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POINT LACE AND DIAMONDS
BY
GEORGE A. BAKER, JR.



POINT LACE
AND
DIAMONDS

BY
GEORGE A. BAKER, JR.
AUTHOR OF
_"The Bad Habits of Good Society," "West Point," etc._

NEW AND REVISED EDITION
WITH NUMEROUS NEW POEMS

[Illustration]

NEW YORK
FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY
MDCCCXCIII




Copyrighted in 1875, by F.B. Patterson.

Copyright, 1886,
By White, Stokes, & Allen.




CONTENTS.


PAGE

Retrospection 1
A Rosebud in Lent 4
A Reformer 5
In the Record Room, Surrogate's Office 6
_De Lunatico_ 8
_Pro Patria et Gloria_ 11
After the German 15
An Idyl of the Period 17
Chivalrie 22
A Piece of Advice 24
_Zwei Könige auf Orkadal_ 27
A Song 28
Making New Year's Calls 30
Jack and Me 34
_Les Enfants Perdus_ 37
Chinese Lanterns 40
Thoughts on the Commandments 43
Marriage _à la Mode_. A Trilogy 45
The "Stay-at-Home's" Plaint 58
The "Stay-at-Home's" Pæan 62
Eight Hours 65
Sleeping Beauty 68
Easter Morning 71
A Legend of St. Valentine 75
Frost-Bitten 79
A Song 81
Old Photographs 83
"_Le Dernier Jour d'un Condamné_" 85
Christmas Greens 88
Lake Mahopac - Saturday Night 91
Matinal Musings 95
A Romance of the Sawdust 99
Pyrotechnic Polyglot 105
Fishing 108
_Nocturne_ 111
_Auto-da-Fé_ 113
An Afterthought 117
_Reductio ad Absurdum_ 120
The Mothers of the Sirens 122
_Per Aspera ad Astra_ 124
The Language of Love 126



Transcriber's Note: Possible typos and irregularities in
indentation and word usage have been left as found in the
original. There are places where punctuation may not have
been correctly picked up by the scanning software; please
consult another source if you require complete accuracy.




RETROSPECTION.


I'd wandered, for a week or more,
Through hills, and dells, and doleful green'ry,
Lodging at any carnal door,
Sustaining life on pork, and scenery.
A weary scribe, I'd just let slip
My collar, for a short vacation,
And started on a walking trip,
That cheapest form of dissipation -

And vilest, Oh! confess my pen,
That I, prosaic, rather hate your
"Ode to a Sky-lark" sort of men;
I really am not fond of Nature.
Mad longing for a decent meal
And decent clothing overcame me;
There came a blister on my heel -
I gave it up; and who can blame me?

Then wrote my "Pulse of Nature's Heart,"
Which I procured some little cash on,
And quickly packed me to depart
In search of "gilded haunts" of fashion,
Which I might puff at column rates,
To please my host and meet my reckoning;
"Base is the slave who" - hesitates
When wealth, and pleasure both are beckoning.

I sought; I found. Among the swells
I had my share of small successes,
Made languid love to languid belles
And penn'd descriptions of their dresses.
Ah! Millionairess Millicent,
How fair you were! How you adored me!
How many tender hours we spent -
And, oh, beloved, how you bored me!
APRIL, 1871.

Is not that fragmentary bit
Of my young verse a perfect prism,
Where worldly knowledge, pleasant wit,
True humor, kindly cynicism,
Refracted by the frolic glass
Of Fancy, play with change incessant?
JUNE, 1874.

Great Cæsar! What a sweet young ass
I must have been, when adolescent!
AUGUST, 1886.




A ROSEBUD IN LENT.


You saw her last, the ball-room's belle,
A _soufflé_, lace and roses blent;
Your worldly worship moved her then;
She does not know you now, in Lent.

See her at prayer! Her pleading hands
Bear not one gem of all her store.
Her face is saint-like. Be rebuked
By those pure eyes, and gaze no more

Turn, turn away! But carry hence
The lesson she has dumbly taught -
That bright young creature kneeling there
With every feeling, every thought

Absorbed in high and holy dreams
Of - new Spring dresses truth to say,
To them the time is sanctified
From Shrove-tide until Easter day.




A REFORMER.


