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Rose in Bloom

22.
Short And Sweet
In the hall she found Steve and Kitty, for he had hidden his little sweetheart
behind the big couch, feeling that she had a right there, having supported his
spirits during the late anxiety with great constancy and courage. They seemed so
cozy, billing and cooing in the shadow of the gay vase, that Rose would have
slipped silently away if they had not seen and called to her. "He's not gone I
guess you'll find him in the parlor," said Steve, divining with a lover's instinct the
meaning of the quick look she had cast at the hat rack as she shut the study door
behind her.
"Mercy, no! Archie and Phebe are there, so he'd have the sense to pop into the
sanctum and wait, unless you'd like me to go and bring him out?" added Kitty,
smoothing Rose's ruffled hair and settling the flowers on the bosom where Uncle
Alec's head had lain until he fell asleep.
"No, thank you, I'll go to him when I've seen my Phebe. She won't mind me,"
answered Rose, moving on to the parlor.
"Look here," called Steve, "do advise them to hurry up and all be married at
once. We were just ready when Uncle fell ill, and now we cannot wait a day later
than the first of May."
"Rather short notice," laughed Rose, looking back with the doorknob in her hand.
"We'll give up all our splendor, and do it as simply as you like, if you will only
come too. Think how lovely! Three weddings at once! Do fly round and settle
things there's a dear," implored Kitty, whose imagination was fired with this
romantic idea.
"How can I, when I have no bridegroom yet?" began Rose, with conscious color
in her telltale face.
"Sly creature! You know you've only got to say a word and have a famous one.
Una and her lion will be nothing to it," cried Steve, bent on hastening his brother's
affair, which was much too dilatory and peculiar for his taste.
"He has been in no haste to come home, and I am in no haste to leave it. Don't
wait for me, 'Mr. and Mrs. Harry Walmers, Jr.,' I shall be a year at least making
up my mind, so you may lead off as splendidly as you like and I'll profit by your
experience." And Rose vanished into the parlor, leaving Steve to groan over the
perversity of superior women and Kitty to comfort him by promising to marry him
on May Day "all alone."
A very different couple occupied the drawing room, but a happier one, for they
had known the pain of separation and were now enjoying the bliss of a reunion
which was to last unbroken for their lives. Phebe sat in an easy chair, resting
from her labors, pale and thin and worn, but lovelier in Archie's eyes than ever
before. It was very evident that he was adoring his divinity, for, after placing a
footstool at her feet, he had forgotten to get up and knelt there with his elbow on
the arm of her chair, looking like a thirsty man drinking long drafts of the purest
water.
 
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