It was for such exciting employment that Esther had once gathered laurel leaves. And, once again, she remembered gathering them one Shakespeare’s birthday, to crown a little bust in Henry’s study. The sacred head had worn them proudly all day, and they all had a feeling that somehow Shakespeare must know about it, and appreciate the little offering; just as even to-day one might bring roses and myrtle, or the blood of a maiden dove to Venus, and expect her to smile upon our affairs of the heart.
But it was for a dearer purpose that Esther was gathering them this morning. That coming evening Mike was to utter his first stage-words in public. The laurel was to crown the occasion on which Mike was to make that memorable utterance: “That’s a pie as is a pie, is that there pie!”
Now while Esther was busily weaving this laurel into a wreath, Henry was busily weaving the best words he could find into a sonnet to accompany the wreath. When Angel duly brought him his lunch, it was finished, and lay about on his desk in rags and tatters of composition. Angel was going to the performance with her sisters,—for all these young people were fond of advertising each other, and he had soon told her about Mike,—so she was interested to hear the sonnet. Whatever other qualities poetry may lack, the presence of generous sincerity will always give it a certain value, to all but the merely supercilious; and this sonnet, boyish in its touches of grandiloquence, had yet a certain pathos of strong feeling about it.
Not unto him alone whom
Declares the victor does the meed belong,
For others, standing silent in the throng,
May well be worthier of a nobler fame;
And so, dear friend, although unknown thy name
Unto the shouting herd, we would give tongue
To our deep thought, and the world’s great among
By this symbolic laurel thee proclaim.
And if, perchance, the herd shall
find thee out
In coming time, and many a nobler crown
To one they love to honour gladly throw;
Wilt thou not turn thee from their eager shout,
And whisper o’er these leaves, then sere and brown:
‘Thou’rt late, O world! love knew it long ago?’
The reader will probably agree with Angel in considering the last line the best. But, of course, she thought the whole was wonderful.
“How wonderful it must be to be able to write!” she said, with a look in her face which was worth all the books ever written.