Infomotions, Inc.A Daughter of the Land / Stratton-Porter, Gene, 1863-1924



Author: Stratton-Porter, Gene, 1863-1924
Title: A Daughter of the Land
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): kate; nancy ellen; nancy; ellen; adam; nancy ellen's; aunt ollie; john jardine; george holt
Contributor(s): Hueffer, Francis, 1843-1889 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 128,798 words (average) Grade range: 6-8 (grade school) Readability score: 76 (easy)
Identifier: etext3722
Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

Discover what books you consider "great". Take the Great Books Survey.

Project Gutenberg's A Daughter Of The Land, by Gene Stratton-Porter
#8 in our series by Gene Stratton-Porter

Copyright laws are changing all over the world, be sure to check
the laws for your country before redistributing these files!!!

Please take a look at the important information in this header.
We encourage you to keep this file on your own disk, keeping an
electronic path open for the next readers.

Please do not remove this.

This should be the first thing seen when anyone opens the book.
Do not change or edit it without written permission.  The words
are carefully chosen to provide users with the information they
need about what they can legally do with the texts.


**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts**

**Etexts Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971**

*****These Etexts Are Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****

Information on contacting Project Gutenberg to get Etexts, and
further information is included below, including for donations.

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a 501(c)(3)
organization with EIN [Employee Identification Number] 64-6221541



Title: A Daughter Of The Land

Author: Gene Stratton-Porter

Release Date: February, 2003  [Etext #3722]
[Yes, we are about one year ahead of schedule]
[The actual date this file first posted = 08/08/01]
[Date last updated: March 9, 2005]

Edition: 10

Language: English

Project Gutenberg's A Daughter Of The Land, by Gene Stratton-Porter
********This file should be named adotl10.txt or adotl10.zip*******

Corrected EDITIONS of our etexts get a new NUMBER, adotl11.txt
VERSIONS based on separate sources get new LETTER, adotl10a.txt

Project Gutenberg Etexts are usually created from multiple editions,
all of which are in the Public Domain in the United States, unless a
copyright notice is included.  Therefore, we usually do NOT keep any
of these books in compliance with any particular paper edition.

We are now trying to release all our books one year in advance
of the official release dates, leaving time for better editing.
Please be encouraged to send us error messages even years after
the official publication date.

Please note neither this listing nor its contents are final til
midnight of the last day of the month of any such announcement.
The official release date of all Project Gutenberg Etexts is at
Midnight, Central Time, of the last day of the stated month.  A
preliminary version may often be posted for suggestion, comment
and editing by those who wish to do so.

Most people start at our sites at:
http://gutenberg.net
http://promo.net/pg


Those of you who want to download any Etext before announcement
can surf to them as follows, and just download by date; this is
also a good way to get them instantly upon announcement, as the
indexes our cataloguers produce obviously take a while after an
announcement goes out in the Project Gutenberg Newsletter.

http://www.ibiblio.org/gutenberg/etext03
or
ftp://ftp.ibiblio.org/pub/docs/books/gutenberg/etext03

Or /etext02, 01, 00, 99, 98, 97, 96, 95, 94, 93, 92, 92, 91 or 90

Just search by the first five letters of the filename you want,
as it appears in our Newsletters.


Information about Project Gutenberg (one page)

We produce about two million dollars for each hour we work.  The
time it takes us, a rather conservative estimate, is fifty hours
to get any etext selected, entered, proofread, edited, copyright
searched and analyzed, the copyright letters written, etc.  This
projected audience is one hundred million readers.  If our value
per text is nominally estimated at one dollar then we produce $2
million dollars per hour this year as we release fifty new Etext
files per month, or 500 more Etexts in 2000 for a total of 3000+
If they reach just 1-2% of the world's population then the total
should reach over 300 billion Etexts given away by year's end.

The Goal of Project Gutenberg is to Give Away One Trillion Etext
Files by December 31, 2001.  [10,000 x 100,000,000 = 1 Trillion]
This is ten thousand titles each to one hundred million readers,
which is only about 4% of the present number of computer users.

At our revised rates of production, we will reach only one-third
of that goal by the end of 2001, or about 4,000 Etexts unless we
manage to get some real funding.

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation has been created
to secure a future for Project Gutenberg into the next millennium.

We need your donations more than ever!

As of July 12, 2001 contributions are only being solicited from people in:
Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho,
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota,
Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North
Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota,
Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia,
Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

We have filed in about 45 states now, but these are the only ones
that have responded.

As the requirements for other states are met,
additions to this list will be made and fund raising
will begin in the additional states.  Please feel
free to ask to check the status of your state.

In answer to various questions we have received on this:

We are constantly working on finishing the paperwork
to legally request donations in all 50 states.  If
your state is not listed and you would like to know
if we have added it since the list you have, just ask.

While we cannot solicit donations from people in
states where we are not yet registered, we know
of no prohibition against accepting donations
from donors in these states who approach us with
an offer to donate.


International donations are accepted,
but we don't know ANYTHING about how
to make them tax-deductible, or
even if they CAN be made deductible,
and don't have the staff to handle it
even if there are ways.

All donations should be made to:

Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
PMB 113
1739 University Ave.
Oxford, MS 38655-4109


The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a 501(c)(3)
organization with EIN [Employee Identification Number] 64-6221541,
and has been approved as a 501(c)(3) organization by the US Internal
Revenue Service (IRS).  Donations are tax-deductible to the maximum
extent permitted by law.  As the requirements for other states are met,
additions to this list will be made and fund raising will begin in the
additional states.

We need your donations more than ever!

You can get up to date donation information at:

http://www.gutenberg.net/donation.html


***

If you can't reach Project Gutenberg,
you can always email directly to:

Michael S. Hart <hart@pobox.com>

hart@pobox.com forwards to hart@prairienet.org and archive.org
if your mail bounces from archive.org, I will still see it, if
it bounces from prairienet.org, better resend later on. . . .

Prof. Hart will answer or forward your message.

We would prefer to send you information by email.


***


Example command-line FTP session:

ftp ftp.ibiblio.org
login: anonymous
password: your@login
cd pub/docs/books/gutenberg
cd etext90 through etext99 or etext00 through etext02, etc.
dir [to see files]
get or mget [to get files. . .set bin for zip files]
GET GUTINDEX.??  [to get a year's listing of books, e.g., GUTINDEX.99]
GET GUTINDEX.ALL [to get a listing of ALL books]


**The Legal Small Print**


(Three Pages)

***START**THE SMALL PRINT!**FOR PUBLIC DOMAIN ETEXTS**START***
Why is this "Small Print!" statement here?  You know: lawyers.
They tell us you might sue us if there is something wrong with
your copy of this etext, even if you got it for free from
someone other than us, and even if what's wrong is not our
fault.  So, among other things, this "Small Print!" statement
disclaims most of our liability to you.  It also tells you how
you may distribute copies of this etext if you want to.

*BEFORE!* YOU USE OR READ THIS ETEXT
By using or reading any part of this PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm
etext, you indicate that you understand, agree to and accept
this "Small Print!" statement.  If you do not, you can receive
a refund of the money (if any) you paid for this etext by
sending a request within 30 days of receiving it to the person
you got it from.  If you received this etext on a physical
medium (such as a disk), you must return it with your request.

ABOUT PROJECT GUTENBERG-TM ETEXTS
This PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm etext, like most PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm etexts,
is a "public domain" work distributed by Professor Michael S. Hart
through the Project Gutenberg Association (the "Project").
Among other things, this means that no one owns a United States copyright
on or for this work, so the Project (and you!) can copy and
distribute it in the United States without permission and
without paying copyright royalties.  Special rules, set forth
below, apply if you wish to copy and distribute this etext
under the "PROJECT GUTENBERG" trademark.

Please do not use the "PROJECT GUTENBERG" trademark to market
any commercial products without permission.

To create these etexts, the Project expends considerable
efforts to identify, transcribe and proofread public domain
works.  Despite these efforts, the Project's etexts and any
medium they may be on may contain "Defects".  Among other
things, Defects may take the form of incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other
intellectual property infringement, a defective or damaged
disk or other etext medium, a computer virus, or computer
codes that damage or cannot be read by your equipment.

LIMITED WARRANTY; DISCLAIMER OF DAMAGES
But for the "Right of Replacement or Refund" described below,
[1] Michael Hart and the Foundation (and any other party you may
receive this etext from as a PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm etext) disclaims
all liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including
legal fees, and [2] YOU HAVE NO REMEDIES FOR NEGLIGENCE OR
UNDER STRICT LIABILITY, OR FOR BREACH OF WARRANTY OR CONTRACT,
INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE
OR INCIDENTAL DAMAGES, EVEN IF YOU GIVE NOTICE OF THE
POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.

If you discover a Defect in this etext within 90 days of
receiving it, you can receive a refund of the money (if any)
you paid for it by sending an explanatory note within that
time to the person you received it from.  If you received it
on a physical medium, you must return it with your note, and
such person may choose to alternatively give you a replacement
copy.  If you received it electronically, such person may
choose to alternatively give you a second opportunity to
receive it electronically.

THIS ETEXT IS OTHERWISE PROVIDED TO YOU "AS-IS".  NO OTHER
WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, ARE MADE TO YOU AS
TO THE ETEXT OR ANY MEDIUM IT MAY BE ON, INCLUDING BUT NOT
LIMITED TO WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A
PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

Some states do not allow disclaimers of implied warranties or
the exclusion or limitation of consequential damages, so the
above disclaimers and exclusions may not apply to you, and you
may have other legal rights.

INDEMNITY
You will indemnify and hold Michael Hart, the Foundation,
and its trustees and agents, and any volunteers associated
with the production and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm
texts harmless, from all liability, cost and expense, including
legal fees, that arise directly or indirectly from any of the
following that you do or cause:  [1] distribution of this etext,
[2] alteration, modification, or addition to the etext,
or [3] any Defect.

DISTRIBUTION UNDER "PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm"
You may distribute copies of this etext electronically, or by
disk, book or any other medium if you either delete this
"Small Print!" and all other references to Project Gutenberg,
or:

[1]  Only give exact copies of it.  Among other things, this
     requires that you do not remove, alter or modify the
     etext or this "small print!" statement.  You may however,
     if you wish, distribute this etext in machine readable
     binary, compressed, mark-up, or proprietary form,
     including any form resulting from conversion by word
     processing or hypertext software, but only so long as
     *EITHER*:

     [*]  The etext, when displayed, is clearly readable, and
          does *not* contain characters other than those
          intended by the author of the work, although tilde
          (~), asterisk (*) and underline (_) characters may
          be used to convey punctuation intended by the
          author, and additional characters may be used to
          indicate hypertext links; OR

     [*]  The etext may be readily converted by the reader at
          no expense into plain ASCII, EBCDIC or equivalent
          form by the program that displays the etext (as is
          the case, for instance, with most word processors);
          OR

     [*]  You provide, or agree to also provide on request at
          no additional cost, fee or expense, a copy of the
          etext in its original plain ASCII form (or in EBCDIC
          or other equivalent proprietary form).

[2]  Honor the etext refund and replacement provisions of this
     "Small Print!" statement.

[3]  Pay a trademark license fee to the Foundation of 20% of the
     gross profits you derive calculated using the method you
     already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  If you
     don't derive profits, no royalty is due.  Royalties are
     payable to "Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation"
     the 60 days following each date you prepare (or were
     legally required to prepare) your annual (or equivalent
     periodic) tax return.  Please contact us beforehand to
     let us know your plans and to work out the details.

WHAT IF YOU *WANT* TO SEND MONEY EVEN IF YOU DON'T HAVE TO?
Project Gutenberg is dedicated to increasing the number of
public domain and licensed works that can be freely distributed
in machine readable form.

The Project gratefully accepts contributions of money, time,
public domain materials, or royalty free copyright licenses.
Money should be paid to the:
"Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."

If you are interested in contributing scanning equipment or
software or other items, please contact Michael Hart at:
hart@pobox.com

[Portions of this header are copyright (C) 2001 by Michael S. Hart
and may be reprinted only when these Etexts are free of all fees.]
[Project Gutenberg is a TradeMark and may not be used in any sales
of Project Gutenberg Etexts or other materials be they hardware or
software or any other related product without express permission.]

*END THE SMALL PRINT! FOR PUBLIC DOMAIN ETEXTS*Ver.07/27/01*END*





A DAUGHTER OF THE LAND

by Gene Stratton-Porter




CONTENTS
Chapter
I. The Wings of Morning
II. An Embryo Mind Reader
III. Peregrinations
IV. A Question of Contracts
V. The Prodigal Daughter
VI. Kate's Private Pupil
VII. Helping Nancy Ellen and Robert to Establish a Home
VIII. The History of a Leghorn Hat
IX. A Sunbonnet Girl
X. John Jardine's Courtship
XI. A Business Proposition
XII. Two Letters
XIII. The Bride
XIV. Starting Married Life
XV. A New Idea
XVI. The Work of the Sun
XVII. The Banner Hand
XVIII. Kate Takes the Bit in Her Teeth
XIX. "As a Man Soweth"
XX. "For a Good Girl"
XXI. Life's Boomerang
XXII. Somewhat of Polly
III. Kate's Heavenly Time
XXIV. Polly Tries Her Wings
XXV. One More for Kate
XXVI. The Winged Victory
XXVII. Blue Ribbon Corn
XXVIII. The Eleventh Hour

To Gene Stratton II

A DAUGHTER OF THE LAND


THE WINGS OF MORNING

"TAKE the wings of Morning."

Kate Bates followed the narrow footpath rounding the corner of the
small country church, as the old minister raised his voice slowly
and impressively to repeat the command he had selected for his
text.  Fearing that her head would be level with the windows, she
bent and walked swiftly past the church; but the words went with
her, iterating and reiterating themselves in her brain.  Once she
paused to glance back toward the church, wondering what the
minister would say in expounding that text.  She had a fleeting
thought of slipping in, taking the back seat and listening to the
sermon.  The remembrance that she had not dressed for church
deterred her; then her face twisted grimly as she again turned to
the path, for it occurred to her that she had nothing else to wear
if she had started to attend church instead of going to see her
brother.

As usual, she had left her bed at four o'clock; for seven hours
she had cooked, washed dishes, made beds, swept, dusted, milked,
churned, following the usual routine of a big family in the
country.  Then she had gone upstairs, dressed in clean gingham and
confronted her mother.

"I think I have done my share for to-day," she said.  "Suppose you
call on our lady school-mistress for help with dinner.  I'm going
to Adam's."

Mrs. Bates lifted her gaunt form to very close six feet of height,
looking narrowly at her daughter.

"Well, what the nation are you going to Adam's at this time a-
Sunday for?" she demanded.

"Oh, I have a curiosity to learn if there is one of the eighteen
members of this family who gives a cent what becomes of me!"
answered Kate, her eyes meeting and looking clearly into her
mother's.

"You are not letting yourself think he would 'give a cent' to send
you to that fool normal-thing, are you?"

"I am not! But it wasn't a 'fool thing' when Mary and Nancy Ellen,
and the older girls wanted to go.  You even let Mary go to college
two years."

"Mary had exceptional ability," said Mrs. Bates.

"I wonder how she convinced you of it. None of the rest of us can
discover it," said Kate.

"What you need is a good strapping, Miss."

"I know it; but considering the facts that I am larger than you,
and was eighteen in September, I shouldn't advise you to attempt
it.  What is the difference whether I was born in '62 or '42?
Give me the chance you gave Mary, and I'll prove to you that I can
do anything she has done, without having 'exceptional ability!'"

"The difference is that I am past sixty now.  I was stout as an ox
when Mary wanted to go to school.  It is your duty and your job to
stay here and do this work."

"To pay for having been born last?  Not a bit more than if I had
been born first.  Any girl in the family owes you as much for life
as I do; it is up to the others to pay back in service, after they
are of age, if it is to me.  I have done my share.  If Father were
not the richest farmer in the county, and one of the richest men,
it would be different.  He can afford to hire help for you, quite
as well as he can for himself."

"Hire help!  Who would I get to do the work here?"

"You'd have to double your assistants.  You could not hire two
women who would come here and do so much work as I do in a day.
That is why I decline to give up teaching, and stay here to slave
at your option, for gingham dresses and cowhide shoes, of your
selection.  If I were a boy, I'd work three years more and then I
would be given two hundred acres of land, have a house and barn
built for me, and a start of stock given me, as every boy in this
family has had at twenty-one."

"A man is a man!  He founds a family, he runs the Government!  It
is a different matter," said Mrs. Bates.

"It surely is; in this family.  But I think, even with us, a man
would have rather a difficult proposition on his hands to found a
family without a woman; or to run the Government either."

"All right!  Go on to Adam and see what you get."

"I'll have the satisfaction of knowing that Nancy Ellen gets
dinner, anyway," said Kate as she passed through the door and
followed the long path to the gate, from there walking beside the
road in the direction of her brother's home.  There were many
horses in the pasture and single and double buggies in the barn;
but it never occurred to Kate that she might ride:  it was
Sunday and the horses were resting.  So she followed the path
beside the fences, rounded the corner of the church and went on
her way with the text from which the pastor was preaching,
hammering in her brain.  She became so absorbed in thought that
she scarcely saw the footpath she followed, while June flowered,
and perfumed, and sang all around her.

She was so intent upon the words she had heard that her feet
unconsciously followed a well-defined branch from the main path
leading into the woods, from the bridge, where she sat on a log,
and for the unnumbered time, reviewed her problem.  She had worked
ever since she could remember.  Never in her life had she gotten
to school before noon on Monday, because of the large washings.
After the other work was finished she had spent nights and
mornings ironing, when she longed to study, seldom finishing
before Saturday.  Summer brought an endless round of harvesting,
canning, drying; winter brought butchering, heaps of sewing, and
postponed summer work.  School began late in the fall and closed
early in spring, with teachers often inefficient; yet because she
was a close student and kept her books where she could take a peep
and memorize and think as she washed dishes and cooked, she had
thoroughly mastered all the country school near her home could
teach her.  With six weeks of a summer Normal course she would be
as well prepared to teach as any of her sisters were, with the
exception of Mary, who had been able to convince her parents that
she possessed two college years' worth of "ability."

Kate laid no claim to "ability," herself; but she knew she was as
strong as most men, had an ordinary brain that could be trained,
and while she was far from beautiful she was equally as far from
being ugly, for her skin was smooth and pink, her eyes large and
blue-gray, her teeth even and white.  She missed beauty because
her cheekbones were high, her mouth large, her nose barely
escaping a pug; but she had a real "crown of glory" in her hair,
which was silken fine, long and heavy, of sunshine-gold in colour,
curling naturally around her face and neck.  Given pure blood to
paint such a skin with varying emotions, enough wind to ravel out
a few locks of such hair, the proportions of a Venus and perfect
health, any girl could rest very well assured of being looked at
twice, if not oftener.

Kate sat on a log, a most unusual occurrence for her, for she was
familiar only with bare, hot houses, furnished with meagre
necessities; reeking stables, barnyards and vegetable gardens.
She knew less of the woods than the average city girl; but there
was a soothing wind, a sweet perfume, a calming silence that
quieted her tense mood and enabled her to think clearly; so the
review went on over years of work and petty economies, amounting
to one grand aggregate that gave to each of seven sons house,
stock, and land at twenty-one; and to each of nine daughters a
bolt of muslin and a fairly decent dress when she married, as the
seven older ones did speedily, for they were fine, large,
upstanding girls, some having real beauty, all  exceptionally
well-trained economists and workers.  Because her mother had the
younger daughters to help in the absence of the elder, each girl
had been allowed the time and money to prepare herself to teach a
country school; all of them had taught until they married.  Nancy
Ellen, the beauty of the family, the girl next older than Kate,
had taken the home school for the second winter.  Going to school
to Nancy Ellen had been the greatest trial of Kate's life, until
the possibility of not going to Normal had confronted her.

Nancy Ellen was almost as large as Kate, quite as pink, her
features assembled in a manner that made all the difference, her
jet-black hair as curly as Kate's, her eyes big and dark, her lips
red.  As for looking at Kate twice, no one ever looked at her at
all if Nancy Ellen happened to be walking beside her.  Kate bore
that without protest; it would have wounded her pride to rebel
openly; she did Nancy Ellen's share of the work to allow her to
study and have her Normal course; she remained at home plainly
clothed to loan Nancy Ellen her best dress when she attended
Normal; but when she found that she was doomed to finish her last
year at school under Nancy Ellen, to work double so that her
sister might go to school early and remain late, coming home tired
and with lessons to prepare for the morrow, some of the
spontaneity left Kate's efforts.

She had a worse grievance when Nancy Ellen hung several new
dresses and a wrapper on her side of the closet after her first
pay-day, and furnished her end of the bureau with a white hair
brush and a brass box filled with pink powder, with a swan's-down
puff for its application.  For three months Kate had waited and
hoped that at least "thank you" would be vouchsafed her; when it
failed for that length of time she did two things:  she studied so
diligently that her father called her into the barn and told her
that if before the school, she asked Nancy Ellen another question
she could not answer, he would use the buggy whip on her to within
an inch of her life. The buggy whip always had been a familiar
implement to Kate, so she stopped asking slippery questions,
worked harder than ever, and spent her spare time planning what
she would hang in the closet and put on her end of the bureau when
she had finished her Normal course, and was teaching her first
term of school.

Now she had learned all that Nancy Ellen could teach her, and much
that Nancy Ellen never knew:  it was time for Kate to be starting
away to school.  Because it was so self-evident that she should
have what the others had had, she said nothing about it until the
time came; then she found her father determined that she should
remain at home to do the housework, for no compensation other than
her board and such clothes as she always had worn, her mother
wholly in accord with him, and marvel of all, Nancy Ellen quite
enthusiastic on the subject.

Her father always had driven himself and his family like slaves,
while her mother had ably seconded his efforts.  Money from the
sale of chickens, turkeys, butter, eggs, and garden truck that
other women of the neighbourhood used for extra clothing for
themselves and their daughters and to prettify their homes, Mrs.
Bates handed to her husband to increase the amount necessary to
purchase the two hundred acres of land for each son when he came
of age.  The youngest son had farmed his land with comfortable
profit and started a bank account, while his parents and two
sisters were still saving and working to finish the last payment.
Kate thought with bitterness that if this final payment had been
made possibly there would have been money to spare for her; but
with that thought came the knowledge that her father had numerous
investments on which he could have realized and made the payments
had he not preferred that they should be a burden on his family.

"Take the wings of morning," repeated Kate, with all the emphasis
the old minister had used.  "Hummm!  I wonder what kind of wings.
Those of a peewee would scarcely do for me; I'd need the wings of
an eagle to get me anywhere, and anyway it wasn't the wings of a
bird I was to take, it was the wings of morning.  I wonder what
the wings of morning are, and how I go about taking them.  God
knows where my wings come in; by the ache in my feet I seem to
have walked, mostly.  Oh, what ARE the wings of morning?"

Kate stared straight before her, sitting absorbed and motionless.
Close in front of her a little white moth fluttered over the twigs
and grasses.  A kingbird sailed into view and perched on a brush-
heap preparatory to darting after the moth.  While the bird
measured the distance and waited for the moth to rise above the
entangling grasses, with a sweep and a snap a smaller bird, very
similar in shape and colouring, flashed down, catching the moth
and flying high among the branches of a big tree.

"Aha!  You missed your opportunity!" said Kate to the kingbird.

She sat straighter suddenly.  "Opportunity," she repeated.  "Here
is where I am threatened with missing mine.  Opportunity!  I
wonder now if that might not be another name for 'the wings of
morning.'  Morning is winging its way past me, the question is:
do I sit still and let it pass, or do I take its wings and fly
away?"

Kate brooded on that awhile, then her thought formulated into
words again.

"It isn't as if Mother were sick or poor, she is perfectly well
and stronger than nine women out of ten of her age; Father can
afford to hire all the help she needs; there is nothing cruel or
unkind in leaving her; and as for Nancy Ellen, why does the fact
that I am a few years younger than she, make me her servant?  Why
do I cook for her, and make her bed, and wash her clothes, while
she earns money to spend on herself?  And she is doing everything
in her power to keep me at it, because she likes what she is doing
and what it brings her, and she doesn't give a tinker whether I
like what I am doing or not; or whether I get anything I want out
of it or not; or whether I miss getting off to Normal on time or
not.  She is blame selfish, that's what she is, so she won't like
the jolt she's going to get; but it will benefit her soul, her
soul that her pretty face keeps her from developing, so I shall
give her a little valuable assistance.  Mother will be furious and
Father will have the buggy whip convenient; but I am going!  I
don't know how, or when, but I am GOING.

      "Who has a thirst for knowledge, in Helicon may slake it,
      If he has still, the Roman will, to find a way, or make it."

Kate arose tall and straight and addressed the surrounding woods.
"Now you just watch me 'find a way or make it,'" she said.  "I am
'taking the wings of morning,' observe my flight!  See me cut
curves and circles and sail and soar around all the other Bates
girls the Lord ever made, one named Nancy Ellen in particular.  It
must be far past noon, and I've much to do to get ready.  I fly!"

Kate walked back to the highway, but instead of going on she
turned toward home.  When she reached the gate she saw Nancy
Ellen, dressed her prettiest, sitting beneath a cherry tree
reading a book, in very plain view from the road.  As Kate came up
the path:  "Hello!" said Nancy Ellen.  "Wasn't Adam at home?"

"I don't know," answered Kate.  "I was not there."

"You weren't?  Why, where were you?" asked Nancy Ellen.

"Oh, I just took a walk!" answered Kate.

"Right at dinner time on Sunday?  Well, I'll be switched!" cried
Nancy Ellen.

"Pity you weren't oftener, when you most needed it," said Kate,
passing up the walk and entering the door.  Her mother asked the
same questions so Kate answered them.

"Well, I am glad you came home," said Mrs. Bates.  "There was no
use tagging to Adam with a sorry story, when your father said
flatly that you couldn't go."

"But I must go!" urged Kate.  "I have as good a right to my chance
as the others.  If you put your foot down and say so, Mother,
Father will let me go.  Why shouldn't I have the same chance as
Nancy Ellen?  Please Mother, let me go!"

"You stay right where you are.  There is an awful summer's work
before us," said Mrs. Bates.

"There always is," answered Kate.  "But now is just my chance
while you have Nancy Ellen here to help you."

"She has some special studying to do, and you very well know that
she has to attend the County Institute, and take the summer course
of training for teachers."

"So do I," said Kate, stubbornly.  "You really will not help me,
Mother?"

"I've said my say!  Your place is here!  Here you stay!" answered
her mother.

"All right," said Kate, "I'll cross you off the docket of my
hopes, and try Father."

"Well, I warn you, you had better not!  He has been nagged until
his patience is lost," said Mrs. Bates.

Kate closed her lips and started in search of her father.  She
found him leaning on the pig pen watching pigs grow into money,
one of his most favoured occupations.  He scowled at her, drawing
his huge frame to full height.

"I don't want to hear a word you have to say," he said.  "You are
the youngest, and your place is in the kitchen helping your
mother.  We have got the last installment to pay on Hiram's land
this summer.  March back to the house and busy yourself with
something useful!"

Kate looked at him, from his big-boned, weather-beaten face, to
his heavy shoes, then turned without a word and went back toward
the house.  She went around it to the cherry tree and with no
preliminaries said to her sister:  "Nancy Ellen, I want you to
lend me enough money to fix my clothes a little and pay my way to
Normal this summer.  I can pay it all back this winter.  I'll pay
every cent with interest, before I spend any on anything else."

"Why, you must be crazy!" said Nancy Ellen.

"Would I be any crazier than you, when you wanted to go?" asked
Kate.

"But you were here to help Mother," said Nancy Ellen.

"And you are here to help her now," persisted Kate.

"But I've got to fix up my clothes for the County Institute," said
Nancy Ellen, "I'll be gone most of the summer."

"I have just as much right to go as you had," said Kate.

"Father and Mother both say you shall not go," answered her
sister.

"I suppose there is no use to remind you that I did all in my
power to help you to your chance."

"You did no more than you should have done," said Nancy Ellen.

"And this is no more than you should do for me, in the
circumstances," said Kate.

"You very well know I can't!  Father and Mother would turn me out
of the house," said Nancy Ellen.

"I'd be only too glad if they would turn me out," said Kate.  "You
can let me have the money if you like.  Mother wouldn't do
anything but talk; and Father would not strike you, or make you
go, he always favours you."

"He does nothing of the sort!  I can't, and I won't, so there!"
cried Nancy Ellen.

