Do you remember that? he said, showing one to Aunt Clara, who happened to be nearest.
Yes, indeed; it is very like her when she came. Quite her sad, unchildlike expression, and thin little face, with the big dark eyes.
The picture was passed round, and all agreed that it was very like Rose a year ago. This point being settled, the Doctor showed the second picture, which was received with great approbation, and pronounced a charming likeness.
It certainly was, and a striking contrast to the first one, for it was a blooming, smiling face, full of girlish spirit and health, with no sign of melancholy, though the soft eyes were thoughtful, and the lines about the lips betrayed a sensitive nature.
Dr. Alec set both photographs on the chimneypiece, and, falling back a step or two, surveyed them with infinite satisfaction for several minutes, then wheeled round, saying briefly, as he pointed to the two faces
Time is up; how do you think my experiment has succeeded, ladies?
Bless me, so it is! cried Aunt Plenty, dropping a stitch in her surprise.
Beautifully, dear, answered Aunt Peace, smiling entire approval.
She certainly has improved, but appearances are deceitful, and she had no constitution to build upon, croaked Aunt Myra.
I am willing to allow that, as far as mere health goes, the experiment is a success, graciously observed Aunt Jane, unable to forget Roses kindness to her Mac.
So am I; and Ill go farther, for I really do believe Alec has done wonders for the child; she will be a beauty in two or three years, added Aunt Clara, feeling that she could say nothing better than that.
I always knew he would succeed, and Im so glad you all allow it, for he deserves more credit than you know, and more praise than he will ever get, cried Aunt Jessie, clapping her hands with an enthusiasm that caused Jamies little red stocking to wave like a triumphal banner in the air.
Dr. Alec made them a splendid bow, looking much gratified, and then said soberly
Thank you; now the question is, shall I go on?for this is only the beginning. None of you know the hindrances Ive had, the mistakes Ive made, the study Ive given the case, and the anxiety Ive often felt. Sister Myra is right is one thingRose is a delicate creature, quick to flourish in the sunshine, and as quick to droop without it. She has no special weakness, but inherits her mothers sensitive nature. and needs the wisest, tenderest care, to keep a very ardent little soul from wearing out a finely organised little body. I think I have found the right treatment, and; with you to help me, I believe we may build up a lovely and a noble woman, who will be a pride and comfort to us all.
There Dr. Alec stopped to get his breath, for he had spoken very earnestly, and his voice got a little husky over the last words. A gentle murmur from the aunts seemed to encourage him, and he went on with an engaging smile, for the good man was slyly trying to win all the ladies to vote for him when the time came.
Now, I dont wish to be selfish or arbitrary, because I am her guardian, and I shall leave Rose free to choose for herself. We all want her, and if she likes to make her home with any of you rather than with me, she shall do so. In fact, I encouraged her visits last winter, that she might see what we can all offer her, and judge where she will be happiest. Is not that the fairest way? Will you agree to abide by her choice, as I do?
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