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Silence

by Edgar Allan Poe
  There are some qualities–some incorporate things,
    That have a double life, which thus is made
  A type of that twin entity which springs
    From matter and light, evinced in solid and shade.
  There is a twofold Silence–sea and shore–
    Body and soul. One dwells in lonely places,
    Newly with grass o’ergrown; some solemn graces,
  Some human memories and tearful lore,
  Render him terrorless: his name’s “No More.”
  He is the corporate Silence: dread him not!
    No power hath he of evil in himself;
  But should some urgent fate (untimely lot!)
    Bring thee to meet his shadow (nameless elf,
  That haunteth the lone regions where hath trod
  No foot of man), commend thyself to God!

Sonnet to Lake Leman

by Lord Byron

    Rousseau–Voltaire–our Gibbon–and De Stael–
      Leman! these names are worthy of thy shore,
      Thy shore of names like these! wert thou no more,
    Their memory thy remembrance would recall:
    To them thy banks were lovely as to all,
      But they have made them lovelier, for the lore
      Of mighty minds doth hallow in the core
    Of human hearts the ruin of a wall
      Where dwelt the wise and wondrous; but by thee
    How much more, Lake of Beauty! do we feel,
      In sweetly gliding o’er thy crystal sea,
    The wild glow of that not ungentle zeal,
      Which of the Heirs of Immortality
    Is proud, and makes the breath of Glory real!

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.

Dreamland

by Edgar Allan Poe
  By a route obscure and lonely,
  Haunted by ill angels only,
  Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
  On a black throne reigns upright,
  I have reached these lands but newly
  From an ultimate dim Thule–
  From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime,
    Out of SPACE–out of TIME.

  Bottomless vales and boundless floods,
  And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods,
  With forms that no man can discover
  For the dews that drip all over;
  Mountains toppling evermore
  Into seas without a shore;
  Seas that restlessly aspire,
  Surging, unto skies of fire;
  Lakes that endlessly outspread
  Their lone waters–lone and dead,
  Their still waters–still and chilly
  With the snows of the lolling lily.

  By the lakes that thus outspread
  Their lone waters, lone and dead,–
  Their sad waters, sad and chilly
  With the snows of the lolling lily,–

  By the mountains–near the river
  Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,–
  By the gray woods,–by the swamp
  Where the toad and the newt encamp,–
  By the dismal tarns and pools
    Where dwell the Ghouls,–
  By each spot the most unholy–
  In each nook most melancholy,–

  There the traveller meets aghast
  Sheeted Memories of the past–
  Shrouded forms that start and sigh
  As they pass the wanderer by–
  White-robed forms of friends long given,
  In agony, to the Earth–and Heaven.

  For the heart whose woes are legion
  ‘Tis a peaceful, soothing region–
  For the spirit that walks in shadow
  ‘Tis–oh, ’tis an Eldorado!
  But the traveller, travelling through it,
  May not–dare not openly view it;
  Never its mysteries are exposed
  To the weak human eye unclosed;
  So wills its King, who hath forbid
  The uplifting of the fringed lid;
  And thus the sad Soul that here passes
  Beholds it but through darkened glasses.

  By a route obscure and lonely,
  Haunted by ill angels only.

  Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
  On a black throne reigns upright,
  I have wandered home but newly
  From this ultimate dim Thule.

Miss Billy’s Decision, CHAPTER VIII

by Eleanor H. Porter

M. J. OPENS THE GAME
On the morning after Cyril’s first concert of
the season, Billy sat sewing with Aunt Hannah
in the little sitting-room at the end of the hall
upstairs.  Aunt Hannah wore only one shawl this
morning,–which meant that she was feeling
unusually well.

“Marie ought to be here to mend these stockings,”
remarked Billy, as she critically examined
a tiny break in the black silk mesh stretched across
the darning-egg in her hand; “only she’d want
a bigger hole.  She does so love to make a beautiful
black latticework bridge across a yawning white
china sea–and you’d think the safety of an
army depended on the way each plank was laid,
too,” she concluded.

Aunt Hannah smiled tranquilly, but she did
not speak.

“I suppose you don’t happen to know if Cyril
does wear big holes in his socks,” resumed Billy,
after a moment’s silence.  “If you’ll believe it,
that thought popped into my head last night when
Cyril was playing that concerto so superbly.  It
did, actually–right in the middle of the adagio
movement, too.  And in spite of my joy and pride
in the music I had all I could do to keep from
nudging Marie right there and then and asking
her whether or not the dear man was hard on
his hose.”

