Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Washington’s Birth-Day

From  Harper's Weekly for March 4, 1882:

Washington’s Birth-Day
by Howard Pyle

The breakfast china stood in rows,
And all was smart and bright at home,
Where Patience stood in Sunday clothes,
Waiting for Jared Judd to come.

For it was Washington’s Birth-day,
And Jared was to take her down
To Bristol Township for to stay,
And see the doings in the town.

So up he comes, all sprucely dressed:
A finer sight you never see
Than Jared in his Sunday best,
With light blue coat and figured vest,
And splatterdashers to the knee.

Then Jared’s heart beat nation high,
As down they rode the turnpike way,
With Patience on the pillion nigh
Behind him, on the dapple gray.

The town with flags was all afloat;
They fluttered in the frosty air;
And all the men of local note
Were gathered there from everywhere.

And there they see the butchers’ stalls,
With “show beef” hung, and ribbons gay,
And flags tacked up against the wall,
Where sirloins stand in fat array.

The fife and drums are playing loud,
And likely girls the sidewalks hem,
And close behind the band, a crowd
Of men and boys march after them.

The drummers make a pesky noise,
The fifer fifes with might and main;
The girls laugh at the men and boys,
Then look away and laugh again.

And on the common, near at hand,
They’d brought the old town cannon out,
And built a ten-foot speeching-stand,
With flags and streamers hung about.

And there they see the train-band stout
All step about with measured tread,
While Captain Green gives orders out,
And marches boldly at their head.

And then Judge Dean he makes a speech,
While great men sit along the stand.
Says he, “The train-band men will teach
Our foes to shun our native land.”

At which all cheered; and Captain Bent
He jabbed a red-hot poker to
The cannon’s butt, and off it went,
Till't shook the folks all through and through.

It frightened Patience so, she caught
At Jared's arm and shook for fear;
And so he took her by, and bought
Her cooky-cakes and ginger-beer.

And so the holiday was passed;
And as the afternoon grew late,
He took her home, and said good-by,
And kissed her near the garden gate.

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