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Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott

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again when his eye was caught by a square parcel on the slab.

"What's this?" he asked, taking it up.

"Rose wants me to leave it at Kitty Van's when I go. I forgot to
bring her book from Mama, so I shall go and get it as soon as ever
I've done this," replied Jamie from his nest.

As the volume in his hands was a corpulent one, and Jamie only a
third of the way through, Dr. Alec thought Rose's prospect rather
doubtful and, slipping the parcel into his pocket, he walked away,
saying with a satisfied air: "Virtue doesn't always get rewarded, but
it shall be this time if I can do it."

More than half an hour afterward, Rose woke from a little nap and
found the various old favorites with which she had tried to solace
herself replaced by the simple, wholesome story promised by Aunt

"Good boy! I'll go and thank him," she said half aloud, jumping up,
wide awake and much pleased.

But she did not go, for just then she spied her uncle standing on the
rug warming his hands with a generally fresh and breezy look
about him which suggested a recent struggle with the elements.

"How did this come?" she asked suspiciously.

"A man brought it."

"This man? Oh, Uncle! Why did you take so much trouble just to
gratify a wish of mine?" she cried, taking both the cold hands in
hers with a tenderly reproachful glance from the storm without to
the ruddy face above her.

"Because, having taken away your French bonbons with the
poisonous color on them, I wanted to get you something better.
Here it is, all pure sugar, the sort that sweetens the heart as well as
the tongue and leaves no bad taste behind."

"How good you are to me! I don't deserve it, for I didn't resist
temptation, though I tried. Uncle, after I'd put the book away, I
thought I must just see how it ended, and I'm afraid I should have
read it all if it had not been gone," said Rose, laying her face down
on the hands she held as humbly as a repentant child.

But Uncle Alec lifted up the bent head and, looking into the eyes
that met his frankly, though either held a tear, he said, with the
energy that always made his words remembered: "My little girl, I
would face a dozen storms far worse than this to keep your soul as
stainless as snow, for it is the small temptations which undermine
integrity unless we watch and pray and never think them too trivial
to be resisted."

Some people would consider Dr. Alec an overcareful man, but
Rose felt that he was right, and when she said her prayers that
night, added a meek petition to be kept from yielding to three of
the small temptations which beset a rich, pretty, and romantic girl
extravagance, coquetry, and novel reading.

Chapter 12 AT KITTY'S BALL

Rose had no new gown to wear on this festive occasion, and gave
one little sigh of regret as she put on the pale blue silk refreshed
with clouds of gaze de Chambry. But a smile followed, very
bright and sweet, as she added the clusters of forget-me-not which
Charlie had conjured up through the agency of an old German
florist, for one part of her plan had been carried out, and Prince
was invited to be her escort, much to his delight, though he wisely
made no protestations of any sort and showed his gratitude by
being a model gentleman. This pleased Rose, for the late
humiliation and a very sincere desire to atone for it gave him an air
of pensive dignity which was very effective.

Aunt Clara could not go, for a certain new cosmetic, privately used
to improve the once fine complexion, which had been her pride till
late hours impaired it, had brought out an unsightly eruption,
reducing her to the depths of woe and leaving her no solace for her
disappointment but the sight of the elegant velvet dress spread
forth upon her bed in melancholy state.

So Aunt Jessie was chaperon, to Rose's great satisfaction, and
looked as "pretty as a pink," Archie thought, in her matronly
pearl-colored gown with a dainty trifle of rich lace on her still
abundant hair. He was very proud of his little mama, and as
devoted as a lover, "to keep his hand in against Phebe's return," she
said laughingly when he brought her a nosegay of blush roses to
light up her quiet costume.

A happier mother did not live than Mrs. Jessie as she sat
contentedly beside Sister Jane (who graced the frivolous scene in a
serious black gown with a diadem of purple asters nodding above
her severe brow), both watching their boys with the maternal
conviction that no other parent could show such remarkable
specimens as these. Each had done her best according to her light,
and years of faithful care were now beginning to bear fruit in the
promise of goodly men, so dear to the hearts of true mothers.

Mrs. Jessie watched her three tall sons with something like
wonder, for Archie was a fine fellow, grave and rather stately, but
full of the cordial courtesy and respect we see so little of nowadays
and which is the sure sign of good home training. "The cadets," as
Will and Geordie called themselves, were there as gorgeous as you
please, and the agonies they suffered that night with tight boots
and stiff collars no pen can fitly tell. But only to one another did
they confide these sufferings and the rare moments of repose when
they could stand on one aching foot with heads comfortably
sunken inside the excruciating collars, which rasped their ears and
made the lobes thereof a pleasing scarlet. Brief were these
moments, however, and the Spartan boys danced on with smiling
faces, undaunted by the hidden anguish which preyed upon them
"fore and aft," as Will expressed it.

Mrs. Jane's pair were an odd contrast, and even the stern
disciplinarian herself could not help smiling as she watched them.
Steve was superb, and might have been married on the spot, so
superfine was his broad-cloth, glossy his linen, and perfect the fit
of his gloves. While pride and happiness so fermented in his
youthful bosom, there would have been danger of spontaneous
combustion if dancing had not proved a safety valve, for his strong
sense of the proprieties would not permit him to vent his emotions
in any other way.

Kitty felt no such restraint, and looked like a blissful little gypsy,
with her brunet prettiness set off by a dashing costume of cardinal
and cream color and every hair on her head curled in a Merry
Pecksniffian crop, for youth was her strong point, and she much
enjoyed the fact that she had been engaged three times before she
was nineteen.

To see her and Steve spin around the room was a sight to bring a
smile to the lips of the crustiest bachelor or saddest spinster, for
happy lovers are always a pleasing spectacle, and two such merry
little grigs as these are seldom seen.

Mac, meantime, with glasses astride his nose, surveyed his
brother's performances "on the light fantastic" very much as a
benevolent Newfoundland would the gambols of a toy terrier,
receiving with thanks the hasty hints for his guidance which Steve
breathed into his ear as he passed and forgetting all about them the
next minute. When not thus engaged Mac stood about with his
thumbs in his vest pockets, regarding the lively crowd like a
meditative philosopher of a cheerful aspect, often smiling to
himself at some whimsical fancy of his own, knitting his brows as
some bit of ill-natured gossip met his ear, or staring with
undisguised admiration as a beautiful face or figure caught his eye.

"I hope that girl knows what a treasure she has got. But I doubt if
she ever fully appreciates it," said Mrs. Jane, bringing her
spectacles to bear upon Kitty as she whisked by, causing quite a
gale with her flying skirts.

"I think she will, for Steve has been so well brought up, she cannot
but see and feel the worth of what she has never had, and being so
young she will profit by it," answered Mrs. Jessie softly, thinking
of the days when she and her Jem danced together, just betrothed.

"I've done my duty by both the boys, and done it thoroughly, or
their father would have spoilt them, for he's no more idea of
discipline than a child." And Aunt Jane gave her own palm a smart
rap with her closed fan, emphasizing the word "thoroughly" in a
most suggestive manner.

"I've often wished I had your firmness, Jane but after all, I'm not
sure that I don't like my own way best, at least with my boys, for
plenty of love, and plenty of patience, seem to have succeeded
pretty well." And Aunt Jessie lifted the nosegay from her lap,
feeling as if that unfailing love and patience were already
blooming into her life as beautifully as the sweet-breathed roses
given by her boy refreshed and brightened these long hours of
patient waiting in a corner.

"I don't deny that you've done well, Jessie, but you've been let
alone and had no one to hold your hand or interfere. If my Mac had
gone to sea as your Jem did, I never should have been as severe as
I am. Men are so perverse and shortsighted, they don't trouble
about the future as long as things are quiet and comfortable in the
present," continued Mrs. Jane, quite forgetting that the
shortsighted partner of the firm, physically speaking at least, was

"Ah, yes! We mothers love to foresee and foretell our children's
lives even before they are born, and are very apt to be disappointed
if they do not turn out as we planned. I know I am yet I really have
no cause to complain and am learning to see that all we can do is
to give the dear boys good principles and the best training we may,
then leave them to finish what we have begun." And Mrs. Jessie's
eye wandered away to Archie, dancing with Rose, quite
unconscious what a pretty little castle in the air tumbled down
when he fell in love with Phebe.

"Right, quite right on that point we agree exactly. I have spared
nothing to give my boys good principles and good habits, and I am
willing to trust them anywhere. Nine times did I whip my Steve to
cure him of fibbing, and over and over again did Mac go without
his dinner rather than wash his hands. But I whipped and starved
them both into obedience, and now I have my reward," concluded
the "stern parent" with a proud wave of the fan, which looked very
like a ferule, being as big, hard, and uncompromising as such an
article could be.

Mrs. Jessie gave a mild murmur of assent, but could not help
thinking, with a smile, that in spite of their early tribulations the
sins for which the boys suffered had gotten a little mixed in their
result, for fibbing Steve was now the tidy one, and careless Mac
the truth teller. But such small contradictions will happen in the
best-regulated families, and all perplexed parents can do is to keep
up a steadfast preaching and practicing in the hope that it will bear
fruit sometime, for according to an old proverb,
Children pick up words as pigeons pease,
To utter them again as God shall please.

"I hope they won't dance the child to death among them, for each
one seems bound to have his turn, even your sober Mac," said Mrs.
Jessie a few minutes later as she saw Archie hand Rose over to his
cousin, who carried her off with an air of triumph from several
other claimants.

"She's very good to him, and her influence is excellent, for he is of
an age now when a young woman's opinion has more weight than
an old one's. Though he is always good to his mother, and I feel as
if I should take great comfort in him. He's one of the sort who will
not marry till late, if ever, being fond of books and a quiet life,"
responded Mrs. Jane, remembering how often her son had
expressed his belief that philosophers should not marry and
brought up Plato as an example of the serene wisdom to be
attained only by a single man while her husband sided with
Socrates, for whom he felt a profound sympathy, though he didn't
dare to own it.

