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Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott

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For a time everything went smoothly, and Rose was a happy girl.
The world seemed a beautiful and friendly place, and fulfillment
of her brightest dreams appeared to be a possibility. Of course this
could not last, and disappointment was inevitable, because young
eyes look for a Paradise and weep when they find a workaday
world which seems full of care and trouble till one learns to
gladden and glorify it with high thoughts and holy living.

Those who loved her waited anxiously for the disillusion which
must come in spite of all their cherishing, for till now Rose had
been so busy with her studies, travels, and home duties that she
knew very little of the triumphs, trials, and temptations of
fashionable life. Birth and fortune placed her where she could not
well escape some of them, and Dr. Alec, knowing that experience
is the best teacher, wisely left her to learn this lesson as she must
many another, devoutly hoping that it would not be a hard one.

October and November passed rapidly, and Christmas was at hand,
with all its merry mysteries, home gatherings, and good wishes.

Rose sat in her own little sanctum, opening from the parlor, busily
preparing gifts for the dear five hundred friends who seemed to
grow fonder and fonder as the holidays drew near. The drawers of
her commode stood open, giving glimpses of dainty trifles, which
she was tying up with bright ribbons.

A young girl's face at such moments is apt to be a happy one, but
Rose's was very grave as she worked, and now and then she threw
a parcel into the drawer with a careless toss, as if no love made the
gift precious. So unusual was this expression that it struck Dr. Alec
as he came in and brought an anxious look to his eyes, for any
cloud on that other countenance dropped its shadow over his.

"Can you spare a minute from your pretty work to take a stitch in
my old glove?" he asked, coming up to the table strewn with
ribbon, lace, and colored papers.

"Yes, Uncle, as many as you please."

The face brightened with sudden sunshine; both hands were put
out to receive the shabby driving glove, and the voice was full of
that affectionate alacrity which makes the smallest service sweet.

"My Lady Bountiful is hard at work, I see. Can I help in any way?"
he asked, glancing at the display before him.

"No, thank you, unless you can make me as full of interest and
pleasure in these things as I used to be. Don't you think preparing
presents a great bore, except for those you love and who love
you?" she added in a tone which had a slight tremor in it as she
uttered the last words.

"I don't give to people whom I care nothing for. Can't do it,
especially at Christmas, when goodwill should go into everything
one does. If all these 'pretties' are for dear friends, you must have a
great many."

"I thought they were friends, but I find many of them are not, and
that's the trouble, sir."

"Tell me all about it, dear, and let the old glove go," he said, sitting
down beside her with his most sympathetic air.

But she held the glove fast, saying eagerly, "No, no, I love to do
this! I don't feel as if I could look at you while I tell what a bad,
suspicious girl I am," she added, keeping her eyes on her work.

"Very well, I'm ready for confessions of any iniquity and glad to
get them, for sometimes lately I've seen a cloud in my girl's eyes
and caught a worried tone in her voice. Is there a bitter drop in the
cup that promised to be so sweet, Rose?"

"Yes, Uncle. I've tried to think there was not, but it is there, and I
don't like it. I'm ashamed to tell, and yet I want to, because you
will show me how to make it sweet or assure me that I shall be the
better for it, as you used to do when I took medicine."

She paused a minute, sewing swiftly; then out came the trouble all
in one burst of girlish grief and chagrin.

"Uncle, half the people who are so kind to me don't care a bit for
me, but for what I can give them, and that makes me unhappy,
because I was so glad and proud to be liked. I do wish I hadn't a
penny in the world, then I should know who my true friends were."

"Poor little lass! She has found out that all that glitters is not gold,
and the disillusion has begun," said the doctor to himself, adding
aloud, smiling yet pitiful, "And so all the pleasure is gone out of
the pretty gifts and Christmas is a failure?"

"Oh, no not for those whom nothing can make me doubt! It is
sweeter than ever to make these things, because my heart is in
every stitch and I know that, poor as they are, they will be dear to
you, Aunty Plen, Aunt Jessie, Phebe, and the boys."

She opened a drawer where lay a pile of pretty gifts, wrought with
loving care by her own hands, touching them tenderly as she spoke
and patting the sailor's knot of blue ribbon on one fat parcel with a
smile that told how unshakable her faith in someone was. "But
these," she said, pulling open another drawer and tossing over its
gay contents with an air half sad, half scornful, "these I bought and
give because they are expected. These people care only for a rich
gift, not one bit for the giver, whom they will secretly abuse if she
is not as generous as they expect. How can I enjoy that sort of
thing, Uncle?"

"You cannot, but perhaps you do some of them injustice, my dear.
Don't let the envy or selfishness of a few poison your faith in all.
Are you sure that none of these girls care for you?" he asked,
reading a name here and there on the parcels scattered about.

"I'm afraid I am. You see I heard several talking together the other
evening at Annabel's, only a few words, but it hurt me very much,
for nearly everyone was speculating on what I would give them
and hoping it would be something fine. 'She's so rich she ought to
be generous,' said one. 'I've been perfectly devoted to her for weeks
and hope she won't forget it,' said another. 'If she doesn't give me
some of her gloves, I shall think she's very mean, for she has
heaps, and I tried on a pair in fun so she could see they fitted and
take a hint,' added a third. I did take the hint, you see." And Rose
opened a handsome box in which lay several pairs of her best
gloves, with buttons enough to satisfy the heart of the most

"Plenty of silver paper and perfume, but not much love went into
that bundle, I fancy?" And Dr. Alec could not help smiling at the
disdainful little gesture with which Rose pushed away the box.

"Not a particle, nor in most of these. I have given them what they
wanted and taken back the confidence and respect they didn't care
for. It is wrong, I know, but I can't bear to think all the seeming
goodwill and friendliness I've been enjoying was insincere and for
a purpose. That's not the way I treat people."

"I am sure of it. Take things for what they are worth, dear, and try
to find the wheat among the tares, for there is plenty if one knows
how to look. Is that all the trouble?"

"No, sir, that is the lightest part of it. I shall soon get over my
disappointment in those girls and take them for what they are
worth as you advise, but being deceived in them makes me
suspicious of others, and that is hateful. If I cannot trust people I'd
rather keep by myself and be happy. I do detest maneuvering and
underhanded plots and plans!"

Rose spoke petulantly and twitched her silk till it broke, while
regret seemed to give place to anger as she spoke.

"There is evidently another thorn pricking. Let us have it out, and
then I'll kiss the place to make it well as I used to do when I took
the splinters from the fingers you are pricking so unmercifully,"
said the doctor, anxious to relieve his pet patient as soon as

Rose laughed, but the color deepened in her cheeks as she
answered with a pretty mixture of maidenly shyness and natural

"Aunt Clara worries me by warning me against half the young men
I meet and insisting that they want only my money. Now that is
dreadful, and I won't listen, but I can't help thinking of it
sometimes, for they are very kind to me and I'm not vain enough to
think it is my beauty. I suppose I am foolish, but I do like to feel
that I am something besides an heiress."

The little quiver was in Rose's voice again as she ended, and Dr.
Alec gave a quick sigh as he looked at the downcast face so full of
the perplexity ingenuous spirits feel when doubt first mars their
faith and dims the innocent beliefs still left from childhood. He
had been expecting this and knew that what the girl just began to
perceive and try modestly to tell had long ago been plain to
worldlier eyes. The heiress was the attraction to most of the young
men whom she met. Good fellows enough, but educated, as nearly
all are nowadays, to believe that girls with beauty or money are
brought to market to sell or buy as the case may be.

Rose could purchase anything she liked, as she combined both
advantages, and was soon surrounded by many admirers, each
striving to secure the prize. Not being trained to believe that the
only end and aim of a woman's life was a good match, she was a
little disturbed, when the first pleasing excitement was over, to
discover that her fortune was her chief attraction.

It was impossible for her to help seeing, hearing, guessing this
from a significant glance, a stray word, a slight hint here and there,
and the quick instinct of a woman felt even before it understood
the self-interest which chilled for her so many opening friendships.
In her eyes love was a very sacred thing, hardly to be thought of till
it came, reverently received and cherished faithfully to the end.
Therefore, it is not strange that she shrank from hearing it
flippantly discussed and marriage treated as a bargain to be
haggled over, with little thought of its high duties, great
responsibilities, and tender joys. Many things perplexed her, and
sometimes a doubt of all that till now she had believed and trusted
made her feel as if at sea without a compass, for the new world
was so unlike the one she had been living in that it bewildered
while it charmed the novice.

Dr. Alec understood the mood in which he found her and did his
best to warn without saddening by too much worldly wisdom.

"You are something besides an heiress to those who know and love
you, so take heart, my girl, and hold fast to the faith that is in you.
There is a touchstone for all these things, and whatever does not
ring true, doubt and avoid. Test and try men and women as they
come along, and I am sure conscience, instinct, and experience
will keep you from any dire mistake," he said, with a protecting
arm about her and a trustful look that was very comforting.

After a moment's pause she answered, while a sudden smile
dimpled around her mouth and the big glove went up to hide her
telltale cheeks: "Uncle, if I must have lovers, I do wish they'd be
more interesting. How can I like or respect men who go on as
some of them do and then imagine women can feel honored by the
offer of their hands? Hearts are out of fashion, so they don't say
much about them."

"Ah, ha! That is the trouble, is it? And we begin to have delicate
distresses, do we?" said Dr. Alec, glad to see her brightening and
full of interest in the new topic, for he was a romantic old fellow,
as he had confessed to his brother.

Rose put down the glove and looked up with a droll mixture of
amusement and disgust in her face. "Uncle, it is perfectly
disgraceful! I've wanted to tell you, but I was ashamed, because I
never could boast of such things as some girls do, and they were so
absurd I couldn't feel as if they were worth repeating even to you.
Perhaps I ought, though, for you may think it proper to command
me to make a good match, and of course I should have to obey,"
she added, trying to look meek.

