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great Indian jar below blazed with a pyramid of hothouse flowers
sent by Kitty. Rose was giving these a last touch, with Dulce close
by, cooing over a handful of sweet "daffydowndillies," when the
sound of wheels sent her flying to the door. She meant to have
spoken the first welcome and had the first embrace, but when she
saw the altered face in the carriage, the feeble figure being borne
up the steps by all the boys, she stood motionless till Phebe caught
her in her arms, whispering with a laugh and a cry struggling in her
voice: "I did it for you, my darling, all for you!"
"Oh, Phebe, never say again you owe me anything! I never can
repay you for this," was all Rose had time to answer as they stood
one instant cheek to cheek, heart to heart, both too full of
happiness for many words.
Aunt Plenty had heard the wheels also and, as everybody rose en
masse, had said as impressively as extreme agitation would allow,
while she put her glasses on upside down and seized a lace tidy
instead of her handkerchief: "Stop! All stay here, and let me
receive Alec. Remember his weak state, and be calm, quite calm,
as I am.'
"Yes, Aunt, certainly," was the general murmur of assent, but it
was as impossible to obey as it would have been to keep feathers
still in a gale, and one irresistible impulse carried the whole
roomful into the hall to behold Aunt Plenty beautifully illustrating
her own theory of composure by waving the tidy wildly, rushing
into Dr. Alec's arms, and laughing and crying with a hysterical
abandonment which even Aunt Myra could not have surpassed.
The tearful jubilee was soon over, however, and no one seemed
the worse for it, for the instant his arms were at liberty, Dr. Alec
forgot himself and began to make other people happy by saying
seriously, though his thin face beamed paternally, as he drew
Phebe forward: "Aunt Plenty, but for this good daughter I never
should have come back to be so welcomed. Love her for my sake."
Then the old lady came out splendidly and showed her mettle, for,
turning to Phebe, she bowed her gray head as if saluting an equal
and, offering her hand, answered with repentance, admiration, and
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