"'Won't,' is the real answer, 'so there,'" said Kate.

She went into the cellar and ate some cold food from the cupboard
and drank a cup of milk.  Then she went to her room and looked
over all of her scanty stock of clothing, laying in a heap the
pieces that needed mending.  She took the clothes basket to the
wash room, which was the front of the woodhouse, in summer; built
a fire, heated water, and while making it appear that she was
putting the clothes to soak, as usual, she washed everything she
had that was fit to use, hanging the pieces to dry in the
building.

"Watch me fly!" muttered Kate.  "I don't seem to be cutting those
curves so very fast; but I'm moving.  I believe now, having
exhausted all home resources, that Adam is my next objective.  He
is the only one in the family who ever paid the slightest
attention to me, maybe he cares a trifle what becomes of me, but
Oh, how I dread Agatha!  However, watch me take wing!  If Adam
fails me I have six remaining prospects among my loving brothers,
and if none of them has any feeling for me or faith in me there
yet remain my seven dear brothers-in-law, before I appeal to the
tender mercies of the neighbours; but how I dread Agatha!  Yet I
fly!"



AN EMBRYO MIND READER

KATE was far from physical flight as she pounded the indignation
of her soul into the path with her substantial feet.  Baffled and
angry, she kept reviewing the situation as she went swiftly on her
way, regardless of dust and heat.  She could see no justice in
being forced into a position that promised to end in further
humiliation and defeat of her hopes.  If she only could find Adam
at the stable, as she passed, and talk with him alone!  Secretly,
she well knew that the chief source of her dread of meeting her
sister-in-law was that to her Agatha was so funny that ridiculing
her had been regarded as perfectly legitimate pastime.  For Agatha
WAS funny; but she had no idea of it, and could no more avoid it
than a bee could avoid being buzzy, so the manner in which her
sisters-in-law imitated her and laughed at her, none too secretly,
was far from kind.  While she never guessed what was going on, she
realized the antagonism in their attitude and stoutly resented it.

Adam was his father's favourite son, a stalwart, fine-appearing,
big man, silent, honest, and forceful; the son most after the
desires of the father's heart, yet Adam was the one son of the
seven who had ignored his father's law that all of his boys were
to marry strong, healthy young women, poor women, working women.
Each of the others at coming of age had contracted this prescribed
marriage as speedily as possible, first asking father Bates, the
girl afterward.  If father Bates disapproved, the girl was never
asked at all.  And the reason for this docility on the part of
these big, matured men, lay wholly in the methods of father Bates.
He gave those two hundred acres of land to each of them on coming
of age, and the same sum to each for the building of a house and
barn and the purchase of stock; gave it to them in words, and with
the fullest assurance that it was theirs to improve, to live on,
to add to.  Each of them had seen and handled his deed, each had
to admit he never had known his father to tell a lie or deviate
the least from fairness in a deal of any kind, each had been
compelled to go in the way indicated by his father for years; but
not a man of them held his own deed.  These precious bits of paper
remained locked in the big wooden chest beside the father's bed,
while the land stood on the records in his name; the taxes they
paid him each year he, himself, carried to the county clerk; so
that he was the largest landholder in the county and one of the
very richest men.  It must have been extreme unction to his soul
to enter the county office and ask for the assessment on those
"little parcels of land of mine."  Men treated him very
deferentially, and so did his sons.  Those documents carefully
locked away had the effect of obtaining ever-ready help to harvest
his hay and wheat whenever he desired, to make his least wish
quickly deferred to, to give him authority and the power for which
he lived and worked earlier, later, and harder than any other man
of his day and locality.

Adam was like him as possible up to the time he married, yet Adam
was the only one of his sons who disobeyed him; but there was a
redeeming feature.  Adam married a slender tall slip of a woman,
four years his senior, who had been teaching in the Hartley
schools when he began courting her.  She was a prim, fussy woman,
born of a prim father and a fussy mother, so what was to be
expected?  Her face was narrow and set, her body and her movements
almost rigid, her hair, always parted, lifted from each side and
tied on the crown, fell in stiff little curls, the back part
hanging free.  Her speech, as precise as her movements, was formed
into set habit through long study of the dictionary.  She was born
antagonistic to whatever existed, no matter what it was.  So
surely as every other woman agreed on a dress, a recipe, a house,
anything whatever, so surely Agatha thought out and followed a
different method, the disconcerting thing about her being that she
usually finished any undertaking with less exertion, ahead of
time, and having saved considerable money.

She could have written a fine book of synonyms, for as certainly
as any one said anything in her presence that she had occasion to
repeat, she changed the wording to six-syllabled mouthfuls,
delivered with ponderous circumlocution.  She subscribed to papers
and magazines, which she read and remembered.  And she danced!
When other women thought even a waltz immoral and shocking;
perfectly stiff, her curls exactly in place, Agatha could be seen,
and frequently was seen, waltzing on the front porch in the arms
of, and to a tune whistled by young Adam, whose full name was Adam
Alcibiades Bates.  In his younger days, when discipline had been
required, Kate once had heard her say to the little fellow:  "Adam
Alcibiades ascend these steps and proceed immediately to your
maternal ancestor."

Kate thought of this with a dry smile as she plodded on toward
Agatha's home hoping she could see her brother at the barn, but
she knew that most probably she would "ascend the steps and
proceed to the maternal ancestor," of Adam Bates 3d.  Then she
would be forced to explain her visit and combat both Adam and his
wife; for Agatha was not a nonentity like her collection of
healthful, hard-working sisters-in-law.  Agatha worked if she
chose, and she did not work if she did not choose.  Mostly she
worked and worked harder than any one ever thought.  She had a
habit of keeping her house always immaculate, finishing her
cleaning very early and then reading in a conspicuous spot on the
veranda when other women were busy with their most tiresome tasks.
Such was Agatha, whom Kate dreaded meeting, with every reason, for
Agatha, despite curls, bony structure, language, and dance, was
the most powerful factor in the whole Bates family with her
father-in-law; and all because when he purchased the original two
hundred acres for Adam, and made the first allowance for buildings
and stock, Agatha slipped the money from Adam's fingers in some
inexplainable way, and spent it all for stock; because forsooth!
Agatha was an only child, and her prim father endowed her, she
said so herself, with three hundred acres of land, better in
location and more fertile than that given to Adam, land having on
it a roomy and comfortable brick house, completely furnished, a
large barn and also stock; so that her place could be used to live
on and farm, while Adam's could be given over to grazing herds of
cattle which he bought cheaply, fattened and sold at the top of
the market.

If each had brought such a farm into the family with her, father
Bates could have endured six more prim, angular, becurled
daughters-in-law, very well indeed, for land was his one and only
God.  His respect for Agatha was markedly very high, for in
addition to her farm he secretly admired her independence of
thought and action, and was amazed by the fact that she was about
her work when several of the blooming girls he had selected for
wives for his sons were confined to the sofa with a pain, while
not one of them schemed, planned, connived with her husband and
piled up the money as Agatha did, therefore she stood at the head
of the women of the Bates family; while she was considered to have
worked miracles in the heart of Adam Bates, for with his exception
no man of the family ever had been seen to touch a woman, either
publicly or privately, to offer the slightest form of endearment,
assistance or courtesy.  "Women are to work and to bear children,"
said the elder Bates.  "Put them at the first job when they are
born, and at the second at eighteen, and keep them hard at it."

At their rate of progression several of the Bates sons and
daughters would produce families that, with a couple of pairs of
twins, would equal the sixteen of the elder Bates; but not so
Agatha.  She had one son of fifteen and one daughter of ten, and
she said that was all she intended to have, certainly it was all
she did have; but she further aggravated matters by announcing
that she had had them because she wanted them; at such times as
she intended to; and that she had the boy first and five years the
older, so that he could look after his sister when they went into
company.  Also she walked up and sat upon Adam's lap whenever she
chose, ruffled his hair, pulled his ears, and kissed him squarely
on the mouth, with every appearance of having help, while the
dance on the front porch with her son or daughter was of daily
occurrence.  And anything funnier than Agatha, prim and angular
with never a hair out of place, stiffly hopping "Money Musk" and
"Turkey In The Straw," or the "Blue Danube" waltz, anything
funnier than that, never happened.  But the two Adams, Jr. and 3d,
watched with reverent and adoring eyes, for she was MOTHER, and no
one else on earth rested so high in their respect as the
inflexible woman they lived with.  That she was different from all
the other women of her time and location was hard on the other
women.  Had they been exactly right, they would have been exactly
like her.

So Kate, thinking all these things over, her own problem acutely
"advanced and proceeded."  She advanced past the closed barn, and
stock in the pasture, past the garden flaming June, past the
dooryard, up the steps, down the hall, into the screened back
porch dining room and "proceeded" to take a chair, while the
family finished the Sunday night supper, at which they were
seated.  Kate was not hungry and she did not wish to trouble her
sister-in-law to set another place, so she took the remaining
chair, against the wall, behind Agatha, facing Adam, 3d, across
the table, and with Adam Jr., in profile at the head, and little
Susan at the foot.  Then she waited her chance.  Being tired and
aggressive she did not wait long.

"I might as well tell you why I came," she said bluntly.  "Father
won't give me money to go to Normal, as he has all the others.  He
says I have got to stay at home and help Mother."

"Well, Mother is getting so old she needs help," said Adam, Jr.,
as he continued his supper.

"Of course she is," said Kate.  "We all know that.  But what is
the matter with Nancy Ellen helping her, while I take my turn at
Normal?  There wasn't a thing I could do last summer to help her
off that I didn't do, even to lending her my best dress and
staying at home for six Sundays because I had nothing else fit to
wear where I'd be seen."

No one said a word.  Kate continued:  "Then Father secured our
home school for her and I had to spend the winter going to school
to her, when you very well know that I always studied harder, and
was ahead of her, even after she'd been to Normal.  And I got up
early and worked late, and cooked, and washed, and waited on her,
while she got her lessons and reports ready, and fixed up her nice
new clothes, and now she won't touch the work, and she is doing
all she can to help Father keep me from going."

"I never knew Father to need much help on anything he made up his
mind to," said Adam.

Kate sat very tense.  She looked steadily at her brother, but he
looked quite as steadily at his plate.  The back of her sister-in-
law was fully as expressive as her face.  Her head was very erect,
her shoulders stiff and still, not a curl moved as she poured
Adam's tea and Susan's milk.  Only Adam, 3d, looked at Kate with
companionable eyes, as if he might feel a slight degree of
interest or sympathy, so she found herself explaining directly to
him.

"Things are blame unfair in our family, anyway!" she said,
bitterly.  "You have got to be born a boy to have any chance worth
while; if you are a girl it is mighty small, and if you are the
youngest, by any mischance, you have none at all.  I don't want to
harp things over; but I wish you would explain to me why having
been born a few years after Nancy Ellen makes me her slave, and
cuts me out of my chance to teach, and to have some freedom and
clothes. They might as well have told Hiram he was not to have any
land and stay at home and help Father because he was the youngest
boy; it would have been quite as fair; but nothing like that
happens to the boys of this family, it is always the girls who get
left.  I have worked for years, knowing every cent I saved and
earned above barely enough to cover me, would go to help pay for
Hiram's land and house and stock; but he wouldn't turn a hand to
help me, neither will any of the rest of you."

"Then what are you here for?" asked Adam.

"Because I am going to give you, and every other brother and
sister I have, the chance to REFUSE to loan me enough to buy a few
clothes and pay my way to Normal, so I can pass the examinations,
and teach this fall.  And when you have all refused, I am going to
the neighbours, until I find someone who will loan me the money I
need.  A hundred dollars would be plenty.  I could pay it back
with two months' teaching, with any interest you say."

Kate paused, short of breath, her eyes blazing, her cheeks red.
Adam went steadily on with his supper.  Agatha appeared stiffer
and more uncompromising in the back than before, which Kate had
not thought possible.  But the same dull red on the girl's cheeks
had begun to burn on the face of young Adam. Suddenly he broke
into a clear laugh.

"Oh, Ma, you're too funny!" he cried.  "I can read your face like
a book.  I bet you ten dollars I can tell you just word for word
what you are going to say.  I dare you let me!  You know I can!"
Still laughing, his eyes dancing, a picture to see, he stretched
his arm across the table toward her, and his mother adored him,
however she strove to conceal the fact from him.

"Ten dollars!" she scoffed.  "When did we become so wealthy?  I'll
give you one dollar if you tell me exactly what I was going to
say."

The boy glanced at his father.  "Oh this is too easy!" he cried.
"It's like robbing the baby's bank!"  And then to his mother:
"You were just opening your lips to say:  'Give it to her!  If you
don't, I will!'  And you are even a little bit more of a brick
than usual to do it.  It's a darned shame the way all of them
impose on Kate."

There was a complete change in Agatha's back.  Adam, Jr., laid
down his fork and stared at his wife in deep amazement.  Adam, 3d,
stretched his hand farther toward his mother.  "Give me that
dollar!" he cajoled.

"Well, I am not concealing it in the sleeve of my garments," she
said.  "If I have one, it is reposing in my purse, in
juxtaposition to the other articles that belong there, and if you
receive it, it will be bestowed upon you when I deem the occasion
suitable."

Young Adam's fist came down with a smash.  "I get the dollar!" he
triumphed.  "I TOLD you so!  I KNEW she was going to say it!
Ain't I a dandy mind reader though?  But it is bully for you,
Father, because of course, if Mother wouldn't let Kate have it,
you'd HAVE to; but if you DID it might make trouble with your
paternal land-grabber, and endanger your precious deed that you
hope to get in the sweet by-and-by.  But if Mother loans the
money, Grandfather can't say a word, because it is her very own,
and didn't cost him anything, and he always agrees with her
anyway!  Hurrah for hurrah, Kate!  Nancy Ellen may wash her own
petticoat in the morning, while I take you to the train.  You'll
let me, Father?  You did let me go to Hartley alone, once.  I'll
be careful!  I won't let a thing happen.  I'll come straight home.
And oh, my dollar, you and me; I'll put you in the bank and let
you grow to three!"

"You may go," said his father, promptly.

"You shall proceed according to your Aunt Katherine's
instructions," said his mother, at the same time.

"Katie, get your carpet-sack!  When do we start?" demanded young
Adam.

"Morning will be all right with me, you blessed youngun," said
Kate, "but I don't own a telescope or anything to put what little
I have in, and Nancy Ellen never would spare hers; she will want
to go to County Institute before I get back."

"You may have mine," said Agatha.  "You are perfectly welcome to
take it wherever your peregrinations lead you, and return it when
you please.  I shall proceed to my chamber and formulate your
check immediately.  You are also welcome to my best hat and cape,
and any of my clothing or personal adornments you can use to
advantage."

"Oh, Agatha, I wish you were as big as a house, like me," said
Kate, joyfully.  "I couldn't possibly crowd into anything you
wear, but it would almost tickle me to death to have Nancy Ellen
know you let me take your things, when she won't even offer me a
dud of her old stuff; I never remotely hoped for any of the new."

"You shall have my cape and hat, anyway.  The cape is new and very
fashionable.  Come upstairs and try the hat," said Agatha.

The cape was new and fashionable as Agatha had said; it would not
fasten at the neck, but there would be no necessity that it should
during July and August, while it would improve any dress it was
worn with on a cool evening.  The hat Kate could not possibly use
with her large, broad face and mass of hair, but she was almost as
pleased with the offer as if the hat had been most becoming.  Then
Agatha brought out her telescope, in which Kate laid the cape
while Agatha wrote her a check for one hundred and twenty dollars,
and told her where and how to cash it.  The extra twenty was to
buy a pair of new walking shoes, some hose, and a hat, before she
went to her train.  When they went downstairs Adam, Jr., had a
horse hitched and Adam, 3d, drove her to her home, where, at the
foot of the garden, they took one long survey of the landscape and
hid the telescope behind the privet bush.  Then Adam drove away
quietly, Kate entered the dooryard from the garden, and soon
afterward went to the wash room and hastily ironed her clothing.

Nancy Ellen had gone to visit a neighbour girl, so Kate risked her
remaining until after church in the evening.  She hurried to their
room and mended all her own clothing she had laid out.  Then she
deliberately went over Nancy Ellen's and helped herself to a pair
of pretty nightdresses, such as she had never owned, a white
embroidered petticoat, the second best white dress, and a most
becoming sailor hat.  These she made into a parcel and carried to
the wash room, brought in the telescope and packed it, hiding it
under a workbench and covering it with shavings.  After that she
went to her room and wrote a note, and then slept deeply until the
morning call.  She arose at once and went to the wash room but
instead of washing the family clothing, she took a bath in the
largest tub, and washed her hair to a state resembling spun gold.
During breakfast she kept sharp watch down the road.  When she saw
Adam, 3d, coming she stuck her note under the hook on which she
had seen her father hang his hat all her life, and carrying the
telescope in the clothes basket covered with a rumpled sheet, she
passed across the yard and handed it over the fence to Adam,
climbed that same fence, and they started toward Hartley.

Kate put the sailor hat on her head, and sat very straight, an
anxious line crossing her forehead.  She was running away, and if
discovered, there was the barest chance that her father might
follow, and make a most disagreeable scene, before the train
pulled out.  He had gone to a far field to plow corn and Kate
fervently hoped he would plow until noon, which he did.  Nancy
Ellen washed the dishes, and went into the front room to study,
while Mrs. Bates put on her sunbonnet and began hoeing the
potatoes.  Not one of the family noticed that Monday's wash was
not on the clothes line as usual.  Kate and Adam drove as fast as
they dared, and on reaching town, cashed the check, decided that
Nancy Ellen's hat would serve, thus saving the price of a new
one for emergencies that might arise, bought the shoes, and went
to the depot, where they had an anxious hour to wait.

"I expect Grandpa will be pretty mad," said Adam.

"I am sure there is not the slightest chance but that he will be,"
said Kate.

"Dare you go back home when school is over?" he asked.

"Probably not," she answered.

"What will you do?" he questioned.

"When I investigated sister Nancy Ellen's bureau I found a list of
the School Supervisors of the county, so I am going to put in my
spare time writing them about my qualifications to teach their
schools this winter.  All the other girls did well and taught
first-class schools, I shall also.  I am not a bit afraid but that
I may take my choice of several.  When I finish it will be only a
few days until school begins, so I can go hunt my boarding place
and stay there."

"Mother would let you stay at our house," said Adam.

"Yes, I think she would, after yesterday; but I don't want to make
trouble that might extend to Father and your father.  I had better
keep away."

"Yes, I guess you had," said Adam. "If Grandfather rows, he raises
a racket.  But maybe he won't!"

"Maybe!  Wouldn't you like to see what happens when Mother come in
from the potatoes and Nancy Ellen comes out from the living room,
and Father comes to dinner, all about the same time?"

Adam laughed appreciatively.

"Wouldn't I just!" he cried.  "Kate, you like my mother, don't
you?"

"I certainly do!  She has been splendid.  I never dreamed of such
a thing as getting the money from her."

"I didn't either," said Adam, "until -- I became a mind reader."

Kate looked straight into his eyes.

"How about that, Adam?" she asked.

Adam chuckled.  "She didn't intend to say a word.  She was going
to let the Bateses fight it out among themselves.  Her mouth was
shut so tight it didn't look as if she could open it if she wanted
to.  I thought it would be better for you to borrow the money from
her, so Father wouldn't get into a mess, and I knew how fine she
was, so I just SUGGESTED it to her.  That's all!"

"Adam, you're a dandy!" cried Kate.

"I am having a whole buggy load of fun, and you ought to go," said
he.  "It's all right!  Don't you worry!  I'll take care of you."

"Why, thank you, Adam!" said Kate.  "That is the first time any
one ever offered to take care of me in my life.  With me it always
has been pretty much of a 'go-it-alone' proposition."

"What of Nancy Ellen's did you take?" he asked.  "Why didn't you
get some gloves?  Your hands are so red and work-worn.  Mother's
never look that way."

"Your mother never has done the rough field work I do, and I
haven't taken time to be careful.  They do look badly.  I wish I
had taken a pair of the lady's gloves; but I doubt if she would
have survived that.  I understand that one of the unpardonable
sins is putting on gloves belonging to any one else."

Then the train came and Kate climbed aboard with Adam's parting
injunction in her ears:  "Sit beside an open window on this side!"

So she looked for and found the window and as she seated herself
she saw Adam on the outside and leaned to speak to him again.
Just as the train started he thrust his hand inside, dropped his
dollar on her lap, and in a tense whisper commanded her:  "Get
yourself some gloves!"  Then he ran.

Kate picked up the dollar, while her eyes dimmed with tears.

"Why, the fine youngster!" she said.  "The Jim-dandy fine
youngster!"

Adam could not remember when he ever had been so happy as he was
driving home.  He found his mother singing, his father in a genial
mood, so he concluded that the greatest thing in the world to make
a whole family happy was to do something kind for someone else.
But he reflected that there would be far from a happy family at
his grandfather's; and he was right.  Grandmother Bates came in
from her hoeing at eleven o'clock tired and hungry, expecting to
find the wash dry and dinner almost ready.  There was no wash and
no odour of food.  She went to the wood-shed and stared
unbelievingly at the cold stove, the tubs of soaking clothes.

She turned and went into the kitchen, where she saw no signs of
Kate or of dinner, then she lifted up her voice and shouted:
"Nancy Ellen!"

Nancy Ellen came in a hurry.  "Why, Mother, what is the matter?"
she cried.

"Matter, yourself!" exclaimed Mrs. Bates.  "Look in the wash room!
Why aren't the clothes on the line?  Where is that good-for-
nothing Kate?"

Nancy Ellen went to the wash room and looked.  She came back pale
and amazed.  "Maybe she is sick," she ventured. "She never has
been; but she might be!  Maybe she has lain down."

"On Monday morning!  And the wash not out!  You simpleton!" cried
Mrs. Bates.

Nancy Ellen hurried upstairs and came back with bulging eyes.

"Every scrap of her clothing is gone, and half of mine!"

"She's gone to that fool Normal-thing!  Where did she get the
money?" cried Mrs. Bates.

"I don't know!" said Nancy Ellen.  "She asked me yesterday, but of
course I told her that so long as you and Father decided she was
not to go, I couldn't possibly lend her the money."

"Did you look if she had taken it?"

Nancy Ellen straightened.  "Mother!  I didn't need do that!"

"You said she took your clothes," said Mrs. Bates.

"I had hers this time last year.  She'll bring back clothes."

"Not here, she won't!  Father will see that she never darkens
these doors again.  This is the first time in his life that a
child of his has disobeyed him."

"Except Adam, when he married Agatha; and he strutted like a
fighting cock about that."

"Well, he won't 'strut' about this, and you won't either, even if
you are showing signs of standing up for her.  Go at that wash,
while I get dinner."

Dinner was on the table when Adam Bates hung his hat on its hook
and saw the note for him.  He took it down and read:

FATHER:  I have gone to Normal.  I borrowed the money of a woman
who was willing to trust me to pay it back as soon as I earned it.
Not Nancy Ellen, of course.  She would not even loan me a pocket
handkerchief, though you remember I stayed at home six weeks last
summer to let her take what she wanted of mine.  Mother:  I think
you can get Sally Whistler to help you as cheaply as any one and
that she will do very well.  Nancy Ellen:  I have taken your
second best hat and a few of your things, but not half so many as
I loaned you.  I hope it makes you mad enough to burst.  I hope
you get as mad and stay as mad as I have been most of this year
while you taught me things you didn't know yourself; and I cooked
and washed for you so you could wear fine clothes and play the
lady.  KATE

Adam Bates read that note to himself, stretching every inch of his
six feet six, his face a dull red, his eyes glaring.  Then he
turned to his wife and daughter.

"Is Kate gone?  Without proper clothing and on borrowed money," he
demanded.

"I don't know," said Mrs. Bates.  "I was hoeing potatoes all
forenoon."

"Listen to this," he thundered.  Then he slowly read the note
aloud.  But someway the spoken words did not have the same effect
as when he read them mentally in the first shock of anger.  When
he heard his own voice read off the line, "I hope it makes you mad
enough to burst," there was a catch and a queer gurgle in his
throat.  Mrs. Bates gazed at him anxiously.  Was he so surprised
and angry he was choking?  Might it be a stroke?  It was!  It was
a master stroke.  He got no farther than "taught me things you
didn't know yourself," when he lowered the sheet, threw back his
head and laughed as none of his family ever had seen him laugh in
his life; laughed and laughed until his frame was shaken and the
tears rolled.  Finally he looked at the dazed Nancy Ellen.  "Get
Sally Whistler, nothing!" he said.  "You hustle your stumps and do
for your mother what Kate did while you were away last summer.
And if you have any common decency send your sister as many of
your best things as you had of hers, at least.  Do you hear me?"



PEREGRINATIONS

"PEREGRINATIONS," laughed Kate, turning to the window to hide her
face.  "Oh, Agatha, you are a dear, but you are too funny!  Even a
Fourth of July orator would not have used that word.  I never
heard it before in all of my life outside spelling-school."

Then she looked at the dollar she was gripping and ceased to
laugh.

"The dear lad," she whispered.  "He did the whole thing.  She was
going to let us 'fight it out'; I could tell by her back, and Adam
wouldn't have helped me a cent, quite as much because he didn't
want to as because Father wouldn't have liked it.  Fancy the
little chap knowing he can wheedle his mother into anything, and
exactly how to go about it!  I won't spend a penny on myself until
she is paid, and then I'll make her a present of something nice,
just to let her and Nancy Ellen see that I appreciate being helped
to my chance, for I had reached that point where I would have
walked to school and worked in somebody's kitchen, before I'd have
missed my opportunity.  I could have done it; but this will be far
pleasanter and give me a much better showing."

Then Kate began watching the people in the car with eager
curiosity, for she had been on a train only twice before in her
life.  She decided that she was in a company of young people and
some even of middle age, going to Normal.  She also noticed that
most of them were looking at her with probably the same interest
she found in them.  Then at one of the stations a girl asked to
sit with her and explained that she was going to Normal, so Kate
said she was also.  The girl seemed to have several acquaintances
on the car, for she left her seat to speak with them and when the
train stopped at a very pleasant city and the car began to empty
itself, on the platform Kate was introduced by this girl to
several young women and men near her age.  A party of four, going
to board close the school, with a woman they knew about, invited
Kate to go with them and because she was strange and shaken by her
experiences she agreed.  All of them piled their luggage on a
wagon to be delivered, so Kate let hers go also.  Then they walked
down a long shady street, and entered a dainty and comfortable
residence, a place that seemed to Kate to be the home of people of
wealth.  She was assigned a room with another girl, such a
pleasant girl; but a vague uneasiness had begun to make itself
felt, so before she unpacked she went back to the sitting room and
learned that the price of board was eight dollars a week.  Forty-
eight dollars for six weeks!  She would not have enough for books
and tuition.   Besides, Nancy Ellen had boarded with a family on
Butler Street whose charge was only five-fifty.  Kate was eager to
stay where these very agreeable young people did, she imagined
herself going to classes with them and having association that to
her would be a great treat, but she never would dare ask for more
money.  She thought swiftly a minute, and then made her first
mistake.

Instead of going to the other girls and frankly confessing that
she could not afford the prices they were paying, she watched her
chance, picked up her telescope and hurried down the street,
walking swiftly until she was out of sight of the house.  Then she
began inquiring her way to Butler Street and after a long, hot
walk, found the place.  The rooms and board were very poor, but
Kate felt that she could endure whatever Nancy Ellen had, so she
unpacked, and went to the Normal School to register and learn what
she would need.  On coming from the building she saw that she
would be forced to pass close by the group of girls she had
deserted and this was made doubly difficult because she could see
that they were talking about her.  Then she understood how foolish
she had been and as she was struggling to summon courage to
explain to them she caught these words plainly:

"Who is going to ask her for it?"

"I am," said the girl who had sat beside Kate on the train.  "I
don't propose to pay it myself!"

Then she came directly to Kate and said briefly:  "Fifty cents,
please!"

"For what?" stammered Kate.

"Your luggage.  You changed your boarding place in such a hurry
you forgot to settle, and as I made the arrangement, I had to pay
it."

"Do please excuse me," said Kate.  "I was so bewildered, I
forgot."

"Certainly!" said the girl and Kate dropped the money into the
extended hand and hurried past, her face scorched red with shame,
for one of them had said:  "That's a good one!  I wouldn't have
thought it of her."

