hospital expenses in Portland, will mount up to five hundred

dollars. Of course Stephen will be dreadfully hampered by the loss

of his barn, and maybe he wants to let your house that was to be,

because he really needs money. In that case the dooryard won't be

very attractive to tenants, with corn planted right up to the steps

and no path left! It's two feet tall now, and by August (just when

you were intending to move in) it will hide the front windows. Not

that you'll care, with a diamond on your engagement finger!"

The letter was more than flesh and blood could stand, and Rose flung

herself on her bed to think and regret and repent, and, if possible, to

sob herself to sleep.

She knew now that she had never admired and respected Stephen so much as

at the moment when, under the reproach of his eyes, she had given him

back his ring. When she left Edgewood and parted with him forever she

had really loved him better than when she had promised to marry him.

Claude Merrill, on his native Boston heath, did not appear the romantic,

inspiring figure he had once been in her eyes. A week ago she distrusted

him; to-night she despised him.

What had happened to Rose was the dilation of her vision. She saw

things under a wider sky and in a clearer light. Above all, her heart

was wrung with pity for Stephen--Stephen, with no comforting woman's

hand to help him in his sore trouble; Stephen, bearing his losses alone,

his burdens and anxieties alone, his nursing and daily work alone. Oh,

how she felt herself needed! Needed! that was the magic word that

unlocked her better nature. "Darkness is the time for making roots and

establishing plants, whether of the soil or of the soul," and all at

once Rose had become a woman: a little one, perhaps, but a whole

woman--and a bit of an angel, too, with healing in her wings. When and

how had this metamorphosis come about? Last summer the fragile

brier-rose had hung over the river and looked at its pretty reflection

in the placid surface of the water. Its few buds and blossoms were so

lovely, it sighed for nothing more. The changes in the plant had been

wrought secretly and silently. In some mysterious way, as common to soul

as to plant life, the roots had gathered in more nourishment from the

earth, they had stored up strength and force, and all at once there was

a marvelous fructifying of the plant, hardiness of stalk, new shoots

everywhere, vigorous leafage, and a shower of blossoms.

But everything was awry: Boston was a failure; Claude was a weakling and

a flirt; her turquoise ring was lying on the river-bank; Stephen did not

love her any longer; her flower-beds were plowed up and planted in corn;

and the cottage that Stephen had built and she had furnished, that

beloved cottage, was to let.

She was in Boston; but what did that amount to, after all? What was the

State House to a bleeding heart, or the Old South Church to a pride

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