The Only Rose by Sarah Orne Jewett
Just where the village abruptly ended, and the green mowing fields
began, stood Mrs. Bickford's house, looking down the road with all its
windows, and topped by two prim chimneys that stood up like ears. It
was placed with an end to the road, and fronted southward; you could
follow a straight path from the gate past the front door and find Mrs.
Bickford sitting by the last window of all in the kitchen, unless she
were solemnly stepping about, prolonging the stern duties of her
One day in early summer, when almost every one else in Fairfield had
put her house plants out of doors, there were still three flower pots
on a kitchen window sill. Mrs. Bickford spent but little time over her
rose and geranium and Jerusalem cherry-tree, although they had gained a
kind of personality born of long association. They rarely undertook to
bloom, but had most courageously maintained life in spite of their
owner's unsympathetic but conscientious care. Later in the season she
would carry them out of doors, and leave them, until the time of
frosts, under the shade of a great apple-tree, where they might make
the best of what the summer had to give.
The afternoon sun was pouring in, the Jerusalem cherry-tree drooped
its leaves in the heat and looked pale, when a neighbor, Miss
Pendexter, came in from the next house but one to make a friendly call.
As she passed the parlor with its shut blinds, and the sitting-room,
also shaded carefully from the light, she wished, as she had done many
times before, that somebody beside the owner might have the pleasure of
living in and using so good and pleasant a house. Mrs. Bickford always
complained of having so much care, even while she valued herself
intelligently upon having the right to do as she pleased with one of
the best houses in Fairfield. Miss Pendexter was a cheerful, even gay
little person, who always brought a pleasant flurry of excitement, and
usually had a genuine though small piece of news to tell, or some new
aspect of already received information.
Mrs. Bickford smiled as she looked up to see this sprightly neighbor
coming. She had no gift at entertaining herself, and was always glad,
as one might say, to be taken off her own hands.
Miss Pendexter smiled back, as if she felt herself to be equal to
How be you to-day? the guest asked kindly, as she entered the
kitchen. Why, what a sight o' flowers, Mis' Bickford! What be you
goin' to do with 'em all?
Mrs. Bickford wore a grave expression as she glanced over her
spectacles. My sister's boy fetched 'em over, she answered. You know
my sister Parsons's a great hand to raise flowers, an' this boy takes
after her. He said his mother thought the gardin never looked
handsomer, and she picked me these to send over. They was sendin' a
team to Westbury for some fertilizer to put on the land, an' he come
with the men, an' stopped to eat his dinner 'long o' me. He's been
growin' fast, and looks peaked. I expect sister 'Liza thought the ride,
this pleasant day, would do him good. 'Liza sent word for me to come
over and pass some days next week, but it ain't so that I can.
Why, it's a pretty time of year to go off and make a little visit,
suggested the neighbor encouragingly.
I ain't got my sitting-room chamber carpet taken up yet, sighed
Mrs. Bickford. I do feel condemned. I might have done it to-day, but
't was all at end when I saw Tommy coming. There, he's a likely boy,
an' so relished his dinner; I happened to be well prepared. I don't
know but he's my favorite o' that family. Only I've been sittin' here
thinkin', since he went, an' I can't remember that I ever was so
belated with my spring cleaning.
'T was owin' to the weather, explained Miss Pendexter. None of us
could be so smart as common this year, not even the lazy ones that
always get one room done the first o' March, and brag of it to others'
shame, and then never let on when they do the rest.
The two women laughed together cheerfully. Mrs. Bickford had put up
the wide leaf of her large table between the windows and spread out the
flowers. She was sorting them slowly into three heaps.
Why, I do declare if you haven't got a rose in bloom yourself!
exclaimed Miss Pendexter abruptly, as if the bud had not been announced
weeks before, and its progress regularly commented upon. Ain't it a
lovely rose? Why, Mis' Bickford!
Yes 'm, it's out to-day, said Mrs. Bickford, with a somewhat
plaintive air. I'm glad you come in so as to see it.
The bright flower was like a face. Somehow, the beauty and life of
it were surprising in the plain room, like a gay little child who might
suddenly appear in a doorway. Miss Pendexter forgot herself and her
hostess and the tangled mass of garden flowers in looking at the red
rose. She even forgot that it was incumbent upon her to carry forward
the conversation. Mrs. Bickford was subject to fits of untimely silence
which made her friends anxiously sweep the corners of their minds in
search of something to say, but any one who looked at her now could
easily see that it was not poverty of thought that made her speechless,
but an overburdening sense of the inexpressible.