"Well, I don't know about that. Since my Archie surprised me by
losing his heart as he did, I'm prepared for anything, and advise
you to do likewise. I really shouldn't wonder if Mac did something
remarkable in that line, though he shows no sign of it yet, I
confess," answered Mrs. Jessie, laughing.

"It won't be in that direction, you may be sure, for her fate is
sealed. Dear me, how sad it is to see a superior girl like that about
to throw herself away on a handsome scapegrace. I won't mention
names, but you understand me." And Mrs. Jane shook her head, as
if she could mention the name of one superior girl who had thrown
herself away and now saw the folly of it.

"I'm very anxious, of course, and so is Alec, but it may be the
saving of one party and the happiness of the other, for some
women love to give more than they receive," said Mrs. Jessie,
privately wondering, for the thousandth time, why brother Mac
ever married the learned Miss Humphries.

"You'll see that it won't prosper, and I shall always maintain that a
wife cannot entirely undo a mother's work. Rose will have her
hands full if she tries to set all Clara's mistakes right," answered
Aunt Jane grimly, then began to fan violently as their hostess
approached to have a dish of chat about "our dear young people."

Rose was in a merry mood that night, and found Mac quite ready
for fun, which was fortunate, since her first remark set them off on
a droll subject.

"Oh, Mac! Annabel has just confided to me that she is engaged to
Fun See! Think of her going to housekeeping in Canton someday
and having to order rats, puppies, and bird's-nest soup for dinner,"
whispered Rose, too much amused to keep the news to herself.

"By Confucius! Isn't that a sweet prospect?" And Mac burst out
laughing, to the great surprise of his neighbors, who wondered
what there was amusing about the Chinese sage. "It is rather
alarming, though, to have these infants going on at this rate. Seems
to be catching, a new sort of scarlet fever, to judge by Annabel's
cheeks and Kitty's gown," he added, regarding the aforesaid ladies
with eyes still twinkling with merriment.

"Don't be ungallant, but go and do likewise, for it is all the fashion.
I heard Mrs. Van tell old Mrs. Joy that it was going to be a
marrying year, so you'll be sure to catch it," answered Rose,
reefing her skirts, for, with all his training, Mac still found it
difficult to keep his long legs out of the man-traps.

"It doesn't look like a painful disease, but I must be careful, for I've
no time to be ill now. What are the symptoms?" asked Mac, trying
to combine business with pleasure and improve his mind while
doing his duty.

"If you ever come back I'll tell you," laughed Rose as he danced
away into the wrong corner, bumped smartly against another
gentleman, and returned as soberly as if that was the proper figure.

"Well, tell me 'how not to do it,'" he said, subsiding for a
moment's talk when Rose had floated to and fro in her turn.

"Oh! You see some young girl who strikes you as particularly
charming whether she really is or not doesn't matter a bit and you
begin to think about her a great deal, to want to see her, and to get
generally sentimental and absurd," began Rose, finding it difficult
to give a diagnosis of the most mysterious disease under the sun.

"Don't think it sounds enticing. Can't I find an antidote somewhere,
for if it is in the air this year I'm sure to get it, and it may be fatal,"
said Mac, who felt pretty lively and liked to make Rose merry, for
he suspected that she had a little trouble from a hint Dr. Alec had
given him.

"I hope you will catch it, because you'll be so funny."

"Will you take care of me as you did before, or have you got your
hands full?"

"I'll help, but really with Archie and Steve and Charlie, I shall have
enough to do. You'd better take it lightly the first time, and so
won't need much care."

"Very well, how shall I begin? Enlighten my ignorance and start
me right, I beg."

"Go about and see people, make yourself agreeable, and not sit in
corners observing other people as if they were puppets dancing for
your amusement. I heard Mrs. Van once say that propinquity
works wonders, and she ought to know, having married off two
daughters, and just engaged a third to 'a most charming young

"Good lack! The cure sounds worse than the disease. Propinquity,
hey? Why, I may be in danger this identical moment and can't flee
for my life," said Mac, gently catching her round the waist for a
general waltz.

"Don't be alarmed, but mind your steps, for Charlie is looking at
us, and I want you to do your best. That's perfect take me quite
round, for I love to waltz and seldom get a good turn except with
you boys," said Rose, smiling up at him approvingly as his strong
arm guided her among the revolving couples and his feet kept time
without a fault.

"This certainly is a great improvement on the chair business, to
which I have devoted myself with such energy that I've broken the
backs of two partners and dislocated the arm of the old rocker. I
took an occasional turn with that heavy party, thinking it good
practice in case I ever happen to dance with stout ladies." And
Mac nodded toward Annabel, pounding gaily with Mr. Tokio,
whose yellow countenance beamed as his beady eyes rested on his
plump fiance.

Pausing in the midst of her merriment at the image of Mac and the
old rocking chair, Rose said reprovingly, "Though a heathen
Chinee, Fun puts you to shame, for he did not ask foolish questions
but went a-wooing like a sensible little man, and I've no doubt
Annabel will be very happy."

"Choose me a suitable divinity and I will try to adore. Can I do
more than that to retrieve my character?" answered Mac, safely
landing his partner and plying the fan according to instructions.

"How would Emma do?" inquired Rose, whose sense of the
ludicrous was strong and who could not resist the temptation of
horrifying Mac by the suggestion.

"Never! It sets my teeth on edge to look at her tonight. I suppose
that dress is 'a sweet thing just out,' but upon my word she reminds
me of nothing but a Harlequin ice," and Mac turned his back on
her with a shudder, for he was sensitive to discords of all kinds.

"She certainly does, and that mixture of chocolate, pea green, and
pink is simply detestable, though many people would consider it
decidedly 'chic,' to use her favorite word. I suppose you will dress
your wife like a Spartan matron of the time of Lycurgus," added
Rose, much tickled by his new conceit.

"I'll wait till I get her before I decide. But one thing I'm sure of she
shall not dress like a Greek dancer of the time of Pericles,"
answered Mac, regarding with great disfavor a young lady who,
having a statuesque figure, affected drapery of the scanty and
clinging description.

"Then it is of no use to suggest that classic creature, so as you
reject my first attempts, I won't go on but look about me quietly,
and you had better do the same. Seriously, Mac, more gaiety and
less study would do you good, for you will grow old before your
time if you shut yourself up and pore over books so much."

"I don't believe there is a younger or a jollier-feeling fellow in the
room than I am, though I may not conduct myself like a dancing
dervish. But I own you may be right about the books, for there are
many sorts of intemperance, and a library is as irresistible to me as
a barroom to a toper. I shall have to sign a pledge and cork up the
only bottle that tempts me my ink-stand."

"I'll tell you how to make it easier to abstain. Stop studying and
write a novel into which you can put all your wise things, and so
clear your brains for a new start by and by. Do I should so like to
read it," cried Rose, delighted with the project, for she was sure
Mac could do anything he liked in that line.

"First live, then write. How can I go to romancing till I know what
romance means?" he asked soberly, feeling that so far he had had
very little in his life.

"Then you must find out, and nothing will help you more than to
love someone very much. Do as I've advised and be a modern
Diogenes going about with spectacles instead of a lantern in
search, not of an honest man, but a perfect woman. I do hope you
will be successful." And Rose made her curtsey as the dance

"I don't expect perfection, but I should like one as good as they
ever make them nowadays. If you are looking for the honest man, I
wish you success in return," said Mac, relinquishing her fan with a
glance of such sympathetic significance that a quick flush of
feeling rose to the girl's face as she answered very low, "If honesty
was all I wanted, I certainly have found it in you."

Then she went away with Charlie, who was waiting for his turn,
and Mac roamed about, wondering if anywhere in all that crowd
his future wife was hidden, saying to himself, as he glanced from
face to face, quite unresponsive to the various allurements

"What care I how fair she be,
If she be not fair for me?"

Just before supper several young ladies met in the dressing room to
repair damages and, being friends, they fell into discourse as they
smoothed their locks and had their tattered furbelows sewed or
pinned up by the neat-handed Phillis-in-waiting.

When each had asked the other, "How do I look tonight, dear?"
and been answered with reciprocal enthusiasm, "Perfectly lovely,
darling!" Kitty said to Rose, who was helping her to restore order
out of the chaos to which much exercise had reduced her curls:
"By the way, young Randal is dying to be presented to you. May I
after supper?"

"No, thank you," answered Rose very decidedly.

"Well, I'm sure I don't see why not," began Kitty, looking
displeased but not surprised.

"I think you do, else why didn't you present him when he asked?
You seldom stop to think of etiquette why did you now?"

"I didn't like to do it till I had you are so particular I thought you'd
say 'no,' but I couldn't tell him so," stammered Kitty, feeling that
she had better have settled the matter herself, for Rose was very
particular and had especial reason to dislike this person because he
was not only a dissipated young reprobate himself but seemed
possessed of Satan to lead others astray likewise.

"I don't wish to be rude, dear, but I really must decline, for I cannot
know such people, even though I meet them here," said Rose,
remembering Charlie's revelations on New Year's night and
hardening her heart against the man who had been his undoing on
that as well as on other occasions, she had reason to believe.

"I couldn't help it! Old Mr. Randal and Papa are friends, and
though I spoke of it, brother Alf wouldn't hear of passing that bad
boy over," explained Kitty eagerly.

"Yet Alf forbade you driving or skating with him, for he knows
better than we how unfit he is to come among us."

"I'd drop him tomorrow if I could, but I must be civil in my own
house. His mother brought him, and he won't dare to behave here
as he does at their bachelor parties."

"She ought not to have brought him till he had shown some desire
to mend his ways. It is none of my business, I know, but I do wish
people wouldn't be so inconsistent, letting boys go to destruction
and then expecting us girls to receive them like decent people."
Rose spoke in an energetic whisper, but Annabel heard her and
exclaimed, as she turned round with a powder puff in her hand:
"My goodness, Rose! What is all that about going to destruction?"

"She is being strong-minded, and I don't very much blame her in
this case. But it leaves me in a dreadful scrape," said Kitty,
supporting her spirits with a sniff of aromatic vinegar.

"I appeal to you, since you heard me, and there's no one here but
ourselves do you consider young Randal a nice person to know?"
And Rose turned to Annabel and Emma with an anxious eye, for
she did not find it easy to abide by her principles when so doing
annoyed friends.

