mostly by himself. He learned all trades in succession, Love
being his only master. He had many odd days to spare from his
farm work, and if he had not found days he would have taken
nights. Scarcely a nail was driven without Rose's advice; and
when the plastering was hard and dry, the wall-papers were the
result of weeks of consultation.
Among the quiet joys of life there is probably no other so deep,
so sweet, so full of trembling hope and delight, as the building
and making of a home,--a home where two lives are to be merged
in one and flow on together, a home full of mysterious and
delicious possibilities, hidden in a future which is always
Rose's sweet little nature broadened under Stephen's influence;
but she had her moments of discontent and unrest, always followed
quickly by remorse.
At the Thanksgiving sociable some one had observed her turquoise
engagement ring,--some one who said that such a hand was worthy
of a diamond, that turquoises were a pretty color, but that there
was only one stone for an engagement ring, and that was a
diamond. At the Christmas dance the same some one had said her
waltzing would make her "all the rage" in Boston. She wondered
if it were true, and wondered whether, if she had not promised to
marry Stephen, some splendid being from a city would have
descended from his heights, bearing diamonds in his hand. Not
that she would have accepted them; she only wondered. These
disloyal thoughts came seldom, and she put them resolutely away,
devoting herself with all the greater assiduity to her muslin
curtains and ruffled pillow-shams. Stephen, too, had his
momentary pangs. There were times when he could calm his doubts
only by working on the little house. The mere sight of the
beloved floors and walls and ceilings comforted his heart, and
brought him good cheer.
The winter was a cold one, so bitterly cold that even the rapid
water at the Gray Rock was a mass of curdled yellow ice,
something that had only occurred once or twice before within the
memory of the oldest inhabitant.
It was also a very gay season for Pleasant River and Edgewood.
Never had there been so many card-parties, sleigh rides and
tavern dances, and never such wonderful skating. The river was
one gleaming, glittering thoroughfare of ice from Milliken's
Mills to the dam at the Edgewood bridge. At sundown bonfires
were built here and there on the mirror like surface, and all the
young people from the neighboring villages gathered on the ice;
while detachments of merry, rosycheeked boys and girls, those who
preferred coasting, met at the top of Brigadier Hill, from which
one could get a longer and more perilous slide than from any
other point in the township.
Claude Merrill, in his occasional visits from Boston, was very
much in evidence at the Saturday evening ice parties. He was notDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>