over white pebbles and bright sands. Now it was a broad, steady,
full happiness like the deeps of the river under the sun.
"Don't speak, Stephen, till you hear what I have to say. It
takes a good deal of courage for a girl to do as I am doing; but
I want to show how sorry I am, and it's the only way." She was
trembling, and the words came faster and faster. "I've been
very wrong and foolish, and made you very unhappy, but I haven't
done what you would have hated most. I haven't been engaged to
Claude Merrill; he hasn't so much as asked me. I am here to beg
you to forgive me, to eat breakfast with me, to drive me to the
minister's and marry me quickly, quickly, before anything happens
to prevent us, and then to bring me home here to live all the
days of my life. Oh, Stephen dear, honestly, honestly, you haven't
lost anything in all this long, miserable summer. I've
suffered, too, and I'm better worth loving than I was. Will you
take me back?"
Rose had a tremendous power of provoking and holding love, and
Stephen of loving. His was too generous a nature for revilings
and complaints and reproaches.
The shores of his heart were strewn with the wreckage of the
troubled summer, but if the tide of love is high enough, it
washes such things out of remembrance. He just opened his arms
and took Rose to his heart, faults and all, with joy--and
gratitude; and she was as happy as a child who has escaped the
scolding it richly deserved, and who determines, for very
thankfulness' sake, never to be naughty again.
"You don't know what you've done for me, Stephen," she whispered,
with her face hidden on his shoulder. "I was just a common
little prickly rosebush when you came along like a good gardener
and 'grafted in' something better; the something better was your
love, Stephen dear, and it's made everything different. The
silly Rose you were engaged to long ago has disappeared
somewhere; I hope you won't be able to find her under the new
"She was all I wanted," said Stephen.
"You thought she was," the girl answered, "because you didn't
see the prickles, but you'd have felt them sometime. The old
Rose was a selfish thing, not good enough for you; the new Rose
is going to be your wife, and Rufus's sister, and your mother's
daughter, all in one."
Then such a breakfast was spread as Stephen, in his sorry years
of bachelor existence, had forgotten could exist; but before he
broke his fast he ran out to the wagon and served the astonished
Alcestis with his wedding refreshments then and there, bidding
him drive back to the River Farm and bring him a package that lay
in the drawer of his shaving-stand, package placed there when hot
youth and love and longing had inspired him to hurry on the
"There's an envelope, Alcestis," he cried, "a long envelope way,
way back in the corner, and a small box on top of it. Bring themDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>