The pathos of this was, of course, irresistible to Esther, and Mike was thereupon hugged and kissed as he expected.
“Never mind,” he said, “you’ll see if I don’t make something of the poor little part after all.”
And, thereupon, he described what he laughingly called his “conception,” and how he proposed to dress and make up, so vividly that it was evident that the pastry-cook’s boy was already to him a personality whose actions and interests were by no means limited to his brief appearance on the stage, but who, though accidentally he had but few words to speak before the audience, was a very voluble and vital little person in scenes where the audience did not follow him.
“Yes, you see I’ll do something with it. The best of a small part,” said Mike, speaking as one of experience, “is that it gives you plenty of opportunity for making the audience wish there was more of it.”
“From that point of view, you certainly couldn’t have a finer part,” laughed Esther.
Then for a moment Mike skipped out of the room, and presently knocked, and, putting in a funny face, entered carrying a cushion with alacrity.
“That’s a pie as is a pie, is that there pie!” he fooled, throwing the cushion into Esther’s lap, where presently his little red head found its way too.
“How can you love such a silly little creature?” he said, looking up into Esther’s blue eyes.
“I don’t know, I’m sure,” said Esther; “but I do,” and, bending down, she kissed the wistful boy’s face. Was it because Esther was in a way his mother, as well as his sweetheart, that she seemed to do all the kissing?
Thus was Mike’s first part rehearsed and rewarded.
ON CERTAIN ADVANTAGES OF A BACKWATER
Though from a maritime point of view, Tyre was perhaps the chief centre of conjunction for all the main streams of the world, from the point of view of literature and any other art, it was an admitted backwater. Take what art you pleased, Tyre was a dunce. Even to music, the most persuasive of the arts, it was deaf. Surely, of all cities, it had not been built to music. It possessed, indeed, one private-spirited town-councillor, who insisted on presenting it with nude sculptures and mysterious paintings which it furiously declined. If Tyre was to be artistically great, it must certainly be with a greatness reluctantly thrust upon it.
Still Henry and Ned had sense enough to be glad that they had been born there. It was from no mere recognition of an inexpensively effective background; perhaps they hardly knew why they were glad till later on. But, meanwhile, they instinctively laid hold of the advantages of their limitations. Had they been London-born and Oxford-bred, they would have been much more fashionable in their tastes; but their very isolation, happily, saved them from the passing