to him, he earns his two dollars and a half a day."
"He don't keer about the two and a half," said her grandfather. "He jest
can't keep away from the logs. There's some that can't. When I first
moved here from Gard'ner, where the climate never suited me"--
"The climate of any place where you hev regular work never did an' never
will suit you," remarked the old man's wife; but the interruption
received no comment: such mistaken views of his character were too
frequent to make any impression.
"As I was sayin', Rose," he continued, "when we first moved here from
Gard'ner, we lived neighbor to the Watermans. Steve an' Rufus was little
boys then, always playin' with a couple o' wild cousins o' theirn,
consid'able older. Steve would scare his mother pretty nigh to death
stealin' away to the mill to ride on the 'carriage,' 'side o' the log
that was bein' sawed, hitchin' clean out over the river an' then jerkin'
back 'most into the jaws o' the machinery."
"He never hed any common sense to spare, even when he was a young one,"
remarked Mrs. Wiley; "and I don't see as all the 'cademy education his
father throwed away on him has changed him much." And with this
observation she rose from the table and went to the sink.
"Steve ain't nobody's fool," dissented the old man; "but he's kind o'
daft about the river. When he was little he was allers buildin' dams in
the brook, an' sailin' chips, an' runnin' on the logs; allers choppin'
up stickins an' raftin' 'em together in the pond. I cal'late Mis'
Waterman died consid'able afore her time, jest from fright, lookin' out
the winders and seein' her boys slippin' between the logs an' gittin'
their daily dousin'. She couldn't understand it, an' there's a heap o'
things women-folks never do an' never can understand,--jest because they
"One o' the things is men, I s'pose," interrupted Mrs. Wiley.
"Men in general, but more partic'larly husbands," assented Old Kennebec;
"howsomever, there's another thing they don't an' can't never take in,
an' that's sport. Steve does river drivin' as he would horseracin' or
tiger-shootin' or tight-rope dancin'; an' he always did from a boy.
When he was about twelve or fifteen, he used to help the river-drivers
spring and fall, reg'lar. He couldn't do nothin' but shin up an' down
the rocks after hammers an' hatchets an' ropes, but he was turrible
pleased with his job. 'Stepanfetchit,' they used to call him them
"Good name for him yet," came in acid tones from the sink. "He's still
steppin' an' fetchin', only it's Rose that's doin' the drivin' now."
"I'm not driving anybody, that I know of," answered Rose, with
heightened color, but with no loss of her habitual self-command.
"Then, when he graduated from errants," went on the crafty old man, who
knew that when breakfast ceased, churning must begin, "Steve used to get
seventy-five cents a day helpin' clear up the river--if you can callDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>