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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
"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
"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
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