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Tunes For Spring
by [?]

But what is this jingling racket that comes upon the street? Bless us, it’s a hurdy-gurdy. The hurdy-gurdy, I need hardly tell you, belongs to the organ family. This family is one of the very oldest and claims descent, I believe, from the god Pan. However, it accepted Christianity early and has sent many a son within the church to pipe divinity. But the hurdy-gurdy–a younger son, wild, and a bit of a pagan like its progenitor–took to the streets. In its life there it has acquired, among much rascality, certain charming vices that are beyond the capacity of its brother in the loft, however much we may admire the deep rumble of his Sabbath utterance.

The world has denied that chanticleer proclaims the day. But as far as I know no one has had the insolence to deny the street-organ as the proper herald of the spring. Without it the seasons would halt. Though science lay me by the heels, I’ll assert that the crocus, which is a pioneer on the windy borderland of March, would not show its head except on the sounding of the hurdy-gurdy. I’ll not deny that flowers pop up their heads afield without such call, that the jack-in-the-pulpit speaks its maiden sermon on some other beckoning of nature. But in the city it is the hurdy-gurdy that gives notice of the turning of the seasons. On its sudden blare I’ve seen the green stalk of the daffodil jiggle. If the tune be of sufficient rattle and prolonged to the giving of the third nickel, before the end is reached there will be seen a touch of yellow.

Whether this follows from the same cause as attracts the children to flatten their noses on the windows and calls them to the curb that they put their ears close upon the racket that no sweetest sound be lost, is a deep question and not to be lightly answered. In the sound there is promise of the days to come when circuses will be loosed upon the land and elephants will go padding by–with eyes looking around for peanuts. Why this biggest of all beasts, this creature that looms above you like a crustaceous dinosaur–to use long words without squinting too closely on their meaning–why this behemoth with the swishing trunk, should eat peanuts, contemptible peanuts, lies so deep in nature that the mind turns dizzy. It is small stuff to feed valor on–a penny’s worth of food in such a mighty hulk. Whatever the lion eats may turn to lion, but the elephant strains the proverb. He might swallow you instead, breeches, hat and suspenders–if you be of the older school of dress before the belt came in–and not so much as cough upon the buttons. And there will be red and yellow wagons, boarded up seductively, as though they could show you, if they would, snakes and hyenas. May be it is best, you think–such things lying in the seeds of time–to lay aside a dime from the budget of the week, for one can never be sure against the carelessness of parents, and their jaded appetites.

But the hurdy-gurdy is the call to sterner business also. I know an old lady who, at the first tinkle from the street, will take off her glasses with a finality as though she were never to use them again for the light pleasure of reading, but intended to fill the remainder of her days with deeper purpose. There is a piece of two-legged villainy in her employ by the name of William, and even before the changing of the tune, she will have him rolling up the rugs for the spring cleaning. There is a sour rhythm in the fellow and he will beat a pretty syncopation on them if the hurdy-gurdy will but stick to marching time. It is said that he once broke the fabric of a Kermanshah in his zeal at some crescendo of the Robert E. Lee. But he was lost upon the valse and struck languidly and out of time.