Goin' to make up all your flowers into bo'quets? I think the
short-stemmed kinds is often pretty in a dish, suggested Miss
I thought I should make them into three bo'quets. I wish there
wa'n't quite so many. Sister Eliza's very lavish with her flowers;
she's always been a kind sister, too, said Mrs. Bickford vaguely. She
was not apt to speak with so much sentiment, and as her neighbor looked
at her narrowly she detected unusual signs of emotion. It suddenly
became evident that the three nosegays were connected in her mind with
her bereavement of three husbands, and Miss Pendexter's easily roused
curiosity was quieted by the discovery that her friend was bent upon a
visit to the burying-ground. It was the time of year when she was
pretty sure to spend an afternoon there, and sometimes they had taken
the walk in company. Miss Pendexter expected to receive the usual
invitation, but there was nothing further said at the moment, and she
looked again at the pretty rose.
Mrs. Bickford aimlessly handled the syringas and flowering almond
sprays, choosing them out of the fragrant heap only to lay them down
again. She glanced out of the window; then gave Miss Pendexter a long
I expect you're going to carry 'em over to the burying-ground?
inquired the guest, in a sympathetic tone.
Yes 'm, said the hostess, now well started in conversation and in
quite her every-day manner. You see I was goin' over to my brother's
folks to-morrow in South Fairfield, to pass the day; they said they
were goin' to send over to-morrow to leave a wagon at the blacksmith's,
and they'd hitch that to their best chaise, so I could ride back very
comfortable. You know I have to avoid bein' out in the mornin' sun?
Miss Pendexter smiled to herself at this moment; she was obliged to
move from her chair at the window, the May sun was so hot on her back,
for Mrs. Bickford always kept the curtains rolled high up, out of the
way, for fear of fading and dust. The kitchen was a blaze of light. As
for the Sunday chaise being sent, it was well known that Mrs.
Bickford's married brothers and sisters comprehended the truth that she
was a woman of property, and had neither chick nor child.
So I thought 't was a good opportunity to just stop an' see if the
lot was in good order,last spring Mr. Wallis's stone hove with the
frost; an' so I could take these flowers. She gave a sigh. I ain't
one that can bear flowers in a close room,they bring on a headache;
but I enjoy 'em as much as anybody to look at, only you never know what
to put 'em in. If I could be out in the mornin' sun, as some do, and
keep flowers in the house, I should have me a gardin, certain, and she
A garden's a sight o' care, but I don't begrudge none o' the care I
give to mine. I have to scant on flowers so 's to make room for pole
beans, said Miss Pendexter gayly. She had only a tiny strip of land
behind her house, but she always had something to give away, and made
riches out of her narrow poverty. A few flowers gives me just as much
pleasure as more would, she added. You get acquainted with things
when you've only got one or two roots. My sweet-williams is just like
Mr. Bickford was partial to sweet-williams, said Mrs. Bickford. I
never knew him to take notice of no other sort of flowers. When we'd be
over to Eliza's, he'd walk down her gardin, an' he'd never make no
comments until he come to them, and then he'd say, 'Those is
sweet-williams.' How many times I've heard him!
You ought to have a sprig of 'em for his bo'quet, suggested Miss
Yes, I've put a sprig in, said her companion.
At this moment Miss Pendexter took a good look at the bouquets, and
found that they were as nearly alike as careful hands could make them.
Mrs. Bickford was evidently trying to reach absolute impartiality.
I don't know but you think it's foolish to tie 'em up this
afternoon, she said presently, as she wound the first with a stout
string. I thought I could put 'em in a bucket o' water out in the
shed, where there's a draught o' air, and then I should have all my
time in the morning. I shall have a good deal to do before I go. I
always sweep the setting-room and front entry Wednesdays. I want to
leave everything nice, goin' away for all day so. So I meant to get the
flowers out o' the way this afternoon. Why, it's most half past four,
ain't it? But I sha'n't pick the rose till mornin'; 't will be blowed
out better then.
The rose? questioned Miss Pendexter. Why, are you goin' to pick
Yes, I be. I never like to let 'em fade on the bush. There, that's
just what's a-troublin' me, and she turned to give a long, imploring
look at the friend who sat beside her. Miss Pendexter had moved her
chair before the table in order to be out of the way of the sun. I
don't seem to know which of 'em ought to have it, said Mrs. Bickford
despondently. I do so hate to make a choice between 'em; they all had
their good points, especially Mr. Bickford, and I respected 'em all. I
don't know but what I think of one on 'em 'most as much as I do of the
Why, 'tis difficult for you, ain't it? responded Miss Pendexter.