“Billy!” gasped the shocked Aunt Hannah;
but the gasp broke at once into what–in Aunt
Hannah–passed for a chuckle.  “If I remember
rightly, when I was there at the house with you
at first, my dear, William told me that Cyril
wouldn’t wear any sock after it came to mending.”

“Horrors!” Billy waved her stocking in
mock despair.  “That will never do in the world.
It would break Marie’s heart.  You know how she
dotes on darning.”

“Yes, I know,” smiled Aunt Hannah.  “By
the way, where is she this morning?”

Billy raised her eyebrows quizzically.

“Gone to look at an apartment in Cambridge, I
believe.  Really, Aunt Hannah, between her home-
hunting in the morning, and her furniture-and-
rug hunting in the afternoon, and her poring over
house-plans in the evening, I can’t get her to
attend to her clothes at all.  Never did I see a
bride so utterly indifferent to her trousseau as
Marie Hawthorn–and her wedding less than
a month away!”

“But she’s been shopping with you once or
twice, since she came back, hasn’t she?  And she
said it was for her trousseau.”

Billy laughed.

“Her trousseau!  Oh, yes, it was.  I’ll tell you
what she got for her trousseau that first day.
We started out to buy two hats, some lace for
her wedding gown, some cr<e^>pe de Chine and net
for a little dinner frock, and some silk for a couple
of waists to go with her tailored suit; and what did
we get?  We purchased a new-style egg-beater and
a set of cake tins.  Marie got into the kitchen
department and I simply couldn’t get her out of it.
But the next day I was not to be inveigled below
stairs by any plaintive prayer for a nutmeg-
grater or a soda spoon.  She _shopped_ that day, and
to some purpose.  We accomplished lots.”

Aunt Hannah looked a little concerned.

“But she must have _some_ things started!”

“Oh, she has–’most everything now.  _I’ve_
seen to that.  Of course her outfit is very simple,
anyway.  Marie hasn’t much money, you know,
and she simply won’t let me do half what I want
to.  Still, she had saved up some money, and I’ve
finally convinced her that a trousseau doesn’t
consist of egg-beaters and cake tins, and that
Cyril would want her to look pretty.  That name
will fetch her every time, and I’ve learned to
use it beautifully.  I think if I told her Cyril
approved of short hair and near-sightedness she’d
I cut off her golden locks and don spectacles on the
spot.”

Aunt Hannah laughed softly.

“What a child you are, Billy!  Besides, just
as if Marie were the only one in the house who is
ruled by a magic name!”

The color deepened in Billy’s cheeks.

“Well, of course, any girl–cares something–
for the man she loves.  Just as if I wouldn’t do
anything in the world I could for Bertram!”

“Oh, that makes me think; who was that young
woman Bertram was talking with last evening–
just after he left us, I mean?”

“Miss Winthrop–Miss Marguerite Winthrop.
Bertram is–is painting her portrait, you know.”

“Oh, is that the one?” murmured Aunt
Hannah.  “Hm-m; well, she has a beautiful face.”

“Yes, she has.”  Billy spoke very cheerfully.
She even hummed a little tune as she carefully
selected a needle from the cushion in her basket.

“There’s a peculiar something in her face,”
mused Aunt Hannah, aloud.

The little tune stopped abruptly, ending in a
nervous laugh.

“Dear me!  I wonder how it feels to have a
peculiar something in your face.  Bertram, too,
says she has it.  He’s trying to `catch it,’ he says.
I wonder now–if he does catch it, does she lose
it?”  Flippant as were the words, the voice that
uttered them shook a little.

Aunt Hannah smiled indulgently–Aunt Hannah
had heard only the flippancy, not the shake.

“I don’t know, my dear.  You might ask him
this afternoon.”

Billy made a sudden movement.  The china
egg in her lap rolled to the floor.

“Oh, but I don’t see him this afternoon,” she
said lightly, as she stooped to pick up the egg.

“Why, I’m sure he told me–”  Aunt Hannah’s
sentence ended in a questioning pause.

“Yes, I know,” nodded Billy, brightly; “but
he’s told me something since.  He isn’t going.
He telephoned me this morning.  Miss Winthrop
wanted the sitting changed from to-morrow to
this afternoon.  He said he knew I’d understand.”

“Why, yes; but–”  Aunt Hannah did not
finish her sentence.  The whir of an electric bell
had sounded through the house.  A few moments
later Rosa appeared in the open doorway.

“It,’s Mr. Arkwright, Miss.  He said as how
he had brought the music,” she announced.

