So Henry had to finish the fair copy of his poems at home in his lodgings of an evening, for so ambitious a private enterprise could not be carried on in his own office without perilous interruptions. He was making the copy with especial care, in the form of a real book; and when it was made, he daintily bound it in vellum with his own hands. Then he wrapped it lovingly in tissue paper, and kept it by him two or three days, in readiness for Angel’s birthday, on the morning of which day he hid it in a box of flowers and sent it to Angel. The sympathetic reader can imagine her delight, as she discovered among the flowers a dainty little white volume, bearing the title-page, “The Book of Angelica, by Henry Mesurier. Tyre, 1886. Edition limited to one copy.”
Now this little book presently began to enjoy a certain very carefully limited circulation among Angel’s friends. Of course they were not allowed to take it away. They were only allowed to look at it now and again for a few minutes, Angel anxiously standing by to see that they did not soil her treasure. Sometimes Mr. Flower would ask Angel to show it to one of the family friends; and thus one evening it came beneath the eyes of a little Scotch printer who had a great love for poetry and some taste in it.
“The man’s a genius,” he said, with all that authority with which a strong Scotch accent mysteriously endows the humblest Scot.
“The man’s a genius,” he repeated; “his poems must be printed.”
Henry had already found that this was easier said than done, for he had already tried several London publishers who professed their willingness to publish—at his expense. This little Scotch printer, however, was to prove more venturesome. He forthwith communicated a proposal to Henry through the Flowers. If Henry would provide him with a list of a certain number of friends he could rely on for subscriptions, he would take the risk of printing an edition, and give Henry half the profits,—a proposal as generous as it was rash. Angel communicated the offer in an excited little letter, with the result that Mr. Leith and Henry met one morning in the bar-parlour of “The Green Man Still,” and parted an hour or so after in a high state of friendship, and deeply pledged together to a mutual adventure of three hundred copies of a book to be called “The Book of Angelica,” and to be printed in so dainty a fashion that the mere outside should attract buyers.
Mr. Leith worked under difficulties, for his business, small as it was, was much saddled with pecuniary obligations which it but inadequately supported. His printing of Henry’s poems was really a work of sheer idealism which none but a Scotsman, or perhaps an Irishman, would have undertaken; and it was a work that might at any moment be interrupted by bailiffs, empowered to carry away the presses and the very types over which Henry loved to hang in his spare hours, trying to read in the lines of mysteriously carved metal, his “Madrigal to Angelica singing,” or his “Sonnet on first beholding Angelica.”