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"Good! she will be here directly, and then we will settle the
question for another year. A most important year, mind you, for
she has got a good start, and will blossom rapidly now if all goes
well with her. So I beg of you don't undo my work, but deal very
wisely and gently with my little girl, for if any harm come to her, I
think it would break my heart."
As he spoke, Dr. Alec turned his back abruptly and affected to be
examining the pictures again; but the aunts understood how dear
the child was to the solitary man who had loved her mother years
ago, and who now found his happiness in cherishing the little Rose
who was so like her. The good ladies nodded and sighed, and
telegraphed to one another that none of them would complain if
not chosen, or ever try to rob Brother Alec of his "Heart's Delight,"
as the boys called Rose.
Just then a pleasant sound of happy voices came up from the
garden, and smiles broke out on all serious faces. Dr. Alec turned
at once, saying, as he threw back his head, "There she is; now for
The cousins had been a-Maying, and soon came flocking in laden
with the spoils.
"Here is our bonny Scotch rose with all her thorns about her," said
Dr. Alec, surveying her with unusual pride and tenderness, as she
went to show Aunt Peace her basket full of early flowers, fresh
leaves, and curious lichens.
"Leave your clutter in the hall, boys, and sit quietly down if you
choose to stop here, for we are busy," said Aunt Plenty, shaking
her finger at the turbulent Clan, who were bubbling over with the
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