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October gave her child a beautiful good night.
Rose turned around as he entered and, putting down the little girl,
went to him with the evening red shining on her happy face as she
said gratefully: "Dear Mac, it was so lovely! I don't know how to
thank you for it in any way but this." And, drawing down his tall
head, she gave him the birthday kiss she had given all the others.
But this time it produced a singular effect, for Mac turned scarlet,
then grew pale, and when Rose added playfully, thinking to relieve
the shyness of so young a poet, "Never again say you don't write
poetry, or call your verses rubbish I knew you were a genius, and
now I'm sure of it," he broke out, as if against his will: "No. It isn't
genius, it is love!" Then, as she shrank a little, startled at his
energy, he added, with an effort at self-control which made his
voice sound strange: "I didn't mean to speak, but I can't suffer you
to deceive yourself so. I must tell the truth, and not let you kiss me
like a cousin when I love you with all my heart and soul!"
"Oh, Mac, don't joke!" cried Rose, bewildered by this sudden
glimpse into a heart she thought she knew so well.
"I'm in solemn earnest," he answered steadily, in such a quiet tone
that, but for the pale excitement of his face, she might have
doubted his words. "Be angry, if you will. I expect it, for I know it
is too soon to speak. I ought to wait for years, perhaps, but you
seemed so happy I dared to hope you had forgotten."
"Forgotten what?" asked Rose sharply.
"Ah! You all will insist on believing that I loved him better than I
did!" she cried, with both pain and impatience in her voice, for the
family delusion tried her very much at times.
"How could we help it, when he was everything women most
admire?" said Mac, not bitterly, but as if he sometimes wondered
at their want of insight.
"I do not admire weakness of any sort I could never love without
either confidence or respect. Do me the justice to believe that, for
I'm tired of being pitied."
She spoke almost passionately, being more excited by Mac's
repressed emotion than she had ever been by Charlie's most
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