Part 1 out of 6
Prepared by David Reed firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Rose in Bloom
by Louisa May Alcott
A Sequel to "Eight Cousins"
As authors may be supposed to know better than anyone else what
they intended to do when writing a book, I beg leave to say that
there is no moral to this story. Rose is not designed for a model
girl, and the Sequel was simply written in fulfillment of a promise,
hoping to afford some amusement, and perhaps here and there a
helpful hint, to other roses getting ready to bloom.
L. M. Alcott
Chapter 1. Coming Home
Chapter 2. Old Friends with New Faces
Chapter 3. Miss Campbell
Chapter 4. Thorns Among the Roses
Chapter 5. Prince Charming
Chapter 6. Polishing Mac
Chapter 7. Phebe
Chapter 8. Breakers Ahead
Chapter 9. New Year's Calls
Chapter 10. The Sad and Sober Part
Chapter 11. Small Temptations
Chapter 12. At Kitty's Ball
Chapter 13. Both Sides
Chapter 14. Aunt Clara's Plan
Chapter 15. Alas for Charlie!
Chapter 16. Good Works
Chapter 17. Among the Haycocks
Chapter 18. Which Was It?
Chapter 19. Behind the Fountain
Chapter 20. What Mac Did
Chapter 21. How Phebe Earned Her Welcome
Chapter 22. Short and Sweet
Chapter 1 COMING HOME
Three young men stood together on a wharf one bright October
day awaiting the arrival of an ocean steamer with an impatience
which found a vent in lively skirmishes with a small lad, who
pervaded the premises like a will-o'-the-wisp and afforded much
amusement to the other groups assembled there.
"They are the Campbells, waiting for their cousin, who has been
abroad several years with her uncle, the doctor," whispered one
lady to another as the handsomest of the young men touched his
hat to her as he passed, lugging the boy, whom he had just rescued
from a little expedition down among the piles.
"Which is that?" asked the stranger.
"Prince Charlie, as he's called a fine fellow, the most promising of
the seven, but a little fast, people say," answered the first speaker
with a shake of the head.
"Are the others his brothers?"
"No, cousins. The elder is Archie, a most exemplary young man.
He has just gone into business with the merchant uncle and bids
fair to be an honor to his family. The other, with the eyeglasses
and no gloves, is Mac, the odd one, just out of college."
"And the boy?"
"Oh, he is Jamie, the youngest brother of Archibald, and the pet of
the whole family. Mercy on us he'll be in if they don't hold on to
The ladies' chat came to a sudden end just there, for by the time
Jamie had been fished out of a hogshead, the steamer hove in sight
and everything else was forgotten. As it swung slowly around to
enter the dock, a boyish voice shouted, "There she is! I see her and
Uncle and Phebe! Hooray for Cousin Rose!" And three small
cheers were given with a will by Jamie as he stood on a post
waving his arms like a windmill while his brother held onto the
tail of his jacket.
Yes, there they were Uncle Alec swinging his hat like a boy, with
Phebe smiling and nodding on one side and Rose kissing both
hands delightedly on the other as she recognized familiar faces and
heard familiar voices welcoming her home.
"Bless her dear heart, she's bonnier than ever! Looks like a
Madonna doesn't she? with that blue cloak round her, and her
bright hair flying in the wind!" said Charlie excitedly as they
watched the group upon the deck with eager eyes.
"Madonnas don't wear hats like that. Rose hasn't changed much,
but Phebe has. Why, she's a regular beauty!" answered Archie,
staring with all his might at the dark-eyed young woman with the
brilliant color and glossy black braids shining in the sun.
"Dear old Uncle! Doesn't it seem good to have him back?" was all
Mac said, but he was not looking at "dear old uncle" as he made
the fervent remark, for he saw only the slender blond girl nearby
and stretched out his hands to meet hers, forgetful of the green
water tumbling between them.
During the confusion that reigned for a moment as the steamer
settled to her moorings, Rose looked down into the four faces
upturned to hers and seemed to read in them something that both
pleased and pained her. It was only a glance, and her own eyes
were full, but through the mist of happy tears she received the
impression that Archie was about the same, that Mac had
decidedly improved, and that something was amiss with Charlie.
There was no time for observation, however, for in a moment the
shoreward rush began, and before she could grasp her traveling
bag, Jamie was clinging to her like an ecstatic young bear. She was
with difficulty released from his embrace to fall into the gentler
ones of the elder cousins, who took advantage of the general
excitement to welcome both blooming girls with affectionate
impartiality. Then the wanderers were borne ashore in a triumphal
procession, while Jamie danced rapturous jigs before them even on
Archie remained to help his uncle get the luggage through the
Custom House, and the others escorted the damsels home. No
sooner were they shut up in a carriage, however, than a new and
curious constraint seemed to fall upon the young people, for they
realized, all at once, that their former playmates were men and
women now. Fortunately, Jamie was quite free from this feeling of
restraint and, sitting bodkinwise between the ladies, took all sorts
of liberties with them and their belongings.
"Well, my mannikin, what do you think of us?" asked Rose, to
break an awkward pause.
"You've both grown so pretty, I can't decide which I like best.
Phebe is the biggest and brightest-looking, and I was always fond
of Phebe, but somehow you are so kind of sweet and precious, I
really think I must hug you again," and the small youth did it
"If you love me best, I shall not mind a bit about your thinking
Phebe the handsomest, because she is. Isn't she, boys?" asked
Rose, with a mischievous look at the gentlemen opposite, whose
faces expressed a respectful admiration which much amused her.
"I'm so dazzled by the brilliancy and beauty that has suddenly burst
upon me, I have no words to express my emotions," answered
Charlie, gallantly dodging the dangerous question.
"I can't say yet, for I have not had time to look at anyone. I will
now, if you don't mind." And, to the great amusement of the rest,
Mac gravely adjusted his eyeglasses and took an observation.
"Well?" said Phebe, smiling and blushing under his honest stare,
yet seeming not to resent it as she did the lordly sort of approval
which made her answer the glance of Charlie's audacious blue eyes
with a flash of her black ones.
"I think if you were my sister, I should be very proud of you,
because your face shows what I admire more than its beauty truth
and courage, Phebe," answered Mac with a little bow full of such
genuine respect that surprise and pleasure brought a sudden dew to
quench the fire of the girl's eyes and soothe the sensitive pride of
the girl's heart.
Rose clapped her hands just as she used to do when anything
delighted her, and beamed at Mac approvingly as she said: "Now
that's a criticism worth having, and we are much obliged. I was
sure you'd admire my Phebe when you knew her, but I didn't
believe you would be wise enough to see it at once, and you have
gone up many pegs in my estimation, I assure you."
"I was always fond of mineralogy you remember, and I've been
tapping round a good deal lately, so I've learned to know precious
metals when I see them," Mac said with his shrewd smile.
"That is the latest hobby, then? Your letters have amused us
immensely, for each one had a new theory or experiment, and the
latest was always the best. I thought Uncle would have died of
laughter over the vegetarian mania it was so funny to imagine you
living on bread and milk, baked apples, and potatoes roasted in
your own fire," continued Rose, changing the subject again.
"This old chap was the laughingstock of his class. They called him
Don Quixote, and the way he went at windmills of all sorts was a
sight to see," put in Charlie, evidently feeling that Mac had been
patted on the head quite as much as was good for him.
"But in spite of that the Don got through college with all the
honors. Oh, wasn't I proud when Aunt Jane wrote to us about it and
didn't she rejoice that her boy kept at the head of his class and won
the medal!" cried Rose, shaking Mac by both hands in a way that
caused Charlie to wish "the old chap" had been left behind with
"Oh, come, that's all Mother's nonsense. I began earlier than the
other fellows and liked it better, so I don't deserve any praise.
Prince is right, though. I did make a regular jack of myself, but on
the whole I'm not sure that my wild oats weren't better than some
I've seen sowed. Anyway, they didn't cost much, and I'm none the
worse for them," said Mac placidly.
"I know what 'wild oats' means. I heard Uncle Mac say Charlie was
sowing 'em too fast, and I asked Mama, so she told me. And I
know that he was suspelled or expended, I don't remember which,
but it was something bad, and Aunt Clara cried," added Jamie all
in one breath, for he possessed a fatal gift of making malapropos
remarks, which caused him to be a terror to his family.
"Do you want to go on the box again?" demanded Prince with a
"No, I don't."
"Then hold your tongue."
"Well, Mac needn't kick me, for I was only..." began the culprit,
innocently trying to make a bad matter worse.
"That will do," interrupted Charlie sternly, and James subsided, a
crushed boy, consoling himself with Rose's new watch for the
indignities he suffered at the hands of the "old fellows" as he
vengefully called his elders.
Mac and Charlie immediately began to talk as hard as their
tongues could wag, bringing up all sorts of pleasant subjects so
successfully that peals of laughter made passersby look after the
merry load with sympathetic smiles.
An avalanche of aunts fell upon Rose as soon as she reached
home, and for the rest of the day the old house buzzed like a
beehive. Evening found the whole tribe collected in the drawing
rooms, with the exception of Aunt Peace, whose place was empty
Naturally enough, the elders settled into one group after a while,
and the young fellows clustered about the girls like butterflies
around two attractive flowers. Dr. Alec was the central figure in
one room and Rose in the other, for the little girl, whom they had
all loved and petted, had bloomed into a woman, and two years of
absence had wrought a curious change in the relative positions of
the cousins, especially the three elder ones, who eyed her with a
mixture of boyish affection and manly admiration that was both
new and pleasant.
Something sweet yet spirited about her charmed them and piqued
their curiosity, for she was not quite like other girls, and rather
startled them now and then by some independent little speech or
act which made them look at one another with a sly smile, as if
reminded that Rose was "Uncle's girl."
