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at the gate. Stephen never was spiteful in his
life, but this looks like it. Perhaps he only
wanted to save his self-respect and let people
know that everything between you was over
forever. Perhaps he thought it would stop
talk once and for all. But you won't mind,
you lucky girl, staying nearly three months
in Boston ! [So Almira purled on in violet ink,
with shaded letters.] How I wish it had come
my way, though I 'm not good at rubbing
rheumatic patients, even when they are Ais
aunt. Is Ae as devoted as ever? And when
will iV be? How do you like the theater?
Mother thinks you won't attend; but, by what
Ae used to say, I am sure church members al-
ways go in Boston.

Your loving friend,

Almira ShapUy,

P.S. They say Rufus's doctors* bills here,
and the operation and hospital expenses in
Portland, will mount up to five hundred dol-
lars. Of course Stephen will be dreadfully
hampered by the loss of his bam, and maybe
he wants to let your little house because he
really needs money. The dooryard won't be
very attractive to tenants, with corn planted
right up to the front steps and no path left.
It 's two feet tall now, and by August (just
when you were intending to move in) it will
hide the front windows.

The letter was more than flesh and blood
could stand, and Rose flung herself on her
bed to think and regret and repent, and,
if possible, to sob herself to sleep.

She knew now that she had never ad-
mired and respected Stephen so much as
at the moment when, under the reproach
of his eyes, she had given him back his



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turquoise ring. Wheii she left Edgewood
and parted with him forever she had really
loved him better than when she had prom-
ised to marry him.

Claude Merrill, on his native Boston
heath, did not appear the romantic, inspir-
ing figiu-e he had once been in her eyes.
A week ago she distrusted him; to-night
she despised him.

What had happened to Roise was the
dilation of her vision. She saw things under
a wider sky and in a clearer light. Above
all, her heart was wrung with pity for
Stephen — Stephen, with no comforting
woman's hand to help him in his sore
trouble ; Stephen, bearing his losses alone,
his burdens and anxieties alone, his nursing
and daily work alone. Oh, how she felt
herself needed! Needed! that was the
magic word that unlocked her better na-
ture. "Darkness is the time for making
roots and establishing plants, whether of
the soil or of the soul," and all at once
Rose had become a woman : a little one,
perhaps, but a whole woman— and a bit of
an angel, too, with healing in her wings.
When and how had this metamorphosis
come about? Last summer the fragile
brier-rose had hung over the river and
looked at its pretty reflection in the placid
surface of the water. Its few buds and
blossoms were so lovely, it sighed for no-
thing more. The changes in tilie plant had
been wrought secretly and silently. In
some mysterious way, as common to soul as
to plant life, the roots had gathered in more
nourishment from the earth ; they had stored
up strength and force, and all at once there
was a marvelous fructifying of the plant,
hardiness of stalk, new shoots everywhere,
vigorous leafage, and a shower of blossoms.

But everytlung was awry : Boston was a
failure, Claude was a weakling and a flirt,
her tiu-quoise ring was lying on the river-
bank, Stephen did not love her any longer,
her flower-beds were plowed up and planted
in corn, and the little house was to let.

She was in Boston ; but what did that
amount to, after all ? What was the State-
house to a bleeding heart, or the Old
South Church to a pride wounded like
hers?

At last she fell asleep, but it was only
by stopping her ears to the noises of the
city streets and making herself imagine the
sound of the river rippling under her bed-
room windows at home. The back yards



of Boston faded, and in their place came
the banks of the Saco, strewn with pine-
needles, fragrant with wild flowers. Then
there was the bit of sunny beach where
Stephen moored his boat. She could hear
the sound of his paddle. Boston lovers
came a-coiuting in the horse-cars, but hers
had floated down-stream to her in a little
canoe just at dusk, or sometimes, in the
moonlight, on a couple of logs rafted to-
gether.

But it was all over now, and she could
see only Stephen's stem face as he flung
the little turquoise ring down the river-
bank.