"No, indeed, he's perfectly horrid! Papa says he and Gorham are
the wildest young men he knows, and enough to spoil the whole
set. I'm so glad I've got no brothers," responded Annabel, placidly
powdering her pink arms, quite undeterred by the memory of
sundry white streaks left on sundry coat sleeves.

"I think that sort of scrupulousness is very ill-bred, if you'll excuse
my saying so, Rose. We are not supposed to know anything about
fastness, and wildness, and so on, but to treat every man alike and
not be fussy and prudish," said Emma, settling her many-colored
streamers with the superior air of a woman of the world, aged

"Ah! But we do know, and if our silence and civility have no
effect, we ought to try something else and not encourage
wickedness of any kind. We needn't scold and preach, but we can
refuse to know such people and that will do some good, for they
don't like to be shunned and shut out from respectable society.
Uncle Alec told me not to know that man, and I won't." Rose
spoke with unusual warmth, forgetting that she could not tell the
real reason for her strong prejudice against "that man."

"Well, I know him. I think him very jolly, and I'm engaged to
dance the German with him after supper. He leads quite as well as
your cousin Charlie and is quite as fascinating, some people
think," returned Emma, tossing her head disdainfully, for Prince
Charming did not worship at her shrine and it piqued her vanity.

In spite of her quandary, Rose could not help smiling as she
recalled Mac's comparison, for Emma turned so red with spiteful
chagrin, she seemed to have added strawberry ice to the other
varieties composing the Harlequin.

"Each must judge for herself. I shall follow Aunt Jessie's advice
and try to keep my atmosphere as pure as I can, for she says every
woman has her own little circle and in it can use her influence for
good, if she will. I do will heartily, and I'll prove that I'm neither
proud nor fussy by receiving, here or at home, any respectable man
you like to present to me, no matter how poor or plain or
insignificant he may be."

With which declaration Rose ended her protest, and the four
damsels streamed downstairs together like a wandering rainbow.
But Kitty laid to heart what she had said; Annabel took credit
herself for siding with her; and Emma owned that she was not
trying to keep her atmosphere pure when she came to dance with
the objectionable Randal. So Rose's "little circle" was the better
for the influence she tried to exert, although she never knew it.

At suppertime Charlie kept near her, and she was quite content
with him, for he drank only coffee, and she saw him shake his
head with a frown when young Van beckoned him toward an
anteroom, from whence the sound of popping corks had issued
with increasing frequency as the evening wore on.

"Dear fellow, he does try," thought Rose, longing to show how she
admired his self-denial, but she could only say, as they left the
supper room with the aunts, who were going early: "If I had not
promised Uncle to get home as soon after midnight as possible, I'd
stay and dance the German with you, for you deserve a reward

"A thousand thanks, but I am going when you do," answered
Charlie, understanding both her look and words and very grateful
for them.

"Really?" cried Rose, delighted.

"Really. I'll be in the hall when you come down." And Charlie
thought the Fra Angelico angel was not half so bright and beautiful
as the one who looked back at him out of a pale blue cloud as Rose
went upstairs as if on wings.

When she came down again Charlie was not in the hall, however,
and, after waiting a few minutes, Mac offered to go and find him,
for Aunt Jane was still hunting a lost rubber above.

"Please say I'm ready, but he needn't come if he doesn't want to,"
said Rose, not wishing to demand too much of her promising

"If he has gone into that barroom, I'll have him out, no matter who
is there!" growled Mac to himself as he made his way to the small
apartment whither the gentlemen retired for a little private
refreshment when the spirit moved, as it often did.

The door was ajar, and Charlie seemed to have just entered, for
Mac heard a familiar voice call out in a jovial tone: "Come,
Prince! You're just in time to help us drink Steve's health with all
the honors."

"Can't stop, only ran in to say good night, Van. Had a capital time,
but I'm on duty and must go."

"That's a new dodge. Take a stirrup cup anyway, and come back in
time for a merry-go-rounder when you've disposed of the ladies,"
answered the young host, diving into the wine cooler for another

"Charlie's going in for sanctity, and it doesn't seem to agree with
him," laughed one of the two other young men who occupied
several chairs apiece, resting their soles in every sense of the word.

"Apron strings are coming into fashion the bluer the better hey,
Prince?" added the other, trying to be witty, with the usual success.

"You'd better go home early yourself, Barrow, or that tongue of
yours will get you into trouble," retorted Charlie, conscious that he
ought to take his own advice, yet lingering, nervously putting on
his gloves while the glasses were being filled.

"Now, brother-in-law, fire away! Here you are, Prince." And Steve
handed a glass across the table to his cousin, feeling too much
elated with various pleasurable emotions to think what he was
doing, for the boys all knew Charlie's weakness and usually tried
to defend him from it.

Before the glass could be taken, however, Mac entered in a great
hurry, delivering his message in an abbreviated and rather
peremptory form: "Rose is waiting for you. Hurry up!"

"All right. Good night, old fellows!" And Charlie was off, as if the
name had power to stop him in the very act of breaking the
promise made to himself.

"Come, Solon, take a social drop, and give us an epithalamium in
your best Greek. Here's to you!" And Steve was lifting the wine to
his own lips when Mac knocked the glass out of his hand with a
flash of the eye that caused his brother to stare at him with his
mouth open in an imbecile sort of way, which seemed to excite
Mac still more, for, turning to his young host, he said, in a low
voice, and with a look that made the gentlemen on the chairs sit up
suddenly: "I beg pardon, Van, for making a mess, but I can't stand
by and see my own brother tempt another man beyond his strength
or make a brute of himself. That's plain English, but I can't help
speaking out, for I know not one of you would willingly hurt
Charlie, and you will if you don't let him alone."

"What do you pitch into me for? I've done nothing. A fellow must
be civil in his own house, mustn't he?" asked Van good-humoredly
as he faced about, corkscrew in hand.

"Yes, but it is not civil to urge or joke a guest into doing what you
know and he knows is bad for him. That's only a glass of wine to
you, but it is perdition to Charlie, and if Steve knew what he was
about, he'd cut his right hand off before he'd offer it."

"Do you mean to say I'm tipsy?" demanded Steve, ruffling up like a
little gamecock, for though he saw now what he had done and was
ashamed of it, he hated to have Mac air his peculiar notions before
other people.

"With excitement, not champagne, I hope, for I wouldn't own you
if you were," answered Mac, in whom indignation was
effervescing like the wine in the forgotten bottle, for the men were
all young, friends of Steve's and admirers of Charlie's. "Look here,
boys," he went on more quietly, "I know I ought not to explode in
this violent sort of way, but upon my life I couldn't help it when I
heard what you were saying and saw what Steve was doing. Since I
have begun, I may as well finish and tell you straight out that
Prince can't stand this sort of thing. He is trying to flee temptation,
and whoever leads him into it does a cowardly and sinful act, for
the loss of one's own self-respect is bad enough, without losing the
more precious things that make life worth having. Don't tell him
I've said this, but lend a hand if you can, and never have to
reproach yourselves with the knowledge that you helped to ruin a
fellow creature, soul and body."

It was well for the success of Mac's first crusade that his hearers
were gentlemen and sober, so his outburst was not received with
jeers or laughter but listened to in silence, while the expression of
the faces changed from one of surprise to regret and respect, for
earnestness is always effective and championship of this sort
seldom fails to touch hearts as yet unspoiled. As he paused with an
eloquent little quiver in his eager voice, Van corked the bottle at a
blow, threw down the corkscrew, and offered Mac his hand, saying
heartily, in spite of his slang: "You are a first-class old brick! I'll
lend a hand for one, and do my best to back up Charlie, for he's the
finest fellow I know, and shan't go to the devil like poor Randal if I
can help it."

Murmurs of applause from the others seemed to express a general
assent to this vigorous statement, and, giving the hand a grateful
shake, Mac retreated to the door, anxious to be off now that he had
freed his mind with such unusual impetuosity.

"Count on me for anything I can do in return for this, Van. I'm
sorry to be such a marplot, but you can take it out in quizzing me
after I'm gone. I'm fair game, and Steve can set you going."

With that, Mac departed as abruptly as he had come, feeling that
he had "made a mess" of it, but comforting himself with the
thought that perhaps he had secured help for Charlie at his own
expense and thinking with a droll smile as he went back to his
mother: "My romance begins by looking after other girls' lovers
instead of finding a sweetheart for myself, but I can't tell Rose, so
she won't laugh at me."

Chapter 13 BOTH SIDES

Steve's engagement made a great stir in the family a pleasant one
this time, for nobody objected, everything seemed felicitous, and
the course of true love ran very smoothly for the young couple,
who promised to remove the only obstacle to their union by
growing old and wise as soon as possible. If he had not been so
genuinely happy, the little lover's airs would have been unbearable,
for he patronized all mankind in general, his brother and elder
cousins in particular.

"Now, that is the way to manage matters," he declared, standing
before the fire in Aunt Clara's billiard room a day or two after the
ball, with his hands behind his back. "No nonsense, no delay, no
domestic rows or tragic separations. Just choose with taste and
judgment, make yourself agreeable through thick and thin, and
when it is perfectly evident that the dear creature adores the
ground you walk on, say the word like a man, and there you are."

"All very easy to do that with a girl like Kitty, who has no
confounded notions to spoil her and trip you up every time you
don't exactly toe the mark," muttered Charlie, knocking the balls
about as if it were a relief to hit something, for he was in a
gloriously bad humor that evening, because time hung heavy on
his hands since he had forsworn the company he could not keep
without danger to himself.

"You should humor those little notions, for all women have them,
and it needs tact to steer clear of them. Kitty's got dozens, but I
treat them with respect, have my own way when I can, give in
without growling when I can't, and we get on like a couple of--"

"Spoons," put in Charlie, who felt that he had not steered clear and
so suffered shipwreck in sight of land.

Steve meant to have said "doves," but his cousin's levity caused
him to add with calm dignity, "reasonable beings," and then
revenged himself by making a good shot which won him the game.