Kate went back to her hot, stuffy room and tried to study, but she
succeeded only in being miserable, for she realized that she had
lost her second chance to have either companions or friends, by
not saying the few words of explanation that would have righted
her in the opinion of those she would meet each day for six weeks.
It was not a good beginning, while the end was what might have
been expected.  A young man from her neighbourhood spoke to her
and the girls seeing, asked him about Kate, learning thereby that
her father was worth more money than all of theirs put together.
Some of them had accepted the explanation that Kate was
"bewildered" and had acted hastily; but when the young man
finished Bates history, they merely thought her mean, and left her
severely to herself, so her only recourse was to study so
diligently, and recite so perfectly that none of them could equal
her, and this she did.

In acute discomfort and with a sore heart, Kate passed her first
six weeks away from home.  She wrote to each man on the list of
school directors she had taken from Nancy Ellen's desk.  Some
answered that they had their teachers already engaged, others made
no reply.  One bright spot was the receipt of a letter from Nancy
Ellen saying she was sending her best dress, to be very careful of
it, and if Kate would let her know the day she would be home she
would meet her at the station.   Kate sent her thanks, wore the
dress to two lectures, and wrote the letter telling when she would
return.

As the time drew nearer she became sickeningly anxious about a
school.  What if she failed in securing one?  What if she could
not pay back Agatha's money?  What if she had taken "the wings of
morning," and fallen in her flight?  In desperation she went to
the Superintendent of the Normal and told him her trouble.  He
wrote her a fine letter of recommendation and she sent it to one
of the men from whom she had not heard, the director of a school
in the village of Walden, seven miles east of Hartley, being
seventeen miles from her home, thus seeming to Kate a desirable
location, also she knew the village to be pretty and the school
one that paid well.  Then she finished her work the best she
could, and disappointed and anxious, entered the train for home.

When the engine whistled at the bridge outside Hartley Kate arose,
lifted her telescope from the rack overhead, and made her way to
the door, so that she was the first person to leave the car when
it stopped.  As she stepped to the platform she had a distinct
shock, for her father reached for the telescope, while his
greeting and his face were decidedly friendly, for him.  As they
walked down the street Kate was trying wildly to think of the best
thing to say when he asked if she had a school.  But he did not
ask.  Then she saw in the pocket of his light summer coat a packet
of letters folded inside a newspaper, and there was one long,
official-looking envelope that stood above the others far enough
that she could see "Miss K --" of the address.  Instantly she
decided that it was her answer from the School Director of Walden
and she was tremblingly eager to see it.  She thought an instant
and then asked:  "Have you been to the post office?"

"Yes, I got the mail," he answered.

"Will you please see if there are any letters for me?" she asked.

"When we get home," he said.  "I am in a hurry now.  Here's a list
of things Ma wants, and don't be all day about getting them."

Kate's lips closed to a thin line and her eyes began to grow steel
coloured and big.  She dragged back a step and looked at the
loosely swaying pocket again.  She thought intently a second.  As
they passed several people on the walk she stepped back of her
father and gently raised the letter enough to see that the address
was to her.  Instantly she lifted it from the others, slipped it
up her dress sleeve, and again took her place beside her father
until they reached the store where her mother did her shopping.
Then he waited outside while Kate hurried in, and ripping open the
letter, found a contract ready for her to sign for the Walden
school.  The salary was twenty dollars a month more than Nancy
Ellen had received for their country school the previous winter
and the term four months longer.

Kate was so delighted she could have shouted.  Instead she went
with all speed to the stationery counter and bought an envelope to
fit the contract, which she signed, and writing a hasty note of
thanks she mailed the letter in the store mail box, then began her
mother's purchases.  This took so much time that her father came
into the store before she had finished, demanding that she hurry,
so in feverish haste she bought what was wanted and followed to
the buggy.  On the road home she began to study her father; she
could see that he was well pleased over something but she had no
idea what could have happened; she had expected anything from
verbal wrath to the buggy whip, so she was surprised, but so happy
over having secured such a good school, at higher wages than Nancy
Ellen's, that she spent most of her time thinking of herself and
planning as to when she would go to Walden, where she would stay,
how she would teach, and Oh, bliss unspeakable, what she would do
with so much money; for two month's pay would more than wipe out
her indebtedness to Agatha, and by getting the very cheapest board
she could endure, after that she would have over three fourths of
her money to spend each month for books and clothes.  She was
intently engaged with her side of the closet and her end of the
bureau, when she had her first glimpse of home; even preoccupied
as she was, she saw a difference.  Several loose pickets in the
fence had been nailed in place.  The lilac beside the door and the
cabbage roses had been trimmed, so that they did not drag over the
walk, while the yard had been gone over with a lawn-mower.

Kate turned to her father.  "Well, for land's sake!" she said.  "I
wanted a lawn-mower all last summer, and you wouldn't buy it for
me.  I wonder why you got it the minute I was gone."

"I got it because Nancy Ellen especially wanted it, and she has
been a mighty good girl all summer," he said.

"If that is the case, then she should be rewarded with the
privilege of running a lawn-mower," said Kate.

Her father looked at her sharply; but her face was so pleasant he
decided she did not intend to be saucy, so he said:  "No doubt she
will be willing to let you help her all you want to."

"Not the ghost of a doubt about that," laughed Kate, "and I always
wanted to try running one, too.  They look so nice in pictures,
and how one improves a place!  I hardly know this is home.  Now if
we only had a fresh coat of white paint we could line up with the
neighbours."

"I have been thinking about that," said Mr. Bates, and Kate
glanced at him, doubting her hearing.

He noticed her surprise and added in explanation:  "Paint every so
often saves a building.  It's good economy."

"Then let's economize immediately," said Kate.  "And on the barn,
too.  It is even more weather-beaten than the house."

"I'll see about it the next time I go to town," said Mr. Bates; so
Kate entered the house prepared for anything and wondering what it
all meant for wherever she looked everything was shining the
brightest that scrubbing and scouring could make it shine, the
best of everything was out and in use; not that it was much, but
it made a noticeable difference.  Her mother greeted her
pleasantly, with a new tone of voice, while Nancy Ellen was
transformed.  Kate noticed that, immediately.  She always had been
a pretty girl, now she was beautiful, radiantly beautiful, with a
new shining beauty that dazzled Kate as she looked at her.  No one
offered any explanation while Kate could see none.  At last she
asked:  "What on earth has happened?  I don't understand."

"Of course you don't," laughed Nancy Ellen.  "You thought you ran
the whole place and did everything yourself, so I thought I'd just
show you how things look when I run them."

"You are a top-notcher," said Kate.  "Figuratively and literally,
I offer you the palm.  Let the good work go on!  I highly approve;
but I don't see how you found time to do all this and go to
Institute."

"I didn't go to Institute," said Nancy Ellen.

"You didn't!  But you must!" cried Kate.

"Oh must I?  Well, since you have decided to run your affairs as
you please, in spite of all of us, just suppose you let me run
mine the same way.  Only, I rather enjoy having Father and Mother
approve of what I do."

Kate climbed the stairs with this to digest as she went; so while
she put away her clothing she thought things over, but saw no
light.  She would go to Adam's to return the telescope to-morrow,
possibly he could tell her.  As she hung her dresses in the closet
and returned Nancy Ellen's to their places she was still more
amazed, for there hung three pretty new wash dresses, one of a
rosy pink that would make Nancy Ellen appear very lovely.

What was the reason, Kate wondered.  The Bates family never did
anything unless there was some purpose in it, what was the purpose
in this?  And Nancy Ellen had not gone to Institute.  She
evidently had worked constantly and hard, yet she was in much
sweeter frame of mind than usual.  She must have spent almost all
she had saved from her school on new clothes.  Kate could not
solve the problem, so she decided to watch and wait.  She also
waited for someone to say something about her plans, but no one
said a word, so after waiting all evening Kate decided that they
would ask before they learned anything from her.  She took her
place as usual, and the work went on as if she had not been away;
but she was happy, even in her bewilderment.

If her father noticed the absence of the letter she had slipped
from his pocket he said nothing about it as he drew the paper and
letters forth and laid them on the table.  Kate had a few bad
minutes while this was going on, she was sure he hesitated an
instant and looked closely at the letters he sorted; but when he
said nothing, she breathed deeply in relief and went on being
joyous.  It seemed to her that never had the family been in such a
good-natured state since Adam had married Agatha and her three
hundred acres with house, furniture, and stock.  She went on in
ignorance of what had happened until after Sunday dinner the
following day.  Then she had planned to visit Agatha and Adam.  It
was very probable that it was because she was dressing for this
visit that Nancy Ellen decided on Kate's enlightenment, for she
could not have helped seeing that her sister was almost stunned at
times.

Kate gave her a fine opening.  As she stood brushing her wealth of
gold with full-length sweeps of her arm, she was at an angle that
brought her facing the mirror before which Nancy Ellen sat
training waves and pinning up loose braids.  Her hair was
beautiful and she slowly smiled at her image as she tried
different effects of wave, loose curl, braids high piled or flat.
Across her bed lay a dress that was a reproduction of one that she
had worn for three years, but a glorified reproduction.  The
original dress had been Nancy Ellen's first departure from the
brown and gray gingham which her mother always had purchased
because it would wear well, and when from constant washing it
faded to an exact dirt colour it had the advantage of providing a
background that did not show the dirt.  Nancy Ellen had earned the
money for a new dress by raising turkeys, so when the turkeys went
to town to be sold, for the first time in her life Nancy Ellen
went along to select the dress.  No one told her what kind of
dress to get, because no one imagined that she would dare buy any
startling variation from what always had been provided for her.

But Nancy Ellen had stood facing a narrow mirror when she reached
the gingham counter and the clerk, taking one look at her fresh,
beautiful face with its sharp contrasts of black eyes and hair,
rose-tinted skin that refused to tan, and red cheeks and lips,
began shaking out delicate blues, pale pinks, golden yellows.  He
called them chambray; insisted that they wore for ever, and were
fadeless, which was practically the truth.  On the day that dress
was like to burst its waist seams, it was the same warm rosy pink
that transformed Nancy Ellen from the disfiguration of dirt-brown
to apple and peach bloom, wild roses and swamp mallow, a girl
quite as pretty as a girl ever grows, and much prettier than any
girl ever has any business to be.  The instant Nancy Ellen held
the chambray under her chin and in an oblique glance saw the face
of the clerk, the material was hers no matter what the cost, which
does not refer to the price, by any means.  Knowing that the dress
would be an innovation that would set her mother storming and fill
Kate with envy, which would probably culminate in the demand that
the goods be returned and exchanged for dirt-brown, when she
reached home Nancy Ellen climbed from the wagon and told her
father that she was going on to Adam's to have Agatha cut out her
dress so that she could begin to sew on it that night.  Such
commendable industry met his hearty approval, so he told her to go
and he would see that Kate did her share of the work.  Wise Nancy
Ellen came home and sat her down to sew on her gorgeous frock,
while the storm she had feared raged in all its fury; but the
goods was cut, and could not be returned.  Yet, through it, a
miracle happened:  Nancy Ellen so appreciated herself in pink that
the extreme care she used with that dress saved it from half the
trips of a dirt-brown one to the wash board and the ironing table;
while, marvel of marvels, it did not shrink, it did not fade, also
it wore like buckskin.  The result was that before the season had
passed Kate was allowed to purchase a pale blue, which improved
her appearance quite as much in proportion as pink had Nancy
Ellen's; neither did the blue fade nor shrink nor require so much
washing, for the same reason.  Three years the pink dress had been
Nancy Ellen's PIECE DE RESISTANCE; now she had a new one, much the
same, yet conspicuously different.  This was a daring rose colour,
full and wide, peeping white embroidery trimming, and big pearl
buttons, really a beautiful dress, made in a becoming manner.
Kate looked at it in cheerful envy.  Never mind!  The coming
summer she would have a blue that would make that pink look silly.
From the dress she turned to Nancy Ellen, barely in time to see
her bend her head and smirk, broadly, smilingly, approvingly, at
her reflection in the glass.

"For mercy sake, what IS the matter with you?" demanded Kate,
ripping a strand of hair in sudden irritation.

"Oh, something lovely!" answered her sister, knowing that this was
her chance to impart the glad tidings herself; if she lost it,
Agatha would get the thrill of Kate's surprise.  So Nancy Ellen
opened her drawer and slowly produced and set upon her bureau a
cabinet photograph of a remarkably strong-featured, handsome young
man.  Then she turned to Kate and smiled a slow, challenging
smile.  Kate walked over and picked up the picture, studying it
intently but in growing amazement.

"Who is he?" she asked finally.

"My man!" answered Nancy Ellen, possessively, triumphantly.

Kate stared at her.  "Honest to God?" she cried in wonderment.

"Honest!" said Nancy Ellen.

"Where on earth did you find him?" demanded Kate.

"Picked him out of the blackberry patch," said Nancy Ellen.

"Those darn blackberries are always late," said Kate, throwing the
picture back on the bureau.  "Ain't that just my luck!  You
wouldn't touch the raspberries.  I had to pick them every one
myself.  But the minute I turn my back, you go pick a man like
that, out of the blackberry patch.  I bet a cow you wore your pink
chambray, and carried grandmother's old blue bowl."

"Certainly," said Nancy Ellen, "and my pink sun-bonnet.  I think
maybe the bonnet started it."

Kate sat down limply on the first chair and studied the toes of
her shoes.  At last she roused and looked at Nancy Ellen, waiting
in smiling complaisance as she returned the picture to her end of
the bureau.

"Well, why don't you go ahead?" cried Kate in a thick, rasping
voice.  "Empty yourself!  Who is he?  Where did he come from?  WHY
was he IN our blackberry patch?  Has he really been to see you,
and is he courting you in earnest? -- But of COURSE he is!
There's the lilac bush, the lawn-mower, the house to be painted,
and a humdinger dress.  Is he a millionaire?  For Heaven's sake
tell me --"

"Give me some chance!  I did meet him in the blackberry patch.
He's a nephew of Henry Lang and his name is Robert Gray.  He has
just finished a medical course and he came here to rest and look
at Hartley for a location, because Lang thinks it would be such a
good one.  And since we met he has decided to take an office in
Hartley, and he has money to furnish it, and to buy and furnish a
nice house."

"Great Jehoshaphat!" cried Kate.  "And I bet he's got wings, too!
I do have the rottenest luck!"

"You act for all the world as if it were a foregone conclusion
that if you had been here, you'd have won him!"

Nancy Ellen glanced in the mirror and smiled, while Kate saw the
smile.  She picked up her comb and drew herself to full height.

"If anything ever was a 'foregone conclusion,'" she said, "it is a
'foregone conclusion' that if I HAD been here, I'd have picked the
blackberries, and so I'd have had the first chance at him, at
least."

"Much good it would have done you!" cried Nancy Ellen.  "Wait
until he comes, and you see him!"

"You may do your mushing in private," said Kate.  "I don't need a
demonstration to convince me.  He looks from the picture like a
man who would be as soft as a frosted pawpaw."

Nancy Ellen's face flamed crimson.  "You hateful spite-cat!" she
cried.

Then she picked up the picture and laid it face down in her
drawer, while two big tears ran down her cheeks.  Kate saw those
also.  Instantly she relented.

"You big silly goose!" she said.  "Can't you tell when any one is
teasing?  I think I never saw a finer face than the one in that
picture.  I'm jealous because I never left home a day before in
all my life, and the minute I do, here you go and have such luck.
Are you really sure of him, Nancy Ellen?"

"Well, he asked Father and Mother, and I've been to visit his
folks, and he told them; and I've been with him to Hartley hunting
a house; and I'm not to teach this winter, so I can have all my
time to make my clothes and bedding.  Father likes him fine, so he
is going to give me money to get all I need.  He offered to,
himself."

Kate finished her braid, pulled the combings from the comb and
slowly wrapped the end of her hair as she digested these
convincing facts.  She swung the heavy braid around her head,
placed a few pins, then crossed to her sister and laid a shaking
hand on her shoulder.  Her face was working strongly.

"Nancy Ellen, I didn't mean one ugly word I said.  You gave me an
awful surprise, and that was just my bald, ugly Bates way of
taking it.  I think you are one of the most beautiful women I ever
have seen, alive or pictured.  I have always thought you would
make a fine marriage, and I am sure you will.  I haven't a doubt
that Robert Gray is all you think him, and I am as glad for you as
I can be.  You can keep house in Hartley for two with scarcely any
work at all, and you can have all the pretty clothes you want, and
time to wear them.  Doctors always get rich if they are good ones,
and he is sure to be a good one, once he gets a start.  If only we
weren't so beastly healthy there are enough Bates and Langs to
support you for the first year.  And I'll help you sew, and do all
I can for you.  Now wipe up and look your handsomest!"

Nancy Ellen arose and put her arms around Kate's neck, a
stunningly unusual proceeding.  "Thank you," she said.  "That is
big and fine of you.  But I always have shirked and put my work on
you; I guess now I'll quit, and do my sewing myself."

Then she slipped the pink dress over her head and stood slowly
fastening it as Kate started to leave the room.  Seeing her go:
"I wish you would wait and meet Robert," she said. "I have told him
about what a nice sister I have."

"I think I'll go on to Adam's now," said Kate.  "I don't want to
wait until they go some place, and I miss them.  I'll do better to
meet your man after I become more accustomed to bare facts,
anyway.  By the way, is he as tall as you?"

"Yes," said Nancy Ellen, laughing.  "He is an inch and a half
taller.  Why?"

"Oh, I hate seeing a woman taller than her husband and I've always
wondered where we'd find men to reach our shoulders.  But if they
can be picked at random from the berry patch --"

So Kate went on her way laughing, lifting her white skirts high
from the late August dust.  She took a short cut through the woods
and at a small stream, with sure foot, crossed the log to within a
few steps of the opposite bank.  There she stopped, for a young
man rounded the bushes and set a foot on the same log; then he and
Kate looked straight into each other's eyes.  Kate saw a clean-
shaven, forceful young face, with strong lines and good colouring,
clear gray eyes, sandy brown hair, even, hard, white teeth, and
broad shoulders a little above her own.  The man saw Kate, dressed
in her best and looking her best.  Slowly she extended her hand.

"I bet a picayune you are my new brother, Robert," she said.

The young man gripped her hand firmly, held it, and kept on
looking in rather a stunned manner at Kate.

"Well, aren't you?" she asked, trying to withdraw the hand.

"I never, never would have believed it," he said.

"Believed what?" asked Kate, leaving the hand where it was.

"That there could be two in the same family," said he.

"But I'm as different from Nancy Ellen as night from day," said
Kate,  "besides, woe is me, I didn't wear a pink dress and pick
you from the berry patch in a blue bowl."

Then the man released her hand and laughed.  "You wouldn't have
had the slightest trouble, if you had been there," he said.

"Except that I should have inverted my bowl," said Kate, calmly.
"I am looking for a millionaire, riding a milk-white steed, and he
must be much taller than you and have black hair and eyes.  Good-
bye, brother!  I will see you this evening."

Then Kate went down the path to deliver the telescope, render her
thanks, make her promise of speedy payment, and for the first time
tell her good news about her school.  She found that she was very
happy as she went and quite convinced that her first flight would
prove entirely successful.



A QUESTION OF CONTRACTS

"HELLO, Folks!" cried Kate, waving her hand to the occupants of the
veranda as she went up the walk.  "Glad to find you at home."

"That is where you will always find me unless I am forced away on
business," said her brother as they shook hands.

Agatha was pleased with this, and stiff as steel, she bent the
length of her body toward Kate and gave her a tight-lipped little
peck on the cheek.

"I came over, as soon as I could," said Kate as she took the chair
her brother offered, "to thank you for the big thing you did for
me, Agatha, when you lent me that money.  If I had known where I
was going, or the help it would be to me, I should have gone if
I'd had to walk and work for my board.  Why, I feel so sure of
myself!  I've learned so much that I'm like the girl fresh from
boarding school:  'The only wonder is that one small head can
contain it all.'  Thank you over and over and I've got a good
school, so I can pay you back the very first month, I think.  If
there are things I must have, I can pay part the first month and
the remainder the second.  I am eager for pay-day.  I can't even
picture the bliss of having that much money in my fingers, all my
own, to do with as I please.  Won't it be grand?"

In the same breath said Agatha:  "Procure yourself some clothes!"
Said Adam:  "Start a bank account!"

Said Kate:  "Right you are!  I shall do both."

"Even our little Susan has a bank account," said Adam, Jr.,
proudly.

"Which is no reflection whatever on me," laughed Kate.  "Susan did
not have the same father and mother I had.  I'd like to see a girl
of my branch of the Bates family start a bank account at ten."

"No, I guess she wouldn't," admitted Adam, dryly.

"But have you heard that Nancy Ellen has started?" cried Kate.
"Only think!  A lawn-mower!  The house and barn to be painted!
All the dinge possible to remove scoured away, inside!  She must
have worn her fingers almost to the bone!  And really, Agatha,
have you seen the man?  He's as big as Adam, and just fine
looking.  I'm simply consumed with envy."

"Miss Medira, Dora, Ann, cast her net, and catched a man!" recited
Susan from the top step, at which they all laughed.

"No, I have not had the pleasure of casting my optics upon the
individual of Nancy Ellen's choice," said Agatha primly, "but Miss
Amelia Lang tells me he is a very distinguished person, of quite
superior education in a medical way.  I shall call him if I ever
have the misfortune to fall ill again.  I hope you will tell Nancy
Ellen that we shall be very pleased to have her bring him to see
us some evening, and if she will let me know a short time ahead I
shall take great pleasure in compounding a cake and freezing
custard."

"Of course I shall tell her, and she will feel a trifle more stuck
up than she does now, if that is possible," laughed Kate in deep
amusement.

She surely was feeling fine.  Everything had come out so
splendidly.  That was what came of having a little spirit and
standing up for your rights.  Also she was bubbling inside while
Agatha talked.  Kate wondered how Adam survived it every day.  She
glanced at him to see if she could detect any marks of shattered
nerves, then laughed outright.

Adam was the finest physical specimen of a man she knew.  He was
good looking also, and spoke as well as the average, better in
fact, for from the day of their marriage, Agatha sat on his lap
each night and said these words:  "My beloved, to-day I noted an
error in your speech.  It would put a former teacher to much
embarrassment to have this occur in public.  In the future will
you not try to remember that you should say, 'have gone,' instead
of 'have went?'"  As she talked Agatha rumpled Adam's hair, pulled
off his string tie, upon which she insisted, even when he was
plowing; laid her hard little face against his, and held him tight
with her frail arms, so that Adam being part human as well as part
Bates, held her closely also and said these words:  "You bet your
sweet life I will!"  And what is more he did.  He followed a
furrow the next day, softly muttering over to himself:  "Langs
have gone to town.  I have gone to work.  The birds have gone to
building nests."  So Adam seldom said:  "have went," or made any
other error in speech that Agatha had once corrected.

As Kate watched him leaning back in his chair, vital, a study in
well-being, the supremest kind of satisfaction on his face, she
noted the flash that lighted his eye when Agatha offered to
"freeze a custard."  How like Agatha! Any other woman Kate knew
would have said, "make ice cream."  Agatha explained to them that
when they beat up eggs, added milk, sugar, and corn-starch it was
custard.  When they used pure cream, sweetened and frozen, it was
iced cream.  Personally, she preferred the custard, but she did
not propose to call it custard cream.  It was not correct.  Why
persist in misstatements and inaccuracies when one knew better?
So Agatha said iced cream when she meant it, and frozen custard,
when custard it was, but every other woman in the neighbourhood,
had she acted as she felt, would have slapped Agatha's face when
she said it:  this both Adam and Kate well knew, so it made Kate
laugh despite the fact that she would not have offended Agatha
purposely.

"I think -- I think," said Agatha, "that Nancy Ellen has much upon
which to congratulate herself.  More education would not injure
her, but she has enough that if she will allow her ambition to
rule her and study in private and spend her spare time communing
with the best writers, she can make an exceedingly fair
intellectual showing, while she surely is a handsome woman.  With
a good home and such a fine young professional man as she has had
the good fortune to attract, she should immediately put herself at
the head of society in Hartley and become its leader to a much
higher moral and intellectual plane than it now occupies."

"Bet she has a good time," said young Adam.  "He's awful nice."

"Son," said Agatha, "'awful,' means full of awe.  A cyclone, a
cloudburst, a great conflagration are awful things.  By no stretch
of the imagination could they be called nice."

"But, Ma, if a cyclone blew away your worst enemy wouldn't it be
nice?"

Adam, Jr., and Kate laughed.  Not the trace of a smile crossed
Agatha's pale face.

"The words do not belong in contiguity," she said.  "They are
diametrically opposite in meaning.  Please do not allow my ears to
be offended by hearing you place them in propinquity again."

"I'll try not to, Ma," said young Adam; then Agatha smiled on him
approvingly.  "When did you meet Mr. Gray, Katherine?" she asked.

"On the foot-log crossing the creek beside Lang's line fence.
Near the spot Nancy Ellen first met him I imagine."

"How did you recognize him?"

"Nancy Ellen had just been showing me his picture and telling me
about him.  Great Day, but she's in love with him!"

"And so he is with her, if Lang's conclusions from his behaviour
can be depended upon.  They inform me that he can be induced to
converse on no other subject.  The whole arrangement appeals to me
as distinctly admirable."

"And you should see the lilac bush and the cabbage roses," said
Kate.  "And the strangest thing is Father.  He is peaceable as a
lamb.  She is not to teach, but to spend the winter sewing on her
clothes and bedding, and Father told her he would give her the
necessary money.  She said so.  And I suspect he will.  He always
favoured her because she was so pretty, and she can come closer to
wheedling him than any of the rest of us excepting you, Agatha."

"It is an innovation, surely!"

"Mother is nearly as bad.  Father furnishing money for clothes and
painting the barn is no more remarkable than Mother letting her
turn the house inside out.  If it had been I, Father would have
told me to teach my school this winter, buy my own clothes and
linen with the money I had earned, and do my sewing next summer.
But I am not jealous.  It is because she is handsome, and the man
fine-looking and with such good prospects."

"There you have it!" said Adam emphatically.  "If it were you,
marrying Jim Lang, to live on Lang's west forty, you WOULD pay
your own way.  But if it were you marrying a fine-looking young
doctor, who will soon be a power in Hartley, no doubt, it would
tickle Father's vanity until he would do the same for you."

"I doubt it!" said Kate.  "I can't see the vanity in Father."

"You can't?" said Adam, Jr., bitterly.  "Maybe not!  You have not
been with him in the Treasurer's office when he calls for 'the tax
on those little parcels of land of mine.'  He looks every inch of
six feet six then, and swells like a toad.  To hear him you would
think sixteen hundred and fifty acres of the cream of this county
could be tied in a bandanna and carried on a walking stick, he is
so casual about it.  And those men fly around like buttons on a
barn door to wait on him and it's 'Mister Bates this' and 'Mister
Bates that,' until it turns my stomach.  Vanity!  He rolls in it!
He eats it!  He risks losing our land for us that some of us have
slaved over for twenty years, to feed that especial vein of his
vanity.  Where should we be if he let anything happen to those
deeds?"

"How refreshing!" cried Kate.  "I love to hear you grouching!  I
hear nothing else from the women of the Bates family, but I didn't
even know the men had a grouch.  Are Peter, and John, and Hiram,
and the other boys sore, too?"

"I should say they are!  But they are too diplomatic to say so.
They are afraid to cheep.  I just open my head and say right out
loud in meeting that since I've turned in the taxes and insurance
for all these years and improved my land more than fifty per
cent., I'd like to own it, and pay my taxes myself, like a man."

"I'd like to have some land under any conditions," said Kate, "but
probably I never shall.  And I bet you never get a flipper on that
deed until Father has crossed over Jordan, which with his health
and strength won't be for twenty-five years yet at least.  He's
performing a miracle that will make the other girls rave, when he
gives Nancy Ellen money to buy her outfit; but they won't dare let
him hear a whisper of it.  They'll take it all out on Mother, and
she'll be afraid to tell him."

"Afraid?  Mother afraid of him?  Not on your life.  She is hand in
glove with him.  She thinks as he does, and helps him in
everything he undertakes."

"That's so, too.  Come to think of it, she isn't a particle afraid
of him.  She agrees with him perfectly.  It would be interesting
to hear them having a private conversation.  They never talk a
word before us.  But they always agree, and they heartily agree on
Nancy Ellen's man, that is plainly to be seen."

"It will make a very difficult winter for you, Katherine," said
Agatha.   "When Nancy Ellen becomes interested in dresses and
table linen and bedding she will want to sew all the time, and
leave the cooking and dishes for you as well as your schoolwork."

