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by Emily Dickinson

Much madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
‘T is the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur, — you’re straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.

Miss Billy’s Decision, CHAPTER XVI

by Eleanor H. Porter

Immediately after breakfast the next morning,
Billy was summoned to the telephone.

“Oh, good morning, Uncle William,” she called,
in answer to the masculine voice that replied to
her “Hullo.”

“Billy, are you very busy this morning?”

“No, indeed–not if you want me.”

“Well, I do, my dear.”  Uncle William’s
voice was troubled.  “I want you to go with me,
if you can, to see a Mrs. Greggory.  She’s got a
teapot I want.  It’s a genuine Lowestoft, Harlow
says.  Will you go?”

“Of course I will!  What time?”

“Eleven if you can, at Park Street.  She’s
at the West End.  I don’t dare to put it off for
fear I’ll lose it.  Harlow says others will have to
know of it, of course.  You see, she’s just made up
her mind to sell it, and asked him to find a
customer.  I wouldn’t trouble you, but he says
they’re peculiar–the daughter, especially–and
may need some careful handling.  That’s why I
wanted you–though I wanted you to see the tea-pot,
too,–it’ll be yours some day, you know.”

Billy, all alone at her end of the line, blushed.
That she was one day to be mistress of the Strata
and all it contained was still anything but “common”
to her.

“I’d love to see it, and I’ll come gladly; but
I’m afraid I won’t be much help, Uncle William,”
she worried.

“I’ll take the risk of that.  You see, Harlow
says that about half the time she isn’t sure she
wants to sell it, after all.”

“Why, how funny!  Well, I’ll come.  At
eleven, you say, at Park Street?”

“Yes; and thank you, my dear.  I tried to
get Kate to go, too; but she wouldn’t.  By the
way, I’m going to bring you home to luncheon.
Kate leaves this afternoon, you know, and it’s
been so snowy she hasn’t thought best to try to
get over to the house.  Maybe Aunt Hannah would
come, too, for luncheon.  Would she?”

“I’m afraid not,” returned Billy, with a rueful
laugh.  “She’s got _three_ shawls on this morning,
and you know that always means that she’s
felt a draft somewhere–poor dear.  I’ll tell her,
though, and I’ll see you at eleven,” finished Billy,
as she hung up the receiver.

Promptly at the appointed time Billy met Uncle
William at Park Street, and together they set
out for the West End street named on the paper
in his pocket.  But when the shabby house on
the narrow little street was reached, the man looked
about him with a troubled frown.

“I declare, Billy, I’m not sure but we’d better
turn back,” he fretted.  “I didn’t mean to take
you to such a place as this.”

Billy shivered a little; but after one glance at
the man’s disappointed face she lifted a determined

“Nonsense, Uncle William!  Of course you
won’t turn back.  I don’t mind–for myself;
but only think of the people whose _homes_ are
here,” she finished, just above her breath.

Mrs. Greggory was found to be living in two
back rooms at the top of four flights of stairs,
up which William Henshaw toiled with increasing
weariness and dismay, punctuating each flight
with a despairing:  “Billy, really, I think we
should turn back!”

But Billy would not turn back, and at last
they found themselves in the presence of a white-
haired, sweet-faced woman who said yes, she
was Mrs. Greggory; yes, she was.  Even as she
uttered the words, however, she looked fearfully
over her shoulders as if expecting to hear from
the hall behind them a voice denying her assertion.

Mrs. Greggory was a cripple.  Her slender
little body was poised on two once-costly crutches.
Both the worn places on the crutches, and the
skill with which the little woman swung herself
about the room testified that the crippled condition
was not a new one.

Billy’s eyes were brimming with pity and
dismay.  Mechanically she had taken the chair
toward which Mrs. Greggory had motioned her.
She had tried not to seem to look about her; but
there was not one detail of the bare little room,
from its faded rug to the patched but spotless
tablecloth, that was not stamped on her brain.

Mrs. Greggory had seated herself now, and
William Henshaw had cleared his throat nervously.
Billy did not know whether she herself were the
more distressed or the more relieved to hear him

“We–er–I came from Harlow, Mrs. Greggory.
He gave me to understand you had an–
er–teapot that–er–”  With his eyes on
the cracked white crockery pitcher on the table,
William Henshaw came to a helpless pause.

A curious expression, or rather, series of
expressions crossed Mrs. Greggory’s face.  Terror,
joy, dismay, and relief seemed, one after the other
to fight for supremacy.  Relief in the end
conquered, though even yet there was a second
hurriedly apprehensive glance toward the door
before she spoke.

“The Lowestoft!  Yes, I’m so glad!–that
is, of course I must be glad.  I’ll get it.”  Her
voice broke as she pulled herself from her chair.
There was only despairing sorrow on her face

The man rose at once.

“But, madam, perhaps–don’t let me–”  I
he began stammeringly.  “Of course–Billy!”
he broke off in an entirely different voice.  “Jove!
What a beauty!”

Mrs. Greggory had thrown open the door of
a small cupboard near the collector’s chair,
disclosing on one of the shelves a beautifully shaped
teapot, creamy in tint, and exquisitely decorated
in a rose design.  Near it set a tray-like plate of
the same ware and decoration.

“If you’ll lift it down, please, yourself,”
motioned Mrs. Greggory.  “I don’t like to–with
these,” she explained, tapping the crutches at
her side.

With fingers that were almost reverent in their
appreciation, the collector reached for the teapot.
His eyes sparkled.

“Billy, look, what a beauty!  And it’s a
Lowestoft, too, the real thing–the genuine, true soft
paste!  And there’s the tray–did you notice?”
he exulted, turning back to the shelf.  “You
_don’t_ see that every day!  They get separated,
most generally, you know.”

