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"No, thank heaven! So far I've had little trouble with either, though
Mac is an odd stick and Steve a puppy. I don't complain, for both
will outgrow that sort of thing and are good fellows at heart,
thanks to their mother. But Clara's boy is in a bad way, and she
will spoil him as a man as she has as a boy if his father doesn't
"I told brother Stephen all about him when I was in Calcutta last
year, and he wrote to the boy, but Clara has got no end of plans in
her head and so she insisted on keeping Charlie a year longer when
his father ordered him off to India," replied the doctor as they
"It is too late to 'order' Charlie is a man now, and Stephen will find
he has been too easy with him all these years. Poor fellow, it has
been hard lines for him, and is likely to be harder, I fancy, unless
he comes home and straightens things out."
"He won't do that if he can help it. He has lost all his energy living
in that climate and hates worry more than ever, so you can imagine
what an effort it would be to manage a foolish woman and a
headstrong boy. We must lend a hand, Mac, and do our best for
poor old Steve."
"The best we can do for the lad is to marry and settle him as soon
"My dear fellow, he is only three and twenty," began the doctor, as
if the idea was preposterous. Then a sudden change came over him
as he added with a melancholy smile, "I forget how much one can
hope and suffer, even at twenty-three."
"And be all the better for, if bravely outlived," said Uncle Mac,
with his hand on his brother's shoulder and the sincerest approval
in his voice. Then, kindly returning to the younger people, he went
on inquiringly, "You don't incline to Clara's view of a certain
matter, I fancy?"
"Decidedly not. My girl must have the best, and Clara's training
would spoil an angel," answered Dr. Alec quickly.
"But we shall find it hard to let our little Rose go out of the family.
How would Archie do? He has been well brought up and is a
thoroughly excellent lad."
The brothers had retired to the study by this time and were alone,
yet Dr. Alec lowered his voice as he said with a tender sort of
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