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"You've both grown so pretty, I can't decide which I like best.
Phebe is the biggest and brightest-looking, and I was always fond
of Phebe, but somehow you are so kind of sweet and precious, I
really think I must hug you again," and the small youth did it
"If you love me best, I shall not mind a bit about your thinking
Phebe the handsomest, because she is. Isn't she, boys?" asked
Rose, with a mischievous look at the gentlemen opposite, whose
faces expressed a respectful admiration which much amused her.
"I'm so dazzled by the brilliancy and beauty that has suddenly burst
upon me, I have no words to express my emotions," answered
Charlie, gallantly dodging the dangerous question.
"I can't say yet, for I have not had time to look at anyone. I will
now, if you don't mind." And, to the great amusement of the rest,
Mac gravely adjusted his eyeglasses and took an observation.
"Well?" said Phebe, smiling and blushing under his honest stare,
yet seeming not to resent it as she did the lordly sort of approval
which made her answer the glance of Charlie's audacious blue eyes
with a flash of her black ones.
"I think if you were my sister, I should be very proud of you,
because your face shows what I admire more than its beauty truth
and courage, Phebe," answered Mac with a little bow full of such
genuine respect that surprise and pleasure brought a sudden dew to
quench the fire of the girl's eyes and soothe the sensitive pride of
the girl's heart.
Rose clapped her hands just as she used to do when anything
delighted her, and beamed at Mac approvingly as she said: "Now
that's a criticism worth having, and we are much obliged. I was
sure you'd admire my Phebe when you knew her, but I didn't
believe you would be wise enough to see it at once, and you have
gone up many pegs in my estimation, I assure you."
"I was always fond of mineralogy you remember, and I've been
tapping round a good deal lately, so I've learned to know precious
metals when I see them," Mac said with his shrewd smile.
"That is the latest hobby, then? Your letters have amused us
immensely, for each one had a new theory or experiment, and the
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