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-colored.

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 not

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