“If you are not tired, dear. It is a pleasure to hear you, for you read remarkably well,” was the answer that filled her heart with pride and pleasure.

“Do you really think so, uncle? I’m so glad! Papa taught me, and I read for hours to him, but I thought perhaps, he liked it because he was fond of me.”

“So am I; but you really do read unusually well, and I’m very glad of it, for it is a rare accomplishment, and one I value highly. Come here in this cosy, low chair; the light is better, and I can pull these curls if you go too fast. I see you are going to be a great comfort as well as a great credit to your old uncle, Rosy.” And Dr. Alec drew her close beside him with such a fatherly look and tone that she felt it would be very easy to love and obey him, since he knew how to mix praise and blame so pleasantly together.

Another chapter was just finished, when the sound of a carriage warned them that Aunt Jane was about to depart. Before they could go to meet her, however, she appeared in the doorway looking like an unusually tall mummy in her waterproof, with her glasses shining like cat’s eyes from the depths of the hood.

“Just as I thought! petting that child to death and letting her sit up late reading trash. I do hope you feel the weight of the responsibility you have taken upon yourself, Alec,” she said, with a certain grim sort of satisfaction at seeing things go wrong.

“I think I have a very realising sense of it, sister Jane,” answered Dr. Alec, with a comical shrug of the shoulders and a glance at Rose’s bright face.

“It is sad to see a great girl wasting these precious hours so. Now, my boys have studied all day, and Mac is still at his books, I’ve no doubt, while you have not had a lesson since you came, I suspect.”

“I’ve had five to-day, ma’am,” was Rose’s very unexpected answer.

“I’m glad to hear it; and what were they, pray?” Rose looked very demure as she replied—

“Navigation, geography, grammar, arithmetic, and keeping my temper.”

“Queer lessons, I fancy; and what have you learned from this remarkable mixture, I should like to know?”

A naughty sparkle came into Rose’s eyes as she answered, with a droll look at her uncle—

“I can’t tell you all, ma’am, but I have collected some useful information about China, which you may like, especially the teas. The best are Lapsing Souchong, Assam Pekoe, rare Ankoe, Flowery Pekoe, Howqua’s mixture, Scented Caper, Padral tea, black Congou, and green Twankey. Shanghai is on the Woosung River. Hong Kong means ‘Island of Sweet waters.’ Singapore is ‘Lion’s Town.’ ‘Chops’ are the boats they live in; and they drink tea out of little saucers. Principal productions are porcelain, tea, cinnamon, shawls, tin, tamarinds and opium. They have beautiful temples and queer gods; and in Canton is the Dwelling of the Holy Pigs, fourteen of them, very big, and all blind.”

The effect of this remarkable burst was immense, especially the fact last mentioned. It entirely took the wind out of Aunt Jane’s sails; it was so sudden, so varied and unexpected, that she had not a word to say. The glasses remained fixed full upon Rose for a moment, and then, with a hasty “Oh, indeed!” the excellent lady bundled into her carriage and drove away, somewhat bewildered and very much disturbed.

She would have been more so if she had seen her reprehensible brother-in-law dancing a triumphal polka down the hall with Rose in honour of having silenced the enemy’s battery for once.

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