You call me trifler, fainéant,
And bid me give my life an aim! -
You're most unjust, dear. Hear me out,
And own your hastiness to blame.
I live with but a single thought;
My inmost heart and soul are set
On one sole task - a mighty one -
To simplify our alphabet.

Five vowel sounds we use in speech;
They're A, and E, I, O, and U:
I mean to cut them down to four.
You "wonder what good _that_ will do."
Why, this cold earth will bloom again,
Eden itself be half re-won,
When breaks the dawn of my success
And U and I at last are one.




IN THE RECORD ROOM, SURROGATE'S OFFICE.


A tomb where legal ghouls grow fat;
Where buried papers, fold on fold,
Crumble to dust, that 'thwart the sun
Floats dim, a pallid ghost of gold.
The day is dying. All about,
Dark, threat'ning shadows lurk; but still
I ponder o'er a dead girl's name
Fast fading from a dead man's will.

Katrina Harland, fair and sweet,
Sole heiress of your father's land,
Full many a gallant wooer rode
To snare your heart, to win your hand.
And one, perchance - who loved you best,
Feared men might sneer - "he sought her gold" -
And never spoke, but turned away
Stubborn and proud, to call you cold.

Cold? Would I knew! Perhaps you loved,
And mourned him all a virgin life.
Perhaps forgot his very name
As happy mother, happy wife.
Unanswered, sad, I turn away -
"You loved _her_ first, then?" _First_ - well - no -
You little goose, the Harland will
Was proved full sixty years ago.

But Katrine's lands to-day are known
To lawyers as the Glass House tract;
Who were her heirs, no record shows;
The title's bad, in point of fact,
If she left children, at her death,
I've been retained to clear the title;
And all the questions, raised above,
Are, you'll perceive, extremely vital.




DE LUNATICO.


The squadrons of the sun still hold
The western hills, their armor glances,
Their crimson banners wide unfold,
Low-levelled lie their golden lances.
The shadows lurk along the shore,
Where, as our row-boat lightly passes,
The ripples startled by our oar,
Hide murmuring 'neath the hanging grasses.

Your eyes are downcast, for the light
Is lingering on your lids - forgetting
How late it is - for one last sight
Of you the sun delays his setting.
One hand droops idly from the boat,
And round the white and swaying fingers,
Like half-blown lilies gone afloat,
The amorous water, toying, lingers.

I see you smile behind your book,
Your gentle eyes concealing, under
Their drooping lids a laughing look
That's partly fun, and partly wonder
That I, a man of presence grave,
Who fight for bread 'neath Themis' banner
Should all at once begin to rave
In this - I trust - Aldrichian manner.

They say our lake is - sad, but true -
The mill-pond of a Yankee village,
Its swelling shores devoted to
The various forms of kitchen tillage;
That you're no more a maiden fair,
And I no lover, young and glowing;
Just an old, sober, married pair,
Who, after tea, have gone out rowing

Ah, dear, when memories, old and sweet,
Have fooled my reason thus, believe me,
Your eyes can only help the cheat,
Your smile more thoroughly deceive me.
I think it well that men, dear wife,
Are sometimes with such madness smitten,
Else little joy would be in life,
And little poetry be written.




PRO PATRIA ET GLORIA.


The lights blaze high in our brilliant rooms;
Fair are the maidens who throng our halls;
Soft, through the warm and perfumed air,
The languid music swells and falls.
The "Seventh" dances and flirts to-night -
All we are fit for, so they say,
We fops and weaklings, who masquerade
As soldiers, sometimes, in black and gray.

We can manage to make a street parade,
But, in a fight, we'd be sure to run.
Defend you! pshaw, the thought's absurd!
How about April, sixty-one?
What was it made your dull blood thrill?
Why did you cheer, and weep, and pray?
Why did each pulse of your hearts mark time
To the tramp of the boys in black and gray?

You've not forgotten the nation's call
When down in the South the war-cloud burst;
"Troops for the front!" Do you ever think
Who answered, and marched, and got there _first_?
Whose bayonets first scared Maryland?
Whose were the colors that showed the way?
Who set the step for the marching North?
Some holiday soldiers in black and gray.

