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A Busy Year at the Old Squire's by C. A. Stephens

There are plenty of girls tormentin' pianners now


"Now,

sir," said the master, "catch the key-note from me. Do! Now re--mi," and so forth.

Bear-Tone had great difficulty in getting Newman through the scale. "'Fraid you never'll make a great singer, my boy," he said, "but you may be able to grumble bass a little, if you prove to have an ear that can follow. Next on that seat."

The pupil so designated was a Bagdad boy named Freeman Knights. He hoarsely rattled off, "Do, re, mi, fa, sol," all on the same tone. When Bear-Tone had spent some moments in trying to make him rise and fall on the notes, he exclaimed:

"My dear boy, you may be able to drive oxen, but you'll never sing. It wouldn't do you any good to stay here, and as the room is crowded the best thing you can do is to run home."

Opening the door, he gave Freeman a friendly pat on the shoulder and a push into better air outside.

Afterwards came Freeman's sister, Nellie Knights; she could discern no difference between do and la--at which Bear-Tone heaved a sigh.

"Wai, sis, you'll be able to call chickens, I guess, because that's all on one note, but 'twouldn't be worth while for you to try to sing, or torment a pianner. There are plenty of girls tormentin' pianners now. I guess you'd better go home, too; it may come on to snow."

Nellie departed

angrily and slammed the door. Bear-Tone looked after her. "Yes," he said, "'tis kind of hard to say that to a girl. Don't wonder she's a little mad. And yet, that's the kindest thing I can do. Even in Scripter there was the sheep and the goats; the goats couldn't sing, and the sheep could; they had to be separated."

He went on testing voices and sending the "goats" home. Some of the "goats," however, lingered round outside, made remarks and peeped in at the windows. In an hour their number had grown to eighteen or twenty.

Dreading the ordeal, I slunk into a back seat. I saw my cousin, Addison, who had a fairly good voice, join the "sheep," and then Theodora, Ellen, Kate and Thomas; but I could not escape the ordeal forever, and at last my turn came. When Bear-Tone bade me sing the scale, fear so constricted my vocal cords that I squealed rather than sang.

"Sonny, there's lots of things a boy can do besides sing," Bear-Tone said as he laughingly consigned me to the outer darkness. "It's no great blessing, after all." He patted my shoulder. "I can sing a little, but I've never been good for much else. So don't you feel bad about it."

But I did feel bad, and, joining the "goats" outside, I helped to organize a hostile demonstration. We began to march round the schoolhouse, howling Yankee Doodle. Our discordant noise drew a prompt response. The door opened and Bear-Tone's huge form appeared.


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