As for Gifted Hopkins, the roses that were beginning to bloom fresher and fresher every day in Myrtle’s cheeks unfolded themselves more and more freely, to speak metaphorically, in his song. Every week she would receive a delicately tinted note with lines to “Myrtle awaking,” or to “Myrtle retiring,” (one string of verses a little too Musidora-ish, and which soon found itself in the condition of a cinder, perhaps reduced to that state by spontaneous combustion,) or to “The Flower of the Tropics,” or to the “Nymph of the River-side,” or other poetical alias, such as bards affect in their sieges of the female heart.
Gifted Hopkins was of a sanguine temperament. As he read and re-read his verses it certainly seemed to him that they must reach the heart of the angelic being to whom they were addressed. That she was slow in confessing the impression they made upon her, was a favorable sign; so many girls called his poems “sweet pooty,” that those charming words, though soothing, no longer stirred him deeply. Myrtle’s silence showed that the impression his verses had made was deep. Time would develop her sentiments; they were both young; his position was humble as yet; but when he had become famous through the land-oh blissful thought!—the bard of Oxbow Village would bear a name that any woman would be proud to assume, and the M. H. which her delicate hands had wrought on the kerchiefs she wore would yet perhaps be read, not Myrtle Hazard, but Myrtle Hopkins.
Susan’s young man.
There seems no reasonable doubt that Myrtle Hazard might have made a safe thing of it with Gifted Hopkins, (if so inclined,) provided that she had only been secured against interference. But the constant habit of reading his verses to Susan Posey was not without its risk to so excitable a nature as that of the young poet. Poets were always capable of divided affections, and Cowley’s “Chronicle” is a confession that would fit the whole tribe of them. It is true that Gifted had no right to regard Susan’s heart as open to the wiles of any new-comer. He knew that she considered herself, and was considered by another, as pledged and plighted. Yet she was such a devoted listener, her sympathies were so easily roused, her blue eyes glistened so tenderly at the least poetical hint, such as “Never, oh never,” “My aching heart,” “Go, let me weep,”—any of those touching phrases out of the long catalogue which readily suggests itself, that her influence was getting to be such that Myrtle (if really anxious to secure him) might look upon it with apprehension, and the owner of Susan’s heart (if of a jealous disposition) might have thought it worth while to make a visit to Oxbow Village to see after his property.
It may seem not impossible that some friend had suggested as much as this to the young lady’s lover.