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

and reproaches.

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.

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