Perhaps one of the most perplexing and often painful experiences of an author comes from the appeals of those who hope through him to obtain immediate recognition as writers. One is asked to read manuscripts and commend them to publishers, or at least to give an opinion in regard to them, often to revise or even to rewrite certain portions. I remember that during one month I was asked to do work on the manuscripts of strangers that would require about a year of my time. The maker of such request does not realize that he or she is but one among many, and that the poor author would have to abandon all hope of supporting his family if he tried to comply. The majority who thus appeal to one know next to nothing of the literary life or the conditions of success. They write to the author in perfect good faith, often relating circumstances which touch his sympathies; yet if you tell them the truth about their manuscript, or say you have not time to read it, adding that you have no influence with editors or publishers beyond securing a careful examination of what is written, you feel that you are often set down as a churl, and your inability to comply with their wishes is regarded as the selfishness and arrogance of success. The worried author has also his own compunctions, for while he has tried so often and vainly to secure the recognition requested, till he is in despair of such effort, he still is haunted by the fear that he may overlook some genius whom it would be a delight to guide through what seems a thorny jungle to the inexperienced.
The gossips made many plans for him and indulged in many surmises as to what he would do; but he merely engaged the services of an old woman as domestic, and lived on quietly as before. Perhaps he grew a little morbid after this bereavement and clung more closely to his lonely hearth.
"Bless you, child, what a formalist you have become. You stand on a fine point of etiquette, as if it were the broad foundation of hospitality; while only last week you wanted a ragged tramp, who had every appearance of being a thief, to stay all night. Your brother thinks it a special providence that his friend should have turned up so unexpectedly."
But she was almost terror-stricken to see him turn and dart to the torrent like an arrow. With a long flying leap, he landed on the rock in the midst of the stream, and then, without a second's hesitation, with the impetus already acquired, sprang for the solid ground where she stood, struck it, wavered, and would have fallen backward into the water had not she, quick as thought, stepped forward and given him her hand.
"I cannot believe it yet. We will not believe it. Now listen patiently, for you will have your part to do."
"Berry well; meet me here ter-morrer night when I whistle like a whip-o'-will. But yer ain' so smart as yer tink yer are, Suky. Yer'se made it cl'ar ter me dat I'se got ter keep de han'lin' ob dat gole or you'll be a-carryin' dis 'liance business too far! If I gib yer gole, I expec' yer ter shine up an be 'greeable-like ter me ebbery way yer know how. Dat's only fa'r, doggoned ef it ain'!" and Jeff spoke in a very aggrieved tone.
The next morning a basket of superb roses was left at her home. There was no card, and mamma queried and surmised; but the girl knew. They were not displeasing to her, and somehow, before the day was over, they found their way to her room; but she shook her head decidedly as she said, "He must be careful not to send me other gifts, for I will return them instantly. Flowers, in moderation, never commit a girl."