XIV
A COUNTRY CHEVALIER

It was early in August when Mrs. Wealthy
Brooks announced her speedy return from
Boston to Edgewood.

" It 's jest as well Rose is comin' back,"
said Mr. Wiley to his wife. **! never
favored her goin' to Boston, where that
rosy-posy Claude-feller is. When he was
down here he was kep' kind o' tied up in
a box-stall, but there he 's caperin' loose
round the pasture."

" I should think Rose would be ashamed
to come back, after the way she 's carried
on," remarked Mrs. Wiley.

" She 's be'n foolish an' flirty an' wrong-
headed," allowed her grandfather ; " but it
won't do no good to treat her like a hard-
ened criminile, same 's you did afore she
went away. She ain't broke the laws of
the State o' Maine, nor any o' the ten com-
mandments ; she ain't disgraced the family,
an' there 's a chance for her to reform,
seein' as how she ain't twenty year old yet.
I was turrible wild an' hot-headed myself
afore you ketched me an' tamed me down."

" You ain't so tame now as I wish you
was," Mrs. Wiley replied testily.

"If you coiild smoke a clay pipe
't would calm your nerves, mother, an'
help you to git some philosophy inter you ;
you need a little philosophy turrible bad."

"I need patience consid'able more,"
was Mrs. Wiley's withering retort

"That 's the way with folks," said Old
Kennebec, reflectively, as he went on peace-
fuUy puffing. " If you try to indoose 'em
to take an infrest in a bran'-new virtue,
they won't look at it ; but they '11 run down
a side street an' buy half a yard more o'
some turrible old shop-worn trait o' char-



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ROSE O' THE RIVER



123



acter that they *ve kep* in stock all their
hves, an' that everybody 's sick to death of.
There was a man in Gardiner—"

But alas ! the experiences of the Oardi-
ner man, though told in the same delight-



front of the windows at the little house,
and no word of any sort came from Ste-
phen. He had seen Rose once, but only
from a distance. She seemed paler and
thinner, he thought. He heard no rumor



Drawn by George Wright. Half-tone plate engraved by K. C. Collins

*SHE HAD ALSO GONE WITH MAUDE MERRILL TO CLAUDE'S STORE'



ful fashion that had won Mrs. Wiley's
heart thirty years before, now fell upon the
empty air. Now, in Old Kennebec's " an-
ecdotage," his pipe was his best listener
and his truest confidant.

Mr. Wiley's intercessions with his wife
made Rose's home-coming easier ; but the
days went on, and nothing happened to
change the situation. The corn waved in



of any engagement, and he wondered if it
were possible that her love for Claude
Merrill had not, after all, been returned in
kind. This .seemed a wild impos.sibility.
His mind refused to entertain the suppo.si-
tion 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



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THE CENTURY MAGAZINE



than ever, and grew soberer and more care-
worn daily. The " To Let " sign on the
little house was an arrant piece of hypoc-
risy. Nothing but the direst extremity
could have caused him to allow an alien
step on that sacred threshold. The plow-
ing up of the flower-beds 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 sus-
pecting 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 when-
ever 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 sur-
face 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 cam-
paign. 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 comer
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 for once let Old Kennebec have his
say out. 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 smile. " 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 '11 come along once a year
and mend the bridge under our feet, but
Old Kennebec '11 talk right on till the day
o' jedgment."

Mr. Wiley had one of the most enjoy-
able mornings of his life, and felt that after
half a century of neglect his powers were
at last appreciated by his fellow-citizens.

He proposed several strategic move-



ments to be made upon the logs, whereby
they would move more swiftly than usual.
He described several successful drives on
the Kennebec, when the logs had melted
down the river almost by magic, owing to
his generalship; and he paid a tribute, in
passing, to the docility of the boss, who on
that occasion had never moved a log with-
out his (Old Kennebec's) advice.

