Rose in Bloom HTML version

7. Phebe
While Rose was making discoveries and having experiences, Phebe was doing
the same in a quieter way, but though they usually compared notes during the
bedtime tête-à-tête which always ended their day, certain topics were never
mentioned, so each had a little world of her own into which even the eye of
friendship did not peep.
Rose's life just now was the gaiest but Phebe's the happiest. Both went out a
good deal, for the beautiful voice was welcomed everywhere, and many were
ready to patronize the singer who would have been slow to recognize the
woman. Phebe knew this and made no attempt to assert herself, content to know
that those whose regard she valued felt her worth and hopeful of a time when
she could gracefully take the place she was meant to fill.
Proud as a princess was Phebe about some things, though in most as humble as
a child; therefore, when each year lessened the service she loved to give and
increased the obligations she would have refused from any other source,
dependence became a burden which even the most fervent gratitude could not
lighten. Hitherto the children had gone on together, finding no obstacles to their
companionship in the secluded world in which they lived. Now that they were
women their paths inevitably diverged, and both reluctantly felt that they must
part before long.
It had been settled, when they were abroad, that on their return Phebe should
take her one gift in her hand and try her fortunes. On no other terms would she
accept the teaching which was to fit her for the independence she desired.
Faithfully had she used the facilities so generously afforded both at home and
abroad and now was ready to prove that they had not been in vain. Much
encouraged by the small successes she won in drawing rooms, and the praise
bestowed by interested friends, she began to feel that she might venture on a
larger field and begin her career as a concert singer, for she aimed no higher.
Just at this time much interest was felt in a new asylum for orphan girls, which
could not be completed for want of funds. The Campbells well had borne their
part and still labored to accomplish the much-needed charity. Several fairs had
been given for this purpose, followed by a series of concerts. Rose had thrown
herself into the work with all her heart and now proposed that Phebe should
make her debut at the last concert, which was to be a peculiarly interesting one,
as all the orphans were to be present and were expected to plead their own
cause by the sight of their innocent helplessness as well as touch hearts by the
simple airs they were to sing.
Some of the family thought Phebe would object to so humble a beginning, but
Rose knew her better and was not disappointed, for when she made her
proposal Phebe answered readily: "Where could I find a fitter time and place to
come before the public than here among my little sisters in misfortune? I'll sing
for them with all my heart only I must be one of them and have no flourish made
about me."