“Yes, uncle, only when it is opened won’t ‘the birds begin to sing?”’ laughed Rose, taking a turn about the room as a vent for the joyful emotions that made her eyes shine. All of a sudden she stopped and asked soberly—

“If Phebe goes to school who will do her work? I’m willing, if I can.”

“Come here and I’ll tell you a secret. Dolly’s ‘bones’ are getting so troublesome, and her dear old temper so bad, that the aunts have decided to pension her off and let her go and live with her daughter, who has married very well. I saw her this week, and she’d like to have her mother come, so in the spring we shall have a grand change, and get a new cook and chamber-girl if any can be found to suit our honoured relatives.”

“Oh, me! how can I ever get on without Phebe? Couldn’t she stay, just so I could see her? I’d pay her board rather than have her go, I’m so fond of her.”

How Dr. Alec laughed at that proposal, and how satisfied Rose was when he explained that Phebe was still to be her maid, with no duties except such as she could easily perform between school-hours.

“She is a proud creature, for all her humble ways, and even from us would not take a favour if she did not earn it somewhere. So this arrangement makes it all square and comfortable, you see, and she will pay for the schooling by curling these goldilocks a dozen times a day if you let her.”

“Your plans are always so wise and kind! That’s why they work so well, I suppose, and why people let you do what you like with them. I really don’t see how other girls get along without an Uncle Alec!” answered Rose, with a sigh of pity for those who had missed so great a blessing.

When Phebe was told the splendid news, she did not “stand on her head with rapture,” as Charlie prophesied she would, but took it quietly, because it was such a happy thing she had no words “big and beautiful enough to thank them in,” she said; but every hour of her day was brightened by this granted wish, and dedicated to the service of those who gave it.

Her heart was so full of content that if overflowed in music, and the sweet voice singing all about the house gave thanks so blithely that no other words were needed. Her willing feet were never tired of taking steps for those who had smoothed her way; her skilful hands were always busy in some labour of love for them, and on the face fast growing in comeliness there was an almost womanly expression of devotion, which proved how well Phebe had already learned one of life’s great lessons—gratitude.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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