Let us listen, as in duty bound, to what the elders are saying first,
for they are already building castles in air for the boys and girls to
"Dear child how nice it is to see her safely back, so well and happy
and like her sweet little self!" said Aunt Plenty, folding her hands
as if giving thanks for a great happiness.
"I shouldn't wonder if you found that you'd brought a firebrand into
the family, Alec. Two, in fact, for Phebe is a fine girl, and the lads
have found it out already if I'm not mistaken," added Uncle Mac,
with a nod toward the other room.
All eyes followed his, and a highly suggestive tableau presented
itself to the paternal and maternal audience in the back parlor.
Rose and Phebe, sitting side by side on the sofa, had evidently
assumed at once the places which they were destined to fill by
right of youth, sex, and beauty, for Phebe had long since ceased to
be the maid and become the friend, and Rose meant to have that
fact established at once.
Jamie occupied the rug, on which Will and Geordie stood at ease,
showing their uniforms to the best advantage, for they were now in
a great school, where military drill was the delight of their souls.
Steve posed gracefully in an armchair, with Mac lounging over the
back of it, while Archie leaned on one corner of the low
chimneypiece, looking down at Phebe as she listened to his chat
with smiling lips and cheeks almost as rich in color as the
carnations in her belt.
But Charlie was particularly effective, although he sat upon a
music stool, that most trying position for any man not gifted with
grace in the management of his legs. Fortunately Prince was, and
had fallen into an easy attitude, with one arm over the back of the
sofa, his handsome head bent a little, as he monopolized Rose,
with a devoted air and a very becoming expression of contentment
on his face.
Aunt Clara smiled as if well pleased; Aunt Jessie looked
thoughtful; Aunt Jane's keen eyes went from dapper Steve to
broad-shouldered Mac with an anxious glance; Mrs. Myra
murmured something about her "blessed Caroline"; and Aunt
Plenty said warmly, "Bless the dears! Anyone might be proud of
such a bonny flock of bairns as that."
"I am all ready to play chaperon as soon as you please, Alec, for I
suppose the dear girl will come out at once, as she did not before
you went away. My services won't be wanted long, I fancy, for
with her many advantages she will be carried off in her first season
or I'm much mistaken," said Mrs. Clara, with significant nods and
"You must settle all those matters with Rose. I am no longer
captain, only first mate now, you know," answered Dr. Alec,
adding soberly, half to himself, half to his brother, "I wonder
people are in such haste to 'bring out' their daughters, as it's called.
To me there is something almost pathetic in the sight of a young
girl standing on the threshold of the world, so innocent and
hopeful, so ignorant of all that lies before her, and usually so ill
prepared to meet the ups and downs of life. We do our duty better
by the boys, but the poor little women are seldom provided with
any armor worth having, and sooner or later they are sure to need
it, for every one must fight her own battle, and only the brave and
strong can win."
"You can't reproach yourself with neglect of that sort, Alec, for
you have done your duty faithfully by George's girl, and I envy you
the pride and happiness of having such a daughter, for she is that
to you," answered old Mac, unexpectedly betraying the paternal
sort of tenderness men seldom feel for their sons.
"I've tried, Mac, and I am both proud and happy, but with every
year my anxiety seems to increase. I've done my best to fit Rose
for what may come, as far as I can foresee it, but now she must
stand alone, and all my care is powerless to keep her heart from
aching, her life from being saddened by mistakes, or thwarted by
the acts of others. I can only stand ready to share her joy and
sorrow and watch her shape her life."
"Why, Alec, what is the child going to do that you need look so
solemn?" exclaimed Mrs. Clara, who seemed to have assumed a
sort of right to Rose already.
"Hark! And let her tell you herself," answered Dr. Alec, as Rose's
voice was heard saying very earnestly, "Now, you have all told
your plans for the future, why don't you ask us ours?"
"Because we know that there is only one thing for a pretty girl to
do break a dozen or so hearts before she finds one to suit, then
marry and settle," answered Charlie, as if no other reply was
"That may be the case with many, but not with us, for Phebe and I
believe that it is as much a right and a duty for women to do
something with their lives as for men, and we are not going to be
satisfied with such frivolous parts as you give us," cried Rose with
kindling eyes. "I mean what I say, and you cannot laugh me down.
Would you be contented to be told to enjoy yourself for a little
while, then marry and do nothing more till you die?" she added,
turning to Archie.
"Of course not that is only a part of a man's life," he answered
"A very precious and lovely part, but not all," continued Rose.
"Neither should it be for a woman, for we've got minds and souls
as well as hearts; ambition and talents as well as beauty and
accomplishments; and we want to live and learn as well as love
and be loved. I'm sick of being told that is all a woman is fit for! I
won't have anything to do with love till I prove that I am
something besides a housekeeper and baby-tender!"
"Heaven preserve us! Here's woman's rights with a vengeance!"
cried Charlie, starting up with mock horror, while the others
regarded Rose with mingled surprise and amusement, evidently
fancying it all a girlish outbreak.
"Ah, you needn't pretend to be shocked you will be in earnest
presently, for this is only the beginning of my strong-mindedness,"
continued Rose, nothing daunted by the smiles of good-natured
incredulity or derision on the faces of her cousins. "I have made up
my mind not to be cheated out of the real things that make one
good and happy and, just because I'm a rich girl, fold my hands
and drift as so many do. I haven't lived with Phebe all these years
in vain. I know what courage and self-reliance can do for one, and
I sometimes wish I hadn't a penny in the world so that I could go
and earn my bread with her, and be as brave and independent as
she will be pretty soon."
It was evident that Rose was in earnest now, for as she spoke she
turned to her friend with such respect as well as love in her face
that the look told better than any words how heartily the rich girl
appreciated the virtues hard experience had given the poor girl,
and how eagerly she desired to earn what all her fortune could not
buy for her.
Something in the glance exchanged between the friends impressed
the young men in spite of their prejudices, and it was in a perfectly
serious tone that Archie said, "I fancy you'll find your hands full,
Cousin, if you want work, for I've heard people say that wealth has
its troubles and trials as well as poverty."
"I know it, and I'm going to try and fill my place well. I've got
some capital little plans all made, and have begun to study my
profession already," answered Rose with an energetic nod.
"Could I ask what it is to be?" inquired Charlie in a tone of awe.
"Guess!" and Rose looked up at him with an expression
"Well, I should say that you were fitted for a beauty and a belle,
but as that is evidently not to your taste, I am afraid you are going
to study medicine and be a doctor. Won't your patients have a
heavenly time though? It will be easy dying with an angel to
"Now, Charlie, that's base of you, when you know how well
women have succeeded in this profession and what a comfort Dr.
Mary Kirk was to dear Aunt Peace. I did want to study medicine,
but Uncle thought it wouldn't do to have so many M.D.'s in one
family, since Mac thinks of trying it. Besides, I seem to have other
work put into my hands that I am better fitted for."
"You are fitted for anything that is generous and good, and I'll
stand by you, no matter what you've chosen," cried Mac heartily,
for this was a new style of talk from a girl's lips, and he liked it
"Philanthropy is a generous, good, and beautiful profession, and
I've chosen it for mine because I have much to give. I'm only the
steward of the fortune Papa left me, and I think, if I use it wisely
for the happiness of others, it will be more blest than if I keep it all
Very sweetly and simply was this said, but it was curious to see
how differently the various hearers received it.
Charlie shot a quick look at his mother, who exclaimed, as if in
spite of herself, "Now, Alec, are you going to let that girl squander
a fine fortune on all sorts of charitable nonsense and wild schemes
for the prevention of pauperism and crime?"
"'They who give to the poor lend to the Lord,' and practical
Christianity is the kind He loves the best," was all Dr. Alec
answered, but it silenced the aunts and caused even prudent Uncle
Mac to think with sudden satisfaction of certain secret investments
he had made which paid him no interest but the thanks of the poor.
Archie and Mac looked well pleased and promised their advice
and assistance with the enthusiasm of generous young hearts.
Steve shook his head, but said nothing, and the lads on the rug at
once proposed founding a hospital for invalid dogs and horses,
white mice, and wounded heroes.
"Don't you think that will be a better way for a woman to spend her
life than in dancing, dressing, and husband-hunting, Charlie?"
asked Rose, observing his silence and anxious for his approval.
"Very pretty for a little while, and very effective too, for I don't
know anything more captivating than a sweet girl in a meek little
bonnet going on charitable errands and glorifying poor people's
houses with a delightful mixture of beauty and benevolence.
Fortunately, the dear souls soon tire of it, but it's heavenly while it
Charlie spoke in a tone of mingled admiration and contempt, and
smiled a superior sort of smile, as if he understood all the innocent
delusions as well as the artful devices of the sex and expected
nothing more from them. It both surprised and grieved Rose, for it
did not sound like the Charlie she had left two years ago. But she
only said, with a reproachful look and a proud little gesture of
head and hand, as if she put the subject aside since it was not
treated with respect: "I am sorry you have so low an opinion of
women. There was a time when you believed in them sincerely."
"I do still, upon my word I do! They haven't a more devoted
admirer and slave in the world than I am. Just try me and see,"
cried Charlie, gallantly kissing his hand to the sex in general.
But Rose was not appeased, and gave a disdainful shrug as she
answered with a look in her eyes that his lordship did not like,
"Thank you. I don't want admirers or slaves, but friends and
helpers. I've lived so long with a wise, good man that I am rather
hard to suit, perhaps, but I don't intend to lower my standard, and
anyone who cares for my regard must at least try to live up to it."
"Whew! Here's a wrathful dove! Come and smooth her ruffled
plumage, Mac. I'll dodge before I do further mischief," and Charlie
strolled away into the other room, privately lamenting that Uncle
Alec had spoiled a fine girl by making her strong-minded.
