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.
THE TURQUOISE RING
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
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, willingDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>