"Tell, by all means. Don't I always keep your secrets and give you
the best advice, like a model guardian? You must have a confidant,
and where find a better one than here?" he asked, tapping his
waistcoat with an inviting gesture.

"Nowhere so I'll tell all but the names. I'd best be prudent, for I'm
afraid you may get a little fierce you do sometimes when people
vex me," began Rose, rather liking the prospect of a confidential
chat with Uncle, for he had kept himself a good deal in the
background lately.

"You know our ideas are old-fashioned, so I was not prepared to
have men propose at all times and places with no warning but a
few smiles and soft speeches. I expected things of that sort would
be very interesting and proper, not to say thrilling, on my part but
they are not, and I find myself laughing instead of crying, feeling
angry instead of glad, and forgetting all about it very soon. Why,
Uncle, one absurd boy proposed when we'd met only half a dozen
times. But he was dreadfully in debt, so that accounted for it
perhaps." And Rose dusted her fingers, as if she had soiled them.

"I know him, and I thought he'd do it," observed the doctor with a

"You see and know everything, so there's no need of going on, is

"Do, do! Who else? I won't even guess."

"Well, another went down upon his knees in Mrs. Van's
greenhouse and poured forth his passion manfully, with a great
cactus pricking his poor legs all the while. Kitty found him there,
and it was impossible to keep sober, so he has hated me ever

The doctor's "Ha! Ha!" was good to hear, and Rose joined him, for
it was impossible to regard these episodes seriously, since no true
sentiment redeemed them from absurdity.

"Another sent me reams of poetry and went on so Byronically that
I began to wish I had red hair and my name was Betsy Ann. I burnt
all the verses, so don't expect to see them, and he, poor fellow, is
consoling himself with Emma. But the worst of all was the one
who would make love in public and insisted on proposing in the
middle of a dance. I seldom dance round dances except with our
boys, but that night I did because the girls laughed at me for being
so 'prudish,' as they called it. I don't mind them now, for I found I
was right, and felt that I deserved my fate."

"Is that all?" asked her uncle, looking "fierce," as she predicted, at
the idea of his beloved girl obliged to listen to a declaration,
twirling on the arm of a lover.

"One more but him I shall not tell about, for I know he was in
earnest and really suffered, though I was as kind as I knew how to
be. I'm young in these things yet, so I grieved for him, and treat his
love with the tenderest respect."

Rose's voice sank almost to a whisper as she ended, and Dr. Alec
bent his head, as if involuntarily saluting a comrade in misfortune.
Then he got up, saying with a keen look into the face he lifted by a
finger under the chin: "Do you want another three months of this?"

"I'll tell you on New Year's Day, Uncle."

"Very well. Try to keep a straight course, my little captain, and if
you see dirty weather ahead, call on your first mate."

"Aye, aye, sir. I'll remember."


The old glove lay upon the floor forgotten while Rose sat musing,
till a quick step sounded in the hall and a voice drew near,
tunefully humming.

"As he was walkin' doun the street
The city for to view,
Oh, there he spied a bonny lass,
The window lookin' through."

"Sae licht he jumpèd up the stair,
And tirled at the pin;
Oh, wha sae ready as hersel'
To let the laddie in?"

sang Rose as the voice paused and a tap came at the door.

"Good morning, Rosamunda, here are your letters, and your most
devoted ready to execute any commissions you may have for him,"
was Charlie's greeting as he came in looking comely, gay, and
debonair as usual.

"Thanks. I've no errands unless you mail my replies, if these need
answering, so by your leave, Prince," and Rose began to open the
handful of notes he threw into her lap.

"Ha! What sight is this to blast mine eyes?" ejaculated Charlie, as
he pointed to the glove with a melodramatic start, for, like most
accomplished amateur actors, he was fond of introducing private
theatricals into his daily talk and conversation.

"Uncle left it."

"'Tis well. Methought perchance a rival had been here," and,
picking it up, Charlie amused himself with putting it on the head
of a little Psyche which ornamented the mantelpiece, softly singing
as he did so, another verse of the old song:

"He set his Jenny on his knee,
All in his Highland dress;
For brawly well he kenned the way
To please a bonny lass."

Rose went on reading her letters, but all the while was thinking of
her conversation with her uncle as well as something else
suggested by the newcomer and his ditty.

During the three months since her return she had seen more of this
cousin than any of the others, for he seemed to be the only one
who had leisure to "play with Rose," as they used to say years ago.
The other boys were all at work, even little Jamie, many of whose
play hours were devoted to manful struggles with Latin grammar,
the evil genius of his boyish life. Dr. Alec had many affairs to
arrange after his long absence; Phebe was busy with her music;
and Aunt Plenty still actively superintended her housekeeping.
Thus it fell out, quite naturally, that Charlie should form the habit
of lounging in at all hours with letters, messages, bits of news, and
agreeable plans for Rose. He helped her with her sketching, rode
with her, sang with her, and took her to parties as a matter of
course, for Aunt Clara, being the gaiest of the sisters, played
chaperon on all occasions.

For a time it was very pleasant, but, by and by, Rose began to wish
Charlie would find something to do like the rest and not make
dawdling after her the business of his life. The family was used to
his self-indulgent ways, and there was an amiable delusion in the
minds of the boys that he had a right to the best of everything, for
to them he was still the Prince, the flower of the flock, and in time
to be an honor to the name. No one exactly knew how, for, though
full of talent, he seemed to have no especial gift or bias, and the
elders began to shake their heads because, in spite of many grand
promises and projects, the moment for decisive action never came.

Rose saw all this and longed to inspire her brilliant cousin with
some manful purpose which should win for him respect as well as
admiration. But she found it very hard, for though he listened with
imperturbable good humor, and owned his shortcomings with
delightful frankness, he always had some argument, reason, or
excuse to offer and out-talked her in five minutes, leaving her
silenced but unconvinced.

Of late she had observed that he seemed to feel as if her time and
thoughts belonged exclusively to him and rather resented the
approach of any other claimant. This annoyed her and suggested
the idea that her affectionate interest and efforts were
misunderstood by him, misrepresented and taken advantage of by
Aunt Clara, who had been most urgent that she should "use her
influence with the dear boy," though the fond mother resented all
other interference. This troubled Rose and made her feel as if
caught in a snare, for, while she owned to herself that Charlie was
the most attractive of her cousins, she was not ready to be taken
possession of in this masterful way, especially since other and
sometimes better men sought her favor more humbly.

These thoughts were floating vaguely in her mind as she read her
letters and unconsciously influenced her in the chat that followed.

"Only invitations, and I can't stop to answer them now or I shall
never get through this job," she said, returning to her work.

"Let me help. You do up, and I'll direct. Have a secretary, do now,
and see what a comfort it will be," proposed Charlie, who could
turn his hand to anything and had made himself quite at home in
the sanctum.

"I'd rather finish this myself, but you may answer the notes if you
will. Just regrets to all but two or three. Read the names as you go
along and I'll tell you which."

"To hear is to obey. Who says I'm a 'frivolous idler' now?" And
Charlie sat down at the writing table with alacrity, for these hours
in the little room were his best and happiest.

"Order is heaven's first law, and the view a lovely one, but I don't
see any notepaper," he added, opening the desk and surveying its
contents with interest.

"Right-hand drawer violet monogram for the notes, plain paper for
the business letter. I'll see to that, though," answered Rose, trying
to decide whether Annabel or Emma should have the laced

"Confiding creature! Suppose I open the wrong drawer and come
upon the tender secrets of your soul?" continued the new secretary,
rummaging out the delicate notepaper with masculine disregard of

"I haven't got any," answered Rose demurely.

"What, not one despairing scrawl, one cherished miniature, one
faded floweret, etc., etc.? I can't believe it, Cousin," and he shook
his head incredulously.

"If I had, I certainly should not show them to you, impertinent
person! There are a few little souvenirs in that desk, but nothing
very sentimental or interesting."

"How I'd like to see 'em! But I should never dare to ask," observed
Charlie, peering over the top of the half-open lid with a most
persuasive pair of eyes.

"You may if you want to, but you'll be disappointed, Paul Pry.
Lower left-hand drawer with the key in it."

"'Angel of goodness, how shall I requite thee? Interesting moment,
with what palpitating emotions art thou fraught!'" And, quoting
from the "Mysteries of Udolpho," he unlocked and opened the
drawer with a tragic gesture.

"Seven locks of hair in a box, all light, for 'here's your straw color,
your orange tawny, your French crown color, and your perfect
yellow' Shakespeare. They look very familiar, and I fancy I know
the heads they thatched."

"Yes, you all gave me one when I went away, you know, and I
carried them round the world with me in that very box."

"I wish the heads had gone too. Here's a jolly little amber god with
a gold ring in his back and a most balmy breath," continued
Charlie, taking a long sniff at the scent bottle.

"Uncle brought me that long ago, and I'm very fond of it."

"This now looks suspicious man's ring with a lotus cut on the stone
and a note attached. I tremble as I ask, who, when, and where?"

"A gentleman, on my birthday, in Calcutta."

"I breathe again it was my sire?"

"Don't be absurd. Of course it was, and he did everything to make
my visit pleasant. I wish you'd go and see him like a dutiful son,
instead of idling here."

"That's what Uncle Mac is eternally telling me, but I don't intend to
be lectured into the treadmill till I've had my fling first," muttered
Charlie rebelliously.

"If you fling yourself in the wrong direction, you may find it hard
to get back again," began Rose gravely.

"No fear, if you look after me as you seem to have promised to do,
judging by the thanks you get in this note. Poor old governor! I
should like to see him, for it's almost four years since he came
home last and he must be getting on."

Charlie was the only one of the boys who ever called his father
"governor," perhaps because the others knew and loved their
fathers, while he had seen so little of his that the less respectful
name came more readily to his lips, since the elder man in truth
seemed a governor issuing requests or commands, which the
younger too often neglected or resented.