He wished himself back again in five minutes, for Mac said
something that produced a gale of laughter, and when he took a
look over his shoulder the "wrathful dove" was cooing so
peacefully and pleasantly he was sorely tempted to return and
share the fun. But Charlie had been spoiled by too much
indulgence, and it was hard for him to own himself in the wrong
even when he knew it. He always got what he wanted sooner or
later, and having long ago made up his mind that Rose and her
fortune were to be his, he was secretly displeased at the new plans
and beliefs of the young lady, but flattered himself that they would
soon be changed when she saw how unfashionable and
inconvenient they were.
Musing over the delightful future he had laid out, he made himself
comfortable in the sofa corner near his mother till the appearance
of a slight refection caused both groups to melt into one. Aunt
Plenty believed in eating and drinking, so the slightest excuse for
festivity delighted her hospitable soul, and on this joyful occasion
she surpassed herself.
It was during this informal banquet that Rose, roaming about from
one admiring relative to another, came upon the three younger
lads, who were having a quiet little scuffle in a secluded corner.
"Come out here and let me have a look at you," she said enticingly,
for she predicted an explosion and public disgrace if peace was not
Hastily smoothing themselves down, the young gentlemen
presented three flushed and merry countenances for inspection,
feeling highly honored by the command.
"Dear me, how you two have grown! You big things how dare you
get head of me in this way!" she said, standing on tiptoe to pat the
curly pates before her, for Will and Geordie had shot up like
weeds, and now grinned cheerfully down upon her as she surveyed
them in comic amazement.
"The Campbells are all fine, tall fellows, and we mean to be the
best of the lot. Shouldn't wonder if we were six-footers like
Grandpa," observed Will proudly, looking so like a young
Shanghai rooster, all legs and an insignificant head, that Rose kept
her countenance with difficulty.
"We shall broaden out when we get our growth. We are taller than
Steve now, a half a head, both of us," added Geordie, with his nose
in the air.
Rose turned to look at Steve and, with a sudden smile, beckoned to
him. He dropped his napkin and flew to obey the summons, for she
was queen of the hour, and he had openly announced his deathless
"Tell the other boys to come here. I've a fancy to stand you all in a
row and look you over, as you did me that dreadful day when you
nearly frightened me out of my wits," she said, laughing at the
memory of it as she spoke.
They came in a body and, standing shoulder to shoulder, made
such an imposing array that the young commander was rather
daunted for a moment. But she had seen too much of the world
lately to be abashed by a trifle, and the desire to see a girlish test
gave her courage to face the line of smiling cousins with dignity
"Now, I'm going to stare at you as you stared at me. It is my
revenge on you seven bad boys for entrapping one poor little girl
and enjoying her alarm. I'm not a bit afraid of you now, so tremble
As she spoke, Rose looked up into Archie's face and nodded
approvingly, for the steady gray eyes met hers fairly and softened
as they did so a becoming change, for naturally they were rather
keen than kind.
"A true Campbell, bless you!" she said, and shook his hand heartily
as she passed on.
Charlie came next, and here she felt less satisfied, though scarcely
conscious why, for, as she looked, there came a defiant sort of
flash, changing suddenly to something warmer than anger, stronger
than pride, making her shrink a little and say, hastily, "I don't find
the Charlie I left, but the Prince is there still, I see."
Turning to Mac with a sense of relief, she gently took off his
"winkers," as Jamie called them, and looked straight into the
honest blue eyes that looked straight back at her, full of a frank
and friendly affection that warmed her heart and made her own
eyes brighten as she gave back the glasses, saying, with a look and
tone of cordial satisfaction, "You are not changed, my dear old
Mac, and I'm so glad of that!"
"Now say something extra sweet to me, because I'm the flower of
the family," said Steve, twirling the blond moustache, which was
evidently the pride of his life.
Rose saw at a glance that Dandy deserved his name more than
ever, and promptly quenched his vanities by answering, with a
provoking laugh, "Then the name of the flower of the family is
"Ah, ha! who's got it now?" jeered Will.
"Let us off easy, please," whispered Geordie, mindful that their
turn came next.
"You blessed beanstalks! I'm proud of you only don't grow quite
out of sight, or even be ashamed to look a woman in the face,"
answered Rose, with a gentle pat on the cheek of either bashful
young giant, for both were red as peonies, though their boyish eyes
were as clear and calm as summer lakes.
"Now me!" and Jamie assumed his manliest air, feeling that he did
not appear to advantage among his tall kinsmen. But he went to
the head of the class in everyone's opinion when Rose put her arms
around him, saying, with a kiss, "You must be my boy now, for all
the others are too old, and I want a faithful little page to do my
errands for me."
"I will, I will I'll marry you too, if you'll just hold on till I grow
up!" cried Jamie, rather losing his head at this sudden promotion.
"Bless the baby, what is he talking about?" laughed Rose, looking
down at her little knight as he clung about her with grateful ardor.
"Oh, I heard the aunts say that you'd better marry one of us, and
keep the property in the family, so I speak first, because you are
very fond of me, and I do love curls."
Alas for Jamie! This awful speech had hardly left his innocent lips
when Will and Geordie swept him out of the room like a
whirlwind, and the howls of that hapless boy were heard from the
torture hall, where being shut into the skeleton case was one of the
mildest punishments inflicted upon him.
Dismay fell upon the unfortunates who remained, but their
confusion was soon ended, for Rose, with a look which they had
never seen upon her face before, dismissed them with the brief
command, "Break ranks the review is over," and walked away to
"Confound that boy! You ought to shut him up or gag him!" fumed
"He shall be attended to," answered poor Archie, who was trying to
bring up the little marplot with the success of most parents and
"The whole thing was deuced disagreeable," growled Steve, who
felt that he had not distinguished himself in the late engagement.
"Truth generally is," observed Mac dryly as he strolled away with
his odd smile.
As if he suspected discord somewhere, Dr. Alec proposed music at
this crisis, and the young people felt that it was a happy thought.
"I want you to hear both my birds, for they have improved
immensely, and I am very proud of them," said the doctor, twirling
up the stool and pulling out the old music books.
"I had better come first, for after you have heard the nightingale
you won't care for the canary," added Rose, wishing to put Phebe
at her ease, for she sat among them looking like a picture, but
rather shy and silent, remembering the days when her place was in
"I'll give you some of the dear old songs you used to like so much.
This was a favorite, I think," and sitting down she sang the first
familiar air that came, and sang it well in a pleasant, but by no
means finished, manner.
It chanced to be "The Birks of Aberfeldie," and vividly recalled the
time when Mac was ill and she took care of him. The memory was
sweet to her, and involuntarily her eye wandered in search of him.
He was not far away, sitting just as he used to sit when she soothed
his most despondent moods astride of a chair with his head down
on his arms, as if the song suggested the attitude. Her heart quite
softened to him as she looked, and she decided to forgive him if no
one else, for she was sure that he had no mercenary plans about
her tiresome money.
Charlie had assumed a pensive air and fixed his fine eyes upon her
with an expression of tender admiration, which made her laugh in
spite of all her efforts to seem unconscious of it. She was both
amused and annoyed at his very evident desire to remind her of
certain sentimental passages in the last year of their girl- and
boy-hood, and to change what she had considered a childish joke
into romantic earnest. Rose had very serious ideas of love and had
no intention of being beguiled into even a flirtation with her
So Charlie attitudinized unnoticed and was getting rather out of
temper when Phebe began to sing, and he forgot all about himself
in admiration of her. It took everyone by surprise, for two years of
foreign training added to several at home had worked wonders,
and the beautiful voice that used to warble cheerily over pots and
kettles now rang out melodiously or melted to a mellow music that
woke a sympathetic thrill in those who listened. Rose glowed with
pride as she accompanied her friend, for Phebe was in her own
world now a lovely world where no depressing memory of
poorhouse or kitchen, ignorance or loneliness, came to trouble her,
a happy world where she could be herself and rule others by the
magic of her sweet gift.
Yes, Phebe was herself now, and showed it in the change that
came over her at the first note of music. No longer shy and silent,
no longer the image of a handsome girl but a blooming woman,
alive and full of the eloquence her art gave her, as she laid her
hands softly together, fixed her eye on the light, and just poured
out her song as simply and joyfully as the lark does soaring toward
"My faith, Alec that's the sort of voice that wins a man's heart out
of his breast!" exclaimed Uncle Mac, wiping his eyes after one of
the plaintive ballads that never grow old.
"So it would!" answered Dr. Alec delightedly.
"So it has," added Archie to himself; and he was right, for just at
that moment he fell in love with Phebe. He actually did, and could
fix the time almost to a second, for at a quarter past nine, he
merely thought her a very charming young person; at twenty
minutes past, he considered her the loveliest woman he ever
beheld; at five and twenty minutes past, she was an angel singing
his soul away; and at half after nine he was a lost man, floating
over a delicious sea to that temporary heaven on earth where
lovers usually land after the first rapturous plunge.
If anyone had mentioned this astonishing fact, nobody would have
believed it; nevertheless, it was quite true, and sober, businesslike
Archie suddenly discovered a fund of romance at the bottom of his
hitherto well-conducted heart that amazed him. He was not quite
clear what had happened to him at first, and sat about in a dazed
sort of way, seeing, hearing, knowing nothing but Phebe, while the
unconscious idol found something wanting in the cordial praise so
modestly received because Mr. Archie never said a word.
This was one of the remarkable things which occurred that
evening. Another was that Mac paid Rose a compliment, which
was such an unprecedented fact, it produced a great sensation,
though only one person heard it.
Everybody had gone but Mac and his father, who was busy with
the doctor. Aunt Plenty was counting the teaspoons in the dining
room, and Phebe was helping her as of old. Mac and Rose were
alone he apparently in a brown study, leaning his elbows on the
chimneypiece, and she lying back in a low chair looking
thoughtfully at the fire. She was tired, and the quiet was grateful to
her, so she kept silence and Mac respectfully held his tongue.
