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But Charlie changed the subject skillfully by exclaiming with an
anxious expression: "I do believe you are going to be like Aunt
Jane, for that's just the way she comes down on me whenever she
gets the chance! Don't take her for a model, I beg she is a good
woman but a mighty disagreeable one in my humble opinion."
The fear of being disagreeable is a great bugbear to a girl, as this
artful young man well knew, and Rose fell into the trap at once,
for Aunt Jane was far from being her model, though she could not
help respecting her worth.
"Have you given up your painting?" she asked rather abruptly,
turning to a gilded Fra Angelico angel which leaned in the sofa
"Sweetest face I ever saw, and very like you about the eyes, isn't
it?" said Charlie, who seemed to have a Yankee trick of replying to
one question with another.
"I want an answer, not a compliment," and Rose tried to look
severe as she put away the picture more quickly than she had taken
"Have I given up painting? Oh, no! I daub a little in oils, slop a
little in watercolors, sketch now and then, and poke about the
studios when the artistic fit comes on."
"How is the music?"
"More flourishing. I don't practice much, but sing a good deal in
company. Set up a guitar last summer and went troubadouring
round in great style. The girls like it, and it's jolly among the
"Are you studying anything?"
"Well, I have some lawbooks on my table good, big, wise-looking
chaps and I take a turn at them semioccasionally when pleasure
palls or parents chide. But I doubt if I do more than learn what 'a
allybi' is this year," and a sly laugh in Charlie's eye suggested that
he sometimes availed himself of this bit of legal knowledge.
"What do you do then?"
"Fair catechist, I enjoy myself. Private theatricals have been the
rage of late, and I have won such laurels that I seriously think of
adopting the stage as my profession."
"Really!" cried Rose, alarmed.
"Why not? If I must go to work, isn't that as good as anything?"
"Not without more talent than I think you possess. With genius one
can do anything without it one had better let the stage alone."
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