From this topic he proceeded genially
to narrate the life-histories of the boss, the
under-boss, and several Indians belong-
ing to the crew— histories in which he
himself played a gallant and conspicuous
part. The conversation then drifted nat-
urally to the exploits of river-drivers in
general, and Mr. Wiley described the sorts
of feats in log-riding, pickpole-throwing,
and the shooting of rapids that he had
done in his youth. These stories were such as
had seldom been heard by the ear of man ;
and, as they passed into circulation instan-
taneously, we are probably enjoying some
of them to this day. They were still being
told when a Crambry child appeared on the
bridge, bearing a note for the old man.

Upon reading it, he moved off rapidly
in the direction of the store, ejaculating:
" Bless my soul ! I clean forgot that salera-
tus, and mother's settin' at the kitchen table,
with the bowl in her lap, waitin* for it ! "

The connubial discussion that followed
this breach of discipline began on the ar-
rival of the saleratus, and lasted through
supper ; and Rose went to bed almost im-
mediately afterward for very dullness and
apathy. Her life stretched out before her
in the most aimless and monotonous fash-
ion. She saw nothing but heartache in the
future; and that she richly deserved it
made it none the easier to bear.

Feeling feverish and sleepless, she slipped
on a dressing-gown and stole quietly down-
stairs for a breath of air. Her grandfather
and grandmother were talking on the
piazza, and in passing the open window
she halted at the sound of Stephen's name.

"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 to-
morrow momin' 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 momin' at the breedge.



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ROSE O' THE RIVER



125



so I *11 get the latest news o' the boy.
Land I I *11 be tumble glad if he gits out
with his eyesight, if it 's only for Steve's
sake. He 's a tumble good feller, Steve
is ! He said something to-night that made
me set more store by him than ever. I
told you I hed n*t heard an unkind word
ag'in* Rose sence she come home from
Boston, an' no more I hev till this evenin'.
There was half a dozen fellers talkin' in the
store, an* they did n't suspicion I was settin'
on the steps outside the screen-door. That
Jim Jenkins, that Rose so everlastin'ly
snubbed once, 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, just 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 I 'm alive, Rose
Wiley can have me, for one; and that
everybody 's welcome to know.' "



XV



HOUSEBREAKING

Where was the pale Rose, the faded Rose,
that crept noiselessly down from her room,
wanting neither to speak nor to be spoken
to? Nobody ever knew. She vanished
forever, and in her place a thing of sparkles
and dimples flashed up the stairway and
closed the door softly. There was a streak
of moonshine lying across the bare floor,
and a merry Httle ghost, with dressing-gown
held prettily away from bare feet, danced
a gay fandango among the yellow moon-
beams. There were breathless flights to
the open window, and kisses thrown in
the direction of the River Farm. There
were impressive declamations at the look-
ing-glass, where a radiant creature pointed
to her reflection and whispered, " Worth-
less little pig, he loves you, after all ! "

Then, when quiet joy had taken the place
of mad delight, there was a swoop down
upon knees, an impetuous hiding of brim-
ming eyes in the white counterpane, and a
dozen impassioned promises to be a better
girl.

A period of grave reflection now ensued,
under the bedclothes, where one could
think better. Suddenly an inspiration seized
her— an inspiration so original, so deli-
cious, and above all so humble and praise-



worthy, that it brought her head from her
pillow, and she sat bolt upright, clapping
her hands hke a child.

** The very thing I " she whispered to
herself gleefully. "It will take courage,
but I 'm sure of my ground after what he
said, and I '11 do it. Grandma in Bidde-
ford buying church carpets, Stephen in
Portland — was ever such a chance ? "

The same glowing Rose came down-
stairs, two steps at a time, next morning,
bade her grandmother good-by with sus-
picious pleasure, and sent her grandfather
away on an errand which, with attendant
conversation, would consume half the day.
Then bundles after bundles, and baskets
after baskets, were packed into the wagon
—behind the seat, beneath the seat, and
finally under the lap-robe. She gave a
dramatic flourish to the whip, drove across
the bridge, -went through Pleasant River
village, and up. the river road to the little
house, stared the ** To Let " sign scornfully
in the eye, alighted,. and ran like a deer
through the aisles of waving com, past
the kitchen windows, to the back door.