Presently, however, she became conscious that he was looking at
her as intently as eyes and glasses could do it, and without stirring
from her comfortable attitude, she said, smiling up at him, "He
looks as wise as an owl I wonder what he's thinking about?"
"Something good, I hope?"
"I was thinking Leigh Hunt was about right when he said, 'A girl is
the sweetest thing God ever made.'"
"Why, Mac!" and Rose sat bolt upright with an astonished face this
was such an entirely unexpected sort of remark for the philosopher
Evidently interested in the new discovery, Mac placidly continued,
"Do you know, it seems as if I never really saw a girl before, or
had any idea what agreeable creatures they could be. I fancy you
are a remarkably good specimen, Rose."
"No, indeed! I'm only hearty and happy, and being safe at home
again may make me look better than usual perhaps, but I'm no
beauty except to Uncle."
"'Hearty and happy' that must be it," echoed Mac, soberly
investigating the problem. "Most girls are sickly or silly, I think I
have observed, and that is probably why I am so struck with you."
"Of all the queer boys you are the queerest! Do you really mean
that you don't like or notice girls?" asked Rose, much amused at
this new peculiarity of her studious cousin.
"Well, no, I am only conscious of two sorts noisy and quiet ones. I
prefer the latter, but, as a general thing, I don't notice any of them
much more than I do flies, unless they bother me, then I'd like to
flap them away, but as that won't do, I hide."
Rose leaned back and laughed until her eyes were full. It was so
comical to hear Mac sink his voice to a confidential whisper at the
last words and see him smile with sinful satisfaction at the
memory of the tormentors he had eluded.
"You needn't laugh it's a fact, I assure you. Charlie likes the
creatures, and they spoil him. Steve follows suit, of course. Archie
is a respectful slave when he can't help himself. As for me, I don't
often give them a chance, and when I get caught I talk science and
dead languages till they run for their lives. Now and then I find a
sensible one, and then we get on excellently."
"A sad prospect for Phebe and me," sighed Rose, trying to keep
"Phebe is evidently a quiet one. I know she is sensible, or you
wouldn't care for her. I can see that she is pleasant to look at, so I
fancy I shall like her. As for you, I helped bring you up, therefore I
am a little anxious to see how you turn out. I was afraid your
foreign polish might spoil you, but I think it has not. In fact, I find
you quite satisfactory so far, if you don't mind my saying it. I don't
quite know what the charm is, though. Must be the power of
inward graces, since you insist that you have no outer ones."
Mac was peering at her with a shrewd smile on his lips, but such a
kindly look behind the glasses that she found both words and
glance very pleasant and answered merrily, "I am glad you approve
of me, and much obliged for your care of my early youth. I hope to
be a credit to you and depend on your keeping me straight, for I'm
afraid I shall be spoilt among you all."
"I'll keep my eye on you upon one condition," replied the youthful
"If you are going to have a lot of lovers around, I wash my hands
of you. If not, I'm your man."
"You must be sheep dog and help keep them away, for I don't want
any yet awhile and, between ourselves, I don't believe I shall have
any if it is known that I am strong-minded. That fact will scare
most men away like a yellow flag," said Rose, for, thanks to Dr.
Alec's guardianship, she had wasted neither heart nor time in the
foolish flirtations so many girls fritter away their youth upon.
"Hum! I rather doubt that," muttered Mac as he surveyed the
damsel before him.
She certainly did not look unpleasantly strong-minded, and she
was beautiful in spite of her modest denials. Beautiful with the
truest sort of beauty, for nobility of character lent its subtle charm
to the bloom of youth, the freshness of health, the innocence of a
nature whose sweet maidenliness Mac felt but could not describe.
Gentle yet full of spirit, and all aglow with the earnestness that
suggests lovely possibilities and makes one hope that such human
flowers may have heaven's purest air and warmest sunshine to
"Wait and see," answered Rose; then, as her uncle's voice was
heard in the hall, she held out her hand, adding pleasantly, "The
old times are to begin again, so come soon and tell me all your
doings and help me with mine just as you used to do."
"You really mean it?" And Mac looked much pleased.
"I really do. You are so little altered, except to grow big, that I
don't feel at all strange with you and want to begin where we left
"That will be capital. Good night, Cousin," and to her great
amazement, he gave her a hearty kiss.
"Oh, but that is not the old way at all!" cried Rose, stepping back
in merry confusion while the audacious youth assumed an air of
mild surprise as he innocently asked: "Didn't we always say good
night in that way? I had an impression that we did and were to
begin just as we left off."
"Of course not. No power on earth would have bribed you to do it,
as you know well enough. I don't mind the first night, but we are
too old for that sort of thing now."
"I'll remember. It was the force of habit, I suppose, for I'm sure I
must have done it in former times, it seemed so natural. Coming,
Father!" and Mac retired, evidently convinced he was right.
"Dear old thing! He is as much a boy as ever, and that is such a
comfort, for some of the others have grown up very fast," said
Rose to herself, recalling Charlie's sentimental airs and Archie's
beatified expression while Phebe sang.
Chapter 2 OLD FRIENDS WITH NEW FACES
"It is so good to be home again! I wonder how we ever made up
our minds to go away!" exclaimed Rose as she went roaming about
the old house next morning, full of the satisfaction one feels at
revisiting familiar nooks and corners and finding them unchanged.
"That we might have the pleasure of coming back again,"
answered Phebe, walking down the hall beside her little mistress,
as happy as she.
"Everything seems just as we left it, even to the rose leaves we
used to tuck in here," continued the younger girl, peeping into one
of the tall India jars that stood about the hall.
"Don't you remember how Jamie and Pokey used to play Forty
Thieves with them, and how you tried to get into that blue one and
got stuck, and the other boys found us before I could pull you out?"
asked Phebe, laughing.
"Yes, indeed, and speaking of angels, one is apt to hear the rustling
of their wings," added Rose, as a shrill whistle came up the avenue
accompanied by the clatter of hoofs.
"It is the circus!" cried Phebe gaily as they both recalled the red
cart and the charge of the clan.
There was only one boy now, alas, but he made noise enough for
half a dozen, and before Rose could run to the door, Jamie came
bouncing in with a "shining morning face," a bat over his shoulder,
a red and white jockey cap on his head, one pocket bulging with a
big ball, the other overflowing with cookies, and his mouth full of
the apple he was just finishing off in hot haste.
"Morning! I just looked in to make sure you'd really come and see
that you were all right," he observed, saluting with bat and doffing
the gay cap with one effective twitch.
"Good morning, dear. Yes, we really are here, and getting to rights
as fast as possible. But it seems to me you are rather gorgeous,
Jamie. What do you belong to a fire company or a jockey club?"
asked Rose, turning up the once chubby face, which now was
getting brown and square about the chin.
"No, ma'am! Why, don't you know? I'm captain of the Base Ball
Star Club. Look at that, will you?" And, as if the fact were one of
national importance, Jamie flung open his jacket to display upon
his proudly swelling chest an heart-shaped red flannel shield
decorated with a white cotton star the size of a tea plate.
"Superb! I've been away so long I forgot there was such a game.
And you the captain?" cried Rose, deeply impressed by the high
honor to which her kinsman had arrived.
"I just am, and it's no joke you'd better believe, for we knock our
teeth out, black our eyes, and split our fingers almost as well as the
big fellows. You come down to the Common between one and two
and see us play a match, then you'll understand what hard work it
is. I'll teach you to bat now if you'll come out on the lawn," added
Jamie, fired with a wish to exhibit his prowess.
"No, thank you, captain. The grass is wet, and you'll be late at
school if you stay for us."
"I'm not afraid. Girls are not good for much generally, but you
never used to mind a little wet and played cricket like a good one.
Can't you ever do that sort of thing now?" asked the boy, with a
pitying look at these hapless creatures debarred from the joys and
perils of manly sports.
"I can run still and I'll get to the gate before you, see if I don't."
And, yielding to the impulse of the moment, Rose darted down the
steps before astonished Jamie could mount and follow.
He was off in a moment, but Rose had the start, and though old
Sheltie did his best, she reached the goal just ahead, and stood
there laughing and panting, all rosy with fresh October air, a pretty
picture for several gentlemen who were driving by.
"Good for you, Rose!" said Archie, jumping out to shake hands
while Will and Geordie saluted and Uncle Mac laughed at Jamie,
who looked as if girls had risen slightly in his opinion.
"I'm glad it is you, because you won't be shocked. But I'm so happy
to be back I forgot I was not little Rose still," said Atalanta,
smoothing down her flying hair.
"You look very like her, with the curls on your shoulders in the old
way. I missed them last night and wondered what it was. How are
Uncle and Phebe?" asked Archie, whose eyes had been looking
over Rose's head while he spoke toward the piazza, where a female
figure was visible among the reddening woodbines.
"All well, thanks. Won't you come up and see for yourselves?"
"Can't, my dear, can't possibly. Business, you know, business. This
fellow is my right-hand man, and I can't spare him a minute.
Come, Arch, we must be off, or these boys will miss their train,"
answered Uncle Mac, pulling out his watch.
With a last look from the light-haired figure at the gate to the
dark-haired one among the vines, Archie drove away and Jamie
cantered after, consoling himself for his defeat with apple number
Rose lingered a moment, feeling much inclined to continue her run
and pop in upon all the aunts in succession, but, remembering her
uncovered head, was about to turn back when a cheerful "Ahoy!
ahoy!" made her look up to see Mac approaching at a great pace,
waving his hat as he came.
"The Campbells are coming, thick and fast this morning, and the
more the merrier," she said, running to meet him. "You look like a
good boy going to school, and virtuously conning your lesson by
the way," she added, smiling to see him take his finger out of the
book he had evidently been reading, and tuck it under his arm, just
as he used to do years ago.
