When Independence Day was nigh,
And children laid their pennies by,
Arranging plans how every cent
Should celebrate the grand event,
The Brownies in their earnest way
Expressed themselves about the day.
Said one: “The time is drawing near—
To every freeman’s heart so dear—
When citizens throughout the land,
From Western slope to Eastern strand,
Will celebrate with booming gun
Their liberties so dearly won!”
“A fitting time,” another cried,
“For us, who many sports have tried,
To introduce our mystic art
And in some manner play a part.”
A third replied, with beaming face:
“Trust me to lead you to a place
Where fireworks of every kind
Are made to suit the loyal mind.
“There, Roman candles are in store,
And bombs that like a cannon roar;
While ’round the room one may behold
Designs of every size and mold,—
The wheels that turn, when all ablaze,
And scatter sparks a thousand ways;
The eagle bird, with pinions spread;
The busts of statesmen ages dead;
And him who led his tattered band
Against invaders of the land
Until he shook the country free
From grasp of kings beyond the sea.
“We may, from this supply, with ease
Secure a share whene’er we please;
And on these hills behind the town
That to the plain go sloping down,
We’ll take position, come what may,
And celebrate the Nation’s Day.”
That eve, when stars began to shine,
The eager band was formed in line,
And, acting on the plans well laid,
A journey to the town was made.
The Brownies never go astray,
However puzzling is the way;
With guides before and guards behind,
They cut through every turn and wind,
Until a halt was made at last
Before a building bolted fast.
But those who think they’d turn around
And leave because no keys are found
Should entertain the thought no more,
But study up the Brownie lore.
They rummaged boxes piled around
And helped themselves to what they found,
Some eager to secure the wheel
That would so many sparks reveal.
Some active members of the band
To bombs and crackers turned their hand,
While more those emblems sought to find
That call the Nation’s birth to mind,
And bring from every side the shout
When all their meaning blazes out.
Ere long, upon the homeward road
They hastened with their novel load:
And when the bell in chapel tower
Gave notice of the midnight hour,
The ruddy flame, the turning wheel,
The showering sparks and deafening peal
Showed Brownies in the proper way
Gave welcome to the glorious day.
The lighted eagles, through the night,
Looked down like constellations bright;
The rockets, whizzing to and fro,
Lit up the slumbering town below;
While, towering there with eyes of fire,
As when he made his foes retire,
Above all emblems duly raised,
The Father of his Country blazed.
But ere the Brownies’ large supply
Had gone to light the summer sky,
Some plasters would have served the band
Much better than the goods on hand;
For there were cases all about
Where Brownies thought the fuse was out,
Till with a sudden fizz and flare
It caught the jokers unaware.
At times, in spite of warning cries,
Some proved too slow at closing eyes;
Some ears were stunned, some noses got
Too close to some- thing quick and hot,
And fingers bore for days and weeks
The trace of hasty powder’s freaks.
Some dodging ’round would get a share
Of splendor meant for upper air,
And with a black or speckled face
They ran about from place to place,
To find new dangers blaze and burn
On every side where’er they’d turn.
But few were there who felt afraid
Of bursting bomb or fusillade,
And to the prize they’d stick and hang
Until it vanished with a “bang,”
Or darting upward seemed to fly
On special business to the sky.
But there, while darkness wrapped the hill,
The Brownies celebrated still;
For, pleasures such as this they found
But seldom in their roaming ’round;
And with reluctant feet they fled
When morning tinged the sky with red.