practical way. The barn was only partly insured; and when she had met
Stephen at the station next day, and condoled with him on his loss, he
had said: "Oh, well, Mite, a little more or less doesn't make much
difference just now."
"The rest wouldn't interest you, Mrs. Brooks," said Rose, precipitately
preparing to leave the room.
"Something about Claude, I suppose," ventured that astute lady. "I think
Mite kind of fancied him. I don't believe he ever gave her any real
encouragement; but he'd make love to a pump, Claude Merrill would; and
so would his father before him. How my sister Abby made out to land him
we never knew, for they said he'd proposed to every woman in the town of
Bingham, not excepting the wooden Indian girl in front of the cigar
store, and not one of 'em but our Abby ever got a chance to name the
day. Abby was as set as the everlastin' hills, and if she'd made up her
mind to have a man he couldn't wriggle away from her nohow in the world.
It beats all how girls do run after these slick-haired, sweet-tongued,
Miss Nancy kind o' fellers, that ain't but little good as beaux an'
worth less than nothing as husbands."
Rose scarcely noticed what Mrs. Brooks said, she was too anxious to read
the rest of Mite Shapley's letter in the quiet of her own room.
"Stephen looks thin and pale [so it ran on], but he does not allow
anybody to sympathize with him. I think you ought to know something
that I haven't told you before for fear of hurting your feelings;
but if I were in your place I'd like to hear everything, and then
you'll know how to act when you come home. Just after you left,
Stephen plowed up all the land in front of your new house,--every
inch of it, all up and down the road, between the fence and the
front door-step,--and then he planted corn where you were going to
have your flower-beds.
"He has closed all the blinds and hung a 'To Let' sign on the large
elm at the gate. Stephen never was spiteful in his life, but this
looks a little like spite. Perhaps he only wanted to save his
self-respect and let people know, that everything between you was
over forever. Perhaps he thought it would stop talk once and for
all. But you won't mind, you lucky girl, staying nearly three months
in Boston! [So Almira purled on in violet ink, with shaded letters.]
How I wish it had come my way, though I'm not good at rubbing
rheumatic patients, even when they are his aunt. Is he as devoted as
ever? And when will it be? How do you like the theatre? Mother
thinks you won't attend; but, by what he used to say, I am sure
church members in Boston always go to amusements.
"Your loving friend,
"P.S. They say Rufus's doctor's bills here, and the operation andDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>