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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.

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.

Song of the Croaker

by Horatio Alger, Jr.

An old frog lived in a dismal swamp,
  In a dismal kind of way;
And all that he did, whatever befell,
  Was to croak the livelong day.
Croak, croak, croak,
  When darkness filled the air,
And croak, croak, croak,
  When the skies were bright and fair.

“Good Master Frog, a battle is fought,
  And the foeman’s power is broke.”
But he only turned a greener hue,
  And answered with a croak.
Croak, croak, croak,
  When the clouds are dark and dun,
And croak, croak, croak,
  In the blaze of the noontide sun.

“Good Master Frog, the forces of right
  Are driving the hosts of wrong.”
But he gave his head an ominous shake,
  And croaked out, “Nous verrons!”
Croak, croak, croak,
  Till the heart is full of gloom,
And croak, croak, croak,
  Till the world seems but a tomb.

To poison the cup of life,
  By always dreading the worst.
Is to make of the earth a dungeon damp,
  And the happiest life accursed.
Croak, croak, croak,
  When the noontide sun rides high,
And croak, croak, croak,
  Lest the night come by and by.

Farewell to the dismal frog;
  Let him croak as loud as he may,
He cannot blot the sun from heaven,
  Nor hinder the march of day,
Though he croak, croak, croak,
  Till the heart is full of gloom,
And croak, croak, croak,
  Till the world seems but a tomb.

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.

Miss Billy’s Decision, CHAPTER V

by Eleanor H. Porter

MARIE SPEAKS HER MIND
Billy with John and Peggy met Marie Hawthorn
at the station.  “Peggy” was short for
“Pegasus,” and was what Billy always called
her luxurious, seven-seated touring car.

“I simply won’t call it `automobile,’ ” she
had declared when she bought it.  “In the first
place, it takes too long to say it, and in the second
place, I don’t want to add one more to the nineteen
different ways to pronounce it that I hear
all around me every day now.  As for calling it
my `car,’ or my `motor car’–I should expect
to see a Pullman or one of those huge black trucks
before my door, if I ordered it by either of those
names.  Neither will I insult the beautiful thing
by calling it a `machine.’  Its name is Pegasus.
I shall call it `Peggy.’ ”

And “Peggy” she called it.  John sniffed his
disdain, and Billy’s friends made no secret of
their amused tolerance; but, in an astonishingly
short time, half the automobile owners of her
acquaintance were calling their own cars “Peggy”;
and even the dignified John himself was heard to
order “some gasoline for Peggy,” quite as a
matter of course.

When Marie Hawthorn stepped from the train
at the North Station she greeted Billy with
affectionate warmth, though at once her blue eyes
swept the space beyond expectantly and eagerly.

Billy’s lips curved in a mischievous smile.

“No, he didn’t come,” she said.  “He didn’t
want to–a little bit.”

Marie grew actually pale.

“Didn’t _want_ to!” she stammered.

Billy gave her a spasmodic hug.

“Goosey!  No, he didn’t–a _little_ bit; but
he did a great _big_ bit.  As if you didn’t know he
was dying to come, Marie!  But he simply
couldn’t–something about his concert Monday
night.  He told me over the telephone; but
between his joy that you were coming, and his
rage that he couldn’t see you the first minute
you did come, I couldn’t quite make out what was
the trouble.  But he’s coming to dinner to-night,
so he’ll doubtless tell you all about it.”

Marie sighed her relief.

“Oh, that’s all right then.  I was afraid he
was sick–when I didn’t see him.”

Billy laughed softly.

“No, he isn’t sick, Marie; but you needn’t go
away again before the wedding–not to leave
him on my hands.  I wouldn’t have believed
Cyril Henshaw, confirmed old bachelor and
avowed woman-hater, could have acted the part
of a love-sick boy as he has the last week or
two.”

The rose-flush on Marie’s cheek spread to the
roots of her fine yellow hair.

“Billy, dear, he–he didn’t!”

“Marie, dear–he–he did!”

Marie laughed.  She did not say anything,
but the rose-flush deepened as she occupied herself
very busily in getting her trunk-check from
the little hand bag she carried.

