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Homespun Tales

11. Rose Sees the World
Was this the world, after all? Rose asked herself; and, if so, what was amiss with it, and
where was the charm, the bewilderment, the intoxication, the glamour?
She had been glad to come to Boston, for the last two weeks in Edgewood had proved
intolerable. She had always been a favorite heretofore, from the days when the boys
fought for the privilege of dragging her sled up the hills, and filling her tiny mitten with
peppermints, down to the year when she came home from the Wareham Female
Seminary, an acknowledged belle and beauty. Suddenly she had felt her popularity
dwindling. There was no real change in the demeanor of her acquaintances, but there was
a certain subtle difference of atmosphere. Everybody sympathized tacitly with Stephen,
and she did not wonder, for there were times when she secretly took his part against
herself. Only a few candid friends had referred to the rupture openly in conversation, but
these had been blunt in their disapproval.
It seemed part of her ill fortune that just at this time Rufus should be threatened with
partial blindness, and that Stephen's heart, already sore, should be torn with new
anxieties. She could hardly bear to see the doctor's carriage drive by day after day, and
hear night after night that Rufus was unresigned, melancholy, half mad; while Stephen, as
the doctor said, was brother, mother, and father in one, as gentle as a woman, as firm as
Gibraltar.
These foes to her peace of mind all came from within; but without was the hourly
reproach of her grandmother, whose scorching tongue touched every sensitive spot in the
girl's nature and burned it like fire.
Finally a way of escape opened. Mrs. Wealthy Brooks, who had always been rheumatic,
grew suddenly worse. She had heard of a "magnetic" physician in Boston, also of one
who used electricity with wonderful effect, and she announced her intention of taking
both treatments impartially and alternately. The neighbors were quite willing that
Wealthy Ann Brooks should spend the deceased Ezra's money in any way she pleased,--
she had earned it, goodness knows, by living with him for twenty-five years,--but before
the day for her departure arrived her right arm and knee became so much more painful
that it was impossible for her to travel alone.
At this juncture Rose was called upon to act as nurse and companion in a friendly way.
She seized the opportunity hungrily as a way out of her present trouble; but, knowing
what Mrs. Brooks's temper was in time of health, she could see clearly what it was likely
to prove when pain and anguish wrung the brow.
Rose had been in Boston now for some weeks, and she was sitting in the Joy Street
boarding-house,--Joy Street, forsooth! It was nearly bedtime, and she was looking out
 
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