I don't know's I can offer advice.
No, I s'pose not, answered her friend slowly, with a shadow of
disappointment coming over her calm face. I feel sure you would if you
Both of the women felt as if they were powerless before a great
There's one thing,they're all in a better world now, said Miss
Pendexter, in a self-conscious and constrained voice; they can't feel
such little things or take note o' slights same's we can.
No; I suppose 't is myself that wants to be just, answered Mrs.
Bickford. I feel under obligations to my last husband when I look
about and see how comfortable he left me. Poor Mr. Wallis had his great
projects, an' perhaps if he'd lived longer he'd have made a record; but
when he died he'd failed all up, owing to that patent corn-sheller he'd
put everything into, and, as you know, I had to get along 'most any way
I could for the next few years. Life was very disappointing with Mr.
Wallis, but he meant well, an' used to be an amiable person to dwell
with, until his temper got spoilt makin' so many hopes an' havin' 'em
turn out failures. He had consider'ble of an air, an' dressed very
handsome when I was first acquainted with him, Mr. Wallis did. I don't
know's you ever knew Mr. Wallis in his prime?
He died the year I moved over here from North Denfield, said Miss
Pendexter, in a tone of sympathy. I just knew him by sight. I was to
his funeral. You know you lived in what we call the Wells house then,
and I felt it wouldn't be an intrusion, we was such near neighbors. The
first time I ever was in your house was just before that, when he was
sick, an' Mary 'Becca Wade an' I called to see if there was anything we
They used to say about town that Mr. Wallis went to an' fro like a
mail-coach an' brought nothin' to pass, announced Mrs. Bickford
without bitterness. He ought to have had a better chance than he did
in this little neighborhood. You see, he had excellent ideas, but he
never'd learned the machinist's trade, and there was somethin' the
matter with every model he contrived. I used to be real narrow-minded
when he talked about moving 'way up to Lowell, or some o' them places;
I hated to think of leaving my folks; and now I see that I never done
right by him. His ideas was good. I know once he was on a jury, and
there was a man stopping to the tavern where he was, near the court
house, a man that traveled for a firm to Lowell; and they engaged in
talk, an' Mr. Wallis let out some o' his notions an' contrivances, an'
he said that man wouldn't hardly stop to eat, he was so interested, an'
said he'd look for a chance for him up to Lowell. It all sounded so
well that I kind of begun to think about goin' myself. Mr. Wallis said
we'd close the house here, and go an' board through the winter. But he
never heard a word from him, and the disappointment was one he never
got over. I think of it now different from what I did then. I often
used to be kind of disapproving to Mr. Wallis; but there, he used to be
always tellin' over his great projects. Somebody told me once that a
man by the same name of the one he met while he was to court had got
some patents for the very things Mr. Wallis used to be workin' over;
but 't was after he died, an' I don't know's 't was in him to ever
really set things up so other folks could ha' seen their value. His
machines always used to work kind of rickety, but folks used to come
from all round to see 'em; they was curiosities if they wa'n't nothin'
else, an' gave him a name.
Mrs. Bickford paused a moment, with some geranium leaves in her
hand, and seemed to suppress with difficulty a desire to speak even
He was a dreadful notional man, she said at last, regretfully, and
as if this fact were a poor substitute for what had just been in her
mind. I recollect one time he worked all through the early winter over
my churn, an' got it so it would go three quarters of an hour all of
itself if you wound it up; an' if you'll believe it, he went an' spent
all that time for nothin' when the cow was dry, an' we was with
difficulty borrowin' a pint o' milk a day somewheres in the
neighborhood just to get along with. Mrs. Bickford flushed with
displeasure, and turned to look at her visitor. Now what do you think
of such a man as that, Miss Pendexter? she asked.
Why, I don't know but 't was just as good for an invention,
answered Miss Pendexter timidly; but her friend looked doubtful, and
did not appear to understand.
Then I asked him where it was, one day that spring when I'd got
tired to death churnin', an' the butter wouldn't come in a churn I'd
had to borrow, and he'd gone an' took ours all to pieces to get the
works to make some other useless contrivance with. He had no sort of a
business turn, but he was well meanin', Mr. Wallis was, an' full o'
divertin' talk; they used to call him very good company. I see now that
he never had no proper chance. I've always regretted Mr. Wallis, said
she who was now the widow Bickford.
