A Belt and a Box
When Rose came out of her chamber, cup in hand, next morning, the first person she saw was Uncle Alec standing on the threshold of the room opposite, which he appeared to be examining with care. When he heard her step, he turned about and began to sing
Where are you going, my pretty maid?
Im going a-milking, sir, she said, answered Rose, waving the cup; and then they finished the verse together in fine style.
Before either spoke, a head, in a nightcap so large and beruffled that it looked like a cabbage, popped out of a room farther down the hall, and an astonished voice exclaimed
What in the world are you doing about so early?
Clearing our pipes for the day, maam. Look here, auntie, can I have this room? said Dr. Alec, making her a sailors bow.
Any room you like, except sisters.
Thanks. And may I go rummaging round in the garrets and glory-holes to furnish it as I like?
My dear boy, you may turn the house upside down if you will only stay in it.
Thats a handsome offer, Im sure. Ill stay, maam; heres my little anchor, so you will get more than you want of me this time.
Thats inpossible! Put on your jacket, Rose. Dont tire her out with antics, Alec. Yes, sister, Im coming! and the cabbage vanished suddenly.
The first milking lesson was a droll one; but after several scares and many vain attempts, Rose at last managed to fill her cup, while Ben held Clovers tail so that it could not flap, and Dr. Alec kept her from turning to stare at the new milkmaid, who objected to both these proceedings very much.
You look chilly in spite of all this laughing. Take a smart run round the garden and get up a glow, said the doctor, as they left the barn.
Im too old for running, uncle; Miss Power said it was not lady-like for girls in their teens, answered Rose, primly.
I take the liberty of differing from Madame Prunes and Prisms, and, as your physician, I order you to run. Off with you! said Uncle Alec, with a look and a gesture that made Rose scurry away as fast as she could go.
Anxious to please him, she raced round the beds till she came back to the porch where he stood, and, dropping down upon the steps, she sat panting, with cheeks as rosy as the rigolette on her shoulders.
Very well done, child; I see you have not lost the use of your limbs though you are in your teens. That belt is too tight; unfasten it, then you can take a long breath without panting so.
It isnt tight, sir; I can breathe perfectly well, began Rose, trying to compose herself.
Her uncles only answer was to lift her up and unhook the new belt of which she was so proud. The moment the clasp was open the belt flew apart several inches, for it was impossible to restrain the involuntary sigh of relief that flatly contradicted her words.
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