Kate turned toward Agatha in surprise.  "But I won't be there!  I
told you I had taken a school."

"You taken a school!" shouted Adam.  "Why, didn't they tell you
that Father has signed up for the home school for you?"

"Good Heavens!" said Kate.  "What will be to pay now?"

"Did you contract for another school?" cried Adam.

"I surely did," said Kate slowly.  "I signed an agreement to teach
the village school in Walden.  It's a brick building with a
janitor to sweep and watch fires, only a few blocks to walk, and
it pays twenty dollars a month more than the home school where you
can wade snow three miles, build your own fires, and freeze all
day in a little frame building at that.  I teach the school I have
taken."

"And throw our school out of a teacher?  Father could be sued, and
probably will be," said Adam.  "And throw the housework Nancy
Ellen expected you to do on her," said Agatha, at the same time.

"I see," said Kate.  "Well, if he is sued, he will have to settle.
He wouldn't help me a penny to go to school, I am of age, the debt
is my own, and I don't owe it to him.  He's had all my work has
been worth all my life, and I've surely paid my way.  I shall
teach the school I have signed for."

"You will get into a pretty kettle of fish!" said Adam.

"Agatha, will you sell me your telescope for what you paid for it,
and get yourself a new one the next time you go to Hartley?  It is
only a few days until time to go to my school, it opens sooner
than in the country, and closes later.  The term is four months
longer, so I earn that much more.  I haven't gotten a telescope
yet.  You can add it to my first payment."

"You may take it," said Agatha, "but hadn't you better reconsider,
Katherine?  Things are progressing so nicely, and this will upset
everything for Nancy Ellen."

"That taking the home school will upset everything for me, doesn't
seem to count.  It is late, late to find teachers, and I can be
held responsible if I break the contract I have made.  Father can
stand the racket better than I can.  When he wouldn't consent to
my going, he had no business to make plans for me.  I had to make
my own plans and go in spite of him; he might have known I'd do
all in my power to get a school.  Besides, I don't want the home
school, or the home work piled on me.  My hands look like a human
being's for the first time in my life; then I need all my time
outside of school to study and map out lessons.  I am going to try
for a room in the Hartley schools next year, or the next after
that, surely.  They sha'n't change my plans and boss me, I am
going to be free to work, and study, and help myself, like other
teachers."

"A grand row this will be," commented young Adam.  "And as usual
Kate will be right, while all of them will be trying to use her to
their advantage.  Ma has done her share.  Now it is your turn, Pa.
Ain't you going to go over and help her?"

"What could I do?" demanded his father.  "The mischief is done
now."

"Well, if you can't do anything to help, you can let me have the
buggy to drive her to Walden, if they turn her out."

"'Forcibly invite her to proceed to her destination,' you mean,
son," said Agatha.

"Yes, Ma, that is exactly what I mean," said young Adam.  "Do I
get the buggy?"

"Yes, you may take my private conveyance.  But do nothing to
publish the fact.  There is no need to incur antagonism if it can
be avoided."

"Kate, I'll be driving past the privet bush about nine in the
morning.  If you need me, hang a white rag on it, and I'll stop at
the corner of the orchard."

"I shall probably be standing in the road waiting for you," said
Kate.

"Oh, I hope not," said Agatha.

"Looks remarkably like it to me," said Kate.

Then she picked up the telescope, said good-bye to each of them,
and in acute misery started back to her home.  This time she
followed the footpath beside the highway.  She was so busy with
her indignant thought that she forgot to protect her skirts from
the dust of wayside weeds, while in her excitement she walked so
fast her face was red and perspiring when she approached the
church.

"Oh, dear, I don't know about it," said Kate to the small, silent
building.  "I am trying to follow your advice, but it seems to me
that life is very difficult, any way you go at it.  If it isn't
one thing, it is another.  An hour ago I was the happiest I have
ever been in my life; only look at me now!  Any one who wants 'the
wings of morning' may have them for all of me.  It seems
definitely settled that I walk, carry a load, and fight for the
chance to do even that."

A big tear rolled down either side of Kate's nose and her face
twisted in self-pity for an instant.  But when she came in sight
of home her shoulders squared, the blue-gray of her eyes deepened
to steel, and her lips set in a line that was an exact counterpart
of her father's when he had made up his mind and was ready to
drive his family, with their consent or without it.  As she passed
the vegetable garden -- there was no time or room for flowers in a
Bates garden -- Kate, looking ahead, could see Nancy Ellen and
Robert Gray beneath the cherry trees.  She hoped Nancy Ellen would
see that she was tired and dusty, and should have time to brush
and make herself more presentable to meet a stranger, and so Nancy
Ellen did; for which reason she immediately arose and came to the
gate, followed by her suitor whom she at once introduced.  Kate
was in no mood for words; one glance at her proved to Robert Gray
that she was tired and dusty, that there were tear marks dried on
her face.  They hastily shook hands, but neither mentioned the
previous meeting.  Excusing herself Kate went into the house
saying she would soon return.

Nancy Ellen glanced at Robert, and saw the look of concern on his
face.

"I believe she has been crying," she said.  "And if she has, it's
something new, for I never saw a tear on her face before in my
life."

"Truly?" he questioned in amazement.

"Why, of course!  The Bates family are not weepers."

"So I have heard," said the man, rather dryly.

Nancy Ellen resented his tone.

"Would you like us better if we were?"

"I couldn't like you better than I do, but because of what I have
heard and seen, it naturally makes me wonder what could have
happened that has made her cry."

"We are rather outspoken, and not at all secretive," said Nancy
Ellen, carelessly, "you will soon know."

Kate followed the walk around the house and entered at the side
door, finding her father and mother in the dining room reading the
weekly papers.  Her mother glanced up as she entered.

"What did you bring Agatha's telescope back with you for?" she
instantly demanded.

For a second Kate hesitated.  It had to come, she might as well
get it over.  Possibly it would be easier with them alone than if
Nancy Ellen were present.

"It is mine," she said.  "It represents my first purchase on my
own hook and line."

"You are not very choicy to begin on second-hand stuff.  Nancy
Ellen would have had a new one."

"No doubt!" said Kate.  "But this will do for me."

Her father lowered his paper and asked harshly:  "What did you buy
that thing for?"

Kate gripped the handle and braced herself.

"To pack my clothes in when I go to my school next week," she said
simply.

"What?" he shouted.  "What?" cried her mother.

"I don't know why you seem surprised," said Kate.  "Surely you
knew I went to Normal to prepare myself to teach.  Did you think I
couldn't find a school?"

"Now look here, young woman," shouted Adam Bates, "you are done
taking the bit in your teeth.  Nancy Ellen is not going to teach
this winter.  I have taken the home school for you; you will teach
it.  That is settled.  I have signed the contract.  It must be
fulfilled."

"Then Nancy Ellen will have to fulfill it," said Kate.  "I also
have signed a contract that must be fulfilled.  I am of age, and
you had no authority from me to sign a contract for me."

For an instant Kate thought there was danger that the purple rush
of blood to her father's head might kill him.  He opened his
mouth, but no distinct words came.  Her face paled with fright,
but she was of his blood, so she faced him quietly.  Her mother
was quicker of wit, and sharper of tongue.

"Where did you get a school?  Why didn't you wait until you got
home?" she demanded.

"I am going to teach the village school in Walden," said Kate.
"It is a brick building, has a janitor, I can board reasonably,
near my work, and I get twenty dollars more a month than our
school pays, while the term is four months longer."

"Well, it is a pity about that; but it makes no difference," said
her mother.  "Our home school has got to be taught as Pa
contracted, and Nancy Ellen has got to have her chance."

"What about my chance?" asked Kate evenly.  "Not one of the girls,
even Exceptional Ability, ever had as good a school or as high
wages to start on.  If I do well there this winter, I am sure I
can get in the Hartley graded schools next fall."

"Don't you dare nickname your sister," cried Mrs. Bates, shrilly.
"You stop your impudence and mind your father."

"Ma, you leave this to me," said Adam Bates, thickly.  Then he
glared at Kate as he arose, stretching himself to full height.
"You've signed a contract for a school?" he demanded.

"I have," said Kate.

"Why didn't you wait until you got home and talked it over with
us?" he questioned.

"I went to you to talk over the subject to going," said Kate.
"You would not even allow me to speak.  How was I to know that you
would have the slightest interest in what school I took, or
where."

"When did you sign this contract?" he continued.

"Yesterday afternoon, in Hartley," said Kate.

"Aha!  Then I did miss a letter from my pocket.  When did you get
to be a thief?" he demanded.

"Oh, Father!" cried Kate.  "It was my letter.  I could see my name
on the envelope.  I ASKED you for it, before I took it."

"From behind my back, like the sneak-thief you are.  You are not
fit to teach in a school where half the scholars are the children
of your brothers and sisters, and you are not fit to live with
honest people.  Pack your things and be off!"

"Now?  This afternoon?" asked Kate.

"This minute!" he cried.

"All right.  You will be surprised at how quickly I can go," said
Kate.

She set down the telescope and gathered a straw sunshade and an
apron from the hooks at the end of the room, opened the dish
cupboard, and took out a mug decorated with the pinkest of wild
roses and the reddest and fattest of robins, bearing the
inscription in gold, "For a Good Girl" on a banner in its beak.
Kate smiled at it grimly as she took the telescope and ran
upstairs.  It was the work of only a few minutes to gather her
books and clothing and pack the big telescope, then she went down
the front stairs and left the house by the front door carrying in
her hand everything she possessed on earth.  As she went down the
walk Nancy Ellen sprang up and ran to her while Robert Gray
followed.

"You'll have to talk to me on the road," said Kate.  "I am
forbidden the house which also means the grounds, I suppose."

She walked across the road, set the telescope on the grass under a
big elm tree, and sat down beside it.

"I find I am rather tired," she said.  "Will you share the sofa
with me?"

Nancy Ellen lifted her pink skirt and sat beside Kate.  Robert
Gray stood looking down at them.

"What in the world is the matter?" asked Nancy Ellen.

"You know, of course, that Father signed a contract for me to
teach the home school this winter," explained Kate.  "Well, I am
of age, and he had no authority from me, so his contract isn't
legal.  None of you would lift a finger to help me get away to
Normal, how was I to know that you would take any interest in
finding me a school while I was gone?  I thought it was all up to
me, so I applied for the school in Walden, got it, and signed the
contract to teach it.  It is a better school, at higher wages.  I
thought you would teach here -- I can't break my contract.  Father
is furious and has ordered me out of the house.  So there you are,
or rather here I am."

"Well, it isn't much of a joke," said Nancy Ellen, thinking
intently.

What she might have said had they been alone, Kate always
wondered.  What she did say while her betrothed looked at her with
indignant eyes was possibly another matter.  It proved to be
merely:  "Oh, Kate, I am so sorry!"

"So am I," said Kate.  "If I had known what your plans were, of
course I should gladly have helped you out.  If only you had
written me and told me."

"I wanted to surprise you," said Nancy Ellen.

"You have," said Kate.  "Enough to last a lifetime.  I don't see
how you figured.  You knew how late it was.  You knew it would be
nip and tuck if I got a school at all."

"Of course we did!  We thought you couldn't possibly get one, this
late, so we fixed up the scheme to let you have my school, and let
me sew on my linen this winter.  We thought you would be as
pleased as we were."

"I am too sorry for words," said Kate.  "If I had known your plan,
I would have followed it, even though I gave up a better school at
a higher salary.  But I didn't know.  I thought I had to paddle my
own canoe, so I made my own plans.  Now I must live up to them,
because my contract is legal, while Father's is not.  I would have
taught the school for you, in the circumstances, but since I
can't, so far as I am concerned, the arrangement I have made is
much better.  The thing that really hurts the worst, aside from
disappointing you, is that Father says I was not honest in what I
did."

"But what DID you do?" cried Nancy Ellen.

So Kate told them exactly what she had done.

"Of course you had a right to your own letter, when you could see
the address on it, and it was where you could pick it up," said
Robert Gray.

Kate lifted dull eyes to his face.

"Thank you for so much grace, at any rate," she said.

"I don't blame you a bit," said Nancy Ellen.  "In the same place
I'd have taken it myself."

"You wouldn't have had to," said Kate.  "I'm too abrupt -- too
much like the gentleman himself.  You would have asked him in a
way that would have secured you the letter with no trouble."

Nancy Ellen highly appreciated these words of praise before her
lover.  She arose immediately.

"Maybe I could do something with him now," she said.  "I'll go and
see."

"You shall do nothing of the kind," said Kate.  "I am as much
Bates as he is.  I won't be taunted afterward that he turned me
out and that I sent you to him to plead for me."

"I'll tell him you didn't want me to come, that I came of my own
accord," offered Nancy Ellen.

"And he won't believe you," said Kate.

"Would you consent for me to go?" asked Robert Gray.

"Certainly not!  I can look out for myself."

"What shall you do?" asked Nancy Ellen anxiously.

"That is getting slightly ahead of me," said Kate.  "If I had been
diplomatic I could have evaded this until morning.  Adam, 3d, is
to be over then, prepared to take me anywhere I want to go.  What
I have to face now is a way to spend the night without letting the
neighbours know that I am turned out.  How can I manage that?"

Nancy Ellen and Robert each began making suggestions, but Kate
preferred to solve her own problems.

"I think," she said, "that I shall hide the telescope under the
privet bush, there isn't going to be rain to-night; and then I
will go down to Hiram's and stay all night and watch for Adam when
he passes in the morning.  Hiram always grumbles because we don't
come oftener."

"Then we will go with you," said Nancy Ellen.  "It will be a
pleasant evening walk, and we can keep you company and pacify my
twin brother at the same time."

So they all walked to the adjoining farm on the south and when
Nancy Ellen and Robert were ready to start back, Kate said she was
tired and she believed she would stay until morning, which was
agreeable to Hiram and his wife, a girlhood friend of Kate's.  As
Nancy Ellen and Robert walked back toward home:  "How is this
going to come out?" he asked, anxiously.

"It will come out all right," said Nancy Ellen, serenely.  "Kate
hasn't a particle of tact.  She is Father himself, all over again.
It will come out this way:  he will tell me that Kate has gone
back on him and I shall have to teach the school, and I will say
that is the ONLY solution and the BEST thing to do.  Then I shall
talk all evening about how provoking it is, and how I hate to
change my plans, and say I am afraid I shall lose you if I have to
put off our wedding to teach the school, and things like that,"
Nancy Ellen turned a flushed sparkling face to Robert, smiling
quizzically, "and to-morrow I shall go early to see Serena
Woodruff, who is a fine scholar and a good teacher, but missed her
school in the spring by being so sick she was afraid to contract
for it.  She is all right now, and she will be delighted to have
the school, and when I know she will take it then I shall just
happen to think of her in a day or two and I'll suggest her, after
I've wailed a lot more; and Father will go to see her of his own
accord, and it will all be settled as easy as falling off a chunk,
only I shall not get on so fast with my sewing, because of having
to help Mother; but I shall do my best, and everything will be all
right."

The spot was secluded.  Robert Gray stopped to tell Nancy Ellen
what a wonderful girl she was.  He said he was rather afraid of
such diplomacy.  He foresaw clearly that he was going to be a
managed man.  Nancy Ellen told him of course he was, all men were,
the thing was not to let them know it.  Then they laughed and
listened to a wood robin singing out his little heart in an
evening song that was almost as melodious as his spring
performances had been.



THE PRODIGAL DAUGHTER

EARLY in the morning Kate set her young nephew on the gate-post to
watch for his cousin, and he was to have a penny for calling at
his approach.  When his lusty shout came, Kate said good-bye to
her sister-in-law, paid the penny, kissed the baby, and was
standing in the road when Adam stopped.  He looked at her
inquiringly.

"Well, it happened," she said.  "He turned me out instanter, with
no remarks about when I might return, if ever, while Mother
cordially seconded the motion.  It's a good thing, Adam, that you
offered to take care of me, because I see clearly that you are
going to have it to do."

"Of course I will," said Adam promptly.  "And of course I can.  Do
you want to go to Hartley for anything?  Because if you don't, we
can cut across from the next road and get to Walden in about
fifteen miles, while it's seventeen by Hartley; but if you want to
go we can, for I needn't hurry.  I've got a box of lunch and a
feed for my horse in the back of the buggy.  Mother said I was to
stay with you until I saw you settled in your room, if you had to
go; and if you do, she is angry with Grandpa, and she is going to
give him a portion of her mentality the very first time she comes
in contact with him.  She said so."

"Yes, I can almost hear her," said Kate, struggling to choke down
a rising laugh. "She will never know how I appreciate what she has
done for me, but I think talking to Father will not do any good.
Home hasn't been so overly pleasant.  It's been a small, dark,
cramped house, dingy and hot, when it might have been big, airy,
and comfortable, well furnished and pretty as Father's means would
allow, and as all the neighbours always criticize him for not
having it; it's meant hard work and plenty of it ever since I was
set to scouring the tinware with rushes at the mature age of four,
but it's been home, all the home I have had, and it hurts more
than I can tell you to be ordered out of it as I was, but if I do
well and make a big success, maybe he will let me come back for
Christmas, or next summer's vacation."

"If he won't, Ma said you could come to our house," said Adam.

"That's kind of her, but I couldn't do it," said Kate.

"She SAID you could," persisted the boy.

"But if I did it, and Father got as mad as he was last night and
tore up your father's deed, then where would I be?" asked Kate.

"You'd be a sixteenth of two hundred acres better off than you are
now," said Adam.

"Possibly," laughed Kate, "but I wouldn't want to become a land
shark that way.  Look down the road."

"Who is it?" asked Adam.

"Nancy Ellen, with my telescope," answered Kate.  "I am to go, all
right."

"All right, then we will go," said the boy, angrily.  "But it is a
blame shame and there is no sense to it, as good a girl as you
have been, and the way you have worked.  Mother said at breakfast
there was neither sense nor justice in the way Grandpa always has
acted and she said she would wager all she was worth that he would
live to regret it.  She said it wasn't natural, and when people
undertook to controvert -- ain't that a peach?  Bet there isn't a
woman in ten miles using that word except Ma -- nature they always
hurt themselves worse than they hurt their victims.  And I bet he
does, too, and I, for one, don't care.  I hope he does get a good
jolt, just to pay him up for being so mean."

"Don't, Adam, don't!" cautioned Kate.

"I mean it!" cried the boy.

"I know you do.  That's the awful thing about it," said Kate.  "I
am afraid every girl he has feels the same way, and from what your
father said yesterday, even the sons he favours don't feel any too
good toward him."

"You just bet they don't!  They are every one as sore as boiled
owls.  Pa said so, and he knows, for they all talk it over every
time they meet.  He said they didn't feel like men, they felt like
a lot of 'spanked school-boys.'"

"They needn't worry," said Kate.  "Every deed is made out.  Father
reads them over whenever it rains.  They'll all get their land
when he dies.  It is only his way."

"Yes, and THIS is only his way, too, and it's a dern poor way,"
said Adam.  "Pa isn't going to do this way at all.  Mother said he
could go and live on his land, and she'd stay home with Susan and
me, if he tried it.  And when I am a man I am going to do just
like Pa and Ma because they are the rightest people I know, only I
am not going to save QUITE so close as Pa, and if I died for it, I
never could converse or dance like Ma."

"I should hope not!" said Kate, and then added hastily, "it's all
right for a lady, but it would seem rather sissy for a man, I
believe."

"Yes, I guess it would, but it is language let me tell you, when
Ma cuts loose," said Adam.

"Hello, Nancy Ellen," said Kate as Adam stopped the buggy.  "Put
my telescope in the back with the horse feed.  Since you have it,
I don't need ask whether I am the Prodigal Daughter or not.  I see
clearly I am."

Nancy Ellen was worried, until she was pale.

"Kate," she said, "I never have seen Father so angry in all my
life.  I thought last night that in a day or two I could switch
the school over to Serena Woodruff, and go on with my plans, but
Father said at breakfast if the Bates name was to stand for
anything approaching honour, a Bates would teach that school this
winter or he'd know the reason why.  And you know how easy it is
to change him.  Oh, Kate, won't you see if that Walden trustee
can't possibly find another teacher, and let you off?  I know
Robert will be disappointed, for he's rented his office and bought
a house and he said last night to get ready as soon after
Christmas as I could.  Oh, Kate, won't you see if you can't
possibly get that man to hire another teacher?"

"Why, Nancy Ellen --" said Kate.

Nancy Ellen, with a twitching face, looked at Kate.

"If Robert has to wait months, there in Hartley, handsome as he
is, and he has to be nice to everybody to get practice, and you
know how those Hartley girls are --"

"Yes, Nancy Ellen, I know," said Kate.  "I'll see what I can do.
Is it understood that if I give up the school and come back and
take ours, Father will let me come home?"

"Yes, oh, yes!" cried Nancy Ellen.

"Well, nothing goes on guess-work.  I'll hear him say it, myself,"
said Kate.

She climbed from the buggy.  Nancy Ellen caught her arm.

"Don't go in there!  Don't you go there," she cried.  "He'll throw
the first thing he can pick up at you.  Mother says he hasn't been
asleep all night."

"Pooh!" said Kate.  "How childish!  I want to hear him say that,
and he'll scarcely kill me."

She walked swiftly to the side door.

"Father," she said, "Nancy Ellen is afraid she will lose Robert
Gray if she has to put off her marriage for months --"

Kate stepped back quickly as a chair crashed against the door
facing.  She again came into view and continued -- "so she asked
me if I would get out of my school and come back if I could" --
Kate dodged another chair; when she appeared again -- "To save the
furniture, of which we have none too much, I'll just step inside,"
she said.  When her father started toward her, she started around
the dining table, talking as fast as she could, he lunging after
her like a furious bull.  "She asked me to come back and teach the
school -- to keep her from putting off her wedding -- because she
is afraid to --  If I can break my contract there -- may I come
back and help her out here?"

The pace was going more swiftly each round, it was punctuated at
that instant by a heavy meat platter aimed at Kate's head.  She
saw it picked up and swayed so it missed.

"I guess that is answer enough for me," she panted, racing on.  "A
lovely father you are -- no wonder your daughters are dishonest
through fear of you -- no wonder your wife has no mind of her own
-- no wonder your sons hate you and wish you would die -- so they
could have their deeds and be like men -- instead of 'spanked
school-boys' as they feel now -- no wonder the whole posse of us
hate you."

Directly opposite the door Kate caught the table and drew it with
her to bar the opening.  As it crashed against the casing half the
dishes flew to the floor in a heap.  When Adam Bates pulled it
from his path he stepped in a dish of fried potatoes and fell
heavily.  Kate reached the road, climbed in the buggy, and said
the Nancy Ellen:  "You'd better hide!  Cut a bundle of stuff and
send it to me by Adam and I'll sew my fingers to the bone for you
every night.  Now drive like sin, Adam!"

As Adam Bates came lurching down the walk in fury the buggy dashed
past and Kate had not even time to turn her head to see what
happened.

"Take the first turn," she said to Adam.  "I've done an awful
thing."

"What did you do?" cried the boy.

"Asked him as nicely as I could; but he threw a chair at me.
Something funny happened to me, and I wasn't afraid of him at all.
I dodged it, and finished what I was saying, and another chair
came, so the two Bates went at it."

"Oh, Kate, what did you do?" cried Adam.

"Went inside and ran around the dining table while I told him what
all his sons and daughters think of him. 'Spanked school-boys' and
all --"

"Did you tell him my father said that?" he demanded.

"No.  I had more sense left than that," said Kate.  "I only said
all his boys FELT like that.  Then I pulled the table after me to
block the door, and smashed half the dishes and he slipped in the
fried potatoes and went down with a crash --"

"Bloody Murder!" cried young Adam, aghast.

"Me, too!" said Kate.  "I'll never step in that house again while
he lives.  I've spilled the beans, now."

"That you have," said Adam, slacking his horse to glance back.
"He is standing in the middle of the road shaking his fist after
you."

"Can you see Nancy Ellen?" asked Kate.

"No.  She must have climbed the garden fence and hidden behind the
privet bush."

"Well, she better make it a good long hide, until he has had
plenty of time to cool off.  He'd have killed me if he had caught
me, after he fell -- and wasted all those potatoes already cooked
----"

Kate laughed a dry hysterical laugh, but the boy sat white-faced
and awed.

"Never mind," said Kate, seeing how frightened he was.  "When he
has had plenty of time he'll cool off; but he'll never get over
it.  I hope he doesn't beat Mother, because I was born."

"Oh, drat such a man!" said young Adam.  "I hope something worse
that this happens to him.  If ever I see Father begin to be the
least bit like him as he grows older I shall ----"

"Well, what shall you do?" asked Kate, as he paused.

"Tell Ma!" cried young Adam, emphatically.

Kate leaned her face in her hands and laughed.  When she could
speak she said:  "Do you know, Adam, I think that would be the
very best thing you could do."

"Why, of course!" said Adam.

They drove swiftly and reached Walden before ten o'clock.  There
they inquired their way to the home of the Trustee, but Kate said
nothing about giving up the school.  She merely made a few
inquiries, asked for the key of the schoolhouse, and about
boarding places.  She was directed to four among which she might
choose.

"Where would you advise me to go?" she asked the Trustee.

"Well, now, folks differ," said he.  "All those folks is
neighbours of mine and some might like one, and some might like
another, best.  I COULD say this:  I think Means would be the
cheapest, Knowls the dearest, but the last teacher was a good one,
an' she seemed well satisfied with the Widder Holt."

"I see," said Kate, smiling.

Then she and young Adam investigated the schoolhouse and found it
far better than any either of them had ever been inside.  It
promised every comfort and convenience, compared with schools to
which they had been accustomed, so they returned the keys,
inquired about the cleaning of the building, and started out to
find a boarding place.  First they went to the cheapest, but it
could be seen at a glance that it was too cheap, so they
eliminated that.  Then they went to the most expensive, but it was
obvious from the house and grounds that board there would be more
than Kate would want to pay.

"I'd like to save my digestion, and have a place in which to
study, where I won't freeze," said Kate, "but I want to board as
cheaply as I can.  This morning changes my plans materially.  I
shall want to go to school next summer part of the time, but the
part I do not, I shall have to pay my way, so I mustn't spend
money as I thought I would.  Not one of you will dare be caught
doing a thing for me.  To make you safe I'll stay away, but it
will cost me money that I'd hoped to have for clothes like other
girls."

"It's too bad," said Adam, "but I'll stick to you, and so will
Ma."

"Of course you will, you dear boy," said Kate.  "Now let's try our
third place; it is not far from here."

Soon they found the house, but Kate stopped short on sight of it.

"Adam, there has been little in life to make me particular," she
said, "but I draw the line at that house.  I would go crazy in a
house painted bright red with brown and blue decoration.  It
should be prohibited by law.  Let us hunt up the Widder Holt and
see how her taste in colour runs."

"The joke is on you," said Adam, when they had found the house.

It was near the school, on a wide shady street across which big
maples locked branches.  There was a large lot filled with old
fruit trees and long grass, with a garden at the back.  The house
was old and low, having a small porch in front, but if it ever had
seen paint, it did not show it at that time.  It was a warm linty
gray, the shingles of the old roof almost moss-covered.

"The joke IS on me," said Kate.  "I shall have no quarrel with the
paint here, and will you look at that?"

Adam looked where Kate pointed across the street, and nodded.

"That ought to be put in a gold frame," he said.

"I think so, too," said Kate.  "I shouldn't be a bit surprised if
I stay where I can see it."

They were talking of a deep gully facing the house and running to
a levee where the street crossed.  A stream ran down it, dipped
under a culvert, turned sharply, and ran away to a distant river,
spanning which they could see the bridge.  Tall old forest trees
lined the banks, shrubs and bushes grew in a thicket.  There were
swaying, clambering vines and a babel of bird notes over the seed
and berry bearing bushes.

"Let's go inside, and if we agree, then we will get some water and
feed the horse and eat our lunch over there," said Kate.

"Just the thing!" said young Adam.  "Come and we will proceed to
the residence of Mrs. Holt and investigate her possibilities.  How
do you like that?"

"That is fine," said Kate gravely.

"It is," said Adam, promptly, "because it is Ma. And whatever is
Ma, is right."

"Good for you!" cried Kate.  "I am going to break a Bates record
and kiss you good-bye, when you go.  I probably shan't have
another in years.  Come on."

