She had almost convinced herself that she was as much in love with

Stephen Waterman as it was in her nature to be with anybody. He was

handsome in his big way, kind, generous, temperate, well educated, and

well-to-do. No fault could be found with his family, for his mother had

been a teacher, and his father, though a farmer, a college graduate.

Stephen himself had had one year at Bowdoin, but had been recalled, as

the head of the house, when his father died. That was a severe blow; but

his mother's death, three years after, was a grief never to be quite

forgotten. Rose, too, was the child of a gently bred mother, and all her

instincts were refined. Yes; Stephen in himself satisfied her in all the

larger wants of her nature, but she had an unsatisfied hunger for the

world,--the world of Portland, where her cousins lived; or, better

still, the world of Boston, of which she heard through Mrs. Wealthy

Brooks, whose nephew Claude often came to visit her in Edgewood. Life on

a farm a mile and a half distant from post-office and stores; life in

the house with Rufus, who was rumored to be somewhat wild and

unsteady,--this prospect seemed a trifle dull and uneventful to the

trivial part of her, though to the better part it was enough. The better

part of her loved Stephen Waterman, dimly feeling the richness of his

nature, the tenderness of his affection, the strength of his character.

Rose was not destitute either of imagination or sentiment. She did not

relish this constant weighing of Stephen in the balance: he was too good

to be weighed and considered. She longed to be carried out of herself on

a wave of rapturous assent, but something seemed to hold her back,--some

seed of discontent with the man's environment and circumstances, some

germ of longing for a gayer, brighter, more varied life. No amount of

self-searching or argument could change the situation. She always loved

Stephen more or less: more when he was away from her, because she never

approved his collars nor the set of his shirt bosom; and as he

naturally wore these despised articles of apparel whenever he proposed

to her, she was always lukewarm about marrying him and settling down on

the River Farm. Still, to-day she discovered in herself, with positive

gratitude, a warmer feeling for him than she had experienced before. He

wore a new and becoming gray flannel shirt, with the soft turnover

collar that belonged to it, and a blue tie, the color of his kind eyes.

She knew that he had shaved his beard at her request not long ago, and

that when she did not like the effect as much as she had hoped, he had

meekly grown a mustache for her sake; it did seem as if a man could

hardly do more to please an exacting lady-love.

And she had admired him unreservedly when he pulled off his boots and

jumped into the river to save Alcestis Crambry's life, without giving a

single thought to his own.

And was there ever, after all, such a noble, devoted, unselfish fellow,

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