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Rose in Bloom

14.
Aunt Clara's Plan
Being seriously alarmed by the fear of losing the desire of his heart, Charlie had
gone resolutely to work and, like many another young reformer, he rather overdid
the matter, for in trying to keep out of the way of temptation, he denied himself
much innocent enjoyment. The "artistic fit" was a good excuse for the seclusion
which he fancied would be a proper penance, and he sat listlessly plying crayon
or paintbrush, with daily wild rides on black Brutus, which seemed to do him
good, for danger of that sort was his delight.
People were used to his whims and made light of what they considered a new
one, but when it lasted week after week and all attempts to draw him out were
vain, his jolly comrades gave him up and the family began to say approvingly,
"Now he really is going to settle down and do something." Fortunately, his mother
let him alone, for though Dr. Alec had not "thundered in her ear" as he
threatened, he had talked with her in a way which first made her very angry, then
anxious, and, lastly, quite submissive, for her heart was set on the boy's winning
Rose and she would have had him put on sackcloth and ashes if that would have
secured the prize. She made light of the cause of Rose's displeasure,
considering her extremely foolish and straitlaced, "for all young men of any spirit
had their little vices, and came out well enough when the wild oats were sowed."
So she indulged Charlie in his new vagary, as she had in all his others, and
treated him like an ill-used being, which was neither an inspiring nor helpful
course on her part. Poor soul! She saw her mistake by and by, and when too late
repented of it bitterly.
Rose wanted to be kind, and tried in various ways to help her cousin, feeling very
sure she should succeed as many another hopeful woman has done, quite
unconscious how much stronger an undisciplined will is than the truest love, and
what a difficult task the wisest find it to undo the mistakes of a bad education. But
it was a hard thing to do, for at the least hint of commendation or
encouragement, he looked so hopeful that she was afraid of seeming to promise
too much, and, of all things, she desired to escape the accusation of having
trifled with him.
So life was not very comfortable to either just then; and while Charlie was
"mortifying soul and body" to please her, she was studying how to serve him
best. Aunt Jessie helped her very much, and no one guessed, when they saw
pretty Miss Campbell going up and down the hill with such a serious face, that
she was intent upon anything except taking, with praiseworthy regularity, the
constitutionals which gave her such a charming color.
Matters were in this state when one day a note came to Rose from Mrs. Clara.
MY SWEET CHILD, Do take pity on my poor boy and cheer him up with a sight
of you, for he is so triste it breaks my heart to see him. He has a new plan in his
head, which strikes me as an excellent one, if you will only favor it. Let him come
and take you for a drive this fine afternoon and talk things over. It will do him a
world of good and deeply oblige
 
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