“These pieces have been in our family for
generations,” said Mrs. Greggory with an accent
of pride.  “You’ll find them quite perfect, I

“Perfect!  I should say they were,” cried the

“They are, then–valuable?” Mrs. Greggory’s
voice shook.

“Indeed they are!  But you must know that.”

“I have been told so.  Yet to me their chief
value, of course, lies in their association.  My
mother and my grandmother owned that teapot,
sir.”  Again her voice broke.

William Henshaw cleared his throat.

“But, madam, if you do not wish to sell–”
He stopped abruptly.  His longing eyes had gone
back to the enticing bit of china.

Mrs. Greggory gave a low cry.

“But I do–that is, I must.  Mr. Harlow
says that it is valuable, and that it will bring
in money; and we need–money.”  She threw
a quick glance toward the hall door, though she
did not pause in her remarks.  “I can’t do much
at work that pays.  I sew–” she nodded
toward the machine by the window–” but with
only one foot to make it go–  You see, the
other is–is inclined to shirk a little,” she finished
with a wistful whimsicality.

Billy turned away sharply.  There was a lump
in her throat and a smart in her eyes.  She was
conscious suddenly of a fierce anger against–
she did not know what, exactly; but she fancied
it was against the teapot, or against Uncle William
for wanting the teapot, or for _not_ wanting
it–if he did not buy it.

“And so you see, I do very much wish to sell,”

Mrs. Greggory said then.  “Perhaps you will
tell me what it would be worth to you,” she concluded

The collector’s eyes glowed.  He picked up
the teapot with careful rapture and examined
it.  Then he turned to the tray.  After a moment
he spoke.

“I have only one other in my collection as
rare,” he said.  “I paid a hundred dollars for
that.  I shall be glad to give you the same for
this, madam.”

Mrs. Greggory started visibly.

“A hundred dollars?  So much as that?” she
cried almost joyously.  “Why, nothing else that
we’ve had has brought–  Of course, if it’s worth
that to you–”  She paused suddenly.  A quick
step had sounded in the hall outside.  The next
moment the door flew open and a young woman,
who looked to be about twenty-three or twenty-
four years old, burst into the room.

“Mother, only think, I’ve–”  She stopped,
and drew back a little.  Her startled eyes went
from one face to another, then dropped to
the Lowestoft teapot in the man’s hands.  Her
expression changed at once.  She shut the door
quickly and hurried forward.

“Mother, what is it?  Who are these people?”
she asked sharply.

Billy lifted her chin the least bit.  She was
conscious of a feeling which she could not name:
Billy was not used to being called “these people”
in precisely that tone of voice.  William Henshaw,
too, raised his chin.  He, also, was not in the habit
of being referred to as “these people.”

“My name is Henshaw, Miss–Greggory, I
presume,” he said quietly.  “I was sent here by
Mr. Harlow.”

“About the teapot, my dear, you know,”
stammered Mrs. Greggory, wetting her lips with
an air of hurried apology and conciliation.  “This
gentleman says he will be glad to buy it.  Er–
my daughter, Alice, Mr. Henshaw,” she hastened
on, in embarrassed introduction; “and Miss–”

“Neilson,” supplied the man, as she looked at
Billy, and hesitated.

A swift red stained Alice Greggory’s face.  With
barely an acknowledgment of the introductions
she turned to her mother.

“Yes, dear, but that won’t be necessary now.
As I started to tell you when I came in, I have two
new pupils; and so”–turning to the man again
“I thank you for your offer, but we have decided
not to sell the teapot at present.”  As she finished
her sentence she stepped one side as if to make
room for the strangers to reach the door.

William Henshaw frowned angrily–that was
the man; but his eyes–the collector’s eyes–
sought the teapot longingly.  Before either the
man or the collector could speak, however; Mrs.
Greggory interposed quick words of remonstrance.

“But, Alice, my dear,” she almost sobbed.
“You didn’t wait to let me tell you.  Mr. Henshaw
says it is worth a hundred dollars to him.
He will give us–a hundred dollars.”

“A hundred dollars!” echoed the girl, faintly.

It was plain to be seen that she was wavering.
Billy, watching the little scene, with mingled
emotions, saw the glance with which the girl
swept the bare little room; and she knew that
there was not a patch or darn or poverty spot in
sight, or out of sight, which that glance did not

Billy was wondering which she herself desired
more–that Uncle William should buy the Lowestoft,
or that he should not.  She knew she wished
Mrs. Greggory to have the hundred dollars.
There was no doubt on that point.  Then Uncle
William spoke.  His words carried the righteous
indignation of the man who thinks he has been
unjustly treated, and the final plea of the collector
who sees a coveted treasure slipping from his grasp.

“I am very sorry, of course, if my offer has
annoyed you,” he said stiffly.  “I certainly
should not have made it had I not had Mrs.
Greggory’s assurance that she wished to sell the

Alice Greggory turned as if stung.

“_Wished to sell!_”  She repeated the words
with superb disdain.  She was plainly very angry.
Her blue-gray eyes gleamed with scorn, and her
whole face was suffused with a red that had swept
to the roots of her soft hair.  “Do you think a
woman _wishes_ to sell a thing that she’s treasured
all her life, a thing that is perhaps the last visible
reminder of the days when she was living–not
merely existing?”

“Alice, Alice, my love!” protested the sweet-
faced cripple, agitatedly.

