Louisa May Alcott: Rose in Bloom

Chapter 18. WHICH WAS IT?

Rose did read and digest, and found her days much richer for the good company she kept, for an introduction to so much that was wise, beautiful, and true could not but make that month a memorable one. It is not strange that while the young man most admired "Heroism" and "Self-Reliance," the girl preferred "Love" and "Friendship," reading them over and over like prose poems, as they are, to the fitting accompaniment of sunshine, solitude, and sympathy, for letters went to and fro with praiseworthy regularity.

Rose much enjoyed this correspondence, and found herself regretting that it was at an end when she went home in September, for Mac wrote better than he talked, though he could do that remarkably well when he chose. But she had no chance to express either pleasure or regret, for the first time she saw him after her return the great change in his appearance made her forget everything else. Some whim had seized him to be shaven and shorn, and when he presented himself to welcome Rose, she hardly knew him. The shaggy hair was nicely trimmed and brushed, the cherished brown beard entirely gone, showing a well-cut mouth and handsome chin and giving a new expression to the whole face.

"Are you trying to look like Keats?" she asked, after a critical glance, which left her undecided whether the change was an improvement or not.

"I am trying not to look like Uncle," answered Mac coolly.

"And why, if you please?" demanded Rose in great surprise.

"Because I prefer to look like myself, and not resemble any other man, no matter how good or great he may be."

"You haven't succeeded then, for you look now very much like the young Augustus," returned Rose, rather pleased on the whole to see what a finely shaped head appeared after the rough thatch was off.

"Trust a woman to find a comparison for everything under the sun!" laughed Mac, not at all flattered by the one just made. "What do you think of me, on the whole?" he asked a minute later, as he found Rose still scrutinizing him with a meditative air.

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