Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

Wagner. A musician springs full-armed into life, as
Athene from the head of Zeus.

Poets, too, very often come to their own precociously. If poets do not die young, as romance fables, they sing. young. Poets are born, but prose writers are partly made. The proper poetical age is twenty or round about it. The long list of our songsters demonstrates this. Tennyson wrote perfect verses in his old age, and so may other poets if they live so long; but Tennyson also wrote in his extreme youth, and his verses were hardly less perfect. And Tennyson was a more intellectual poet than most.

It is probably true that every one with literary tastes is a poet in his or her teens. But as a rule we get over it, as we get over measles. Anyhow, as a rule people do not do us the disservice of placing our precocity on record. One cannot but regret that Miss Enid Welsford's tentative essays in verse, which have been lately published with a blare of trumpets, were not kept for the family circle. Many children write verses, and write them uncommonly well. It opens one's eyes to read the correspondence pages of such a magazine as St. Nicholas, in which the poetical effusions of little Americans are enshrined. It may be that the climate and the conditions of life force the pace with young America. To read the poems contributed is to come to the conclusion that in ten years the United States will be overflowing with poets. But they won't. Precocity signifies little or nothing. - London Mail.

[ocr errors]

THE MAN WHO COULD NOT SWIM.

Well, he is back, because Jenkins' young man told me the coachman told him he was coming — so there."

Little Marjorie delivered this statement with the air of one firmly clinching an argument and looked defiantly at her sister.

“ Pooh!” said Eilean, who was in her teens. Servants' gossip."

“It's really of no consequence if he is back," said Lady Molly languidly, as she lay upon the bank, her hat beside

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

66

[ocr errors]

her, and cooled her slim body in the long grasses that sultry August afternoon.

“Isn't he good looking, Molly?” inquired Eilean.

How on earth do I know? And what does it matter?" responded her sister lazily.

"If I were the Duke," said Marjorie thoughtfully, “I wouldn't keep all those bulls in the meadows."

They're not bulls, silly; they're only cows,” said Eilean.

“ They are bulls,” said Marjorie emphatically. “I can tell from the way they glare at you.”

“Wouldn't you like to live in the island, Molly ?” asked Eilean, kicking her heels in the turf as she looked across the stretch of the little river that ran between Lord Templeton's estate and the Duke's.

“Why should I?” said Molly, without looking up; “ I'd sooner live in a house."

“How old did you say the Duke was?” asked Marjorie, whose inquisitive little mind had been busy. Twenty-seven, or was it seventy-two ?” “Twenty-seven, you idiot,” said Eilean.

Marjorie paid no heed to the implied censure, but went on with her brisk self-communion. “Didn't he come over with William the Conqueror ?" she asked.

“No, duffer; we did,” said Eilean. “He's not as old as we are." “Are we very old, Eilean?” inquired Ovidia Naso.

Of course. Wouldn't you like to be married to him, Molly?" asked Eilean of her graceful sister.

"How absurd! Of course not! He's always shooting things in Africa,” said Molly, languidly.

All old families die out,” remarked Marjorie, complacently.

“ You little duffer, they don't,” said Eilean.

“They do. I read it in a paper somewhere," said Marjorie, willing to embark on an argument at once. They always die out.” “We haven't died out," said Eilean, scathingly.

That was obvious, and for a moment took Marjorie aback, but she recovered hesitatingly. “We shall," she

, pronounced; "you'll see if we don't.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“If we died out how could I see if we did ?” inquired scornful Eilean.

We'll die out; I know we shall,” said Marjorie, cheerfully insistent. “Oh, Molly, what's that? It's a boat."

Molly, at the suggestion of a new arrival, sat up and straightened herself. She took her hat on her knee and stared.

“It's an empty boat,” she said.

" It's a canoe,” said Eilean. “Oh, what fun, Molly! Let's fish it into the banks and have a lark.”

She rose and went to the water's edge. The boat, a Canadian canoe, with paddles obvious in the stern, drifted in a leisurely way upon the stream, and was clearly pointing for the place where they were sitting.

“Do let's get it,” cried Marjorie, ecstatically.

But practical and tomboy Eilean was already scooping the water with a stick in the hope that the eddies thus raised would drag the canoe ashore. Molly watched her with interest. On the idle summer day had broken after all a sort of adventure.

