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,
"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
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--andDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>