They took the River Road, that was shady all the way, and sweet now with the dropping scents of evening; it was a little longer, too, I think, though that is one of the local questions that have never yet been fully decided.
“How far does Miss Waite’s ground run along the river?” asked Kenneth, taking Rosamond’s shawl over his arm.
“Not far; it only just touches; it runs back and broadens toward the Old Turnpike. The best of it is in those woods and pastures.”
“So I thought. And the pastures are pretty much run out.”
“I suppose so. They are full of that lovely gray crackling moss.”
“Lovely for picnics. Don’t you think Miss Waite would like to sell?”
“Yes, indeed, if she could. That is her dream; what she has been laying up for her old age: to turn the acres into dollars, and build or buy a little cottage, and settle down safe. It is all she has in the world, except her dressmaking.”
“Mr. Geoffrey and Mr. Marchbanks want to buy. They will offer her sixteen thousand dollars. That is the secret,—part of it.”
“O, Mr. Kincaid! How glad,—how sorry, I can’t help being, too! Miss Waite to be so comfortable! And never to have her dear old woods to picnic in any more! I suppose they want to make streets and build it all up.”
“Not all. I’ll tell you. It is a beautiful plan. Mr. Geoffrey wants to build a street of twenty houses,—ten on a side,—with just a little garden plot for each, and leave the woods behind for a piece of nature for the general good,—a real Union Park; a place for children to play in, and grown folks to rest and walk and take tea in, if they choose; but for nobody to change or meddle with any further. And these twenty houses to be let to respectable persons of small means, at rents that will give him seven per cent, for his whole outlay. Don’t you see? Young people, and people like Miss Waite herself, who don’t want much house-room, but who want it nice and comfortable, and will keep it so, and who do want a little of God’s world-room to grow in, that they can’t get in the crowded town streets, where the land is selling by the foot to be all built over with human packing-cases, and where they have to pay as much for being shut up and smothered, as they will out here to live and breathe. That Mr. Geoffrey is a glorious man, Rosamond! He is doing just this same thing in the edges of three or four other towns, buying up the land just before it gets too dear, to save for people who could not save it for themselves. He is providing for a class that nobody seems to have thought of,—the nice, narrow-pursed people, and the young beginners, who get married and take the world in the old-fashioned way.”
He had no idea he had called her “Rosamond,” till he saw the color shining up so in her face verifying the name. Then it flashed out upon him as he sent his thought back through the last few sentences that he had spoken.