"You always were a lucky little dog, Steve. I don't begrudge you a
particle of your happiness, but it does seem as if things weren't
quite fair sometimes," said Archie, suppressing an envious sigh,
for, though he seldom complained, it was impossible to contrast
his own and his cousin's prospects with perfect equanimity.

"His worth shines forth the brightest who in hope
Always confides: the Abject soul despairs,"

observed Mac, quoting Euripides in a conversational tone as he lay
upon a divan reposing after a hard day's work.

"Thank you," said Archie, brightening a little, for a hopeful word
from any source was very comfortable.

"That's your favorite Rip, isn't it? He was a wise old boy, but you
could find advice as good as that nearer home," put in Steve, who
just then felt equal to slapping Plato on the shoulder, so elated was
he at being engaged "first of all the lot," as he gracefully expressed

"Don't halloo till you are out of the wood, Dandy Mrs. Kit has
jilted two men, and may a third, so you'd better not brag of your
wisdom too soon, for she may make a fool of you yet," said
Charlie, cynically, his views of life being very gloomy about this

"No, she won't, Steve, if you do your part honestly. There's the
making of a good little woman in Kitty, and she has proved it by
taking you instead of those other fellows. You are not a Solomon,
but you're not spoilt yet, and she had the sense to see it," said Mac
encouragingly from his corner, for he and his brother were better
friends than even since the little scene at the Van Tassels'.

"Hear! Hear!" cried Steve, looking more than ever like a cheerful
young cockerel trying to crow as he stood upon the hearth rug with
his hands under his coat tails, rising and falling alternately upon
the toes and heels of his neat little boots.

"Come, you've given them each a pat on the head haven't you got
one for me? I need it enough, for if ever there was a poor devil
born under an evil star, it is C. C. Campbell," exclaimed Charlie,
leaning his chin on his cue with a discontented expression of
countenance, for trying to be good is often very hard work till one
gets used to it.

"Oh, yes! I can accommodate you." And, as if his words suggested
the selection, Mac, still lying flat upon his back, repeated one of
his favorite bits from Beaumont and Fletcher, for he had a
wonderful memory and could reel off poetry by the hour together.

"Man is his own star; and the soul that can
Render an honest and a perfect man
Commands all light, all influence, all fate.
Nothing to him falls early or too late.

Our acts our angels are; or good or ill,
Our fatal shadows that walk by us still."

"Confoundedly bad angels they are too," muttered Charlie ruefully,
remembering the one that undid him.

His cousins never knew exactly what occurred on New Year's
night, but suspected that something was amiss, for Charlie had the
blues, and Rose, though as kind as ever, expressed no surprise at
his long absences. They had all observed and wondered at this
state of things, yet discreetly made no remark till Steve, who was
as inquisitive as a magpie, seized this opportunity to say in a
friendly tone, which showed that he bore no malice for the dark
prophecy regarding his Kitty's faithfulness: "What's the trouble,
Prince? You are so seldom in a bad humor that we don't know
what to make of it and all feel out of spirits when you have the
blues. Had a tiff with Rose?"

"Never you mind, little boy, but this I will say the better women
are, the more unreasonable they are. They don't require us to be
saints like themselves, which is lucky, but they do expect us to
render an 'honest and a perfect man' sometimes, and that is asking
rather too much in a fallen world like this," said Charlie, glad to
get a little sympathy, though he had no intention of confessing his

"No, it isn't," said Mac, decidedly.

"Much you know about it," began Charlie, ill pleased to be so
flatly contradicted.

"Well, I know this much," added Mac, suddenly sitting up with his
hair in a highly disheveled condition. "It is very unreasonable in us
to ask women to be saints and then expect them to feel honored
when we offer them our damaged hearts or, at best, one not half as
good as theirs. If they weren't blinded by love, they'd see what a
mean advantage we take of them and not make such bad bargains."

"Upon my word, the philosopher is coming out strong upon the
subject! We shall have him preaching 'Women's Rights' directly,"
said Steve, much amazed at this outburst.

"I've begun, you see, and much good may it do you," answered
Mac, laying himself placidly down again.

"Well, but look here, man you are arguing on the wrong side," put
in Archie, quite agreeing with him, but feeling that he must stand
by his order at all costs.

"Never mind sides, uphold the right wherever you find it. You
needn't stare, Steve I told you I was going to look into this matter,
and I am. You think I'm wrapped up in books, but I see a great deal
more of what is going on around me than you imagine, and I'm
getting on in this new branch, let me tell you, quite as fast as is
good for me, I daresay."

"Going in for perfection, are you?" asked Charlie, both amused and
interested, for he respected Mac more than he owned even to
himself, and though he had never alluded to the timely warning,
neither forgot.

"Yes, I think of it."

"How will you begin?"

"Do my best all-round keep good company, read good books, love
good things, and cultivate soul and body as faithfully and wisely as
I can."

"And you expect to succeed, do you?"

"Please God, I will."

The quiet energy of Mac's last words produced a momentary
silence. Charlie thoughtfully studied the carpet; Archie, who had
been absently poking the fire, looked over at Mac as if he thanked
him again, and Steve, forgetting his self-conceit, began to wonder
if it was not possible to improve himself a little for Kitty's sake.
Only a minute, for young men do not give much time to thoughts
of this kind, even when love stirs up the noblest impulses within
them. To act rather than to talk is more natural to most of them, as
Charlie's next question showed, for, having the matter much at
heart, he ventured to ask in an offhand way as he laughed and
twirled his cue: "Do you intend to reach the highest point of
perfection before you address one of the fair saints, or shall you
ask her to lend a hand somewhere short of that?"

"As it takes a long lifetime to do what I plan, I think I shall ask
some good woman 'to lend a hand' when I've got anything worth
offering her. Not a saint, for I never shall be one myself, but a
gentle creature who will help me, as I shall try to help her, so that
we can go on together and finish our work hereafter, if we haven't
time to do it here."

If Mac had been a lover, he would not have discussed the subject
in this simple and sincere fashion, though he might have felt it far
more deeply, but being quite heart-free, he frankly showed his
interest and, curiously enough, out of his wise young head
unconsciously gave the three lovers before him counsel which they
valued, because he practiced what he preached.

"Well, I hope you'll find her!" said Charlie heartily as he went back
to his game.

"I think I shall." And while the others played, Mac lay staring at
the window curtain as contentedly as if, through it, he beheld "a
dream of fair women" from which to choose his future mate.

A few days after this talk in the billiard room, Kitty went to call
upon Rose, for as she was about to enter the family she felt it her
duty to become acquainted with all its branches. This branch,
however, she cultivated more assiduously than any other and was
continually running in to confer with "Cousin Rose," whom she
considered the wisest, dearest, kindest girl ever created. And Rose,
finding that, in spite of her flighty head, Kitty had a good heart of
her own, did her best to encourage all the new hopes and
aspirations springing up in it under the warmth of the first genuine
affection she had ever known.

"My dear, I want to have some serious conversation with you upon
a subject in which I take an interest for the first time in my life,"
began Miss Kitty, seating herself and pulling off her gloves as if
the subject was one which needed a firm grasp.

"Tell away, and don't mind if I go on working, as I want to finish
this job today," answered Rose, with a long-handled paintbrush in
her hand and a great pair of shears at her side.

"You are always so busy! What is it now? Let me help I can talk
faster when I'm doing something," which seemed hardly possible,
for Kitty's tongue went like a mill clapper at all hours.

"Making picture books for my sick babies at the hospital. Pretty
work, isn't it? You cut out, and I'll paste them on these squares of
gay cambric then we just tie up a few pages with a ribbon and
there is a nice, light, durable book for the poor dears to look at as
they lie in their little beds."

"A capital idea. Do you go there often? How ever do you find the
time for such things?" asked Kitty, busily cutting from a big sheet
the touching picture of a parent bird with a red head and a blue tail
offering what looked like a small boa constrictor to one of its
nestlings, a fat young squab with a green head, yellow body, and
no tail at all.

"I have plenty of time now I don't go out so much, for a party uses
up two days generally one to prepare for it and one to get over it,
you know."

"People think it is so odd of you to give up society all of a sudden.
They say you have 'turned pious' and it is owing to your peculiar
bringing-up. I always take your part and say it is a pity other girls
haven't as sensible an education, for I don't know one who is as
satisfactory on the whole as you are."

"Much obliged. You may also tell people I gave up gaiety because
I value health more. But I haven't forsworn everything of the kind,
Kit. I go to concerts and lectures, and all sorts of early things, and
have nice times at home, as you know. I like fun as well as ever,
but I'm getting on, you see, and must be preparing a little for the
serious part of life. One never knows when it may come," said
Rose, thoughtfully as she pasted a squirrel upside down on the
pink cotton page before her.

"That reminds me of what I wanted to say. If you'll believe me, my
dear, Steve has got that very idea into his head! Did you or Mac
put it there?" asked Kitty, industriously clashing her shears.

"No, I've given up lecturing the boys lately they are so big now
they don't like it, and I fancy I'd got into a way that was rather

"Well, then, he is 'turning pious' too. And what is very singular, I
like it. Now don't smile I really do and I want to be getting ready
for the 'serious part of life,' as you call it. That is, I want to grow
better as fast as I can, for Steve says he isn't half good enough for
me. Just think of that!"

Kitty looked so surprised and pleased and proud that Rose felt no
desire to laugh at her sudden fancy for sobriety but said in her
most sympathetic tone: "I'm very glad to hear it, for it shows that
he loves you in the right way."

"Is there more than one way?"

"Yes, I fancy so, because some people improve so much after they
fall in love, and others do not at all. Have you never observed

"I never learned how to observe. Of course I know that some
matches turn out well and some don't, but I never thought much
about it."

"Well, I have, for I was rather interested in the subject lately and
had a talk with Aunt Jessie and Uncle about it."

"Gracious! You don't talk to them about such things, do you?"

"Yes, indeed. I ask any questions I like, and always get a good
answer. It is such a nice way to learn, Kitty, for you don't have to
pore over books, but as things come along you talk about them and
remember, and when they are spoken of afterward you understand
and are interested, though you don't say a word," explained Rose.

