“Let’s have this business out, Grim. It will do you a lot of harm if you keep it in.”
“The fact is——” began Grim, hesitating.
“Allez! houp-la!” said Wilson, encouragingly.
“I’m going in strong for poetry.”
For reply Wilson laughed as though his life depended on the effort, and Grim turned a rich rosy hue. Wilson finally blurted out—
“Grim, you’re an utter idiot.”
“What do you think about it?”
“I thought it would surprise you.”
“It has, but nothing you do ever will again. Lord, Grimmy, was it for this you chucked cricket and your chance of the house eleven?” Wilson exploded again, uproariously. “I’ll tell Rogers and Jack Bourne. You a poet!”
“Why shouldn’t I be, you silly cuckoo?”
“Why, you haven’t got the cut of a poet, for one thing, and for another, I believe, next to your mother, the thing you like best in the world is a good dinner.” Wilson waxed eloquent on Grim’s defects from a poet’s standpoint. “Your hair is as stiff as any hair-brush; you can’t deny you’re short and a trifle beefy; and was ever a poet made out of your material and fighting weight?”
“That isn’t criticism,” said Grim, angrily.
“No,” said Wilson, bitterly. “I don’t pretend to that. They are a few surface observations only. Just tell this to Rogers or even Cherry, and watch ’em curl.”
Wilson and Grim went to bed that night pretty cool towards each other, but in the morning Grim was obstinately bent on being the poet as he was the next week and the week after that. He wrestled with poetry morning, noon, and night, and he made himself a horrible nuisance to his old cronies. Wilson complained bitterly about their study being “simply fizzing with poetry.” Grim sprang a poem or a sonnet, or a tribute or some other forsaken variety of poetry, on pretty well everything about the place. He “did” the dawn and worked round to the sunset. He had a little shy at the church and the tombstones, and wrote about the horse pond’s “placid wave.” He did four sonnets on the school, looking from north, south, east and west, and let himself go in fine style about the school captain’s batting. He sent this to Phil, and Phil passed the disquisition on to me; it was very funny indeed. Not a single thing was safe from his poetry, and he cut what he could of cricket to write “tributes.”
He had a lively time from his own particular knot of friends and enemies, and they jollied him to an extent that, perhaps, reached high-water mark, when Grim found one morning on his table a dozen thoughtful addresses of lunatic asylums, and specimens of the writing of mad people, culled from a popular magazine. But Grim recked not, and persevered. He turned out, as became a budding poet, weird screeds from Ovid, Virgil, and Horace—Bohn’s cribs were simple to his tangled stuff—and Merishall beamed wreathed smiles upon him, and told him he was “catching the spirit of the original.” After this patent, distinct leg-up from Merishall, Grim took the bit between his teeth and went careering up and down the plains of poesy until the lights were cut off.