Robinson's electricity any better than a bumblebee's buzz, and
she had a great mind to go home and try Dr. Lord from Bonnie
Eagle; and there was a letter for Rose on the bureau, which had
come before supper, but the shiftless, lazy, worthless landlady
had forgotten to send it up till just now.
The letter was from Mite Shapley, but Rose could read only half
of it to Mrs. Brooks,--little beside the news that the Waterman
barn, the finest barn in the whole township, had been struck by
lightning and burned to the ground. Stephen was away at the
time, having taken Rufus to Portland, where an operation on his
eyes would shortly be performed at the hospital, and one of the
neighbors was sleeping at the River Farm and taking care of the
cattle; still the house might not have been saved but for one of
Alcestis Crambry's sudden bursts of common sense, which occurred
now quite regularly. He succeeded not only in getting the horses
out of the stalls, but gave the alarm so promptly that the whole
neighborhood was soon on the scene of action. Stephen was the
only man, Mite reminded Rose, who ever had any patience with, or
took any pains to teach, Alcestis, but he never could have
expected to be rewarded in this practical way. The barn was only
partly insured; and when she had met Stephen at the station next
day, and condoled with him on his loss, he had said: "Oh, well,
Mite, a little more or less doesn't make much difference just
"The rest wouldn't interest you, Mrs. Brooks," said Rose,
precipitately preparing to leave the room.
"Something about Claude, I suppose," ventured that astute lady.
"I think Mite kind of fancied him. I don't believe he ever gave
her any real encouragement; but he'd make love to a pump, Claude
Merrill would; and so would his father before him. How my sister
Abby made out to land him we never knew, for they said he'd
proposed to every woman in the town of Bingham, not excepting the
wooden Indian girl in front of the cigar store, and not one of
'em but our Abby ever got a chance to name the day. Abby was as
set as the everlastin' hills, and if she'd made up her mind to
have a man he couldn't wriggle away from her nohow in the world.
It beats all how girls do run after these slick-haired,
sweet-tongued, Miss Nancy kind o' fellers, that ain't but little
good as beaux an' worth less than nothing as husbands."
Rose scarcely noticed what Mrs. Brooks said, she was too anxious
to read the rest of Mite Shapley's letter in the quiet of her own
"Stephen looks thin and pale [so it ran on], but he does not
allow anybody to sympathize with him. I think you ought to know
something that I haven't told you before for fear of hurting your
feelings; but if I were in your place I'd like to hear
everything, and then you'll know how to act when you come home.
Just after you left, Stephen plowed up all the land in front ofDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>