Cyril was not mentioned again until the two
girls, veils tied and coats buttoned, were snugly
ensconced in the tonneau, and Peggy’s nose was
turned toward home.  Then Billy asked:

“Have you settled on where you’re going to
live?”

“Not quite.  We’re going to talk of that
to-night; but we _do_ know that we aren’t going
to live at the Strata.”

“Marie!”

Marie stirred uneasily at the obvious
disappointment and reproach in her friend’s voice.

“But, dear, it wouldn’t be wise, I’m sure,”
she argued hastily.  “There will be you and
Bertram–”

“We sha’n't be there for a year, nearly,” cut
in Billy, with swift promptness.  “Besides, I
think it would be lovely–all together.”

Marie smiled, but she shook her head.

“Lovely–but not practical, dear.”

Billy laughed ruefully.

“I know; you’re worrying about those puddings
of yours.  You’re afraid somebody is going to
interfere with your making quite so many as you
want to; and Cyril is worrying for fear there’ll
be somebody else in the circle of his shaded lamp
besides his little Marie with the light on her hair,
and the mending basket by her side.”

“Billy, what are you talking about?”

Billy threw a roguish glance into her friend’s
amazed blue eyes.

“Oh, just a little picture Cyril drew once for
me of what home meant for him: a room with
a table and a shaded lamp, and a little woman
beside it with the light on her hair and a great
basket of sewing by her side.”

Marie’s eyes softened.

“Did he say–that?”

“Yes.  Oh, he declared he shouldn’t want her
to sit under that lamp all the time, of course;
but he hoped she’d like that sort of thing.”

Marie threw a quick glance at the stolid back
of John beyond the two empty seats in front of
them.  Although she knew he could not hear her
words, instinctively she lowered her voice.

“Did you know–then–about–me?” she
asked, with heightened color.

“No, only that there was a girl somewhere
who, he hoped, would sit under the lamp some
day.  And when I asked him if the girl did like
that sort of thing, he said yes, he thought so;
for she had told him once that the things she liked
best of all to do were to mend stockings and
make puddings.  Then I knew, of course, ’twas
you, for I’d heard you say the same thing.  So
I sent him right along out to you in the summer-
house.”

The pink flush on Marie’s face grew to a red
one.  Her blue eyes turned again to John’s broad
back, then drifted to the long, imposing line of
windowed walls and doorways on the right.  The
automobile was passing smoothly along Beacon
Street now with the Public Garden just behind
them on the left.  After a moment Marie turned
to Billy again.

“I’m so glad he wants–just puddings and
stockings,” she began a little breathlessly.  “You
see, for so long I supposed he _wouldn’t_ want anything
but a very brilliant, talented wife who could
play and sing beautifully; a wife he’d be proud
of–like you.”

“Me?  Nonsense!” laughed Billy.  “Cyril
never wanted me, and I never wanted him–only
once for a few minutes, so to speak, when I thought,
I did.  In spite of our music, we aren’t a mite
congenial.  I like people around; he doesn’t.
I like to go to plays; he doesn’t.  He likes rainy
days, and I abhor them.  Mercy!  Life with me
for him would be one long jangling discord, my
love, while with you it’ll be one long sweet song!”

Marie drew a deep breath.  Her eyes were fixed
on a point far ahead up the curveless street.

“I hope it will, indeed!” she breathed.

Not until they were almost home did Billy
say suddenly:

“Oh, did Cyril write you?  A young relative
of Aunt Hannah’s is coming to-morrow to stay
a while at the house.”

“Er–yes, Cyril told me,” admitted Marie.

Billy smiled.

“Didn’t like it, I suppose; eh?” she queried
shrewdly.

“N-no, I’m afraid he didn’t–very well .  He
said she’d be–one more to be around.”

“There, what did I tell you?” dimpled Billy.
“You can see what you’re coming to when you
do get that shaded lamp and the mending basket!”

A moment later, coming in sight of the house,
Billy saw a tall, smooth-shaven man standing on
the porch.  The man lifted his hat and waved it
gayly, baring a slightly bald head to the sun.

“It’s Uncle William–bless his heart!” cried
Billy.  “They’re all coming to dinner, then he
and Aunt Hannah and Bertram and I are going
down to the Hollis Street Theatre and let you and
Cyril have a taste of what that shaded lamp is
going to be.  I hope you won’t be lonesome,”
she finished mischievously, as the car drew up
before the door.