"If he has kept the big key in the old
place under the stone, where we both used
to find it, then he has n't forgotten me—
or anything," thought Rose.

The key was there, and Rose lifted it
with a sob of gratitude. It was but five
minutes' work to carry all the bundles from
the wagon to the back steps, and another
fivt to lead old Tom across the road into
the woods and tie him to a tree quite out
of the sight of any passer-by.

When, after running back, she turned
the key in the lock, her heart gave a leap
almost of terror, and she started at the
sound of her own footfall. Through the
open door the sunlight streamed into the
dark room. She flew to tables and chairs
and gave a rapid sweep of the hand over
their surfaces.

"He has been dusting here— and within
a few days, too," she thought triumphantly.

1'he kitchen was perfection, as she al-
ways knew it would be, with one door
opening to the shaded road and the other
looking on the river ; windows, too, fram-
ing the apple-orchard and the elms. She
had chosen the furniture, but how differ-
ently it looked now that it was actually in
place I The tiny shed had piles of split
wood, with great boxes of kindlings and
shavings, all in readiness for the bride, who



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ROSE O* THE RIVER



127



would do her own cooking. Who but
Stephen would have made the very wood
ready for a woman's home-coming; and
why had he done so much in May, when
they were not to be married until August ?
Then the door of the bedroom was stealth-
ily opened, and here Rose sat down and
cried for joy and shame and hope and fear.
The very flowered paper she had refased as
too expensive ! How lovely it looked with
the white chamber set ! She brought in her
simple wedding outfit of blankets, bed-linen,
and counterpanes, and folded them softly
in the closet ; and then for the rest of the
morning she went from room to room,
doing all that could remain undiscovered,
even to laying a fire in the new stove.

This was the plan. Stephen must pass
the house on his way from the River Farm
to the bridge, where he was to join the river-
drivers on Monday morning. She would
be out of bed by the earliest peep of dawn,
put on Stephen's favorite pink calico, leave
a note for her grandmother, run like a hare
down her side of the river and up Stephens,
steal into the house, open blinds and win-
dows, light the fire, and set the kettle boil-
ing. Then with a sharp knife she would
cut down two rows of corn, and thus make
a green pathway from the front kitchen
steps to the road. Next, the false and in-
sulting "To Let** sign would be forcibly
tweaked from the tree and thrown into the
grass. She would then lay the table in the
kitchen, and make ready the nicest break-
fast that two people ever sat down to.
And oh, would two people sit down to it ;
or would one go off in a rage and the other
die of grief and disappointment ?

Then, having done all, she would wait
and palpitate, and palpitate and wait, till
Stephen came. Surely no property-owner
in the universe could drive along a road,
observe his com leveled to the earth, his
sign removed, his house open, and smoke
issuing from his chimney, without coming
in to surprise the rogue and villain who
could be guilty of such vandalism.

And when he came in ?

Oh, she had all day Sunday in which to
forecast, with mingled dread and gladness
and suspense, that all-important, all-de-
cisive first moment! All day Sunday to
frame and unframe penitent speeches. All
day Sunday ! Would it ever be Monday ? If
so, what would Tuesday bring? Would
the sun rise on happy Mrs. Stephen Water-



man of Pleasant River, or on miserable Miss
Rose Wiley of the Brier Neighborhood?

XVI

THE DREAM-ROOM

Long ago, when Stephen was a boy of
fourteen or fifteen, he had gone with his
father to a distant town to spend the night.
After an early breakfast next morning his
father drove off for a business interview,
and left the boy to walk about during his
absence. He wandered aimlessly along a
quiet side street, and threw himself down
on the grass outside a pretty garden to
amuse himself as best he could.

After a few minutes he heard voices,
and, turning, peeped through the bars of
the gate in idle, boyish curiosity. It was a
small brown house ; the kitchen door was
open, and a table spread with a white cloth
was set in the middle of the room. There
was a cradle in a far comer, and a man
was seated at the table as if he might be
waiting for his breakfast.