“I can’t help it,” stormed the girl, hotly.  “I
know how much you think of that teapot that
was grandmother’s.  I know what it cost you to
make up your mind to sell it at all.  And then to
hear these people talk about your _wishing_ to
sell it!  Perhaps they think, too, we _wish_ to live
in a place like this; that we _wish_ to have rugs
that are darned, and chairs that are broken, and
garments that are patches instead of clothes!”

“Alice!” gasped Mrs. Greggory in dismayed

With a little outward fling of her two hands
Alice Greggory stepped back.  Her face had grown
white again.

“I beg your pardon, of course,” she said in a
voice that was bitterly quiet.  “I should not
have spoken so.  You are very kind, Mr. Henshaw,
but I do not think we care to sell the Lowestoft

Both words and manner were obviously a
dismissal; and with a puzzled sigh William Henshaw
picked up his hat.  His face showed very clearly
that he did not know what to do, or what to say;
but it showed, too, as clearly, that he longed to
do something, or say something.  During the
brief minute that he hesitated, however, Billy
sprang forward.

“Mrs. Greggory, please, won’t you let _me_ buy
the teapot?  And then–won’t you keep it for
me–here?  I haven’t the hundred dollars with
me, but I’ll send it right away.  You will let me
do it, won’t you?”

It was an impulsive speech, and a foolish one,
of course, from the standpoint of sense and logic
and reasonableness; but it was one that might be
expected, perhaps, from Billy.

Mrs. Greggory must have divined, in a way,
the spirit that prompted it, for her eyes grew wet,
and with a choking “Dear child!” she reached
out and caught Billy’s hand in both her own–
even while she shook her head in denial.

Not so her daughter.  Alice Greggory flushed
scarlet.  She drew herself proudly erect.

“Thank you,” she said with crisp coldness;
“but, distasteful as darns and patches are to us,
we prefer them, infinitely, to–charity!”

“Oh, but, please, I didn’t mean–you didn’t
understand,” faltered Billy.

For answer Alice Greggory walked deliberately
to the door and held it open.

“Oh, Alice, my dear,” pleaded Mrs. Greggory
again, feebly.

“Come, Billy!  We’ll bid you good morning,
ladies,” said William Henshaw then, decisively.
And Billy, with a little wistful pat on Mrs.
Greggory’s clasped hands, went.

Once down the long four flights of stairs and
out on the sidewalk, William Henshaw drew a long

“Well, by Jove!  Billy, the next time I take
you curio hunting, it won’t be to this place,” he

“Wasn’t it awful!” choked Billy.

“Awful!  The girl was the most stubborn,
unreasonable, vixenish little puss I ever saw.  I
didn’t want her old Lowestoft if she didn’t want
to sell it!  But to practically invite me there, and
then treat me like that!” scolded the collector, his
face growing red with anger.  “Still, I was sorry
for the poor little old lady.  I wish, somehow, she
could have that hundred dollars!”  It was the
man who said this, not the collector.

“So do I,” rejoined Billy, dolefully.  “But
that girl was so–so queer!” she sighed, with a
frown.  Billy was puzzled.  For the first time,
perhaps, in her life, she knew what it was to have
her proffered “ice cream” disdainfully refused.

Miss Billy’s Decision, CHAPTER XIV

by Eleanor H. Porter

Billy came down-stairs on the thirteenth of
December to find everywhere the peculiar flatness
that always follows a day which for weeks has
been the focus of one’s aims and thoughts and

“It’s just as if everything had stopped at Marie’s
wedding, and there wasn’t anything more to do,”
she complained to Aunt Hannah at the breakfast
table.  “Everything seems so–queer!”

“It won’t–long, dear,” smiled Aunt Hannah,
tranquilly, as she buttered her roll, “specially
after Bertram comes back.  How long does he
stay in New York?”

“Only three days; but I’m just sure it’s going
to seem three weeks, now,” sighed Billy.  “But
he simply had to go–else he wouldn’t have

“I’ve no doubt of it,” observed Aunt Hannah.
And at the meaning emphasis of her words,
Billy laughed a little.  After a minute she said

“I had supposed that I could at least have a sort
of `after the ball’ celebration this morning picking
up and straightening things around.  But John
and Rosa have done it all.  There isn’t so much
as a rose leaf anywhere on the floor.  Of course
most of the flowers went to the hospital last night,
anyway.  As for Marie’s room–it looks as
spick-and-span as if it had never seen a scrap
of ribbon or an inch of tulle.”

“But–the wedding presents?”

“All carried down to the kitchen and half
packed now, ready to go over to the new home.
John says he’ll take them over in Peggy this
afternoon, after he takes Mrs. Hartwell’s trunk to
Uncle William’s.”

“Well, you can at least go over to the
apartment and work,” suggested Aunt Hannah, hopefully.

“Humph!  Can I?” scoffed Billy.  “As if I
could–when Marie left strict orders that not
one thing was to be touched till she got here.
They arranged everything but the presents before
the wedding, anyway; and Marie wants to fix
those herself after she gets back.  Mercy!  Aunt
Hannah, if I should so much as move a plate one
inch in the china closet, Marie would know it–
and change it when she got home,” laughed Billy,
as she rose from the table.  “No, I can’t go to
work over there.”

“But there’s your music, my dear.  You said
you were going to write some new songs after the

“I was,” sighed Billy, walking to the window,
and looking listlessly at the bare, brown world
outside; “but I can’t write songs–when there
aren’t any songs in my head to write.”

“No, of course not; but they’ll come, dear, in
time.  You’re tired, now,” soothed Aunt Hannah,
as she turned to leave the room.

“It’s the reaction, of course,” murmured Aunt
Hannah to herself, on the way up-stairs.  “She’s
had the whole thing on her hands–dear child!”

A few minutes later, from the living-room,
came a plaintive little minor melody.  Billy was
at the piano.

