When Twilight her soft robe of shadow spreads down.
And hushed is the roar and the din,
When Evening is cooling the sweltering town,
’Tis then that the frolics begin;
And up in dim “Finnegan’s Court,” on the pavement,
Shut in by the loom of the tenement’s wall,
’Neath the swinging arc-light, on a warm summer’s night,
They gather to dance at the hand-organ ball.
’Tis not a society function, you see,
But quite an informal affair;
The costumes are varied, yet simple and free,
And gems are exceedingly rare;
The ladies are gowned in their calicoes, fetching,
And coatless and cool are the gentlemen, all.
In a jacket, they say, one’s not rated au fait
By the finicky guests at the hand-organ ball.
There’s “Ikey,” the newsboy, and
“Muggsy” who “shines”;
There’s Beppo who peddles “banan’”;
There’s A. Lincoln Johnson, whose “Pa” kalsomines—
His skin has a very deep tan;
There’s Rosy, the cash-girl, and Mame, who ties bundles,
And Maggie, who works in the factory, tall;
She’s much in demand, for she “pivots so grand,”
She’s really the belle of the hand-organ ball.
Professor Spaghetti the music supplies,
From his hurdy-gurdy the waltz is sublime;
His fair daughter Rosa, whose tambourine flies,
Is merrily thumping the rollicking time;
The Widow McCann pats the tune with her slipper,
The peanut-man hums as he peers from his stall,
And Officer Quinn for a moment looks in
To see the new steps at the hand-organ ball.
The concert-hall tune echoes down the dark street,
The mothers lean out from the windows to see,
While soft sounds the pat of the dancers’ bare feet,
And tenement babies crow loud in their glee;
And labor-worn fathers are laughing and chatting,—
Forgot for an hour is grim poverty’s thrall;—
There’s joy here to-night, ’neath the swinging arc-light,
In “Finnegan’s Court,” at the hand-organ ball.
* * * * *
Want to see me, hey, old chap?
Want to curl up in my lap,
Do yer, Jim?
See him sit and purr and blink—
Don’t yer bet he knows I think
Lots of him?
Little kitten, nothin’ more,
When we found him at the door.
In the cold,
And the baby, half undressed,
Picked him up, and he was jest
All she’d hold.
Put him up fer me to see,
And she says, so ’cute, says she,
And we never had the heart
Fer to keep them two apart
Seem’s if I must hear the beat
Of her toddlin’ little feet
Seem to see her tucked in bed,
With the kitten’s furry head
Seem’s if I could hear her say,
In the cunnin’ baby way
That she had:
“Say ‘dood-night’ to Jimmie, do,
’Coz if ’oo fordetted to
He’d feel bad.”