'Incubation' is the title of a short* text written by E.B.White which we discovered a day or two ago as we turned to the one hundred and seventieth page of our first edition of 'The Second Tree from the Corner'
A bird sitting on eggs is all eye and and tail, a miracle of silent radiation and patience. It is almost impossible to meet, squarely, the accusing gaze of a broody bird, however unjust the accusation may seem. Perhaps this is because the bird's dedication is pure - untainted by expectations of a hatch. [...] This classic pose of a bird is the despair of creative people: we have never seen a broody artist sitting on an egg except knowingly, in an attitude of sly expectancy.
We should like to invite Mr White to try to meet the gaze, squarely, of a brooding bird of the lemonly realm and to report what he finds.
We have no prejudice in this matter. Ours is a cordial invitation; and we would be contented were he to come round for tea while he's in the neighbourhood.
We should mention, to avoid any (further) disappointment, we would never be so presumptuous as to impose reproductive or culinary expectations on a guest by the measure of meeting his or her eyes, depending upon the gender, squarely across the tea trolley. **
The Five Andrews are the surprised victims of our work. A performance is what we do to protect our audience from the same fate, understanding that we cannot count on it simply to look away.
* The Five Andrews have a combined height of something like five metres. To us, most texts appear short. We do not mean to single out E.B. White.
** Our preferred measure is to present a bespoke carving.