Long ago Rose had discovered that Uncle Stephen found home
made so distasteful by his wife's devotion to society that he
preferred to exile himself, taking business as an excuse for his
protracted absences.

The girl was thinking of this as she watched her cousin turn the
ring about with a sudden sobriety which became him well; and,
believing that the moment was propitious, she said earnestly: "He
is getting on. Dear Charlie, do think of duty more than pleasure in
this case and I'm sure you never will regret it."

"Do you want me to go?" he asked quickly.

"I think you ought."

"And I think you'd be much more charming if you wouldn't always
be worrying about right and wrong! Uncle Alec taught you that
along with the rest of his queer notions."

"I'm glad he did!" cried Rose warmly, then checked herself and
said with a patient sort of sigh, "You know women always want
the men they care for to be good and can't help trying to make
them so."

"So they do, and we ought to be a set of angels, but I've a strong
conviction that, if we were, the dear souls wouldn't like us half as
well. Would they now?" asked Charlie with an insinuating smile.

"Perhaps not, but that is dodging the point. Will you go?" persisted
Rose unwisely.

"No, I will not."

That was sufficiently decided and an uncomfortable pause
followed, during which Rose tied a knot unnecessarily tight and
Charlie went on exploring the drawer with more energy than

"Why, here's an old thing I gave you ages ago!" he suddenly
exclaimed in a pleased tone, holding up a little agate heart on a
faded blue ribbon. "Will you let me take away the heart of stone
and give you a heart of flesh?" he asked, half in earnest, half in
jest, touched by the little trinket and the recollections it awakened.

"No, I will not," answered Rose bluntly, much displeased by the
irreverent and audacious question.

Charlie looked rather abashed for a moment, but his natural
lightheartedness made it easy for him to get the better of his own
brief fits of waywardness and put others in good humor with him
and themselves.

"Now we are even let's drop the subject and start afresh," he said
with irresistible affability as he coolly put the little heart in his
pocket and prepared to shut the drawer. But something caught his
eye, and exclaiming, "What's this? What's this?" he snatched up a
photograph which lay half under a pile of letters with foreign

"Oh! I forgot that was there," said Rose hastily.

"Who is the man?" demanded Charlie, eyeing the good-looking
countenance before him with a frown.

"That is the Honorable Gilbert Murray, who went up the Nile with
us and shot crocodiles and other small game, being a mighty
hunter, as I told you in my letters," answered Rose gaily, though ill
pleased at the little discovery just then, for this had been one of the
narrow escapes her uncle spoke of.

"And they haven't eaten him yet, I infer from the pile of letters?"
said Charlie jealously.

"I hope not. His sister did not mention it when she wrote last."

"Ah! Then she is your correspondent? Sisters are dangerous things
sometimes." And Charlie eyed the packet suspiciously.

"In this case, a very convenient thing, for she tells me all about her
brother's wedding, as no one else would take the trouble to do."

"Oh! Well, if he's married, I don't care a straw about him. I fancied
I'd found out why you are such a hard-hearted charmer. But if there
is no secret idol, I'm all at sea again." And Charlie tossed the
photograph into the drawer as if it no longer interested him.

"I'm hard-hearted because I'm particular and, as yet, do not find
anyone at all to my taste."

"No one?" with a tender glance.

"No one" with a rebellious blush, and the truthful addition "I see
much to admire and like in many persons, but none quite strong
and good enough to suit me. My heroes are old-fashioned, you

"Prigs, like Guy Carleton, Count Altenberg, and John Halifax I
know the pattern you goody girls like," sneered Charlie, who
preferred the Guy Livingston, Beauclerc, and Rochester style.

"Then I'm not a 'goody girl,' for I don't like prigs. I want a
gentleman in the best sense of the word, and I can wait, for I've
seen one, and know there are more in the world."

"The deuce you have! Do I know him?" asked Charlie, much

"You think you do," answered Rose with a mischievous sparkle in
her eye.

"If it isn't Pem, I give it up. He's the best-bred fellow I know."

"Oh, dear, no! Far superior to Mr. Pemberton and many years
older," said Rose, with so much respect that Charlie looked
perplexed as well as anxious.

"Some apostolic minister, I fancy. You pious creatures always like
to adore a parson. But all we know are married."

"He isn't."

"Give a name, for pity's sake I'm suffering tortures of suspense,"
begged Charlie.

"Alexander Campbell."

"Uncle? Well, upon my word, that's a relief, but mighty absurd all
the same. So, when you find a young saint of that sort, you intend
to marry him, do you?" demanded Charlie much amused and rather

"When I find any man half as honest, good, and noble as Uncle, I
shall be proud to marry him if he asks me," answered Rose

"What odd tastes women have!" And Charlie leaned his chin on his
hand to muse pensively for a moment over the blindness of one
woman who could admire an excellent old uncle more than a
dashing young cousin.

Rose, meanwhile, tied up her parcels industriously, hoping she had
not been too severe, for it was very hard to lecture Charlie, though
he seemed to like it sometimes and came to confession voluntarily,
knowing that women love to forgive when the sinners are of his

"It will be mail time before you are done," she said presently, for
silence was less pleasant than his rattle.

Charlie took the hint and dashed off several notes in his best
manner. Coming to the business letter, he glanced at it and asked,
with a puzzled expression: "What is all this? Cost of repairs, etc.,
from a man named Buffum?"

"Never mind that I'll see to it by and by."

"But I do mind, for I'm interested in all your affairs, and though
you think I've no head for business, you'll find I have if you'll try

"This is only about my two old houses in the city, which are being
repaired and altered so that the rooms can be let singly."

"Going to make tenement houses of them? Well, that's not a bad
idea such places pay well, I've heard."

"That is just what I'm not going to do. I wouldn't have a tenement
house on my conscience for a million dollars not as they are now,"
said Rose decidedly.

"Why, what do you know about it, except that people live in them
and the owners turn a pretty penny on the rents?"

"I know a good deal about them, for I've seen many such, both here
and abroad. It was not all pleasure with us, I assure you. Uncle was
interested in hospitals and prisons, and I sometimes went with
him, but they made me sad so he suggested other charities that I
could be of help about when we came home. I visited infant
schools, working women's homes, orphan asylums, and places of
that sort. You don't know how much good it did me and how glad I
am that I have the means of lightening a little some of the misery
in the world."

"But, my dear girl, you needn't make ducks and drakes of your
fortune trying to feed and cure and clothe all the poor wretches
you see. Give, of course everyone should do something in that line
and no one likes it better than I. But don't, for mercy's sake, go at it
as some women do and get so desperately earnest, practical, and
charity-mad that there is no living in peace with you," protested
Charlie, looking alarmed at the prospect.

"You can do as you please. I intend to do all the good I can by
asking the advice and following the example of the most 'earnest,'
'practical,' and 'charitable' people I know so, if you don't approve,
you can drop my acquaintance," answered Rose, emphasizing the
obnoxious words and assuming the resolute air she always wore
when defending her hobbies.

"You'll be laughed at."

"I'm used to that."

"And criticized and shunned."

"Not by people whose opinion I value."

"Women shouldn't go poking into such places."

"I've been taught that they should."

"Well, you'll get some dreadful disease and lose your beauty, and
then where are you?" added Charlie, thinking that might daunt the
young philanthropist.

But it did not, for Rose answered, with a sudden kindling of the
eyes as she remembered her talk with Uncle Alec: "I shouldn't like
it. But there would be one satisfaction in it, for when I'd lost my
beauty and given away my money, I should know who really cared
for me."

Charlie nibbled his pen in silence for a moment, then asked,
meekly, "Could I respectfully inquire what great reform is to be
carried on in the old houses which their amiable owner is

"I am merely going to make them comfortable homes for poor but
respectable women to live in. There is a class who cannot afford to
pay much, yet suffer a great deal from being obliged to stay in
noisy, dirty, crowded places like tenement houses and cheap
lodgings. I can help a few of them and I'm going to try."

"May I humbly ask if these decayed gentlewomen are to inhabit
their palatial retreat rent-free?"

"That was my first plan, but Uncle showed me that it was wiser not
make genteel paupers of them, but let them pay a small rent and
feel independent. I don't want the money, of course, and shall use
it in keeping the houses tidy or helping other women in like case,"
said Rose, entirely ignoring her cousin's covert ridicule.

"Don't expect any gratitude, for you won't get it; nor much comfort
with a lot of forlornities on your hands, and be sure that when it is
too late you will tire of it all and wish you had done as other
people do."

"Thanks for your cheerful prophecies, but I think I'll venture."

She looked so undaunted that Charlie was a little nettled and fired
his last shot rather recklessly: "Well, one thing I do know you'll
never get a husband if you go on in this absurd way, and by Jove!
you need one to take care of you and keep the property together!"

Rose had a temper, but seldom let it get the better of her; now,
however, it flashed up for a moment. Those last words were
peculiarly unfortunate, because Aunt Clara had used them more
than once when warning her against impecunious suitors and
generous projects. She was disappointed in her cousin, annoyed at
having her little plans laughed at, and indignant with him for his
final suggestion.

"I'll never have one, if I must give up the liberty of doing what I
know is right, and I'd rather go into the poorhouse tomorrow than
'keep the property together' in the selfish way you mean!"

That was all but Charlie saw that he had gone too far and hastened
to make his peace with the skill of a lover, for, turning to the little
cabinet piano behind him, he sang in his best style the sweet old

"Oh were thou in the cauld blast,"

dwelling with great effect, not only upon the tender assurance that
"My plaid should shelter thee,"

but also that, even if a king,

"The brightest jewel in my crown
Wad be my queen, wad be my queen."

It was very evident that Prince Charming had not gone
troubadouring in vain, for Orpheus himself could not have restored
harmony more successfully. The tuneful apology was accepted
with a forgiving smile and a frank "I'm sorry I was cross, but you
haven't forgotten how to tease, and I'm rather out of sorts today.
Late hours don't agree with me."