I'm sure you always speak well of him, said Miss Pendexter. 'T
was a pity he hadn't got among good business men, who could push his
inventions an' do all the business part.
I was left very poor an' needy for them next few years, said Mrs.
Bickford mournfully; but he never'd give up but what he should die
worth his fifty thousand dollars. I don't see now how I ever did get
along them next few years without him; but there, I always managed to
keep a pig, an' sister Eliza gave me my potatoes, and I made out
somehow. I could dig me a few greens, you know, in spring, and then 't
would come strawberry-time, and other berries a-followin' on. I was
always decent to go to meetin' till within the last six months, an'
then I went in bad weather, when folks wouldn't notice; but 't was a
rainy summer, an' I managed to get considerable preachin' after all. My
clothes looked proper enough when 't was a wet Sabbath. I often think
o' them pinched days now, when I'm left so comfortable by Mr.
Yes 'm, you've everything to be thankful for, said Miss Pendexter,
who was as poor herself at that moment as her friend had ever been, and
who could never dream of venturing upon the support and companionship
of a pig. Mr. Bickford was a very personable man, she hastened to
say, the confidences were so intimate and interesting.
Oh, very, replied Mrs. Bickford; there was something about him
that was very marked. Strangers would always ask who he was as he come
into meetin'. His words counted; he never spoke except he had to. 'T
was a relief at first after Mr. Wallis's being so fluent; but Mr.
Wallis was splendid company for winter evenings,'t would be eight
o'clock before you knew it. I didn't use to listen to it all, but he
had a great deal of information. Mr. Bickford was dreadful dignified; I
used to be sort of meechin' with him along at the first, for fear he'd
disapprove of me; but I found out 'twa'n't no need; he was always just
that way, an' done everything by rule an' measure. He hadn't the mind
of my other husbands, but he was a very dignified appearing man; he
used 'most always to sleep in the evenin's, Mr. Bickford did.
Them is lovely bo'quets, certain! exclaimed Miss Pendexter. Why,
I couldn't tell 'em apart; the flowers are comin' out just right,
Mrs. Bickford nodded assent, and then, startled by sudden
recollection, she cast a quick glance at the rose in the window.
I always seem to forget about your first husband, Mr. Fraley, Miss
Pendexter suggested bravely. I've often heard you speak of him, too,
but he'd passed away long before I ever knew you.
He was but a boy, said Mrs. Bickford. I thought the world was
done for me when he died, but I've often thought since 't was a mercy
for him. He come of a very melancholy family, and all his brothers an'
sisters enjoyed poor health; it might have been his lot. Folks said we
was as pretty a couple as ever come into church; we was both dark, with
black eyes an' a good deal o' color,you wouldn't expect it to see me
now. Albert was one that held up his head, and looked as if he meant to
own the town, an' he had a good word for everybody. I don't know what
the years might have brought.
There was a long pause. Mrs. Bickford leaned over to pick up a
heavy-headed Guelder-rose that had dropped on the floor.
I expect 't was what they call fallin' in love, she added, in a
different tone; he wa'n't nothin' but a boy, an' I wa'n't nothin' but
a girl, but we was dreadful happy. He didn't favor his folks,they all
had hay-colored hair and was faded-looking, except his mother; they was
alike, and looked alike, an' set everything by each other. He was just
the kind of strong, hearty young man that goes right off if they get a
fever. We was just settled on a little farm, an' he'd have done well if
he'd had time; as it was, he left debts. He had a hasty temper, that
was his great fault, but Albert had a lovely voice to sing; they said
there wa'n't no such tenor voice in this part o' the State. I could
hear him singin' to himself right out in the field a-ploughin' or
hoein', an' he didn't know it half o' the time, no more 'n a common
bird would. I don't know's I valued his gift as I ought to, but there
was nothin' ever sounded so sweet to me. I ain't one that ever had much
fancy, but I knowed Albert had a pretty voice.
Mrs. Bickford's own voice trembled a little, but she held up the
last bouquet and examined it critically. I must hurry now an' put
these in water, she said, in a matter of fact tone. Little Miss
Pendexter was so quiet and sympathetic that her hostess felt no more
embarrassed than if she had been talking only to herself.
Yes, they do seem to droop some; 't is a little warm for them here
in the sun, said Miss Pendexter; but you'll find they'll all come up
if you give them their fill o' water. They'll look very handsome
to-morrow; folks'll notice them from the road. You've arranged them
very tasty, Mis' Bickford.