"I am a schoolboy, going to the school I like best," he answered,
waving a plumy spray of asters as if pointing out the lovely autumn
world about them, full of gay hues, fresh airs, and mellow
"That reminds me that I didn't get a chance to hear much about
your plans last night the other boys all talked at once, and you only
got a word now and then. What have you decided to be, Mac?"
asked Rose as they went up the avenue side by side.
"A man first, and a good one if possible. After that, what God
Something in the tone, as well as the words, made Rose look up
quickly into Mac's face to see a new expression there. It was
indescribable, but she felt as she had often done when watching
the mists part suddenly, giving glimpses of some mountaintop,
shining serene and high against the blue.
"I think you will be something splendid, for you really look quite
glorified, walking under this arch of yellow leaves with the
sunshine on your face," she exclaimed, conscious of a sudden
admiration never felt before, for Mac was the plainest of all the
"I don't know about that, but I have my dreams and aspirations,
and some of them are pretty high ones. Aim at the best, you know,
and keep climbing if you want to get on," he said, looking at the
asters with an inward sort of smile, as if he and they had some
sweet secret between them.
"You are queerer than ever. But I like your ambition, and hope you
will get on. Only mustn't you begin at something soon? I fancied
you would study medicine with Uncle that used to be our plan, you
"I shall, for the present at least, because I quite agree with you that
it is necessary to have an anchor somewhere and not go floating
off into the world of imagination without ballast of the right sort.
Uncle and I had some talk about it last night and I'm going to begin
as soon as possible, for I've mooned long enough," and giving
himself a shake, Mac threw down the pretty spray, adding half
"Chide me not, laborious band,
For the idle flowers I brought:
Every aster in my hand
Goes home laden with a thought."
Rose caught the words and smiled, thinking to herself, "Oh, that's
it he is getting into the sentimental age and Aunt Jane has been
lecturing him. Dear me, how we are growing up!"
"You look as if you didn't like the prospect very well," she said
aloud, for Mac had rammed the volume of Shelley into his pocket
and the glorified expression was so entirely gone, Rose fancied she
had been mistaken about the mountaintop behind the mists.
"Yes, well enough I always thought the profession a grand one,
and where could I find a better teacher than Uncle? I've got into
lazy ways lately, and it is high time I went at something useful, so
here I go," and Mac abruptly vanished into the study while Rose
joined Phebe in Aunt Plenty's room.
The dear old lady had just decided, after long and earnest
discussion, which of six favorite puddings should be served for
dinner, and thus had a few moments to devote to sentiment, so
when Rose came in she held out her arms, saying fondly: "I shall
not feel as if I'd got my child back again until I have her in my lap
a minute. No, you're not a bit too heavy, my rheumatism doesn't
begin much before November, so sit here, darling, and put your
two arms round my neck."
Rose obeyed, and neither spoke for a moment as the old woman
held the young one close and appeased the two years' longing of a
motherly heart by the caresses women give the creatures dearest to
them. Right in the middle of a kiss, however, she stopped suddenly
and, holding out one arm, caught Phebe, who was trying to steal
"Don't go there's room for both in my love, though there isn't in my
lap. I'm so grateful to get my dear girls safely home again that I
hardly know what I'm about," said Aunt Plenty, embracing Phebe
so heartily that she could not feel left out in the cold and stood
there with her black eyes shining through the happiest tears.
"There, now I've had a good hug, and feel as if I was all right
again. I wish you'd set that cap in order, Rose I went to bed in such
a hurry, I pulled the strings off it and left it all in a heap. Phebe,
dear, you shall dust round a mite, just as you used to, for I haven't
had anyone to do it as I like since you've been gone, and it will do
me good to see all my knickknacks straightened out in your tidy
way," said the elder lady, getting up with a refreshed expression on
her rosy old face.
"Shall I dust in here too?" asked Phebe, glancing toward an inner
room which used to be her care.
"No, dear, I'd rather do that myself. Go in if you like, nothing is
changed. I must go and see to my pudding." And Aunt Plenty
trotted abruptly away with a quiver of emotion in her voice which
made even her last words pathetic.
Pausing on the threshold as if it was a sacred place, the girls
looked in with eyes soon dimmed by tender tears, for it seemed as
if the gentle occupant was still there. Sunshine shone on the old
geraniums by the window; the cushioned chair stood in its
accustomed place, with the white wrapper hung across it and the
faded slippers lying ready. Books and basket, knitting and
spectacles, were all just as she had left them, and the beautiful
tranquility that always filled the room seemed so natural, both
lookers turned involuntarily toward the bed, where Aunt Peace
used to greet them with a smile. There was no sweet old face upon
the pillow now, yet the tears that wet the blooming cheeks were
not for her who had gone, but for her who was left, because they
saw something which spoke eloquently of the love which outlives
death and makes the humblest things beautiful and sacred.
A well-worn footstool stood beside the bed, and in the high-piled
whiteness of the empty couch there was a little hollow where a
gray head nightly rested while Aunt Plenty said the prayers her
mother taught her seventy years ago.
Without a word, the girls softly shut the door. And while Phebe put
the room in the most exquisite order, Rose retrimmed the plain
white cap, where pink and yellow ribbons never rustled now, both
feeling honored by their tasks and better for their knowledge of the
faithful love and piety which sanctified a good old woman's life.
"You darling creature, I'm so glad to get you back! I know it's
shamefully early, but I really couldn't keep away another minute.
Let me help you I'm dying to see all your splendid things. I saw the
trunks pass and I know you've quantities of treasures," cried
Annabel Bliss all in one breath as she embraced Rose an hour later
and glanced about the room bestrewn with a variety of agreeable
"How well you are looking! Sit down and I'll show you my lovely
photographs. Uncle chose all the best for me, and it's a treat to see
them," answered Rose, putting a roll on the table and looking
about for more.
"Oh, thanks! I haven't time now one needs hours to study such
things. Show me your Paris dresses, there's a dear I'm perfectly
aching to see the last styles," and Annabel cast a hungry eye
toward certain large boxes delightfully suggestive of French finery.
"I haven't got any," said Rose, fondly surveying the fine
photographs as she laid them away.
"Rose Campbell! You don't mean to say that you didn't get one
Paris dress at least?" cried Annabel, scandalized at the bare idea of
"Not one for myself. Aunt Clara ordered several, and will be
charmed to show them when her box comes."
"Such a chance! Right there and plenty of money! How could you
love your uncle after such cruelty?" sighed Annabel, with a face
full of sympathy.
Rose looked puzzled for a minute, then seemed to understand, and
assumed a superior air which became her very well as she said,
good-naturedly opening a box of laces, "Uncle did not forbid my
doing it, and I had money enough, but I chose not to spend it on
things of that sort."
"Could and didn't! I can't believe it!" And Annabel sank into a
chair, as if the thought was too much for her.
"I did rather want to at first, just for the fun of the thing. In fact, I
went and looked at some amazing gowns. But they were very
expensive, very much trimmed, and not my style at all, so I gave
them up and kept what I valued more than all the gowns Worth
"What in the world was it?" cried Annabel, hoping she would say
"Uncle's good opinion," answered Rose, looking thoughtfully into
the depths of a packing case, where lay the lovely picture that
would always remind her of the little triumph over girlish vanity,
which not only kept but increased "Uncle's good opinion."
"Oh, indeed!" said Annabel blankly, and fell to examining Aunt
Plenty's lace while Rose went on with a happy smile in her eyes as
she dived into another trunk.
"Uncle thinks one has no right to waste money on such things, but
he is very generous and loves to give useful, beautiful, or curious
gifts. See, all these pretty ornaments are for presents, and you shall
choose first whatever you like."
"He's a perfect dear!" cried Annabel, reveling in the crystal,
filigree, coral, and mosaic trinkets spread before her while Rose
completed her rapture by adding sundry tasteful trifles fresh from
"Now tell me, when do you mean to have your coming-out party? I
ask because I've nothing ready and want plenty of time, for I
suppose it will be the event of the season," asked Annabel a few
minutes later as she wavered between a pink coral and a blue lava
"I came out when I went to Europe, but I suppose Aunty Plen will
want to have some sort of merry-making to celebrate our return. I
shall begin as I mean to go on, and have a simple, sociable sort of
party and invite everyone whom I like, no matter in what 'set' they
happen to belong. No one shall ever say I am aristocratic and
exclusive so prepare yourself to be shocked, for old friends and
young, rich and poor, will be asked to all my parties."
"Oh, my heart! You are going to be odd, just as Mama predicted!"
sighed Annabel, clasping her hands in despair and studying the
effect of three bracelets on her chubby arm in the midst of her
"In my own house I'm going to do as I think best, and if people call
me odd, I can't help it. I shall endeavor not to do anything very
dreadful, but I seem to inherit Uncle's love for experiments and
mean to try some. I daresay they will fail and I shall get laughed at.
I intend to do it nevertheless, so you had better drop me now
before I begin," said Rose with an air of resolution that was rather
"What shall you wear at this new sort of party of yours?" asked
Annabel, wisely turning a deaf ear to all delicate or dangerous
topics and keeping to matters she understood.
"That white thing over there. It is fresh and pretty, and Phebe has
one like it. I never want to dress more than she does, and gowns of
that sort are always most becoming and appropriate to girls of our
"Phebe! You don't mean to say you are going to make a lady of
her!" gasped Annabel, upsetting her treasures as she fell back with
a gesture that made the little chair creak again, for Miss Bliss was
as plump as a partridge.
"She is one already, and anybody who slights her slights me, for
she is the best girl I know and the dearest," cried Rose warmly.
"Yes, of course I was only surprised you are quite right, for she
may turn out to be somebody, and then how glad you'll feel that
you were so good to her!" said Annabel, veering around at once,
seeing which way the wind blew.
Before Rose could speak again, a cheery voice called from the
hall, "Little mistress, where are you?"