They walked up the grassy wooden walk, stepped on the tiny, vine-
covered porch, and lifted and dropped a rusty old iron knocker.
Almost at once the door opened, to reveal a woman of respectable
appearance, a trifle past middle age.  She made Kate think of
dried sage because she had a dried-out look and her complexion,
hair, and eyes were all that colour.  She was neat and clean while
the hall into which she invited them was clean and had a wholesome
odour.  Kate explained her errand.  Mrs. Holt breathed a sigh of
relief.

"Well, thank goodness I was before-handed," she said.  "The
teacher stayed here last year and she was satisfied, so I ast the
Trustee to mention me to the new teacher.  Nobody was expecting
you until the last of the week, but I says to myself, 'always take
time by the fetlock, Samantha, always be ready'; so last week I
put in scouring my spare room to beat the nation, and it's all
ready so's you can walk right in."

"Thank you," said Kate, rather resenting the assumption that she
was to have no option in the matter.  "I have four places on my
list where they want the teacher, so I thought I would look at
each of them and then decide."

"My, ain't we choicey!" said Mrs. Holt in sneering tones.  Then
she changed instantly, and in suave commendation went on:  "That's
exactly right.  That's the very thing fer you to do.  After you
have seen what Walden has to offer, then a pretty young thing like
you can make up your mind where you will have the most quiet fer
your work, the best room, and be best fed.  One of the greatest
advantages here fer a teacher is that she can be quiet, an' not
have her room rummaged.  Every place else that takes boarders
there's a lot of children; here there is only me and my son, and
he is grown, and will be off to his medical work next week fer the
year, so all your working time here, you'd be alone with me.  This
is the room."

"That surely would be a great advantage, because I have much
studying to do," said Kate as they entered the room.

With one glance, she liked it.  It was a large room with low
ceiling, quaintly papered in very old creamy paper, scattered with
delicately cut green leaves, but so carefully had the room been
kept, that it was still clean.  There were four large windows to
let in light and air, freshly washed white curtains hanging over
the deep green shades.  The floor was carpeted with a freshly
washed rag carpet stretched over straw, the bed was invitingly
clean and looked comfortable, there was a wash stand with bowl and
pitcher, soap and towels, a small table with a lamp, a straight-
backed chair and a rocking chair.  Mrs. Holt opened a large closet
having hooks for dresses at one end and shelves at the other.  On
the top of these there were a comfort and a pair of heavy
blankets.

"Your winter covers," said Mrs. Holt, indicating these, "and there
is a good stove I take out in summer to make more room, and set up
as soon as it gets cold, and that is a wood box."

She pointed out a shoe box covered with paper similar to that on
the walls.

Kate examined the room carefully, the bed, the closet, and tried
the chairs.  Behind the girl, Mrs. Holt, with compressed lips,
forgetting Adam's presence, watched in evident disapproval.

"I want to see the stove," said Kate.

"It is out in the woodhouse.  It hasn't been cleaned up for the
winter yet."

"Then it won't be far away.  Let's look at it."

Almost wholly lacking experience, Kate was proceeding by instinct
in exactly the same way her father would have taken through
experience.  Mrs. Holt hesitated, then turned:  "Oh, very well,"
she said, leading the way down the hall, through the dining room,
which was older in furnishing and much more worn, but still clean
and wholesome, as were the small kitchen and back porch.  From it
there was only a step to the woodhouse, where on a little platform
across one end sat two small stoves for burning wood, one so small
as to be tiny.  Kate walked to the larger, lifted the top, looked
inside, tried the dampers and drafts and turning said:  "That is
very small. It will require more wood than a larger one."

Mrs. Holt indicated dry wood corded to the roof.

"We git all our wood from the thicket across the way.  That little
strip an' this lot is all we have left of father's farm.  We kept
this to live on, and sold the rest for town lots, all except that
gully, which we couldn't give away.  But I must say I like the
trees and birds better than mebby I'd like people who might live
there; we always git our wood from it, and the shade an' running
water make it the coolest place in town."

"Yes, I suppose they do," said Kate.

She took one long look at everything as they returned to the hall.

"The Trustee told me your terms are four dollars and fifty cents a
week, furnishing food and wood," she said, "and that you allowed
the last teacher to do her own washing on Saturday, for nothing.
Is that right?"

The thin lips drew more tightly.  Mrs. Holt looked at Kate from
head to foot in close scrutiny.

"I couldn't make enough to pay the extra work at that," she said.
"I ought to have a dollar more, to really come out even.  I'll
have to say five-fifty this fall."

"If that is the case, good-bye," said Kate.  "Thank you very much
for showing me.  Five-fifty is what I paid at Normal, it is more
than I can afford in a village like this."

She turned away, followed by Adam.  They crossed the street,
watered the horse at the stream, placed his food conveniently for
him, and taking their lunch box, seated themselves on a grassy
place on the bank and began eating.

"Wasn't that a pretty nice room?" asked Adam.  "Didn't you kind of
hate to give it up?"

"I haven't the slightest intention of giving it up," answered
Kate.  "That woman is a skin-flint and I don't propose to let her
beat me.  No doubt she was glad to get four-fifty last fall.
She's only trying to see if she can wring me for a dollar more.
If I have to board all next summer, I shall have to watch every
penny, or I'll not come out even, let alone saving anything.  I'll
wager you a nickel that before we leave, she comes over here and
offers me the room at the same price she got last winter."

"I hope you are right," said Adam.  "How do you like her?"

"Got a grouch, nasty temper, mean disposition; clean house, good
room, good cook -- maybe; lives just on the edge of comfort by
daily skimping," summarized Kate.

"If she comes, are you going to try it?" asked Adam.

"Yes, I think I shall.  It is nearest my purse and requirements
and if the former teacher stayed there, it will seem all right for
me; but she isn't going to put that little stove in my room.  It
wouldn't heat the closet.  How did you like her?"

"Not much!" said Adam, promptly.  "If glaring at your back could
have killed you, you would have fallen dead when you examined the
closet, and bedding, and stove.  She honeyed up when she had to,
but she was mad as hops.  I nearly bursted right out when she
talked about 'taking time by the fetlock.'  I wanted to tell her
she looked like she had, and almost got the life kicked out of her
doing it, but I thought I'd better not."

Kate laughed.  "Yes, I noticed," she said, "but I dared not look
at you.  I was afraid you'd laugh. Isn't this a fine lunch?"

"Bet your life it is," said Adam.  "Ma never puts up any other
kind."

"I wish someone admired me as much as you do your mother, Adam,"
said Kate.

"Well, you be as nice as Ma, and somebody is sure to," said he.

"But I never could," said Kate.

"Oh, yes, you could," said Adam, "if you would only set yourself
to do it and try with all your might to be like her.  Look, quick!
That must be her 'Medical Course' man!"

Kate glanced across the way and saw a man she thought to be about
thirty years of age.  He did not resemble his mother in any
particular, if he was the son of Mrs. Holt.  He was above the
average man in height, having broad, rather stooping shoulders,
dark hair and eyes.  He stopped at the gate and stood a few
seconds looking at them, so they could not very well study him
closely, then he went up the walk with loose, easy stride and
entered the house.

"Yes, that is her son," said Kate.  "That is exactly the way a man
enters a house that belongs to him."

"That isn't the way I am going to enter my house," said Adam.
"Now what shall we do?"

"Rest half an hour while they talk it over, and then get ready to
go very deliberately.  If she doesn't come across, literally and
figuratively, we hunt another boarding place."

"I half believe she will come," said Adam.  "She is watching us; I
can see her pull back the blind of her room to peep."

"Keep looking ahead.  Don't let her think you see her.  Let's go
up the creek and investigate this ravine.  Isn't it a lovely
place?"

"Yes.  I'm glad you got it," said Adam, "that is, if she come
across.  I will think of you as having it to look at in summer;
and this winter -- my, what rabbit hunting there will be, and how
pretty it will look!"

So they went wandering up the ravine, sometimes on one bank,
sometimes crossing stepping-stones or logs to the other, looking,
talking, until a full hour had passed when they returned to the
buggy.  Adam began changing the halter for the bridle while Kate
shook out the lap robe.

"Nickel, please," whispered Kate.

Adam glanced across the street to see Mrs. Holt coming.  She
approached them and with no preliminaries said:  "I have been
telling my son about you an' he hates so bad to go away and leave
me alone for the winter, that he says to take you at the same as
the last teacher, even if I do lose money on it."

"Oh, you wouldn't do that, Mrs. Holt," said Kate, carelessly.  "Of
course it is for you to decide.  I like the room, and if the board
was right for the other teacher it will be for me.  If you want me
to stay, I'll bring my things over and take the room at once.  If
not, I'll look farther."

"Come right over," said Mrs. Holt, cordially.  "I am anxious to
git on the job of mothering such a sweet young lady.  What will
you have for your supper?"

"Whatever you are having," said Kate.  "I am not accustomed to
ordering my meals.  Adam, come and help me unpack."

In half an hour Kate had her dresses on the hooks, her
underclothing on the shelves, her books on the table, her pencils
and pen in the robin cup, and was saying goodbye to Adam, and
telling him what to tell his father, mother, and Nancy Ellen -- if
he could get a stolen interview with her on the way home.  He also
promised to write Kate what happened about the home school and
everything in which she would be interested.  Then she went back
to her room, sat in the comfortable rocking chair, and with
nothing in the world she was obliged to do immediately, she stared
at the opposite wall and day by day reviewed the summer.  She sat
so long and stared at the wall so intently that gradually it
dissolved and shaped into the deep green ravine across the way,
which sank into soothing darkness and the slowly lightened until a
peep of gold came over the tree tops; and then, a red sun crept up
having a big wonderful widespread wing on each side of it.  Kate's
head fell with a jerk which awakened her, so she arose, removed
her dress, washed and brushed her hair, put on a fresh dress and
taking a book, she crossed the street and sat on the bank of the
stream again, which she watched instead of reading, as she had
intended.



KATE'S PRIVATE PUPIL

AT FIRST Kate merely sat in a pleasant place and allowed her
nerves to settle, after the short nap she had enjoyed in the
rocking chair.  It was such a novel experience for her to sit
idle, that despite the attractions of growing things, running
water, and singing birds, she soon veered to thoughts of what she
would be doing if she were at home, and that brought her to the
fact that she was forbidden her father's house; so if she might
not go there, she was homeless.  As she had known her father for
nearly nineteen years, for she had a birth anniversary coming in a
few days, she felt positive that he never would voluntarily see
her again, while with his constitution, he would live for years.
She might as well face the fact that she was homeless; and
prepare to pay her way all the year round.  She wondered why she
felt so forlorn and what made the dull ache in her throat.

She remembered telling Nancy Ellen before going away to Normal
that she wished her father would drive her from home.  Now that
was accomplished.  She was away from home, in a place where there
was not one familiar face, object, or plan of life, but she did
not wish for it at all.  She devoutly wished that she were back at
home even if she were preparing supper, in order that Nancy Ellen
might hem towels.  She wondered what they were saying:  her mind
was crystal clear as to what they were doing.  She wondered if
Nancy Ellen would send Adam, 3d, with a parcel of cut-out sewing
for her to work on.  She resolved to sew quickly and with stitches
of machine-like evenness, if it came.  She wondered if Nancy Ellen
would be compelled to put off her wedding and teach the home
school in order that it might be taught by a Bates, as her father
had demanded.  She wondered if Nancy Ellen was forced to this
uncongenial task, whether it would sour the wonderful sweetness
developed by her courtship, and make her so provoked that she
would not write or have anything to do with her.  They were nearly
the same age; they had shared rooms, and, until recently, beds,
and whatever life brought them; now Kate lifted her head and ran
her hand against her throat to ease the ache gathering there more
intensely every minute.  With eyes that did not see, she sat
staring at the sheer walls of the ravine as it ran toward the
east, where the water came tumbling and leaping down over stones
and shale bed.  When at last she arose she had learned one lesson,
not in the History she carried.  No matter what its disadvantages
are, having a home of any kind is vastly preferable to having
none.  And the casualness of people so driven by the demands of
living and money making that they do not take time even to be
slightly courteous and kind, no matter how objectionable it may
be, still that, even that, is better than their active
displeasure.  So she sat brooding and going over and over the
summer, arguing her side of the case, honestly trying to see
theirs, until she was mentally exhausted and still had
accomplished nothing further than arriving at the conclusion that
if Nancy Ellen was forced to postpone her wedding she would turn
against her and influence Robert Gray in the same feeling.

Then Kate thought of Him.  She capitalized him in her thought, for
after nineteen years of Bates men Robert Gray would seem a deified
creature to their women.  She reviewed the scene at the crossing
log, while her face flushed with pleasure.  If she had remained at
home and had gone after the blackberries, as it was sure as fate
that she would have done, then she would have met him first, and
he would have courted her instead of Nancy Ellen.  Suddenly Kate
shook herself savagely and sat straight.  "Why, you big fool!" she
said.  "Nancy Ellen went to the berry patch in a pink dress,
wearing a sunbonnet to match, and carrying a blue bowl.  Think of
the picture she made!  But if I had gone, I'd have been in a
ragged old dirt-coloured gingham, Father's boots, and his old
straw hat jammed down to my ears; I'd have been hot and in a surly
temper, rebelling because I had the berries to pick.  He would
have taken one look at me, jumped the fence, and run to Lang's for
dear life.  Better cut that idea right out!"

So Kate "cut that idea out" at once, but the operation was
painful, because when one turns mental surgeon and operates on the
ugly spots in one's disposition, there is no anaesthetic, nor is
the work done with skilful hands, so the wounds are numerous and
leave ugly scars; but Kate was ruthless.  She resolved never to
think of that brook scene again.  In life, as she had lived it,
she would not have profited by having been first at the berry
patch.  Yet she had a right to think of Robert Gray's face, grave
in concern for her, his offers to help, the influence he would
have in her favour with Nancy Ellen.  Of course if he was forced
to postpone his wedding he would not be pleased; but it was
impossible that the fears which were tormenting Nancy Ellen would
materialize into action on his part.  No sane man loved a woman as
beautiful as her sister and cast her aside because of a few
months' enforced waiting, the cause of which he so very well knew;
but it would make both of them unhappy and change their beautiful
plans, after he even had found and purchased the house.  Still
Nancy Ellen said that her father was making it a point of honour
that a Bates should teach the school, because he had signed the
contract for Kate to take the place Nancy Ellen had intended to
fill, and then changed her plans.  He had sworn that a Bates
should teach the school.  Well, Hiram had taken the county
examination, as all pupils of the past ten years had when they
finished the country schools.  It was a test required to prove
whether they had done their work well.  Hiram held a certificate
for a year, given him by the County Superintendent, when he passed
the examinations.  He had never used it.  He could teach; he was
Nancy Ellen's twin.  School did not begin until the first of
November.  He could hire help with his corn if he could not finish
alone.  He could arise earlier than usual and do his feeding and
milking; he could clean the stables, haul wood on Saturday and
Sunday, if he must, for the Bates family looked on Sunday more as
a day of rest for the horses and physical man than as one of
religious observances.  They always worked if there was anything
to be gained by it.  Six months being the term, he would be free
by the first of May; surely the money would be an attraction,
while Nancy Ellen could coach him on any new methods she had
learned at Normal.  Kate sprang to her feet, ran across the
street, and entering the hall, hurried to her room.  She found
Mrs. Holt there in the act of closing her closet door.  Kate
looked at her with astonished eyes.

"I was just telling my son," Mrs. Holt said rather breathlessly,
"that I would take a peep and see if I had forgot to put your
extra covers on the shelf."

Kate threw her book on the bed and walked to the table.  She had
experienced her share of battle for the day.  "No children to
rummage," passed through her brain.  It was the final week of hot,
dry August weather, while a point had been made of calling her
attention to the extra cover when the room had been shown her.
She might have said these things, but why say them?  The shamed
face of the woman convicted her of "rummaging," as she had termed
it.  Without a word Kate sat down beside the table, drew her
writing material before her, and began addressing an envelope to
her brother Hiram.  Mrs. Holt left the room, disliking Kate more
than if she had said what the woman knew she thought.

Kate wrote briefly, convincingly, covering every objection and
every advantage she could conceive, and then she added the
strongest plea she could make.  What Hiram would do, she had no
idea.  As with all Bates men, land was his God, but it required
money to improve it.  He would feel timid about making a first
attempt to teach after he was married and a father of a child, but
Nancy Ellen's marriage would furnish plausible excuse; all of the
family had done their school work as perfectly as all work they
undertook; he could teach if he wanted to; would he want to?  If
he did, at least, she would be sure of the continued friendship of
her sister and Robert Gray.  Suddenly Kate understood what that
meant to her as she had not realized before.  She was making long
strides toward understanding herself, which is the most important
feature of any life.

She sent a line of pleading to her sister-in-law, a word of love
to the baby, and finishing her letter, started to post it, as she
remembered the office was only a few steps down the street.  In
the hall it occurred to her that she was the "Teacher" now, and so
should be an example.  Possibly the women of Walden did not run
bareheaded down the street on errands.  She laid the letter on a
small shelf of an old hatrack, and stepped back to her room to put
on her hat.  Her return was so immediate that Mrs. Holt had the
letter in her fingers when Kate came back, and was reading the
address so intently, that with extended hand, the girl said in
cold tones:  "My letter, please!" before the woman realized she
was there.  Their eyes met in a level look.  Mrs. Holt's mouth
opened in ready excuse, but this time Kate's temper overcame her
better judgment.

"Can you read it clearly, without your glasses?" she asked
politely.  "I wouldn't for the world have you make a mistake as to
whom my letter is addressed.  It goes to my brother Hiram Bates,
youngest son of Adam Bates, Bates Corners, Hartley, Indiana."

"I was going to give it to my son, so that he could take it to the
office," said Mrs. Holt.

"And I am going to take it myself, as I know your son is down town
and I want it to go over on the evening hack, so it will be sure
to go out early in the morning."

Surprise overcame Mrs. Holt's discomfiture.

"Land sakes!" she cried.  "Bates is such a common name it didn't
mean a thing to me.  Be you a daughter of Adam Bates, the Land
King, of Bates Corners?"

"I be," said Kate tersely.

"Well, I never!  All them hundreds of acres of land an' money in
the bank an' mortgages on half his neighbours.  Whut the nation!
An' no more of better clo's an' you got! An' teachin' school! I
never heard of the like in all my days!"

"If you have Bates history down so fine, you should know that
every girl of the entire Bates family has taught from the time she
finished school until she married.  Also we never buy more
clothing than we need, or of the kind not suitable for our work.
This may explain why we own some land and have a few cents in the
Bank.  My letter, please."

Kate turned and went down the street, a dull red tingeing her
face.  "I could hate that woman cordially without half trying,"
she said.

The house was filled with the odour of cooking food when she
returned and soon she was called to supper.  As she went to the
chair indicated for her, a step was heard in the hall.  Kate
remained standing and when a young man entered the room Mrs. Holt
at once introduced her son, George.  He did not take the trouble
to step around the table and shake hands, but muttered a gruff
"howdy do?" and seating himself, at once picked up the nearest
dish and began filling his plate.

His mother would have had matters otherwise.  "Why, George," she
chided.  "What's your hurry?  Why don't you brush up and wait on
Miss Bates first?"

"Oh, if she is going to be one of the family," he said, "she will
have to learn to get on without much polly-foxing.  Grub is to
eat.  We can all reach at a table of this size."

Kate looked at George Holt with a searching glance.  Surely he was
almost thirty, of average height, appeared strong, and as if he
might have a forceful brain; but he was loosely jointed and there
was a trace of domineering selfishness on his face that was
repulsive to her.  "I could hate that MAN cordially, without half
trying," she thought to herself, smiling faintly at the thought.

The sharp eyes of Mrs. Holt detected the smile.  She probably
would have noticed it, if Kate had merely thought of smiling.

"Why do you smile, my dear?" she asked in melting tone.

"Oh, I was feeling so at home," answered Kate, suavely. "Father
and the boys hold exactly those opinions and practise them in
precisely the same way; only if I were to think about it at all, I
should think that a man within a year of finishing a medical
course would begin exercising politeness with every woman he
meets.  I believe a doctor depends on women to be most of his
patients, and women don't like a rude doctor."

"Rot!" said George Holt.

"Miss Bates is exactly right," said his mother.  "Ain't I been
tellin' you the whole endurin' time that you'd never get a call
unless you practised manners as well as medicine?  Ain't I, now?"

"Yes, you have," he said, angrily.  "But if you think all of a
sudden that manners are so essential, why didn't you hammer some
into me when you had the whip hand and could do what you pleased?
You didn't find any fault with my manners, then."

"How of all the world was I to know that you'd grow up and go in
for doctorin'?  I s'pos'd then you'd take the farm an' run it like
your pa did, stead of forcin' me to sell it off by inches to live,
an' then you wastin' half the money."

"Go it, Mother," said George Holt, rudely.  "Tell all you know,
and then piece out with anything you can think of that you don't."

Mrs. Holt's face flushed crimson.  She looked at Kate and said
vindictively:  "If you want any comfort in life, never marry and
bring a son inter the world.  You kin humour him, and cook for
him, an work your hands to the bone fur him, and sell your land,
and spend all you can raise educatin' him for half a dozen things,
an' him never stickin to none or payin' back a cent, but sass
in your old age -- "

"Go it, Mother, you're doing fine!" said George.  "If you keep on
Miss Bates will want to change her boarding place before morning."

"It will not be wholly your mother's fault, if I do," said Kate.
"I would suggest that if we can't speak civilly, we eat our supper
in silence.  This is very good food; I could enjoy it, if I had a
chance."

She helped herself to another soda biscuit and a second piece of
fried chicken and calmly began eating them.

"That's a good idy!" said Mrs. Holt.

"Then why don't you practice it?" said her son.

Thereupon began a childish battle for the last word.  Kate calmly
arose, picked up her plate, walked from the room, down the hall,
and entering her own room, closed the door quietly.

"You fool!  You great big dunderheaded fool!" cried Mrs. Holt.
"Now you have done it, for the thousandth time.  She will start
out in less than no time to find some place else to stay, an' who
could blame her?  Don't you know who she is?  Ain't you sense in
your head?  If there was ever a girl you ort to go after, and go
quick an' hard, there she is!"

"What?  That big beef!  What for?" asked George.

"You idjit!  You idjit!  Don't you sense that she's a daughter of
Adam Bates?  Him they call the Land King.  Ain't you sense ner
reason?  Drive her from the house, will you?  An' me relyin' on
sendin' you half her board money to help you out?  You fool!"

"Why under the Heavens didn't you tell me?  How could I know?  No
danger but the bowl is upset, and it's all your fault.  She should
be worth ten thousand, maybe twenty!"

"I never knew till jist before supper.  I got it frum a letter she
wrote to her brother.  I'd no chanct to tell you.  Course I meant
to, first chanct I had; but you go to work an upset everything
before I get a chanct.  You never did amount to anything, an' you
never will."

"Oh, well, now stop that.  I didn't know.  I thought she was just
common truck.  I'll fix it up with her right after supper.  Now
shut up."

"You can't do it!  It's gone too far.  She'll leave the house
inside fifteen minutes," said Mrs. Holt.

"Well, I'll just show you," he boasted.

George Holt pushed back his plate, wiped his mouth, brushed his
teeth at the washing place on the back porch, and sauntered around
the house to seat himself on the front porch steps.  Kate saw him
there and remained in her room.  When he had waited an hour he
arose and tapped on her door.  Kate opened it.

"Miss Bates," he said.  "I have been doing penance an hour.  I am
very sorry I was such a boor.  I was in earnest when I said I
didn't get the gad when I needed it.  I had a big disappointment
to-day, and I came in sore and cross.  I am ashamed of myself, but
you will never see me that way again.  I know I will make a
failure of my profession if I don't be more polite than Mother
ever taught me to be.  Won't you let me be your scholar, too?
Please do come over to the ravine where it is cool and give me my
first lesson.  I need you dreadfully."

Kate was desperately in need of human companionship in that
instant, herself, someone who could speak, and sin, and suffer,
and repent.  As she looked straight in the face of the man before
her she saw, not him being rude and quarrelling pettily with his
mother, but herself racing around the dining table pursued by her
father raving like an insane man.  Who was she to judge or to
refuse help when it was asked?  She went with him; and Mrs. Holt,
listening and peering from the side of the window blind of her
room across the hall, watched them cross the road and sit beside
each other on the bank of the ravine in what seemed polite and
amicable conversation.  So she heaved a deep sigh of relief and
went to wash the dishes and plan breakfast.  "Better feed her up
pretty well 'til she gits the habit of staying here and mebby the
rest who take boarders will be full," she said to herself.  "Time
enough to go at skimpin' when she's settled, and busy, an' I get
the whip hand."

But in planning to get the "whip hand" Mrs. Holt reckoned without
Kate.  She had been under the whip hand all her life.  Her dash to
freedom had not been accomplished without both mental and physical
hurt.  She was doing nothing but going over her past life
minutely, and as she realized more fully with each review how
barren and unlovely it had been, all the strength and fresh young
pride in her arose in imperative demand for something better in
the future.  She listened with interest to what George Holt said
to her.  All her life she had been driven by a man of inflexible
will, his very soul inoculated with greed for possessions which
would give him power; his body endowed with unfailing strength to
meet the demands he made on it, and his heart wholly lacking in
sentiment; but she did not propose to start her new life by
speaking of her family to strangers.  George Holt's experiences
had been those of a son spoiled by a weak woman, one day petted,
the next bribed, the next nagged, again left to his own devices
for days, with strong inherited tendencies to be fought,
tendencies to what he did not say.  Looking at his heavy jaw and
swarthy face, Kate supplied "temper" and "not much inclination to
work."  He had asked her to teach him, she would begin by setting
him an example in the dignity of self-control; then she would make
him work.  How she would make that big, strong man work!  As she
sat there on the bank of the ravine, with a background of
delicately leafed bushes and the light of the setting sun on her
face and her hair, George Holt studied her closely, mentally and
physically, and would have given all he possessed if he had not
been so hasty.  He saw that she had a good brain and courage to
follow her convictions, while on closer study he decided that she
was moulded on the finest physical lines of any woman he ever had
seen, also his study of medicine taught him to recognize glowing
health, and to set a right estimate on it.  Truly he was sorry, to
the bottom of his soul, but he did not believe in being too
humble.  He said as much in apology as he felt forced, and then
set himself the task of calling out and parading the level best he
could think up concerning himself, or life in general.  He had
tried farming, teaching, merchandise, and law before he had
decided his vocation was medicine.

On account of Robert Gray, Kate was much interested in this, but
when she asked what college he was attending, he said he was going
to a school in Chicago that was preparing to revolutionize the
world of medicine.  Then he started on a hobby that he had ridden
for months, paying for the privilege, so Kate learned with
surprise and no small dismay that in a few months a man could take
a course in medicine that would enable him "to cure any ill to
which the human flesh is heir," as he expressed it, without
knowing anything of surgery, or drugs, or using either.  Kate was
amazed and said so at once.  She disconcertingly inquired what he
would do with patients who had sustained fractured skulls,
developed cancers, or been exposed to smallpox.  But the man
before her proposed to deal with none of those disagreeable
things, or their like.  He was going to make fame and fortune
in the world by treating mental and muscular troubles.  He was
going to be a Zonoletic Doctor.  He turned teacher and spelled it
for her, because she never had heard the word.  Kate looked at
George Holt long and with intense interest, while her mind was
busy with new thoughts.  On her pillow that night she decided that
if she were a man, driven by a desire to heal the suffering of the
world, she would be the man who took the long exhaustive course of
training that enabled him to deal with accidents, contagions, and
germ developments.

He looked at her with keen appreciation of her physical freshness
and mental strength, and manoeuvred patiently toward the point
where he would dare ask blankly how many there were in her family,
and on exactly how many acres her father paid tax.  He decided it
would not do for at least a week yet; possibly he could raise the
subject casually with someone down town who would know, so that he
need never ask her at all.  Whatever the answer might be, it was
definitely settled in his own mind that Kate was the best chance
he had ever had, or probably ever would have.  He mapped out his
campaign.  This week, before he must go, he would be her pupil and
her slave.  The holiday week he would be her lover.  In the spring
he would propose, and in the fall he would marry her, and live on
the income from her land ever afterward.  It was a glowing
prospect; so glowing that he seriously considered stopping school
at once so that her could be at the courting part of his campaign
three times a day and every evening.  He was afraid to leave for
fear people of the village would tell the truth about him.  He
again studied Kate carefully and decided that during the week that
was coming, by deft and energetic work he could so win her
approval that he could make her think that she knew him better
than outsiders did.  So the siege began.

