The Heart of the Rose

Juvenile Nonfiction/
#Juvenile Nonfiction #Lifestyles
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Excerpt e was her brother. The thought gave her the same thrill this morning as it had given her on a morning seventeen years back, when the old family doctor had laid a tiny bundle in her arms and said, "You'll have to be his sister and mother both, Elizabeth." Her twelve years then hung heavily on her; her little face, stained with the marks of recent tears, took on a warmer glow as she touched the baby's hand. She had unfolded the baby blanket and slipped on his first little clothes. And as she dressed him, she felt a sense of loss; with every fresh garment he seemed to become less of an angel and more of a human being. The same feeling of loss was now in her heart as she folded his great Indian blankets, slipped his photographs into the case and filled the nooks and crevices of his trunk with "little surprises" to drive away the first bitter longings for home. She lifted a thick white wool sweater; it brought the memory of a little soft flannel shirt. She buried her face in its folds and murmured in a tearful voice, "Why, he is my man brother and I am sending him from home to college." His foot sounded on the stairway; his clear boyish voice called, "Beth, where are you?" Before she could answer he entered the room. Throwing several bundles onto the bed, he gave a sigh of relief. He tugged impatiently at the strings as he explained: "These are some things the girls made me. It's great to be going away, isn't it? Why, I feel just like I was getting out of a cage; I feel like I was going to fly. Say, what is this, anyway?" He held up a small book, shaped to resemble the bud of a flower. It was made of white water-colour paper and every leaf was fastened to the other leaves by small white cords. On the front was the picture of a baby; on the back was a pair of black kid doll shoes. "Where did you get it?" his sister asked. "Rose gave it to me; she told me a long time ago that she was making me a book of memories; that I was to open just one page a week. That's my baby picture, all right, but why on earth has she put those doll slippers on the back? And why is it shaped in this funny way? What makes girls such queer creatures, anyway, Beth?" She laughed. "I guess, Floyd, if this is a book of memories, that last page is to picture the last great event of your life—your graduation night. Don't you remember how your new patent leathers pinched your feet, so that you limped across the platform after your diploma? It is shaped like a rosebud, for it is like that. Every week you will open a new petal, and finally, when you have opened them all, it will be a full-blown rose. When you come back Rose will have unfolded a few petals, too." "Well, I am going to unfold every one of these right now. I never could wait that long to see what is in the centre. Of course I have a vague idea, but I want to be sure. So in two minutes we will know this mystery." "No," she said firmly, taking the book from his hand. "What would the book mean to you then, Floyd? Every particle of the pleasure—the expectation—would be gone....
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