“Tell him I’ll be down at once,” directed the
mistress of Hillside.

As the maid disappeared, Billy put aside her
work and sprang lightly to her feet.

“Now wasn’t that nice of him?  We were
talking last night about some duets he had, and he
said he’d bring them over.  I didn’t know he’d
come so soon, though.”

Billy had almost reached the bottom of the
stairway, when a low, familiar strain of music drifted
out from the living-room.  Billy caught her breath,
and held her foot suspended.  The next moment
the familiar strain of music had become a lullaby
–one of Billy’s own–and sung now by a melting
tenor voice that lingered caressingly and
understandingly on every tender cadence.

Motionless and almost breathless, Billy waited
until the last low “lul-la-by” vibrated into
silence; then with shining eyes and outstretched
hands she entered the living-room.

“Oh, that was–beautiful,” she breathed.

Arkwright was on his feet instantly.  His eyes,
too, were alight.

“I could not resist singing it just once–
here,” he said a little unsteadily, as their hands
met.

“But to hear my little song sung like that!
I couldn’t believe it was mine,” choked Billy,
still plainly very much moved.  “You sang it as
I’ve never heard it sung before.”

Arkwright shook his head slowly.

“The inspiration of the room–that is all,”,
he said.  “It is a beautiful song.  All of your songs
are beautiful.”

Billy blushed rosily.

“Thank you.  You know–more of them,
then?”

“I think I know them all–unless you have
some new ones out.  Have you some new ones,
lately?”

Billy shook her head.

“No; I haven’t written anything since last
spring.”

“But you’re going to?”

She drew a long sigh.

“Yes, oh, yes.  I know that _now_–”  With a
swift biting of her lower lip Billy caught herself
up in time.  As if she could tell this man, this
stranger, what she had told Bertram that night
by the fire–that she knew that now, _now_ she
would write beautiful songs, with his love, and
his pride in her, as incentives.  “Oh, yes, I think
I shall write more one of these days,” she finished
lightly.  “But come, this isn’t singing duets!  I
want to see the music you brought.”

They sang then, one after another of the duets.
To Billy, the music was new and interesting.
To Billy, too, it was new (and interesting) to hear
her own voice blending with another’s so perfectly
–to feel herself a part of such exquisite harmony.

“Oh, oh!” she breathed ecstatically, after the
last note of a particularly beautiful phrase.  “I
never knew before how lovely it was to sing
duets.”

“Nor I,” replied Arkwright in a voice that was
not quite steady.

Arkwright’s eyes were on the enraptured face
of the girl so near him.  It was well, perhaps,
that Billy did not happen to turn and catch their
expression.  Still, it might have been better if
she had turned, after all.  But Billy’s eyes were
on the music before her.  Her fingers were busy
with the fluttering pages, searching for another
duet.

“Didn’t you?” she murmured abstractedly.
“I supposed _you’d_ sung them before; but you
see I never did–until the other night.  There,
let’s try this one!”

“This one” was followed by another and
another.  Then Billy drew a long breath.

“There! that must positively be the last,”
she declared reluctantly.  “I’m so hoarse now
I can scarcely croak.  You see, I don’t pretend
to sing, really.”

“Don’t you?  You sing far better than some
who do, anyhow,”retorted the man, warmly.

“Thank you,” smiled Billy; “that was nice
of you to say so–for my sake–and the others
aren’t here to care.  But tell me of yourself.  I
haven’t had a chance to ask you yet; and–I
think you said Mary Jane was going to study for
Grand Opera.”

Arkwright laughed and shrugged his shoulders.

“She is; but, as I told Calderwell, she’s quite
likely to bring up in vaudeville.”

“Calderwell!  Do you mean–Hugh Calderwell?”
Billy’s cheeks showed a deeper color.

The man gave an embarrassed little laugh.  He
had not meant to let that name slip out just yet.

“Yes.”  He hesitated, then plunged on
recklessly.  “We tramped half over Europe together
last summer.”

“Did you?”  Billy left her seat at the piano
for one nearer the fire.  “But this isn’t telling
me about your own plans,” she hurried on a little
precipitately.  “You’ve studied before, of course.
Your voice shows that.”

“Oh, yes; I’ve studied singing several years,
and I’ve had a year or two of church work,
besides a little concert practice of a mild sort.”

“Have you begun here, yet?”

“Y-yes, I’ve had my voice tried.”

Billy sat erect with eager interest.

“They liked it, of course?”

Arkwright laughed.

“I’m not saying that.”

“No, but I am,” declared Billy, with conviction.
“They couldn’t help liking it.”