"In my room, Phebe, dear," and up came the girl Rose was going to
"make a lady of," looking so like one that Annabel opened her
china-blue eyes and smiled involuntarily as Phebe dropped a little
curtsey in playful imitation of her old manner and said quietly:
"How do you do, Miss Bliss?"
"Glad to see you back, Miss Moore," answered Annabel, shaking
hands in a way that settled the question of Phebe's place in her
mind forever, for the stout damsel had a kind heart in spite of a
weak head and was really fond of Rose. It was evidently "Love me,
love my Phebe," so she made up her mind on the spot that Phebe
was somebody, and that gave an air of romance even to the
She could not help staring a little as she watched the two friends
work together and listened to their happy talk over each new
treasure as it came to light, for every look and word plainly
showed that years of close companionship had made them very
dear to one another. It was pretty to see Rose try to do the hardest
part of any little job herself still prettier to see Phebe circumvent
her and untie the hard knots, fold the stiff papers, or lift the heavy
trays with her own strong hands, and prettiest of all to hear her say
in a motherly tone, as she put Rose into an easy chair: "Now, my
deary, sit and rest, for you will have to see company all day, and I
can't let you get tired out so early."
"That is no reason why I should let you either. Call Jane to help or
I'll bob up again directly," answered Rose, with a very bad
assumption of authority.
"Jane may take my place downstairs, but no one shall wait on you
here except me, as long as I'm with you," said stately Phebe,
stooping to put a hassock under the feet of her little mistress.
"It is very nice and pretty to see, but I don't know what people will
say when she goes into society with the rest of us. I do hope Rose
won't be very odd," said Annabel to herself as she went away to
circulate the depressing news that there was to be no grand ball
and, saddest disappointment of all, that Rose had not a single Paris
costume with which to refresh the eyes and rouse the envy of her
"Now I've seen or heard from all the boys but Charlie, and I
suppose he is too busy. I wonder what he is about," thought Rose,
turning from the hall door, whither she had courteously
accompanied her guest.
The wish was granted a moment after, for, going into the parlor to
decide where some of her pictures should hang, she saw a pair of
brown boots at one end of the sofa, a tawny-brown head at the
other, and discovered that Charlie was busily occupied in doing
"The voice of the Bliss was heard in the land, so I dodged till she
went upstairs, and then took a brief siesta while waiting to pay my
respects to the distinguished traveler, Lady Hester Stanhope," he
said, leaping up to make his best bow.
"The voice of the sluggard would be a more appropriate quotation,
I think. Does Annabel still pine for you?" asked Rose, recalling
certain youthful jokes upon the subject of unrequited affections.
"Not a bit of it. Fun has cut me out, and the fair Annabella will be
Mrs. Tokio before the winter is over if I'm not much mistaken."
"What, little Fun See? How droll it seems to think of him grown up
and married to Annabel of all people! She never said a word about
him, but this accounts for her admiring my pretty Chinese things
and being so interested in Canton."
"Little Fun is a great swell now, and much enamored of our fat
friend, who will take to chopsticks whenever he says the word. I
needn't ask how you do, Cousin, for you beat that Aurora all
hollow in the way of color. I should have been up before, but I
thought you'd like a good rest after your voyage."
"I was running a race with Jamie before nine o'clock. What were
you doing, young man?"
"'Sleeping I dreamed, love, dreamed, love, of thee,'" began
Charlie, but Rose cut him short by saying as reproachfully as she
could, while the culprit stood regarding her with placid
satisfaction: "You ought to have been up and at work like the rest
of the boys. I felt like a drone in a hive of very busy bees when I
saw them all hurrying off to their business."
"But, my dear girl, I've got no business. I'm making up my mind,
you see, and do the ornamental while I'm deciding. There always
ought to be one gentleman in a family, and that seems to be rather
my line," answered Charlie, posing for the character with an
assumption of languid elegance which would have been very
effective if his twinkling eyes had not spoilt it.
"There are none but gentlemen in our family, I hope," answered
Rose, with the proud air she always wore when anything was said
derogatory to the name of Campbell.
"Of course, of course. I should have said gentleman of leisure. You
see it is against my principles to slave as Archie does. What's the
use? Don't need the money, got plenty, so why not enjoy it and
keep jolly as long as possible? I'm sure cheerful people are public
benefactors in this world of woe."
It was not easy to object to this proposition, especially when made
by a comely young man who looked the picture of health and
happiness as he sat on the arm of the sofa smiling at his cousin in
the most engaging manner. Rose knew very well that the
Epicurean philosophy was not the true one to begin life upon, but
it was difficult to reason with Charlie because he always dodged
sober subjects and was so full of cheery spirits, one hated to lessen
the sort of sunshine which certainly is a public benefactor.
"You have such a clever way of putting things that I don't know
how to contradict you, though I still think I'm right," she said
gravely. "Mac likes to idle as well as you, but he is not going to do
it because he knows it's bad for him to fritter away his time. He is
going to study a profession like a wise boy, though he would much
prefer to live among his beloved books or ride his hobbies in
"That's all very well for him, because he doesn't care for society
and may as well be studying medicine as philandering about the
woods with his pockets full of musty philosophers and
old-fashioned poets," answered Charlie with a shrug which plainly
expressed his opinion of Mac.
"I wonder if musty philosophers, like Socrates and Aristotle, and
old-fashioned poets, like Shakespeare and Milton, are not safer
company for him to keep than some of the more modern friends
you have?" said Rose, remembering Jamie's hints about wild oats,
for she could be a little sharp sometimes and had not lectured "the
boys" for so long it seemed unusually pleasant.
But Charlie changed the subject skillfully by exclaiming with an
anxious expression: "I do believe you are going to be like Aunt
Jane, for that's just the way she comes down on me whenever she
gets the chance! Don't take her for a model, I beg she is a good
woman but a mighty disagreeable one in my humble opinion."
The fear of being disagreeable is a great bugbear to a girl, as this
artful young man well knew, and Rose fell into the trap at once,
for Aunt Jane was far from being her model, though she could not
help respecting her worth.
"Have you given up your painting?" she asked rather abruptly,
turning to a gilded Fra Angelico angel which leaned in the sofa
"Sweetest face I ever saw, and very like you about the eyes, isn't
it?" said Charlie, who seemed to have a Yankee trick of replying to
one question with another.
"I want an answer, not a compliment," and Rose tried to look
severe as she put away the picture more quickly than she had taken
"Have I given up painting? Oh, no! I daub a little in oils, slop a
little in watercolors, sketch now and then, and poke about the
studios when the artistic fit comes on."
"How is the music?"
"More flourishing. I don't practice much, but sing a good deal in
company. Set up a guitar last summer and went troubadouring
round in great style. The girls like it, and it's jolly among the
"Are you studying anything?"
"Well, I have some lawbooks on my table good, big, wise-looking
chaps and I take a turn at them semioccasionally when pleasure
palls or parents chide. But I doubt if I do more than learn what 'a
allybi' is this year," and a sly laugh in Charlie's eye suggested that
he sometimes availed himself of this bit of legal knowledge.
"What do you do then?"
"Fair catechist, I enjoy myself. Private theatricals have been the
rage of late, and I have won such laurels that I seriously think of
adopting the stage as my profession."
"Really!" cried Rose, alarmed.
"Why not? If I must go to work, isn't that as good as anything?"
"Not without more talent than I think you possess. With genius one
can do anything without it one had better let the stage alone."
"There's a quencher for the 'star of the goodlie companie' to which
I belong. Mac hasn't a ray of genius for anything, yet you admire
him for trying to be an M.D.," cried Charlie, rather nettled at her
"It is respectable, at all events, and I'd rather be a second-rate
doctor than a second-rate actor. But I know you don't mean it, and
only say so to frighten me."
"Exactly. I always bring it up when anyone begins to lecture and it
works wonders. Uncle Mac turns pale, the aunts hold up their
hands in holy horror, and a general panic ensues. Then I
magnanimously promise not to disgrace the family and in the first
burst of gratitude the dear souls agree to everything I ask, so peace
is restored and I go on my way rejoicing."
"Just the way you used to threaten to run off to sea if your mother
objected to any of your whims. You are not changed in that
respect, though you are in others. You had great plans and projects
once, Charlie, and now you seem to be contented with being a
'jack of all trades and master of none'".
"Boyish nonsense! Time has brought wisdom, and I don't see the
sense of tying myself down to one particular thing and grinding
away at it year after year. People of one idea get so deucedly
narrow and tame, I've no patience with them. Culture is the thing,
and the sort one gets by ranging over a wide field is the easiest to
acquire, the handiest to have, and the most successful in the end.
At any rate, it is the kind I like and the only kind I intend to bother
With this declaration, Charlie smoothed his brow, clasped his
hands over his head, and, leaning back, gently warbled the chorus
of a college song as if it expressed his views of life better than he
"While our rosy fillets shed
Blushes o'er each fervid head,
With many a cup and many a smile
The festal moments we beguile."
"Some of my saints here were people of one idea, and though they
were not very successful from a worldly point of view while alive,
they were loved and canonized when dead," said Rose, who had
been turning over a pile of photographs on the table and just then
found her favorite, St. Francis, among them.
"This is more to my taste. Those worn-out, cadaverous fellows
give me the blues, but here's a gentlemanly saint who takes things
easy and does good as he goes along without howling over his own
sins or making other people miserable by telling them of theirs."
And Charlie laid a handsome St. Martin beside the brown-frocked
Rose looked at both and understood why her cousin preferred the
soldierly figure with the sword to the ascetic with his crucifix. One
was riding bravely through the world in purple and fine linen, with
horse and hound and squires at his back; and the other was in a
lazar-house, praying over the dead and dying. The contrast was a
strong one, and the girl's eyes lingered longest on the knight,
though she said thoughtfully, "Yours is certainly the pleasantest
and yet I never heard of any good deed he did, except divide his
cloak with a beggar, while St. Francis gave himself to charity just
when life was most tempting and spent years working for God
without reward. He's old and poor, and in a dreadful place, but I
won't give him up, and you may have your gay St. Martin if you
"No, thank you, saints are not in my line but I'd like the
golden-haired angel in the blue gown if you'll let me have her. She
shall be my little Madonna, and I'll pray to her like a good
Catholic," answered Charlie, turning to the delicate, deep-eyed
figure with the lilies in its hand.
