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left in peace till her Ulysses comes home," said Mac, sitting down
to read the mottoes sticking out of certain fanciful bonbons on the
"It is this fuss about Archie which has demoralized us all. Even the
owl waked up and hasn't got over the excitement yet, you see. He's
had no experience, poor fellow, so he doesn't know how to
behave," observed Steve, regarding his bouquet with tender
"That's true, and I asked for information because I may be in love
myself someday and all this will be useful, don't you see?"
"You in love!" And Steve could not restrain a laugh at the idea of
the bookworm a slave to the tender passion.
Quite unruffled, Mac leaned his chin in both hands, regarding
them with a meditative eye as he answered in his whimsical way:
"Why not? I intend to study love as well as medicine, for it is one
of the most mysterious and remarkable diseases that afflict
mankind, and the best way to understand it is to have it. I may
catch it someday, and then I should like to know how to treat and
"If you take it as badly as you did measles and whooping cough, it
will go hard with you, old fellow," said Steve, much amused with
"I want it to. No great experience comes or goes easily, and this is
the greatest we can know, I believe, except death."
Something in Mac's quiet tone and thoughtful eyes made Rose
look at him in surprise, for she had never heard him speak in that
way before. Steve also stared for an instant, equally amazed, then
said below his breath, with an air of mock anxiety: "He's been
catching something at the hospital, typhoid probably, and is
beginning to wander. I'll take him quietly away before he gets any
wilder. Come, old lunatic, we must be off."
"Don't be alarmed. I'm all right and much obliged for your advice,
for I fancy I shall be a desperate lover when my time comes, if it
ever does. You don't think it impossible, do you?" And Mac put the
question so soberly that there was a general smile.
"Certainly not you'll be a regular Douglas, tender and true,"
answered Rose, wondering what queer question would come next.
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