Arkwright laughed again.  Just how well they
had “liked it” he did not intend to say.  Their
remarks had been quite too flattering to repeat
even to this very plainly interested young woman
–delightful and heart-warming as was this same
show of interest, to himself.

“Thank you,” was all he said.

Billy gave an excited little bounce in her
chair.

“And you’ll begin to learn r<o^>les right away?”

“I already have, some–after a fashion–before
I came here.”

“Really?  How splendid!  Why, then you’ll
be acting them next right on the Boston Opera
House stage, and we’ll all go to hear you.  How
perfectly lovely!  I can hardly wait.”

Arkwright laughed–but his eyes glowed with
pleasure.

“Aren’t you hurrying things a little?” he
ventured.

“But they do let the students appear,”
argued Billy.  “I knew a girl last year who went on

in `Aida,’ and she was a pupil at the School.
She sang first in a Sunday concert, then they put
her in the bill for a Saturday night.  She did
splendidly–so well that they gave her a chance
later at a subscription performance.  Oh, you’ll
be there–and soon, too!”

“Thank you!  I only wish the powers that
could put me there had your flattering enthusiasm
on the matter,” he smiled.

“I don’t worry any,” nodded Billy, “only
please don’t `arrive’ too soon–not before the
wedding, you know,” she added jokingly.  “We
shall be too busy to give you proper attention
until after that.”

A peculiar look crossed Arkwright’s face.

“The–_wedding?_” he asked, a little faintly.

“Yes.  Didn’t you know?  My friend, Miss
Hawthorn, is to marry Mr. Cyril Henshaw next
month.”

The man opposite relaxed visibly.

“Oh, _Miss Hawthorn!_  No, I didn’t know,”
he murmured; then, with sudden astonishment
he added:  “And to Mr. Cyril, the musician,
did you say?”

“Yes.  You seem surprised.”

“I am.”  Arkwright paused, then went on
almost defiantly.  “You see, Calderwell was
telling me only last September how very
unmarriageable all the Henshaw brothers were.  So
I am surprised–naturally,” finished Arkwright,
as he rose to take his leave.

A swift crimson stained Billy’s face.

“But surely you must know that–that–”

“That he has a right to change his mind, of
course,” supplemented Arkwright smilingly,
coming to her rescue in the evident confusion that
would not let her finish her sentence.  “But
Calderwell made it so emphatic, you see, about
all the brothers.  He said that William had lost
his heart long ago; that Cyril hadn’t any to lose;
and that Bertram–”

“But, Mr. Arkwright, Bertram is–is–”
Billy had moistened her lips, and plunged hurriedly
in to prevent Arkwright’s next words.  But again
was she unable to finish her sentence, and again
was she forced to listen to a very different
completion from the smiling lips of the man at her
side.

“Is an artist, of course,” said Arkwright.
“That’s what Calderwell declared–that it
would always be the tilt of a chin or the curve
of a cheek that the artist loved–to paint.”

Billy drew back suddenly.  Her face paled.
As if _now_ she could tell this man that Bertram
Henshaw was engaged to her!  He would find it
out soon, of course, for himself; and perhaps he,
like Hugh Calderwell, would think it was the
curve of _her_ cheek, or the tilt of _her_ chin–

Billy lifted her chin very defiantly now as she
held out her hand in good-by.

The Lost Dr. Seuss Poem – I Love My Job!

I Love My Job!

I received this poem one day in my email.  I found copies of it as far back as the year 2000, but was unable to identify it’s origin.

by Emily Dickinson

The brain within its groove
Runs evenly and true;
But let a splinter swerve,
‘T were easier for you
To put the water back
When floods have slit the hills,
And scooped a turnpike for themselves,
And blotted out the mills!

by Emily Dickinson

Have you got a brook in your little heart,
Where bashful flowers blow,
And blushing birds go down to drink,
And shadows tremble so?

And nobody knows, so still it flows,
That any brook is there;
And yet your little draught of life
Is daily drunken there.

Then look out for the little brook in March,
When the rivers overflow,
And the snows come hurrying from the hills,
And the bridges often go.

And later, in August it may be,
When the meadows parching lie,
Beware, lest this little brook of life
Some burning noon go dry!

Mine

by Emily Dickinson

Mine by the right of the white election!
Mine by the royal seal!
Mine by the sign in the scarlet prison
Bars cannot conceal!

Mine, here in vision and in veto!
Mine, by the grave’s repeal
Titled, confirmed, — delirious charter!
Mine, while the ages steal!

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.”

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