The Evening Company

Within the sitting-room, the company
Had been increased in number. Two or three
Young couples had been added: Emma King,
Ella and Mary Mathers — all could sing
Like veritable angels — Lydia Martin, too,
And Nelly Millikan. — What songs they knew! —

" " Ever of thee — wherever I may be,
Fondly I'm drea-m-ing ever of thee!" "

And with their gracious voices blend the grace
Of Warsaw Barnett's tenor; and the bass
Unfathomed of Wick Chapman — Fancy still
Can feel , as well as hear it, thrill on thrill,
Vibrating plainly down the backs of chairs
And through the wall and up the old hall-stairs. —
Indeed, young Chapman's voice especially
Attracted Mr. Hammond . — For, said he,
Waiving the most Elysian sweetness of
The ladies' voices — altitudes above
The man's for sweetness; — but — as contrast , would
Not Mr. Chapman be so very good
As, just now, to oblige all with — in fact,
Some sort of jolly song, — to counteract
In part, at least, the sad, pathetic trend
Of music generally . Which wish our friend
" The Noted Traveler " made second to
With heartiness — and so each, in review,
Joined in — until the radiant basso cleared
His wholly unobstructed throat and peered
Intently at the ceiling — voice and eye
As opposite indeed as earth and sky. —
Thus he uplifted his vast bass and let
It roam at large the memories booming yet:

" " Old Simon the Cellarer keeps a rare store
Of Malmsey and Malvoi-sie,
Of Cyprus, and who can say how many more? —
But a chary old soul is he-e-ee —
A chary old so-u-l is he!
Of hock and Canary he never doth fail;
And all the year round, there is brewing of ale; —
Yet he never aileth, he quaintly doth say,
While he keeps to his sober six flagons a day." "

. . . And then the chorus — the men's voices all
Warred in it — like a German Carnival. —
Even Mrs. Hammond smiled, as in her youth,
Hearing her husband. — And in veriest truth
" The Noted Traveler's " ever-present hat
Seemed just relaxed a little, after that,
As at conclusion of the Bacchic song
He stirred his " float " vehemently and long.
Then Cousin Rufus with his flute, and art
Blown blithely through it from both soul and heart —
Inspired to heights of mastery by the glad,
Enthusiastic audience he had
In the young ladies of a town that knew
No other flutist, — nay, nor wanted to,
Since they had heard his " Polly Hopkins Waltz, "
Or " Rickett's Hornpipe, " with its faultless faults,
As rendered solely, he explained, " by ear, "
Having but heard it once, Commencement Year,
At " Old Ann Arbor. "
Little Maymie now
Seemed " friends " with Mr. Hammond — anyhow,
Was lifted to his lap — where settled, she,
Enthroned thus, in her dainty majesty,
Gained universal audience — although
Addressing him alone: — " I'm come to show
You my new Red-blue pencil; and she says " —
(Pointing to Mrs. Hammond) — " that she guess'
You'll make a picture fer me. "
" And what kind
Of picture? " Mr. Hammond asked, inclined
To serve the child as bidden, folding square
The piece of paper she had brought him there, —
" I don't know, " Maymie said — " only ist make
A little dirl , like me! "
He paused to take
A sharp view of the child, and then he drew —
A while with red, and then a while with blue —
The outline of a little girl that stood
In converse with a wolf in a great wood;
And she had on a hood and cloak of red —
As Maymie watched — " Red Riding-Hood! " she said.
" And who's " Red Riding-Hood"? "
" W'y, don't you know? "
Asked little Maymie —
But the man looked so
All uninformed, that little Maymie could
But tell him all about Red Riding-Hood.
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