Lenore

by Edgar Allan Poe
  Ah, broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever!
  Let the bell toll!–a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river.
  And, Guy de Vere, hast _thou_ no tear?–weep now or never more!
  See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
  Come! let the burial rite be read–the funeral song be sung!–
  An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young–
  A dirge for her, the doubly dead in that she died so young.

  “Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride,
  And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her–that she died!
  How _shall_ the ritual, then, be read?–the requiem how be sung
  By you–by yours, the evil eye,–by yours, the slanderous tongue
  That did to death the innocence that died, and died so young?”

  _Peccavimus;_ but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song
  Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel no wrong!
  The sweet Lenore hath “gone before,” with Hope, that flew beside,
  Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride–
  For her, the fair and _débonnaire_, that now so lowly lies,
  The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes–
  The life still there, upon her hair–the death upon her eyes.

  “Avaunt! to-night my heart is light. No dirge will I upraise,
  But waft the angel on her flight with a pæan of old days!
  Let _no_ bell toll!–lest her sweet soul, amid its hallowed mirth,
  Should catch the note, as it doth float up from the damned Earth.
  To friends above, from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven–
  From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven–
  From grief and groan to a golden throne beside the King of Heaven.”

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.–

Jabberwocky

by
Lewis Carroll

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought.
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through, and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh, frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

‘T was brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Miss Billy’s Decision, CHAPTER VI

by Eleanor H. Porter

AT THE SIGN OF THE PINK
After a week of beautiful autumn weather,
Thursday dawned raw and cold.  By noon an
east wind had made the temperature still more
uncomfortable.

At two o’clock Aunt Hannah tapped at Billy’s
chamber door.  She showed a troubled face to
the girl who answered her knock.

“Billy, _would_ you mind very much if I asked
you to go alone to the Carletons’ and to meet
Mary Jane?” she inquired anxiously.

“Why, no–that is, of course I should _mind_,
dear, because I always like to have you go to
places with me.  But it isn’t necessary.  You
aren’t sick; are you?”

“N-no, not exactly; but I have been sneezing
all the morning, and taking camphor and sugar
to break it up–if it is a cold.  But it is so raw
and Novemberish out, that–”

“Why, of course you sha’n't go, you poor
dear!  Mercy! don’t get one of those dreadful
colds on to you before the wedding!  Have you felt
a draft?  Where’s another shawl?”  Billy turned
and cast searching eyes about the room–Billy
always kept shawls everywhere for Aunt Hannah’s
shoulders and feet.  Bertram had been known
to say, indeed, that a room, according to Aunt
Hannah, was not fully furnished unless it contained
from one to four shawls, assorted as to size
and warmth.  Shawls, certainly, did seem to be
a necessity with Aunt Hannah, as she usually
wore from one to three at the same time–which
again caused Bertram to declare that he always
counted Aunt Hannah’s shawls when he wished
to know what the thermometer was.

“No, I’m not cold, and I haven’t felt a draft,”
said Aunt Hannah now.  “I put on my thickest
gray shawl this morning with the little pink one
for down-stairs, and the blue one for breakfast;
so you see I’ve been very careful.  But I _have_
sneezed six times, so I think ‘twould be safer not
to go out in this east wind.  You were going to
stop for Mrs. Granger, anyway, weren’t you?
So you’ll have her with you for the tea.”

“Yes, dear, don’t worry.  I’ll take your cards
and explain to Mrs. Carleton and her daughters.”

“And, of course, as far as Mary Jane is
concerned, I don’t know her any more than you do;
so I couldn’t be any help there,” sighed Aunt
Hannah.

“Not a bit,” smiled Billy, cheerily.  “Don’t
give it another thought, my dear.  I sha’n't
have a bit of trouble.  All I’ll have to do is to
look for a girl alone with a pink.  Of course I’ll
have mine on, too, and she’ll be watching for me.
So just run along and take your nap, dear, and be
all rested and ready to welcome her when she
comes,” finished Billy, stooping to give the soft,
faintly pink cheek a warm kiss.

“Well, thank you, my dear; perhaps I will,”
sighed Aunt Hannah, drawing the gray shawl
about her as she turned away contentedly.

