pulpit if you can oblige me with one.'
"Bill scratched his head an' I held my breath. Then says he,
'Pears to me I'd ought to hev a pulpit or two, if I can jest
remember where I keep 'em. I don't never cal'late to be out o'
pulpits, but I'm so plagued for room I can't keep 'em in here with
the groc'ries. Jim (that's his new store boy), you jest take a
lantern an' run out in the far corner o' the shed, at the end
o' the hickory woodpile, an' see how many pulpits we've got in
stock!' Well, Jim run out, an' when he come back he says, 'We've
got two, Mr. Pike. Shall I bring one of 'em in?'
"At that the boys all bust out laughin' an' hollerin' an'
tauntin' the Gorham man, an' he paid up with a good will, I tell
"I don't approve of bettin'," said Mrs. Wiley grimly, "but I'll
try to sanctify the money by usin' it for a new wash-boiler."
"The fact is," explained old Kennebec, somewhat confused, "that
the boys made me spend every cent of it then an' there."
Rose heard her grandmother's caustic reply, and then paid no
further attention until her keen ear caught the sound of
Stephen's name. It was a part of her unhappiness that since her
broken engagement no one would ever allude to him, and she longed
to hear him mentioned, so that perchance she could get some
inkling of his movements.
"I met Stephen to-night for the first time in a week," said Mr.
Wiley. "He kind o' keeps out o' my way lately. He's goin' to
drive his span into Portland tomorrow mornin' and bring Rufus
home from the hospital Sunday afternoon. The doctors think
they've made a success of their job, but Rufus has got to be
bandaged up a spell longer. Stephen is goin' to join the drive
Monday mornin' at the bridge here, so I'll get the latest news o'
the boy. Land! I'll be turrible glad if he gets out with his
eyesight, if it's only for Steve's sake. He's a turrible good
fellow, Steve is! He said something to-night that made me set
more store by him than ever. I told you I hedn't heard an unkind
word ag'in' Rose sence she come home from Boston, an' no more I
hev till this evenin: There was two or three fellers talkin' in
the post-office, an' they didn't suspicion I was settin' on the
steps outside the screen door. That Jim Jenkins, that Rose so
everlastin'ly snubbed at the tavern dance, spoke up, an' says he:
'This time last year Rose Wiley could 'a' hed the choice of any
man on the river, an' now I bet ye she can't get nary one.'
"Steve was there, jest goin' out the door, with some bags o'
coffee an' sugar under his arm.
"'I guess you're mistaken about that,' he says, speakin' up jest
like lightnin'; 'so long as Stephen Waterman's alive, Rose Wiley
can have him, for one; and that everybody's welcome to know.'
"He spoke right out, loud an' plain, jest as if he was readin'
the Declaration of Independence. I expected the boys wouldDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>