Kate Douglas Wiggin: Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farm

27. XXVII. "THE VISION SPLENDID" (continued)

Rebecca saw Hannah and her husband in the audience; dear old John and cousin Ann also, and felt a pang at the absence of her mother, though she had known there was no possibility of seeing her; for poor Aurelia was kept at Sunnybrook by cares of children and farm, and lack of money either for the journey or for suitable dress. The Cobbs she saw too. No one, indeed, could fail to see uncle Jerry; for he shed tears more than once, and in the intervals between the essays descanted to his neighbors concerning the marvelous gifts of one of the graduating class whom he had known ever since she was a child; in fact, had driven her from Maplewood to Riverboro when she left her home, and he had told mother that same night that there wan't nary rung on the ladder o' fame that that child wouldn't mount before she got through with it.

The Cobbs, then, had come, and there were other Riverboro faces, but where was aunt Jane, in her black silk made over especially for this occasion? Aunt Miranda had not intended to come, she knew, but where, on this day of days, was her beloved aunt Jane? However, this thought, like all others, came and went in a flash, for the whole morning was like a series of magic lantern pictures, crossing and recrossing her field of vision. She played, she sang, she recited Queen Mary's Latin prayer, like one in a dream, only brought to consciousness by meeting Mr. Aladdin's eyes as she spoke the last line. Then at the end of the programme came her class poem, Makers of To-morrow; and there, as on many a former occasion, her personality played so great a part that she seemed to be uttering Miltonic sentiments instead of school-girl verse. Her voice, her eyes, her body breathed conviction, earnestness, emotion; and when she left the platform the audience felt that they had listened to a masterpiece. Most of her hearers knew little of Carlyle or Emerson, or they might have remembered that the one said, "We are all poets when we read a poem well," and the other, "'T is the good reader makes the good book."

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