugh hysterically.  She dropped
into a chair and raised both her hands, palms
outward.

“Don’t, don’t–please don’t!” she choked,
“or I shall die.  I’ve had all I can stand, already.”

“All you can stand?”

“What do you mean?”

“Is she so–impossible?”  This last was from
Bertram, spoken softly, and with a hurried glance
toward the hall.

Billy dropped her hands and lifted her head.
By heroic effort she pulled her face into sobriety
–all but her eyes–and announced:

“Mary Jane is–a man.”

“Wha-at?”

“A _man!_”

“Billy!”

Three masculine forms sat suddenly erect.

“Yes.  Oh, Uncle William, I know now just
how you felt–I know, I know,” gurgled Billy,
incoherently.  “There he stood with his pink
just as I did–only he had a brown beard, and
he didn’t have Spunk–and I had to telephone
to prepare folks, just as you did.  And the room
–the room!  I fixed the room, too,” she babbled
breathlessly, “only I had curling tongs and hair
pins in it instead of guns and spiders!”

“Child, child! what _are_ you talking about?”
William’s face was red.

“A _man!_–_Mary Jane!_” Cyril was merely
cross.

“Billy, what does this mean?” Bertram had
grown a little white.

Billy began to laugh again, yet she was plainly
trying to control herself.

“I’ll tell you.  I must tell you.  Aunt Hannah
is keeping him up-stairs so I can tell you,” she
panted.  “But it was so funny, when I expected
a girl, you know, to see him with his brown
beard, and he was so tall and big!  And, of course,
it made me think how _I_ came, and was a girl
when you expected a boy; and Mrs. Carleton
had just said to-day that maybe this girl would
even things up.  Oh, it was so funny!”

“Billy, my-my dear,” remonstrated Uncle
William, mildly.

“But what _is_ his name?” demanded Cyril.

“Did the creature sign himself `Mary Jane’?”
exploded Bertram.

“I don’t know his name, except that it’s `M.
J.’–and that’s how he signed the letters.  But
he _is_ called `Mary Jane’ sometimes, and in the
letter he quoted somebody’s speech–I’ve
forgotten just how–but in it he was called `Mary
Jane,’ and, of course, Aunt Hannah took him
for a girl,” explained Billy, grown a little more
coherent now.

“Didn’t he write again?” asked William.

“Yes.”

“Well, why didn’t he correct the mistake,
then?” demanded Bertram.

Billy chuckled.

“He didn’t want to, I guess.  He thought it
was too good a joke.”

“Joke!” scoffed Cyril.

“But, see here, Billy, he isn’t going to live here
–now?” Bertram’s voice was almost savage.

“Oh, no, he isn’t going to live here–now,”
interposed smooth tones from the doorway.

“Mr.–Arkwright!” breathed Billy, confusedly.

Three crimson-faced men sprang to their feet.
The situation, for a moment, threatened embarrassed
misery for all concerned; but Arkwright,
with a cheery smile, advanced straight toward
Bertram, and held out a friendly hand.

“The proverbial fate of listeners,” he said
easily; “but I don’t blame you at all.  No,
`he’ isn’t going to live here,” he went on,
grasping each brother’s hand in turn, as Billy
murmured faint introductions; “and what is more,
he hereby asks everybody’s pardon for the annoyance
his little joke has caused.  He might add
that he’s heartily-ashamed of himself, as well;
but if any of you–”  Arkwright turned to the
three tall men still standing by their chairs–
“if any of you had suffered what he has at the
hands of a swarm of youngsters for that name’s
sake, you wouldn’t blame him for being tempted
to get what fun he could out of Mary Jane–if
there ever came a chance!”

Naturally, after this, there could be nothing
stiff or embarrassing.  Billy laughed in relief,
and motioned Mr. Arkwright to a seat near her.
William said “Of course, of course!” and shook
hands again.  Bertram and Cyril laughed
shamefacedly and sat down.  Somebody said:  “But
what does the `M. J.’ stand for, anyhow?”
Nobody answered this, however; perhaps
because Aunt Hannah and Marie appeared just
then in the doorway.

Dinner proved to be a lively meal.  In the
newcomer, Bertram met his match for wit and satire;
and “Mr. Mary Jane,” as he was promptly called
by every one but Aunt Hannah, was found to
be a most entertaining guest.

After dinner somebody suggested music.

Cyril frowned, and got up abruptly.  Still
frowning, he turned to a bookcase near him and
began to take down and examine some of the
books.

Bertram twinkled and glanced at Billy.

“Which is it, Cyril?” he called with cheerful
impertinence; “stool, piano, or audience that is
the matter to-night?”

Only a shrug from Cyril answered.

“You see,” explained Bertram, jauntily, to
Arkwright, whose eyes were slightly puzzled,
“Cyril never plays unless the piano and the pedals
and the weather and your ears and my watch
and his fingers are just right!”

“Nonsense!” scorned Cyril, dropping his book
and walking back to his chair.  “I don’t feel
like playing to-night; that’s all.”

“You see,” nodded Bertram again.

“I see,” bowed Arkwright with quiet amusement.

“I believe–Mr. Mary Jane–sings,” observed
Billy, at this point, demurely.

“Why, yes, of course, ‘ chimed in Aunt Hannah
with some nervousness.  “That’s what she–I
mean he–was coming to Boston for–to study
music.”

Everybody laughed.

“Won’t you sing, please?” asked Billy.  “Can
you–without your notes?  I have lots of songs
if you want them.”

For a moment–but only a moment–Arkwright
hesitated; then he rose and went to the
piano.

