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,

"Almira Shapley.

"P.S. They say Rufus's doctor's bills here, and the operation and

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