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

now."

"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

room.

"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 of

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