Why, where do you live, then?
Im going to live here, I hope. Debby wants some one to help round, and Ive come to try for a week.
I hope you will stay, for it is very dull, said Rose, who had taken a sudden fancy to this girl, who sung like a bird and worked like a woman.
Hope I shall; for Im fifteen now, and old enough to earn my own living. You have come to stay a spell, havent you? asked Phebe, looking up at her guest and wondering how life could be dull to a girl who wore a silk frock, a daintily frilled apron, a pretty locket, and had her hair tied up with a velvet snood.
Yes, I shall stay till my uncle comes. He is my guardian now, and I dont know what he will do with me. Have you a guardian?
My sakes, no! I was left on the poor-house steps a little mite of a baby, and Miss Rogers took a liking to me, so Ive been there ever since. But she is dead now, and I take care of myself.
How interesting! It is like Arabella Montgomery in the Gypsys Child. Did you ever read that sweet story? asked Rose, who was fond of tales of found-lings, and had read many.
I dont have any books to read, and all the spare time I get I run off into the woods; that rests me better than stories, answered Phebe, as she finished one job and began on another.
Rose watched her as she got out a great pan of beans to look over, and wondered how it would seem to have life all work and no play. Presently Phebe seemed to think it was her turn to ask questions, and said, wistfully
Youve had lots of schooling, I suppose?
Oh, dear me, yes! Ive been at boarding school nearly a year, and Im almost dead with lessons. The more I got, the more Miss Power gave me, and I was so miserable that I most cried my eyes out. Papa never gave me hard things to do, and he always taught me so pleasantly I loved to study. Oh, we were so happy and so fond of one another! But now he is gone, and I am left all alone.
The tear that would not come when Rose sat waiting for it came now of its own accordtwo of them in factand rolled down her cheeks, telling the tale of love and sorrow better than any words could do it.
For a minute there was no sound in the kitchen but the little daughters sobbing and the sympathetic patter of the rain. Phebe stopped rattling her beans from one pan to another, and her eyes were full of pity as they rested on the curly head bent down on Roses knee, for she saw that the heart under the pretty locket ached with its loss, and the dainty apron was used to dry sadder tears than any she had ever shed.
Somehow, she felt more contented with her brown calico gown and blue-checked pinafore; envy changed to compassion; and if she had dared she would have gone and hugged her afflicted guest.
Fearing that might not be considered proper, she said, in her cheery voice
Im sure you aint all alone with such a lot of folks belonging to you, and all so rich and clever. Youll be petted to pieces, Debby says, because you are the only girl in the family.
Phebes last words made Rose smile in spite of her tears, and she looked out from behind her apron with an April face, saying in a tone of comic distress
Thats one of my troubles! Ive got six aunts, and they all want me, and I dont know any of them very well. Papa named this place the Aunt-hill, and now I see why.
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