Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > American
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. I–V: American
 
John Henry at the Musicale
By George Vere Hobart (1867–1926)
 
DID you ever get ready and go to a musicale?  1
  Isn’t it the velvet goods?  2
  They pulled off one at Jack Frothingham’s last Wednesday evening, and I had to walk up and down the aisle with the rest of the bunch.  3
  Mind you, I like Jack, so this is no secret conclave of the Anvil Association.  4
  Only, I wish to put him wise, that when he gives his next musicale my address is Forest Avenue, in the woods.  5
  When I reached Jack’s house the Burnish Brothers were grabbing groutchy music out of a guitar that didn’t want to give up, and the mad revel was on.  6
  The Burnish Brothers part their hair in the middle, and always do “The Washington Post” march on their mandolins for an encore.  7
  If Mr. Sousa ever catches them there’ll be a couple of shine chord-squeezers away to the bad.  8
  When the Burnish Brothers took a bow and backed off, we were all invited to listen to a soprano solo by Miss Imogene Lukewarm.  9
  Somebody went around and locked the doors, so I made up my mind to die game.  10
  A foolish friend once told Imogene she could sing, so she went out and bought up a bunch of tra-la-la’s and began to beat them around the parlor.  11
  When Imogene sings she makes faces at herself.  12
  If she needs a high note she goes after it like she was calling the dachshund in to dinner.  13
  Imogene sang “Sleep, Sweetly Sleep,” and then kept us awake with her voice.  14
  After Imogene crept back to her cave we had the first treat of the evening, and the shock was so sudden it jarred us.  15
  Uncle Mil came out and quivered a violin obligato entitled “The Lost Sheep in the Mountain,” and it was all there is.  16
  Uncle Mil was the only green spot in the desert.  17
  When he gathered the gourd up under his chin and allowed the bow to tiptoe over the bridge, you could hear the nightingale calling to its mate.  18
  I wanted to get up a petition asking Uncle Mil to play all the evening and make us all happy, but Will Bruce wouldn’t let me.  19
  Will said he wasn’t feeling very well, and he wanted to hear the rest of the program and feel worse.  20
  He got his wish.  21
  The next thing we had was Sibyl, the illusionist.  22
  Sibyl did a lot of moldy tricks with cards, and every few minutes she fell down and sprained her sleight of hand.  23
  Sibyl was a polish for sure.  24
  Then Swift McGee, the boy monologist, flung himself in the breach and told a bunch of Bixbys.  25
  It was a cruel occasion.  26
  Swift had an idea that when it came to cracking merry boo-boos he could pull Lew Dockstader off the horse and leave him under the fence.  27
  As a monologist Swift thought he had George Fuller Golden half-way across the bay, and Fred Niblo was screaming for help.  28
  Swift often told himself that he could give Marshall P. Wilder six sure-fires and beat him down to the wire.  29
  Swift is one of those low-foreheads who “write their own stuff” and say “I done it!”  30
  After Swift had talked the audience into a chill, he pushed on and left us with a stone-bruise on our memories.  31
  Then we had Rufus Nelson, the parlor prestidigitator.  32
  He cooked an omelet in a silk hat, and when he gave the hat back to Ed Walker the poached eggs fell out and cuddled up in Ed’s hair.  33
  Rufus apologized, and said he’d do the trick over again if some one else would lend him a hat, but there was nothing doing.  34
  When the contralto crawled under the ropes and began to tell us that the bells in the village rang ding-ding-dong, I was busy watching a goo-goo bird.  35
  Did you ever spot one of those Glance-Givers?  36
  This chap’s name was Llewellyn Joyce, and he considered himself a perfect hellyon.  37
  He thought all he had to do was to roll his lamps at a lassie and she was off the slate.  38
  Llewellyn loved to sit around at the musicale and burn the belle of the ball with his goo-goo eyes.  39
  Llewellyn needed a swift slap—that’s what he needed.  40
  Next we had the Nonpareil Quartet, and they were the boys that could eat up the close harmony!  41
  They sang “Love, I am Lonely!” from start to finish without stopping to call the waiter.  42
  Then we had Clarissa Coldslaw in select recitations.  43
  She was all the money.  44
  Clarissa grabbed “Hamlet’s Soliloquy” between her pearly teeth and shook it to death.  45
  She got a half-Nelson on Poe’s “Raven” and put it out of the business.  46
  Then she gave an imitation of the balcony scene from “Romeo and Juliet.”  47
  If Juliet talked like that dame did, no wonder she took poison.  48
  But when she let down her hair and started to give us a mad scene—me to the sand dunes!  49
  It was a case of flee as a bird with yours respectfully.  50
  Those musicale things would be aces if the music didn’t set them back.  51
 
 
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