N the branches of a chinaberry tree outside the open window a mocking-bird was going through his repertoire, a repertoire of trills and gurgles and sudden flutings that started off with a dash and invariably ended, after a dozen notes, for all the world like the performance of a tenor who has forgotten his song. But, unlike the singer, he showed no embarrassment. Off he went again, throatily chanting of the rain that had brought him a bountiful supper, trilling of the charms and virtues of his mate, who, doubtless, was attending to her housewifely duties and awaiting her lord's return in some nearby tree. Gordon, getting leisurely into his dinner clothes, went to the window and watched him where, halfway along a slender branch, he stood, head up, pouring a cascade of music from his trim gray body.
"Go it, you little duffer," encouraged Gordon, wrestling with a stubborn stud. "Tilt your head back and let's have it. That's the stuff!"
The bird heard and cocked an inquiring beady eye toward the open window. He shifted one foot, put his head at an angle and examined Gordon exhaustively. Then, apparently satisfied, he swelled his throat, took a firm grip on the branch and proceeded to tell all about everything. And Gordon, having conquered the refractory stud, listened.
Swing, swing, swing in the chinaberry tree!
Here's a breeze! Here's a breeze!
The leaves are rustling about me
And the twilight is creeping up, up
Over the hill and through the darkening forest,
And the moon, the tiny moon, hangs like a silver worm
Above the steeple. It has rained and the world
Is damp and fragrant, and the little fat bugs
Are crawling. There's one! There's one! There's one!
Sing, sing, sing in the chinaberry tree!
Hear me! Hear me! Hear me!
Was ever a song so sweet as mine?
See me ruffle and swell! What a voice have I!
I have dined; I am happy; I sing! Over there
Sits my plump little wife by our nest.
If I call she will answer. Did you hear? Did you hear?
Such a sweet little wife! I love her, I love her!
Eh? Did she call? Just a minute, my dear;
I must finish my song; just a minute, a minute, a minute!
Oh, how I sing! I'm in love with my voice.
And my wife and the beautiful world! Heigho! Good night!
Here I come! Here I come! Here I come!
Off he darted, a gray streak in the soft twilight.
"If there's a Hammerstein in Birdland," murmured Gordon, "he will have you signed for next season, I bet."
He lighted a cigarette, flicked the match onto the lawn below and blew a blue cloud of smoke through the window,
"What a voice she had!" he went on, half to himself. "Peggy! What a dear, queer little name! Peggy-in-the-Rain, she called herself." He smiled. "Please, who are you, Peggy-in-the-Rain? And where are you now, I wonder. Just around the corner, on the next street? Up yonder there in the big hotel? Out on Whiskey Road in some big white stucco palace? Are you thinking of me—a little—Peggy-in-the-Rain? Well, wherever you are, my dear, here's to you." He lifted a glass and drained the last spoonful of amber in the bottom. "Here's to you and to our next meeting, Peggy-in-the-Rain!"