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meekly, "Could I respectfully inquire what great reform is to be
carried on in the old houses which their amiable owner is
"I am merely going to make them comfortable homes for poor but
respectable women to live in. There is a class who cannot afford to
pay much, yet suffer a great deal from being obliged to stay in
noisy, dirty, crowded places like tenement houses and cheap
lodgings. I can help a few of them and I'm going to try."
"May I humbly ask if these decayed gentlewomen are to inhabit
their palatial retreat rent-free?"
"That was my first plan, but Uncle showed me that it was wiser not
make genteel paupers of them, but let them pay a small rent and
feel independent. I don't want the money, of course, and shall use
it in keeping the houses tidy or helping other women in like case,"
said Rose, entirely ignoring her cousin's covert ridicule.
"Don't expect any gratitude, for you won't get it; nor much comfort
with a lot of forlornities on your hands, and be sure that when it is
too late you will tire of it all and wish you had done as other
"Thanks for your cheerful prophecies, but I think I'll venture."
She looked so undaunted that Charlie was a little nettled and fired
his last shot rather recklessly: "Well, one thing I do know you'll
never get a husband if you go on in this absurd way, and by Jove!
you need one to take care of you and keep the property together!"
Rose had a temper, but seldom let it get the better of her; now,
however, it flashed up for a moment. Those last words were
peculiarly unfortunate, because Aunt Clara had used them more
than once when warning her against impecunious suitors and
generous projects. She was disappointed in her cousin, annoyed at
having her little plans laughed at, and indignant with him for his
"I'll never have one, if I must give up the liberty of doing what I
know is right, and I'd rather go into the poorhouse tomorrow than
'keep the property together' in the selfish way you mean!"
That was all but Charlie saw that he had gone too far and hastened
to make his peace with the skill of a lover, for, turning to the little
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