Pope came more near to the mirror. “Make answer, you who have dared to imagine that a goddess was ever drawn to descend into womanhood except by kisses, brawn and a clean heart.
Another peal of thunder bellowed. The storm was growing furious. “Yet I have had a marvelous dream. Now I awaken. I must go on in the old round. As long as my wits preserve their agility I must be able to amuse, to flatter and, at need, to intimidate the patrons of that ape in the mirror, so that they will not dare refuse me the market-value of my antics. And Sarah Drew has declined an alliance such as this in favor of a fresh-colored complexion and a pair of straight shoulders! `
Pope thought a while. “And a clean heart! She bargained royally, giving love for nothing less than love. The man is rustic, illiterate, he never heard of Aristotle, he would be at a loss to distinguish between a trochee and a Titian, and if you mentioned Boileau to him would probably imagine you were talking of cookery. But he loves her. He would forfeit eternity to save her a toothache. And, chief of all, she can make this robust baby happy, and she alone can make him happy. And so, she gives, gives royally she gives, God bless her!”
Rain, sullen rain, was battering the window. “And you you hunchback in the mirror, you maker of neat rhymes pray, what had you to offer? A coach-and-six, of course, and pin-money and furbelows and in the end a mausoleum with unimpeachable Latin on it! And patt. sur pate an unswerving devotion which she would share on almost equal terms with the Collected Works of Alexander Pope. And so she chose chose braffn and a clean heart.”
The dwarf turned, staggered, fell upon his bed. “God, make a man of me, make me a good brave man. I loved her oh, such as I am, You know that I loved her! You know that I desire her happiness above all things. Ah, no, for You know that I do not at bottom. I want to hurt, to wound all living creatures, because they know how to be happy, and I do not know how. Ah, God, and why did You decree that I should never be an obtuse and comely animal such as this John Hughes is? I am so tired of being `the great Mr. Pope,` and I want only the common joys of life.”
The hunchback wept. It would be too curious to anatomize the warnings of his proud little spirit.
Now someone tapped upon the door. It was John Gay. He was bidden to enter, and, complying, found Mr. Pope yawning over the latest of Tonson`s publications.
Gay`s face was singularly portentous. “My friend,” Gay blurted out, “I bring news which will horrify you. Believe me, I would never have mustered the pluck to bring it did I not love you. I cannot let you hear it first in public and unprepared, as, otherwise, you would have to do.
“Do I not know you have the kindest heart in all the world? Why, so outrageous are your amiable defects that they would be the public derision of your enemies if you had any,” Pope returned.
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