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Tunes For Spring
by [?]

But maybe, Reader, in your youth you have heated a penny above a lamp, and with treacherous smile you have come before an open window. And when the son of Italy has grinned and beckoned for your bounty–the penny being just short of a molten state–you have thrown it to him. He stoops, he feels…. You have learned by this how much more blessed it is to give than to receive. Or, to dig deep in the riot of your youth, you have leased a hurdy-gurdy for a dollar and with other devils of your kind gone forth to seek your fortune. It’s in noisier fashion than when Goldsmith played the flute through France for board and bed. If you turned the handle slowly and fast by jerks you attained a rare tempo that drew attention from even the most stolid windows. But as music it was as naught.

Down the street–it being now noon and the day Monday–Mrs. Y’s washing will be out to dry. Observe her gaunt replica, cap-a-pie, as immodest as an advertisement! In her proper person she is prodigal if she unmask her beauty to the moon. And in company with this, is the woolen semblance of her plump husband. Neither of them is shap’d for sportive tricks: But look upon them when the music starts! Hand in hand upon the line, as is proper for married folk, heel and toe together, one, two, and a one, two, three. It is the hurdy-gurdy that calls to life such revelry. The polka has come to its own again.

Yet despite this evidence that the hurdy-gurdy sets the world to dancing–like the fiddle in the Turkish tale where even the headsman forgot his business–despite such evidence there are persons who affect to despise its melody. These claim such perceptivity of the outer ear and such fineness of the channels that the tune is but a clack when it gets inside. God pity such! I’ll not write a word of them.

A spring day is at its best about noon. I thrust this in the teeth of those who prefer the dawn or the coming on of night. At noon there are more yellow wheels upon the street. The hammering on sheds is at its loudest as the time for lunch comes near. More grocers’ carts are rattling on their business. There is a better chance that a load of green wheelbarrows may go by, or a wagon of red rhubarb. Then, too, the air is so warm that even decrepitude fumbles on the porch and down the steps, with a cane to poke the weeds.

If you have luck, you may see a “cullud pusson” pushing a whitewash cart with altruistic intent toward all dusky surfaces except his own. Or maybe he has nice appreciation of what color contrasts he himself presents when the work is midway. If he wear the faded memory of a silk hat, it’s the better picture.

But also the schools are out and the joy of life is hissing up a hundred gullets. Baseball has now a fierceness it lacks at the end of day. There is wild demand that “Shorty, soak ‘er home!” “Butter-fingers!” is a harder insult. And meanwhile a pop-corn wagon will be whistling a blithe if monotonous tune in trial if there be pennies in the crowd. Or a waffle may be purchased if you be a Croesus, ladled exclusively for you and dropped on the gridiron with a splutter. It is a sweet reward after you have knocked a three-bagger and stolen home, and is worth a search in all your eleven pockets for any last penny that may be skulking in the fuzz.

Or perhaps there is such wealth upon your person that there is still a restless jingle. In such case you will cross the street to a shop that ministers to the wants of youth. In the window is displayed a box of marbles–glassies, commonies, and a larger browny adapted to the purpose of “pugging,” by reason of the violence with which it seems to respond to the impact of your thumb. Then there are baseballs of graded excellence and seduction. And tops. Time is needed for the choosing of a top. First you stand tiptoe with nose just above the glass and make your trial selection. Pay no attention to the color, for that’s the way a girl chooses! Black is good, without womanish taint. Then you wiggle the peg for its tightness and demand whether it be screwed in like an honest top. And finally, before putting your money down, you will squint upon its roundness. Then slam the door and yell your presence to the street!

Or do you come on softer errand? In the rear of the shop is a parlor with a base-burner and virtuous mottoes on the walls–a cosy room with vases. And here it is they serve cream-puffs…. For safe transfer you balance the puff in your fingers and take an enveloping bite, emerging with a prolonged suck for such particles as may not have come safely across, and bending forward with stomach held in. I’ll leave you in this refreshment; for if the money hold, you will gobble until the ringing of the bell.

By this time, as you may imagine, the person with the sagging pockets whom I told you of, has arrived in the center of the city where already he is practicing such device of penny-picking as he may be master of.