There is a kind of sentiment about the
kitchen in New England— a kind of senti-
ment not provoked by other rooms. Here
the farmer drops in to spend a few minutes
when he comes back from the bam or field
on an errand. Here, in the great, clean,
sweet, comfortable place, the busy house-
wife lives, sometimes rocking the cradle,
sometimes opening and shutting the oven
door, sometimes stirring the pot, darning
stockings, paring vegetables, or mixing
goodies in a yellow bowl. The children
sit on the steps, stringing beans, shelling
peas, or hulling berries ; the cat sleeps on
the floor near the wood-box ; and the visitor
feels exiled if he stays in sitting-room or
parlor, for here, where the mother is always
busy, is the heart of the farm-house.

There was an open back door to this
kitchen, a door framed in morning-glories,
and the woman (or was she only girl ?)
standing at the stove was pretty — oh, so
pretty in Stephen's eyes I His boyish heart
went out to her on the instant. She poured
a cup of coffee and walked with it to the
table ; then an unexi)ected, interesting
thing happened — something the boy ought
not to have seen, and never forgot. The
man, putting out his hand to take the cup,
looked up at the pretty woman with a
smile, and she stooped and kissed him.

Stephen was fifteen. As he looked, on



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THE CENTURY MAGAZINE



the instant he became a man, with a man's
hopes, desires, ambitions. He looked
eagerly, hungrily, and the scene burned
itself on the sensitive plate of his young



— behold, by some spiritual chemistry, the
pretty woman's face had given place to
that of Rose !

All such teasing visions had been sternly



Drawrii by George Wriyht. Half-tone plate engraved by F. H. Wellington
"'DON'T SPEAK, STEPHEN. TILL VOU HEAR WHAT I HAVE TO SAV



heart, so that, as he grew older, he could
take the picture out in the dark, from time
to time, and look at it again. When he first
met Rose, he did not know precisely what
she was to mean to him ; but before long,
when he closed his eyes and the old famil-
iar picture swam into his field of vision.



banished during this sorrowful summer,
and it was a thoughtful, sober Stephen who
drove along the road on this mellow Au-
gust morning. The dust was deep; the
goldenrod waved its imperial plumes, mak-
ing the humble waysides gorgeous; the
river chattered and sparkled till it met the



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ROSE O' THE RIVER



129



logs at the Brier Neighborhood, and then,
lapsing into silence, flowed steadily under
them till it found a vent for its spirits in
the dashing and splashing of the falls.

Ha5dng was over ; logging was to begin
that day ; then harvesting ; then wood-cut-
ting ; then eternal successions of plowing,
sowing, reaping, haying, logging, harvest-
ing, and so on, to the endless end of his
days. Here and there a red or a yellow
branch, painted only yesterday, caught
his eye and made him shiver. He was
not ready for winter ; his heart still craved
the summer it had missed.

Hello! What was that? Corn-stalks
prone on the earth ? Sign torn down and
lying flat in the grass? Blinds open, fire
in the chimney?

He leaped from the wagon and, flinging
the reins to Alcestis Crambry, said : " Stay
right here out of sight, and don't you move
till I call you ! '* and striding up the green
pathway, flung open the kitchen door.

A green forest of com waving in the
doorway at the back; morning-glories
clambering round and round the window-
frames; table with shining white cloth;
kettle humming and steaming ; something
bubbling in a pan on the stove ; fire throw-
ing out sweet little gleams of welcome
through the open damper. All this was
taken in in one incredulous, rapturous
twinkle of an eye ; but something else, too,
— Rose, Rose o* the river. Rose o' the
world, standing behind a chair, her hand
pressed against her heart, her lips parted,
her breath coming and going. She was
glowing like a jewel, glowing with that
extraordinary brilliancy that emotion gives
to some women. She used to be happy in
a gay, sparkling way like the shallow part



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