The members of the chorus were seated on the large platform, the girls being on the right and the fellows on the left. A loud hum of conversation arose from the audience and chorus, a constant turning over and rattling of programmes gave a cheerful and animated appearance to the scene. The centre door at the rear of the platform was opened and all eyes were turned in that direction, the chorus twisting their necks or turning half ’round in their seats.
Professor Strout entered and was greeted with a loud burst of applause. He wore a dress suit that he had hired in Boston, and there was a large white rose in the lapel of his coat. He was accompanied by Miss Tilly James, the pianist, who wore a handsome wine-colored silk dress that had been made for the occasion by the best dressmaker in Cottonton. As she took her place at the piano and ran her fingers over the keys, she, too, came in for a liberal round of applause. Professor Strout bowed to the audience, then turning his back upon them, he stood with baton uplifted facing the chorus and waiting the advent of the town committee. Every eye in the audience was fixed upon the programme. It contained the information that the first number was an opening chorus entitled, “Welcome to the Town Committee,” written and composed by Professor Obadiah Strout and sung for the first time with great success at the last annual concert.
The door at the rear of the platform was opened again and Deacon Abraham Mason, the Rev. Caleb Howe, and Mr. Benoni Hill, the members of the town committee on singing school, entered. Deacon Mason was accompanied by Quincy Adams Sawyer, and all eyes were fastened on the couple as they took their seats at the right of the platform, the Rev. Mr. Howe and Mr. Hill being seated on the left.
Quincy Adams Sawyer in appearance and dress was a marked contrast to the stout, hardy, and rugged young farmers of Eastborough. He had dark hair, dark eyes, and a small black mustache curled at the ends. His face was pallid, but there was a look of determination in the firmly set jaw, resolute mouth, and sharp eye. He wore a dark suit with Prince Albert coat. Upon one arm hung an overcoat of light-colored cloth. He wore light-brown kid gloves and in one hand carried a light-colored Kossuth hat.
As soon as the committee and their guest had taken their seats, Professor Strout tapped upon his music stand with his baton and the members of the Eastborough Singing Society arose to their feet with that total disregard of uniformity and unanimity of motion that always characterizes a body of undrilled performers. Each girl was obliged to look at her own dress and that of her neighbor to see if they were all right, while each fellow felt it absolutely necessary to shuffle his feet, pull down his cuffs, pull up his collar, and arrange his necktie. Despite the confusion and individual preparations the chorus took the opening note promptly and sang the “Welcome to the Town