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contended for this honour. But as week after week went by, and
Mac was still condemned to idleness and a darkened room, their
zeal abated, and one after the other fell off. It was hard for the
active fellows, right in the midst of their vacation; and nobody
blamed them when they contented themselves with brief calls,
running of errands, and warm expressions of sympathy.
The elders did their best, but Uncle Mac was a busy man, Aunt
Jane's reading was of a funereal sort, impossible to listen to long,
and the other aunties were all absorbed in their own cares, though
they supplied the boy with every delicacy they could invent.
Uncle Alec was a host in himself, but he could not give all his time
to the invalid; and if it had not been for Rose, the afflicted Worm
would have fared ill. Her pleasant voice suited him, her patience
was unfailing, her time of no apparent value, and her eager
good-will was very comforting.
The womanly power of self-devotion was strong in the child, and
she remained faithfully at her post when all the rest dropped away.
Hour after hour she sat in the dusky room, with one ray of light on
her book, reading to the boy, who lay with shaded eyes silently
enjoying the only pleasure that lightened the weary days.
Sometimes he was peevish and hard to please, sometimes he
growled because his reader could not manage the dry books he
wished to hear, and sometimes he was so despondent that her heart
ached to see him. Through all these trials Rose persevered, using
all her little arts to please him. When he fretted, she was patient;
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