Kate and little Kate had, the night before, gone
home with William.  It had been a sudden
decision, brought about by the realization that
Bertram’s trip to New York would leave William
alone.  Her trunk was to be carried there to-day,
and she would leave for home from there, at the
end of a two or three days’ visit.

It began to snow at twelve o’clock.  All the
morning the sky had been gray and threatening;
and the threats took visible shape at noon in
myriads of white snow feathers that filled the
air to the blinding point, and turned the brown,
bare world into a thing of fairylike beauty.  Billy,
however, with a rare frown upon her face, looked
out upon it with disapproving eyes.

“I _was_ going in town–and I believe I’ll go
now,” she cried.

“Don’t, dear, please don’t,” begged Aunt
Hannah.  “See, the flakes are smaller now, and
the wind is coming up.  We’re in for a blizzard–
I’m sure we are.  And you know you have some
cold, already.”

“All right,” sighed Billy.  “Then it’s me for the
knitting work and the fire, I suppose,” she finished,
with a whimsicality that did not hide the wistful
disappointment of her voice.

She was not knitting, however, she was sewing
with Aunt Hannah when at four o’clock Rosa
brought in the card.

Billy glanced at the name, then sprang to her
feet with a glad little cry.

“It’s Mary Jane!” she exclaimed, as Rosa
disappeared.  “Now wasn’t he a dear to think
to come to-day?  You’ll be down, won’t you?”

Aunt Hannah smiled even while she frowned.

“Oh, Billy!” she remonstrated.  “Yes, I’ll
come down, of course, a little later, and I’m glad
_Mr. Arkwright_ came,” she said with reproving

Billy laughed and threw a mischievous glance
over her shoulder.

“All right,” she nodded.  “I’ll go and tell
_Mr. Arkwright_ you’ll be down directly.”

In the living-room Billy greeted her visitor
with a frankly cordial hand.

“How did you know, Mr. Arkwright, that I
was feeling specially restless and lonesome to-
day?” she demanded.

A glad light sprang to the man’s dark eyes.

“I didn’t know it,” he rejoined.  “I only
knew that I was specially restless and lonesome

Arkwright’s voice was not quite steady.  The
unmistakable friendliness in the girl’s words and
manner had sent a quick throb of joy to his
heart.  Her evident delight in his coming had
filled him with rapture.  He could not know that
it was only the chill of the snowstorm that had
given warmth to her handclasp, the dreariness
of the day that had made her greeting so cordial,
the loneliness of a maiden whose lover is away
that had made his presence so welcome.

“Well, I’m glad you came, anyway,” sighed
Billy, contentedly; “though I suppose I ought
to be sorry that you were lonesome–but I’m
afraid I’m not, for now you’ll know just how I
felt, so you won’t mind if I’m a little wild and
erratic.  You see, the tension has snapped,” she
added laughingly, as she seated herself.


“The wedding, you know.  For so many weeks
we’ve been seeing just December twelfth, that
we’d apparently forgotten all about the thirteenth
that came after it; so when I got up this morning
I felt just as you do when the clock has
stopped ticking.  But it was a lovely wedding,
Mr. Arkwright.  I’m sorry you could not be

“Thank you; so am I–though usually, I
will confess, I’m not much good at attending
`functions’ and meeting strangers.  As perhaps
you’ve guessed, Miss Neilson, I’m not particularly
a society chap.”

“Of course you aren’t!  People who are doing
things–real things–seldom are.  But we aren’t
the society kind ourselves, you know–not
the capital S kind.  We like sociability, which is
vastly different from liking Society.  Oh, we have
friends, to be sure, who dote on `pink teas and
purple pageants,’ as Cyril calls them; and we even
go ourselves sometimes.  But if you had been here
yesterday, Mr. Arkwright, you’d have met lots
like yourself, men and women who are doing
things: singing, playing, painting, illustrating,
writing.  Why, we even had a poet, sir–only
he didn’t have long hair, so he didn’t look the
part a bit,” she finished laughingly.

“Is long hair–necessary–for poets?”
Arkwright’s smile was quizzical.

“Dear me, no; not now.  But it used to be,
didn’t it?  And for painters, too.  But now they
look just like–folks.”

Arkwright laughed.

“It isn’t possible that you are sighing for the
velvet coats and flowing ties of the past, is it,
Miss Neilson?”

“I’m afraid it is,” dimpled Billy.  “I _love_
velvet coats and flowing ties!”

“May singers wear them?  I shall don them at
once, anyhow, at a venture,” declared the man,

Billy smiled and shook her head.

“I don’t think you will.  You all like your
horrid fuzzy tweeds and worsteds too well!”

“You speak with feeling.  One would almost
suspect that you already had tried to bring about
a reform–and failed.  Perhaps Mr. Cyril, now,
or Mr. Bertram–”  Arkwright stopped with
a whimsical smile.

Billy flushed a little.  As it happened, she had,
indeed, had a merry tilt with Bertram on that
very subject, and he had laughingly promised
that his wedding present to her would be a velvet
house coat for himself.  It was on the point of
Billy’s tongue now to say this to Arkwright;
but another glance at the provoking smile on
his lips drove the words back in angry confusion.
For the second time, in the presence of this man,
Billy found herself unable to refer to her engagement
to Bertram Henshaw–though this time
she did not in the least doubt that Arkwright
already knew of it.

With a little gesture of playful scorn she rose
and went to the piano.

“Come, let us try some duets,” she suggested.
“That’s lots nicer than quarrelling over velvet
coats; and Aunt Hannah will be down presently
to hear us sing.”

Before she had ceased speaking, Arkwright was
at her side with an exclamation of eager acquiescence.