"It must be nice, but I haven't anyone to do so for me. Papa is too
busy, and Mama always says when I ask question, 'Don't trouble
your head with such things, child,' so I don't. What did you learn
about matches turning out well? I'm interested in that, because I
want mine to be quite perfect in all respects."

"After thinking it over, I came to the conclusion that Uncle was
right, and it is not always safe to marry a person just because you
love him," began Rose, trying to enlighten Kitty without betraying

"Of course not if they haven't money or are bad. But otherwise I
don't see what more is needed," said Kitty wonderingly.

"One should stop and see if it is a wise love, likely to help both
parties and wear well, for you know it ought to last all one's
lifetime, and it is very sad if it doesn't."

"I declare it quite scares me to think of it, for I don't usually go
beyond my wedding day in making plans. I remember, though, that
when I was engaged the first time you don't know the man; it was
just after you went away, and I was only sixteen someone very
ill-naturedly said I should 'marry in haste and repent at leisure,' and
that made me try to imagine how it would seem to go on year after
year with Gustavus who had a dreadful temper, by the way and it
worried me so to think of it that I broke the engagement, and was
so glad ever afterward."

"You were a wise girl and I hope you'll do it again if you find, after
a time, that you and Steve do not truly trust and respect as well as
love one another. If you don't, you'll be miserable when it is too
late, as so many people are who do marry in haste and have a
lifetime to repent it. Aunt Jessie says so, and she knows."

"Don't be solemn, Rose. It fidgets me to think about life-times, and
respecting, and all those responsible things. I'm not used to it, and I
don't know how to do it."

"But you must think, and you must learn how before you take the
responsibility upon yourself. That is what your life is for, and you
mustn't spoil it by doing a very solemn thing without seeing if you
are ready for it."

"Do you think about all this?" asked Kitty, shrugging up her
shoulders as if responsibility of any sort did not sit comfortably on

"One has to sometimes, you know. But is that all you wanted to
tell me?" added Rose, anxious to turn the conversation from

"Oh, dear, no! The most serious thing of all is this. Steve is putting
himself in order generally, and so I want to do my part, and I must
begin right away before my thoughts get distracted with clothes
and all sorts of dear, delightful, frivolous things that I can't help
liking. Now I wish you'd tell me where to begin. Shouldn't I
improve my mind by reading something solid?" And Kitty looked
over at the well-filled bookcase as if to see if it contained anything
large and dry enough to be considered "solid."

"It would be an excellent plan, and we'll look up something. What
do you feel as if you needed most?"

"A little of everything I should say, for when I look into my mind
there really doesn't seem to be much there but odds and ends, and
yet I'm sure I've read a great deal more than some girls do. I
suppose novels don't count, though, and are of no use, for,
goodness knows, the people and things they describe aren't a bit
like the real ones."

"Some novels are very useful and do as much good as sermons,
I've heard Uncle say, because they not only describe truly, but
teach so pleasantly that people like to learn in that way," said
Rose, who knew the sort of books Kitty had read and did not
wonder that she felt rather astray when she tried to guide herself by
their teaching.

"You pick me out some of the right kind, and I'll apply my mind to
them. Then I ought to have some 'serious views' and 'methods' and
'principles.' Steve said 'principles,' good firm ones, you know." And
Kitty gave a little pull at the bit of cambric she was cutting as
housewives pull cotton or calico when they want "a good firm

Rose could not help laughing now, though much pleased, for Kitty
was so prettily in earnest, and yet so perfectly ignorant how to
begin on the self-improvement she very much needed, that it was
pathetic as well as comical to see and hear her.

"You certainly want some of those, and must begin at once to get
them, but Aunt Jessie can help you there better than I can, or Aunt
Jane, for she has very 'firm' ones, I assure you," said Rose, sobering
down as quickly as possible.

"Mercy on us! I should never dare to say a word about it to Mrs.
Mac, for I'm dreadfully afraid of her, she is so stern, and how I'm
ever to get on when she is my mother-in-law I don't know!" cried
Kitty, clasping her hands in dismay at the idea.

"She isn't half as stern as she looks, and if you go to her without
fear, you've no idea how sensible and helpful she is. I used to be
frightened out of my wits with her, but now I'm not a bit, and we
get on nicely. Indeed, I'm fond of her, she is so reliable and upright
in all things."

"She certainly is the straightest woman I ever saw, and the most
precise. I never shall forget how scared I was when Steve took me
up to see her that first time. I put on all my plainest things, did my
hair in a meek knob, and tried to act like a sober, sedate young
woman. Steve would laugh at me and say I looked like a pretty
nun, so I couldn't be as proper as I wished. Mrs. Mac was very
kind, of course, but her eye was so sharp I felt as if she saw right
through me, and knew that I'd pinned on my bonnet strings, lost a
button off my boot, and didn't brush my hair for ten minutes every
night," said Kitty in an awe-stricken tone.

"She likes you, though, and so does Uncle, and he's set his heart on
having you live with them by and by, so don't mind her eyes but
look straight up at her, and you'll see how kind they can grow."

"Mac likes me, too, and that did please me, for he doesn't like girls
generally. Steve told me he said I had the 'making of a capital little
woman in me.' Wasn't it nice of him? Steve was so proud, though
he does laugh at Mac sometimes."

"Don't disappoint them, dear. Encourage Steve in all the good
things he likes or wants, make friends with Mac, love Aunt Jane,
and be a daughter to Uncle, and you'll find yourself a very happy

"I truly will, and thank you very much for not making fun of me. I
know I'm a little goose, but lately I've felt as if I might come to
something if I had the right sort of help. I'll go up and see Aunt
Jessie tomorrow. I'm not a bit afraid of her, and then if you'll just
quietly find out from Uncle Doctor what I must read, I'll work as
hard as I can. Don't tell anyone, please, they'll think it odd and
affected, and I can't bear to be laughed at, though I daresay it is
good discipline."

Rose promised, and both worked in silence for a moment, then
Kitty asked rather timidly: "Are you and Charlie trying this plan
too? Since you've left off going out so much, he keeps away also,
and we don't know what to make of it."

"He has had what he calls an 'artistic fit' lately, set up a studio, and
is doing some crayon sketches of us all. If he'd only finish his
things, they would be excellent, but he likes to try a great variety at
once. I'll take you in sometime, and perhaps he will do a portrait of
you for Steve. He likes girls' faces and gets the likenesses
wonderfully well."

"People say you are engaged but I contradict it, because, of course,
I should know if you were."

"We are not."

"I'm glad of it, for really, Rose, I'm afraid Charlie hasn't got 'firm
principles,' though he is a fascinating fellow and one can't scold
him. You don't mind my saying so, do you, dear?" added Kitty, for
Rose did not answer at once.

"Not in the least, for you are one of us now, and I can speak
frankly and I will, for I think in one way you can help Steve very
much. You are right about Charlie, both as to the principles and
the fascination. Steve admires him exceedingly, and always from a
boy liked to imitate his pleasant ways. Some of them are very
harmless and do Steve good, but some are not. I needn't talk about
it, only you must show your boy that you depend on him to keep
out of harm and help him do it."

"I will, I will! And then perhaps, when he is a perfect model,
Charlie will imitate him. I really begin to feel as if I had a great
deal to do." And Kitty looked as if she was beginning to like it

"We all have and the sooner we go to work the better for us and
those we love. You wouldn't think now that Phebe was doing
anything for Archie, but she is, and writes such splendid letters,
they stir him up wonderfully and make us all love and admire her
more than ever."

"How is she getting on?" asked Kitty, who, though she called
herself a "little goose," had tact enough to see that Rose did not
care to talk about Charlie.

"Nicely, for you know she used to sing in our choir, so that was a
good recommendation for another. She got a fine place in the new
church at L----, and that gives her a comfortable salary, though she
has something put away. She was always a saving creature and
kept her wages carefully. Uncle invested them, and she begins to
feel quite independent already. No fear but my Phebe will get on
she has such energy and manages so well. I sometimes wish I
could run away and work with her."

"Ah, my dear! We rich girls have our trials as well as poor ones,
though we don't get as much pity as they do," sighed Kitty.
"Nobody knows what I suffer sometimes from worries that I can't
talk about, and I shouldn't get much sympathy if I did, just because
I live in a big house, wear good gowns, and have lots of lovers.
Annabel used to say she envied me above all created beings, but
she doesn't now, and is perfectly absorbed in her dear little
Chinaman. Do you see how she ever could like him?"

So they began to gossip, and the sober talk was over for that time,
but when Kitty departed, after criticizing all her dear friends and
their respective sweethearts, she had a helpful little book in her
muff, a resolute expression on her bright face, and so many
excellent plans for self-improvement in her busy brain that she and
Steve bid fair to turn out the model couple of the century.


Being seriously alarmed by the fear of losing the desire of his
heart, Charlie had gone resolutely to work and, like many another
young reformer, he rather overdid the matter, for in trying to keep
out of the way of temptation, he denied himself much innocent
enjoyment. The "artistic fit" was a good excuse for the seclusion
which he fancied would be a proper penance, and he sat listlessly
plying crayon or paintbrush, with daily wild rides on black Brutus,
which seemed to do him good, for danger of that sort was his

People were used to his whims and made light of what they
considered a new one, but when it lasted week after week and all
attempts to draw him out were vain, his jolly comrades gave him
up and the family began to say approvingly, "Now he really is
going to settle down and do something." Fortunately, his mother
let him alone, for though Dr. Alec had not "thundered in her ear"
as he threatened, he had talked with her in a way which first made
her very angry, then anxious, and, lastly, quite submissive, for her
heart was set on the boy's winning Rose and she would have had
him put on sackcloth and ashes if that would have secured the
prize. She made light of the cause of Rose's displeasure,
considering her extremely foolish and straitlaced, "for all young
men of any spirit had their little vices, and came out well enough
when the wild oats were sowed." So she indulged Charlie in his
new vagary, as she had in all his others, and treated him like an
ill-used being, which was neither an inspiring nor helpful course
on her part. Poor soul! She saw her mistake by and by, and when
too late repented of it bitterly.

