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Eight Cousins

16. Bread and Button-Holes
"What in the world is my girl thinking about all alone here, with such a solemn face?"
asked Dr. Alec, coming into the study, one November day, to find Rose sitting there with
folded hands and a very thoughtful aspect.
"Uncle, I want to have some serious conversation with you, if you have time," she said,
coming out of a brown study, as if she had not heard his question.
"I'm entirely at your service, and most happy to listen," he answered, in his politest
manner, for when Rose put on her womanly little airs he always treated her with a
playful sort of respect that pleased her very much.
Now, as he sat down beside her, she said, very soberly
"I've been trying to decide what trade I would learn, and I want you to advise me."
"Trade, my dear?" and Dr. Alec looked so astonished that she hastened to explain.
"I forgot that you didn't hear the talk about it up at Cosey Corner. You see we used to sit
under the pines and sew, and talk a great deal all the ladies, I mean and I liked it very
much. Mother Atkinson thought that everyone should have a trade, or something to
make a living out of, for rich people may grow poor, you know, and poor people have to
work. Her girls were very clever, and could do ever so many things, and Aunt Jessie
thought the old lady was right; so when I saw how happy and independent those young
ladies were, I wanted to have a trade, and then it wouldn't matter about money, though I
like to have it well enough."
Dr. Alec listened to this explanation with a curious mixture of surprise, pleasure, and
amusement in his face, and looked at his little niece as if she had suddenly changed
into a young woman. She had grown a good deal in the last six months, and an amount
of thinking had gone on in that young head which would have astonished him greatly
could he have known it all, for Rose was one of the children who observe and meditate
much, and now and then nonplus their friends by a wise or curious remark.
"I quite agree with the ladies, and shall be glad to help you decide on something if I
can," said the Doctor seriously. "What do you incline to? A natural taste or talent is a
great help in choosing, you know."
"I haven't any talent, or any especial taste that I can see, and that is why I can't decide,
uncle. So, I think it would be a good plan to pick out some very useful business and
learn it, because I don't do it for pleasure, you see, but as a part of my education, and to
be ready in case I'm ever poor," answered Rose, looking as if she rather longed for a
little poverty so that her useful gift might be exercised.
 
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