It was after the second duet that Arkwright
asked, a little diffidently.

“Have you written any new songs lately?”


“You’re going to?”

“Perhaps–if I find one to write.”

“You mean–you have no words?”

“Yes–and no.  I have some words, both of
my own and other people’s; but I haven’t found
in any one of them, yet–a melody.”

Arkwright hesitated.  His right hand went
almost to his inner coat pocket–then fell back
at his side.  The next moment he picked up a
sheet of music.

“Are you too tired to try this?” he

A puzzled frown appeared on Billy’s face.

“Why, no, but–”

“Well, children, I’ve come down to hear the
music,” announced Aunt Hannah, smilingly,
from the doorway; “only–Billy, _will_ you run
up and get my pink shawl, too?  This room _is_
colder than I thought, and there’s only the white
one down here.”

“Of course,” cried Billy, rising at once.  “You
shall have a dozen shawls, if you like,” she laughed,
as she left the room.

What a cozy time it was–the hour that
followed, after Billy returned with the pink shawl!
Outside, the wind howled at the windows and
flung the snow against the glass in sleety crashes.
Inside, the man and the girl sang duets until they
were tired; then, with Aunt Hannah, they feasted
royally on the buttered toast, tea, and frosted
cakes that Rosa served on a little table before the
roaring fire.  It was then that Arkwright talked
of himself, telling them something of his studies,
and of the life he was living.

“After all, you see there’s just this difference
between my friends and yours,” he said, at last.
“Your friends _are_ doing things.  They’ve succeeded.
Mine haven’t, yet–they’re only _trying_.”

“But they will succeed,” cried Billy.

“Some of them,” amended the man.

“Not–all of them?” Billy looked a little

Arkwright shook his head slowly.

“No.  They couldn’t–all of them, you know.
Some haven’t the talent, some haven’t the
perseverance, and some haven’t the money.”

“But all that seems such a pity-when they’ve
tried,” grieved Billy.

“It is a pity, Miss Neilson.  Disappointed
hopes are always a pity, aren’t they?”

“Y-yes,” sighed the girl.  “But–if there
were only something one could do to–help!”

Arkwright’s eyes grew deep with feeling, but
his voice, when he spoke, was purposely light.

“I’m afraid that would be quite too big a
contract for even your generosity, Miss Neilson–
to mend all the broken hopes in the world,” he

“I have known great good to come from great
disappointments, “remarked Aunt Hannah, a
bit didactically.

“So have I,” laughed Arkwright, still
determined to drive the troubled shadow from the
face he was watching so intently.  “For instance:
a fellow I know was feeling all cut up last Friday
because he was just too late to get into Symphony
Hall on the twenty-five-cent admission.  Half
an hour afterwards his disappointment was turned
to joy–a friend who had an orchestra chair
couldn’t use his ticket that day, and so handed
it over to him.”

Billy turned interestedly.

“What are those twenty-five-cent tickets to
the Symphony?”

“Then–you don’t know?”

“Not exactly.  I’ve heard of them, in a vague

“Then you’ve missed one of the sights of Boston
if you haven’t ever seen that long line of patient
waiters at the door of Symphony Hall of a Friday

“Morning!  But the concert isn’t till afternoon!”

“No, but the waiting is,” retorted Arkwright.
“You see, those admissions are limited–five
hundred and five, I believe–and they’re rush
seats, at that.  First come, first served; and if
you’re too late you aren’t served at all.  So the
first arrival comes bright and early.  I’ve heard
that he has been known to come at peep of day
when there’s a Paderewski or a Melba for a
drawing card.  But I’ve got my doubts of that.
Anyhow, I never saw them there much before
half-past eight.  But many’s the cold, stormy
day I’ve seen those steps in front of the Hall
packed for hours, and a long line reaching away
up the avenue.”

Billy’s eyes widened.

“And they’ll stand all that time and wait?”

“To be sure they will.  You see, each pays
twenty-five cents at the door, until the limit is
reached, then the rest are turned away.  Naturally
they don’t want to be turned away, so they try
to get there early enough to be among the fortunate
five hundred and five.  Besides, the earlier
you are, the better seat you are likely to get.”

“But only think of _standing_ all that time!”

“Oh, they bring camp chairs, sometimes, I’ve
heard, and then there are the steps.  You don’t
know what a really fine seat a stone step is–if
you have a _big_ enough bundle of newspapers to
cushion it with!  They bring their luncheons, too,
with books, papers, and knitting work for fine
days, I’ve been told–some of them.  All the
comforts of home, you see,” smiled Arkwright.

“Why, how–how dreadful!” stammered

“Oh, but they don’t think it’s dreadful at
all,” corrected Arkwright, quickly.  “For twenty-
five cents they can hear all that you hear down
in your orchestra chair, for which you’ve paid so
high a premium.”

“But who–who are they?  Where do they
come from?  Who _would_ go and stand hours like
that to get a twenty-five-cent seat?” questioned

“Who are they?  Anybody, everybody, from
anywhere? everywhere; people who have the
music hunger but not the money to satisfy it,”
he rejoined.  “Students, teachers, a little milliner
from South Boston, a little dressmaker from Chelsea,
a housewife from Cambridge, a stranger from
the uttermost parts of the earth; maybe a widow
who used to sit down-stairs, or a professor who has
seen better days.  Really to know that line, you
should see it for yourself, Miss Neilson,” smiled
Arkwright, as he reluctantly rose to go.  “Some
Friday, however, before you take your seat, just
glance up at that packed top balcony and judge
by the faces you see there whether their owners
think they’re getting their twenty-five-cents’
worth, or not.”

