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Rose in Bloom

1. Coming Home
Three young men stood together on a wharf one bright October day awaiting the
arrival of an ocean steamer with an impatience which found a vent in lively
skirmishes with a small lad, who pervaded the premises like a will-o'-the-wisp
and afforded much amusement to the other groups assembled there.
"They are the Campbells, waiting for their cousin, who has been abroad several
years with her uncle, the doctor," whispered one lady to another as the
handsomest of the young men touched his hat to her as he passed, lugging the
boy, whom he had just rescued from a little expedition down among the piles.
"Which is that?" asked the stranger.
"Prince Charlie, as he's called a fine fellow, the most promising of the seven, but
a little fast, people say," answered the first speaker with a shake of the head.
"Are the others his brothers?"
"No, cousins. The elder is Archie, a most exemplary young man. He has just
gone into business with the merchant uncle and bids fair to be an honor to his
family. The other, with the eyeglasses and no gloves, is Mac, the odd one, just
out of college."
"And the boy?"
"Oh, he is Jamie, the youngest brother of Archibald, and the pet of the whole
family. Mercy on us he'll be in if they don't hold on to him!"
The ladies' chat came to a sudden end just there, for by the time Jamie had been
fished out of a hogshead, the steamer hove in sight and everything else was
forgotten. As it swung slowly around to enter the dock, a boyish voice shouted,
"There she is! I see her and Uncle and Phebe! Hooray for Cousin Rose!" And
three small cheers were given with a will by Jamie as he stood on a post waving
his arms like a windmill while his brother held onto the tail of his jacket.
Yes, there they were Uncle Alec swinging his hat like a boy, with Phebe smiling
and nodding on one side and Rose kissing both hands delightedly on the other
as she recognized familiar faces and heard familiar voices welcoming her home.
"Bless her dear heart, she's bonnier than ever! Looks like a Madonna doesn't
she? with that blue cloak round her, and her bright hair flying in the wind!" said
Charlie excitedly as they watched the group upon the deck with eager eyes.
"Madonnas don't wear hats like that. Rose hasn't changed much, but Phebe has.
Why, she's a regular beauty!" answered Archie, staring with all his might at the
dark-eyed young woman with the brilliant color and glossy black braids shining in
the sun.
"Dear old Uncle! Doesn't it seem good to have him back?" was all Mac said, but
he was not looking at "dear old uncle" as he made the fervent remark, for he saw
only the slender blond girl nearby and stretched out his hands to meet hers,
forgetful of the green water tumbling between them.
During the confusion that reigned for a moment as the steamer settled to her
moorings, Rose looked down into the four faces upturned to hers and seemed to
read in them something that both pleased and pained her. It was only a glance,
and her own eyes were full, but through the mist of happy tears she received the
 
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