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

leaves."

"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

marriage day.

"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 them

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