[Tracy Runningbrook to Wilfrid:] (enclosing lines)
“Here they are. It will require a man who knows something about metre to speak them. Had Shakespeare’s grandmother three Christian names? and did she anticipate feminine posterity in her rank of life by saying habitually, ‘Drat it?’ There is as yet no Society to pursue this investigation, but it should be started. Enormous thanks for the Venus. I wore it this morning at breakfast. Just as we were rising, I leaned forward to her, and she jumped up with her eyes under my chin. ’Isn’t she a beauty?’ I said. ‘It was his,’ she answered, changing eyes of eagle for eyes of dove, and then put out the lights. I had half a mind to offer it, on the spot. May I? That is to say, if the impulse seizes me I take nobody’s advice, and fair Venus certainly is not under my chin at this moment. As to ill health, great mother Nature has given a house of iron to this soul of fire. The windows may blaze, or the windows may be extinguished, but the house stands firm. When you are lightning or earthquake, you may have something to reproach yourself for; as it is, be under no alarm. Do not put words in my mouth that I have not uttered. ‘And now he yawns,’ is what I shall say of you only when I am sure you have just heard a good thing. You really are the best fellow of your set that I have come across, and the only one pretending to brains. Your modesty in estimating your value as a leader of Pandours will be pleasing to them who like that modesty. Good-bye. This little Emilia is a marvel of flying moods. Yesterday she went about as if she said, ’I’ve promised Apollo not to speak till to-morrow.’ To-day, she’s in a feverish gabble—or began the day with a burst of it; and now she’s soft and sensible. If you fancy a girl at her age being able to see, that it’s a woman’s duty to herself and the world to be artistic—to perfect the thing of beauty she is meant to be by nature!—and, seeing, too, that Love is an instrument like any other thing, and that we must play on it with considerate gentleness, and that tearing at it or dashing it to earth, making it howl and quiver, is madness, and not love!—I assure you she begins to see it! She does see it. She is going to wear a wreath of black briony (preserved and set by Miss Ford, a person cunning in these matters). She’s going to the ball at Penarvon Castle, and will look—supply your favourite slang word. A little more experience, and she will have malice. She wants nothing but that to make her consummate.