Mae met Mr. Mann at the breakfast table the next morning without the least embarrassment. Indeed, the little flutter in her talk could easily be attributed to unusually high spirits and an excited and pleased fancy. That was how Norman Mann translated it, of course. Really, the flutter was a genuine stirring of her heart with inquietude, timidity and semi-repentance; but Mae couldn’t say this, and it’s only what one says out that can be reckoned on in this world. So Norman Mann, who saw only the bright cheeks and eyes and restless quickening of an eager girl and did not see the palpitating feminine heart inside, was displeased and half-cold.
Could any one be long cold to Mae Madden? She believed not. She was quite accustomed to lightning-like white heats of anger in those with whom she came in contact, but coldness was out of her line. Still she met the occasion well. “Shall I give you some coffee?” she asked, pleasantly. “We breakfast all alone, until Eric appears. Mrs. Jerrold is not well, and Edith and Albert are off for Frascati.”
“Poor child; how much alone she is,” he thought to himself.
“I understand we all go to the play tonight?” queried Mae.
“The thought of Shakspeare dressed in Italian is not pleasant to me,” said Mr. Mann, after a silence of a few minutes.
“I am quite longing to see him in his new clothes. There is so much softness and beauty in Italian that I expect to gain new ideas from hearing the play robed in more flowing phrases. Shakspeare certainly is for all the world.”
“But Shakspeare’s words are so strongly chosen that they are a great element in his great plays. And a translation at best is something of a parody, especially a translation from a northern tongue, with its force and backbone, so to speak, into a southern, serpentine, gliding language. You have heard the absurd rendering of that passage from Macbeth where the witches salute him with ’Hail to thee, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!’ into such French as ’Comment vous portez vous, Monsieur Macbeth; comment vous portez vous, Monsieur Thane de Cawdor!’ A translation must pass through the medium of another mind, and other minds like Shakspeare’s are hard to find.”
Norman spoke with so much reverence for Mae’s greatest idol that her heart warmed and she smiled approval, though for argument’s sake she remained on the other side.
“Isn’t a translation more like an engraver’s art, and aren’t fine engravings to be sought and admired even when we know the great original in its glory of color? Then all writing is only translation, not copying. Shakspeare had to translate the tongues he found in stones, the books he found in brooks, with twenty-six little characters and his great mind, into what we all study, and love, and strive after. But he had to use these twenty-six characters in certain hard, Anglo-Saxon forms and confine himself to them. When he wanted to talk about