after all, been returned in kind. This seemed a wild

impossibility. His mind refused to entertain the supposition

that any man on earth could resist falling in love with Rose, or,

having fallen in, that he could ever contrive to climb out. So

he worked on at his farm harder than ever, and grew soberer and

more careworn daily. Rufus had never seemed so near and dear to

him as in these weeks when he had lived under the shadow of

threatened blindness. The burning of the barn and the strain

upon their slender property brought the brothers together

shoulder to shoulder.

"If you lose your girl, Steve," said the boy, "and I lose my

eyesight, and we both lose the barn, why, t'll be us two against

the world, for a spell!"

The "To Let" sign on the little house was an arrant piece of

hypocrisy. Nothing but the direst extremity could have caused

him to allow an alien step on that sacred threshold. The plowing

up of the flowerbeds and planting of the corn had served a double

purpose. It showed the too curious public the finality of his

break with Rose and her absolute freedom; it also prevented them

from suspecting that he still entered the place. His visits were

not many, but he could not bear to let the dust settle on the

furniture that he and Rose had chosen together; and whenever he

locked the door and went back to the River Farm, he thought of a

verse in the Bible: "Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from

the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken."

It was now Friday of the last week in August. The river was full

of logs, thousands upon thousands of them covering the surface of

the water from the bridge almost up to the Brier Neighborhood.

The Edgewood drive was late, owing to a long drought and low

water; but it was to begin on the following Monday, and Lije

Dennett and his under boss were looking over the situation and

planning the campaign. As they leaned over the bridge-rail they

saw Mr. Wiley driving down the river road. When he caught sight

of them he hitched the old white horse at the corner and walked

toward them, filling his pipe the while in his usual leisurely

manner.

"We're not busy this forenoon," said Lije Dennett. "S'pose we

stand right here and let Old Kennebec have his say out for once.

We've never heard the end of one of his stories, an' he's be'n

talkin' for twenty years."

"All right," rejoined his companion, with a broad grin at the

idea. "I'm willin', if you are; but who's goin' to tell our

fam'lies the reason we've deserted 'em! I bate yer we sha'n't

budge till the crack o' doom. The road commissioner'll come

along once a year and mend the bridge under our feet, but Old

Kennebec'll talk straight on till the day o' jedgment."

Mr. Wiley had one of the most enjoyable mornings of his life, and

felt that after half a century of neglect his powers were at last

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