spring. A jam had broken under the men, and Stephen, having
taken too great risks, had been caught on the moving mass, and,
leaping from log to log, his only chance for life had been to
find a footing on Gray Rock, which was nearer than the shore.
Rufus was ill at the time, and Mrs. Waterman so anxious and
nervous that processions of boys had to be sent up to the River
Farm, giving the frightened mother the latest bulletins of her
son's welfare. Luckily, the river was narrow just at the Gray
Rock, and it was a quite possible task, though no easy one, to
lash two ladders together and make a narrow bridge on which the
drenched and shivering man could reach the shore. There were
loud cheers when Stephen ran lightly across the slender pathway
that led to safety--ran so fast that the ladders had scarce time
to bend beneath his weight. He had certainly "taken chances," but
when did he not do that? The logger's life is one of "moving
accidents by flood and field," and Stephen welcomed with wild
exhilaration every hazard that came in his path. To him there
was never a dull hour from the moment that the first notch was
cut in the tree (for he sometimes joined the boys in the lumber
camp just for a frolic) till the later one when the hewn log
reached its final destination. He knew nothing of "tooling" a
four-in-hand through narrow lanes or crowded thoroughfares,--
nothing of guiding a horse over the hedges and through the
pitfalls of a stiff bit of hunting country; his steed was the
rearing, plunging, kicking log, and he rode it like a river god.
The crowd loves daring, and so it welcomed Stephen with braves,
but it knew, as he knew, that he was only doing his duty by the
Company, only showing the Saco that man was master, only keeping
the old Waterman name in good repute.
"Ye can't drownd some folks," Old Kennebec had said, as he stood
in a group on the shore; "not without you tie sand-bags to'em an'
drop 'em in the Great Eddy. I'm the same kind; I remember when I
was stranded on jest sech a rock in the Kennebec, only they left
me there all night for dead, an' I had to swim the rapids when it
"We're well acquainted with that rock and them rapids," exclaimed
one of the river-drivers, to the delight of the company.
Rose had reason to remember Stephen's adventure, for he had
clambered up the bank, smiling and blushing under the hurrahs of
the boys, and, coming to the wagon where she sat waiting for her
grandfather, had seized a moment to whisper: "Did you care
whether I came across safe, Rose? Say you did!"
Stephen recalled that question, too, on this August morning;
perhaps because this was to be a red-letter day, and sometime,
when he had a free moment,--sometime before supper, when he and
Rose were sitting apart from the others, watching the logs,--he
intended again to ask her to marry him. This thought trembled inDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>