With the easy sureness of the trained musician
his fingers dropped to the keys and slid into
preliminary chords and arpeggios to test the touch of
the piano; then, with a sweetness and purity that
made every listener turn in amazed delight, a
well-trained tenor began the “Thro’ the leaves
the night winds moving,” of Schubert’s Serenade.

Cyril’s chin had lifted at the first tone.  He was
listening now with very obvious pleasure.  Bertram,
too, was showing by his attitude the keenest
appreciation.  William and Aunt Hannah, resting
back in their chairs, were contentedly nodding their
approval to each other.  Marie in her corner was
motionless with rapture.  As to Billy–Billy
was plainly oblivious of everything but the song
and the singer.  She seemed scarcely to move or
to breathe till the song’s completion; then there
came a low “Oh, how beautiful!” through her
parted lips.

Bertram, looking at her, was conscious of a
vague irritation.

“Arkwright, you’re a lucky dog,” he declared
almost crossly.  “I wish I could sing like that!”

“I wish I could paint a `Face of a Girl,’ ”
smiled the tenor as he turned from the piano.

“Oh, but, Mr. Arkwright, don’t stop,” objected
Billy, springing to her feet and going to her music
cabinet by the piano.  “There’s a little song
of Nevin’s I want you to sing.  There, here it is.
Just let me play it for you.”  And she slipped into
the place the singer had just left.

It was the beginning of the end.  After Nevin
came De Koven, and after De Koven, Gounod.
Then came Nevin again, Billy still playing the
accompaniment.  Next followed a duet.  Billy
did not consider herself much of a singer, but her
voice was sweet and true, and not without training.
It blended very prettily with the clear, pure
tenor.

William and Aunt Hannah still smiled contentedly
in their chairs, though Aunt Hannah had
reached for the pink shawl near her–the music
had sent little shivers down her spine.  Cyril,
with Marie, had slipped into the little reception-
room across the hall, ostensibly to look at some
plans for a house, although–as everybody
knew–they were not intending to build for a
year.

Bertram, still sitting stiffly erect in his chair,
was not conscious of a vague irritation now.
He was conscious of a very real, and a very
decided one–an irritation that was directed against
himself, against Billy, and against this man,
Arkwright; but chiefly against music, _#per se_.  He
hated music.  He wished he could sing.  He
wondered how long it took to teach a man to sing,
anyhow; and he wondered if a man could sing–
who never had sung.

At this point the duet came to an end, and Billy
and her guest left the piano.  Almost at once,
after this, Arkwright made his very graceful
adieus, and went off with his suit-case to the hotel
where, as he had informed Aunt Hannah, his room
was already engaged.

William went home then, and Aunt Hannah
went up-stairs.  Cyril and Marie withdrew into
a still more secluded corner to look at their plans,
and Bertram found himself at last alone with
Billy.  He forgot, then, in the blissful hour he
spent with her before the open fire, how he hated
music; though he did say, just before he went
home that night:

“Billy, how long does it take–to learn to
sing?”

“Why, I don’t know, I’m sure,” replied Billy,
abstractedly; then, with sudden fervor:  “Oh,
Bertram, hasn’t Mr. Mary Jane a beautiful
voice?”

Bertram wished then he had not asked the
question; but all he said was:

“ `Mr. Mary Jane,’ indeed!  What an absurd
name!”

“But doesn’t he sing beautifully?”

“Eh?  Oh, yes, he sings all right,” said
Bertram’s tongue.  Bertram’s manner said:  “Oh,
yes, anybody can sing.”

by Emily Dickinson

Glee! The great storm is over!
Four have recovered the land;
Forty gone down together
Into the boiling sand.

Ring, for the scant salvation!
Toll, for the bonnie souls, –
Neighbor and friend and bridegroom,
Spinning upon the shoals!

How they will tell the shipwreck
When winter shakes the door,
Till the children ask, “But the forty?
Did they come back no more?”

Then a silence suffuses the story,
And a softness the teller’s eye;
And the children no further question,
And only the waves reply.

Eulalie

by Edgar Allan Poe
               I dwelt alone
               In a world of moan,
           And my soul was a stagnant tide,
  Till the fair and gentle Eulalie became my blushing bride–
  Till the yellow-haired young Eulalie became my smiling bride.
               Ah, less–less bright
               The stars of the night
           Than the eyes of the radiant girl!
               And never a flake
               That the vapor can make
           With the moon-tints of purple and pearl,
  Can vie with the modest Eulalie’s most unregarded curl–
  Can compare with the bright-eyed Eulalie’s most humble and careless
    curl.
               Now Doubt–now Pain
               Come never again,
           For her soul gives me sigh for sigh,
               And all day long
               Shines, bright and strong,
           Astarté within the sky,
  While ever to her dear Eulalie upturns her matron eye–
  While ever to her young Eulalie upturns her violet eye.

Bed in Summer

by Robert Louis Stevenson

In winter I get up at night,
And dress by yellow candle light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people’s feet,
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

Imitation

by Edgar Allan Poe
  A dark unfathomed tide
  Of interminable pride–
  A mystery, and a dream,
  Should my early life seem;
  I say that dream was fraught
  With a wild and waking thought
  Of beings that have been,
  Which my spirit hath not seen,
  Had I let them pass me by,
  With a dreaming eye!
  Let none of earth inherit
  That vision on my spirit;
  Those thoughts I would control,
  As a spell upon his soul:
  For that bright hope at last
  And that light time have past,
  And my wordly rest hath gone
  With a sigh as it passed on:
  I care not though it perish
  With a thought I then did cherish.

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