wood-cutting; then eternal successions of plowing, sowing, reaping,
haying, logging, harvesting, and so on, to the endless end of his days.
Here and there a red or a yellow branch, painted only yesterday, caught
his eye and made him shiver. He was not ready for winter; his heart
still craved the summer it had missed.
Hello! What was that? Corn-stalks prone on the earth? Sign torn down and
lying flat in the grass? Blinds open, fire in the chimney?
He leaped from the wagon, and, flinging the reins to Alcestis Crambry,
said, "Stay right here out of sight, and don't you move till I call
you!" and striding up the green pathway, flung open the kitchen door.
A forest of corn waving in the doorway at the back, morning-glories
clambering round and round the window-frames, table with shining white
cloth, kettle humming and steaming, something bubbling in a pan on the
stove, fire throwing out sweet little gleams of welcome through the open
damper. All this was taken in with one incredulous, rapturous twinkle of
an eye; but something else, too: Rose of all roses, Rose of the river,
Rose of the world, standing behind a chair, her hand pressed against
her heart, her lips parted, her breath coming and going! She was
glowing like a jewel, glowing with the extraordinary brilliancy that
emotion gives to some women. She used to be happy in a gay, sparkling
way, like the shallow part of the stream as it chatters over white
pebbles and bright sands. Now it was a broad, steady, full happiness
like the deeps of the river under the sun.
"Don't speak, Stephen, till you hear what I have to say. It takes a good
deal of courage for a girl to do as I am doing; but I want to show how
sorry I am, and it's the only way." She was trembling, and the words
came faster and faster. "I've been very wrong and foolish, and made you
very unhappy, but I haven't done what you would have hated most. I
haven't been engaged to Claude Merrill; he hasn't so much as asked me. I
am here to beg you to forgive me, to eat breakfast with me, to drive me
to the minister's and marry me quickly, quickly, before anything
happens to prevent us, and then to bring me home here to live all the
days of my life. Oh, Stephen dear, honestly, honestly, you haven't lost
anything in all this long, miserable summer. I've suffered, too, and I'm
better worth loving than I was. Will you take me back?"
Rose had a tremendous power of provoking and holding love, and Stephen
of loving. His was too generous a nature for revilings and complaints
The shores of his heart were strewn with the wreckage of the troubled
summer, but if the tide of love is high enough, it washes such things
out of remembrance. He just opened his arms and took Rose to his heart,
faults and all, with joy and gratitude; and she was as happy as a child
who has escaped the scolding it richly deserved, and who determines, for
very thankfulness' sake, never to be naughty again.Download<<BackPagesMainNext>>