"Then you won't feel like going to Mrs. Hope's tomorrow, I'm
afraid," and Charlie took up the last note with an expression of
regret which was very flattering.

"I must go, because it is made for me, but I can come away early
and make up lost sleep. I do hate to be so fractious," and Rose
rubbed the forehead that ached with too much racketing.

"But the German does not begin till late I'm to lead and depend
upon you. Just stay this once to oblige me," pleaded Charlie, for he
had set his heart on distinguishing himself.

"No I promised Uncle to be temperate in my pleasures and I must
keep my word. I'm so well now, it would be very foolish to get ill
and make him anxious not to mention losing my beauty, as you are
good enough to call it, for that depends on health, you know."

"But the fun doesn't begin till after supper. Everything will be
delightful, I assure you, and we'll have a gay old time as we did
last week at Emma's."

"Then I certainly will not, for I'm ashamed of myself when I
remember what a romp that was and how sober Uncle looked as he
let me in at three in the morning, all fagged out my dress in rags,
my head aching, my feet so tired that I could hardly stand, and
nothing to show for five hours' hard work but a pocketful of
bonbons, artificial flowers, and tissue-paper fool's caps. Uncle said
I'd better put one on and go to bed, for I looked as though I'd been
to a French bal masque. I never want to hear him say so again, and
I'll never let dawn catch me out in such a plight anymore."

"You were all right enough, for mother didn't object and I got you
both home before daylight. Uncle is notional about such things, so
I shouldn't mind, for we had a jolly time and we were none the
worse for it."

"Indeed we were, every one of us! Aunt Clara hasn't gotten over
her cold yet. I slept all the next day, and you looked like a ghost,
for you'd been out every night for weeks, I think."

"Oh, nonsense! Everyone does it during the season, and you'll get
used to the pace very soon," began Charlie, bent on making her go,
for he was in his element in a ballroom and never happier than
when he had his pretty cousin on his arm.

"Ah! But I don't want to get used to it, for it costs too much in the
end. I don't wish to get used to being whisked about a hot room by
men who have taken too much wine, to turn day into night,
wasting time that might be better spent, and grow into a
fashionable fast girl who can't get along without excitement. I don't
deny that much of it is pleasant, but don't try to make me too fond
of gaiety. Help me to resist what I know is hurtful, and please don't
laugh me out of the good habits Uncle has tried so hard to give

Rose was quite sincere in her appeal, and Charlie knew she was
right, but he always found it hard to give up anything he had set his
heart on, no matter how trivial, for the maternal indulgence which
had harmed the boy had fostered the habit of self-indulgence,
which was ruining the man. So when Rose looked up at him, with
a very honest desire to save him as well as herself from being
swept into the giddy vortex which keeps so many young people
revolving aimlessly, till they go down or are cast upon the shore,
wrecks of what they might have been, he gave a shrug and
answered briefly: "As you please. I'll bring you home as early as
you like, and Effie Waring shall take your place in the German.
What flowers shall I send you?"

Now, that was an artful speech of Charlie's, for Miss Waring was a
fast and fashionable damsel who openly admired Prince Charming
and had given him the name. Rose disliked her and was sure her
influence was bad, for youth made frivolity forgivable, wit hid
want of refinement, and beauty always covers a multitude of sins
in a man's eyes. At the sound of Effie's name, Rose wavered, and
would have yielded but for the memory of the "first mate's" last
words. She did desire to "keep a straight course"; so, though the
current of impulse set strongly in a southerly direction, principle,
the only compass worth having, pointed due north, and she tried to
obey it like a wise young navigator, saying steadily, while she
directed to Annabel the parcel containing a capacious pair of
slippers intended for Uncle Mac: "Don't trouble yourself about me.
I can go with Uncle and slip away without disturbing anybody."

"I don't believe you'll have the heart to do it," said Charlie
incredulously as he sealed the last note.

"Wait and see."

"I will, but I shall hope to the last." And kissing his hand to her, he
departed to post her letters, quite sure that Miss Waring would not
lead the German.

It certainly looked for a moment as if Miss Campbell would,
because she ran to the door with the words "I'll go" upon her lips.
But she did not open it till she had stood a minute staring hard at
the old glove on Psyche's head; then like one who had suddenly
gotten a bright idea, she gave a decided nod and walked slowly out
of the room.


"Please could I say one word?" was the question three times
repeated before a rough head bobbed out from the grotto of books
in which Mac usually sat when he studied.

"Did anyone speak?" he asked, blinking in the flood of sunshine
that entered with Rose.

"Only three times, thank you. Don't disturb yourself, I beg, for I
merely want to say a word," answered Rose as she prevented him
from offering the easy chair in which he sat.

"I was rather deep in a compound fracture and didn't hear. What
can I do for you, Cousin?" And Mac shoved a stack of pamphlets
off the chair near him with a hospitable wave of the hand that sent
his papers flying in all directions.

Rose sat down, but did not seem to find her "word" an easy one to
utter, for she twisted her handkerchief about her fingers in
embarrassed silence till Mac put on his glasses and, after a keen
look, asked soberly: "Is it a splinter, a cut, or a whitlow, ma'am?"

"It is neither. Do forget your tiresome surgery for a minute and be
the kindest cousin that ever was," answered Rose, beginning rather
sharply and ending with her most engaging smile.

"Can't promise in the dark," said the wary youth.

"It is a favor, a great favor, and one I don't choose to ask any of the
other boys," answered the artful damsel.

Mac looked pleased and leaned forward, saying more affably,
"Name it, and be sure I'll grant it if I can."

"Go with me to Mrs. Hope's party tomorrow night."

"What!" And Mac recoiled as if she had put a pistol to his head.

"I've left you in peace a long time, but it is your turn now, so do
your duty like a man and a cousin."

"But I never go to parties!" cried the unhappy victim in great

"High time you began, sir."

"But I don't dance fit to be seen."

"I'll teach you."

"My dress coat isn't decent, I know."

"Archie will lend you one he isn't going."

"I'm afraid there's a lecture that I ought not to cut."

"No, there isn't I asked Uncle."

"I'm always so tired and dull in the evening."

"This sort of thing is just what you want to rest and freshen up your

Mac gave a groan and fell back vanquished, for it was evident that
escape was impossible.

"What put such a perfectly wild idea into your head?" he
demanded, rather roughly, for hitherto he had been left in peace
and this sudden attack decidedly amazed him.

"Sheer necessity, but don't do it if it is so very dreadful to you. I
must go to several more parties, because they are made for me, but
after that I'll refuse, and then no one need be troubled with me."

Something in Rose's voice made Mac answer penitently, even
while he knit his brows in perplexity. "I don't mean to be rude, and
of course I'll go anywhere if I'm really needed. But I don't
understand where the sudden necessity is, with three other fellows
at command, all better dancers and beaus than I am."

"I don't want them, and I do want you, for I haven't the heart to
drag Uncle out anymore, and you know I never go with any
gentleman but those of my own family."

"Now look here, Rose if Steve has been doing anything to tease
you, just mention it and I'll attend to him," cried Mac, plainly
seeing that something was amiss and fancying that Dandy was at
the bottom of it, as he had done escort duty several times lately.

"No, Steve has been very good, but I know he had rather be with
Kitty Van, so of course I feel like a marplot, though he is too polite
to hint it."

"What a noodle that boy is! But there's Archie he's steady as a
church and has no sweetheart to interfere," continued Mac, bound
to get at the truth and half suspecting what it was.

"He is on his feet all day, and Aunt Jessie wants him in the
evening. He does not care for dancing as he used, and I suppose he
really does prefer to rest and read." Rose might have added, "And
hear Phebe sing," for Phebe did not go out as much as Rose did,
and Aunt Jessie often came to sit with the old lady when the young
folks were away and, of course, dutiful Archie came with her, so
willingly of late!

"What's amiss with Charlie? I thought he was the prince of
cavaliers. Annabel says he dances 'like an angel,' and I know a
dozen mothers couldn't keep him at home of an evening. Have you
had a tiff with Adonis and so fall back on poor me?" asked Mac,
coming last to the person of whom he thought first but did not
mention, feeling shy about alluding to a subject often discussed
behind her back.

"Yes, I have, and I don't intend to go with him any more for some
time. His ways do not suit me, and mine do not suit him, so I want
to be quite independent, and you can help me if you will," said
Rose, rather nervously spinning the big globe close by.

Mac gave a low whistle, looking wide awake all in a minute as he
said with a gesture, as if he brushed a cobweb off his face: "Now,
see here, Cousin, I'm not good at mysteries and shall only blunder
if you put me blindfold into any nice maneuver. Just tell me
straight out what you want and I'll do it if I can. Play I'm Uncle and
free your mind come now."

He spoke so kindly, and the honest eyes were so full of merry
goodwill, that Rose thought she might confide in him and
answered as frankly as he could desire: "You are right, Mac, and I
don't mind talking to you almost as freely as to Uncle, because you
are such a reliable fellow and won't think me silly for trying to do
what I believe to be right. Charlie does, and so makes it hard for
me to hold to my resolutions. I want to keep early hours, dress
simply, and behave properly no matter what fashionable people do.
You will agree to that, I'm sure, and stand by me through thick and
thin for principle's sake."

"I will, and begin by showing you that I understand the case. I don't
wonder you are not pleased, for Charlie is too presuming, and you
do need someone to help you head him off a bit. Hey, Cousin?"

"What a way to put it!" And Rose laughed in spite of herself,
adding with an air of relief, "That is it, and I do want someone to
help me make him understand that I don't choose to be taken
possession of in that lordly way, as if I belonged to him more than
to the rest of the family. I don't like it, for people begin to talk, and
Charlie won't see how disagreeable it is to me."

"Tell him so," was Mac's blunt advice.

"I have, but he only laughs and promises to behave, and then he
does it again when I am so placed that I can't say anything. You
will never understand, and I cannot explain, for it is only a look, or
a word, or some little thing but I won't have it, and the best way to
cure him is to put it out of his power to annoy me so."

