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Rose in Bloom

20.
What Mac Did
Rose, meantime, was trying to find out what the sentiment was with which she
regarded her cousin Mac. She could not seem to reconcile the character she had
known so long with the new one lately shown her, and the idea of loving the droll,
bookish, absentminded Mac of former times appeared quite impossible and
absurd, but the new Mac, wide awake, full of talent, ardent and high-handed, was
such a surprise to her, she felt as if her heart was being won by a stranger, and it
became her to study him well before yielding to a charm which she could not
deny.
Affection came naturally, and had always been strong for the boy; regard for the
studious youth easily deepened to respect for the integrity of the young man, and
now something warmer was growing up within her; but at first she could not
decide whether it was admiration for the rapid unfolding of talent of some sort or
love answering to love.
As if to settle that point, Mac sent her on New Year's Day a little book plainly
bound and modestly entitled Songs and Sonnets. After reading this with ever-
growing surprise and delight, Rose never had another doubt about the writer's
being a poet, for though she was no critic, she had read the best authors and
knew what was good. Unpretentious as it was, this had the true ring, and its very
simplicity showed conscious power for, unlike so many first attempts, the book
was not full of "My Lady," neither did it indulge in Swinburnian convulsions about
"The
and
languors
of
peace,
The roses and raptures of love.";
or contain any of the highly colored medieval word pictures so much in vogue.
"My book should smell of pines, and resound with the hum of insects," might
have been its motto, so sweet and wholesome was it with a springlike sort of
freshness which plainly betrayed that the author had learned some of Nature's
deepest secrets and possessed the skill to tell them in tuneful words. The songs
went ringing through one's memory long after they were read, and the sonnets
were full of the subtle beauty, insight, and half-unconscious wisdom, which seem
to prove that "genius is divine when young."
Many faults it had, but was so full of promise that it was evident Mac had not
"kept good company, read good books, loved good things, and cultivated soul
and body as faithfully as he could" in vain. It all told now, for truth and virtue had
blossomed into character and had a language of their own more eloquent than
the poetry to which they were what the fragrance is to the flower. Wiser critics
than Rose felt and admired this; less partial ones could not deny their praise to a
first effort, which seemed as spontaneous and aspiring as a lark's song; and,
when one or two of these Jupiters had given a nod of approval, Mac found
himself, not exactly famous, but much talked about. One set abused, the other
set praised, and the little book was sadly mauled among them, for it was too
original to be ignored, and too robust to be killed by hard usage, so it came out of
the fray none the worse but rather brighter, if anything, for the friction which
proved the gold genuine.
lilies
 
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