Kate had decided to try making him work, to see if he would, or
was accustomed to it.  He was sufficiently accustomed to it that
he could do whatever she suggested with facility that indicated
practice, and there was no question of his willingness.  He urged
her to make suggestions as to what else he could do, after he had
made all the needed repairs about the house and premises.  Kate
was enjoying herself immensely, before the week was over.  She had
another row of wood corded to the shed roof, in case the winter
should be severe.  She had the stove she thought would warm her
room polished and set up while he was there to do it.  She had the
back porch mended and the loose board in the front walk replaced.
She borrowed buckets and cloths and impressed George Holt for the
cleaning of the school building which she superintended.  Before
the week was over she had every child of school age who came to
the building to see what was going on, scouring out desks,
blacking stoves, raking the yard, even cleaning the street before
the building.

Across the street from his home George sawed the dead wood from
the trees and then, with three days to spare, Kate turned her
attention to the ravine. She thought that probably she could teach
better there in the spring than in the school building.  She and
George talked it over.  He raised all the objections he could
think of that the townspeople would, while entirely agreeing with
her himself, but it was of no use.  She over-ruled the proxy
objections he so kindly offered her, so he was obliged to drag his
tired body up the trees on both banks for several hundred yards
and drop the dead wood.  Kate marshalled a corps of boys who would
be her older pupils and they dragged out the dry branches, saved
all that were suitable for firewood, and made bonfires from the
remainder.  They raked the tin cans and town refuse of years from
the water and banks and induced the village delivery man to haul
the stuff to the river bridge and dump it in the deepest place in
the stream.  They cleaned the creek bank to the water's edge and
built rustic seats down the sides.  They even rolled boulders to
the bed and set them where the water would show their markings and
beat itself to foam against them.  Mrs. Holt looked on in
breathless amazement and privately expressed to her son her
opinion of him in terse and vigorous language.  He answered
laconically:  "Has a fish got much to say about what happens to it
after you get it out of the water?"

"No!" snapped Mrs. Holt, "and neither have you, if you kill
yourself to get it."

"Do I look killed?" inquired her son.

"No. You look the most like a real man I ever saw you," she
conceded.

"And Kate Bates won't need glasses for forty years yet," he said
as he went back to his work in the ravine.

Kate was in the middle of the creek helping plant a big stone.  He
stood a second watching her as she told the boys surrounding her
how best to help her, then he turned away, a dull red burning his
cheek.  "I'll have her if I die for it," he muttered, "but I hope
to Heaven she doesn't think I am going to work like this for her
every day of my life."

As the villagers sauntered past and watched the work of the new
teacher, many of them thought of things at home they could do that
would improve their premises greatly, and a few went home and
began work of like nature.  That made their neighbours' places
look so unkempt that they were forced to trim, and rake, and mend
in turn, so by the time the school began, the whole village was
busy in a crusade that extended to streets and alleys, while the
new teacher was the most popular person who had ever been there.
Without having heard of such a thing, Kate had started Civic
Improvement.

George Holt leaned against a tree trunk and looked down at her as
he rested.

"Do you suppose there is such a thing as ever making anything out
of this?" he asked.

"A perfectly lovely public park for the village, yes; money,
selling it for anything, no!  It's too narrow a strip, cut too
deeply with the water, the banks too steep.  Commercially, I can't
see that it is worth ten cents."

"Cheering!  It is the only thing on earth that truly and wholly
belongs to me. The road divided the land.  Father willed
everything on the south side to Mother, so she would have the
house, and the land on this side was mine. I sold off all I could
to Jasper Linn to add to his farm, but he would only buy to within
about twenty rods of the ravine.  The land was too rocky and poor.
So about half a mile of this comprises my earthly possessions."

"Do you keep up the taxes?" she asked.

"No. I've never paid them," he said carelessly.

"Then don't be too sure it is yours," she said.  "Someone may have
paid them and taken the land.  You had better look it up."

"What for?" he demanded.

"It is beautiful.  It is the shadiest, coolest place in town.
Having it here doubles the value of your mother's house across the
street.  In some way, some day, it might turn out to be worth
something."

"I can't see how," he said.

"Some of the trees may become valuable when lumber gets scarcer,
as it will when the land grows older. Maybe a stone quarry could
be opened up, if the stone runs back as far as you say.  A lot of
things might make it valuable.  If I were you I would go to
Hartley, quietly, to-morrow, and examine the records, and if there
are back taxes I'd pay them."

"I'll look it up, anyway," he agreed.  "You surely have made
another place of it.  It will be wonderful by spring."

"I can think of many uses for it," said Kate.  "Here comes your
mother to see how we are getting along."

Instead, she came to hand Kate a letter she had brought from the
post office while doing her marketing.  Kate took the letter, saw
at a glance that it was from Nancy Ellen, and excusing herself,
she went to one of the seats they had made, and turning her face
so that it could not be seen, she read:

DEAR KATE:  You can prepare yourself for the surprise of your
life.  Two Bates men have done something for one of their women.
I hope you will survive the shock; it almost finished me and
Mother is still speechless.  I won't try to prepare you. I could
not.  Here it is.  Father raged for three days and we got out of
his way like scared rabbits.  I saw I had to teach, so I said I
would, but I had not told Robert, because I couldn't bear to.
Then up came Hiram and offered to take the school for me.  Father
said no, I couldn't get out of it that way.  Hiram said I had not
seen him or sent him any word, and I could prove by mother I
hadn't been away from the house, so Father believed him.  He said
he wanted the money to add two acres to his land from the Simms
place; that would let his stock down to water on the far side of
his land where it would be a great convenience and give him a
better arrangement of fields so he could make more money.  You
know Father.  He shut up like a clam and only said:  "Do what you
please.  If a Bates teaches the school it makes my word good."  So
Hiram is going to teach for me.  He is brushing up a little nights
and I am helping him on "theory," and I am wild with joy, and so
is Robert.  I shall have plenty of time to do all my sewing and we
shall be married at, or after, Christmas.  Robert says to tell you
to come to see him if you ever come to Hartley.  He is there in
his office now and it is lonesome, but I am busy and the time will
soon pass.  I might as well tell you that Father said right after
you left that you should never enter his house again, and Mother
and I should not speak your name before him.  I do hope he gets
over it before the wedding.  Write me how you like your school,
and where you board.  Maybe Robert and I can slip off and drive
over to see you some day. But that would make Father so mad if he
found out that he would not give me the money he promised; so we
had better not, but you come to see us as soon as we get in our
home.  Love from both,
NANCY ELLEN.

Kate read the joyful letter slowly.  It contained all she hoped
for. She had not postponed Nancy Ellen's wedding.  That was all
she asked.  She had known she would not be forgiven so soon, there
was slight hope she ever would.  Her only chance, thought Kate,
lay in marrying a farmer having about a thousand acres of land.
If she could do that, her father would let her come home again
sometime.  She read the letter slowly over, then tearing it in
long strips she cross tore them and sifted the handful of small
bits on the water, where they started a dashing journey toward the
river.  Mrs. Holt, narrowly watching her, turned with snaky
gleaming eyes to her son and whispered:  "A-ha! Miss Smart Alec
has a secret!"



HELPING NANCY ELLEN AND ROBERT TO ESTABLISH A HOME

THE remainder of the time before leaving, George Holt spent in the
very strongest mental and physical effort to show Kate how much of
a man he was. He succeeded in what he hoped he might do.  He so
influenced her in his favour that during the coming year whenever
any one showed signs of criticising him, Kate stopped them by
commendation, based upon what she supposed to be knowledge of
him.

With the schoolhouse and grounds cleaned as they never had been
before, the parents and pupils naturally expected new methods.
During the week spent in becoming acquainted with the teacher, the
parents heartily endorsed her, while the pupils liked her
cordially.  It could be seen at a glance that she could pick up
the brawniest of them, and drop him from the window, if she chose.
The days at the stream had taught them her physical strength,
while at the same time they had glimpses of her mental processes.
The boys learned many things:  that they must not lie or take
anything which did not belong to them; that they must be
considerate and manly, if they were to be her friends; yet not one
word had been said on any of these subjects.  As she spoke to
them, they answered her, and soon spoke in the same way to each
other.  She was very careful about each statement she made, often
adducing convenient proof, so they saw that she was always right,
and never exaggerated.  The first hour of this made the boys
think, the second they imitated, the third they instantly obeyed.
She started in to interest and educate these children; she sent
them home to investigate more subjects the first day than they had
ever carried home in any previous month.  Boys suddenly began
asking their fathers about business; girls questioned their
mothers about marketing and housekeeping.

The week of Christmas vacation was going to be the hardest;
everyone expected the teacher to go home for the Holidays.  Many
of them knew that her sister was marrying the new doctor of
Hartley.  When Kate was wondering how she could possibly conceal
the rupture with her family, Robert Gray drove into Walden and
found her at the schoolhouse.  She was so delighted to see him
that she made no attempt to conceal her joy.  He had driven her
way for exercise and to pay her a call.  When he realized from her
greeting how she had felt the separation from her family, he had
an idea that he at once propounded:  "Kate, I have come to ask a
favour of you," he said.

"Granted!" laughed Kate.  "Whatever can it be?"

"Just this! I want you to pack a few clothes, drive to Hartley
with me and do what you can to straighten out the house, so there
won't be such confusion when Nancy Ellen gets there."

Kate stared at him in a happy daze.  "Oh, you blessed Robert Gray!
What a Heavenly idea!" she cried.  "Of course it wouldn't be
possible for me to fix Nancy Ellen's house the way she would, but
I could put everything where it belonged, I could arrange well
enough, and I could have a supper ready, so that you could come
straight home."

"Then you will do it?" he asked.

"Do it?" cried Kate. "Do it!  Why, I would be willing to pay you
for the chance to do it.  How do you think I'm to explain my not
going home for the Holidays, and to my sister's wedding, and
retain my self-respect before my patrons?"

"I didn't think of it in that way," he said.

"I'm crazy," said Kate.  "Take me quickly!  How far along are you?"

"House cleaned, blinds up, stoves all in, coal and wood, cellar
stocked, carpets down, and furniture all there, but not unwrapped
or in place.  Dishes delivered but not washed; cooking utensils
there, but not cleaned."

"Enough said," laughed Kate.  "You go marry Nancy Ellen.  I shall
have the house warm, arranged so you can live in it, and the first
meal ready when you come.  Does Nancy Ellen know you are here?"

"No.  I have enough country practice that I need a horse; I'm
trying this one. I think of you often so I thought I'd drive out.
How are you making it, Kate?"

"Just fine, so far as the school goes.  I don't particularly like
the woman I board with.  Her son is some better, yes, he is much
better.  And Robert, what is a Zonoletic Doctor?"

"A poor fool, too lazy to be a real doctor, with no conscience
about taking people's money for nothing," he said.

"As bad as THAT?" asked Kate.

"Worse! Why?" he said.

"Oh, I only wondered," said Kate.  "Now I am ready, here; but I
must run to the house where I board a minute.  It's only a step.
You watch where I go, and drive down."

She entered the house quietly and going back to the kitchen she
said:  "The folks have come for me, Mrs. Holt.  I don't know
exactly when I shall be back, but in plenty of time to start
school.  If George goes before I return, tell him 'Merry
Christmas,' for me."

"He'll be most disappointed to death," said Mrs. Holt.

"I don't see why he should," said Kate, calmly.  "You never have
had the teacher here at Christmas."

"We never had a teacher that I wanted before," said Mrs. Holt;
while Kate turned to avoid seeing the woman's face as she perjured
herself.  "You're like one of the family, George is crazy about
you.  He wrote me to be sure to keep you.  Couldn't you possibly
stay over Sunday?"

"No, I couldn't," said Kate.

"Who came after you?" asked Mrs. Holt.

"Dr. Gray," answered Kate.

"That new doctor at Hartley? Why, be you an' him friends?"

Mrs. Holt had followed down the hall, eagerly waiting in the
doorway.  Kate glanced at her and felt sudden pity.  The woman was
warped.  Everything in her life had gone wrong.  Possibly she
could not avoid being the disagreeable person she was.  Kate
smiled at her.

"Worse than that," she said.  "We be relations in a few days.
He's going to marry my sister Nancy Ellen next Tuesday."

Kate understood the indistinct gurgle she heard to be approving,
so she added:  "He came after me early so I could go to Hartley
and help get their new house ready for them to live in after the
ceremony."

"Did your father give them the house?" asked Mrs. Holt eagerly.

"No. Dr. Gray bought his home," said Kate.

"How nice!  What did your father give them?"

Kate's patience was exhausted.  "You'll have to wait until I come
back," she said.  "I haven't the gift of telling about things
before they have happened."

Then she picked up her telescope and saying "good-bye," left the
house.

As they drove toward Hartley:  "I'm anxious to see your house,"
said Kate.  "Did you find one in a good neighbourhood?"

"The very best, I think," said the doctor.  "That is all one could
offer Nancy Ellen."

"I'm so glad for her!  And I'm glad for you, too!  She'll make you
a beautiful wife in every way.  She's a good cook, she knows how
to economize, and she's too pretty for words, if she IS my
sister."

"I heartily agree with you," said the doctor.  "But I notice you
put the cook first and the beauty last."

"You will, too, before you get through with it," answered Kate.

"Here we are!" said he, soon after they entered Hartley. "I'll
drive around the block, so you can form an idea of the location."
Kate admired every house in the block, the streets and trees, the
one house Robert Gray had selected in every particular.  They went
inside and built fires, had lunch together at the hotel, and then
Kate rolled up her sleeves and with a few yards of cheese-cloth
for a duster, began unwrapping furniture and standing it in the
room where it belonged.  Robert moved the heavy pieces, then he
left to call on a patient and spend the evening with Nancy Ellen.

So Kate spent several happy days setting Nancy Ellen's new home in
order. From basement to garret she had it immaculate and shining.
No Bates girl, not even Agatha, ever had gone into a home having
so many comforts and conveniences.

Kate felt lonely the day she knew her home was overcrowded with
all their big family; she sat very still thinking of them during
the hour of the ceremony; she began preparing supper almost
immediately, because Robert had promised her that he would not eat
any more of the wedding feast than he could help, and he would
bring Nancy Ellen as soon afterward as possible.  Kate saw them
drive to the gate and come up the walk together.  As they entered
the door Nancy Ellen was saying:  "Why, how does the house come to
be all lighted up?  Seems to me I smell things to eat.  Well, if
the table isn't all set!"

There was a pause and then Nancy Ellen's clear voice called:
"Kate!  Kate!  Where are you?  Nobody else would be THIS nice to
me.  You dear girl, where are you?"

"I'll get to stay until I go back to school!" was Kate's mental
comment as she ran to clasp Nancy Ellen in her arms, while they
laughed and very nearly cried together, so that the doctor felt it
incumbent upon him to hug both of them.  Shortly afterward he
said:  "There is a fine show in town to-night, and I have three
tickets.  Let's all go."

"Let's eat before we go," said Nancy Ellen, "I haven't had time to
eat a square meal for a week and things smell deliciously."

They finished their supper leisurely, stacked the dishes and went
to the theatre, where they saw a fair performance of a good play,
which was to both of the girls a great treat.  When they returned
home, Kate left Nancy Ellen and Robert to gloat over the carpets
they had selected, as they appeared on their floors, to arrange
the furniture and re-examine their wedding gifts; while she
slipped into the kitchen and began washing the dishes and planning
what she would have for breakfast.  But soon they came to her and
Nancy Ellen insisted on wiping the dishes, while Robert carried
them to the cupboard.  Afterward, they sat before their fireplace
and talked over events since the sisters' separation.

Nancy Ellen told about getting ready for her wedding, life at
home, the school, the news of the family; the Kate drew a perfect
picture of the Walden school, her boarding place, Mrs. Holt, the
ravine, the town and the people, with the exception of George Holt
-- him she never mentioned.

After Robert had gone to his office the following morning, Kate
said to Nancy Ellen:  "Now I wish you would be perfectly frank
with me --"

"As if I could be anything else!" laughed the bride.

"All right, then," said Kate. "What I want is this:  that these
days shall always come back to you in memory as nearly perfect as
possible.  Now if my being here helps ever so little, I like to
stay, and I'll be glad to cook and wash dishes, while you fix your
house to suit you.  But if you'd rather be alone, I'll go back to
Walden and be satisfied and happy with the fine treat this has
been.  I can look everyone in the face now, talk about the
wedding, and feel all right."

Nancy Ellen said slowly:  "I shan't spare you until barely time to
reach your school Monday morning.  And I'm not keeping you to work
for me, either!  We'll do everything together, and then we'll plan
how to make the house pretty, and go see Robert in his office, and
go shopping.  I'll never forgive you if you go."

"Why, Nancy Ellen --!" said Kate, then fled to the kitchen too
happy to speak further.

None of them ever forgot that week. It was such a happy time that
all of them dreaded its end; but when it came they parted
cheerfully, and each went back to work, the better for the happy
reunion.  Kate did not return to Walden until Monday; then she
found Mrs. Holt in an evil temper.  Kate could not understand it.
She had no means of knowing that for a week George had nagged his
mother unceasingly because Kate was gone on his return, and would
not be back until after time for him to go again.  The only way
for him to see her during the week he had planned to come out
openly as her lover, was to try to find her at her home, or at her
sister's.  He did not feel that it would help him to go where he
never had been asked.  His only recourse was to miss a few days of
school and do extra work to make it up; but he detested nothing in
life as he detested work, so the world's happy week had been to
them one of constant sparring and unhappiness, for which Mrs. Holt
blamed Kate.  Her son had returned expecting to court Kate Bates
strenuously; his disappointment was not lightened by his mother's
constant nagging.  Monday forenoon she went to market, and came in
gasping.

"Land sakes!" she cried as she panted down the hall.  "I've got a
good one on that impident huzzy now!"

"You better keep your mouth shut, and not gossip about her," he
said.  "Everyone likes her!"

"No, they don't, for I hate her worse 'n snakes!  If it wa'n't for
her money I'd fix her so's 'at she'd never marry you in kingdom
come."

George Holt clenched his big fist.

"Just you try it!" he threatened.  "Just you try that!"

"You'll live to see the day you'd thank me if I did.  She ain't
been home.  Mind you, she ain't been HOME!  She never seen her
sister married at all!  Tilly Nepple has a sister, living near the
Bates, who worked in the kitchen.  She's visitin' at Tilly's now.
Miss High-and-Mighty never seen her sister married at all!  An' it
looked mighty queer, her comin' here a week ahead of time, in the
fall.  Looks like she'd done somepin she don't DARE go home.  No
wonder she tears every scrap of mail she gets to ribbons an' burns
it.  I told you she had a secret!  If ever you'd listen to me."

"Why, you're crazy!" he exclaimed.  "I did listen to you.  What
you told me was that I should go after her with all my might.  So
I did it.  Now you come with this.  Shut it up!  Don't let her get
wind of it for the world!"

"And Tilly Nepple's sister says old Land King Bates never give his
daughter a cent, an' he never gives none of his girls a cent.
It's up to the men they marry to take keer of them.  The old skin-
flint!  What you want to do is to go long to your schoolin', if
you reely are going to make somepin of yourself at last, an' let
that big strap of a girl be, do --"

"Now, stop!" shouted George Holt.  "Scenting another scandal, are
you?  Don't you dare mar Kate Bates' standing, or her reputation
in this town, or we'll have a time like we never had before.  If
old Bates doesn't give his girls anything when they marry, they'll
get more when he dies.  And so far as money is concerned, this has
gone PAST money with me.  I'm going to marry Kate Bates, as soon
as ever I can, and I've got to the place where I'd marry her if
she hadn't a cent.  If I can't take care of her, she can take care
of me.  I am crazy about her, an' I'm going to have her; so you
keep still, an' do all you can to help me, or you'll regret it."

"It's you that will regret it!" she said.

"Stop your nagging, I tell you, or I'll come at you in a way you
won't like," he cried.

"You do that every day you're here," said Mrs. Holt, starting to
the kitchen to begin dinner.

Kate appeared in half an hour, fresh and rosy, also prepared; for
one of her little pupils had said:  "Tilly Nepple's sister say you
wasn't at your sister's wedding at all.  Did you cry 'cause you
couldn't go?"

Instantly Kate comprehended what must be town gossip, so she gave
the child a happy solution of the question bothering her, and went
to her boarding house forewarned.  She greeted both Mrs. Holt and
her son cordially, then sat down to dinner, in the best of
spirits.  The instant her chance came, Mrs. Holt said:  "Now tell
us all about the lovely wedding."

"But I wasn't managing the wedding," said Kate cheerfully.  "I was
on the infare job.  Mother and Nancy Ellen put the wedding
through.  You know our house isn't very large, and close relatives
fill it to bursting.  I've seen the same kind of wedding about
every eighteen months all my life.  I had a NEW job this time, and
one I liked better."

She turned to George:  "Of course your mother told you that Dr.
Gray came after me.  He came to ask me as an especial favour to go
to his new house in Hartley, and do what I could to arrange it,
and to have a supper ready.  I was glad.  I'd seen six weddings
that I can remember, all exactly alike -- there's nothing to them;
but brushing those new carpets, unwrapping nice furniture and
placing it, washing pretty new dishes, untying the loveliest gifts
and arranging them -- THAT was something new in a Bates wedding.
Oh, but I had a splendid time!"

George Holt looked at his mother in too great disgust to conceal
his feelings.

"ANOTHER gilt-edged scandal gone sky high," he said.  Then he
turned to Kate.  "One of the women who worked in your mother's
kitchen is visiting here, and she started a great hullabaloo
because you were not at the wedding.  You probably haven't got a
leg left to stand on.  I suspect the old cats of Walden have
chewed them both off, and all the while you were happy, and doing
the thing any girl would much rather have done.  Lord, I hate this
eternal picking!  How did you come back, Kate?"

"Dr. Gray brought me."

"I should think it would have made talk, your staying there with
him," commented Mrs. Holt.

"Fortunately, the people of Hartley seem reasonably busy attending
their own affairs," said Kate.  "Doctor Gray had been boarding at
the hotel all fall, so he just went on living there until after
the wedding."

George glared at his mother, but she avoided his eyes, and
laughing in a silly, half-confused manner she said:  "How much
money did your father give the bride?"

"I can't tell you, in even dollars and cents," said Kate.  "Nancy
Ellen didn't say."

Kate saw the movement of George's foot under the table, and knew
that he was trying to make his mother stop asking questions; so
she began talking to him about his work.  As soon as the meal was
finished he walked with her to school, visiting until the session
began.  He remained three days, and before he left he told Kate he
loved her, and asked her to be his wife.  She looked at him in
surprise and said:  "Why, I never thought of such a thing!  How
long have you been thinking about it?"

"Since the first instant I saw you!" he declared with fervour.

"Hum!  Matter of months," said Kate.  "Well, when I have had that
much time, I will tell you what I think about it."



THE HISTORY OF A LEGHORN HAT

Kate finished her school in the spring, then went for a visit with
Nancy Ellen and Robert, before George Holt returned.  She was
thankful to leave Walden without having seen him, for she had
decided, without giving the matter much thought, that he was not
the man she wanted to marry.  In her heart she regretted having
previously contracted for the Walden school another winter because
she felt certain that with the influence of Dr. Gray, she could
now secure a position in Hartley that would enable her either to
live with, or to be near, her sister.  With this thought in mind,
she tried to make the acquaintance of teachers in the school who
lived in Hartley and she soon became rather intimate with one of
them.

It was while visiting with this teacher that Kate spoke of
attending Normal again in an effort to prepare herself still
better for the work of the coming year.  Her new friend advised
against it.  She said the course would be only the same thing over
again, with so little change or advancement, that the trip was not
worth the time and money it would cost.  She proposed that Kate go
to Lake Chautauqua and take the teachers' course, where all spare
time could be put in attending lectures, and concerts, and
studying the recently devised methods of education.  Kate went
from her to Nancy Ellen and Robert, determined at heart to go.

She was pleased when they strongly advised her to, and offered to
help her get ready.  Aside from having paid Agatha, and for her
board, Kate had spent almost nothing on herself.  She figured the
probable expenses of the trip for a month, what it would cost her
to live until school began again, if she were forced to go to
Walden, and then spent all her remaining funds on the prettiest
clothing she had ever owned.  Each of the sisters knew how to buy
carefully; then the added advantage of being able to cut and make
their own clothes, made money go twice as far as where a
dressmaker had to be employed.  When everything they had planned
was purchased, neatly made, and packed in a trunk, into which
Nancy Ellen slipped some of her prettiest belongings, Kate made a
trip to a milliner's shop to purchase her first real hat.

She had decided on a big, wide-brimmed Leghorn, far from cheap.
While she was trying the effect of flowers and ribbon on it, the
wily milliner slipped up and with the hat on Kate's golden crown,
looped in front a bow of wide black velvet ribbon and drooped over
the brim a long, exquisitely curling ostrich plume.  Kate had one
good view of herself, before she turned her back on the
temptation.

"You look lovely in that," said the milliner.  "Don't you like
it?"

"I certainly do," said Kate.  "I look the best in that hat, with
the black velvet and the plume, I ever did, but there's no use to
look twice, I can't afford it."

"Oh, but it is very reasonable!  We haven't a finer hat in the
store, nor a better plume," said the milliner.

She slowly waved it in all its glory before Kate's beauty-hungry
eyes.  Kate turned so she could not see it.

"Please excuse one question.  Are you teaching in Walden this
winter?" asked the milliner.

"Yes," said Kate.  "I have signed the contract for that school."

"Then charge the hat and pay for it in September.  I'd rather wait
for my money than see you fail to spend the summer under that
plume.  It really is lovely against your gold hair."

"'Get thee behind me, Satan,'" quoted Kate.  "No.  I never had
anything charged, and never expect to.  Please have the black
velvet put on and let me try it with the bows set and sewed."

"All right," said the milliner, "but I'm sorry."

She was so sorry that she carried the plume to the work room, and
when she walked up behind Kate, who sat waiting before the mirror,
and carefully set the hat on her head, at exactly the right angle,
the long plume crept down one side and drooped across the girl's
shoulder.

"I will reduce it a dollar more," she said, "and send the bill to
you at Walden the last week of September."

Kate moved her head from side to side, lifted and dropped her
chin.  Then she turned to the milliner.

"You should be killed!" she said.

The woman reached for a hat box.

"No, I shouldn't!" she said.  "Waiting that long, I'll not make
much on the hat, but I'll make a good friend who will come again,
and bring her friends.  What is your name, please?"

Kate took one look at herself -- smooth pink cheeks, gray eyes,
gold hair, the sweeping wide brim, the trailing plume.

"Miss Katherine Eleanor Bates," she said.  "Bates Corners,
Hartley, Indiana.  Please call my carriage?"

The milliner laughed heartily.  "That's the spirit of '76," she
commended.  "I'd be willing to wager something worth while that
this very hat brings you the carriage before fall, if you show
yourself in it in the right place.  It's a perfectly stunning hat.
Shall I send it, or will you wear it?"

Kate looked in the mirror again.  "You may put a fresh blue band
on the sailor I was wearing, and send that to Dr. Gray's when it
is finished," she said.  "And put in a fancy bow, for my throat,
of the same velvet as the hat, please.  I'll surely pay you the
last week of September.  And if you can think up an equally
becoming hat for winter -- --"

"You just bet I can, young lady," said the milliner to herself as
Kate walked down the street.

From afar, Kate saw Nancy Ellen on the veranda, so she walked
slowly to let the effect sink in, but it seemed to make no
impression until she looked up at Nancy Ellen's very feet and
said:  "Well, how do you like it?"

"Good gracious!" cried Nancy Ellen.  "I thought I was having a
stylish caller.  I didn't know you!  Why, I never saw YOU walk
that way before."

"You wouldn't expect me to plod along as if I were plowing, with a
thing like this on my head, would you?"

"I wouldn't expect you to have a thing like that on your head; but
since you have, I don't mind telling you that you are stunning in
it," said Nancy Ellen.

"Better and better!" laughed Kate, sitting down on the step.  "The
milliner said it was a stunning HAT."

"The goose!" said Nancy Ellen.  "You become that hat, Kate, quite
as much as the hat becomes you."

The following day, dressed in a linen suit of natural colour, with
the black bow at her throat, the new hat in a bandbox, and the
renewed sailor on her head, Kate waved her farewells to Nancy
Ellen and Robert on the platform, then walked straight to the
dressing room of the car, and changed the hats.  Nancy Ellen had
told her this was NOT the thing to do.  She should travel in a
plain untrimmed hat, and when the dust and heat of her journey
were past, she should bathe, put on fresh clothing, and wear such
a fancy hat only with her best frocks, in the afternoon.  Kate
need not have been told that.  Right instincts and Bates economy
would have taught her the same thing, but she had a perverse
streak in her nature.  She had SEEN herself in the hat.

