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
"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 lastDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>