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The Tea Rose
by [?]

“Well, well, cousin, I suppose you are right–but have mercy on my poor head; it is too small to hold so many new ideas all at once–so go on your own way.” And the little lady began practising a waltzing step before the glass with great satisfaction.

* * * * *

It was a very small room, lighted by only one window. There was no carpet on the floor; there was a clean, but coarsely-covered bed in one corner; a cupboard, with a few dishes and plates, in the other; a chest of drawers; and before the window stood a small cherry stand, quite new, and, indeed, it was the only article in the room that seemed so.

A pale, sickly-looking woman of about forty was leaning back in her rocking chair, her eyes closed and her lips compressed as if in pain. She rocked backward and forward a few minutes, pressed her hand hard upon her eyes, and then languidly resumed her fine stitching, on which she had been busy since morning. The door opened, and a slender little girl of about twelve years of age entered, her large blue eyes dilated and radiant with delight as she bore in the vase with the rose tree in it.

“O, see, mother, see! Here is one in full bloom, and two more half out, and ever so many more pretty buds peeping out of the green leaves.”

The poor woman’s face brightened as she looked, first on the rose and then on her sickly child, on whose face she had not seen so bright a color for months.

“God bless her!” she exclaimed, unconsciously.

“Miss Florence–yes, I knew you would feel so, mother. Does it not make your head feel better to see such a beautiful flower? Now, you will not look so longingly at the flowers in the market, for we have a rose that is handsomer than any of them. Why, it seems to me it is worth as much to us as our whole little garden used to be. Only see how many buds there are! Just count them, and only smell the flower! Now, where shall we set it up?” And Mary skipped about, placing her flower first in one position and then in another, and walking off to see the effect, till her mother gently reminded her that the rose tree could not preserve its beauty without sunlight.

“O, yes, truly,” said Mary; “well, then, it must stand here on our new stand. How glad I am that we have such a handsome new stand for it! it will look so much better.” And Mrs. Stephens laid down her work, and folded a piece of newspaper, on which the treasure was duly deposited.

“There,” said Mary, watching the arrangement eagerly, “that will do–no, for it does not show both the opening buds; a little farther around–a little more; there, that is right;” and then Mary walked around to view the rose in various positions, after which she urged her mother to go with her to the outside, and see how it looked there. “How kind it was in Miss Florence to think of giving this to us!” said Mary; “though she had done so much for us, and given us so many things, yet this seems the best of all, because it seems as if she thought of us, and knew just how we felt; and so few do that, you know, mother.”

What a bright afternoon that little gift made in that little room! How much faster Mary’s fingers flew the livelong day as she sat sewing by her mother! and Mrs. Stephens, in the happiness of her child, almost forgot that she had a headache, and thought, as she sipped her evening cup of tea, that she felt stronger than she had done for some time.