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Rose in Bloom

16.
Good Works
The Rajah was delayed awhile, and when it sailed poor Mrs. Clara was on board,
for everything was ready. All thought she had better go to comfort her husband,
and since her boy died she seemed to care very little what became of her. So,
with friends to cheer the long voyage, she sailed away, a heavyhearted woman,
yet not quite disconsolate, for she knew her mourning was excessively becoming
and felt sure that Stephen would not find her altered by her trials as much as
might have been expected.
Then nothing was left of that gay household but the empty rooms, silence never
broken by a blithe voice anymore, and pictures full of promise, but all unfinished,
like poor Charlie's life.
There was much mourning for the bonny Prince, but no need to tell of it except
as it affected Rose, for it is with her we have most to do, the other characters
being of secondary importance.
When time had soothed the first shock of sudden loss, she was surprised to find
the memory of his faults and failings, short life and piteous death, grew dim, as if
a kindly hand had wiped out the record and given him back to her in the likeness
of the brave, bright boy she had loved, not as the wayward, passionate young
man who had loved her.
This comforted her very much, and folding down the last blotted leaf where his
name was written, she gladly turned back to reopen and reread the happier
chapters which painted the youthful knight before he went out to fall in his first
battle. None of the bitterness of love bereaved marred this memory for Rose,
because she found that the warmer sentiment, just budding in her heart, had died
with Charlie and lay cold and quiet in his grave. She wondered, yet was glad,
though sometimes a remorseful pang smote her when she discovered how
possible it was to go on without him, feeling almost as if a burden had been lifted
off, since his happiness was taken out of her hands. The time had not yet come
when the knowledge that a man's heart was in her keeping would make the pride
and joy of her life, and while she waited for that moment she enjoyed the liberty
she seemed to have recovered.
Such being her inward state, it much annoyed her to be regarded as a
brokenhearted girl and pitied for the loss of her young lover. She could not
explain to all the world, so let it pass, and occupied her mind with the good works
which always lie ready to be taken up and carried on. Having chosen
philanthropy as her profession, she felt that it was high time to begin the task too
long neglected.
Her projects were excellent, but did not prosper as rapidly as she hoped, for,
having to deal with people, not things, unexpected obstacles were constantly
arising. The "Home for Decayed Gentlewomen," as the boys insisted on calling
her two newly repaired houses, started finely and it was a pleasant sight to see
the comfortable rooms filled with respectable women busy at their various tasks,
surrounded by the decencies and many of the comforts which make life
endurable. But, presently, Rose was disturbed to find that the good people
 
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