"Pretty boys in their pretty suits!"
"Too pretty by far to take under fire!"
A pretty boy in a pretty suit
Lay once in Bethel's bloody mire.
The first to fall in the war's first fight -
Raise him tenderly. Wash away
The blood and mire from the pretty suit;
For Winthrop died in the black and gray.

In the shameful days in sixty-three,
When the city fluttered in abject fear,
'Neath the mob's rude grasp, who ever thought -
"God! if the Seventh were only here!"
Our drums were heard - the ruffian crew
Grew tired of riot the self-same day -
By chance of course - you don't suppose
They feared the dandies in black and gray!

So we dance and flirt in our listless style
While the waltzes dream in the drill-room arch,
What would we do if the order came,
Sudden and sharp - "Let the Seventh march!"
Why, we'd faint, of course; our cheeks would pale;
Our knees would tremble, our fears - but stay,
That order I think has come ere this
To those holiday troops in black and gray.

"What would we do!" We'd drown our drums
In a storm of cheers, and the drill-room floor
Would ring with rifles. Why, you fools,
We'd do as we've always done before!
Do our duty! Take what comes
With laugh and jest, be it feast or fray -
But we're dandies - yes, for we'd rather die
Than sully the pride of our black and gray.




AFTER THE GERMAN.
A SOPHOMORE SOLILOQUY.


Blackboard, with ruler and rubber before me,
Chalk loosely held in my hand,
Sun-gilded motes in the air all around me,
Listlessly dreaming I stand.

What do I care for the problem I've written
In characters gracefully slight,
As the festal-robed beauties whose fairy feet flitted
Through the maze of the German last night!

What do I care for the lever of friction,
For sine, or co-ordinate plane,
When fairy musicians are playing the "Mabel,"
And waltzes each nerve in my brain!

On my coat's powdered chalk, not the dust of the diamond
That only last night sparkled there,
By the galop's wild whirl shower'd down on my shoulder
From turbulent tresses of hair.

In my ear is the clatter of chalk against blackboard,
Not music's voluptuous swell;
Alas! this is life, - so pass mortal pleasures,
And, - thank goodness, there goes the bell!




AN IDYL OF THE PERIOD.
IN TWO PARTS.
PART ONE.


"Come right in. How are you, Fred?
Find a chair, and get a light."
"Well, old man, recovered yet
From the Mather's jam last night?"
"Didn't dance. The German's old."
"Didn't you? I had to lead -
Awful bore! Did you go home?"
"No. Sat out with Molly Meade.
Jolly little girl she is -
Said she didn't care to dance,
'D rather sit and talk to me -
Then she gave me such a glance!
So, when you had cleared the room,
And impounded all the chairs,
Having nowhere else, we two
Took possession of the stairs.
I was on the lower step,
Molly, on the next above,
Gave me her bouquet to hold,
Asked me to undo her glove.
Then, of course, I squeezed her hand,
Talked about my wasted life;
'Ah! if I could only win
Some true woman for my wife,
How I'd love her - work for her!
Hand in hand through life we'd walk -
No one ever cared for me - '
Takes a girl - that kind of talk.
Then, you know, I used my eyes -
She believed me, every word -
Said I 'mustn't talk so' - Jove!
Such a voice you never heard.
Gave me some symbolic flower, -
'Had a meaning, oh, _so_ sweet,' -
Don't know where it is, I'm sure;
Must have dropped it in the street.
How I spooned! - And she - ha! ha! -
Well, I know it wasn't right -
But she pitied me so much
That I - kissed her - pass a light."


PART TWO.


"Molly Meade, well, I declare!
Who'd have thought of seeing you,
After what occurred last night,
Out here on the Avenue!
Oh, you awful! awful girl!
There, don't blush, I saw it all."
"Saw all what?" "Ahem! last night -
At the Mather's - in the hall."
"Oh, you horrid - where were you?
Wasn't he the biggest goose!
Most men must be caught, but he
Ran his own neck in the noose.
I was almost dead to dance,
I'd have done it if I could,
But old Grey said I must stop,
And I promised Ma I would.
So I looked up sweet, and said
That I'd rather talk to him;
Hope he didn't see me laugh,
Luckily the lights were dim.
My, how he _did_ squeeze my hand!
And he looked up in my face
With his lovely big brown eyes -
Really it's a dreadful case.
'Earnest!' - I should think he was!
Why, I thought I'd have to laugh
When he kissed a flower he took,
Looking, oh! like such a calf.
I suppose he's got it now,
In a wine-glass on his shelves;
It's a mystery to me
Why men _will_ deceive themselves.
'Saw him kiss me!' - Oh, you wretch;
Well, he begged so hard for one -
And I thought there'd no one know -
So I - let him, just for fun.
I know it really wasn't right
To trifle with his feelings, dear,
But men _are_ such stuck-up things;
He'll recover - never fear."




