"I met Stephen to-night for the first time in a week," said Mr. Wiley.
"He kind o' keeps out o' my way lately. He's goin' to drive his span
into Portland tomorrow mornin' and bring Rufus home from the hospital
Sunday afternoon. The doctors think they've made a success of their job,
but Rufus has got to be bandaged up a spell longer. Stephen is goin' to
join the drive Monday mornin' at the bridge here, so I'll get the latest
news o' the boy. Land! I'll be turrible glad if he gets out with his
eyesight, if it's only for Steve's sake. He's a turrible good fellow,
Steve is! He said something to-night that made me set more store by him
than ever. I told you I hedn't heard an unkind word ag'in' Rose sence
she come home from Boston, an' no more I hev till this evenin: There
was two or three fellers talkin' in the post-office, an' they didn't
suspicion I was settin' on the steps outside the screen door. That Jim
Jenkins, that Rose so everlastin'ly snubbed at the tavern dance, spoke
up, an' says he: 'This time last year Rose Wiley could 'a' hed the
choice of any man on the river, an' now I bet ye she can't get nary
"Steve was there, jest goin' out the door, with some bags o' coffee an'
sugar under his arm.
"'I guess you're mistaken about that,' he says, speakin' up jest like
lightnin'; 'so long as Stephen Waterman's alive, Rose Wiley can have
him, for one; and that everybody's welcome to know.'
"He spoke right out, loud an' plain, jest as if he was readin' the
Declaration of Independence. I expected the boys would everlastin'ly
poke fun at him, but they never said a word. I guess his eyes flashed,
for he come out the screen door, slammin' it after him, and stalked by
me as if he was too worked up to notice anything or anybody. I didn't
foiler him, for his long legs git over the ground too fast for me, but
thinks I, 'Mebbe I'll hev some use for my lemonade-set after all.'"
"I hope to the land you will," responded Mrs. Wiley, "for I'm about sick
o' movin' it round when I sweep under my bed. And I shall be glad if
Rose an' Stephen do make it up, for Wealthy Ann Brooks's gossip is too
much for a Christian woman to stand."
Where was the pale Rose, the faded Rose, that crept noiselessly down
from her room, wanting neither to speak nor to be spoken to? Nobody ever
knew. She vanished forever, and in her place a thing of sparkles and
dimples flashed up the stairway and closed the door softly. There was a
streak of moonshine lying across the bare floor, and a merry ghost, with
dressing-gown held prettily away from bare feet, danced a gay fandango
among the yellow moonbeams. There were breathless flights to the open
window, and kisses thrown in the direction of the River Farm. There were
impressive declamations at the looking-glass, where a radiant creature
pointed to her reflection and whispered, "Worthless little pig, heDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>