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blunt sincerity of Rose's words.
"I will if I know how. Now, come and tell me all about it." And,
seating herself in the great chair which had often held them both,
Rose stretched out her hands as if glad and ready to give help of
But Phebe would not take her accustomed place, for, as if coming
to confession, she knelt down upon the rug and, leaning on the arm
of the chair, told her love story in the simplest words.
"I never thought he cared for me until a little while ago. I fancied it
was you, and even when I knew he liked to hear me sing I
supposed it was because you helped, and so I did my best and was
glad you were to be a happy girl. But his eyes told the truth. Then I
saw what I had been doing and was frightened. He did not speak,
so I believed, what is quite true, that he felt I was not a fit wife for
him and would never ask me. It was right I was glad of it, yet I was
proud and, though I did not ask or hope for anything, I did want
him to see that I respected myself, remembered my duty, and could
do right as well as he. I kept away. I planned to go as soon as
possible and resolved that at this concert I would do so well, he
should not be ashamed of poor Phebe and her one gift."
"It was this that made you so strange, then, preferring to go alone
and refusing every little favor at our hands?" asked Rose, feeling
very sure now about the state of Phebe's heart.
"Yes, I wanted to do everything myself and not owe one jot of my
success, if I had any, to even the dearest friend I've got. It was bad
and foolish of me, and I was punished by the first dreadful failure.
I was so frightened, Rose! My breath was all gone, my eyes so
dizzy I could hardly see, and that great crowd of faces seemed so
near, I dared not look. If it had not been for the clock I never
should have gotten through, and when I did, not knowing in the
least how I'd sung, one look at your distressed face told me I'd
"But I smiled, Phebe indeed I did as sweetly as I could, for I was
sure it was only fright," protested Rose eagerly.
"So you did, but the smile was full of pity, not of pride, as I wanted
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