"He is a great flirt and wants to teach you how, I suppose. I'll speak
to him if you like and tell him you don't want to learn. Shall I?"
asked Mac, finding the case rather an interesting one.

"No, thank you that would only make trouble. If you will kindly
play escort a few times, it will show Charlie that I am in earnest
without more words and put a stop to the gossip," said Rose,
coloring like a poppy at the recollection of what she heard one
young man whisper to another as Charlie led her through a
crowded supper room with his most devoted air, "Lucky dog! He is
sure to get the heiress, and we are nowhere."

"There's no danger of people gossiping about us, is there?" And
Mac looked up with the oddest of all his odd expressions.

"Of course not you're only a boy."

"I'm twenty-one, thank you, and Prince is but a couple of years
older," said Mac, promptly resenting the slight put upon his

"Yes, but he is like other young men, while you are a dear old
bookworm. No one would ever mind what you did, so you may go
to parties with me every night and not a word would be said or, if
there was, I shouldn't mind since it is 'only Mac,'" answered Rose,
smiling as she quoted a household phrase often used to excuse his

"Then I am nobody?" he said, lifting his brows as if the discovery
surprised and rather nettled him.

"Nobody in society as yet, but my very best cousin in private, and
I've just proved my regard by making you my confidant and
choosing you for my knight," said Rose, hastening to soothe the
feelings her careless words seemed to have ruffled slightly.

"Much good that is likely to do me," grumbled Mac.

"You ungrateful boy, not to appreciate the honor I've conferred
upon you! I know a dozen who would be proud of the place, but
you only care for compound fractures, so I won't detain you any
longer, except to ask if I may consider myself provided with an
escort for tomorrow night?" said Rose, a trifle hurt at his
indifference, for she was not used to refusals.

"If I may hope for the honor." And, rising, he made her a bow
which was such a capital imitation of Charlie's grand manner that
she forgave him at once, exclaiming with amused surprise: "Why,
Mac! I didn't know you could be so elegant!"

"A fellow can be almost anything he likes if he tries hard enough,"
he answered, standing very straight and looking so tall and
dignified that Rose was quite impressed, and with a stately
courtesy she retired, saying graciously: "I accept with thanks. Good
morning, Dr. Alexander Mackenzie Campbell."

When Friday evening came and word was sent up that her escort
had arrived, Rose ran down, devoutly hoping that he had not come
in a velveteen jacket, top-boots, black gloves, or made any trifling
mistake of that sort. A young gentleman was standing before the
long mirror, apparently intent upon the arrangement of his hair,
and Rose paused suddenly as her eye went from the glossy
broadcloth to the white-gloved hands, busy with an unruly lock
that would not stay in place.

"Why, Charlie, I thought " she began with an accent of surprise in
her voice, but got no further, for the gentleman turned and she
beheld Mac in immaculate evening costume, with his hair parted
sweetly on his brow, a superior posy at his buttonhole, and the
expression of a martyr on his face.

"Ah, don't you wish it was? No one but yourself to thank that it
isn't he. Am I right? Dandy got me up, and he ought to know what
is what," demanded Mac, folding his hands and standing as stiff as
a ramrod.

"You are so regularly splendid that I don't know you."

"Neither do I."

"I really had no idea you could look so like a gentleman," added
Rose, surveying him with great approval.

"Nor that I could feel so like a fool."

"Poor boy! He does look rather miserable. What can I do to cheer
him up in return for the sacrifice he is making?"

"Stop calling me a boy. It will soothe my agony immensely and
give me courage to appear in a low-necked coat and curl on my
forehead, for I'm not used to such elegancies and I find them no
end of a trial."

Mac spoke in such a pathetic tone, and gave such a gloomy glare at
the aforesaid curl, that Rose laughed in his face and added to his
woe by handing him her cloak. He surveyed it gravely for a
minute, then carefully put it on wrong side out and gave the
swan's-down hood a good pull over the head, to the utter
destruction of all smoothness to the curls inside.

Rose uttered a cry and cast off the cloak, bidding him learn to do it
properly, which he meekly did and then led her down the hall
without walking on her skirts more than three times on the way.
But at the door she discovered that she had forgotten her furred
overshoes and bade Mac get them.

"Never mind it's not wet," he said, pulling his cap over his eyes and
plunging into his coat, regardless of the "elegancies" that afflicted

"But I can't walk on cold stones with thin slippers, can I?" began
Rose, showing him a little white foot.

"You needn't, for there you are, my lady." And, unceremoniously
picking her up, Mac landed her in the carriage before she could say
a word.

"What an escort!" she exclaimed in comic dismay, as she rescued
her delicate dress from a rug in which he was about to tuck her up
like a mummy.

"It's 'only Mac,' so don't mind," and he cast himself into an
opposite corner with the air of a man who had nerved himself to
the accomplishment of many painful duties and was bound to do
them or die.

"But gentlemen don't catch up ladies like bags of meal and poke
them into carriages in this way. It is evident that you need looking
after, and it is high time I undertook your society manners. Now,
do mind what you are about and don't get yourself or me into a
scrape if you can help it," besought Rose, feeling that on many
accounts she had gone further and fared worse.

"I'll behave like a Turveydrop see if I don't."

Mac's idea of the immortal Turveydrop's behavior seemed to be a
peculiar one; for, after dancing once with his cousin, he left her to
her own devices and soon forgot all about her in a long
conversation with Professor Stumph, the learned geologist. Rose
did not care, for one dance proved to her that that branch of Mac's
education had been sadly neglected, and she was glad to glide
smoothly about with Steve, though he was only an inch or two
taller than herself. She had plenty of partners, however, and plenty
of chaperons, for all the young men were her most devoted, and all
the matrons beamed upon her with maternal benignity.

Charlie was not there, for when he found that Rose stood firm, and
had moreover engaged Mac as a permanency, he would not go at
all and retired in high dudgeon to console himself with more
dangerous pastimes. Rose feared it would be so, and even in the
midst of the gaiety about her an anxious mood came over her now
and then and made her thoughtful for a moment. She felt her
power and wanted to use it wisely, but did not know how to be
kind to Charlie without being untrue to herself and giving him
false hopes.

"I wish we were all children again, with no hearts to perplex us
and no great temptations to try us," she said to herself as she rested
a minute in a quiet nook while her partner went to get a glass of
water. Right in the midst of this half-sad, half-sentimental reverie,
she heard a familiar voice behind her say earnestly: "And allophite
is the new hydrous silicate of alumina and magnesia, much
resembling pseudophite, which Websky found in Silesia."

"What is Mac talking about!" she thought, and, peeping behind a
great azalea in full bloom, she saw her cousin in deep conversation
with the professor, evidently having a capital time, for his face had
lost its melancholy expression and was all alive with interest,
while the elder man was listening as if his remarks were both
intelligent and agreeable.

"What is it?" asked Steve, coming up with the water and seeing a
smile on Rose's face.

She pointed out the scientific tete-a-tete going on behind the
azalea, and Steve grinned as he peeped, then grew sober and said
in a tone of despair: "If you had seen the pains I took with that
fellow, the patience with which I brushed his wig, the time I spent
trying to convince him that he must wear thin boots, and the fight I
had to get him into that coat, you'd understand my feelings when I
see him now."

"Why, what's the matter with him?" asked Rose.

"Will you take a look and see what a spectacle he has made of
himself. He'd better be sent home at once or he will disgrace the
family by looking as if he'd been in a row."

Steve spoke in such a tragic tone that Rose took another peep and
did sympathize with Dandy, for Mac's elegance was quite gone.
His tie was under one ear, his posy hung upside down, his gloves
were rolled into a ball, which he absently squeezed and pounded as
he talked, and his hair looked as if a whirlwind had passed over it,
for his ten fingers set it on end now and then, as they had a habit of
doing when he studied or talked earnestly. But he looked so happy
and wide awake, in spite of his dishevelment, that Rose gave an
approving nod and said behind her fan: "It is a trying spectacle,
Steve yet, on the whole, I think his own odd ways suit him best and
I fancy we shall be proud of him, for he knows more than all the
rest of us put together. Hear that now." And Rose paused that they
might listen to the following burst of eloquence from Mac's lips:
"You know Frenzal has shown that the globular forms of silicate of
bismuth at Schneeburg and Johanngeorgenstadt are not isometric,
but monoclinic in crystalline form, and consequently he separates
them from the old eulytite and gives them the new name

"Isn't it awful? Let us get out of this before there's another
avalanche or we shall be globular silicates and isometric crystals
in spite of ourselves," whispered Steve with a panic-stricken air,
and they fled from the hailstorm of hard words that rattled about
their ears, leaving Mac to enjoy himself in his own way.

But when Rose was ready to go home and looked about for her
escort, he was nowhere to be seen, for the professor had departed,
and Mac with him, so absorbed in some new topic that he entirely
forgot his cousin and went placidly home, still pondering on the
charms of geology. When this pleasing fact dawned upon Rose her
feelings may be imagined. She was both angry and amused it was
so like Mac to go mooning off and leave her to her fate. Not a hard
one, however; for, though Steve was gone with Kitty before her
plight was discovered, Mrs. Bliss was only too glad to take the
deserted damsel under her wing and bear her safely home.

Rose was warming her feet and sipping the chocolate which Phebe
always had ready for her, as she never ate supper, when a hurried
tap came at the long window whence the light streamed and Mac's
voice was heard softly asking to be let in "just for one minute."

Curious to know what had befallen him, Rose bade Phebe obey his
call and the delinquent cavalier appeared, breathless, anxious, and
more dilapidated than ever, for he had forgotten his overcoat; his
tie was at the back of his neck now; and his hair as rampantly erect
as if all the winds of heaven had been blowing freely through it, as
they had, for he had been tearing to and fro the last half hour,
trying to undo the dreadful deed he had so innocently committed.

