Stella. Frankly, no. You have asked the trial: you shall have it. For an hour I will hear you; and, though I strongly suspect the situation of reader is not the object of your visit, you shall have no reason to complain of my inattention. Is that satisfactory?
Festus. Pray go a step farther. You are said to have fine elocutionary powers. May I not hope to have the pleasure of hearing your voice? Grant me your assistance, and my hour's trial may perhaps be made agreeable to both.
Stella. Oh! not quite certain of your ability, Mr. Festus?
Festus. Not in the presence of so fine a reader.
Stella. A compliment! Well, I agree.
Festus. Let me hear you read: that will give me courage to make the attempt myself.
Stella. Oh, very well! Remembering your partiality for juvenile literature, you will pardon me if I read a very short but sweet poem. (Produces a printed handkerchief from her pocket.)
Festus. Ah, a pocket edition!
Stella. (Reads from the handkerchief.)
"Who sat and watched my infant head
When sleeping on my cradle-bed,
And tears of sweet affection shed?
When sleep forsook my open eye,
Who was it sang sweet lullaby,
And rocked me that I should not cry?
When pain and sickness made me cry,
Who gazed upon my heavy eye,
And wept for fear that I should die?
There, sir! what do you say to that?
Festus. It's very sweet. But that child had too many mothers. Now, I prefer Tom Hood's parody. (Reads "A Lay of Real Life," by Thomas Hood.)
A LAY OF REAL LIFE.
Who ruined me ere I was born,
Sold every acre, grass or corn,
And left the next heir all forlorn?