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III. A Leaf of Spearmint Henry van Dyke

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The face of Augustus is as solemn as an ebony idol while he plays his part of Cupid's messenger. The fair Annie affects surprise; she accepts the offering rather indifferently; her curls drop down over her cheeks to cover some small confusion. But for an instant the corner of her eye catches the boy's sidelong glance, and she nods perceptibly, whereupon his mother very inconsiderately calls attention to the fact that yesterday's escapade has sun-burned his face dreadfully.

Beautiful Annie V----, who, among all the unripened nymphs that played at hide-and-seek among the maples on the hotel lawn, or waded with white feet along the yellow beach beyond the point of pines, flying with merry shrieks into the woods when a boat-load of boys appeared suddenly around the corner, or danced the lancers in the big, bare parlours before the grown-up ball began--who in all that joyous, innocent bevy could be compared with you for charm or daring? How your dark eyes sparkled, and how the long brown ringlets tossed around your small head, when you stood up that evening, slim and straight, and taller by half a head than your companions, in the lamp-lit room where the children were playing forfeits, and said, "There is not one boy here that DARES to kiss ME!" Then you ran out on the dark porch, where the honeysuckle vines grew up the tall, inane Corinthian pillars.

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Did you blame the boy for following? And were you very angry, indeed, about what happened,--until you broke out laughing at his cravat, which had slipped around behind his ear? That was the first time he ever noticed how much sweeter the honeysuckle smells at night than in the day. It was his entrance examination in the school of nature--human and otherwise. He felt that there was a whole continent of newly discovered poetry within him, and worshipped his Columbus disguised in curls. Your boy is your true idealist, after all, although (or perhaps because) he is still uncivilised.

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Little Rivers
Henry van Dyke

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