His hand detained her, very gently. Indeed, it seemed to him he could never tire of noting her excellencies. Perhaps it was that splendid light poise of her head he chiefly loved; he thought so at least, just now. Or was it the wonder of her walk, which made all other women he had ever known appear to mince and hobble, like rusty toys?
Something there was assuredly about this slim brown girl which recalled an untamed and harmless woodland creature; and it was that, he knew, which most poignantly moved him, even though he could not name it. Perhaps it was her bright kind eyes, which seemed to mirror the tranquillity of forests.
“You gentry are always talking of love,” she marveled.
Oh, he said, with acerbity, “oh, I don`t doubt that any number of beet-gorging squires and leering, long-legged Oxford dandies” He broke off here, and laughed contemptuously, “Well, you are beautiful, and they have eyes as keen as mine. And I do not blame you, my dear, for believing my designs to be no more commendable than theirs no, not at all.”
But his mood was spoiled, and his tetchy vanity hurt, by the thought of stout_ well-set fellows having wooed this girl; and he permitted her to go without protest.
Yet he sat alone for a while upon the fallen tree-trunk, humming a contented little tune. Never in his life had he been happier. He did not venture to suppose that any creature so adorable could love such a sickly hunchback, such a gargoyle of a man, as he was; but that Sarah was fond of him, he knew. There would be no trouble in arranging with her father for their marriage, most certainly; and he meant to attend to that matter this very morning, and within ten minutes. So Mr. Alexander Pope was meanwhile arranging in his mind a suitable wording for his declaration of marital aspirations.
Thus John Gay found him presently and roused him from phrase spinning. “And what shall we do this morning, Alexander?” Gay was always demanding, like a spoiled child, to be amused.
Pope told him what his own plans were, speaking quite simply, but with his countenance radiant. Gay took off his hat and wiped his forehead, for the day was warm. He did not say anything at all.
“Well?” Mr. Pope asked, after a pause.
Mr. Gay was dubious. “I had never thought that you would marry,” he said. “And why, hang it, Alexander! to grow enamored of a milkmaid is well enough for the hero of a poem, but in a poet it hints at injudicious composition.”
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