The milliner, who knew enough of the world and human nature to
know how to sell Kate the hat, when she never intended to buy it,
and knew she should not in the way she did, had said that before
fall it would bring her a carriage, which put into bald terms
meant a rich husband.  Now Kate liked her school and she gave it
her full attention; she had done, and still intended to keep on
doing, first-class work in the future; but her school, or anything
pertaining to it, was not worth mentioning beside Nancy Ellen's
HOME, and the deep understanding and strong feeling that showed so
plainly between her and Robert Gray.  Kate expected to marry by
the time she was twenty or soon after; all Bates girls had, most
of them had married very well indeed.  She frankly envied Nancy
Ellen, while it never occurred to her that any one would criticise
her for saying so.  Only one thing could happen to her that would
surpass what had come to her sister.  If only she could have a man
like Robert Gray, and have him on a piece of land of their own.
Kate was a girl, but no man of the Bates tribe ever was more
deeply bitten by the lust for land.  She was the true daughter of
her father, in more than one way.  If that very expensive hat was
going to produce the man why not let it begin to work from the
very start?  If her man was somewhere, only waiting to see her,
and the hat would help him to speedy recognition, why miss a
change?

She thought over the year, and while she deplored the estrangement
from home, she knew that if she had to go back to one year ago,
giving up the present and what it had brought and promised to
bring, for a reconciliation with her father, she would not
voluntarily return to the old driving, nagging, overwork, and
skimping, missing every real comfort of life to buy land, in which
she never would have any part.

"You get your knocks 'taking the wings of morning,'" thought Kate
to herself, "but after all it is the only thing to do.  Nancy
Ellen says Sally Whistler is pleasing Mother very well, why should
I miss my chance and ruin my temper to stay at home and do the
work done by a woman who can do nothing else?"

Kate moved her head slightly to feel if the big, beautiful hat
that sat her braids so lightly was still there.  "Go to work, you
beauty," thought Kate.  "Do something better for me than George
Holt.  I'll have him to fall back on if I can't do better; but I
think I can.  Yes, I'm very sure I can!  If you do your part, you
lovely plume, I KNOW I can!"

Toward noon the train ran into a violent summer storm.  The sky
grew black, the lightning flashed, the wind raved, the rain fell
in gusts.  The storm was at its height when Kate quit watching it
and arose, preoccupied with her first trip to a dining car,
thinking about how little food she could order and yet avoid a
hunger headache.  The twisting whirlwind struck her face as she
stepped from the day coach to go to the dining car.  She threw
back her head and sucked her lungs full of the pure, rain-chilled
air.  She was accustomed to being out in storms, she liked them.
One second she paused to watch the gale sweeping the fields, the
next a twitch at her hair caused her to throw up her hands and
clutch wildly at nothing.  She sprang to the step railing and
leaned out in time to see her wonderful hat whirl against the
corner of the car, hold there an instant with the pressure of the
wind, then slide down, draw under, and drop across the rail, where
passing wheels ground it to pulp.

Kate stood very still a second, then she reached up and tried to
pat the disordered strands of hair into place.  She turned and
went back into the day coach, opened the bandbox, and put on the
sailor.  She resumed her old occupation of thinking things over.
All the joy had vanished from the day and the trip.  Looking
forward, it had seemed all right to defy custom and Nancy Ellen's
advice, and do as she pleased.  Looking backward, she saw that she
had made a fool of herself in the estimation of everyone in the
car by not wearing the sailor, which was suitable for her journey,
and would have made no such mark for a whirling wind.

She found travelling even easier than any one had told her.  Each
station was announced.  When she alighted, there were conveyances
to take her and her luggage to a hotel, patronized almost
exclusively by teachers, near the schools and lecture halls.
Large front suites and rooms were out of the question for Kate,
but luckily a tiny corner room at the back of the building was
empty and when Kate specified how long she would remain, she
secured it at a less figure than she had expected to pay.  She
began by almost starving herself at supper in order to save enough
money to replace her hat with whatever she could find that would
serve passably, and be cheap enough.  That far she proceeded
stoically; but when night settled and she stood in her dressing
jacket brushing her hair, something gave way.  Kate dropped on her
bed and cried into her pillow, as she never had cried before about
anything.  It was not ALL about the hat.  While she was at it, she
shed a few tears about every cruel thing that had happened to her
since she could remember that she had borne tearlessly at the
time.  It was a deluge that left her breathless and exhausted.
When she finally sat up, she found the room so close, she gently
opened her door and peeped into the hall.  There was a door
opening on an outside veranda, running across the end of the
building and the length of the front.

As she looked from her door and listened intently, she heard the
sound of a woman's voice in choking, stifled sobs, in the room
having a door directly across the narrow hall from hers.

"My Lord!  THERE'S TWO OF US!" said Kate.

She leaned closer, listening again, but when she heard a short
groan mingled with the sobs, she immediately tapped on the door.
Instantly the sobs ceased and the room became still.  Kate put her
lips to the crack and said in her off-hand way:  "It's only a
school-marm, rooming next you.  If you're ill, could I get
anything for you?"

"Will you please come in?" asked a muffled voice.

Kate turned the knob, and stepping inside, closed the door after
her.  She could dimly see her way to the dresser, where she found
matches and lighted the gas.  On the bed lay in a tumbled heap a
tiny, elderly, Dresden-china doll-woman.  She was fully dressed,
even to her wrap, bonnet, and gloves; one hand clutched her side,
the other held a handkerchief to her lips.  Kate stood an instant
under the light, studying the situation.  The dark eyes in the
narrow face looked appealingly at her.  The woman tried to speak,
but gasped for breath.  Kate saw that she had heart trouble.

"The remedy!  Where is it?" she cried.

The woman pointed to a purse on the dresser.  Kate opened it, took
out a small bottle, and read the directions.  In a second, she was
holding a glass to the woman's lips; soon she was better.  She
looked at Kate eagerly.

"Oh, please don't leave me," she gasped.

"Of course not!" said Kate instantly.  "I'll stay as long as you
want me."

She bent over the bed and gently drew the gloves from the frail
hands.  She untied and slipped off the bonnet.  She hunted keys in
the purse, opened a travelling bag, and found what she required.
Then slowly and carefully, she undressed the woman, helped her
into a night robe, and stooping she lifted her into a chair until
she opened the bed.  After giving her time to rest, Kate pulled
down the white wavy hair and brushed it for the night.  As she
worked, she said a word of encouragement now and again; when she
had done all she could see to do, she asked if there was more.
The woman suddenly clung to her hand and began to sob wildly.
Kate knelt beside the bed, stroked the white hair, patted the
shoulder she could reach, and talked very much as she would have
to a little girl.

"Please don't cry," she begged.  "It must be your heart; you'll
surely make it worse."

"I'm trying," said the woman, "but I've been scared sick.  I most
certainly would have died if you hadn't come to me and found the
medicine.  Oh, that dreadful Susette!  How could she?"

The clothing Kate had removed from the woman had been of finest
cloth and silk.  Her hands wore wonderful rings.  A heavy purse
was in her bag.  Everything she had was the finest that money
could buy, while she seemed as if a rough wind never had touched
her.  She appeared so frail that Kate feared to let her sleep
without knowing where to locate her friends.

"She should be punished for leaving you alone among strangers,"
said Kate indignantly.

"If I only could learn to mind John," sighed the little woman.
"He never liked Susette.  But she was the very best maid I ever
had.  She was like a loving daughter, until all at once, on the
train, among strangers, she flared out at me, and simply raved.
Oh, it was dreadful!"

"And knowing you were subject to these attacks, she did the thing
that would precipitate one, and then left you alone among
strangers.  How wicked!  How cruel!" said Kate in tense
indignation.

"John didn't want me to come.  But I used to be a teacher, and I
came here when this place was mostly woods, with my dear husband.
Then after he died, through the long years of poverty and
struggle, I would read of the place and the wonderful meetings,
but I could never afford to come.  Then when John began to work
and made good so fast I was dizzy half the time with his
successes, I didn't think about the place.  But lately, since I've
had everything else I could think of, something possessed me to
come back here, and take a suite among the women and men who are
teaching our young people so wonderfully; and to sail on the lake,
and hear the lectures, and dream my youth over again.  I think
that was it most of all, to dream my youth over again, to try to
relive the past."

"There now, you have told me all about it," said Kate, stroking
the white forehead in an effort to produce drowsiness, "close your
eyes and go to sleep."

"I haven't even BEGUN to tell you," said the woman perversely.
"If I talked all night I couldn't tell you about John.  How big he
is, and how brave he is, and how smart he is, and how he is the
equal of any business man in Chicago, and soon, if he keeps on, he
will be worth as much as some of them -- more than any one of his
age, who has had a lot of help instead of having his way to make
alone, and a sick old mother to support besides.  No, I couldn't
tell you in a week half about John, and he didn't want me to come.
If I would come, then he wanted me to wait a few days until he
finished a deal so he could bring me, but the minute I thought of
it I was determined to come; you know how you get."

"I know how badly you want to do a thing you have set your heart
on," admitted Kate.

"I had gone places with Susette in perfect comfort.  I think the
trouble was that she tried from the first to attract John.  About
the time we started, he let her see plainly that all he wanted of
her was to take care of me; she was pretty and smart, so it made
her furious.  She was pampered in everything, as no maid I ever
had before.  John is young yet, and I think he is very handsome,
and he wouldn't pay any attention to her.  You see when other boys
were going to school and getting acquainted with girls by
association, even when he was a little bit of a fellow in knee
breeches, I had to let him sell papers, and then he got into a
shop, and he invented a little thing, and then a bigger, and
bigger yet, and then he went into stocks and things, and he
doesn't know anything about girls, only about sick old women like
me.  He never saw what Susette was up to.  You do believe that I
wasn't ugly to her, don't you?"

"You COULDN'T be ugly if you tried," said Kate.

The woman suddenly began to sob again, this time slowly, as if her
forces were almost spent.  She looked to Kate for the sympathy she
craved and for the first time really saw her closely.

"Why, you dear girl," she cried.  "Your face is all tear stained.
You've been crying, yourself."

"Roaring in a pillow," admitted Kate.

"But my dear, forgive me!  I was so upset with that dreadful
woman.  Forgive me for not having seen that you, too, are in
trouble.  Won't you please tell me?"

"Of course," said Kate.  "I lost my new hat."

"But, my dear!  Crying over a hat?  When it is so easy to get
another?  How foolish!" said the woman.

"Yes, but you didn't see the hat," said Kate.  "And it will be far
from easy to get another, with this one not paid for yet.  I'm
only one season removed from sunbonnets, so I never should have
bought it at all."

The woman moved in bed, and taking one of Kate's long, crinkly
braids, she drew the wealth of gold through her fingers
repeatedly.

"Tell me about your hat," she said.

So to humour this fragile woman, and to keep from thinking of her
own trouble, Kate told the story of her Leghorn hat and ostrich
plume, and many things besides, for she was not her usual terse
self with her new friend who had to be soothed to forgetfulness.

Kate ended:  "I was all wrong to buy such a hat in the first
place.  I couldn't afford it; it was foolish vanity.  I'm not
really good-looking; I shouldn't have flattered myself that I was.
Losing it before it was paid for was just good for me.  Never
again will I be so foolish."

"Why, my dear, don't say such things or think them," chided the
little woman.  "You had as good a right to a becoming hat as any
girl.  Now let me ask you one question, and then I'll try to
sleep.  You said you were a teacher.  Did you come here to attend
the Summer School for Teachers?"

"Yes," said Kate.

"Would it make any great difference to you if you missed a few
days?" she asked.

"Not the least," said Kate.

"Well, then, you won't be offended, will you, if I ask you to
remain with me and take care of me until John comes?  I could send
him a message to-night that I am alone, and bring him by this time
to-morrow; but I know he has business that will cause him to lose
money should he leave, and I was so wilful about coming, I dread
to prove him right so conclusively the very first day.  That door
opens into a room reserved for Susette, if only you'd take it, and
leave the door unclosed to-night, and if only you would stay with
me until John comes I could well afford to pay you enough to
lengthen your stay as long as you'd like; and it makes me so happy
to be with such a fresh young creature.  Will you stay with me, my
dear?"

"I certainly will," said Kate heartily.  "If you'll only tell me
what I should do; I'm not accustomed to rich ladies, you know."

"I'm not myself," said the little woman, "but I do seem to take to
being waited upon with the most remarkable facility!"



A SUNBONNET GIRL

WITH the first faint light of morning, Kate slipped to the door to
find her charge still sleeping soundly.  It was eight o'clock when
she heard a movement in the adjoining room and went again to the
door.  This time the woman was awake and smilingly waved to Kate
as she called:  "Good morning!  Come right in.  I was wondering if
you were regretting your hasty bargain."

"Not a bit of it!" laughed Kate.  "I am here waiting to be told
what to do first.  I forgot to tell you my name last night.  It is
Kate Bates.  I'm from Bates Corners, Hartley, Indiana."

The woman held out her hand.  "I'm so very glad to meet you, Miss
Bates," she said.  "My name is Mariette Jardine.  My home is in
Chicago."

They shook hands, smiling at each other, and then Kate said:
"Now, Mrs. Jardine, what shall I do for you first?"

"I will be dressed, I think, and then you may bring up the manager
until I have an understanding with him, and give him a message I
want sent, and an order for our breakfast.  I wonder if it
wouldn't be nice to have it served on the corner of the veranda in
front of our rooms, under the shade of that big tree."

"I think that would be famous," said Kate.

They ate together under the spreading branches of a giant maple
tree, where they could see into the nest of an oriole that brooded
in a long purse of gray lint and white cotton cord.  They could
almost reach out and touch it.  The breakfast was good, nicely
served by a neat maid, evidently doing something so out of the
ordinary that she was rather stunned; but she was a young person
of some self-possession, for when she removed the tray, Mrs.
Jardine thanked her and gave her a coin that brought a smiling:
"Thank you very much.  If you want your dinner served here and
will ask for Jennie Weeks, I'd like to wait on you again."

"Thank you," said Mrs. Jardine, "I shall remember that.  I don't
like changing waiters each meal.  It gives them no chance to learn
what I want or how I want it."

Then she and Kate slowly walked the length of the veranda several
times, while she pointed out parts of the grounds they could see
that remained as she had known them formerly, and what were
improvements.

When Mrs. Jardine was tired, they returned to the room and she lay
on the bed while they talked of many things; talked of things with
which Kate was familiar, and some concerning which she
unhesitatingly asked questions until she felt informed.  Mrs.
Jardine was so dainty, so delicate, yet so full of life, so well
informed, so keen mentally, that as she talked she kept Kate
chuckling most of the time.  She talked of her home life, her
travels, her friends, her son.  She talked of politics, religion,
and education; then she talked of her son again.  She talked of
social conditions, Civic Improvement, and Woman's Rights, then she
came back to her son, until Kate saw that he was the real interest
in the world to her.  The mental picture she drew of him was
peculiar.  One minute Mrs. Jardine spoke of him as a man among
men, pushing, fighting, forcing matters to work to his will, so
Kate imagined him tall, broad, and brawny, indefatigable in his
undertakings; the next, his mother was telling of such
thoughtfulness, such kindness, such loving care that Kate's mental
picture shifted to a neat, exacting little man, purely effeminate
as men ever can be; but whatever she thought, some right instinct
prevented her from making a comment or asking a question.

Once she sat looking far across the beautiful lake with such an
expression on her face that Mrs. Jardine said to her:  "What are
you thinking of, my dear?"

Kate said smilingly:  "Oh, I was thinking of what a wonderful
school I shall teach this winter."

"Tell me what you mean," said Mrs. Jardine.

"Why, with even a month of this, I shall have riches stored for
every day of the year," said Kate.  "None of my pupils ever saw a
lake, that I know of.  I shall tell them of this with its shining
water, its rocky, shady, sandy shore lines; of the rowboats and
steam-boats, and the people from all over the country.  Before I
go back, I can tell them of wonderful lectures, concerts,
educational demonstrations here.  I shall get much from the
experiences of other teachers.  I shall delight my pupils with
just you."

"In what way?" asked Mrs. Jardine.

"Oh, I shall tell them of a dainty little woman who know
everything.  From you I shall teach my girls to be simple,
wholesome, tender, and kind; to take the gifts of God thankfully,
reverently, yet with self-respect.  From you I can tell them what
really fine fabrics are, and about laces, and linens.  When the
subjects arise, as they always do in teaching, I shall describe
each ring you wear, each comb and pin, even the handkerchiefs you
carry, and the bags you travel with.  To teach means to educate,
and it is a big task; but it is almost painfully interesting.
Each girl of my school shall go into life a gentler, daintier
woman, more careful of her person and speech because of my having
met you.  Isn't that a fine thought?"

"Why, you darling!" cried Mrs. Jardine.  "Life is always having
lovely things in store for me.  Yesterday I thought Susette's
leaving me as she did was the most cruel thing that ever happened
to me.  To-day I get from it this lovely experience.  If you are
straight from sunbonnets, as you told me last night, where did you
get these advanced ideas?"

"If sunbonnets could speak, many of them would tell of surprising
heads they have covered," laughed Kate.  "Life deals with women
much the same as with men.  If we go back to where we start,
history can prove to you that there are ten sunbonnets to one
Leghorn hat, in the high places of the world."

"Not to entertain me, but because I am interested, my dear, will
you tell me about your particular sunbonnet?" asked Mrs. Jardine.

Kate sat staring across the blue lake with wide eyes, a queer
smile twisting her lips.  At last she said slowly:  "Well, then,
my sunbonnet is in my trunk.  I'm not so far away from it but that
it still travels with me.  It's blue chambray, made from pieces
left from my first pretty dress.  It is ruffled, and has white
stitching.  I made it myself.  The head that it fits is another
matter.  I didn't make that, or its environment, or what was
taught it, until it was of age, and had worked out its legal time
of service to pay for having been a head at all.  But my head is
now free, in my own possession, ready to go as fast and far on the
path of life as it develops the brains to carry it.  You'd smile
if I should tell you what I'd ask of life, if I could have what I
want."

"I scarcely think so.  Please tell me."

"You'll be shocked," warned Kate.

"Just so it isn't enough to set my heart rocking again," said Mrs.
Jardine.

"We'll stop before that," laughed Kate.  "Then if you will have
it, I want of life by the time I am twenty a man of my stature,
dark eyes and hair, because I am so light.  I want him to be
honest, forceful, hard working, with a few drops of the milk of
human kindness in his heart, and the same ambitions I have."

"And what ARE your ambitions?" asked Mrs. Jardine.

"To own, and to cultivate, and to bring to the highest state of
efficiency at least two hundred acres of land, with convenient and
attractive buildings and pedigreed stock, and to mother at least
twelve perfect physical and mental boys and girls."

"Oh, my soul!" cried Mrs. Jardine, falling back in her chair, her
mouth agape.  "My dear, you don't MEAN that?  You only said that
to shock me."

"But why should I wish to shock you?  I sincerely mean it,"
persisted Kate.

"You amazing creature!  I never heard a girl talk like that
before," said Mrs. Jardine.

"But you can't look straight ahead of you any direction you turn
without seeing a girl working for dear life to attract the man she
wants; if she can't secure him, some other man; and in lieu of
him, any man at all, in preference to none.  Life shows us woman
on the age-old quest every day, everywhere we go; why be so
secretive about it?  Why not say honestly what we want, and take
it if we can get it?  At any rate, that is the most important
thing inside my sunbonnet.  I knew you'd be shocked."

"But I am not shocked at what you say, I agree with you.  What I
am shocked at is your ideals.  I thought you'd want to educate
yourself to such superiority over common woman that you could take
the platform, and backed by your splendid physique, work for
suffrage or lecture to educate the masses."

"I think more could be accomplished with selected specimens, by
being steadily on the job, than by giving an hour to masses.  I'm
not much interested in masses.  They are too abstract for me; I
prefer one stern reality.  And as for Woman's Rights, if anybody
gives this woman the right to do anything more than she already
has the right to do, there'll surely be a scandal."

Mrs. Jardine lay back in her chair laughing.

"You are the most refreshing person I have met in all my travels.
Then to put it baldly, you want of life a man, a farm, and a
family."

"You comprehend me beautifully," said Kate.  "All my life I've
worked like a towhead to help earn two hundred acres of land for
someone else.  I think there's nothing I want so much as two
hundred acres of land for myself.  I'd undertake to do almost
anything with it, if I had it.  I know I could, if I had the
shoulder-to-shoulder, real man.  You notice it will take
considerable of a man to touch shoulders with me; I'm a head
taller than most of them."

Mrs. Jardine looked at her speculatively.  "Ummm!" she murmured.
Kate laughed.

"For eighteen years I have been under marching orders," said Kate.
"Over a year ago I was advised by a minister to 'take the wings of
morning' so I took wing.  I started on one grand flight and fell
ker-smash in short order.  Life since has been a series of
battering my wings until I have almost decided to buy some
especially heavy boots, and walk the remainder of the way.  As a
concrete example, I started out yesterday morning wearing a hat
that several very reliable parties assured me would so assist me
to flight that I might at least have a carriage.  Where, oh, where
are my hat and my carriage now?  The carriage, non est!  The hat --
I am humbly hoping some little country girl, who has lived a
life as barren as mine, will find the remains and retrieve the
velvet bow for a hair-ribbon.  As for the man that Leghorn hat was
supposed to symbolize, he won't even look my way when I appear in
my bobby little sailor.  He's as badly crushed out of existence as
my beautiful hat."

"You never should have been wearing such a hat to travel in, my
dear," murmured Mrs. Jardine.

"Certainly not!" said Kate.  "I knew it.  My sister told me that.
Common sense told me that!  But what has that got to do with the
fact that I WAS wearing the hat?  I guess I have you there!"

"Far from it!" said Mrs. Jardine.  "If you're going to start out
in life, calmly ignoring the advice of those who love you, and the
dictates of common sense, the result will be that soon the wheels
of life will be grinding you, instead of a train making bag-rags
of your hat."

"Hummm!" said Kate.  "There IS food for reflection there.  But
wasn't it plain logic, that if the hat was to bring the man, it
should be worn where at any minute he might see it?"

"But my dear, my dear!  If such a man as a woman like you should
have, had seen you wearing that hat in the morning, on a railway
train, he would merely have thought you prideful and extravagant.
You would have been far more attractive to any man I know in your
blue sunbonnet."

"I surely have learned that lesson," said Kate.  "Hereafter,
sailors or sunbonnets for me in the morning.  Now what may I do to
add to your comfort?"

"Leave me for an hour until I take a nap, and then we'll have
lunch and go to a lecture.  I can go to-day, perfectly well, after
an hour's rest."

So Kate went for a very interesting walk around the grounds.  When
she returned Mrs. Jardine was still sleeping so she wrote Nancy
Ellen, telling all about her adventure, but not a word about
losing her hat.  Then she had a talk with Jennie Weeks whom she
found lingering in the hall near her door.  When at last that nap
was over, a new woman seemed to have developed.  Mrs. Jardine was
so refreshed and interested the remainder of the day that it was
easier than before for Kate to see how shocked and ill she had
been.  As she helped dress her for lunch, Kate said to Mrs.
Jardine:  "I met the manager as I was going to post a letter to my
sister, so I asked him always to send you the same waiter.  He
said he would, and I'd like you to pay particular attention to her
appearance, and the way she does her work."

"Why?" asked Mrs. Jardine.

"I met her in the hall as I came back from posting my letter, so
we 'visited' a little, as the country folks say.  She has taught
one winter of country school, a small school in an out county.
She's here waiting table two hours three times a day, to pay for
her room and board.  In the meantime, she attends all the sessions
and studies as much as she can; but she's very poor material for a
teacher.  I pity her pupils.  She's a little thing, bright enough
in her way, but she has not much initiative, not strong enough for
the work, and she has not enough spunk.  She'll never lead the
minds of school children anywhere that will greatly benefit them."

"And your deduction is -- "

"That she would make you a kind, careful, obedient maid, who is
capable enough to be taught to wash your hair and manicure you
with deftness, and who would serve you for respect as well as
hire.  I think it would be a fine arrangement for you and good for
her."

"This surely is kind of you," said Mrs. Jardine.  "I'll keep
strict watch of Jennie Weeks.  If I could find a really capable
maid here and not have to wire John to bring one, I'd be so glad.
It does so go against the grain to prove to a man that he has a
right to be more conceited than he is naturally."

As they ate lunch Kate said to Mrs. Jardine:  "I noticed one thing
this morning that is going to be balm to my soul.  I passed many
teachers and summer resorters going to the lecture halls and
coming from them, and half of them were bareheaded, so my state
will not be remarkable, until I can get another hat."

"'God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform,'"
laughingly quoted Mrs. Jardine.  "You thought losing that precious
hat was a calamity; but if you hadn't lost it, you probably would
have slept soundly while I died across the hall.  My life is worth
the price of a whole millinery shop to me; I think you value the
friendship we are developing; I foresee I shall get a maid who
will not disgrace my in public; you will have a full summer here;
now truly, isn't all this worth many hats?"

"Of course!  It's like a fairy tale," said Kate.  "Still, you
didn't see the hat!"

"But you described it in a truly graphic manner," said Mrs.
Jardine.

"When I am the snowiest of great-grandmothers, I shall still be
telling small people about the outcome of my first attempt at
vanity," laughed Kate.

The third morning dawned in great beauty, a "misty, moisty
morning," Mrs. Jardine called it.  The sun tried to shine but
could not quite pierce the intervening clouds, so on every side
could be seen exquisite pictures painted in delicate pastel
colours.  Kate, fresh and rosy, wearing a blue chambray dress, was
a picture well worth seeing.  Mrs. Jardine kept watching her so
closely that Kate asked at last:  "Have you made up your mind,
yet?"

"No, and I am afraid I never shall," answered Mrs. Jardine.  "You
are rather an astonishing creature.  You're so big, so vital; you
absorb knowledge like a sponge takes water -- "

"And for the same purpose," laughed Kate.  "That it may be used
for the benefit of others.  Tell me some more about me.  I find me
such an interesting subject."

"No doubt!" admitted Mrs. Jardine.  "Not a doubt about that!  We
are all more interested in ourselves than in any one else in this
world, until love comes; then we soon learn to a love man more
than life, and when a child comes we learn another love, so clear,
so high, so purifying, that we become of no moment at all, and
live only for those we love."

"You speak for yourself, and a class of women like you," answered
Kate gravely.  "I'm very well acquainted with many women who have
married and borne children, and who are possibly more selfish than
before.  The Great Experience never touched them at all."

There was a tap at the door.  Kate opened it and delivered to Mrs.
Jardine a box so big that it almost blocked the doorway.

Mrs. Jardine lifted from the box a big Leghorn hat of weave so
white and fine it almost seemed like woven cloth instead of braid.
There was a bow in front, but the bow was nested in and tied
through a web of flowered gold lace.  One velvet end was slightly
long and concealed a wire which lifted one side of the brim a
trifle, beneath which was fastened a smashing big, pale-pink
velvet rose.  There was an ostrich plume even longer than the
other, broader, blacker, as wonderful a feather as ever dropped
from the plumage of a lordly bird.  Mrs. Jardine shook the hat in
such a way as to set the feather lifting and waving after the
confinement of the box.  With slender, sure fingers she set the
bow and lace as they should be, and touched the petals of the
rose.  She inspected the hat closely, shook it again, and held it
toward Kate.

"A very small price to pay for the breath of life, which I was
rapidly losing," she said.  "Do me the favour to accept it as
casually as I offer it.  Did I understand your description
anywhere near right?  Is this your hat?"

"Thank you," said Kate.  "It is just 'the speaking image' of my
hat, but it's a glorified, sublimated, celestial image.  What I
described was merely a hat.  This is what I think I have lately
heard Nancy Ellen mention as a 'creation.'  Wheuuuuuu!"

She went to the mirror, arranged her hair, set the hat on her
head, and turned.

"Gracious Heaven!" said Mrs. Jardine.  "My dear, I understand NOW
why you wore that hat on your journey."

"I wore that hat," said Kate, "as an ascension stalk wears its
crown of white lilies, as a bobolink wears its snowy courting
crest, as a bride wears her veil; but please take this from me to-
night, lest I sleep in it!"