"Don't take any notice of me, for I don't deserve it. I only came to
see that you were safe, Cousin, and then go hang myself, as Steve
advised," he began in a remorseful tone that would have been very
effective if he had not been obliged to catch his breath with a
comical gasp now and then.

"I never thought you would be the one to desert me," said Rose
with a reproachful look, thinking it best not to relent too soon,
though she was quite ready to do it when she saw how sincerely
distressed he was.

"It was that confounded man! He was a regular walking
encyclopedia, and, finding I could get a good deal out of him, I
went in for general information, as the time was short. You know I
always forget everything else when I get hold of such a fellow."

"That is evident. I wonder how you came to remember me at all,"
answered Rose, on the brink of a laugh it was so absurd.

"I didn't till Steve said something that reminded me then it burst
upon me, in one awful shock, that I'd gone and left you, and you
might have knocked me down with a feather," said honest Mac,
hiding none of his iniquity.

"What did you do then?"

"Do! I went off like a shot and never stopped till I reached the

"You didn't walk all the way?" cried Rose.

"Bless you, no I ran. But you were gone with Mrs. Bliss, so I pelted
back again to see with my own eyes that you were safe at home,"
answered Mac with a sigh of relief, wiping his hot forehead.

"But it is three miles at least each way, and twelve o'clock, and
dark and cold. Oh, Mac! How could you!" exclaimed Rose,
suddenly realizing what he had done as she heard his labored
breathing, saw the state of the thin boots, and detected the absence
of an overcoat.

"Couldn't do less, could I?" asked Mac, leaning up against the door
and trying not to pant.

"There was no need of half killing yourself for such a trifle. You
might have known I could take care of myself for once, at least,
with so many friends about. Sit down this minute. Bring another
cup, please, Phebe this boy isn't going home till he is rested and
refreshed after such a run as that," commanded Rose.

"Don't be good to me I'd rather take a scolding than a chair, and
drink hemlock instead of chocolate if you happen to have any
ready," answered Mac with a pathetic puff as he subsided onto the
sofa and meekly took the draft Phebe brought him.

"If you had anything the matter with your heart, sir, a race of this
sort might be the death of you so never do it again," said Rose,
offering her fan to cool his heated countenance.

"Haven't got any heart."

"Yes, you have, for I hear it beating like a trip-hammer, and it is
my fault I ought to have stopped as we went by and told you I was
all right."

"It's the mortification, not the miles, that upsets me. I often take
that run for exercise and think nothing of it but tonight I was so
mad I made extra-good time, I fancy. Now don't you worry, but
compose your mind and 'sip your dish of tea,' as Evelina says,"
answered Mac, artfully turning the conversation from himself.

"What do you know about Evelina?" asked Rose in great surprise.

"All about her. Do you suppose I never read a novel?"

"I thought you read nothing but Greek and Latin, with an
occasional glance at Websky's pseudophites and the monoclinics
of Johanngeorgenstadt."

Mac opened his eyes wide at this reply, then seemed to see the
joke and joined in the laugh with such heartiness that Aunt Plenty's
voice was heard demanding from above with sleepy anxiety: "Is
the house afire?"

"No, ma'am, everything is safe, and I'm only saying good night,"
answered Mac, diving for his cap.

"Then go at once and let that child have her sleep," added the old
lady, retiring to her bed.

Rose ran into the hall, and catching up her uncle's fur coat, met
Mac as he came out of the study, absently looking about for his

"You haven't any, you benighted boy! So take this, and have your
wits about you next time or I won't let you off so easily," she said,
holding up the heavy garment and peeping over it, with no sign of
displeasure in her laughing eyes.

"Next time! Then you do forgive me? You will try me again, and
give me a chance to prove that I'm not a fool?" cried Mac,
embracing the big coat with emotion.

"Of course I will, and, so far from thinking you a fool, I was much
impressed with your learning tonight and told Steve that we ought
to be proud of our philosopher."

"Learning be hanged! I'll show you that I'm not a bookworm but as
much a man as any of them, and then you may be proud or not, as
you like!" cried Mac with a defiant nod that caused the glasses to
leap wildly off his nose as he caught up his hat and departed as he

A day or two later Rose went to call upon Aunt Jane, as she
dutifully did once or twice a week. On her way upstairs she heard a
singular sound in the drawing room and involuntarily stopped to

"One, two, three, slide! One, two, three, turn! Now, then, come
on!" said one voice impatiently.

"It's very easy to say 'come on,' but what the dickens do I do with
my left leg while I'm turning and sliding with my right?"
demanded another voice in a breathless and mournful tone.

Then the whistling and thumping went on more vigorously than
before, and Rose, recognizing the voices, peeped through the
half-open door to behold a sight which made her shake with
suppressed laughter. Steve, with a red tablecloth tied around his
waist, languished upon Mac's shoulder, dancing in perfect time to
the air he whistled, for Dandy was proficient in the graceful art
and plumed himself upon his skill. Mac, with a flushed face and
dizzy eye, clutched his brother by the small of his back, vainly
endeavoring to steer him down the long room without entangling
his own legs in the tablecloth, treading on his partner's toes, or
colliding with the furniture. It was very droll, and Rose enjoyed the
spectacle till Mac, in a frantic attempt to swing around, dashed
himself against the wall and landed Steve upon the floor. Then it
was impossible to restrain her laughter any longer and she walked
in upon them, saying merrily: "It was splendid! Do it again, and I'll
play for you."

Steve sprang up and tore off the tablecloth in great confusion,
while Mac, still rubbing his head, dropped into a chair, trying to
look quite calm and cheerful as he gasped out: "How are you,
Cousin? When did you come? John should have told us."

"I'm glad he didn't, for then I should have missed this touching
tableau of cousinly devotion and brotherly love. Getting ready for
our next party, I see."

"Trying to, but there are so many things to remember all at once
keep time, steer straight, dodge the petticoats, and manage my
confounded legs that it isn't easy to get on at first," answered Mac
with a sigh of exhaustion, wiping his hot forehead.

"Hardest job I ever undertook and, as I'm not a battering ram, I
decline to be knocked round any longer," growled Steve, dusting
his knees and ruefully surveying the feet that had been trampled on
till they tingled, for his boots and broadcloth were dear to the heart
of the dapper youth.

"Very good of you, and I'm much obliged. I've got the pace, I think,
and can practice with a chair to keep my hand in," said Mac with
such a comic mixture of gratitude and resignation that Rose went
off again so irresistibly that her cousins joined her with a hearty

"As you are making a martyr of yourself in my service, the least I
can do is lend a hand. Play for us, Steve, and I'll give Mac a lesson,
unless he prefers the chair." And, throwing off her hat and cloak,
Rose beckoned so invitingly that the gravest philosopher would
have yielded.

"A thousand thanks, but I'm afraid I shall hurt you," began Mac,
much gratified, but mindful of past mishaps.

"I'm not. Steve didn't manage his train well, for good dancers
always loop theirs up. I have none at all, so that trouble is gone and
the music will make it much easier to keep step. Just do as I tell
you, and you'll go beautifully after a few turns."

"I will, I will! Pipe up, Steve! Now, Rose!" And, brushing his hair
out of his eyes with an air of stern determination, Mac grasped
Rose and returned to the charge bent on distinguishing himself if
he died in the attempt.

The second lesson prospered, for Steve marked the time by a series
of emphatic bangs; Mac obeyed orders as promptly as if his life
depended on it; and, after several narrow escapes at exciting
moments, Rose had the satisfaction of being steered safely down
the room and landed with a grand pirouette at the bottom. Steve
applauded, and Mac, much elated, exclaimed with artless candor:
"There really is a sort of inspiration about you, Rose. I always
detested dancing before, but now, do you know, I rather like it."

"I knew you would, only you mustn't stand with your arm round
your partner in this way when you are done. You must seat and fan
her, if she likes it," said Rose, anxious to perfect a pupil who
seemed so lamentably in need of a teacher.

"Yes, of course, I know how they do it." And, releasing his cousin,
Mac raised a small whirlwind around her with a folded newspaper,
so full of zeal that she had not the heart to chide him again.

"Well done, old fellow. I begin to have hopes of you and will order
you a new dress coat at once, since you are really going in for the
proprieties of life," said Steve from the music stool, with the
approving nod of one who was a judge of said proprieties. "Now,
Rose, if you will just coach him a little in his small talk, he won't
make a laughingstock of himself as he did the other night," added
Steve. "I don't mean his geological gabble that was bad enough,
but his chat with Emma Curtis was much worse. Tell her, Mac,
and see if she doesn't think poor Emma had a right to think you a
first-class bore."

"I don't see why, when I merely tried to have a little sensible
conversation," began Mac with reluctance, for he had been
unmercifully chaffed by his cousins, to whom his brother had
betrayed him.

"What did you say? I won't laugh if I can help it," said Rose,
curious to hear, for Steve's eyes were twinkling with fun.

"Well, I knew she was fond of theaters, so I tried that first and got
on pretty well till I began to tell her how they managed those
things in Greece. Most interesting subject, you know?"

"Very. Did you give her one of the choruses or a bit of
Agamemnon, as you did when you described it to me?" asked
Rose, keeping sober with difficulty as she recalled that serio-comic

"Of course not, but I was advising her to read Prometheus when
she gaped behind her fan and began to talk about Phebe. What a
'nice creature' she was, 'kept her place,' dressed according to her
station, and that sort of twaddle. I suppose it was rather rude, but
being pulled up so short confused me a bit, and I said the first
thing that came into my head, which was that I thought Phebe the
best-dressed woman in the room because she wasn't all fuss and
feathers like most of the girls."

"Oh, Mac! That to Emma, who makes it the labor of her life to be
always in the height of fashion and was particularly splendid that
night. What did she say?" cried Rose, full of sympathy for both

"She bridled and looked daggers at me."

"And what did you do?"

