Louisa May Alcott: Rose in Bloom

Chapter 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 lilies 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."

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