Even in far-away London,—which was as yet merely a sounding name to these young people,—hard-worked reviewers, contemptuously disposing of batches of new poetry in a few lines, found a kind word or two to say for the little provincial volume; and, through one agency or another, Mr. Leith, within six weeks of the publication, was able to announce that the edition was exhausted and that there was something like forty pounds profit to share between them.
That poetry could be exchanged for real money, Henry had heard, but had never hoped to work the miracle in his own case. It was like selling moonlight, or Angelica’s smiles. Was it not, indeed, Angelica’s smiles turned from one kind of gold into another? One more change they should undergo, and then return to her from whom they had come. From minted gold of the realm they should change into the gold of a ring, and thus Angel should wear upon her finger the ornament of her own smiles. Setting aside a small proportion of his gains to buy Esther and Mike, Dot and Mat and his mother, a little memorial present each, he then spent the rest on Angel’s ring. Angel pretended to scold him for his extravagance; but, as no woman can resist a ring, her remonstrance was not convincing, and then, as Henry said, was it not their betrothal ring, and, therefore, one of the legitimate expenses of love?
Three other acknowledgments his poems brought him. The first was a delightful letter from Myrtilla Williamson. How much men of talent owe to the letters of women has never been sufficiently acknowledged, as the debt can never be adequately repaid. Of the many branches of woman’s unselfishness, this is perhaps the most important to the world. Always behind the flaming renown of some great soldier, statesman, or poet, there is a woman’s hand, or the hands, maybe, of many women, pouring, unseen, the nutritive oil of praise.
This letter Henry, in the gladness of his heart, ingenuously showed to Angel, with the result that it provoked their first quarrel. With the charms of a child, Angel, it now appeared, united also the faults. She had it in her to be bitterly and unreasonably jealous. She read the letter coldly.
“You seem very proud of her praise,” she said; “is it so very valuable?”
“I value it a good deal, at all events,” answered Henry.
“Oh, I see!” retorted Angel; “I suppose my praise is nothing to hers.”
“Angel dear, what do you mean?”
“Oh, nothing, of course; but I’m sure you must regret caring for an ignorant girl like me, when there are such clever, talented women in the world as your Mrs. Williamson. I hate your learned women!”
“Angel, I’m surprised you can talk like that. Because we love each other, are we to have no other friends?”
“Have as many as you like, dear. Don’t think I mind. But I don’t want to see their letters.”
“Very well, Angel,” answered Henry, quietly. He was making one of those discoveries of temperament which have to be made, and have to be accepted, in all close relationships. This was evidently one of Angel’s faults. He must try to help her with it, as he must try and let her help him with his.