wandered aimlessly along a quiet side street, and threw himself down on
the grass outside a pretty garden to amuse himself as best he could.
After a few minutes he heard voices, and, turning, peeped through the
bars of the gate in idle, boyish curiosity. It was a small brown house;
the kitchen door was open, and a table spread with a white cloth was set
in the middle of the room. There was a cradle in a far corner, and a
man was seated at the table as though he might be waiting for his
There is a kind of sentiment about the kitchen in New England, a kind of
sentiment not provoked by other rooms. Here the farmer drops in to spend
a few minutes when he comes back from the barn or field on an errand.
Here, in the great, clean, sweet, comfortable place, the busy housewife
lives, sometimes rocking the cradle, sometimes opening and shutting the
oven door, sometimes stirring the pot, darning stockings, paring
vegetables, or mixing goodies in a yellow bowl. The children sit on the
steps, stringing beans, shelling peas, or hulling berries; the cat
sleeps on the floor near the wood-box; and the visitor feels exiled if
he stays in sitting-room or parlor, for here, where the mother is always
busy, is the heart of the farm-house.
There was an open back door to this kitchen, a door framed in
morning-glories, and the woman (or was she only girl?) standing at the
stove was pretty,--oh, so pretty in Stephen's eyes! His boyish heart
went out to her on the instant. She poured a cup of coffee and walked
with it to the table; then an unexpected, interesting thing
happened--something the boy ought not to have seen, and never forgot.
The man, putting out his hand to take the cup, looked up at the pretty
woman with a smile, and she stooped and kissed him.
Stephen was fifteen. As he looked, on the instant he became a man, with
a man's hopes, desires, ambitions. He looked eagerly, hungrily, and the
scene burned itself on the sensitive plate of his young heart, so that,
as he grew older, he could take the picture out in the dark, from time
to time, and look at it again. When he first met Rose, he did not know
precisely what she was to mean to him; but before long, when he closed
his eyes and the old familiar picture swam into his field of vision,
behold, by some spiritual chemistry, the pretty woman's face had given
place to that of Rose!
All such teasing visions had been sternly banished during this sorrowful
summer, and it was a thoughtful, sober Stephen who drove along the road
on this mellow August morning. The dust was deep; the goldenrod waved
its imperial plumes, making the humble waysides gorgeous; the river
chattered and sparkled till it met the logs at the Brier Neighorhood,
and then, lapsing into silence, flowed steadily under them till it found
a vent for its spirits in the dashing and splashing of the falls.
Haying was over; logging was to begin that day; then harvesting; thenDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>