Next to him the eldest daughter: She suggested very little, Only asked if he would take her With her look of 'passive beauty.'
Her idea of passive beauty Was a squinting of the left-eye, Was a drooping of the right-eye, Was a smile that went up sideways To the corner of the nostrils.
Hiawatha, when she asked him, Took no notice of the question, Looked as if he hadn't heard it; But, when pointedly appealed to, Smiled in his peculiar manner, Coughed and said it 'didn't matter,' Bit his lip and changed the subject.
Nor in this was he mistaken, As the picture failed completely.
So in turn the other sisters.
Last, the youngest son was taken: Very rough and thick his hair was, Very round and red his face was, Very dusty was his jacket, Very fidgety his manner. And his overbearing sisters Called him names he disapproved of: Called him Johnny, 'Daddy's Darling,' Called him Jacky, 'Scrubby School-boy.' And, so awful was the picture, In comparison the others Seemed, to one's bewildered fancy, To have partially succeeded.
Finally my Hiawatha Tumbled all the tribe together, ('Grouped' is not the right expression), And, as happy chance would have it Did at last obtain a picture Where the faces all succeeded: Each came out a perfect likeness.
Then they joined and all abused it, Unrestrainedly abused it, As the worst and ugliest picture They could possibly have dreamed of. 'Giving one such strange expressions - Sullen, stupid, pert expressions. Really any one would take us (Any one that did not know us) For the most unpleasant people!' (Hiawatha seemed to think so, Seemed to think it not unlikely). All together rang their voices, Angry, loud, discordant voices, As of dogs that howl in concert, As of cats that wail in chorus.
But my Hiawatha's patience, His politeness and his patience, Unaccountably had vanished, And he left that happy party. Neither did he leave them slowly, With the calm deliberation, The intense deliberation Of a photographic artist: But he left them in a hurry, Left them in a mighty hurry, Stating that he would not stand it, Stating in emphatic language What he'd be before he'd stand it. Hurriedly he packed his boxes: Hurriedly the porter trundled On a barrow all his boxes: Hurriedly he took his ticket: Hurriedly the train received him: Thus departed Hiawatha.
With saddest music all day long She soothed her secret sorrow: At night she sighed "I fear 'twas wrong Such cheerful words to borrow. Dearest, a sweeter, sadder song I'll sing to thee to-morrow."
I thanked her, but I could not say That I was glad to hear it: I left the house at break of day, And did not venture near it Till time, I hoped, had worn away Her grief, for nought could cheer it!
My dismal sister! Couldst thou know The wretched home thou keepest! Thy brother, drowned in daily woe, Is thankful when thou sleepest; For if I laugh, however low, When thou'rt awake, thou weepest!
I took my sister t'other day (Excuse the slang expression) To Sadler's Wells to see the play In hopes the new impression Might in her thoughts, from grave to gay Effect some slight digression.
I asked three gay young dogs from town To join us in our folly, Whose mirth, I thought, might serve to drown My sister's melancholy: The lively Jones, the sportive Brown, And Robinson the jolly.
The maid announced the meal in tones That I myself had taught her, Meant to allay my sister's moans Like oil on troubled water: I rushed to Jones, the lively Jones, And begged him to escort her.
Vainly he strove, with ready wit, To joke about the weather - To ventilate the last 'ON DIT' - To quote the price of leather - She groaned "Here I and Sorrow sit: Let us lament together!"
I urged "You're wasting time, you know: Delay will spoil the venison." "My heart is wasted with my woe! There is no rest--in Venice, on The Bridge of Sighs!" she quoted low From Byron and from Tennyson.
I need not tell of soup and fish In solemn silence swallowed, The sobs that ushered in each dish, And its departure followed, Nor yet my suicidal wish To BE the cheese I hollowed.