CHIVALRIE.


Under the maple boughs we sat,
Annie Leslie and I together;
She was trimming her sea-side hat
With leaves - we talked about the weather.

The sun-beams lit her gleaming hair
With rippling waves of golden glory,
And eyes of blue, and ringlets fair,
Suggested many an ancient story

Of fair-haired, blue-eyed maids of old,
In durance held by grim magicians,
Of knights in armor rough with gold,
Who rescued them from such positions.

Above, the heavens aglow with light,
Beneath our feet the sleeping ocean,
E'en as the sky my hope was bright,
Deep as the sea was my devotion.

Her father's voice came through the wood,
He'd made a fortune tanning leather;
I was his clerk; I thought it good
To keep on talking about the weather.




A PIECE OF ADVICE.


So you're going to give up flirtation, my dear,
And lead a life sober and quiet?
There, there, I don't doubt the intention's sincere.
But wait till occasion shall try it. -
Is Ramsay engaged?
Now, don't look enraged!
You like him, I know - don't deny it!

What! Give up flirtation? Change dimples for frowns
Why, Nell, what's the use? You're so pretty,
That your beauty all sense of your wickedness drowns
When, some time, in country or city,
Your fate comes at last.
We'll forgive all the past,
And think of you only with pity.

Indeed! - so "you feel for the woes of my sex!"
"The legions of hearts you've been breaking
Your conscience affright, and your reckoning perplex,
Whene'er an account you've been taking!"
"I'd scarcely believe
How deeply you grieve
At the mischief your eyes have been making!"

Now, Nellie! - Flirtation's the leaven of life;
It lightens its doughy compactness.
Don't always - the world with deception is rife -
Construe what men say with exactness!
I pity the girl,
In society's whirl,
Who's troubled with matter-of-factness.

A pink is a beautiful flower in its way,
But rosebuds and violets are charming,
Men don't wear the same _boutonniére_ every day.
Taste changes. - Flirtation alarming!
If e'er we complain,
You then may refrain,
Your eyes of their arrows disarming.

Ah, Nellie, be sensible; Pr'ythee, give heed
To counsel a victim advances;
Your eyes, I acknowledge, will make our hearts bleed,
Pierced through by love's magical lances.
But better that fate
Than in darkness to wait;
Unsought by your mischievous glances.




ZWEI KONIGE AUF ORKADAL.
FROM THE GERMAN.


There sat two kings upon Orkadal,
The torches flamed in the pillared hall.

The minstrel sings, the red wine glows,
The two kings drink with gloomy brows.

Out spake the one, - "Give me this girl,
With her sea-blue eyes, and brow of pearl."

The other answered in gloomy scorn,
"She's mine, oh brother! - my oath is sworn."

No other word spake either king -
In their golden sheaths the keen swords ring.

Together they pass from the lighted hall -
Deep lies the snow by the castle-wall.

Steel-sparks and torch-sparks in showers fall.
Two kings lie dead upon Orkadal.




A SONG.


I shouldn't like to say, I'm sure,
I shouldn't like to say,
Why I think of you more, and more, and more
As day flits after day.
Nor why I see in the Summer skies
Only the beauty of your sweet eyes,
The power by which you sway
A kingdom of hearts, that little you prize -
I shouldn't like to say.

I shouldn't like to say, I'm sure,
I shouldn't like to say
Why I hear your voice, so fresh and pure,
In the dash of the laughing spray.
Nor why the wavelets that all the while,
In many a diamond-glittering file,
With truant sunbeams play,
Should make me remember your rippling smile -
I shouldn't like to say.

