Louisa May Alcott: Rose in Bloom

Chapter 5. PRINCE CHARMING (continued)

During the three months since her return she had seen more of this cousin than any of the others, for he seemed to be the only one who had leisure to "play with Rose," as they used to say years ago. The other boys were all at work, even little Jamie, many of whose play hours were devoted to manful struggles with Latin grammar, the evil genius of his boyish life. Dr. Alec had many affairs to arrange after his long absence; Phebe was busy with her music; and Aunt Plenty still actively superintended her housekeeping. Thus it fell out, quite naturally, that Charlie should form the habit of lounging in at all hours with letters, messages, bits of news, and agreeable plans for Rose. He helped her with her sketching, rode with her, sang with her, and took her to parties as a matter of course, for Aunt Clara, being the gaiest of the sisters, played chaperon on all occasions.

For a time it was very pleasant, but, by and by, Rose began to wish Charlie would find something to do like the rest and not make dawdling after her the business of his life. The family was used to his self-indulgent ways, and there was an amiable delusion in the minds of the boys that he had a right to the best of everything, for to them he was still the Prince, the flower of the flock, and in time to be an honor to the name. No one exactly knew how, for, though full of talent, he seemed to have no especial gift or bias, and the elders began to shake their heads because, in spite of many grand promises and projects, the moment for decisive action never came.

Rose saw all this and longed to inspire her brilliant cousin with some manful purpose which should win for him respect as well as admiration. But she found it very hard, for though he listened with imperturbable good humor, and owned his shortcomings with delightful frankness, he always had some argument, reason, or excuse to offer and out-talked her in five minutes, leaving her silenced but unconvinced.

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