Rose wanted to be kind, and tried in various ways to help her
cousin, feeling very sure she should succeed as many another
hopeful woman has done, quite unconscious how much stronger an
undisciplined will is than the truest love, and what a difficult task
the wisest find it to undo the mistakes of a bad education. But it
was a hard thing to do, for at the least hint of commendation or
encouragement, he looked so hopeful that she was afraid of
seeming to promise too much, and, of all things, she desired to
escape the accusation of having trifled with him.

So life was not very comfortable to either just then; and while
Charlie was "mortifying soul and body" to please her, she was
studying how to serve him best. Aunt Jessie helped her very much,
and no one guessed, when they saw pretty Miss Campbell going up
and down the hill with such a serious face, that she was intent
upon anything except taking, with praiseworthy regularity, the
constitutionals which gave her such a charming color.

Matters were in this state when one day a note came to Rose from
Mrs. Clara.

MY SWEET CHILD, Do take pity on my poor boy and cheer him
up with a sight of you, for he is so triste it breaks my heart
to see him. He has a new plan in his head, which strikes me as an
excellent one, if you will only favor it. Let him come and take you
for a drive this fine afternoon and talk things over. It will do him a
world of good and deeply oblige
Your ever loving

Rose read the note twice and stood a moment pondering, with her
eyes absently fixed on the little bay before her window. The sight
of several black figures moving briskly to and fro across its frozen
surface seemed to suggest a mode of escape from the drive she
dreaded in more ways than one. "That will be safer and
pleasanter," she said, and going to her desk wrote her answer.

DEAR AUNTY, I'm afraid of Brutus, but if Charlie will go skating
with me, I should enjoy it very much and it would do us both good.
I can listen to the new plan with an undivided mind there, so give
him my love, please, and say I shall expect him at three.


Punctually at three Charlie appeared with his skates over his arm
and with a very contented face, which brightened wonderfully as
Rose came downstairs in a sealskin suit and scarlet skirt, so like
the one she wore years ago that he involuntarily exclaimed as he
took her skates: "You look so like little Rose I hardly know you,
and it seems so like old times I feel sixteen again."

"That is just the way one ought to feel on such a day as this. Now
let us be off and have a good spin before anyone comes. There are
only a few children there now, but it is Saturday, you know, and
everybody will be out before long," answered Rose, carefully
putting on her mittens as she talked, for her heart was not as light
as the one little Rose carried under the brown jacket, and the boy
of sixteen never looked at her with the love and longing she read in
the eyes of the young man before her.

Away they went, and were soon almost as merry and warm as the
children around them, for the ice was in good condition, the
February sunshine brilliant, and the keen wind set their blood
a-tingle with a healthful glow.

"Now tell me the plan your mother spoke of," began Rose as they
went gliding across the wide expanse before them, for Charlie
seemed to have forgotten everything but the bliss of having her all
to himself for a little while.

"Plan? Oh, yes! It is simply this. I'm going out to Father next

"Really?" and Rose looked both surprised and incredulous, for this
plan was not a new one.

"Really. You don't believe it, but I am, and mother means to go
with me. We've had another letter from the governor, and he says
if she can't part from her big baby to come along too, and all be
happy together. What do you think of that?" he asked, eyeing her
intently, for they were face to face as she went backward and he
held both of her hands to steer and steady her.

"I like it immensely, and do believe it now only it rather takes my
breath away to think of Aunty's going, when she never would hear
of it before."

"She doesn't like the plan very well now and consents to go only
on one condition."

"What is that?" asked Rose, trying to free her hands, for a look at
Charlie made her suspect what was coming.

"That you go with us." And, holding the hands fast, he added
rapidly, "Let me finish before you speak. I don't mean that
anything is to be changed till you are ready, but if you go, I am
willing to give up everything else and live anywhere as long as you
like. Why shouldn't you come to us for a year or two? We've never
had our share. Father would be delighted, mother contented, and I
the happiest man alive."

"Who made this plan?" asked Rose as soon as she got the breath
which certainly had been rather taken away by this entirely new
and by no means agreeable scheme.

"Mother suggested it I shouldn't have dared even to dream of such
richness. I'd made up my mind to go alone, and when I told her,
she was in despair till this superb idea came into her head. After
that, of course, it was easy enough for me to stick to the resolution
I'd made."

"Why did you decide to go, Charlie?" And Rose looked up into the
eyes that were fixed beseechingly on hers.

They wavered and glanced aside, then met hers honestly yet full of
humility, which made her own fall as he answered very low:
"Because I don't dare to stay."

"Is it so hard?" she said pitifully.

"Very hard. I haven't the moral courage to own up and face
ridicule, and it seems so mean to hide for fear of breaking my
word. I will keep it this time, Rose, if I go to the ends of the earth
to do it."

"It is not cowardly to flee temptation, and nobody whose opinion is
worth having will ridicule any brave attempt to conquer one's self.
Don't mind it, Charlie, but stand fast, and I am sure you will

"You don't know what it is, and I can't tell you, for till I tried to
give it up I never guessed what a grip it had on me. I thought it was
only a habit, easy to drop when I liked, but it is stronger than I, and
sometimes I feel as if possessed of a devil that will get the better
of me, try as I may."

He dropped her hands abruptly as he said that, with the energy of
despair; and, as if afraid of saying too much, he left her for a
minute, striking away at full speed, as if in truth he would "go to
the ends of the earth" to escape the enemy within himself.

Rose stood still, appalled by this sudden knowledge of how much
greater the evil was than she had dreamed. What ought she to do?
Go with her cousin, and by so doing tacitly pledge herself as his
companion on that longer journey for which he was as yet so
poorly equipped? Both heart and conscience protested against this
so strongly that she put the thought away. But compassion pleaded
for him tenderly, and the spirit of self-sacrifice, which makes
women love to give more than they receive, caused her to feel as if
in a measure this man's fate lay in her hands, to be decided for
good or ill through her. How should she be true both to him and to

Before this question could be answered, he was back again,
looking as if he had left his care behind him, for his moods varied
like the wind. Her attitude, as she stood motionless and alone with
downcast face, was so unlike the cheerful creature who came to
meet him an hour ago, it filled him with self-reproach, and,
coming up, he drew one hand through his arm, saying, as she
involuntarily followed him, "You must not stand still. Forget my
heroics and answer my question. Will you go with us, Rose?"

"Not now that is asking too much, Charlie, and I will promise
nothing, because I cannot do it honestly," she answered, so firmly
that he knew appeal was useless.

"Am I to go alone, then, leaving all I care for behind me?"

"No, take your mother with you, and do your best to reunite your
parents. You could not give yourself to a better task."

"She won't go without you."

"I think she will if you hold fast to your resolution. You won't give
that up, I hope?"

"No I must go somewhere, for I can't stay here, and it may as well
be India, since that pleases Father," answered Charlie doggedly.

"It will more than you can imagine. Tell him all the truth, and see
how glad he will be to help you, and how sincerely he will respect
you for what you've done."

"If you respect me, I don't care much about the opinion of anyone
else," answered Charlie, clinging with a lover's pertinacity to the
hope that was dearest.

"I shall, if you go manfully away and do the duty you owe your
father and yourself."

"And when I've done it, may I come back to be rewarded, Rose?"
he asked, taking possession of the hand on his arm as if it was
already his.

"I wish I could say what you want me to. But how can I promise
when I am not sure of anything? I don't love you as I ought, and
perhaps I never shall so why persist in making me bind myself in
this way? Be generous, Charlie, and don't ask it," implored Rose,
much afflicted by his persistence.

"I thought you did love me it looked very like it a month ago,
unless you have turned coquette, and I can't quite believe that," he
answered bitterly.

"I was beginning to love you, but you made me afraid to go on,"
murmured Rose, trying to tell the truth kindly.

"That cursed custom! What can a man do when his hostess asks
him to drink wine with her?" And Charlie looked as if he could
have cursed himself even more heartily.

"He can say 'no.'"

"I can't."

"Ah, that's the trouble! You never learned to say it even to
yourself, and now it is so hard, you want me to help you."

"And you won't."

"Yes, I will, by showing you that I can say it to myself, for your
sake." And Rose looked up with a face so full of tender sorrow he
could not doubt the words which both reproached and comforted

"My little saint! I don't deserve one half your goodness to me, but I
will, and go away without one complaint to do my best, for your
sake," he cried, touched by her grief and stirred to emulation by
the example of courage and integrity she tried to set him.

Here Kitty and Steve bore down upon them; and, obeying the
impulse to put care behind them, which makes it possible for
young hearts to ache one minute and dance the next, Rose and
Charlie banished their troubles, joined in the sport that soon turned
the lonely little bay into a ballroom, and enjoyed the splendors of a
winter sunset forgetful of separation and Calcutta.


In spite of much internal rebellion, Charlie held fast to his
resolution, and Aunt Clara, finding all persuasions vain, gave in
and in a state of chronic indignation against the world in general
and Rose in particular, prepared to accompany him. The poor girl
had a hard time of it and, but for her uncle, would have fared still
worse. He was a sort of shield upon which Mrs. Clara's
lamentations, reproaches, and irate glances fell unavailingly
instead of wounding the heart against which they were aimed.

The days passed very quickly now, for everyone seemed anxious to
have the parting over and preparations went on rapidly. The big
house was made ready to shut up for a year at least, comforts for
the long voyage laid in, and farewell visits paid. The general
activity and excitement rendered it impossible for Charlie to lead
the life of an artistic hermit any longer and he fell into a restless
condition which caused Rose to long for the departure of the Rajah
when she felt that he would be safe, for these farewell festivities
were dangerous to one who was just learning to say "no."

"Half the month safely gone. If we can only get well over these last
weeks, a great weight will be off my mind," thought Rose as she
went down one wild, wet morning toward the end of February.

Opening the study door to greet her uncle, she exclaimed, "Why,
Archie!" then paused upon the threshold, transfixed by fear, for in
her cousin's white face she read the tidings of some great

"Hush! Don't be frightened. Come in and I'll tell you," he
whispered, putting down the bottle he had just taken from the
doctor's medicine closet.

