With renewed zest Edna devoted every moment stolen from Felix, to the completion of her new book. Her first had been a "bounteous promise"--at least so said criticdom--and she felt that the second would determine her literary position, would either place her reputation as an author beyond all cavil, or utterly crush her ambition. Sometimes as she bent over her MS., and paused to re-read some passage just penned, which she had laboriously composed, and thought particularly good as an illustration of the idea she was striving to embody perspicuously, a smile would flit across her countenance while she asked herself:
"Will my readers see it as I see it? Will they thank me for
my high opinion of their culture, in assuming that it will be quite as
plain to them as to me? If there should accidentally be an allusion to
classical or scientific literature, which they do not understand at the
first hasty, careless, novel-reading glance, will they inform
themselves, and then appreciate my reason for employing it, and thank me
for the hint; or will they attempt to ridicule my pedantry? When will
they begin to suspect that what they may imagine sounds 'learned' in my
writings, merely appears so to them because they have not climbed high
enough to see how vast, how infinite is the sphere of human learning?
No, no, dear reader shivering with learning-phobia, I am not learned.
You are only a little, a very little more ignorant. Doubtless you know
many things which I should be glad to learn; come, let us barter. Let us
all study the life of Giovanni Pico Mirandola, and then we shall begin
to understand the meaning of the word 'learned.'"