"I bit my tongue and tumbled out of one scrape into another.
Following her example, I changed the subject by talking about the
charity concert for the orphans, and when she gushed about the
'little darlings,' I advised her to adopt one and wondered why
young ladies didn't do that sort of thing, instead of cuddling cats
and lapdogs."

"Unhappy boy! Her pug is the idol of her life, and she hates
babies," said Rose.

"More fool she! Well, she got my opinion on the subject, anyway,
and she's very welcome, for I went on to say that I thought it would
not only be a lovely charity, but excellent training for the time
when they had little darlings of their own. No end of poor things
die through the ignorance of mothers, you know," added Mac, so
seriously that Rose dared not smile at what went before.

"Imagine Emma trotting round with a pauper baby under her arm
instead of her cherished Toto," said Steve with an ecstatic twirl on
the stool.

"Did she seem to like your advice, Monsieur Malapropos?" asked
Rose, wishing she had been there.

"No, she gave a little shriek and said, 'Good gracious, Mr.
Campbell, how droll you are! Take me to Mama, please,' which I
did with a thankful heart. Catch me setting her pug's leg again,"
ended Mac with a grim shake of the head.

"Never mind. You were unfortunate in your listener that time.
Don't think all girls are so foolish. I can show you a dozen sensible
ones who would discuss dress reform and charity with you and
enjoy Greek tragedy if you did the chorus for them as you did for
me," said Rose consolingly, for Steve would only jeer.

"Give me a list of them, please, and I'll cultivate their
acquaintance. A fellow must have some reward for making a
teetotum of himself."

"I will with pleasure; and if you dance well they will make it very
pleasant for you, and you'll enjoy parties in spite of yourself."

"I cannot be a 'glass of fashion and a mold of form' like Dandy
here, but I'll do my best: only, if I had my choice, I'd much rather
go round the streets with an organ and a monkey," answered Mac

"Thank you kindly for the compliment," and Rose made him a low
courtesy, while Steve cried, "Now you have done it!" in a tone of
reproach which reminded the culprit, all too late, that he was
Rose's chosen escort.

"By the gods, so I have!" And casting away the newspaper with a
gesture of comic despair, Mac strode from the room, chanting
tragically the words of Cassandra, "'Woe! woe! O Earth! O
Apollo! I will dare to die; I will accost the gates of Hades, and
make my prayer that I may receive a mortal blow!'"

Chapter 7 PHEBE

While Rose was making discoveries and having experiences,
Phebe was doing the same in a quieter way, but though they
usually compared notes during the bedtime tete-a-tete which
always ended their day, certain topics were never mentioned, so
each had a little world of her own into which even the eye of
friendship did not peep.

Rose's life just now was the gaiest but Phebe's the happiest. Both
went out a good deal, for the beautiful voice was welcomed
everywhere, and many were ready to patronize the singer who
would have been slow to recognize the woman. Phebe knew this
and made no attempt to assert herself, content to know that those
whose regard she valued felt her worth and hopeful of a time when
she could gracefully take the place she was meant to fill.

Proud as a princess was Phebe about some things, though in most
as humble as a child; therefore, when each year lessened the
service she loved to give and increased the obligations she would
have refused from any other source, dependence became a burden
which even the most fervent gratitude could not lighten. Hitherto
the children had gone on together, finding no obstacles to their
companionship in the secluded world in which they lived. Now
that they were women their paths inevitably diverged, and both
reluctantly felt that they must part before long.

It had been settled, when they were abroad, that on their return
Phebe should take her one gift in her hand and try her fortunes. On
no other terms would she accept the teaching which was to fit her
for the independence she desired. Faithfully had she used the
facilities so generously afforded both at home and abroad and now
was ready to prove that they had not been in vain. Much
encouraged by the small successes she won in drawing rooms, and
the praise bestowed by interested friends, she began to feel that she
might venture on a larger field and begin her career as a concert
singer, for she aimed no higher.

Just at this time much interest was felt in a new asylum for orphan
girls, which could not be completed for want of funds. The
Campbells well had borne their part and still labored to
accomplish the much-needed charity. Several fairs had been given
for this purpose, followed by a series of concerts. Rose had thrown
herself into the work with all her heart and now proposed that
Phebe should make her debut at the last concert, which was to be a
peculiarly interesting one, as all the orphans were to be present and
were expected to plead their own cause by the sight of their
innocent helplessness as well as touch hearts by the simple airs
they were to sing.

Some of the family thought Phebe would object to so humble a
beginning, but Rose knew her better and was not disappointed, for
when she made her proposal Phebe answered readily: "Where
could I find a fitter time and place to come before the public than
here among my little sisters in misfortune? I'll sing for them with
all my heart only I must be one of them and have no flourish made
about me."

"You shall arrange it as you like, and as there is to be little vocal
music but yours and the children's, I'll see that you have everything
as you please," promised Rose.

It was well she did, for the family got much excited over the
prospect of "our Phebe's debut" and would have made a flourish if
the girls had not resisted. Aunt Clara was in despair about the
dress because Phebe decided to wear a plain claret-colored merino
with frills at neck and wrists so that she might look, as much as
possible, like the other orphans in their stuff gowns and white
aprons. Aunt Plenty wanted to have a little supper afterward in
honor of the occasion, but Phebe begged her to change it to a
Christmas dinner for the poor children. The boys planned to throw
bushels of flowers, and Charlie claimed the honor of leading the
singer in. But Phebe, with tears in her eyes, declined their kindly
offers, saying earnestly: "I had better begin as I am to go on and
depend upon myself entirely. Indeed, Mr. Charlie, I'd rather walk
in alone, for you'd be out of place among us and spoil the pathetic
effect we wish to produce." And a smile sparkled through the tears
as Phebe looked at the piece of elegance before her and thought of
the brown gowns and pinafores.

So, after much discussion, it was decided that she should have her
way in all things and the family content themselves with
applauding from the front.

"We'll blister our hands every man of us, and carry you home in a
chariot and four see if we don't, you perverse prima donna!"
threatened Steve, not at all satisfied with the simplicity of the

"A chariot and two will be very acceptable as soon as I'm done. I
shall be quite steady till my part is all over, and then I may feel a
little upset, so I'd like to get away before the confusion begins.
Indeed, I don't mean to be perverse, but you are all so kind to me,
my heart is full whenever I think of it, and that wouldn't do if I'm
to sing," said Phebe, dropping one of the tears on the little frill she
was making.

"No diamond could have adorned it better," Archie thought as he
watched it shine there for a moment, and felt like shaking Steve
for daring to pat the dark head with an encouraging "All right. I'll
be on hand and whisk you away while the rest are splitting their
gloves. No fear of your breaking down. If you feel the least bit like
it, though, just look at me and I'll glare at you and shake my fist,
since kindness upsets you."

"I wish you would, because one of my ballads is rather touching
and I always want to cry when I sing it. The sight of you trying to
glare will make me want to laugh and that will steady me nicely,
so sit in front, please, ready to slip out when I come off the last

"Depend upon me!" And the little man departed, taking great
credit to himself for his influence over tall, handsome Phebe.

If he had known what was going on in the mind of the silent young
gentleman behind the newspaper, Steve would have been much
astonished, for Archie, though apparently engrossed by business,
was fathoms deep in love by this time. No one suspected this but
Rose, for he did his wooing with his eyes, and only Phebe knew
how eloquent they could be. He had discovered what the matter
was long ago had made many attempts to reason himself out of it,
but, finding it a hopeless task, had given up trying and let himself
drift deliciously. The knowledge that the family would not approve
only seemed to add ardor to his love and strength to his purpose,
for the same energy and persistence which he brought to business
went into everything he did, and having once made up his mind to
marry Phebe, nothing could change this plan except a word from

He watched and waited for three months, so that he might not be
accused of precipitation, though it did not take him one to decide
that this was the woman to make him happy. Her steadfast nature,
quiet, busy ways, and the reserved power and passion betrayed
sometimes by a flash of the black eyes, a quiver of the firm lips,
suited Archie, who possessed many of the same attributes himself.
The obscurity of her birth and isolation of her lot, which would
have deterred some lovers, not only appealed to his kindly heart,
but touched the hidden romance which ran like a vein of gold
through his strong common sense and made practical, steady-going
Archie a poet when he fell in love. If Uncle Mac had guessed what
dreams and fancies went on in the head bent over his ledgers, and
what emotions were fermenting in the bosom of his staid
"right-hand man," he would have tapped his forehead and
suggested a lunatic asylum. The boys thought Archie had sobered
down too soon. His mother began to fear that the air of the
counting room did not suit him, and Dr. Alec was deluded into the
belief that the fellow really began to "think of Rose," he came so
often in the evening, seeming quite content to sit beside her
worktable and snip tape or draw patterns while they chatted.

No one observed that, though he talked to Rose on these occasions,
he looked at Phebe, in her low chair close by, busy but silent, for
she always tried to efface herself when Rose was near and often
mourned that she was too big to keep out of sight. No matter what
he talked about, Archie always saw the glossy black braids on the
other side of the table, the damask cheek curving down into the
firm white throat, and the dark lashes, lifted now and then,
showing eyes so deep and soft he dared not look into them long.
Even the swift needle charmed him, the little brooch which rose
and fell with her quiet breath, the plain work she did, and the tidy
way she gathered her bits of thread into a tiny bag. He seldom
spoke to her; never touched her basket, though he ravaged Rose's if
he wanted string or scissors; very rarely ventured to bring her some
curious or pretty thing when ships came in from China only sat and
thought of her, imagined that this was his parlor, this her
worktable, and they two sitting there alone a happy man and wife.

At this stage of the little evening drama he would be conscious of
such a strong desire to do something rash that he took refuge in a
new form of intoxication and proposed music, sometimes so
abruptly that Rose would pause in the middle of a sentence and
look at him, surprised to meet a curiously excited look in the
usually cool gray eyes.

