The Daisy Chain or Aspirations
The rest all accepted the kind invitation,
And much bustle it caused in the plumed creation;
Such ruffling of feathers, such pruning of coats,
Such chirping, such whistling, such clearing of throats,
Such polishing bills, and such oiling of pinions,
Had never been known in the biped dominions.
Peacock at Home.
Etheldred was thankful for that confidence to Meta Rivers, for without it, she
would hardly have succeeded in spurring Norman up to give the finishing
touches to Decius, and to send him in. If she talked of the poem as the
devotion of Decius, he was willing enough, and worked with spirit, for he liked
the ideas, and enjoyed the expressing them, and trying to bring his lines to
his notion of perfection, but if she called it the "Newdigate," or the "Prize
Poem," and declared herself sure it would be successful, he yawned,
slackened, leaned back in his chair, and began to read other people's poetry,
which Ethel was disrespectful enough not to think nearly as good as his own.
It was completed at last, and Ethel stitched it up with a narrow red and white
ribbon--the Balliol colours; and set Meta at him till a promise was extorted
that he would send it in.
And, in due time, Ethel received the following note:
"My Dear Ethel,--
"My peacock bubble has flown over the house. Tell them all about
it. -Your affectionate, N.
They were too much accustomed to Norman's successes to be extraordinarily
excited; Ethel would have been much mortified if the prize had been awarded
to any one else, but, as it was, it came rather as a matter of course. The
doctor was greatly pleased, and said he should drive round by Abbotstoke to
tell the news there, and then laughed beyond measure to hear that Meta had
been in the plot, saying he should accuse the little humming-bird of being a
magpie, stealing secrets.
By this time the bride and bridegroom were writing that they thought of soon
returning; they had spent the early spring at Paris, had wandered about in
the south of France, and now were at Paris again. Flora's letters were long,
descriptive, and affectionate, and she was eager to be kept fully informed of
everything at home. As soon as she heard of Norman's success, she wrote a
whole budget of letters, declaring that she and George would hear of no
refusal; they were going to spend a fortnight at Oxford for the