do. Looking through the branches, he saw the two standing together, Mrs.

Brooks's horse; with the offensive trunk in the back of the wagon, being

hitched to a tree near by. There was nothing in the tableau to stir

Stephen to fury, but he read between the lines and suffered as he

read--suffered and determined to sacrifice himself if he must, so that

Rose could have what she wanted, this miserable apology for a man. He

had never been the husband for Rose; she must take her place in a larger

community, worthy of her beauty and charm.

Claude was talking and gesticulating ardently. Rose's head was bent and

the tears were rolling down her cheeks. Suddenly Claude raised his hat,

and with a passionate gesture of renunciation walked swiftly to the

wagon, and looking back once, drove off with the utmost speed of which

the Brooks's horse was capable,--Rose waving him a farewell with one

hand and wiping her eyes with the other.


Stephen stood absolutely still in front of the opening in the trees, and

as Rose turned she met him face to face. She had never dreamed his eyes

could be so stern, his mouth so hard, and she gave a sob like a child.

"You seem to be in trouble," Stephen said in a voice so cold she thought

it could not be his.

"I am not in trouble, exactly," Rose stammered, concealing her

discomfiture as well as possible. "I am a little unhappy because I have

made some one else unhappy; and now that you know it, you will be

unhappy too, and angry besides, I suppose, though you've seen everything

there was to see."

"There is no occasion for sorrow," Stephen said. "I didn't mean to break

in on any interview; I came over to give you back your freedom. If you

ever cared enough for me to marry me, the time has gone by. I am willing

to own that I over-persuaded you, but I am not the man to take a girl

against her inclinations, so we will say good-by and end the thing here

and now. I can only wish"--here his smothered rage at fate almost choked

him--"that, when you were selecting another husband, you had chosen a

whole man!"

Rose quivered with the scorn of his tone. "Size isn't everything!" she


"Not in bodies, perhaps; but it counts for something in hearts and

brains, and it is convenient to have a sense of honor that's at least as

big as a grain of mustard-seed."

"Claude Merrill is not dishonorable," Rose exclaimed impetuously; "or at

least he isn't as bad as you think: he has never asked me to marry him."

"Then he probably was not quite ready to speak, or perhaps you were not

quite ready to hear," retorted Stephen, bitterly; "but don't let us have

words,--there'll be enough to regret without adding those. I have seen,

ever since New Year's, that you were not really happy or contented; only

I wouldn't allow it to myself: I kept hoping against hope that I was

mistaken. There have been times when I would have married you, willing

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