“I will,” nodded Billy, with a smile; but the
smile came from her lips only, not her eyes:
Billy was wishing, at that moment, that she
owned the whole of Symphony Hall–to give
away.  But that was like Billy.  When she was
seven years old she had proposed to her Aunt Ella
that they take all the thirty-five orphans from the
Hampden Falls Orphan Asylum to live with them,
so that little Sallie Cook and the other orphans
might have ice cream every day, if they wanted
it.  Since then Billy had always been trying–in
a way–to give ice cream to some one who
wanted it.

Arkwright was almost at the door when he
turned abruptly.  His face was an abashed red.
From his pocket he had taken a small folded

“Do you suppose–in this–you might find
–that melody?” he stammered in a low voice.
The next moment he was gone, having left in
Billy’s fingers a paper upon which was written
in a clear-cut, masculine hand six four-line stanzas.

Billy read them at once, hurriedly, then more

“Why, they’re beautiful,” she breathed, “just
beautiful!  Where did he get them, I wonder?
It’s a love song–and such a pretty one!  I
believe there _is_ a melody in it,” she exulted, pausing
to hum a line or two.  “There is–I know there
is; and I’ll write it–for Bertram,” she finished,
crossing joyously to the piano.

Half-way down Corey Hill at that moment,
Arkwright was buffeting the wind and snow.
He, too, was thinking joyously of those stanzas–
joyously, yet at the same time fearfully.
Arkwright himself had written those lines–though
not for Bertram.

Miss Billy’s Decision, CHAPTER III

by Eleanor H. Porter

Bertram called that evening.  Before the open
fire in the living-room he found a pensive Billy
awaiting him–a Billy who let herself be kissed,
it is true, and who even kissed back, shyly, adorably;
but a Billy who looked at him with wide,
almost frightened eyes.

“Why, darling, what’s the matter?” he
demanded, his own eyes growing wide and frightened.

“Bertram, it’s–done!”

“What’s done?  What do you mean?”

“Our engagement.  It’s–announced.  I wrote
stacks of notes to-day, and even now there are
some left for to-morrow.  And then there’s–the
newspapers.  Bertram, right away, now, _everybody_
will know it.”  Her voice was tragic.

Bertram relaxed visibly.  A tender light came
to his eyes.

“Well, didn’t you expect everybody would
know it, my dear?”

“Y-yes; but–”

At her hesitation, the tender light changed
to a quick fear.

“Billy, you aren’t–sorry?”

The pink glory that suffused her face answered
him before her words did.

“Sorry!  Oh, never, Bertram!  It’s only that
it won’t be ours any longer–that is, it won’t
belong to just our two selves.  Everybody will
know it.  And they’ll bow and smile and say `How
lovely!’ to our faces, and `Did you ever?’ to
our backs.  Oh, no, I’m not sorry, Bertram; but
I am–afraid.”



Billy sighed, and gazed with pensive eyes into
the fire.

Across Bertram’s face swept surprise,
consternation, and dismay.  Bertram had thought he
knew Billy in all her moods and fancies; but he
did not know her in this one.

“Why, Billy!” he breathed.

Billy drew another sigh.  It seemed to come
from the very bottoms of her small, satin-slippered

“Well, I am.  You’re _the_ Bertram Henshaw.
You know lots and lots of people that I never
even saw.  And they’ll come and stand around
and stare and lift their lorgnettes and say:  `Is
that the one?  Dear me!’ ”

Bertram gave a relieved laugh.

“Nonsense, sweetheart!  I should think you
were a picture I’d painted and hung on a

“I shall feel as if I were–with all those friends
of yours.  Bertram, what if they don’t like it?”
Her voice had grown tragic again.

“_Like_ it!”

“Yes.  The picture–me, I mean.”

“They can’t help liking it,” he retorted, with
the prompt certainty of an adoring lover.

Billy shook her head.  Her eyes had gone back
to the fire.

“Oh, yes, they can.  I can hear them.  `What,
_she_–Bertram Henshaw’s wife?–a frivolous,
inconsequential “Billy” like that?’  Bertram!”
–Billy turned fiercely despairing eyes on her
lover–“Bertram, sometimes I wish my name
were `Clarissa Cordelia,’ or `Arabella Maud,’
or `Hannah Jane’–anything that’s feminine
and proper!”

Bertram’s ringing laugh brought a faint smile
to Billy’s lips.  But the words that followed the
laugh, and the caressing touch of the man’s hands
sent a flood of shy color to her face.

“ `Hannah Jane,’ indeed!  As if I’d exchange
my Billy for her or any Clarissa or Arabella
that ever grew!  I adore Billy–flame, nature,

“And naughtiness?” put in Billy herself.

“Yes–if there be any,” laughed Bertram,
fondly.  “But, see,” he added, taking a tiny box
from his pocket, “see what I’ve brought for
this same Billy to wear.  She’d have had it long
ago if she hadn’t insisted on waiting for this
announcement business.”

“Oh, Bertram, what a beauty!” dimpled
Billy, as the flawless diamond in Bertram’s fingers
caught the light and sent it back in a flash of
flame and crimson.

“Now you are mine–really mine, sweetheart!”
The man’s voice and hand shook as he
slipped the ring on Billy’s outstretched finger.

Billy caught her breath with almost a sob.

“And I’m so glad to be–yours, dear,” she
murmured brokenly.  “And–and I’ll make you
proud that I am yours, even if I am just `Billy,’ ”
she choked.  “Oh, I know I’ll write such beautiful,
beautiful songs now.”

The man drew her into a close embrace.

“As if I cared for that,” he scoffed lovingly.

Billy looked up in quick horror.