Mrs. Carleton’s tea that afternoon was, for
Billy, not an occasion of unalloyed joy.  It was the
first time she had appeared at a gathering of
any size since the announcement of her engagement;
and, as she dolefully told Bertram afterwards,
she had very much the feeling of the picture
hung on the wall.

“And they _did_ put up their lorgnettes and say,
`Is _that_ the one?’ ” she declared; “and I know
some of them finished with `Did you ever?’ too,”
she sighed.

But Billy did not stay long in Mrs. Carleton’s
softly-lighted, flower-perfumed rooms.  At ten
minutes past four she was saying good-by to a
group of friends who were vainly urging her to
remain longer.

“I can’t–I really can’t,” she declared.  “I’m
due at the South Station at half past four to
meet a Miss Arkwright, a young cousin of Aunt
Hannah’s, whom I’ve never seen before.  We’re
to meet at the sign of the pink,” she explained
smilingly, just touching the single flower she
wore.

Her hostess gave a sudden laugh.

“Let me see, my dear; if I remember rightly,
you’ve had experience before, meeting at this
sign of the pink.  At least, I have a very vivid
recollection of Mr. William Henshaw’s going once
to meet a _boy_ with a pink, who turned out to be
a girl.  Now, to even things up, your girl should
turn out to be a boy!”

Billy smiled and reddened.

“Perhaps–but I don’t think to-day will
strike the balance,” she retorted, backing toward
the door.  “This young lady’s name is `Mary
Jane’; and I’ll leave it to you to find anything
very masculine in that!”

It was a short drive from Mrs. Carleton’s
Commonwealth Avenue home to the South Station,
and Peggy made as quick work of it as the
narrow, congested cross streets would allow.
In ample time Billy found herself in the great
waiting-room, with John saying respectfully in
her ear:

“The man says the train comes in on Track
Fourteen, Miss, an’ it’s on time.”

At twenty-nine minutes past four Billy left
her seat and walked down the train-shed platform
to Track Number Fourteen.  She had pinned
the pink now to the outside of her long coat, and
it made an attractive dash of white against the
dark-blue velvet.  Billy was looking particularly
lovely to-day.  Framing her face was the big
dark-blue velvet picture hat with its becoming
white plumes.

During the brief minutes’ wait before the clanging
locomotive puffed into view far down the long
track, Billy’s thoughts involuntarily went back
to that other watcher beside a train gate not
quite five years before.

“Dear Uncle William!” she murmured
tenderly.  Then suddenly she laughed–so nearly
aloud that a man behind her gave her a covert
glance from curious eyes.  “My! but what a
jolt I must have been to Uncle William!” Billy
was thinking.

The next minute she drew nearer the gate and
regarded with absorbed attention the long line
of passengers already sweeping up the narrow
aisle between the cars.

Hurrying men came first, with long strides,
and eyes that looked straight ahead.  These
Billy let pass with a mere glance.  The next group
showed a sprinkling of women–women whose
trig hats and linen collars spelled promptness as
well as certainty of aim and accomplishment.
To these, also, Billy paid scant attention.  Couples
came next–the men anxious-eyed, and usually
walking two steps ahead of their companions;
the women plainly flustered and hurried, and
invariably buttoning gloves or gathering up trailing
ends of scarfs or boas.

The crowd was thickening fast, now, and Billy’s
eyes were alert.  Children were appearing, and
young women walking alone.  One of these wore
a bunch of violets.  Billy gave her a second glance.
Then she saw a pink–but it was on the coat lapel
of a tall young fellow with a brown beard; so with
a slight frown she looked beyond down the line.

Old men came now, and old women; fleshy
women, and women with small children and babies.
Couples came, too–dawdling couples, plainly
newly married: the men were not two steps
ahead, and the women’s gloves were buttoned and
their furs in place.

Gradually the line thinned, and soon there were
left only an old man with a cane, and a young
woman with three children.  Yet nowhere had
Billy seen a girl wearing a white carnation, and
walking alone.

With a deeper frown on her face Billy turned
and looked about her.  She thought that somewhere
in the crowd she had missed Mary Jane,
and that she would find her now, standing near.
But there was no one standing near except the
good-looking young fellow with the little pointed
brown beard, who, as Billy noticed a second
time, was wearing a white carnation.