They do look pretty, don't they? Mrs. Bickford regarded the three
in turn. I want to have them all pretty. You may deem it strange,
Why, no, Mis' Bickford, said the guest sincerely, although a
little perplexed by the solemnity of the occasion. I know how 'tis
with friends,that having one don't keep you from wantin' another;
'tis just like havin' somethin' to eat, and then wantin' somethin' to
drink just the same. I expect all friends find their places.
But Mrs. Bickford was not interested in this figure, and still
looked vague and anxious as she began to brush the broken stems and
wilted leaves into her wide calico apron. I done the best I could
while they was alive, she said, and mourned 'em when I lost 'em, an'
I feel grateful to be left so comfortable now when all is over. It
seems foolish, but I'm still at a loss about that rose.
Perhaps you'll feel sure when you first wake up in the morning,
answered Miss Pendexter solicitously. It's a case where I don't deem
myself qualified to offer you any advice. But I'll say one thing,
seeing's you've been so friendly spoken and confiding with me. I never
was married myself, Mis' Bickford, because it wa'n't so that I could
have the one I liked.
I suppose he ain't livin', then? Why, I wan't never aware you had
met with a disappointment, Abby, said Mrs. Bickford instantly. None of
her neighbors had ever suspected little Miss Pendexter of a romance.
Yes 'm, he's livin', replied Miss Pendexter humbly. No 'm, I
never have heard that he died.
I want to know! exclaimed the woman of experience. Well, I'll
tell you this, Abby: you may have regretted your lot, and felt lonesome
and hardshipped, but they all have their faults, and a single woman's
got her liberty, if she ain't got other blessin's.
'T wouldn't have been my choice to live alone, said Abby, meeker
than before. I feel very thankful for my blessin's, all the same.
You've always been a kind neighbor, Mis' Bickford.
Why can't you stop to tea? asked the elder woman, with unusual
cordiality; but Miss Pendexter remembered that her hostess often
expressed a dislike for unexpected company, and promptly took her
departure after she had risen to go, glancing up at the bright flower
as she passed outside the window. It seemed to belong most to Albert,
but she had not liked to say so. The sun was low; the green fields
stretched away southward into the misty distance.
Mrs. Bickford's house appeared to watch her out of sight down the
road, the next morning. She had lost all spirit for her holiday.
Perhaps it was the unusual excitement of the afternoon's reminiscences,
or it might have been simply the bright moonlight night which had kept
her broad awake until dawn, thinking of the past, and more and more
concerned about the rose. By this time it had ceased to be merely a
flower, and had become a definite symbol and assertion of personal
choice. She found it very difficult to decide. So much of her present
comfort and well-being was due to Mr. Bickford; still, it was Mr.
Wallis who had been most unfortunate, and to whom she had done least
justice. If she owed recognition to Mr. Bickford, she certainly owed
amends to Mr. Wallis. If she gave him the rose, it would be for the
sake of affectionate apology. And then there was Albert, to whom she
had no thought of being either indebted or forgiving. But she could not
escape from the terrible feeling of indecision.
It was a beautiful morning for a drive, but Mrs. Bickford was kept
waiting some time for the chaise. Her nephew, who was to be her escort,
had found much social advantage at the blacksmith's shop, so that it
was after ten when she finally started with the three large flat-backed
bouquets, covered with a newspaper to protect them from the sun. The
petals of the almond flowers were beginning to scatter, and now and
then little streams of water leaked out of the newspaper and trickled
down the steep slope of her best dress to the bottom of the chaise.
Even yet she had not made up her mind; she had stopped trying to deal
with such an evasive thing as decision, and leaned back and rested as
best she could.
What an old fool I be! she rebuked herself from time to time, in
so loud a whisper that her companion ventured a respectful What,
ma'am? and was astonished that she made no reply. John was a handsome
young man, but Mrs. Bickford could never cease thinking of him as a
boy. He had always been her favorite among the younger members of the
family, and now returned this affectionate feeling, being possessed of
an instinctive confidence in the sincerities of his prosaic aunt.
