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Eight Cousins

14. A Happy Birthday
The twelfth of October was Rose's birthday, but no one seemed to remember that
interesting fact, and she felt delicate about mentioning it, so fell asleep the night before
wondering if she would have any presents. That question was settled early the next
morning, for she was awakened by a soft tap on her face, and opening her eyes she
beheld a little black and white figure sitting on her pillow, staring at her with a pair of
round eyes very like blueberries, while one downy paw patted her nose to attract her
notice. It was Kitty Comet, the prettiest of all the pussies, and Comet evidently had a
mission to perform, for a pink bow adorned her neck, and a bit of paper was pinned to it
bearing the words, "For Miss Rose, from Frank."
That pleased her extremely, and that was only the beginning of the fun, for surprises
and presents kept popping out in the most delightful manner all through the day, the
Atkinson girls being famous jokers and Rose a favourite. But the best gift of all came on
the way to Mount Windy-Top, where it was decided to picnic in honour of the great
occasion. Three jolly loads set off soon after breakfast, for everybody went, and
everybody seemed bound to have an extra good time, especially Mother Atkinson, who
wore a hat as broad-brimmed as an umbrella, and took the dinner-horn to keep her flock
from straying away.
"I'm going to drive auntie and a lot of the babies, so you must ride the pony. And please
stay behind us a good bit when we go to the station, for a parcel is coming, and you are
not to see it till dinner-time. You won't mind, will you?" said Mac, in a confidential aside
during the wild flurry of the start.
"Not a bit," answered Rose. "It hurts my feelings very much to be told to keep out of the
way at any other time, but birthdays and Christmas it is part of the fun to be blind and
stupid, and poked into corners. I'll be ready as soon as you are, Giglamps."
"Stop under the big maple till I call then you can't possibly see anything," added Mac, as
he mounted her on the pony his father had sent up for his use. "Barkis" was so gentle
and so "willin'," however, that Rose was ashamed to be afraid to ride him; so she had
learned, that she might surprise Dr. Alec when she got home; meantime she had many
a fine canter "over the hills and far away" with Mac, who preferred Mr. Atkinson's old
Sorrel.
Away they went, and, coming to the red maple, Rose obediently paused; but could not
help stealing a glance in the forbidden direction before the call came. Yes, there was a
hamper going under the seat, and then she caught sight of a tall man whom Mac
seemed to be hustling into the carriage in a great hurry. One look was enough, and with
a cry of delight, Rose was off down the road as fast as Barkis could go.
 
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