Rose in Bloom
Alas For Charlie!
In spite of much internal rebellion, Charlie held fast to his resolution, and Aunt
Clara, finding all persuasions vain, gave in and in a state of chronic indignation
against the world in general and Rose in particular, prepared to accompany him.
The poor girl had a hard time of it and, but for her uncle, would have fared still
worse. He was a sort of shield upon which Mrs. Clara's lamentations,
reproaches, and irate glances fell unavailingly instead of wounding the heart
against which they were aimed.
The days passed very quickly now, for everyone seemed anxious to have the
parting over and preparations went on rapidly. The big house was made ready to
shut up for a year at least, comforts for the long voyage laid in, and farewell visits
paid. The general activity and excitement rendered it impossible for Charlie to
lead the life of an artistic hermit any longer and he fell into a restless condition
which caused Rose to long for the departure of the Rajah when she felt that he
would be safe, for these farewell festivities were dangerous to one who was just
learning to say "no."
"Half the month safely gone. If we can only get well over these last weeks, a
great weight will be off my mind," thought Rose as she went down one wild, wet
morning toward the end of February.
Opening the study door to greet her uncle, she exclaimed, "Why, Archie!" then
paused upon the threshold, transfixed by fear, for in her cousin's white face she
read the tidings of some great affliction.
"Hush! Don't be frightened. Come in and I'll tell you," he whispered, putting down
the bottle he had just taken from the doctor's medicine closet.
Rose understood and obeyed, for Aunt Plenty was poorly with her rheumatism
and depended on her morning doze.
"What is it?" she said, looking about the room with a shiver, as if expecting to see
again what she saw there New Year's night. Archie was alone, however, and,
drawing her toward the closet, answered with an evident effort to be quite calm
and steady "Charlie is hurt! Uncle wants more ether and the wide bandages in
some drawer or other. He told me, but I forget. You keep this place in order find
them for me. Quick!"
Before he had done, Rose was at the drawer, turning over the bandages with
hands that trembled as they searched.
"All narrow! I must make some. Can you wait?" And, catching up a piece of old
linen, she tore it into wide strips, adding, in the same quick tone, as she began to
roll them, "Now, tell me."
"I can wait those are not needed just yet. I didn't mean anyone should know, you
least of all," began Archie, smoothing out the strips as they lay across the table
and evidently surprised at the girl's nerve and skill.
"I can bear it make haste! Is he much hurt?"
"I'm afraid he is. Uncle looks sober, and the poor boy suffers so, I couldn't stay,"
answered Archie, turning still whiter about the lips that never had so hard a tale
to tell before.