The Cricket’s Story by Emma Huntington Nason

The high and mighty lord of Glendare,
The owner of acres both broad and fair,
Searched, once on a time, his vast domains,
His deep, green forest, and yellow plains,
For some rare singer, to make complete
The studied charms of his country-seat;
But found, for all his pains and labors,
No sweeter songster than had his neighbors.

Ah, what shall my lord of the manor do?
He pondered the day and the whole night through.
He called on the gentry of hill-top and dale;
And at last on Madame the Nightingale, –
Inviting, in his majestical way,
Her pupils to sing at his grand soiree,
That perchance among them my lord might find
Some singer to whom his heart inclined.
What wonder, then, when the evening came,
And the castle gardens were all aflame
With the many curious lights that hung
O’er the ivied porches, and flared among
The grand old trees and the banners proud,
That many a heart beat high and loud,
While the famous choir of Glendare Bog,
Established and led by the Brothers Frog,
Sat thrumming as hoarsely as they were able,
In front of the manager’s mushroom table!

The overture closed with a crash – then, hark!
Across the stage comes the sweet-voiced Lark.
She daintily sways, with an airy grace,
And flutters a bit of gossamer lace,
While the leafy alcove echoes and thrills
With her liquid runs and lingering trills.
Miss Goldfinch came next, in her satin gown,
And shaking her feathery flounces down,
With much expression and feeling sung
Some “Oh’s” and “Ah’s” in a foreign tongue;
While to give the affair a classic tone,
Miss Katydid rendered a song of her own,
In which each line closed as it had begun,
With some wonderful deed which she had done.
Then the Misses Sparrow, so prim and set,
Twittered and chirped through a long duet;
And poor little Wren, who tried with a will,
But who couldn’t tell “Heber” from “Ortonville,”
Unconscious of sarcasm, piped away
And courtesied low o’er a huge bouquet
Of crimson clover-heads, culled by the dozen,
By some brown-coated, plebeian cousin.

But you should have heard the red Robin sing
His English ballad, “Come, beautiful Spring!”
And Master Owlet’s melodious tune,
“O, meet me under the silvery moon!”
Then, as flighty Miss Humming-bird didn’t care
To sing for the high and mighty Glendare,
The close of the evening’s performance fell
To the fair young Nightingale, Mademoiselle.
Ah! the wealth of each wonderful note
That came from the depths of her tiny throat!
She carolled, she trilled, and she held her breath,
Till she seemed to hang at the point of death:
She ran the chromatics through every key,
And ended triumphant on upper C;
Airing the graces her mother had taught her
In a manner quite worthy of Madame’s daughter.

But his lordship glared down the leafy aisle
With never so much as a nod or smile,
Till, out in the shade of a blackberry thicket,
He all of a sudden spied little Miss Cricket;
And, roused from his gloom, like an angry bat,
He sternly demanded, “Who is that?”
“Miss Cricket, my lord, may it please you so,
A charity scholar – ahem! – you know –
Quite worthy, of course, but we couldn’t bring” –
Thundered His Mightiness, “Let her sing!”
The Nightingale opened her little eyes
Extremely wide in her blank surprise;
But catching a glimpse of his lordship’s rage,
Led little Miss Cricket upon the stage,
Where she modestly sang, in her simple measures,
Of “Home, sweet Home,” and its humble pleasures.
And the lord of Glendare cried out in his glee,
“This little Miss Cricket shall sing for me!”

Of course, of comment there was no need;
But the world said, “Really!” and “Ah, indeed!”
Yet, notwithstanding, we find it true
As his lordship does will the neighbors do;
So this is the way, as the legends tell,
In the very beginning it befell
That the Crickets came, in the evening’s gloom,
To sing at our hearths of “Home, sweet Home.”