Great is mediocrity! It is the average world, and the majority conspires to do it reverence. Genius, if such a thing there is, may be appreciated by school-boys; the average grown world count it as of no value. If a man has a brilliant intellect, let him bewail it on the mountains, as the daughter of Jephtha did her virginity. If he has wit, let him become Brutus.
Readiness and genius are apt to be arrogant; and, when joined with a lively temper, with an ardent, impetuous nature, they render a young man an object of dread, dislike, or worse. Bart had grave doubts of his being a genius, but it had been abundantly manifest to his sensitive perceptions that he was disliked; and he had in part arrived at the probable cause, and was now very persistently endeavoring to correct it by holding his tongue and temper.
Like all young men bent upon a pursuit where his success must depend upon intellect, he was most anxious to ascertain the quality and extent of his brain-power—a matter of which a young man can form no proper idea. Later in life a man is informed by the estimate of others, and can judge somewhat by what he has done. The youth has done nothing. He has made no manifestation by which an observer can determine; when he looks at himself, he can examine his head and face; but the mind, turned in upon itself, with no mirror, weight, count or measure, feels the hopelessness of the effort.
If some one would only tell him of his capacity and power, of his mental weakness and deficiency, it would not, perhaps, change his course, but might teach him how best to pursue it.
The long, cold winter was past; spring had come, and with it sugar making, the carnival season, in the open air, among the trees.
The boys had the preparations for sugar making in an advanced stage. A new camp had been selected on a dry slope, wood had been cut, the tubs distributed, and they were waiting for Bart and a good day. Both came together; and on the day following the close of his school, at an early hour they hurried off to tap the trees.
Spring and gladness were in the air. The trill of the blue-bird was a thrill; and the first song of the robin was full of lilac and apple blossoms. The softened winds fell to zephyrs, and whispered strange mysterious legends to the brown silent trees, and murmured lovingly over the warming beds of the slumbering flowers. Young juices were starting up under rough bark, and young blood and spirits throbbed in the veins of the boys, and loud and repeated bursts of joyous voices gushed with the fulness of the renewing power of the season.
The day, with its eager hope, strength and joyousness, filled Bart to the eyes, and his spirit in exultation breaking from the unnatural thrall that had for many months of darkness and anxious labor overshadowed it, went with a bound of old buoyancy, and he started with laughing, open brow, and springy step, over the spongy ground, to the poetry of life in the woods.