As they drove along, there had seemed at first to be something
unsympathetic and garish about the beauty of the summer day. After the
shade and shelter of the house, Mrs. Bickford suffered even more from a
contracted and assailed feeling out of doors. The very trees by the
roadside had a curiously fateful, trying way of standing back to watch
her, as she passed in the acute agony of indecision, and she was
annoyed and startled by a bird that flew too near the chaise in a
moment of surprise. She was conscious of a strange reluctance to the
movement of the Sunday chaise, as if she were being conveyed against
her will; but the companionship of her nephew John grew every moment to
be more and more a reliance. It was very comfortable to sit by his
side, even though he had nothing to say; he was manly and cheerful, and
she began to feel protected.
Aunt Bickford, he suddenly announced, I may's well out with it!
I've got a piece o' news to tell you, if you won't let on to nobody. I
expect you'll laugh, but you know I've set everything by Mary Lizzie
Gifford ever since I was a boy. Well, sir!
Well, sir! exclaimed aunt Bickford in her turn, quickly roused
into most comfortable self-forgetfulness. I am really pleased. She'll
make you a good, smart wife, John. Ain't all the folks pleased, both
Yes, they be, answered John soberly, with a happy, important look
that became him well.
I guess I can make out to do something for you to help along, when
the right time comes, said aunt Bickford impulsively, after a moment's
reflection. I've known what it is to be starting out in life with
plenty o' hope. You ain't calculatin' on gettin' married before
fall,or be ye?
'Long in the fall, said John regretfully. I wish t' we could set
up for ourselves right away this summer. I ain't got much ahead, but I
can work well as anybody, an' now I'm out o' my time.
She's a nice, modest, pretty girl. I thought she liked you, John,
said the old aunt. I saw her over to your mother's, last day I was
there. Well, I expect you'll be happy.
Certain, said John, turning to look at her affectionately,
surprised by this outspokenness and lack of embarrassment between them.
Thank you, aunt, he said simply; you're a real good friend to me;
and he looked away again hastily, and blushed a fine scarlet over his
sun-browned face. She's coming over to spend the day with the girls,
he added. Mother thought of it. You don't get over to see us very
Mrs. Bickford smiled approvingly. John's mother looked for her good
opinion, no doubt, but it was very proper for John to have told his
prospects himself, and in such a pretty way. There was no
shilly-shallying about the boy.
My gracious! said John suddenly. I'd like to have drove right by
the burying-ground. I forgot we wanted to stop.
Strange as it may appear, Mrs. Bickford herself had not noticed the
burying-ground, either, in her excitement and pleasure; now she felt
distressed and responsible again, and showed it in her face at once.
The young man leaped lightly to the ground, and reached for the
Here, you just let me run up with 'em, he said kindly. 'T is hot
in the sun to-day, an' you'll mind it risin' the hill. We'll stop as I
fetch you back to-night, and you can go up comfortable an' walk the
yard after sundown when it's cool, an' stay as long as you're a mind
to. You seem sort of tired, aunt.
I don't know but what I will let you carry 'em, said Mrs. Bickford
To leave the matter of the rose in the hands of fate seemed weakness
and cowardice, but there was not a moment for consideration. John was a
smiling fate, and his proposition was a great relief. She watched him
go away with a terrible inward shaking, and sinking of pride. She had
held the flowers with so firm a grasp that her hands felt weak and
numb, and as she leaned back and shut her eyes she was afraid to open
them again at first for fear of knowing the bouquets apart even at that
distance, and giving instructions which she might regret. With a sudden
impulse she called John once or twice eagerly; but her voice had a thin
and piping sound, and the meditative early crickets that chirped in the
fresh summer grass probably sounded louder in John's ears. The bright
light on the white stones dazzled Mrs. Bickford's eyes; and then all at
once she felt light-hearted, and the sky seemed to lift itself higher
and wider from the earth, and she gave a sigh of relief as her
messenger came back along the path. I know who I do hope's got the
right one, she said to herself. There, what a touse I be in! I don't
see what I had to go and pick the old rose for, anyway.
I declare, they did look real handsome, aunt, said John's hearty
voice as he approached the chaise. I set 'em up just as you told me.
This one fell out, an' I kept it. I don't know's you'll care. I can
give it to Lizzie.
He faced her now with a bright, boyish look. There was something gay
in his buttonhole,it was the red rose.
Aunt Bickford blushed like a girl. Your choice is easy made, she
faltered mysteriously, and then burst out laughing, there in front of
the burying-ground. Come, get right in, dear, she said. Well, well!
I guess the rose was made for you; it looks very pretty in your coat,
She thought of Albert, and the next moment the tears came into her
old eyes. John was a lover, too.
My first husband was just such a tall, straight young man as you
be, she said as they drove along. The flower he first give me was a