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perfectly impossible to keep any member of the family away on
that great occasion. They came from all quarters in spite of express
directions to the contrary, for the invalid was still very feeble and
no excitement must be allowed. As if the wind carried the glad
news, Uncle Jem came into port the night before; Will and
Geordie got a leave on their own responsibility; Steve would have
defied the entire faculty, had it been necessary; and Uncle Mac and
Archie said simultaneously, "Business be hanged today."
Of course the aunts arrived in all their best, all cautioning
everybody else to keep quiet and all gabbling excitedly at the least
provocation. Jamie suffered the most during that day, so divided
was he between the desire to behave well and the frantic impulse
to shout at the top of his voice, turn somersaults, and race all over
the house. Occasional bolts into the barn, where he let off steam by
roaring and dancing jigs, to the great dismay of the fat old horses
and two sedate cows, helped him to get through that trying period.
But the heart that was fullest beat and fluttered in Rose's bosom as
she went about putting spring flowers everywhere; very silent, but
so radiant with happiness that the aunts watched her, saying softly
to one another, "Could an angel look sweeter?"
If angels ever wore pale green gowns and snowdrops in their hair,
had countenances full of serenest joy, and large eyes shining with
an inward light that made them very lovely, then Rose did look
like one. But she felt like a woman and well she might, for was not
life very rich that day, when Uncle, friend, and lover were coming
back to her together? Could she ask anything more, except the
power to be to all of them the creature they believed her, and to
return the love they gave her with one as faithful, pure, and deep?
Among the portraits in the hall hung one of Dr. Alec, done soon
after his return by Charlie in one of his brief fits of inspiration.
Only a crayon, but wonderfully lifelike and carefully finished, as
few of the others were. This had been handsomely framed and now
held the place of honor, garlanded with green wreaths, while the
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