Song of the Lark HTML version

Chapter II.10
SPANISH JOHNNY had no shop of his own, but he kept a table and an order-
book in one corner of the drug store where paints and wall-paper were sold, and
he was sometimes to be found there for an hour or so about noon. Thea had
gone into the drug store to have a friendly chat with the proprietor, who used to
lend her books from his shelves. She found Johnny there, trimming rolls of wall-
paper for the parlor of Banker Smith's new house. She sat down on the top of his
table and watched him.
"Johnny," she said suddenly, "I want you to write down the words of that
Mexican serenade you used to sing; you know, `ROSA DE NOCHE.' It's an
unusual song. I'm going to study it. I know enough Spanish for that."
Johnny looked up from his roller with his bright, affable smile. "SI, but it is low
for you, I think; VOZ CONTRALTO. It is low for me."
"Nonsense. I can do more with my low voice than I used to. I'll show you. Sit
down and write it out for me, please." Thea beckoned him with the short yellow
pencil tied to his order-book.
Johnny ran his fingers through his curly black hair. "If you wish. I do not know
if that SERENATA all right for young ladies. Down there it is more for married
ladies. They sing it for husbands--or somebody else, may-bee." Johnny's eyes
twinkled and he apologized gracefully with his shoulders. He sat down at the
table, and while Thea looked over his arm, began to write the song down in a
long, slanting script, with highly ornamental capitals. Presently he looked up.
"This-a song not exactly Mexican," he said thoughtfully. "It come from farther
down; Brazil, Venezuela, may-bee. I learn it from some fellow down there, and he
learn it from another fellow. It is-a most like Mexican, but not quite." Thea did not
release him, but pointed to the paper. There were three verses of the song in all,
and when Johnny had written them down, he sat looking at them meditatively, his
head on one side. "I don' think for a high voice, SENORITA," he objected with
polite persistence. "How you accompany with piano?"
"Oh, that will be easy enough."
"For you, may-bee!" Johnny smiled and drummed on the table with the tips of
his agile brown fingers. "You know something? Listen, I tell you." He rose and sat
down on the table beside her, putting his foot on the chair. He loved to talk at the
hour of noon. "When you was a little girl, no bigger than that, you come to my
house one day 'bout noon, like this, and I was in the door, playing guitar. You
was barehead, barefoot; you run away from home. You stand there and make a
frown at me an' listen. By 'n by you say for me to sing. I sing some lil' ting, and
then I say for you to sing with me. You don' know no words, of course, but you
take the air and you sing it justa beauti-ful! I never see a child do that, outside
Mexico. You was, oh, I do' know--seven year, may-bee. By 'n by the preacher
come look for you and begin for scold. I say, `Don' scold, Meester Kronborg. She