"Grab it when it lifts its nose next,” she authoritatively commanded. Eilean grabbed and missed and almost lost her balance. Molly rose and joined her with some excitement in her pretty face. She issued instructions and took command of the operations; the canoe reluctantly grounded and was seized by the triumphant girls.

“Oh, Molly, let's ride in it!” said Eilean, between entreaty, enthusiasm and timidity.

“You'd upset it; you can't keep still a moment,” said her sister, eyeing the canoe and the paddles doubtfully.

“Oh, Molly, no one could sit in that; they'd fall out. It rocks like a seesaw,” said Marjorie.

Molly made no reply to this. “Hold the nose, Eily," she said, and put one foot over the side.

You're not going in; you'll be spilt,” said Eilean.

“Oh, Molly, don't be drowned,” pleaded poor Marjorie.

That decided it. With the utmost exhibition of assurance and sangfroid Molly stepped into the canoe and sat down.

Bosh! Of course it's different for children," she ob

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

9

served. “It's easy enough," and she reached around for a paddle. That action set the crazy canoe wabbling and Molly clutched the sides. “Oh, Eily, hold it!” she

* , gasped.

But the alarm proved false and she recovered her eighteen-year-old dignity.

“ You must have shoved it,” she said.

“I didn't shove it,” said Eilean indignantly. “It's you. You don't know how to manage a canoe.”

"Indeed!" said her sister, loftily, waving a paddle in the air. “Well, you'll see.”

She dipped it in a gingerly fashion in the water and the craft rolled over. “Oh!” she gasped. “Hold it, Eily!” and then, when it righted, “You're pushing the nose down, stupid.”

Eilean let it go. “Oh, very well,” she said crossly. “Then perhaps you'd better manage for yourself.”

Molly looked aghast for a moment, as the canoe started on its independent career, but nothing happened, save that the nose turned on the current and pointed outward; so she recovered herself.

* It's awfully easy,” she declared, sitting well back and plying her paddle very timidly. The canoe moved out into the water as though reluctant to leave the safe shore, seeing which, Molly's courage rose. “You've only got to know how to use the paddles,” she explained over her shoulder. The canoe floated out, and the space between it and the bank widened. Its nose was pointed toward the island. “It's awfully jolly,” she called back, plying her paddle with more confidence. The two watched her with fascinated admiration. It did seem jolly, and, what was more, it seemed easy.

Where are you going, Molly ? ” screamed Eilean. "Oh, do be careful, Molly," shrieked Marjorie in an ecstasy of excitement.

To the latter exhortation Molly deigned no reply; to the former she threw into the air, without looking round:

To the island ! ”

Indeed, she was not at all certain about looking round. She was tempted to enjoy the admiration which she

[ocr errors]

9

knew was marked in her sisters' face, but — but she did not know about looking round. Some vague instinct seemed to warn her against it. But it was a great satisfaction to have cast upon the air so nonchalantly those indifferent words —" To the island."

The island indeed was fast approaching. She was more than half way across the not very considerable strait of water, and her heart beat with exhilaration. To be sure there was the return, but as she had succeeded so well so far there was no reason why her luck should not hold. Should she land ? And how did you land ? Landing from a boat was no easy matter unless some man held it for you; and landing from this crazy craft must be ticklish business. On the whole she decided that she would not land; she had surely done enough for glory. But on the other hand it would be the coping stone of her performance - to step lightly ashore and wave a triumphant signal to the amazed children. She wondered — should she — should she not? She would — she wouldn't - she

" It was so kind of you to bring my canoe back. I've been wondering for the last fifteen minutes how I was to get hold of it.”

The voice out of nowhere startled Molly. Her paddle dipped overdeep and the canoe spun round half a dozen feet from the island. It struck a projecting bough, which alarmed her. She uttered a little cry and threw herself to one side instinctively to avoid a blow The skiff reeled under the dislocation of the balance; with agitation she Aung her weight the other way and the canoe toppled over in that direction. All at once it became to her terrified senses a pit of all the hazards. It was death's stalking horse. It strove to shake her out and bury her fathoms deep in the cruel water.

Molly suddenly felt herself seized under the arms, and was conscious next that she was upon the projecting bough. Below her she now saw that the canoe to which she had so rashly committed herself afloat was bottom upward and drifting down stream.

" I'm afraid I spoke too soon. And now we're both in it,” said a voice.

« ElőzőTovább »