an artist at the sport himself, but he was especially proficient
in the art of strapping on a lady's skates, and mur'muring--as
he adjusted the last buckle,--"The prettiest foot and ankle on
the river!" It cannot be denied that this compliment gave secret
pleasure to the fair village maidens who received it, but it was
a pleasure accompanied by electric shocks of excitement. A
girl's foot might perhaps be mentioned, if a fellow were daring
enough, but the line was rigidly drawn at the ankle, which was
not a part of the human frame ever alluded to in the polite
society of Edgewood at that time.
Rose, in her red linsey-woolsey dress and her squirrel furs and
cap, was the life of every gathering, and when Stephen took her
hand and they glided up stream, alone together in the crowd, he
used to wish that they might skate on and on up the crystal
ice-path of the river, to the moon itself, whither it seemed to
THE GARDEN OF EDEN
But the Saco all this time was meditating of its surprises. The
snapping cold weather and the depth to which the water was frozen
were aiding it in its preparation for the greatest event of the
season. On a certain gray Saturday in March, after a week of
mild temperature, it began to rain as if, after months of
snowing, it really enjoyed a new form of entertainment. Sunday
dawned with the very flood-gates of heaven opening, so it seemed.
All day long the river was rising under its miles of unbroken
ice, rising at the threatening rate of four inches an hour.
Edgewood went to bed as usual that night, for the bridge at that
point was set too high to be carried away by freshets, but at
other villages whose bridges were in less secure position there
was little sleep and much anxiety.
At midnight a cry was heard from the men watching at Milliken's
Mills. The great ice jam had parted from Rolfe's Island and was
swinging out into the open, pushing everything before it. All
the able-bodied men in the village turned out of bed, and with
lanterns in hand began to clear the stores and mills, for it
seemed that everything near the river banks must go before that
avalanche of ice.
Stephen and Rufus were there helping to save the property of
their friends and neighbors; Rose and Mite Shapley had stayed the
night with a friend, and all three girls were shivering with fear
and excitement as they stood near the bridge, watching the
never-to-be-forgtten sight. It is needless to say that the
Crambry family was on hand, for whatever instincts they may have
lacked, the instinct for being on the spot when anything was
happening, was present in them to the most remarkable extent.
The town was supporting them in modest winter quarters somewhat
nearer than Killick to the centre of civilization, and the first
alarm brought them promptly to the scene, Mrs. Crambry remarking
at intervals: "If I'd known there'd be so many out I'd ought toDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>