heart like a great wave, almost sweeping him off his feet when he held
it too close and let it have full sway. It would be the fourth time that
he had asked Rose this question of all questions, but there was no
perceptible difference in his excitement, for there was always the
possible chance that she might change her mind and say yes, if only for
variety. Wanting a thing continuously, unchangingly, unceasingly, year
after year, he thought,--longing to reach it as the river longed to
reach the sea,--such wanting might, in course of time, mean having.
Rose drove up to the bridge with the men's luncheon, and the under boss
came up to take the baskets and boxes from the back of the wagon.
"We've had a reg'lar tussle this mornin', Rose," he said. "The logs are
determined not to move. Ike Billings, that's the han'somest and
fluentest all-round swearer on the Saco, has tried his best on the side
jam. He's all out o' cuss-words and there hain't a log budged. Now, stid
o' dog-warpin' this afternoon, an' lettin' the oxen haul off all them
stubborn logs by main force, we're goin' to ask you to set up on the
bank and smile at the jam. 'Land! she can do it!' says Ike a minute ago.
'When Rose starts smilin',' he says, 'there ain't a jam nor a bung in me
that don't melt like wax and jest float right off same as the logs do
when they get into quiet, sunny water.'"
Rose blushed and laughed, and drove up the hill to Mite Shapley's, where
she put up the horse and waited till the men had eaten their luncheon.
The drivers slept and had breakfast and supper at the Billings house, a
mile down river, but for several years Mrs. Wiley had furnished the noon
meal, sending it down piping hot on the stroke of twelve. The boys
always said that up or down the whole length of the Saco there was no
such cooking as the Wileys', and much of this praise was earned by
Rose's serving. It was the old grandmother who burnished the tin plates
and dippers till they looked like silver; for crotchety and
sharp-tongued as she was--she never allowed Rose to spoil her hands with
soft soap and sand: but it was Rose who planned and packed, Rose who
hemmed squares of old white tablecloths and sheets to line the baskets
and keep things daintily separate, Rose, also, whose tarts and cakes
were the pride and admiration of church sociables and sewing societies.
Where could such smoking pots of beans be found? A murmur of ecstatic
approval ran through the crowd when the covers were removed. Pieces of
sweet home-fed pork glistened like varnished mahogany on the top of the
beans, and underneath were such deeps of fragrant juice as come only
from slow fires and long, quiet hours in brick ovens. Who else could
steam and bake such mealy leaves of brown bread, brown as plum-pudding,
yet with no suspicion of sogginess? Who such soda-biscuits, big,
feathery, tasting of cream, and hardly needing butter? And green-apple
pies! Could such candied lower crusts be found elsewhere, or moreDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>