"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


"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,

--Stephanfetchit Waterman."

"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 call this here silv'ry streamlet a river.

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