heretofore, from the days when the boys fought for the privilege
of dragging her sled up the hills, and filling her tiny mitten
with peppermints, down to the year when she came home from the
Wareham Female Seminary, an acknowledged belle and beauty.
Suddenly she had felt her popularity dwindling. There was no
real change in the demeanor of her acquaintances, but there was a
certain subtle difference of atmosphere. Everybody sympathized
tacitly with Stephen, and she did not wonder, for there were
times when she secretly took his part against herself. Only a
few candid friends had referred to the rupture openly in
conversation, but these had been bluntin their disapproval.
It seemed part of her ill fortune that just at this time Rufus
should be threatened with partial blindness, and that Stephen's
heart, already sore, should be torn with new anxieties. She
could hardly bear to see the doctor's carriage drive by day after
day, and hear night after night that Rufus was unresigned,
melancholy, half mad; while Stephen, as the doctor said, was
brother, mother, and father in one, as gentle as a woman, as firm
These foes to her peace of mind all came from within; but without
was the hourly reproach of her grandmother, whose scorching
tongue touched every sensitive spot in the girl's nature and
burned it like fire.
Finally a way of escape opened. Mrs. Wealthy Brooks, who had
always been rheumatic, grew suddenly worse. She had heard of a
"magnetic" physician in Boston, also of one who used electricity
with wonderful effect, and she announced her intention of taking
both treatments impartially and alternately. The neighbors were
quite willing that Wealthy Ann Brooks should spend the deceased
Ezra's money in any way she pleased,--she had earned it,
goodness knows, by living with him for twenty-five years,--but
before the day for her departure arrived her right arm and knee
became so much more painful that it was impossible for her to
At this juncture Rose was called upon to act as nurse and
companion in a friendly way. She seized the opportunity hungrily
as a way out of her present trouble; but, knowing what Mrs.
Brooks's temper was in time of health, she could see clearly what
it was likely to prove when pain and anguish wrung the brow.
Rose had been in Boston now for some weeks, and she was sitting
in the Joy Street boarding-house,--Joy Street, forsooth! It
was nearly bedtime, and she was looking out upon a huddle of
roofs and back yards, upon a landscape filled with clothes-lines,
ash-barrels, and ill-fed cats. There were no sleek country
tabbies, with the memory in their eyes of tasted cream, nothing
but city-born, city-bred, thin, despairing cats of the pavement,
cats no more forlorn than Rose herself.
She had "seen Boston," for she had accompanied Mrs. Brooks in the
horse-cars daily to the two different temples of healing whereDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>