“Is that you, ’Laddin?”
“Sssh, darlint,” said Aladdin; “you’ll wake Mother Brackett.”
In his own room there was a lamp burning low, and on his bureau was a note for him from Margaret:
Dear Aladdin: Papa wants you to come up and have supper with us. Peter Manners is here, and I think it will be fun. Please do come, and remember a lot of foolish songs to sing. Why wouldn’t you speak to me? It hurts so when you act like that . . . .
Aladdin, kissing the note, went down on his knees and twice began to pray, “O God—O God!” He could say no more, but all the penitence and heartburnings of his soul were in his prayer. Later he lay on his bed staring into a darkness which moved in wheels, and he kept saying to the darkness:
“Neither the angels
in Heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.”
Late in the still morning he awoke, grieving and hurt, for he did not see how he should ever face Mrs. Brackett, or his brother, or Margaret, or himself, or anybody ever again.
There was in town at this time what passed for a comic-opera troupe, and Margaret and her father, by way of doing honor to their guest, invited all the young people to go to the performance and attend a supper afterward. The party occupied the three foremost rows in the music-hall, and Aladdin sat next to Margaret, and Manners sat upon the other side.
The hero of the piece was a jovial big rascal with a spirited voice, and much byplay which kept his good-natured audience in titters—from the young gentlemen and little shrieks—from the young ladies. Mr. Blythoe, the hero, when the curtain had fallen upon what the management was pleased to call the second act, consented, in response to continued applause, due to a double back somersault and two appropriate remarks fired off in midair (this was his great psychic moment), to make a little speech and sing a song. His speech, though syntactically erratic, was delivered in a loud, frank way that won everybody’s heart, and in closing he said:
“Three nights ago I met with a young feller in this tow—city [applause], and when we had taken one together for luck [titters from the young gentlemen, who wanted one another to know that they knew what he meant], he made me the loan of the song I’m a-going to sing. He made up the words and the tune of this song hisself, and he’s right here in this audience.” This gave an opportunity for some buffoonery among the young gentlemen. Mr. Blythoe looked for one instant straight at Aladdin, and Aladdin went into a cold sweat, for he began to recollect that somewhere on a certain awful night he had taken drinks with Mr. Blythoe and had sung him songs. Mr. Blythoe went on:
“This young gentleman said I specially wasn’t to mention his name, and I won’t, but I want all you ladies and gentlemen to know that this here beautiful ballad was composed right here in this tow—city [applause] by a citizen of this city. And here goes.”