“Why, Bertram, you don’t mean you don’t

He laughed lightly, and took the dismayed
little face between his two hands.

“Care, darling? of course I care!  You know
how I love your music.  I care about everything
that concerns you.  I meant that I’m proud of
you _now_–just you.  I love _you_, you know.”

There was a moment’s pause.  Billy’s eyes,
as they looked at him, carried a curious intentness
in their dark depths.

“You mean, you like–the turn of my head
and the tilt of my chin?” she asked a little breathlessly.

“I adore them!” came the prompt answer.

To Bertram’s utter amazement, Billy drew
back with a sharp cry.

“No, no–not that!”

“Why, _Billy!_”

Billy laughed unexpectedly; then she sighed.

“Oh, it’s all right, of course,” she assured
him hastily.  “It’s only–”  Billy stopped and
blushed.  Billy was thinking of what Hugh Calderwell
had once said to her: that Bertram Henshaw
would never love any girl seriously; that it would
always be the turn of her head or the tilt of her
chin that he loved–to paint.

“Well; only what?” demanded Bertram.

Billy blushed the more deeply, but she gave a
light laugh.

“Nothing, only something Hugh Calderwell
said to me once.  You see, Bertram, I don’t
think Hugh ever thought you would–marry.”

“Oh, didn’t he?” bridled Bertram.  “Well,
that only goes to show how much he knows
about it.  Er–did you announce it–to
him?” Bertram’s voice was almost savage

Billy smiled.

“No; but I did to his sister, and she’ll tell
him.  Oh, Bertram, such a time as I had over
those notes,” went on Billy, with a chuckle.
Her eyes were dancing, and she was seeming more
like her usual self, Bertram thought.  “You see
there were such a lot of things I wanted to say,
about what a dear you were, and how much I–I
liked you, and that you had such lovely eyes,
and a nose–”

“Billy!”  This time it was Bertram who was
sitting erect in pale horror.

Billy threw him a roguish glance.

“Goosey!  You are as bad as Aunt Hannah!
I said that was what I _wanted_ to say.  What
I really said was–quite another matter,”
she finished with a saucy uptilting of her

Bertram relaxed with a laugh.

“You witch!”  His admiring eyes still lingered
on her face.  “Billy, I’m going to paint you
sometime in just that pose.  You’re adorable!”

“Pooh!  Just another face of a girl,” teased the
adorable one.

Bertram gave a sudden exclamation.

“There!  And I haven’t told you, yet.  Guess
what my next commission is.”

“To paint a portrait?”


“Can’t.  Who is it?”

“J. G. Winthrop’s daughter.”

“Not _the_ J. G. Winthrop?”

“The same.”

“Oh, Bertram, how splendid!”

“Isn’t it?  And then the girl herself!  Have you
seen her?  But you haven’t, I know, unless you
met her abroad.  She hasn’t been in Boston for
years until now.”

“No, I haven’t seen her.  Is she so _very_
beautiful?”  Billy spoke a little soberly.

“Yes–and no.”  The artist lifted his head
alertly.  What Billy called his “painting look”
came to his face.  “It isn’t that her features
are so regular–though her mouth and chin are
perfect.  But her face has so much character,
and there’s an elusive something about her eyes
–Jove!  If I can only catch it, it’ll be the best
thing yet that I’ve ever done, Billy.”

“Will it?  I’m so glad–and you’ll get it,
I know you will,” claimed Billy, clearing her
throat a little nervously.

“I wish I felt so sure,” sighed Bertram.  “But
it’ll be a great thing if I do get it–J. G. Winthrop’s
daughter, you know, besides the merit of
the likeness itself.”

“Yes; yes, indeed!”  Billy cleared her throat
again.  “You’ve seen her, of course, lately?”

“Oh, yes.  I was there half the morning
discussing the details–sittings and costume, and
deciding on the pose.”

“Did you find one–to suit?”

“Find one!”  The artist made a despairing
gesture.  “I found a dozen that I wanted.  The
trouble was to tell which I wanted the most.”

Billy gave a nervous little laugh.

“Isn’t that–unusual?” she asked.

Bertram lifted his eyebrows with a quizzical

“Well, they aren’t all Marguerite Winthrops,”
he reminded her.

“Marguerite!” cried Billy.  “Oh, is her name
Marguerite?  I do think Marguerite is the dearest
name!”  Billy’s eyes and voice were wistful.

“I don’t–not the _dearest_.  Oh, it’s all well
enough, of course, but it can’t be compared for
a moment to–well, say, `Billy’!”

Billy smiled, but she shook her head.

“I’m afraid you’re not a good judge of names,”
she objected.

“Yes, I am; though, for that matter, I should
love your name, no matter what it was.”

“Even if ’twas `Mary Jane,’ eh?” bantered
Billy.  “Well, you’ll have a chance to find out
how you like that name pretty quick, sir.  We’re
going to have one here.”

“You’re going to have a Mary Jane here?  Do
you mean that Rosa’s going away?”

“Mercy!  I hope not,” shuddered Billy.  “You
don’t find a Rosa in every kitchen–and never
in employment agencies!  My Mary Jane is a
niece of Aunt Hannah’s,–or rather, a cousin.
She’s coming to Boston to study music, and I’ve
invited her here.  We’ve asked her for a month,
though I presume we shall keep her right

Bertram frowned.

“Well, of course, that’s very nice for–_Mary
Jane_,” he sighed with meaning emphasis.

Billy laughed.

“Don’t worry, dear.  She won’t bother us any.”

“Oh, yes, she will,” sighed Bertram.  “She’ll
be ’round–lots; you see if she isn’t.  Billy, I
think sometimes you’re almost too kind–to
other folks.”