I shouldn't like to say, I'm sure,
I shouldn't like to say,
Why all the birds should chirp of you,
Who live so far away.
Robin and oriole sing to me
From the leafy depths of our apple-tree,
With trunk so gnarled and gray -
But why your name should their burden be
I shouldn't like to say.




MAKING NEW YEAR'S CALLS.


Shining patent-leather,
Tie of spotless white;
Through the muddy weather
Rushing 'round till night.
Gutters all o'erflowing,
Like Niagara Falls;
Bless me! this is pleasant,
Making New Year's calls.

Rushing up the door-step,
Ringing at the bell -
"Mrs. Jones receive to-day?"
"Yes, sir." "Very well."
Sending in your pasteboard,
Waiting in the halls,
Bless me! this is pleasant,
Making New Year's calls.

Skipping in the parlour,
Bowing to the floor,
Lady of the house there,
Half a dozen more;
Ladies' dresses gorgeous,
Paniers, waterfalls, -
Bless me! this is pleasant,
Making New Year's calls.

"Wish you Happy New Year" -
"Many thanks, I'm sure."
"Many calls, as usual?"
"No; I think they're fewer."
Staring at the carpet,
Gazing at the walls;
Bless me! this is pleasant,
Making New Year's calls.

"Really, I must go now,
Wish I had more leisure."
"Wont you have a glass of wine?"
"Ah, thanks! - greatest pleasure."
Try to come the graceful,
Till your wine-glass falls;
Bless me! this is pleasant,
Making New Year's calls.

Hostess looks delighted -
Out of doors you rush;
Sit down at the crossing,
In a sea of slush.
Job here for your tailor -
Herr Von Schneiderthals -
Bless me! this is pleasant,
Making New Year's calls.

Pick yourself up slowly
Heart with anguish torn.
Sunday-go-to-meetings
In a state forlorn.
Kick a gibing boot-black,
Gibing boot-black bawls,
Bless me! this is pleasant,
Making New Year's calls.

Home, and woo the downy,
But your soul doth quake,
At most fearful night-mares -
Turkey, oysters, cake.
While each leaden horror
That your rest appalls,
Cries, "Dear heart! how pleasant;
Making New Year's calls."




JACK AND ME.


Shine! - All right; here y'are, boss!
Do it for jest five cents.
Get 'em fixed in a minute, -
That is, 'f nothing perwents.
Set your foot right there, sir.
Mornin's kinder cold, -
Goes right through a feller,
When his coat's a gittin' old.
Well, yes, - call it a coat, sir,
Though 't aint much more 'n a tear.
Git another! - I can't, boss;
Ain't got the stamps to spare.
"Make as much as most on 'em!"
Yes; but then, yer see,
They've only got one to do for, -
There's two on us, Jack and me.
Him? - Why, that little feller
With a curus lookin' back,
Sittin' there on the gratin',
Warmin' hisself, - that's Jack.
Used to go round sellin' papers,
The cars there was his lay;
But he got shoved off of the platform
Under the wheels one day.
Fact, - the conductor did it, -
Gin him a reg'lar throw, -
He didn't care if he killed him;
Some on 'em is just so.
He's never been all right since, sir,
Sorter quiet and queer;
Him and me goes together,
He's what they call cashier.
Style, that 'ere, for a boot-black, -
Made the fellers laugh;
Jack and me had to take it,
But we don't mind no chaff.
Trouble! - not much, you bet, boss!
Sometimes, when biz is slack,
I don't know how I'd manage
If 't wa'n't for little Jack.
You jest once orter hear him:
He says we needn't care
How rough luck is down here, sir,
If some day we git up there.
All done now, - how's that, sir?
Shines like a pair of lamps.
Mornin'! - Give it to Jack, sir,
He looks after the stamps.




LES ENFANTS PERDUS.


What has become of the children all?
How have the darlings vanished?
Fashion's pied piper, with magical air,
Has wooed them away, with their flaxen hair
And laughing eyes, we don't know where,
And no one can tell where they're banished.

"Where are the children?" cries Madam Haut-ton,
"Allow me, my sons and daughters, -
Fetch them, Annette!" What, madam, those?
Children! such exquisite belles and beaux: -
True, they're in somewhat shorter clothes
Than the most of Dame Fashion's supporters.


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