As she glanced toward him, their eyes met.
Then, to Billy’s unbounded amazement, the man
advanced with uplifted hat.

“I beg your pardon, but is not this–Miss
Neilson?”

Billy drew back with just a touch of hauteur.

“Y-yes,” she murmured.

“I thought so–yet I was expecting to see
you with Aunt Hannah.  I am M. J. Arkwright,
Miss Neilson.”

For a brief instant Billy stared dazedly.

“You don’t mean–Mary Jane?” she gasped.

“I’m afraid I do.”  His lips twitched.

“But I thought–we were expecting–”
She stopped helplessly.  For one more brief
instant she stared; then, suddenly, a swift
change came to her face.  Her eyes danced.

“Oh–oh!” she chuckled.  “How perfectly
funny!  You _have_ evened things up, after
all.  To think that Mary Jane should be a–”
She paused and flashed almost angrily suspicious
eyes into his face.  “But mine _was_ `Billy,’ ”
she cried.  “Your name isn’t really–Mary
Jane’?”

“I am often called that.”  His brown eyes
twinkled, but they did not swerve from their
direct gaze into her own.

“But–” Billy hesitated, and turned her
eyes away.  She saw then that many curious
glances were already being flung in her direction.
The color in her cheeks deepened.  With an odd
little gesture she seemed to toss something aside.
“Never mind,” she laughed a little hysterically.
“If you’ll pick up your bag, please, Mr.
Mary Jane, and come with me.  John and Peggy
are waiting.  Or–I forgot–you have a trunk,
of course?”

The man raised a protesting hand.

“Thank you; but, Miss Neilson, really–I
couldn’t think of trespassing on your hospitality
–now, you know.”

“But we–we invited you,” stammered Billy.

He shook his head.

“You invited _Miss_ Mary Jane.”

Billy bubbled into low laughter.

“I beg your pardon, but it _is_ funny,” she sighed.
“You see _I_ came once just the same way, and
now to have the tables turned like this!  What
will Aunt Hannah say–what will everybody
say?  Come, I want them to begin–to say it,”
she chuckled irrepressibly.

“Thank you, but I shall go to a hotel, of course.
Later, if you’ll be so good as to let me call, and
explain–!”

“But I’m afraid Aunt Hannah will think–”
Billy stopped abruptly.  Some distance away
she saw John coming toward them.  She turned
hurriedly to the man at her side.  Her eyes still
danced, but her voice was mockingly serious.
“Really, Mr. Mary Jane, I’m afraid you’ll have
to come to dinner; then you can settle the rest
with Aunt Hannah.  John is almost upon us–
and _I_ don’t want to make explanations.  Do you?”

“John,” she said airily to the somewhat dazed
chauffeur (who had been told he was to meet a
young woman), “take Mr. Arkwright’s bag,
please, and show him where Peggy is waiting.
It will be five minutes, perhaps, before I can come
–if you’ll kindly excuse me,” she added to
Arkwright, with a flashing glance from merry
eyes.  “I have some–telephoning to do.”

All the way to the telephone booth Billy was
trying to bring order out of the chaos of her mind;
but all the way, too, she was chuckling.

“To think that this thing should have happened
to _me!_” she said, almost aloud.  “And here I
am telephoning just like Uncle William–Bertram
said Uncle William _did_ telephone about _me!_”

In due course Billy had Aunt Hannah at the
other end of the wire.

“Aunt Hannah, listen.  I’d never have
believed it, but it’s happened.  Mary Jane is–a
man.”

Billy heard a dismayed gasp and a muttered
“Oh, my grief and conscience!” then a shaking
“Wha-at?”

“I say, Mary Jane is a man.”  Billy was
enjoying herself hugely.

“A _ma-an!_”

“Yes; a great big man with a brown beard.
He’s waiting now with John and I must go.”

“But, Billy, I don’t understand,” chattered
an agitated voice over the line.  “He–he called
himself `Mary Jane.’  He hasn’t any business
to be a big man with a brown beard!  What shall
we do?  We don’t want a big man with a brown
beard–here!”

Billy laughed roguishly.

