At the Thanksgiving sociable some one had observed her turquoise

engagement ring,--some one who said that such a hand was worthy of a

diamond, that turquoises were a pretty color, but that there was only

one stone for an engagement ring, and that was a diamond. At the

Christmas dance the same some one had said her waltzing would make her

"all the rage" in Boston. She wondered if it were true, and wondered

whether, if she had not promised to marry Stephen, some splendid being

from a city would have descended from his heights, bearing diamonds in

his hand. Not that she would have accepted them; she only wondered.

These disloyal thoughts came seldom, and she put them resolutely away,

devoting herself with all the greater assiduity to her muslin curtains

and ruffled pillow-shams. Stephen, too, had his momentary pangs. There

were times when he could calm his doubts only by working on the little

house. The mere sight of the beloved floors and walls and ceilings

comforted his heart, and brought him good cheer.

The winter was a cold one, so bitterly cold that even the rapid water at

the Gray Rock was a mass of curdled yellow ice, something that had only

occurred once or twice before within the memory of the oldest


It was also a very gay season for Pleasant River and Edgewood. Never had

there been so many card-parties, sleigh rides and tavern dances, and

never such wonderful skating. The river was one gleaming, glittering

thoroughfare of ice from Milliken's Mills to the dam at the Edgewood

bridge. At sundown bonfires were built here and there on the mirror like

surface, and all the young people from the neighboring villages gathered

on the ice; while detachments of merry, rosy-cheeked boys and girls,

those who preferred coasting, met at the top of Brigadier Hill, from

which one could get a longer and more perilous slide than from any other

point in the township.

Claude Merrill, in his occasional visits from Boston, was very much in

evidence at the Saturday evening ice parties. He was not an artist at

the sport himself, but he was especially proficient in the art of

strapping on a lady's skates, and murmuring--as he adjusted the last

buckle,--"The prettiest foot and ankle on the river!" It cannot be

denied that this compliment gave secret pleasure to the fair village

maidens who received it, but it was a pleasure accompanied by electric

shocks of excitement. A girl's foot might perhaps be mentioned, if a

fellow were daring enough, but the line was rigidly drawn at the ankle,

which was not a part of the human frame ever alluded to in the polite

society of Edgewood at that time.

Rose, in her red linsey-woolsey dress and her squirrel furs and cap, was

the life of every gathering, and when Stephen took her hand and they

glided up stream, alone together in the crowd, he used to wish that they

might skate on and on up the crystal ice-path of the river, to the moon

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