“Never!” laughed Billy.  Besides, what would
you have me do when a lonesome young girl was
coming to Boston?  Anyhow, _you’re_ not the one
to talk, young man.  I’ve known _you_ to take in
a lonesome girl and give her a home,” she flashed

Bertram chuckled.

“Jove!  What a time that was!” he exclaimed,
regarding his companion with fond eyes.  “And
Spunk, too!  Is she going to bring a Spunk?”

“Not that I’ve heard,” smiled Billy; “but she
_is_ going to wear a pink.”

“Not really, Billy?”

“Of course she is!  I told her to.  How do you
suppose we could know her when we saw her,
if she didn’t?” demanded the girl, indignantly.
“And what is more, sir, there will be _two_ pinks
worn this time.  _I_ sha’n't do as Uncle William did,
and leave off my pink.  Only think what long minutes–
that seemed hours of misery–I spent
waiting there in that train-shed, just because
I didn’t know which man was my Uncle

Bertram laughed and shrugged his shoulders.

“Well, your Mary Jane won’t probably turn
out to be quite such a bombshell as our Billy
did–unless she should prove to be a boy,” he
added whimsically.  “Oh, but Billy, she _can’t_
turn out to be such a dear treasure,” finished the
man.  And at the adoring look in his eyes Billy
blushed deeply–and promptly forgot all about
Mary Jane and her pink.

The Cooper O’ Cuddie

by Robert Burns

    The cooper o’ Cuddie cam’ here awa,
    And ca’d the girrs out owre us a’–
    And our gudewife has gotten a ca’
      That anger’d the silly gude-man, O.
    We’ll hide the cooper behind the door;
    Behind the door, behind the door;
    We’ll hide the cooper behind the door,
      And cover him under a mawn, O.


    He sought them out, he sought them in,
    Wi’, deil hae her! and, deil hae him!
    But the body was sae doited and blin’,
      He wist na where he was gaun, O.


    They cooper’d at e’en, they cooper’d at morn,
    ‘Till our gude-man has gotten the scorn;
    On ilka brow she’s planted a horn,
      And swears that they shall stan’, O.
    We’ll hide the cooper behind the door,
    Behind the door, behind the door;
    We’ll hide the cooper behind the door,
      And cover him under a mawn, O.

El Dorado

by Edgar Allan Poe
    Gaily bedight,
    A gallant knight,
  In sunshine and in shadow,
    Had journeyed long,
    Singing a song,
  In search of Eldorado.
    But he grew old–
    This knight so bold–
  And o’er his heart a shadow
    Fell as he found
    No spot of ground
  That looked like Eldorado.

  And, as his strength
    Failed him at length,
  He met a pilgrim shadow–
    “Shadow,” said he,
    “Where can it be–
  This land of Eldorado?”

    “Over the Mountains
    Of the Moon,
  Down the Valley of the Shadow,
    Ride, boldly ride,”
    The shade replied,
  “If you seek for Eldorado!”


by Emily Dickinson

That I did always love,
I bring thee proof:
That till I loved
I did not love enough.

That I shall love alway,
I offer thee
That love is life,
And life hath immortality.

This, dost thou doubt, sweet?
Then have I
Nothing to show
But Calvary.

To Rhea

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thee, dear friend, a brother soothes,
Not with flatteries, but truths,
Which tarnish not, but purify
To light which dims the morning’s eye.
I have come from the spring-woods,
From the fragrant solitudes;–
Listen what the poplar-tree
And murmuring waters counselled me.

If with love thy heart has burned;
If thy love is unreturned;
Hide thy grief within thy breast,
Though it tear thee unexpressed;
For when love has once departed
From the eyes of the false-hearted,
And one by one has torn off quite
The bandages of purple light;
Though thou wert the loveliest
Form the soul had ever dressed,
Thou shalt seem, in each reply,
A vixen to his altered eye;
Thy softest pleadings seem too bold,
Thy praying lute will seem to scold;
Though thou kept the straightest road,
Yet thou errest far and broad.

But thou shalt do as do the gods
In their cloudless periods;
For of this lore be thou sure,–
Though thou forget, the gods, secure,
Forget never their command,
But make the statute of this land.
As they lead, so follow all,
Ever have done, ever shall.
Warning to the blind and deaf,
‘T is written on the iron leaf,
_Who drinks of Cupid’s nectar cup_
_Loveth downward, and not up;_
He who loves, of gods or men,
Shall not by the same be loved again;
His sweetheart’s idolatry
Falls, in turn, a new degree.
When a god is once beguiled
By beauty of a mortal child
And by her radiant youth delighted,
He is not fooled, but warily knoweth
His love shall never be requited.
And thus the wise Immortal doeth,–
‘T is his study and delight
To bless that creature day and night;
From all evils to defend her;
In her lap to pour all splendor;
To ransack earth for riches rare,
And fetch her stars to deck her hair:
He mixes music with her thoughts,
And saddens her with heavenly doubts:
All grace, all good his great heart knows,
Profuse in love, the king bestows,
Saying, ‘Hearken! Earth, Sea, Air!
This monument of my despair
Build I to the All-Good, All-Fair.
Not for a private good,
But I, from my beatitude,
Albeit scorned as none was scorned,
Adorn her as was none adorned.
I make this maiden an ensample
To Nature, through her kingdoms ample,
Whereby to model newer races,
Statelier forms and fairer faces;
To carry man to new degrees
Of power and of comeliness.
These presents be the hostages
Which I pawn for my release.
See to thyself, O Universe!
Thou art better, and not worse.’–
And the god, having given all,
Is freed forever from his thrall.

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!

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.–

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