Samantha traced the words with her fingertip, reading slowly. “Silence is the perfectest herald of joy. I were but little happy if I could say how much.—Lady, as you are mine, I am yours. I give away myself for you and dote upon the exchange.”
Her brow furrowed in consternation. “I don’t get it, Vincent. He’s either happy, or he’s not. What does it mean?”
“Can anyone help Samantha with an explanation?” Vincent glanced around the cluster of literature students crammed into his chamber.
No one spoke, though many shifted uneasily. They figured their teacher was expecting them to already know this stuff. But they were stumped.
“I thought we’d covered this last week.” Vincent sighed. “Time is running out. You all know tomorrow is April the 12th, and Father has already set the exam timetable for next week. He will accept no excuses about unpreparedness.”
His gaze interrogated the room. “Is there no-one who has worked out what Shakespeare is saying here?”
“I guess you’ll have to explain it to us again, Vincent,” Zach commented. “It’s all Greek to me.” He grinned.
“Very well…” Vincent exhaled roughly, dropping his gaze to the book in his hand. “What the Bard is saying, is that complete joy makes one speechless; if I were only a little happy, then I could say exactly how much. Lady, you are mine and I am yours. For you, I give myself away and I’m ecstatic about the exchange.” He looked up at the class. “Do you understand it now?”
At the back of the class, Kipper raised his hand. “So, like yesterday, when I finally found my big, blue marble that’d been missing for a whole week. I was so happy, I couldn’t even speak when I found it.” His brow darkened. “Arthur had stolen it.”
Vincent’s mouth quirked. “Well, yes, that is one way of looking at the work. Perhaps not quite what the Bard had in mind.”
“Well, I was speechless, then. I wouldn’t have been at all happy if I’d only found a little bit of my big marble,” Kipper countered.
“He’s talking about romance here, not some stupid marble!” Samantha butted in, fiercely.
“But, it was my best one,” Kipper defended his corner, stoutly.
Vincent raised his hand. “Kipper has a point there. The play is firstly a comedy, but there are romantic overtones. I am sure there could have been a big, blue marble in it somewhere, if only Shakespeare had thought of it.”
“Now you’re being silly, Vincent.” Samantha turned her disapproving gaze upon him. “What about the line, ‘Lady, you are mine and I am yours’?” She shook her curls. “Now that’s so romantic...” She sighed. “I want someone to say that to me, one day.”
“Samantha wants a boyfriend,” a young, male voice in the class chanted, then sniggered.
Samantha bridled. “I said, one day!” She looked back to her teacher. “Like you, Vincent, eh? Wouldn’t that be nice for you to have someone of your own, one day…?” Her smile grew wistful. She raised a shoulder. “Ya know…” She sniffed. “To make you speechless with happiness…”
An uneasy silence enveloped the room. No-one else ventured an opinion. Everyone knew Father’s views about his unusual son and romance. Besides, everyone said, ages ago there’d been that unfortunate incident with some woman called Lisa…
They all knew to be very careful around Vincent. It was an unspoken rule in the tunnels.
Zach finally cleared his throat, covering the awkward silence. “I guess you won’t be going Above tonight, then, Vincent. Mouse said the fog is going to roll into the park all night. Real thick. Better to just stay home.”
Vincent knew the children meant well. He studied each of their upturned faces. “I have never yet allowed a little fog to deny me the pleasure of a walk in the park, Zach. It will certainly be deserted, on such a night.”
“It makes you a little happy. Right, Vincent?” Samantha breathed happily.
She stood to take her teacher’s hand. “One day, you’re going to be real happy, I just know it.” She squeezed his hand before planting a kiss on his cheek. “Maybe even big, blue, marble happy…”
“You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep
Illustrations supplied by the author