"With all my heart, and any others that you like. Choose some for
your mother and give them to her with my love."
So Charlie sat down beside Rose to turn and talk over the pictures
for a long and pleasant hour. But when they went away to lunch, if
there had been anyone to observe so small but significant a trifle,
good St. Francis lay face downward behind the sofa, while gallant
St. Martin stood erect upon the chimneypiece.
Chapter 3 MISS CAMPBELL
While the travelers unpack their trunks, we will pick up, as briefly
as possible, the dropped stitches in the little romance we are
Rose's life had been a very busy and quiet one for the four years
following the May day when she made her choice. Study, exercise,
housework, and many wholesome pleasures kept her a happy,
hearty creature, yearly growing in womanly graces, yet always
preserving the innocent freshness girls lose so soon when too early
set upon the world's stage and given a part to play.
Not a remarkably gifted girl in any way, and far from perfect; full
of all manner of youthful whims and fancies; a little spoiled by
much love; rather apt to think all lives as safe and sweet as her
own; and, when want or pain appealed to her, the tender heart
overflowed with a remorseful charity which gave of its abundance
recklessly. Yet, with all her human imperfections, the upright
nature of the child kept her desires climbing toward the just and
pure and true, as flowers struggle to the light; and the woman's
soul was budding beautifully under the green leaves behind the
At seventeen, Dr. Alec pronounced her ready for the voyage
around the world, which he considered a better finishing off than
any school could give her. But just then Aunt Peace began to fail
and soon slipped quietly away to rejoin the lover she had waited
for so long. Youth seemed to come back in a mysterious way to
touch the dead face with lost loveliness, and all the romance of her
past to gather around her memory. Unlike most aged women, her
friends were among the young, and at her funeral the grayheads
gave place to the band of loving girls who made the sweet old
maiden ready for her rest, bore her pall, and covered her grave
with the white flowers she had never worn.
When this was over poor Aunt Plenty seemed so lost without her
lifelong charge that Dr. Alec would not leave her, and Rose gladly
paid the debt she owed by the tender service which comforts
without words. But Aunt Plenty, having lived for others all her
days, soon rebelled against this willing sacrifice, soon found
strength in her own sincere piety, solace in cheerful occupation,
and amusement in nursing Aunt Myra, who was a capital patient,
as she never died and never got well.
So at last the moment came when, with free minds, the travelers
could set out, and on Rose's eighteenth birthday, with Uncle Alec
and the faithful Phebe, she sailed away to see and study the big,
beautiful world which lies ready for us all if we only know how to
use and enjoy it.
Phebe was set to studying music in the best schools, and while she
trained her lovely voice with happy industry, Rose and her uncle
roamed about in the most delightful way till two years were gone
like a dream and those at home clamored for their return.
Back they came, and now the heiress must make ready to take her
place, for at twenty-one she came into possession of the fortune
she had been trying to learn how to use well. Great plans
fermented in her brain, for, though the heart was as generous as
ever, time had taught her prudence and observation shown her that
the wisest charity is that which helps the poor to help themselves.
Dr. Alec found it a little difficult to restrain the ardor of this young
philanthropist who wanted to begin at once to endow hospitals,
build homes, adopt children, and befriend all mankind.
"Take a little time to look about you and get your bearings, child.
The world you have been living in is a much simpler, honester one
than that you are now to enter. Test yourself a bit and see if the old
ways seem best after all, for you are old enough to decide, and
wise enough to discover, what is for your truest good, I hope," he
said, trying to feel ready to let the bird escape from under his wing
and make little flights alone.
"Now, Uncle, I'm very much afraid you are going to be
disappointed in me," answered Rose with unusual hesitation yet a
very strong desire visible in her eyes. "You like to have me quite
honest, and I've learned to tell you all my foolish thoughts so I'll
speak out, and if you find my wish very wrong and silly, please say
so, for I don't want you to cast me off entirely, though I am grown
up. You say, wait a little, test myself, and try if the old ways are
best. I should like to do that, and can I in a better way than leading
the life other girls lead? Just for a little while," she added, as her
uncle's face grew grave.
He was disappointed, yet acknowledged that the desire was natural
and in a moment saw that a trial of this sort might have its
advantages. Nevertheless, he dreaded it, for he had intended to
choose her society carefully and try to keep her unspoiled by the
world as long as possible, like many another fond parent and
guardian. But the spirit of Eve is strong in all her daughters
forbidden fruit will look rosier to them than any in their own
orchards, and the temptation to take just one little bite proves
irresistible to the wisest. So Rose, looking out from the safe
seclusion of her girlhood into the woman's kingdom which she was
about to take possession of, felt a sudden wish to try its pleasures
before assuming its responsibilities, and was too sincere to hide
"Very well, my dear, try it if you like, only take care of your health
be temperate in your gaiety and don't lose more than you gain, if
that is possible," he added under his breath, endeavoring to speak
cheerfully and not look anxious.
"I know it is foolish, but I do want to be a regular butterfly for a
little while and see what it is like. You know I couldn't help seeing
a good deal of fashionable life abroad, though we were not in it,
and here at home the girls tell me about all sorts of pleasant things
that are to happen this winter, so if you won't despise me very
much, I should like to try it."
"For how long?"
"Would three months be too long? New Year is a good time to take
a fresh start. Everyone is going to welcome me, so I must be gay in
spite of myself, unless I'm willing to seem very ungrateful and
morose," said Rose, glad to have so good a reason to offer for her
"You may like it so well that the three months may become years.
Pleasure is very sweet when we are young."
"Do you think it will intoxicate me?"
"We shall see, my dear."
"We shall!" And Rose marched away, looking as if she had taken a
pledge of some sort, and meant to keep it.
It was a great relief to the public mind when it became known that
Miss Campbell was really coming out at last, and invitations to
Aunt Plenty's party were promptly accepted. Aunt Clara was much
disappointed about the grand ball she had planned, but Rose stood
firm, and the dear old lady had her way about everything.
The consequence was a delightfully informal gathering of friends
to welcome the travelers home. Just a good, old-fashioned,
hospitable housewarming, so simple, cordial, and genuine that
those who came to criticize remained to enjoy, and many owned
the charm they could neither describe nor imitate.
Much curiosity was felt about Phebe, and much gossip went on
behind fans that evening, for those who had known her years ago
found it hard to recognize the little housemaid in the handsome
young woman who bore herself with such quiet dignity and
charmed them all with her fine voice. "Cinderella has turned out a
princess," was the general verdict, and Rose enjoyed the little
sensation immensely, for she had had many battles to fight for her
Phebe since she came among them, and now her faith was
Miss Campbell herself was in great demand and did the honors so
prettily that even Miss Bliss forgave her for her sad neglect of
Worth, though she shook her head over the white gowns, just alike
except that Phebe wore crimson and Rose, blue trimmings.
The girls swarmed eagerly around their recovered friend, for Rose
had been a favorite before she went away and found her throne
waiting for her now. The young men privately pronounced Phebe
the handsomest "But then you know there's neither family nor
money, so it's no use." Phebe, therefore, was admired as one of the
ornamental properties belonging to the house and left respectfully
But bonny Rose was "all right," as these amiable youths expressed
it, and many a wistful eye followed the bright head as it flitted
about the rooms as if it were a second Golden Fleece to be won
with difficulty, for stalwart kinsmen hedged it round, and watchful
aunts kept guard.
Little wonder that the girl found her new world an enchanting one
and that her first sip of pleasure rather went to her head, for
everybody welcomed and smiled on her, flattered and praised,
whispered agreeable prophecies in her ear, and looked the
compliments and congratulations they dared not utter till she felt
as if she must have left her old self somewhere abroad and
suddenly become a new and wonderfully gifted being.
"It is very nice, Uncle, and I'm not sure I mayn't want another three
months of it when the first are gone," she whispered to Dr. Alec as
he stood watching the dance she was leading with Charlie in the
long hall after supper.
"Steady, my lass, steady, and remember that you are not really a
butterfly but a mortal girl with a head that will ache tomorrow," he
answered, watching the flushed and smiling face before him.
"I almost wish there wasn't any tomorrow, but that tonight would
last forever it is so pleasant, and everyone so kind," she said with a
little sigh of happiness as she gathered up her fleecy skirts like a
white bird pluming itself for flight.
"I'll ask your opinion about that at two A.M.," began her uncle with
a warning nod.
"I'll give it honestly," was all Rose had time to say before Charlie
swept her away into the particolored cloud before them.
"It's no use, Alec train a girl as wisely as you choose, she will
break loose when the time comes and go in for pleasure as eagerly
as the most frivolous, for ''tis their nature to,'" said Uncle Mac,
keeping time to the music as if he would not mind "going in" for a
bit of pleasure himself.
"My girl shall taste and try, but unless I'm much mistaken, a little
bit of it will satisfy her. I want to see if she will stand the test,
because if not, all my work is a failure and I'd like to know it,"
answered the doctor with a hopeful smile on his lips but an
anxious look in his eyes.
"She will come out all right bless her heart! so let her sow her
innocent wild oats and enjoy herself till she is ready to settle down.
I wish all our young folks were likely to have as small a crop and
get through as safely as she will," added Uncle Mac with a shake
of the head as he glanced at some of the young men revolving
"Nothing amiss with your lads, I hope?"
