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Rose in Bloom

12.
At Kitty's Ball
Rose had no new gown to wear on this festive occasion, and gave one little sigh
of regret as she put on the pale blue silk refreshed with clouds of gaze de
Chamb‚ry. But a smile followed, very bright and sweet, as she added the clusters
of forget-me-not which Charlie had conjured up through the agency of an old
German florist, for one part of her plan had been carried out, and Prince was
invited to be her escort, much to his delight, though he wisely made no
protestations of any sort and showed his gratitude by being a model gentleman.
This pleased Rose, for the late humiliation and a very sincere desire to atone for
it gave him an air of pensive dignity which was very effective.
Aunt Clara could not go, for a certain new cosmetic, privately used to improve the
once fine complexion, which had been her pride till late hours impaired it, had
brought out an unsightly eruption, reducing her to the depths of woe and leaving
her no solace for her disappointment but the sight of the elegant velvet dress
spread forth upon her bed in melancholy state.
So Aunt Jessie was chaperon, to Rose's great satisfaction, and looked as "pretty
as a pink," Archie thought, in her matronly pearl-colored gown with a dainty trifle
of rich lace on her still abundant hair. He was very proud of his little mama, and
as devoted as a lover, "to keep his hand in against Phebe's return," she said
laughingly when he brought her a nosegay of blush roses to light up her quiet
costume.
A happier mother did not live than Mrs. Jessie as she sat contentedly beside
Sister Jane (who graced the frivolous scene in a serious black gown with a
diadem of purple asters nodding above her severe brow), both watching their
boys with the maternal conviction that no other parent could show such
remarkable specimens as these. Each had done her best according to her light,
and years of faithful care were now beginning to bear fruit in the promise of
goodly men, so dear to the hearts of true mothers.
Mrs. Jessie watched her three tall sons with something like wonder, for Archie
was a fine fellow, grave and rather stately, but full of the cordial courtesy and
respect we see so little of nowadays and which is the sure sign of good home
training. "The cadets," as Will and Geordie called themselves, were there as
gorgeous as you please, and the agonies they suffered that night with tight boots
and stiff collars no pen can fitly tell. But only to one another did they confide
these sufferings and the rare moments of repose when they could stand on one
aching foot with heads comfortably sunken inside the excruciating collars, which
rasped their ears and made the lobes thereof a pleasing scarlet. Brief were these
moments, however, and the Spartan boys danced on with smiling faces,
undaunted by the hidden anguish which preyed upon them "fore and aft," as Will
expressed it.
Mrs. Jane's pair were an odd contrast, and even the stern disciplinarian herself
could not help smiling as she watched them. Steve was superb, and might have
been married on the spot, so superfine was his broad-cloth, glossy his linen, and
perfect the fit of his gloves. While pride and happiness so fermented in his
 
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