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Eight Cousins

2. The Clan
Rose scrambled into the china-closet as rapidly as possible, and there refreshed herself
by making faces at Debby, while she settled her plumage and screwed up her courage.
Then she crept softly down the hall and peeped into the parlor. No one appeared, and
all was so still she felt sure the company was upstairs. So she skipped boldly through
the half-open folding-doors, to behold on the other side a sight that nearly took her
breath away.
Seven boys stood in a row all ages, all sizes, all yellow-haired and blue-eyed, all in full
Scotch costume, and all smiling, nodding, and saying as with one voice, "How are you,
cousin?"
Rose gave a little gasp, and looked wildly about her as if ready to fly, for fear magnified
the seven and the room seemed full of boys. Before she could run, however, the tallest
lad stepped out of the line, saying pleasantly
"Don't be frightened. This is the Clan come to welcome you; and I'm the chief, Archie, at
your service."
He held out his hand as he spoke, and Rose timidly put her own into a brown paw,
which closed over the white morsel and held it as the chief continued his introductions.
"We came in full rig, for we always turn out in style on grand occasions. Hope you like it.
Now I'll tell you who these chaps are, and then we shall be all right. This big one is
Prince Charlie, Aunt Clara's boy. She has but one, so he is an extra good one. This old
fellow is Mac, the bookworm, called Worm for short. This sweet creature is Steve the
Dandy. Look at his gloves and top-knot, if you please. They are Aunt Jane's lads, and a
precious pair you'd better believe. These are the Brats, my brothers, Geordie and Will,
and Jamie the Baby. Now, my men, step out and show your manners."
At this command, to Rose's great dismay, six more hands were offered, and it was
evident that she was expected to shake them all. It was a trying moment to the bashful
child; but, remembering that they were her kinsmen come to welcome her, she tried her
best to return the greeting cordially.
This impressive ceremony being over, the Clan broke ranks, and both rooms instantly
appeared to be pervaded with boys. Rose hastily retired to the shelter of a big chair and
sat there watching the invaders and wondering when her aunt would come and rescue
her.
As if bound to do their duty manfully, yet rather oppressed by it, each lad paused beside
her chair in his wanderings, made a brief remark, received a still briefer answer, and
then sheered off with a relieved expression.
 
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