"No, thank heaven! So far I've had little trouble with either, though
Mac is an odd stick and Steve a puppy. I don't complain, for both
will outgrow that sort of thing and are good fellows at heart,
thanks to their mother. But Clara's boy is in a bad way, and she
will spoil him as a man as she has as a boy if his father doesn't
"I told brother Stephen all about him when I was in Calcutta last
year, and he wrote to the boy, but Clara has got no end of plans in
her head and so she insisted on keeping Charlie a year longer when
his father ordered him off to India," replied the doctor as they
"It is too late to 'order' Charlie is a man now, and Stephen will find
he has been too easy with him all these years. Poor fellow, it has
been hard lines for him, and is likely to be harder, I fancy, unless
he comes home and straightens things out."
"He won't do that if he can help it. He has lost all his energy living
in that climate and hates worry more than ever, so you can imagine
what an effort it would be to manage a foolish woman and a
headstrong boy. We must lend a hand, Mac, and do our best for
poor old Steve."
"The best we can do for the lad is to marry and settle him as soon
"My dear fellow, he is only three and twenty," began the doctor, as
if the idea was preposterous. Then a sudden change came over him
as he added with a melancholy smile, "I forget how much one can
hope and suffer, even at twenty-three."
"And be all the better for, if bravely outlived," said Uncle Mac,
with his hand on his brother's shoulder and the sincerest approval
in his voice. Then, kindly returning to the younger people, he went
on inquiringly, "You don't incline to Clara's view of a certain
matter, I fancy?"
"Decidedly not. My girl must have the best, and Clara's training
would spoil an angel," answered Dr. Alec quickly.
"But we shall find it hard to let our little Rose go out of the family.
How would Archie do? He has been well brought up and is a
thoroughly excellent lad."
The brothers had retired to the study by this time and were alone,
yet Dr. Alec lowered his voice as he said with a tender sort of
anxiety pleasant to see: "You know I do not approve of cousins
marrying, so I'm in a quandary, Mac, for I love the child as if she
were my own and feel as if I could not give her up to any man
whom I did not know and trust entirely. It is of no use for us to
plan, for she must choose for herself yet I do wish we could keep
her among us and give one of our boys a wife worth having."
"We must, so never mind your theories but devote yourself to
testing our elder lads and making one of them a happy fellow. All
are heart-whole, I believe, and, though young still for this sort of
thing, we can be gently shaping matters for them, since no one
knows how soon the moment may come. My faith it is like living
in a powder mill to be among a lot of young folks nowadays! All
looks as calm as possible till a sudden spark produces an
explosion, and heaven only knows where we find ourselves after it
And Uncle Mac sat himself comfortably down to settle Rose's fate
while the doctor paced the room, plucking at his beard and knitting
his brows as if he found it hard to see his way.
"Yes, Archie is a good fellow," he said, answering the question he
had ignored before. "An upright, steady, intelligent lad who will
make an excellent husband if he ever finds out that he has a heart.
I suppose I'm an old fool, but I do like a little more romance in a
young man than he seems to have more warmth and enthusiasm,
you know. Bless the boy! He might be forty instead of three or four
and twenty, he's so sober, calm, and cool. I'm younger than he is,
and could go a-wooing like a Romeo if I had any heart to offer a
The doctor looked rather shamefaced as he spoke, and his brother
burst out laughing. "See here, Alec, it's a pity so much romance
and excellence as yours should be lost, so why don't you set these
young fellows an example and go a-wooing yourself? Jessie has
been wondering how you have managed to keep from falling in
love with Phebe all this time, and Clara is quite sure that you
waited only till she was safe under Aunt Plenty's wing to offer
yourself in the good old-fashioned style."
"I!" And the doctor stood aghast at the mere idea, then he gave a
resigned sort of sigh and added like a martyr, "If those dear women
would let me alone, I'd thank them forever. Put the idea out of
their minds for heaven's sake, Mac, or I shall be having that poor
girl flung at my head and her comfort destroyed. She is a fine
creature and I'm proud of her, but she deserves a better lot than to
be tied to an old fellow like me whose only merit is his fidelity."
"As you please, I was only joking," and Uncle Mac dropped the
subject with secret relief. The excellent man thought a good deal
of family and had been rather worried at the hints of the ladies.
After a moment's silence he returned to a former topic, which was
rather a pet plan of his. "I don't think you do Archie justice, Alec.
You don't know him as well as I do, but you'll find that he has
heart enough under his cool, quiet manner. I've grown very fond of
him, think highly of him, and don't see how you could do better for
Rose than to give her to him."
"If she will go," said the doctor, smiling at his brother's
businesslike way of disposing of the young people.
"She'll do anything to please you," began Uncle Mac in perfect
good faith, for twenty-five years in the society of a very prosaic
wife had taken nearly all the romance out of him.
"It is of no use for us to plan, and I shall never interfere except to
advise, and if I were to choose one of the boys, I should incline to
my godson," answered the doctor gravely.
"What, my Ugly Duckling!" exclaimed Uncle Mac in great
"The Ugly Duckling turned out a swan, you remember. I've always
been fond of the boy because he's so genuine and original. Crude
as a green apple now, but sound at the core, and only needs time to
ripen. I'm sure he'll turn out a capital specimen of the Campbell
"Much obliged, Alec, but it will never do at all. He's a good fellow,
and may do something to be proud of by and by, but he's not the
mate for our Rose. She needs someone who can manage her
property when we are gone, and Archie is the man for that, depend
"Confound the property!" cried Dr. Alec impetuously. "I want her
to be happy, and I don't care how soon she gets rid of her money if
it is going to be a millstone round her neck. I declare to you, I
dreaded the thought of this time so much that I've kept her away as
long as I could and trembled whenever a young fellow joined us
while we were abroad. Had one or two narrow escapes, and now
I'm in for it, as you can see by tonight's 'success' as Clara calls it.
Thank heaven I haven't many daughters to look after!"
"Come, come, don't be anxious take Archie and settle it right up
safely and happily. That's my advice, and you'll find it sound,"
replied the elder conspirator, like one having experience.
"I'll think of it, but mind you, Mac, not a word of this to the sisters.
We are a couple of old fools to be matchmaking so soon but I see
what is before me and it's a comfort to free my mind to someone."
"So it is. Depend on me not a breath even to Jane," answered
Uncle Mac, with a hearty shake and a sympathetic slap on the
"Why, what dark and awful secrets are going on here? Is it a
Freemason's Lodge and those the mystic signs?" asked a gay voice
at the door; and there stood Rose, full of smiling wonder at the
sight of her two uncles hand in hand, whispering and nodding to
one another mysteriously.
They stared like schoolboys caught plotting mischief and looked
so guilty that she took pity on them, innocently imagining the
brothers were indulging in a little sentiment on this joyful
occasion, so she added quickly, as she beckoned, without crossing
the threshold, "Women not allowed, of course, but both of you
dear Odd Fellows are wanted, for Aunt Plenty begs we will have
an old-fashioned contra dance, and I'm to lead off with Uncle Mac.
I chose you, sir, because you do it in style, pigeon wings and all.
So, please come and Phebe is waiting for you, Uncle Alec. She is
rather shy you know, but will enjoy it with you to take care of her."
"Thank you, thank you!" cried both gentlemen, following with
Unconscious, Rose enjoyed that Virginia reel immensely, for the
pigeon wings were superb, and her partner conducted her through
the convolutions of the dance without a fault, going down the
middle in his most gallant style. Landing safely at the bottom, she
stood aside to let him get his breath, for stout Uncle Mac was
bound to do or die on that occasion and would have danced his
pumps through without a murmur if she had desired it.
Leaning against the wall with his hair in his eyes, and a decidedly
bored expression of countenance, was Mac, Jr., who had been
surveying the gymnastics of his parent with respectful
"Come and take a turn, my lad. Rose is fresh as a daisy, but we old
fellows soon get enough of it, so you shall have my place," said his
father, wiping his face, which glowed like a cheerful peony.
"No, thank you, sir I can't stand that sort of thing. I'll race you
round the piazza with pleasure, Cousin, but his oven is too much
for me," was Mac's uncivil reply as he backed toward the open
window, as if glad of an excuse to escape.
"Fragile creature, don't stay on my account, I beg. I can't leave my
guests for a moonlight run, even if I dared to take it on a frosty
night in a thin dress," said Rose, fanning herself and not a bit
ruffled by Mac's refusal, for she knew his ways and they amused
"Not half so bad as all this dust, gas, heat, and noise. What do you
suppose lungs are made of?" demanded Mac, ready for a
discussion then and there.
"I used to know, but I've forgotten now. Been so busy with other
things that I've neglected the hobbies I used to ride five or six years
ago," she said, laughing.
"Ah, those were times worth having! Are you going in for much of
this sort of thing, Rose?" he asked with a disapproving glance at
"About three months of it, I think."
"Then good-bye till New Year." And Mac vanished behind the
"Rose, my dear, you really must take that fellow in hand before he
gets to be quite a bear. Since you have been gone he has lived in
his books and got on so finely that we have let him alone, though
his mother groans over his manners. Polish him up a bit, I beg of
you, for it is high time he mended his odd ways and did justice to
the fine gifts he hides behind them," said Uncle Mac, scandalized
at the bluntness of his son.
"I know my chestnut burr too well to mind his prickles. But others
do not, so I will take him in hand and make him a credit to his
family," answered Rose readily.
"Take Archie for your model he's one of a thousand, and the girl
who gets him gets a prize, I do assure you," added Uncle Mac, who
found matchmaking to his taste and thought that closing remark a
"Oh, me, how tired I am!" cried Rose, dropping into a chair as the
last carriage rolled away somewhere between one and two.
"What is your opinion now, Miss Campbell?" asked the doctor,
addressing her for the first time by the name which had been
uttered so often that night.
"My opinion is that Miss Campbell is likely to have a gay life if
she goes on as she has begun, and that she finds it very delightful
so far," answered the girl, with lips still smiling from their first
taste of what the world calls pleasure.