12. "The Other Fellows"
Rose did tell "the people" what had passed, and no one "howled" over Mac, or said a
word to trouble him. He had his talk with the doctor, and got very little comfort out of it,
for he found that "just what he might do" was nothing at all; though the prospect of some
study by and by, if all went well, gave him courage to bear the woes of the present.
Having made up his mind to this, he behaved so well that everyone was astonished,
never having suspected so much manliness in the quiet Worm.
The boys were much impressed, both by the greatness of the affliction which hung over
him and by his way of bearing it. They were very good to him, but not always particularly
wise in their attempts to cheer and amuse; and Rose often found him much downcast
after a visit of condolence from the Clan. She still kept her place as head-nurse and
chief-reader, though the boys did their best in an irregular sort of way. They were rather
taken aback sometimes at finding Rose's services preferred to theirs, and privately
confided to one another that "Old Mac was getting fond of being molly-coddled." But
they could not help seeing how useful she was, and owning that she alone had
remained faithful a fact which caused some of them much secret compunction now and
Rose felt that she ruled in that room, if nowhere else, for Aunt Jane left a great deal to
her, finding that her experience with her invalid father fitted her for a nurse, and in a
case like this, her youth was an advantage rather than a drawback. Mac soon came to
think that no one could take care of him so well as Rose, and Rose soon grew fond of
her patient, though at first she had considered this cousin the least attractive of the
seven. He was not polite and sensible like Archie, nor gay and handsome like Prince
Charlie, nor neat and obliging like Steve, nor amusing like the "Brats," nor confiding and
affectionate like little Jamie. He was rough, absent-minded, careless, and awkward,
rather priggish, and not at all agreeable to a dainty, beauty-loving girl like Rose.
But when his trouble came upon him, she discovered many good things in this cousin of
hers, and learned not only to pity but to respect and love the poor Worm, who tried to be
patient, brave, and cheerful, and found it a harder task than anyone guessed, except
the little nurse, who saw him in his gloomiest moods. She soon came to think that his
friends did not appreciate him, and upon one occasion was moved to free her mind in a
way that made a deep impression on the boys.
Vacation was almost over, and the time drawing near when Mac would be left outside
the happy school-world which he so much enjoyed. This made him rather low in his
mind, and his cousins exerted themselves to cheer him up, especially one afternoon
when a spasm of devotion seemed to seize them all. Jamie trudged down the hill with a
basket of blackberries which he had "picked all his ownself," as his scratched fingers
and stained lips plainly testified. Will and Geordie brought their puppies to beguile the