“I don’t know.  _You_ asked him!  How he
will like that little blue room–Aunt Hannah!”
Billy’s voice turned suddenly tragic.  “For pity’s
sake take out those curling tongs and hairpins,
and the work-basket.  I’d _never_ hear the last of
it if he saw those, I know.  He’s just that kind!”

A half stifled groan came over the wire.

“Billy, he can’t stay here.”

Billy laughed again.

“No, no, dear; he won’t, I know.  He says
he’s going to a hotel.  But I had to bring him home
to dinner; there was no other way, under the
circumstances.  He won’t stay.  Don’t you worry.
But good-by.  I must go.  _Remember those curling
tongs!_” And the receiver clicked sharply against
the hook.

In the automobile some minutes later, Billy
and Mr. M. J. Arkwright were speeding toward
Corey Hill.  It was during a slight pause in the
conversation that Billy turned to her companion
with a demure:

“I telephoned Aunt Hannah, Mr. Arkwright.
I thought she ought to be–warned.”

“You are very kind.  What did she say?–if
I may ask.”

There was a brief moment of hesitation before
Billy answered.

“She said you called yourself `Mary Jane,’
and that you hadn’t any business to be a big man
with a brown beard.”

Arkwright laughed.

“I’m afraid I owe Aunt Hannah an apology,”
he said.  He hesitated, glanced admiringly at the
glowing, half-averted face near him, then went
on decisively.  He wore the air of a man who has
set the match to his bridges.  “I signed both
letters `M. J. Arkwright,’ but in the first one
I quoted a remark of a friend, and in that remark
I was addressed as `Mary Jane.’  I did not know
but Aunt Hannah knew of the nickname.”
(Arkwright was speaking a little slowly now, as if
weighing his words.)  “But when she answered,
I saw that she did not; for, from something she
said, I realized that she thought I was a real
Mary Jane.  For the joke of the thing I let it pass.
But–if she noticed my letter carefully, she saw
that I did not accept your kind invitation to give

`Mary Jane’ a home.”

“Yes, we noticed that,” nodded Billy, merrily.
“But we didn’t think you meant it.  You see
we pictured you as a shy young thing.  But,
really,” she went on with a low laugh, “you see
your coming as a masculine `Mary Jane’ was
particularly funny–for me; for, though perhaps
you didn’t know it, I came once to this very same
city, wearing a pink, and was expected to be Billy,
a boy.  And only to-day a lady warned me that
your coming might even things up.  But I didn’t
believe it would–a Mary Jane!”

Arkwright laughed.  Again he hesitated, and
seemed to be weighing his words.

“Yes, I heard about that coming of yours.
I might almost say–that’s why I–let the
mistake pass in Aunt Hannah’s letter,” he said.

Billy turned with reproachful eyes.

“Oh, how could–you?  But then–it was a
temptation!”  She laughed suddenly.  “What
sinful joy you must have had watching me hunt
for `Mary Jane.’ ”

“I didn’t,” acknowledged the other, with
unexpected candor.  “I felt–ashamed.  And when
I saw you were there alone without Aunt Hannah,
I came very near not speaking at all–until I
realized that that would be even worse, under the
circumstances.”

“Of course it would,” smiled Billy, brightly;
“so I don’t see but I shall have to forgive you,
after all.  And here we are at home, Mr. Mary
Jane.  By the way, what did you say that `M. J.’
did stand for?” she asked, as the car came to a
stop.

The man did not seem to hear; at least he did
not answer.  He was helping his hostess to alight.
A moment later a plainly agitated Aunt Hannah
–her gray shawl topped with a huge black one
–opened the door of the house.

Rouge Gagne

by Emily Dickinson

‘T is so much joy! ‘T is so much joy!
If I should fail, what poverty!
And yet, as poor as I
Have ventured all upon a throw;
Have gained! Yes! Hesitated so
This side the victory!

Life is but life, and death but death!
Bliss is but bliss, and breath but breath!
And if, indeed, I fail,
At least to know the worst is sweet.
Defeat means nothing but defeat,
No drearier can prevail!

And if I gain, — oh, gun at sea,
Oh, bells that in the steeples be,
At first repeat it slow!
For heaven is a different thing
Conjectured, and waked sudden in,
And might o’erwhelm me so!

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