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Rose in Bloom

21.
How Phebe Earned Her Welcome
Dr. Alec had not arrived, but bad tidings had, as Rose guessed the instant her
eyes fell upon Aunt Plenty, hobbling downstairs with her cap awry, her face pale,
and a letter flapping wildly in her hand as she cried distractedly: "Oh, my boy! My
boy! Sick, and I not there to nurse him! Malignant fever, so far away. What can
those children do? Why did I let Alec go?"
Rose got her into the parlor, and while the poor old lady lamented, she read the
letter which Phebe had sent to her that she might "break the news carefully to
Rose."
DEAR MISS PLENTY, Please read this to yourself first, and tell my little mistress
as you think best. The dear doctor is very ill, but I am with him, and shall not
leave him day or night till he is safe. So trust me, and do not be anxious, for
everything shall be done that care and skill and entire devotion can do. He would
not let us tell you before, fearing you would try to come at the risk of your health.
Indeed it would be useless, for only one nurse is needed, and I came first, so do
not let Rose or anybody else rob me of my right to the danger and the duty. Mac
has written to his father, for Dr. Alec is now too ill to know what we do, and we
both felt that you ought to be told without further delay. He has a bad malignant
fever, caught no one can tell how, unless among some poor emigrants whom he
met wandering about quite forlorn in a strange city. He understood Portuguese
and sent them to a proper place when they had told their story. But I fear he has
suffered for his kindness, for this fever came on rapidly, and before he knew what
it was I was there, and it was too late to send me away.
Now I can show you how grateful I am, and if need be give my life so gladly for
this friend who has been a father to me. Tell Rose his last conscious word and
thought were for her. "Don't let her come; keep my darling safe." Oh, do obey
him! Stay safely at home and, God helping me, I'll bring Uncle Alec back in time.
Mac does all I will let him. We have the best physicians, and everything is going
as well as can be hoped till the fever turns.
Dear Miss Plenty, pray for him and for me, that I may do this one happy thing for
those who have done so much for
Your
ever
dutiful
and
loving
PHEBE
As Rose looked up from the letter, half stunned by the sudden news and the
great danger, she found that the old lady had already stopped useless bewailing
and was praying heartily, like one who knew well where help was to be found.
Rose went and knelt down at her knee, laying her face on the clasped hands in
her lap, and for a few minutes neither wept nor spoke. Then a stifled sob broke
from the girl, and Aunt Plenty gathered the young head in her arms, saying, with
the slow tears of age trickling down her own withered cheeks: "Bear up, my lamb,
bear up. The good Lord won't take him from us I am sure and that brave child will
be allowed to pay her debt to him. I feel she will."
 
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