Rose understood and obeyed, for Aunt Plenty was poorly with her
rheumatism and depended on her morning doze.

"What is it?" she said, looking about the room with a shiver, as if
expecting to see again what she saw there New Year's night.
Archie was alone, however, and, drawing her toward the closet,
answered with an evident effort to be quite calm and steady
"Charlie is hurt! Uncle wants more ether and the wide bandages in
some drawer or other. He told me, but I forget. You keep this place
in order find them for me. Quick!"

Before he had done, Rose was at the drawer, turning over the
bandages with hands that trembled as they searched.

"All narrow! I must make some. Can you wait?" And, catching up
a piece of old linen, she tore it into wide strips, adding, in the same
quick tone, as she began to roll them, "Now, tell me."

"I can wait those are not needed just yet. I didn't mean anyone
should know, you least of all," began Archie, smoothing out the
strips as they lay across the table and evidently surprised at the
girl's nerve and skill.

"I can bear it make haste! Is he much hurt?"

"I'm afraid he is. Uncle looks sober, and the poor boy suffers so, I
couldn't stay," answered Archie, turning still whiter about the lips
that never had so hard a tale to tell before.

"You see, he went to town last evening to meet the man who is
going to buy Brutus."

"And Brutus did it? I knew he would!" cried Rose, dropping her
work to wring her hands, as if she guessed the ending of the story

"Yes, and if he wasn't shot already I'd do it myself with pleasure,
for he's done his best to kill Charlie," muttered Charlie's mate with
a grim look, then gave a great sigh and added with averted face, "I
shouldn't blame the brute, it wasn't his fault. He needed a firm
hand and--" He stopped there, but Rose said quickly: "Go on. I must

"Charlie met some of his old cronies, quite by accident; there was
a dinner party, and they made him go, just for a good-bye, they
said. He couldn't refuse, and it was too much for him. He would
come home alone in the storm, though they tried to keep him, as
he wasn't fit. Down by the new bridge that high embankment, you
know the wind had put the lantern out he forgot or something
scared Brutus, and all went down together."

Archie had spoken fast and brokenly but Rose understood and at
the last word hid her face with a little moan, as if she saw it all.

"Drink this and never mind the rest," he said, dashing into the next
room and coming back with a glass of water, longing to be done
and away, for this sort of pain seemed almost as bad as that he had

Rose drank, but held his arm tightly, as he would have turned
away, saying in a tone of command he could not disobey: "Don't
keep anything back tell me the worst at once."

"We knew nothing of it," he went on obediently. "Aunt Clara
thought he was with me, and no one found him till early this
morning. A workman recognized him and he was brought home,
dead they thought. I came for Uncle an hour ago. Charlie is
conscious now, but awfully hurt, and I'm afraid from the way Mac
and Uncle looked at one another that Oh! Think of it, Rose!
Crushed and helpless, alone in the rain all night, and I never knew,
I never knew!"

With that, poor Archie broke down entirely and, flinging himself
into a chair, laid his face on the table, sobbing like a girl. Rose had
never seen a man cry before, and it was so unlike a woman's
gentler grief that it moved her very much. Putting by her own
anguish, she tried to comfort his and, going to him, lifted up his
head and made him lean on her, for in such hours as this women
are the stronger. It was a very little to do, but it did comfort
Archie, for the poor fellow felt as if fate was very hard upon him
just then, and in this faithful bosom he could pour his brief but
pathetic plaint.

"Phebe's gone, and now if Charlie's taken, I don't see how I can
bear it!"

"Phebe will come back, dear, and let us hope poor Charlie isn't
going to be taken yet. Such things always seem worst at first, I've
heard people say, so cheer up and hope for the best," answered
Rose, seeking for some comfortable words to say and finding very

They took effect, however, for Archie did cheer up like a man.
Wiping away the tears which he so seldom shed that they did not
know where to go, he got up, gave himself a little shake, and said
with a long breath, as if he had been underwater: "Now I'm all
right, thank you. I couldn't help it the shock of being waked
suddenly to find the dear old fellow in such a pitiful state upset
me. I ought to go are these ready?"

"In a minute. Tell Uncle to send for me if I can be of any use. Oh,
poor Aunt Clara! How does she bear it?"

"Almost distracted. I took Mother to her, and she will do all that
anybody can. Heaven only knows what Aunt will do if--"

"And only heaven can help her," added Rose as Archie stopped at
the words he could not utter. "Now take them, and let me know

"You brave little soul, I will." And Archie went away through the
rain with his sad burden, wondering how Rose could be so calm
when the beloved Prince might be dying.

A long dark day followed, with nothing to break its melancholy
monotony except the bulletins that came from hour to hour
reporting little change either for better or for worse. Rose broke
the news gently to Aunt Plenty and set herself to the task of
keeping up the old lady's spirits, for, being helpless, the good soul
felt as if everything would go wrong without her. At dusk she fell
asleep, and Rose went down to order lights and fire in the parlor,
with tea ready to serve at any moment, for she felt sure some of the
men would come and that a cheerful greeting and creature
comforts would suit them better than tears, darkness, and

Presently Mac arrived, saying the instant he entered the room:
"More comfortable, Cousin."

"Thank heaven!" cried Rose, unclasping her hands. Then seeing
how worn out, wet, and weary Mac looked as he came into the
light, she added in a tone that was a cordial in itself, "Poor boy,
how tired you are! Come here, and let me make you comfortable."

"I was going home to freshen up a bit, for I must be back in an
hour. Mother took my place, so I could be spared, and came off, as
Uncle refused to stir."

"Don't go home, for if Aunty isn't there it will be very dismal. Step
into Uncle's room and refresh, then come back and I'll give you
your tea. Let me, let me! I can't help in any other way, and I must
do something, this waiting is so dreadful."

Her last words betrayed how much suspense was trying her, and
Mac yielded at once, glad to comfort and be comforted. When he
came back, looking much revived, a tempting little tea table stood
before the fire and Rose went to meet him, saying with a faint
smile, as she liberally bedewed him with the contents of a cologne
flask: "I can't bear the smell of ether it suggests such dreadful

"What curious creatures women are! Archie told us you bore the
news like a hero, and now you turn pale at a whiff of bad air. I
can't explain it," mused Mac as he meekly endured the fragrant
shower bath.

"Neither can I, but I've been imagining horrors all day and made
myself nervous. Don't let us talk about it, but come and have some

"That's another queer thing. Tea is your panacea for all human ills
yet there isn't any nourishment in it. I'd rather have a glass of milk,
thank you," said Mac, taking an easy chair and stretching his feet
to the fire.

She brought it to him and made him eat something; then, as he
shut his eyes wearily, she went away to the piano and, having no
heart to sing, played softly till he seemed asleep. But at the stroke
of six he was up and ready to be off again.

"He gave me that. Take it with you and put some on his hair. He
likes it, and I do so want to help a little," she said, slipping the
pretty flagon into his pocket with such a wistful look Mac never
thought of smiling at this very feminine request.

"I'll tell him. Is there anything else I can do for you, Cousin?" he
asked, holding the cold hand that had been serving him so

"Only this if there is any sudden change, promise to send for me,
no matter at what hour it is. I must say 'good-bye'".

"I will come for you. But, Rose, I am sure you may sleep in peace
tonight, and I hope to have good news for you in the morning."

"Bless you for that! Come early, and let me see him soon. I will be
very good, and I know it will not do him any harm."

"No fear of that. The first thing he said when he could speak was
'Tell Rose carefully,' and as I came away he guessed where I was
going and tried to kiss his hand in the old way, you know."

Mac thought it would cheer her to hear that Charlie remembered
her, but the sudden thought that she might never see the familiar
little gesture anymore was the last drop that made her full heart
overflow, and Mac saw the "hero" of the morning sink down at his
feet in a passion of tears that frightened him. He took her to the
sofa and tried to comfort her, but as soon as the bitter sobbing
quieted she looked up and said quite steadily, great drops rolling
down her cheeks the while: "Let me cry it is what I need, and I
shall be all the better for it by and by. Go to Charlie now and tell
him I said with all my heart, 'Good night!'?

"I will!" And Mac trudged away, marveling in his turn at the
curiously blended strength and weakness of womankind.

That was the longest night Rose ever spent, but joy came in the
morning with the early message: "He is better. You are to come by
and by." Then Aunt Plenty forgot her lumbago and arose; Aunt
Myra, who had come to have a social croak, took off her black
bonnet as if it would not be needed at present, and the girl made
ready to go and say "Welcome back," not the hard "Good-bye."

It seemed very long to wait, for no summons came till afternoon,
then her uncle arrived, and at the first sight of his face Rose began
to tremble.

"I came for my little girl myself, because we must go back at
once," he said as she hurried toward him hat in hand.

"I'm ready, sir." But her hands shook as she tried to tie the ribbons,
and her eyes never left the face that was full of tender pity for her.

He took her quickly into the carriage and, as they rolled away, said
with the quiet directness which soothes such agitation better than
any sympathetic demonstration: "Charlie is worse. I feared it when
the pain went so suddenly this morning, but the chief injuries are
internal and one can never tell what the chances are. He insists that
he is better, but he will soon begin to fail, I fear, become
unconscious, and slip away without more suffering. This is the
time for you to see him, for he has set his heart on it, and nothing
can hurt him now. My child, it is very hard, but we must help each
other bear it."

Rose tried to say, "Yes, Uncle" bravely, but the words would not
come, and she could only slip her hand into his with a look of
mute submission. He laid her head on his shoulder and went on
talking so quietly that anyone who did not see how worn and
haggard his face had grown with two days and a night of sharp
anxiety might have thought him cold.

"Jessie has gone home to rest, and Jane is with poor Clara, who
has dropped asleep at last. I've sent for Steve and the other boys.
There will be time for them later, but he so begged to see you now,
I thought it best to come while this temporary strength keeps him
up. I have told him how it is, but he will not believe me. If he asks
you, answer honestly and try to fit him a little for this sudden
ending of so many hopes."

