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Chapter 15. ALAS FOR CHARLIE!
In spite of much internal rebellion, Charlie held fast to his resolution, and Aunt Clara, finding all persuasions vain, gave in and in a state of chronic indignation against the world in general and Rose in particular, prepared to accompany him. The poor girl had a hard time of it and, but for her uncle, would have fared still worse. He was a sort of shield upon which Mrs. Clara's lamentations, reproaches, and irate glances fell unavailingly instead of wounding the heart against which they were aimed.
The days passed very quickly now, for everyone seemed anxious to have the parting over and preparations went on rapidly. The big house was made ready to shut up for a year at least, comforts for the long voyage laid in, and farewell visits paid. The general activity and excitement rendered it impossible for Charlie to lead the life of an artistic hermit any longer and he fell into a restless condition which caused Rose to long for the departure of the Rajah when she felt that he would be safe, for these farewell festivities were dangerous to one who was just learning to say "no."
"Half the month safely gone. If we can only get well over these last weeks, a great weight will be off my mind," thought Rose as she went down one wild, wet morning toward the end of February.
Opening the study door to greet her uncle, she exclaimed, "Why, Archie!" then paused upon the threshold, transfixed by fear, for in her cousin's white face she read the tidings of some great affliction.
"Hush! Don't be frightened. Come in and I'll tell you," he whispered, putting down the bottle he had just taken from the doctor's medicine closet.
Rose understood and obeyed, for Aunt Plenty was poorly with her rheumatism and depended on her morning doze.
"What is it?" she said, looking about the room with a shiver, as if expecting to see again what she saw there New Year's night. Archie was alone, however, and, drawing her toward the closet, answered with an evident effort to be quite calm and steady "Charlie is hurt! Uncle wants more ether and the wide bandages in some drawer or other. He told me, but I forget. You keep this place in order find them for me. Quick!"
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