forward excitedly. "And, upon my word, the minister and doctor
couples are still together. I wonder if they'll get as far as
the falls at Union? That would be an odd place to part, wouldn't
it--Union?" Stephen saw his opportunity, and seized it.
"There's a reason, Rose, why two logs go down stream better than
one, and get into less trouble. They make a wider path, create
more force and a better current. It's the same way with men and
women. Oh, Rose, there isn't a man in the world that's loved
you as long, or knows how to love you any better than I do.
You're just like a white birch sapling, and I'm a great, clumsy
fir tree; but if you'll only trust yourself to me, Rose, I'll
take you safely down river."
Stephen's big hand closed on Rose's little one she returned its
pressure softly and gave him the kiss that with her, as with him,
meant a promise for all the years to come. The truth and passion
in the man had broken the girl's bonds for the moment. Her
vision was clearer, and, realizing the treasures of love and
fidelity that were being offered her, she accepted them, half
unconscious that she was not returning them in kind. How is the
belle of two villages to learn that she should "thank Heaven,
fasting, for a good man's love"? And Stephen? He went home in
the dusk, not knowing whether his feet were touching the solid
earth or whether he was treading upon rainbows.
Rose's pink calico seemed to brush him as he walked in the path
that was wide enough only for one. His solitude was peopled
again when he fed the cattle, for Rose's face smiled at him from
the haymow; and when he strained the milk, Rose held the pans.
His nightly tasks over, he went out and took his favorite seat
under the apple tree. All was still, save for the crickets'
ceaseless chirp, the soft thud of an August sweeting dropping in
the grass, and the swish-swash of the water against his boat,
tethered in the Willow Cove.
He remembered when he first saw Rose, for that must have been
when he began to love her, though he was only fourteen and quite
unconscious that the first seed had been dropped in the rich soil
of his boyish heart.
He was seated on the kerosene barrel in the Edgewood post-office,
which was also the general country store, where newspapers,
letters, molasses, nails, salt codfish, hairpins, sugar, liver
pills, canned goods, beans, and ginghams dwelt in genial
proximity. When she entered, just a little pink-and-white slip
of a thing with a tin pail in her hand and a sunbonnet falling
off her wavy hair, Stephen suddenly stopped swinging his feet.
She gravely announced her wants, reading them from a bit of
paper,--1 quart molasses, 1 package ginger, 1 lb. cheese, 2
pairs shoe laces, 1 card shirt buttons.
While the storekeeper drew off the molasses she exchanged shy
looks with Stephen, who, clean, well-dressed, and carefullyDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>