"How soon, Uncle?"

"A few hours, probably. This tranquil moment is yours make the
most of it and, when we can do no more for him, we'll comfort one

Mac met them in the hall, but Rose hardly saw him. She was
conscious only of the task before her and, when her uncle led her
to the door, she said quietly, "Let me go in alone, please."

Archie, who had been hanging over the bed, slipped away into the
inner room as she appeared, and Rose found Charlie waiting for
her with such a happy face, she could not believe what she had
heard and found it easy to say almost cheerfully as she took his
eager hand in both of hers: "Dear Charlie, I'm so glad you sent for
me. I longed to come, but waited till you were better. You surely
are?" she added, as a second glance showed to her the
indescribable change which had come upon the face which at first
seemed to have both light and color in it.

"Uncle says not, but I think he is mistaken, because the agony is all
gone, and except for this odd sinking now and then, I don't feel so
much amiss," he answered feebly but with something of the old
lightness in his voice.

"You will hardly be able to sail in the Rajah, I fear, but you won't
mind waiting a little while we nurse you," said poor Rose, trying to
talk on quietly, with her heart growing heavier every minute.

"I shall go if I'm carried! I'll keep that promise, though it costs me
my life. Oh, Rose! You know? They've told you?" And, with a
sudden memory of what brought him there, he hid his face in the

"You broke no promise, for I would not let you make one, you
remember. Forget all that, and let us talk about the better time that
may be coming for you."

"Always so generous, so kind!" he murmured, with her hand
against his feverish cheek; then, looking up, he went on in a tone
so humbly contrite it made her eyes fill with slow, hot tears.

"I tried to flee temptation I tried to say 'no,' but I am so pitiably
weak, I couldn't. You must despise me. But don't give me up
entirely, for if I live, I'll do better. I'll go away to Father and begin

Rose tried to keep back the bitter drops, but they would fall, to
hear him still speak hopefully when there was no hope. Something
in the mute anguish of her face seemed to tell him what she could
not speak, and a quick change came over him as he grasped her
hand tighter, saying in a sharp whisper: "Have I really got to die,

Her only answer was to kneel down and put her arms about him, as
if she tried to keep death away a little longer. He believed it then,
and lay so still, she looked up in a moment, fearing she knew not

But Charlie bore it manfully, for he had the courage which can
face a great danger bravely, though not the strength to fight a
bosom sin and conquer it. His eyes were fixed, as if trying to look
into the unseen world whither he was going, and his lips firmly set
that no word of complaint should spoil the proof he meant to give
that, though he had not known how to live, he did know how to
die. It seemed to Rose as if for one brief instant she saw the man
that might have been if early training had taught him how to rule
himself; and the first words he uttered with a long sigh, as his eye
came back to her, showed that he felt the failure and owned it with
pathetic candor.

"Better so, perhaps; better go before I bring any more sorrow to
you and shame to myself. I'd like to stay a little longer and try to
redeem the past; it seems so wasted now, but if I can't, don't grieve,
Rose. I'm no loss to anyone, and perhaps it is too late to mend."

"Oh, don't say that! No one will find your place among us we never
can forget how much we loved you, and you must believe how
freely we forgive as we would be forgiven," cried Rose, steadied
by the pale despair that had fallen on Charlie's face with those
bitter words.

"'Forgive us our trespasses!' Yes, I should say that. Rose, I'm not
ready, it is so sudden. What can I do?" he whispered, clinging to
her as if he had no anchor except the creature whom he loved so

"Uncle will tell you I am not good enough I can only pray for you."
And she moved as if to call in the help so sorely needed.

"No, no, not yet! Stay by me, darling read something there, in
Grandfather's old book, some prayer for such as I. It will do me
more good from you than any minister alive."

She got the venerable book given to Charlie because he bore the
good man's name and, turning to the "Prayer for the Dying," read it
brokenly while the voice beside her echoed now and then some
word that reproved or comforted.

"The testimony of a good conscience." "By the sadness of his
countenance may his heart be made better." "Christian patience
and fortitude." "Leave the world in peace." "Amen."

There was silence for a little; then Rose, seeing how wan he
looked, said softly, "Shall I call Uncle now?"

"If you will. But first don't smile at my foolishness, dear I want my
little heart. They took it off please give it back and let me keep it
always," he answered with the old fondness strong as ever, even
when he could show it only by holding fast the childish trinket
which she found and had given him the old agate heart with the
faded ribbon. "Put it on, and never let them take it off," he said,
and when she asked if there was anything else she could do for
him, he tried to stretch out his arms to her with a look which asked
for more.

She kissed him very tenderly on lips and forehead, tried to say
"good-bye," but could not speak, and groped her way to the door.
Turning for a last look, Charlie's hopeful spirit rose for a moment,
as if anxious to send her away more cheerful, and he said with a
shadow of the old blithe smile, a feeble attempt at the familiar
farewell gesture: "Till tomorrow, Rose."

Alas for Charlie! His tomorrow never came, and when she saw
him next, he lay there looking so serene and noble, it seemed as if
it must be well with him, for all the pain was past; temptation
ended; doubt and fear, hope and love, could no more stir his quiet
heart, and in solemn truth he had gone to meet his Father, and
begin again.

Chapter 16 GOOD WORKS

The Rajah was delayed awhile, and when it sailed poor Mrs. Clara
was on board, for everything was ready. All thought she had better
go to comfort her husband, and since her boy died she seemed to
care very little what became of her. So, with friends to cheer the
long voyage, she sailed away, a heavyhearted woman, yet not quite
disconsolate, for she knew her mourning was excessively
becoming and felt sure that Stephen would not find her altered by
her trials as much as might have been expected.

Then nothing was left of that gay household but the empty rooms,
silence never broken by a blithe voice anymore, and pictures full
of promise, but all unfinished, like poor Charlie's life.

There was much mourning for the bonny Prince, but no need to tell
of it except as it affected Rose, for it is with her we have most to
do, the other characters being of secondary importance.

When time had soothed the first shock of sudden loss, she was
surprised to find the memory of his faults and failings, short life
and piteous death, grew dim, as if a kindly hand had wiped out the
record and given him back to her in the likeness of the brave,
bright boy she had loved, not as the wayward, passionate young
man who had loved her.

This comforted her very much, and folding down the last blotted
leaf where his name was written, she gladly turned back to reopen
and reread the happier chapters which painted the youthful knight
before he went out to fall in his first battle. None of the bitterness
of love bereaved marred this memory for Rose, because she found
that the warmer sentiment, just budding in her heart, had died with
Charlie and lay cold and quiet in his grave. She wondered, yet was
glad, though sometimes a remorseful pang smote her when she
discovered how possible it was to go on without him, feeling
almost as if a burden had been lifted off, since his happiness was
taken out of her hands. The time had not yet come when the
knowledge that a man's heart was in her keeping would make the
pride and joy of her life, and while she waited for that moment she
enjoyed the liberty she seemed to have recovered.

Such being her inward state, it much annoyed her to be regarded as
a brokenhearted girl and pitied for the loss of her young lover. She
could not explain to all the world, so let it pass, and occupied her
mind with the good works which always lie ready to be taken up
and carried on. Having chosen philanthropy as her profession, she
felt that it was high time to begin the task too long neglected.

Her projects were excellent, but did not prosper as rapidly as she
hoped, for, having to deal with people, not things, unexpected
obstacles were constantly arising. The "Home for Decayed
Gentlewomen," as the boys insisted on calling her two newly
repaired houses, started finely and it was a pleasant sight to see the
comfortable rooms filled with respectable women busy at their
various tasks, surrounded by the decencies and many of the
comforts which make life endurable. But, presently, Rose was
disturbed to find that the good people expected her to take care of
them in a way she had not bargained for. Buffum, her agent, was
constantly reporting complaints, new wants, and general discontent
if they were not attended to. Things were very neglected, water
pipes froze and burst, drains got out of order, yards were in a mess,
and rents behind-hand. Worst of all, outsiders, instead of
sympathizing, only laughed and said, "We told you so," which is a
most discouraging remark to older and wiser workers than Rose.

Uncle Alec, however, stood by her staunchly and helped her out of
many of her woes by good advice and an occasional visit of
inspection, which did much to impress upon the dwellers there the
fact that, if they did not do their part, their leases would be short

"I didn't expect to make anything out of it, but I did think they
would be grateful," said Rose on one occasion when several
complaints had come in at once and Buffum had reported great
difficulty in collecting the low rents.

"If you do this thing for the sake of the gratitude, then it is a failure
but if it is done for the love of helping those who need help, it is a
success, for in spite of their worry every one of these women feel
what privileges they enjoy and value them highly," said Dr. Alec as
they went home after one of these unsatisfactory calls.

"Then the least they can do is to say 'thank you.' I'm afraid I have
thought more of the gratitude than the work, but if there isn't any, I
must make up my mind to go without," answered Rose, feeling
defrauded of her due.

"Favors often separate instead of attracting people nearer to one
another, and I've seen many a friendship spoilt by the obligation
being all on one side. Can't explain it, but it is so, and I've come to
the conclusion that it is as hard to give in the right spirit as it is to
receive. Puzzle it out, my dear, while you are learning to do good
for its own sake."

"I know one sort of people who are grateful and I'm going to
devote my mind to them. They thank me in many ways, and
helping them is all pleasure and no worry. Come into the hospital
and see the dear babies, or the Asylum, and carry oranges to
Phebe's orphans they don't complain and fidget one's life out, bless
their hearts!" cried Rose, cheering up suddenly.

After that she left Buffum to manage the "Retreat," and devoted
her energies to the little folks, always so ready to receive the
smallest gift and repay the giver with their artless thanks. Here she
found plenty to do, and did it with such sweet goodwill that she
won her way like sunshine, making many a little heart dance over
splendid dolls, gay picture books, and pots of flowers, as well as
food, fire, and clothes for the small bodies pinched with want and

As spring came new plans sprang up as naturally as dandelions.
The poor children longed for the country; and, as the green fields
could not come to them, Rose carried them to the green fields.
Down on the Point stood an old farmhouse, often used by the

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