17. Good Bargains
It was a rainy Sunday afternoon, and four boys were trying to spend it quietly in the
"liberry," as Jamie called the room devoted to books and boys, at Aunt Jessie's. Will and
Geordie were sprawling on the sofa, deep in the adventures of the scapegraces and
ragamuffins whose histories are now the fashion. Archie lounged in the easy chair,
surrounded by newspapers; Charlie stood upon the rug, in an Englishman's favourite
attitude, and, I regret to say, both were smoking cigars.
"It is my opinion that this day will never come to an end," said Prince, with a yawn that
nearly rent him asunder.
"Read and improve your mind, my son," answered Archie, peering solemnly over the
paper behind which he had been dozing.
"Don't you preach, parson, but put on your boots and come out for a tramp, instead of
mulling over the fire like a granny."
"No, thank you, tramps in an easterly storm don't strike me as amusing." There Archie
stopped and held up his hand, for a pleasant voice was heard saying outside
"Are the boys in the library, auntie?"
"Yes, dear, and longing for sunshine; so run in and make it for them," answered Mrs.
"It's Rose," and Archie threw his cigar into the fire.
"What's that for?" asked Charlie.
"Gentlemen don't smoke before ladies."
"True; but I'm not going to waste my weed," and Prince poked his into the empty
inkstand that served them for an ash tray.
A gentle tap at the door was answered by a chorus of "Come in," and Rose appeared,
looking blooming and breezy with the chilly air.
"If I disturb you, say so, and I'll go away," she began, pausing on the threshold with
modest hesitation, for something in the elder boys' faces excited her curiosity.
"You never disturb us, cousin," said the smokers, while the readers tore themselves
from the heroes of the bar-room and gutter long enough to nod affably to their guest.