your new house,--every inch of it, all up and down the road,

between the fence and the front door-step,--and then he planted

corn where you were going to have your flower-beds.

"He has closed all the blinds and hung a 'To Let' sign on the

large elm at the gate. Stephen never was spiteful in his life,

but this looks a little like spite. Perhaps he only wanted to

save his self-respect and let people know, that everything

between you was over forever. Perhaps he thought it would stop

talk once and for all. But you won't mind, you lucky girl,

staying nearly three months in Boston! [So Almira purled on in

violet ink, with shaded letters.] How I wish it had come my way,

though I'm not good at rubbing rheumatic patients, even when they

are his aunt. Is he as devoted as ever? And when will it be?

How do you like the theatre? Mother thinks you won't attend;

but, by what he used to say, I am sure church members in Boston

always go to amusements.

"Your loving friend,

"Almira Shapley.

"P.S. They say Rufus's doctor's bills here, and the operation

and hospital expenses in Portland, will mount up to five hundred

dollars. Of course Stephen will be dreadfully hampered by the

loss of his barn, and maybe he wants to let your house that was

to be, because he really needs money. In that case the dooryard

won't be very attractive to tenants, with corn planted right up

to the steps--and no path left! It's two feet tall now, and by

August (just when you were intending to move in) it will hide the

front windows. Not that you'll care, with a diamond on your

engagement finger!"

The letter was more than flesh and blood could stand, and Rose

flung herself on her bed to think and regret and repent, and, if

possible, to sob herself to sleep.

She knew now that she had never admired and respected Stephen so

much as at the moment when, under the reproach of his eyes, she

had given him back his ring. When she left Edgewood and parted

with him forever she had really loved him better than when she

had promised to marry him.

Claude Merrill, on his native Boston heath, did not appear the

romantic, inspiring figure he had once been in her eyes. A week

ago she distrusted him; to-night she despised him.

What had happened to Rose was the dilation of her vision. She

saw things under a wider sky and in a clearer light. Above all,

her heart was wrung with pity for Stephen--Stephen, with no

comforting woman's hand to help him in his sore trouble; Stephen,

bearing his losses alone, his burdens and anxieties alone, his

nursing and daily work alone. Oh, how she felt herself needed!

Needed! that was the magic word that unlocked her better nature.

"Darkness is the time for making roots and establishing plants,

whether of the soil or of the soul," and all at once Rose had

become a woman: a little one, perhaps, but a whole woman--and

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