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 moon-shine lying across the bare floor, and a merry
ghost, with dressing-gown held prettily away from bare feet, danced a gay fandango
among the yellow moonbeams. There were breathless flights to the open window, and
kisses thrown in the direction of the River Farm. There were impressive declamations at
the looking-glass, where a radiant creature pointed to her reflection and whispered,
"Worthless little pig, he loves you, after all!"
Then, when quiet joy had taken the place of mad delight, there was a swoop down upon
the floor, an impetuous hiding of brimming eyes in the white counterpane, and a dozen
impassioned promises to herself and to something higher than herself, to be a better girl.
The mood lasted, and deepened, and still Rose did not move. Her heart was on its knees
before Stephen's faithful love, his chivalry, his strength. Her troubled spirit, like a frail
boat tossed about in the rapids, seemed entering a quiet harbor, where there were
protecting shores and a still, still evening star. Her sails were all torn and drooping, but
the harbor was in sight, and the poor little weather-beaten craft could rest in peace.
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 delicious, and
above all so humble and praiseworthy, that it brought her head from her pillow, and she
sat bolt upright, clapping her hands like a child.
"The very thing!" she whispered to herself gleefully. "It will take courage, but I'm sure of
my ground after what he said before them all, and I'll do it. Grandma in Biddeford buying
church carpets, Stephen in Portland--was ever such a chance?"
The same glowing Rose came downstairs, two steps at a time, next morning, bade her
grandmother goodbye with suspicious 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 leafy 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 corn, 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.