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she ought to show. She decided to be gentle, but very frank; to
reprove, but also to console; and to try to improve the softened
moment by inspiring the culprit with a wish for all the virtues
which make a perfect man.
The fond delusion grew quite absorbing, and her mind was full of
it as she sat watching the sun set from her western window and
admiring with dreamy eyes the fine effect of the distant hills clear
and dark against a daffodil sky when the bang of a door made her
sit suddenly erect in her low chair and say with a catch in her
breath: "He's coming! I must remember what I promised Uncle and
be very firm."
Usually Charlie announced his approach with music of some sort.
Now he neither whistled, hummed, nor sang, but came so quietly
Rose was sure that he dreaded this meeting as much as she did
and, compassionating his natural confusion, did not look around as
the steps drew near. She thought perhaps he would go down upon
his knees, as he used to after a boyish offense, but hoped not, for
too much humility distressed her, so she waited for the first
It was rather a shock when it came, however, for a great nosegay
dropped into her lap and a voice, bold and gay as usual, said
lightly: "Here she is, as pretty and pensive as you please. Is the
world hollow, our doll stuffed with sawdust, and do we want to go
into a nunnery today, Cousin?"
Rose was so taken aback by this unexpected coolness that the
flowers lay unnoticed as she looked up with a face so full of
surprise, reproach, and something like shame that it was
impossible to mistake its meaning. Charlie did not, and had the
grace to redden deeply, and his eyes fell as he said quickly, though
in the same light tone: "I humbly apologize for coming so late last
night. Don't be hard upon me, Cousin. You know America expects
every man to do his duty on New Year's Day."
"I am tired of forgiving! You make and break promises as easily as
you did years ago, and I shall never ask you for another," answered
Rose, putting the bouquet away, for the apology did not satisfy her
and she would not be bribed to silence.
"But, my dear girl, you are so very exacting, so peculiar in your
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