Then Phebe, folding up her work, would go to the piano, as if glad
to find a vent for the inner life which she seemed to have no power
of expressing except in song. Rose would follow to accompany
her, and Archie, moving to a certain shady corner whence he could
see Phebe's face as she sang, would give himself up to unmitigated
rapture for half an hour. Phebe never sang so well as at such times,
for the kindly atmosphere was like sunshine to a bird, criticisms
were few and gentle, praises hearty and abundant, and she poured
out her soul as freely as a spring gushes up when its hidden source
is full.

In moments such as these Phebe was beautiful with the beauty that
makes a man's eye brighten with honest admiration and fills his
heart with a sense of womanly nobility and sweetness. Little
wonder, then, that the chief spectator of this agreeable tableau
grew nightly more enamored, and while the elders were deep in
whist, the young people were playing that still more absorbing
game in which hearts are always trumps.

Rose, having Dummy for a partner, soon discovered the fact and
lately had begun to feel as she fancied Wall must have done when
Pyramus wooed Thisbe through its chinks. She was a little startled
at first, then amused, then anxious, then heartily interested, as
every woman is in such affairs, and willingly continued to be a
medium, though sometimes she quite tingled with the electricity
which seemed to pervade the air. She said nothing, waiting for
Phebe to speak, but Phebe was silent, seeming to doubt the truth
till doubt became impossible, then to shrink as if suddenly
conscious of wrongdoing and seize every possible pretext for
absenting herself from the "girls' corner," as the pretty recess was

The concert plan afforded excellent opportunities for doing this,
and evening after evening she slipped away to practice her songs
upstairs while Archie sat staring disconsolately at the neglected
work basket and mute piano. Rose pitied him and longed to say a
word of comfort, but felt shy he was such a reserved fellow so left
him to conduct his quiet wooing in his own way, feeling that the
crisis would soon arrive.

She was sure of this as she sat beside him on the evening of the
concert, for while the rest of the family nodded and smiled, chatted
and laughed in great spirits, Archie was as mute as a fish and sat
with his arms tightly folded, as if to keep in any unruly emotions
which might attempt to escape. He never looked at the program,
but Rose knew when Phebe's turn came by the quick breath he
drew and the intent look, so absent before, that came into his eyes.

But her own excitement prevented much notice of his, for Rose
was in a flutter of hope and fear, sympathy and delight, about
Phebe and her success. The house was crowded; the audience
sufficiently mixed to make the general opinion impartial; and the
stage full of little orphans with shining faces, a most effective
reminder of the object in view.

"Little dears, how nice they look!" "Poor things, so young to be
fatherless and motherless." "It will be a disgrace to the city if those
girls are not taken proper care of." "Subscriptions are always in
order, you know, and pretty Miss Campbell will give you her
sweetest smile if you hand her a handsome check." "I've heard this
Phebe Moore, and she really has a delicious voice such a pity she
won't fit herself for opera!" "Only sings three times tonight; that's
modest, I'm sure, when she's the chief attraction, so we must give
her an encore after the Italian piece." "The orphans lead off, I see.
Stop your ears if you like, but don't fail to applaud or the ladies
will never forgive you."

Chat of this sort went on briskly while fans waved, programs
rustled, and ushers flew about distractedly, till an important
gentleman appeared, made his bow, skipped upon the leader's
stand, and with a wave of his baton caused a general uprising of
white pinafores as the orphans led off with that much-enduring
melody "America" in shrill small voices, but with creditable
attention to time and tune. Pity and patriotism produced a generous
round of applause, and the little girls sat down, beaming with
innocent satisfaction.

An instrumental piece followed, and then a youthful gentleman,
with his hair in picturesque confusion, and what his friends called
a "musical brow," bounded up the steps and, clutching a roll of
music with a pair of tightly gloved hands, proceed to inform the
audience, in a husky tenor voice, that "It was a lovely violet."

What else the song contained in the way of sense or sentiment it
was impossible to discover as the three pages of music appeared to
consist of variations upon that one line, ending with a prolonged
quaver which flushed the musical brow and left the youth quite
breathless when he made his bow.

"Now she's coming! Oh, Uncle, my heart beats as if it were
myself!" whispered Rose, clutching Dr. Alec's arm with a little
gasp as the piano was rolled forward, the leader's stand pushed
back, and all eyes turned toward the anteroom door.

She forgot to glance at Archie, and it was as well perhaps, for his
heart was thumping almost audibly as he waited for his Phebe. Not
from the anteroom, but out among the children, where she had sat
unseen in the shadow of the organ, came stately Phebe in her
wine-colored dress, with no ornament but her fine hair and a white
flower at her throat. Very pale, but quite composed, apparently, for
she stepped slowly through the narrow lane of upturned faces,
holding back her skirts lest they should rudely brush against some
little head. Straight to the front she went, bowed hastily, and, with
a gesture to the accompanist, stood waiting to begin, her eyes fixed
on the great gilt clock at the opposite end of the hall.

They never wandered from that point while she sang, but as she
ended they dropped for an instant on an eager, girlish countenance
bending from a front seat; then, with her hasty little bow, she went
quickly back among the children, who clapped and nodded as she
passed, well pleased with the ballad she had sung.

Everyone courteously followed their example, but there was no
enthusiasm, and it was evident that Phebe had not produced a
particularly favorable impression.

"Never sang so badly in her life," muttered Charlie irefully.

"She was frightened, poor thing. Give her time, give her time,"
said Uncle Mac kindly.

"I know she was, and I glared like a gorgon, but she never looked
at me," added Steve, smoothing his gloves and his brows at the
same time.

"That first song was the hardest, and she got through much better
than I expected," put in Dr. Alec, bound not to show the
disappointment he felt.

"Don't be troubled. Phebe has courage enough for anything, and
she'll astonish you before the evening's over," prophesied Mac with
unabated confidence, for he knew something the rest did not.

Rose said nothing, but under cover of her burnous gave Archie's
hand a sympathetic squeeze, for his arms were unfolded now, as if
the strain was over, and one lay on his knee while with the other he
wiped his hot forehead with an air of relief.

Friends about them murmured complimentary fibs and affected
great delight and surprise at Miss Moore's "charming style,"
"exquisite simplicity," and "undoubted talent." But strangers freely
criticized, and Rose was so indignant at some of their remarks, she
could not listen to anything on the stage, though a fine overture
was played, a man with a remarkable bass voice growled and
roared melodiously, and the orphans sang a lively air with a chorus
of "Tra, la, la," which was a great relief to little tongues unused to
long silence.

"I've often heard that women's tongues were hung in the middle
and went at both ends now I'm sure of it," whispered Charlie,
trying to cheer her up by pointing out the comical effect of some
seventy-five open mouths in each of which the unruly member was
wagging briskly.

Rose laughed and let him fan her, leaning from his seat behind
with the devoted air he always assumed in public, but her wounded
feelings were not soothed and she continued to frown at the stout
man on the left who had dared to say with a shrug and a glance at
Phebe's next piece, "That young woman can no more sing this
Italian thing than she can fly, and they ought not to let her attempt

Phebe did, however, and suddenly changed the stout man's opinion
by singing it grandly, for the consciousness of her first failure
pricked her pride and spurred her to do her best with the calm sort
of determination which conquers fear, fires ambition, and changes
defeat to success. She looked steadily at Rose now, or the flushed,
intent face beside her, and throwing all her soul into the task, let
her voice ring out like a silver clarion, filling the great hall and
setting the hearers' blood a-tingle with the exulting strain.

That settled Phebe's fate as a cantatrice. The applause was genuine
and spontaneous this time and broke out again and again with the
generous desire to atone for former coldness. But she would not
return, and the shadow of the great organ seemed to have
swallowed her up, for no eye could find her, no pleasant clamor
win her back.

"Now I can die content," said Rose, beaming with heartfelt
satisfaction while Archie looked steadfastly at his program, trying
to keep his face in order, and the rest of the family assumed a
triumphant air, as if they had never doubted from the first.

"Very well, indeed," said the stout man with an approving nod.
"Quite promising for a beginner. Shouldn't wonder if in time they
made a second Cary or Kellogg of her."

"Now you'll forgive him, won't you?" murmured Charlie in his
cousin's ear.

"Yes, and I'd like to pat him on the head. But take warning and
never judge by first appearances again," whispered Rose, at peace
now with all mankind.

Phebe's last song was another ballad; she meant to devote her
talent to that much neglected but always attractive branch of her
art. It was a great surprise, therefore, to all but one person in the
hall when, instead of singing "Auld Robin Grey," she placed
herself at the piano, and, with a smiling glance over her shoulder
at the children, broke out in the old bird song which first won
Rose. But the chirping, twittering, and cooing were now the
burden to three verses of a charming little song, full of springtime
and the awakening life that makes it lovely. A rippling
accompaniment flowed through it all, and a burst of delighted
laughter from the children filled up the first pause with a fitting
answer to the voices that seemed calling to them from the vernal

It was very beautiful, and novelty lent its charm to the surprise, for
art and nature worked a pretty miracle and the clever imitation,
first heard from a kitchen hearth, now became the favorite in a
crowded concert room. Phebe was quite herself again; color in the
cheeks now; eyes that wandered smiling to and fro; and lips that
sang as gaily and far more sweetly than when she kept time to her
blithe music with a scrubbing brush.

This song was evidently intended for the children, and they
appreciated the kindly thought, for as Phebe went back among
them, they clapped ecstatically, flapped their pinafores, and some
caught her by the skirts with audible requests to "Do it again,
please; do it again."

But Phebe shook her head and vanished, for it was getting late for
such small people, several of whom "lay sweetly slumbering there"
till roused by the clamor round them. The elders, however, were
not to be denied and applauded persistently, especially Aunt
Plenty, who seized Uncle Mac's cane and pounded with it as
vigorously as "Mrs. Nubbles" at the play.

"Never mind your gloves, Steve; keep it up till she comes," cried
Charlie, enjoying the fun like a boy while Jamie lost his head with
excitement and, standing up, called "Phebe! Phebe!" in spite of his

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