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whole family was in a great state of pleasant excitement over this
unexpectedly successful first flight of the Ugly Duckling, now
generally considered by his relatives as the most promising young
swan of the flock.
Aunt Jane was particularly funny in her new position of mother to
a callow poet and conducted herself like a proud but bewildered
hen when one of her brood takes to the water. She pored over the
poems, trying to appreciate them but quite failing to do so, for life
was all prose to her, and she vainly tried to discover where Mac
got his talent from. It was pretty to see the new respect with which
she treated his possessions now; the old books were dusted with a
sort of reverence; scraps of paper were laid carefully by lest some
immortal verse be lost; and a certain shabby velvet jacket fondly
smoothed when no one was by to smile at the maternal pride with
filled her heart and caused her once severe countenance to shine
with unwonted benignity.
Uncle Mac talked about "my son" with ill-concealed satisfaction,
and evidently began to feel as if his boy was going to confer
distinction upon the whole race of Campbell, which had already
possessed one poet. Steve exulted with irrepressible delight and
went about quoting Songs and Sonnets till he bored his friends
dreadfully by his fraternal raptures.
Archie took it more quietly, and even suggested that it was too
soon to crow yet, for the dear old fellow's first burst might be his
last, since it was impossible to predict what he would do next.
Having proved that he could write poetry, he might drop it for
some new world to conquer, quoting his favorite Thoreau, who,
having made a perfect pencil, gave up the business and took to
writing books with the sort of indelible ink which grows clearer
The aunts of course had their "views," and enjoyed much prophetic
gossip as they wagged their caps over many social cups of tea. The
younger boys thought it "very jolly," and hoped the Don would "go
ahead and come to glory as soon as possible," which was all that
could by expected of "Young America," with whom poetry is not
usually a passion.
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