Eight Cousins HTML version

11. Poor Mac
Rose's sacrifice was a failure in one respect, for, though the elders loved her the better
for it, and showed that they did, the boys were not inspired with the sudden respect
which she had hoped for. In fact, her feelings were much hurt by overhearing Archie say
that he couldn't see any sense in it; and the Prince added another blow by pronouncing
her "the queerest chicken ever seen."
It is apt to be so, and it is hard to bear; for, though we do not want trumpets blown, we
do like to have our little virtues appreciated, and cannot help feeling disappointed if they
are not.
A time soon came, however, when Rose, quite unconsciously, won not only the respect
of her cousins, but their gratitude and affection likewise.
Soon after the Island episode, Mac had a sunstroke, and was very ill for some time. It
was so sudden that everyone was startled, and for some days the boy's life was in
danger. He pulled through, however; and then, just as the family were rejoicing, a new
trouble appeared which cast a gloom over them all.
Poor Mac's eyes gave out; and well they might, for he had abused them, and never
being very strong, they suffered doubly now.
No one dared to tell him the dark predictions of the great oculist who came to look at
them, and the boy tried to be patient, thinking that a few weeks of rest would repair the
overwork of several years.
He was forbidden to look at a book, and as that was the one thing he most delighted in,
it was a terrible affliction to the Worm. Everyone was very ready to read to him, and at
first the lads contended for this honour. But as week after week went by, and Mac was
still condemned to idleness and a darkened room, their zeal abated, and one after the
other fell off. It was hard for the active fellows, right in the midst of their vacation; and
nobody blamed them when they contented themselves with brief calls, running of
errands, and warm expressions of sympathy.
The elders did their best, but Uncle Mac was a busy man, Aunt Jane's reading was of a
funereal sort, impossible to listen to long, and the other aunties were all absorbed in
their own cares, though they supplied the boy with every delicacy they could invent.
Uncle Alec was a host in himself, but he could not give all his time to the invalid; and if it
had not been for Rose, the afflicted Worm would have fared ill. Her pleasant voice
suited him, her patience was unfailing, her time of no apparent value, and her eager
good-will was very comforting.