"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
"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
"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
could n't understand it, an' there's a heap o' things women-folks
never do an' never can understand,--jest because they air
"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 days,
"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
"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 call this here silv'ry streamlet a river.Download<<BackPagesMainNext>>