Homespun Tales HTML version

6. Hearts And Other Hearts
Stephen had brought a change of clothes, as he had a habit of being ducked once at least
during the day; and since there was a halt in the proceedings and no need of his services
for an hour or two, he found Rose and walked with her to a secluded spot where they
could watch the logs and not be seen by the people.
"You frightened everybody almost to death, jumping into the river," chided Rose.
Stephen laughed. "They thought I was a fool to save a fool, I suppose."
"Perhaps not as bad as that, but it did seem reckless."
"I know; and the boy, no doubt, would be better off dead; but so should I be, if I could
have let him die."
Rose regarded this strange point of view for a moment, and then silently acquiesced in it.
She was constantly doing this, and she often felt that her mental horizon broadened in the
act; but she could not be sure that Stephen grew any dearer to her because of his moral
"Besides," Stephen argued, "I happened to be nearest to the river, and it was my job."
"How do you always happen to be nearest to the people in trouble, and why is it always
your 'job'?"
"If there are any rewards for good conduct being distributed, I'm right in line with my
hand stretched out," Stephen replied, with meaning in his voice.
Rose blushed under her flowery hat as he led the way to a bench under a sycamore tree
that overhung the water.
She had almost convinced herself that she was as much in love with Stephen Waterman
as it was in her nature to be with anybody. He was handsome in his big way, kind,
generous, temperate, well educated, and well-to-do. No fault could be found with his
family, for his mother had been a teacher, and his father, though a farmer, a college
graduate. Stephen himself had had one year at Bowdoin, but had been recalled, as the
head of the house, when his father died. That was a severe blow; but his mother's death,
three years after, was a grief never to be quite forgotten. Rose, too, was the child of a
gently bred mother, and all her instincts were refined. Yes; Stephen in himself satisfied
her in all the larger wants of her nature, but she had an unsatisfied hunger for the world,--
the world of Portland, where her cousins lived; or, better still, the world of Boston, of
which she heard through Mrs. Wealthy Brooks, whose nephew Claude often came to visit