That night Mrs. Jardine felt tired enough to propose resting in
her room, with Jennie Weeks where she could be called; so for the
first time Kate left her, and, donning her best white dress and
the hat, attended a concert.  At its close she walked back to the
hotel with some of the other teachers stopping there, talked a few
minutes in the hall, went to the office desk for mail, and slowly
ascended the stairs, thinking intently.  What she thought was:
"If I am not mistaken, my hat did a small bit of execution to-
night."  She stepped to her room to lock the door and stopped a
few minutes to arrange the clothing she had discarded when she
dressed hurriedly before going to the concert, then, the letters
in her hand, she opened Mrs. Jardine's door.

A few minutes before, there had been a tap on that same door.

"Come in," said Mrs. Jardine, expecting Kate or Jennie Weeks.  She
slowly lifted her eyes and faced a tall, slender man standing
there.

"John Jardine, what in the world are you doing here?" she demanded
after the manner of mothers, "and what in this world has happened
to you?"

"Does it show on me like that?" he stammered.

"Was your train in a wreck?  Are you in trouble?" she asked.
"Something shows plainly enough, but I don't understand what it
is."

"Are you all right, Mother?"  He advanced a step, looking intently
at her.

"Of course I'm all right!  You can see that for yourself.  The
question is, what's the matter with you?"

"If you will have it, there is something the matter.  Since I saw
you last I have seen a woman I want to marry, that's all; unless I
add that I want her so badly that I haven't much sense left.  Now
you have it!"

"No, I don't have it, and I won't have it!  What designing
creature has been trying to intrigue you now?" she demanded.

"Not any one.  She didn't see me, even.  I saw her.  I've been
following her for nearly two hours instead of coming straight to
you, as I always have.  So you see where I am.  I expect you won't
forgive me, but since I'm here, you must know that I could only
come on the evening train."

He crossed the room, knelt beside the chair, and took it and its
contents in his arms.

"Are you going to scold me?" he asked.

"I am," she said.  "I am going to take you out and push you into
the deepest part of the lake.  I'm so disappointed.  Why, John,
for the first time in my life I've selected a girl for you, the
very most suitable girl I ever saw, and I hoped and hoped for
three days that when you came you'd like her.  Of course I wasn't
so rash as to say a word to her!  But I've thought myself into a
state where I'm going to be sick with disappointment."

"But wait, Mother, wait until I can manage to meet the girl I've
seen.  Wait until I have a chance to show her to you!" he begged.

"I suppose I shall be forced," she said.  "I've always dreaded it,
now here it comes.  Oh, why couldn't it have been Kate?  Why did
she go to that silly concert?  If only I'd kept her here, and we'd
walked down to the station.  I'd half a mind to!"

Then the door opened, and Kate stepped into the room.  She stood
still, looking at them.  John Jardine stood up, looking at her.
His mother sat staring at them in turn.  Kate recovered first.

"Please excuse me," she said.

She laid the letters on a small table and turned to go.  John
caught his mother's hand closer, when he found himself holding it.

"If you know the young lady, Mother," he said, "why don't you
introduce us?"

"Oh, I was so bewildered by your coming," she said.  "Kate, dear,
let me present my son."

Kate crossed the room, and looking straight into each other's eyes
they shook hands and found chairs.

"How was your concert, my dear?" asked Mrs. Jardine.

"I don't think it was very good," said Kate.  "Not at all up to my
expectations.  How did you like it, Mr. Jardine?"

"Was that a concert?" he asked.

"It was supposed to be," said Kate.

"Thank you for the information," he said.  "I didn't see it, I
didn't hear it, I don't know where I was."

"This is most astonishing," said Kate.

Mrs. Jardine looked at her son, her eyes two big imperative
question marks.  He nodded slightly.

"My soul!" she cried, then lay back in her chair half-laughing,
half-crying, until Kate feared she might have another attack of
heart trouble.



JOHN JARDINE'S COURTSHIP

THE following morning they breakfasted together under the branches
of the big maple tree in a beautiful world.  Mrs. Jardine was so
happy she could only taste a bite now and then, when urged to.
Kate was trying to keep her head level, and be natural.  John
Jardine wanted to think of everything, and succeeded fairly well.
It seemed to Kate that he could invent more ways to spend money,
and spend it with freer hand, than any man she ever had heard of,
but she had to confess that the men she had heard about were
concerned with keeping their money, not scattering it.

"Did you hear unusual sounds when John came to bid me good-night?"
asked Mrs. Jardine of Kate.

"Yes," laughed Kate, "I did.  And I'm sure I made a fairly
accurate guess as to the cause."

"What did you think?" asked Mrs. Jardine.

"I thought Mr. Jardine had missed Susette, and you'd had to tell
him," said Kate.

"You're quite right.  It's a good thing she went on and lost
herself in New York.  I'm not at all sure that he doesn't
contemplate starting out to find her yet."

"Let Susette go!" said Kate.  "We're interested in forgetting her.
There's a little country school-teacher here, who wants to take
her place, and it will be the very thing for your mother and for
her, too.  She's the one serving us; notice her in particular."

"If she's a teacher, how does she come to be serving us?" he
asked.

"I'm a teacher; how do I come to be dining with you?" said Kate.
"This is such a queer world, when you go adventuring in it.
Jennie had a small school in an out county, a widowed mother and a
big family to help support; so she figured that the only way she
could come here to try to prepare herself for a better school was
to work for her room and board.  She serves the table two hours,
three times a day, and studies between times.  She tells me that
almost every waiter in the dining hall is a teacher.  Please watch
her movements and manner and see if you think her suitable.
Goodness knows she isn't intended for a teacher."

"I like her very much," said John Jardine.  "I'll engage her as
soon as we finish."

Kate smiled, but when she saw the ease and dexterity with which he
ended Jennie Weeks' work as a waiter and installed her as his
mother's maid, making the least detail all right with his mother,
with Jennie, with the manager, she realized that there had been
nothing for her to smile about.  Jennie was delighted, and began
her new undertaking earnestly, with sincere desire to please.
Kate helped her all she could, while Mrs. Jardine developed a fund
of patience commensurate with the need of it.  She would have
endured more inconvenience than resulted from Jennie's
inexperienced hands because of the realization that her son and
the girl she had so quickly learned to admire were on the lake,
rambling the woods, or hearing lectures together.

When she asked him how long he could remain, he said as long as
she did.  When she explained that she was enjoying herself
thoroughly and had no idea how long she would want to stay, he
said that was all right; he had only had one vacation in his life;
it was time he was having another.  When she marvelled at this he
said:  "Now, look here, Mother, let's get this business straight,
right at the start.  I told you when I came I'd seen the woman I
wanted.  If you want me to go back to business, the way to do it
is to help me win her."

"But I don't want you 'to go back to business'; I want you to have
a long vacation, and learn all you can from the educational
advantages here."

"It's too late for me to learn more than I get every day by
knocking around and meeting people.  I've tried books two or three
times, and I've given them up; I can't do it.  I've waited too
long, I've no way to get down to it, I can't remember to save my
soul."

"But you can remember anything on earth about a business deal,"
she urged.

"Of course I can.  I was born with a business head.  It was
remember, or starve, and see you starve.  If I'd had the books at
the time they would have helped; now it's too late, and I'll never
try it again, that's settled.  Much as I want to marry Miss Bates,
she'll have to take me or leave me as I am.  I can't make myself
over for her or for you.  I would if I could, but that's one of
the things I can't do, and I admit it.  If I'm not good enough for
her as I am, she'll have the chance to tell me so the very first
minute I think it's proper to ask her."

"John, you are good enough for the best woman on earth.  There
never was a better lad, it isn't that, and you know it.  I am so
anxious that I can scarcely wait; but you must wait.  You must
give her time and go slowly, and you must be careful, oh, so very
careful!  She's a teacher and a student; she came here to study."

"I'll fix that.  I can rush things so that there'll be no time to
study."

"You'll make a mistake if you try it.  You'd far better let her go
her own way and only appear when she has time for you," she
advised.

"That's a fine idea!" he cried.  "A lot of ice I'd cut, sitting
back waiting for a signal to run after a girl, like a poodle.  The
way to do is the same as with any business deal.  See what you
want, overcome anything in your way, and get it.  I'd go crazy
hanging around like that.  You've always told me I couldn't do the
things in business I said I would; and I've always proved to you
that I could, by doing them.  Now watch me do this."

"You know I'll do anything to help you, John.  You know how proud
I am of you, how I love you!  I realize now that I've talked
volumes to Kate about you.  I've told her everything from the time
you were a little boy and I slaved for you, until now, when you
slave for me."

"Including how many terms I'd gone to school?"

"Yes, I even told her that," she said.

"Well, what did she seem to think about it?" he asked.

"I don't know what she thought, she didn't say anything.  There
was nothing to say.  It was a bare-handed fight with the wolf in
those days.  I'm sure I made her understand that," she said.

"Well, I'll undertake to make her understand this," he said.  "Are
you sure that Jennie Weeks is taking good care of you?"

"Jennie is well enough and is growing better each day, now be off
to your courting, but if you love me, remember, and be careful,"
she said.

"Remember -- one particular thing -- you mean?" he asked.

She nodded, her lips closed.

"You bet I will!" he said.  "All there is of me goes into this.
Isn't she a wonder, Mother?"

Mrs. Jardine looked closely at the big man who was all the world
to her, so like her in mentality, so like his father with his dark
hair and eyes and big, well-rounded frame; looked at him with the
eyes of love, then as he left her to seek the girl she had learned
to love, she shut her eyes and frankly and earnestly asked the
Lord to help her son to marry Kate Bates.

One morning as Kate helped Mrs. Jardine into her coat and gloves,
preparing for one of their delightful morning drives, she said to
her:  "Mrs. Jardine, may I ask you a REAL question?"

"Of course you may," said Mrs. Jardine, "and I shall give you a
'real' answer if it lies in my power."

"You'll be shocked," warned Kate.

"Shock away," laughed Mrs. Jardine.  "By now I flatter myself that
I am so accustomed to you that you will have to try yourself to
shock me."

"It's only this," said Kate:  "If you were a perfect stranger,
standing back and looking on, not acquainted with any of the
parties, merely seeing things as they happen each day, would it be
your honest opinion -- would you say that I am being COURTED?"

Mrs. Jardine laughed until she was weak.  When she could talk, she
said:  "Yes, my dear, under the conditions, and in the
circumstances you mention, I would cheerfully go on oath and
testify that you are being courted more openly, more vigorously,
and as tenderly as I ever have seen woman courted in all my life.
I always thought that John's father was a master hand at courting,
but John has him beaten in many ways.  Yes, my dear, you certainly
are being courted assiduously."

"Now, then, on that basis," said Kate, "just one more question and
we'll proceed with our drive.  From the same standpoint:  would
you say from your observation and experience that the mother of
the man had any insurmountable objection to the proceedings?"

Mrs. Jardine laughed again.  Finally she said:  "No, my dear.
It's my firm conviction that the mother of the man in the case
would be so delighted if you should love and marry her son that
she would probably have a final attack of heart trouble and pass
away from sheer joy."

"Thank you," said Kate.  "I wasn't perfectly sure, having had no
experience whatever, and I didn't want to make a mistake."

That drive was wonderful, over beautiful country roads, through
dells, and across streams and hills.  They stopped where they
pleased, gathering flowers and early apples, visiting with people
they met, lunching wherever they happened to be.

"If it weren't for wishing to hear John A. Logan to-night," said
Kate, "I'd move that we drive on all day.  I certainly am having
the grandest time."

She sat with her sailor hat filled with Early Harvest apples, a
big bunch of Canadian anemones in her belt, a little stream at her
feet, July drowsy fullness all around her, congenial companions;
taking the "wings of morning" paid, after all.

"Why do you want to hear him so much?" asked John.

Kate looked up at him in wonder.

"Don't you want to see and hear him?" she asked.

He hesitated, a thoughtful expression on his face.  Finally he
said:  "I can't say that I do.  Will you tell me why I should?"

"You should because he was one of the men who did much to preserve
our Union, he may tell us interesting things about the war.  Where
were you when it was the proper time for you to be studying the
speech of Logan's ancestor in McGuffey's Fourth?"

"That must have been the year I figured out the improved coupling
pin in the C. N. W. shops, wouldn't you think, Mother?"

"Somewhere near, my dear," she said.

So they drove back as happily as they had set out, made themselves
fresh, and while awaiting the lecture hour, Kate again wrote to
Robert and Nancy Ellen, telling plainly and simply all that had
occurred.  She even wrote "John Jardine's mother is of the opinion
that he is courting me.  I am so lacking in experience myself that
I scarcely dare venture an opinion, but it has at times appealed
to me that if he isn't really, he certainly must be going through
the motions."

Nancy Ellen wrote:  I have read over what you say about John
Jardine several times.  Then I had Robert write Bradstreet's and
look him up.  He is rated so high that if he hasn't a million
right now, he soon will have.  You be careful, and do your level
best.  Are your clothes good enough?  Shall I send more of my
things?  You know I'll do anything to help you.  Oh, yes, that
George Holt from your boarding place was here the other day
hunting you.  He seemed determined to know where you were and when
you would be back, and asked for your address.  I didn't think you
had any time for him and I couldn't endure him or his foolish talk
about a new medical theory; so I said you'd no time for writing
and were going about so much I had no idea if you'd get a letter
if he sent one, and I didn't give him what he wanted.  He'll
probably try general delivery, but you can drop it in the lake.  I
want you to be sure to change your boarding place this winter, if
you teach; but I haven't an idea you will.  Hadn't you better
bring matters to a close if you can, and let the Director know?
Love from us both, NANCY ELLEN.

Kate sat very still, holding this letter in her hand, when John
Jardine came up and sat beside her.  She looked at him closely.
He was quite as good looking as his mother thought him, in a
brawny masculine way; but Kate was not seeking the last word in
mental or physical refinement.  She was rather brawny herself, and
perfectly aware of the fact.  She wanted intensely to learn all
she could, she disliked the idea that any woman should have more
stored in her head than she, but she had no time to study minute
social graces and customs.  She wanted to be kind, to be polite,
but she told Mrs. Jardine flatly the "she didn't give a flip about
being overly nice," which was the exact truth.  That required
subtleties beyond Kate's depth, for she was at times alarmingly
casual.  So she held her letter and thought about John Jardine.
As she thought, she decided that she did not know whether she was
in love with him or not; she thought she was.  She liked being
with him, she liked all he did for her, she would miss him if he
went away, she would be proud to be his wife, but she did wish
that he were interested in land, instead of inventions and stocks
and bonds.  Stocks and bonds were almost as evanescent as rainbows
to Kate.  Land was something she could understand and handle.
Maybe she could interest him in land; if she could, that would be
ideal.  What a place his wealth would buy and fit up.  She
wondered as she studied John Jardine, what was in his head; if he
truly intended to ask her to be his wife, and since reading Nancy
Ellen's letter, when?  She should let the Trustee know if she were
not going to teach the school again; but someway, she rather
wanted to teach the school.  When she started anything she did not
know how to stop until she finished.  She had so much she wanted
to teach her pupils the coming winter.

Suddenly John asked:  "Kate, if you could have anything you
wanted, what would you have?"

"Two hundred acres of land," she said.

"How easy!" laughed John, rising to find a seat for his mother who
was approaching them.  "What do you think of that, Mother?  A girl
who wants two hundred acres of land more than anything else in the
world."

"What is better?" asked Mrs. Jardine.

"I never heard you say anything about land before."

"Certainly not," said his mother, "and I'm not saying anything
about it now, for myself; but I can see why it means so much to
Kate, why it's her natural element."

"Well, I can't," he said.  "I meet many men in business who
started on land, and most of them were mighty glad to get away
from it.  What's the attraction?"

Kate waved her hand toward the distance.

"Oh, merely sky, and land, and water, and trees, and birds, and
flowers, and fruit, and crops, and a few other things scarcely
worth mentioning," she said, lightly.  "I'm not in the mood to
talk bushels, seed, and fertilization just now; but I understand
them, they are in my blood.  I think possibly the reason I want
two hundred acres of land for myself is because I've been hard on
the job of getting them for other people ever since I began to
work, at about the age of four."

"But if you want land personally, why didn't you work to get it
for yourself?" asked John Jardine.

"Because I happened to be the omega of my father's system,"
answered Kate.

Mrs. Jardine looked at her interestedly.  She had never mentioned
her home or parents before.  The older woman did not intend to ask
a word, but if Kate was going to talk, she did not want to miss
one.  Kate evidently was going to talk, for she continued:  "You
see my father is land mad, and son crazy.  He thinks a BOY of all
the importance in the world; a GIRL of none whatever.  He has the
biggest family of any one we know.  From birth each girl is worked
like a man, or a slave, from four in the morning until nine at
night.  Each boy is worked exactly the same way; the difference
lies in the fact that the girls get plain food and plainer clothes
out of it; the boys each get two hundred acres of land, buildings
and stock, that the girls have been worked to the limit to help
pay for; they get nothing personally, worth mentioning.  I think I
have two hundred acres of land on the brain, and I think this is
the explanation of it.  It's a pre-natal influence at our house;
while we nurse, eat, sleep, and above all, WORK it, afterward."

She paused and looked toward John Jardine calmly:  "I think," she
said, "that there's not a task ever performed on a farm that I
haven't had my share in.  I have plowed, hoed, seeded, driven
reapers and bound wheat, pitched hay and hauled manure, chopped
wood and sheared sheep, and boiled sap; if you can mention
anything else, go ahead, I bet a dollar I've done it."

"Well, what do you think of that?" he muttered, looking at her
wonderingly.

"If you ask me, and want the answer in plain words, I think it's a
shame!" said Kate.  "If it were ONE HUNDRED acres of land, and the
girls had as much, and were as willing to work it as the boys are,
well and good.  But to drive us like cattle, and turn all we earn
into land for the boys, is another matter.  I rebelled last
summer, borrowed the money and went to Normal and taught last
winter.  I'm going to teach again this winter; but last summer and
this are the first of my life that I haven't been in the harvest
fields, at this time.  Women in the harvest fields of Land King
Bates are common as men, and wagons, and horses, but not nearly so
much considered.  The women always walk on Sunday, to save the
horses, and often on week days."

"Mother has it hammered into me that it isn't polite to ask
questions," said John, "but I'd like to ask one."

"Go ahead," said Kate.  "Ask fifty!  What do I care?"

"How many boys are there in your family?"

"There are seven," said Kate, "and if you want to use them as a
basis for a land estimate add two hundred and fifty for the home
place.  Sixteen hundred and fifty is what Father pays tax on,
besides the numerous mortgages and investments.  He's the richest
man in the county we live in; at least he pays the most taxes."

Mother and son looked at each other in silence.  They had been
thinking her so poor that she would be bewildered by what they had
to offer.  But if two hundred acres of land were her desire, there
was a possibility that she was a women who was not asking either
ease or luxury of life, and would refuse it if it were proffered.

"I hope you will take me home with you, and let me see all that
land, and how it is handled," said John Jardine.  "I don't own an
acre.  I never even have thought of it, but there is no reason why
I, or any member of my family shouldn't have all the land they
want.  Mother, do you feel a wild desire for two hundred acres of
land?  Same kind of a desire that took you to come here?"

"No, I don't," said Mrs. Jardine.  "All I know about land is that
I know it when I see it, and I know if I think it's pretty; but I
can see why Kate feels that she would like that amount for
herself, after having helped earn all those farms for her
brothers.  If it's land she wants, I hope she speedily gets all
she desires in whatever location she wants it; and then I hope she
lets me come to visit her and watch her do as she likes with it."

"Surely," said Kate, "you are invited right now; as soon as I ever
get the land, I'll give you another invitation.  And of course you
may go home with me, Mr. Jardine, and I'll show you each of what
Father calls 'those little parcels of land of mine.'  But the one
he lives on we shall have to gaze at from afar, because I'm a
Prodigal Daughter.  When I would leave home in spite of him for
the gay and riotous life of a school-marm, he ordered me to take
all my possessions with me, which I did in one small telescope.  I
was not to enter his house again while he lived.  I was glad to
go, he was glad to have me, while I don't think either of us has
changed our mind since.  Teaching school isn't exactly gay, but
I'll fill my tummy with quite a lot of symbolical husks before
he'll kill the fatted calf for me.  They'll be glad to see you at
my brother Adam's, and my sister, Nancy Ellen, would greatly enjoy
meeting you.  Surely you may go home with me, if you'd like."

"I can think of only one thing I'd like better," he said.  "We've
been such good friends here and had such a good time, it would be
the thing I'd like best to take you home with us, and show you
where and how we live.  Mother, did you ever invite Kate to visit
us?"

"I have, often, and she has said that she would," replied Mrs.
Jardine.  "I think it would be nice for her to go from here with
us; and then you can take her home whenever she fails to find us
interesting.  How would that suit you for a plan, my dear?"

"I think that would be a perfect ending to a perfect summer," said
Kate.  "I can't see an objection in any way.  Thank you very
much."

"Then we'll call that settled," said John Jardine.



A BUSINESS PROPOSITION

MID-AUGUST saw them on their way to Chicago.  Kate had taken care
of Mrs. Jardine a few days while Jennie Weeks went home to see her
mother and arrange for her new work.  She had no intention of
going back to school teaching.  She preferred to brush Mrs.
Jardine's hair, button her shoes, write her letters, and read to
her.

In a month, Jennie had grown so deft at her work and made herself
so appreciated, that she was practically indispensable to the
elderly woman, and therefore the greatest comfort to John.
Immediately he saw that his mother was properly cared for,
sympathetically and even lovingly, he made it his business to
smooth Jennie's path in every way possible.  In turn she studied
him, and in many ways made herself useful to him.  Often she
looked at him with large and speculative eyes as he sat reading
letters, or papers, or smoking.

The world was all right with Kate when they crossed the sand dunes
as they neared the city.  She was sorry about the situation in her
home, but she smiled sardonically as she thought how soon her
father would forget his anger when he heard about the city home
and the kind of farm she could have, merely by consenting to take
it.  She was that sure of John Jardine; yet he had not asked her
to marry him.  He had seemed on the verge of it a dozen times, and
then had paused as if better judgment told him it would be wise to
wait a little longer.  Now Kate had concluded that there was a
definite thing he might be waiting for, since that talk about
land.

She thought possibly she understood what it was.  He was a
business man; he knew nothing else; he said so frankly.  He wanted
to show her his home, his business, his city, his friends, and
then he required -- he had almost put it into words -- that he be
shown her home and her people.  Kate not only acquiesced, she
approved.  She wanted to know as much of a man she married as
Nancy Ellen had known, and Robert had taken her to his home and
told his people she was his betrothed wife before he married her.

Kate's eyes were wide open and her brain busy, as they entered a
finely appointed carriage and she heard John say:  "Rather sultry.
Home down the lake shore, George."  She wished their driver had
not been named "George," but after all it made no difference.
There could not be a commoner name than John, and she knew of but
one that she liked better.  For the ensuing three days she lived
in a Lake Shore home of wealth.  She watched closely not to trip
in the heavy rugs and carpets.  She looked at wonderful paintings
and long shelves of books.  She never had touched such china, or
tasted such food or seen so good service.  She understood why John
had opposed his mother's undertaking the trip without him, for
everyone in the house seemed busy serving the little woman.

Jennie Weeks was frankly enchanted.

"My sakes!" she said to Kate.  "If I'm not grateful to you for
getting me into a place like this.  I wouldn't give it up for all
the school-teaching in the world.  I'm going to snuggle right in
here, and make myself so useful I won't have to leave until I die.
I hope you won't turn me out when to come to take charge."

"Don't you think you're presuming?" said Kate.

Jennie drew back with a swift apology, but there was a flash in
the little eyes and a spiteful look on the small face as she
withdrew.

Then Kate was shown each of John's wonderful inventions.  To her
they seemed almost miracles, because they were so obvious, so
simple, yet brought such astounding returns.  She saw offices and
heard the explanation of big business; but did not comprehend,
farther than that when an invention was completed, the piling up
of money began.  Before the week's visit was over, Kate was trying
to fit herself and her aims and objects of life into the
surroundings, with no success whatever.  She felt housed in,
cribbed, confined, frustrated.  When she realized that she was
becoming plainly cross, she began keen self-analysis and soon
admitted to herself that she did not belong there.

Kate watched with keen eyes.  Repeatedly she tried to imagine
herself in such surroundings for life, a life sentence, she
expressed it, for soon she understood that it would be to her, a
prison.  The only way she could imagine herself enduring it at all
was to think of the promised farm, and when she began to think of
that on Jardine terms, she saw that it would mean to sit down and
tell someone else what she wanted done.  There would be no battle
to fight.  Her mind kept harking back to the day when she had said
to John that she hoped there would be a lake on the land she
owned, and he had answered casually:  "If there isn't a lake, make
one!"  Kate thought that over repeatedly.  "Make one!"   Make a
lake?  It would have seemed no more magical to her if he had said,
"Make a cloud," "Make a star," or "Make a rainbow."  "What on
earth would I do with myself, with my time, with my life?"
pondered Kate.

She said "Good-bye" to Mrs. Jardine and Jennie Weeks, and started
home with John, still pondering.  When the train pulled into
Hartley, Nancy Ellen and Robert were on the platform to meet them.
From that time, Kate was on solid ground.  She was reckoning in
terms she could comprehend.  All her former assurance and energy
came back to her.  She almost wished the visit were over, and that
she were on the way to Walton to clean the school-house.  She was
eager to roll her sleeves and beat a tub of soapy clothes to foam,
and boil them snowy white.  She had a desire she could scarcely
control to sweep, and dust, and cook.  She had been out of the
environment she thought she disliked and found when she returned
to it after a wider change than she could have imagined, that she
did not dislike it at all.  It was her element, her work, what she
knew.  She could attempt it with sure foot, capable hand, and
certain knowledge.

Sunday morning she said to Nancy Ellen as they washed the
breakfast dishes, while the men smoked on the veranda:  "Nancy
Ellen, I don't believe I was ever cut out for a rich woman!  If I
have got a chance, I wish YOU had it, and I had THIS.  This just
suits my style to a T."

"Tell me about it," said Nancy Ellen.

Kate told all she could remember.

"You don't mean to say you didn't LIKE it?" cried Nancy Ellen.

"I didn't say anything," said Kate, "but if I were saying exactly
what I feel, you'd know I despise it all."

"Why, Kate Barnes!" cried the horrified Nancy Ellen, "Whatever do
you mean?"

"I haven't thought enough to put it to you clearly," said Kate,
"but someway the city repels me.  Facilities for manufacturing
something start a city.  It begins with the men who do the work,
and the men who profit from that work, living in the same coop.
It expands, and goes on, and grows, on that basis.  It's the
laborer, living on his hire, and the manufacturer living on the
laborer's productions, coming in daily contact.  The contrast is
too great, the space is too small.  Somebody is going to get the
life crowded out of him at every turn, and it isn't always the
work hand in the factory.  The money kings eat each other for
breakfast every day.  As for work, we always thought we worked.
You should take a peep into the shops and factories I've seen this
week.  Work?  Why, we don't know what work is, and we waste enough
food every day to keep a workman's family, and we're dressed liked
queens, in comparison with them right now."

"Do you mean to say if he asks you --?"  It was a small explosion.

"I mean to say if he asks me, 'buy me that two hundred acres of
land where I want it, build me the house and barns I want, and
guarantee that I may live there as I please, and I'll marry you
to-morrow.'  If it's Chicago -- Never!  I haven't stolen,
murdered, or betrayed, who should I be imprisoned?"

"Why, you hopeless anarchist!" said Nancy Ellen, "I am going to
tell John Jardine on you."

"Do!" urged Kate.  "Sound him on the land question.  It's our only
hope of a common foundation.  Have you send Agatha word that we
will be out this afternoon?"

"I have," said Nancy Ellen.  "And I don't doubt that now, even
now, she is in the kitchen -- how would she put it?"

"'Compounding a cake,'" said Kate, "while Adam is in the cellar
'freezing a custard.'  Adam, 3d, will be raking the yard afresh
and Susan will be sweeping the walks steadily from now until they
sight us coming down the road.  What you bet Agatha asked John his
intentions?  I almost wish she would," she added.  "He has some,
but there is a string to them in some way, and I can't just make
out where, or why it is."

"Not even a guess?" asked Nancy Ellen.

"Not even a guess, with any sense to it.  I've thought it was
coming repeatedly; but I've got a stubborn Bates streak, and I
won't lift a finger to help him.  He'll speak up, loud and plain,
or there will be no 'connubial bliss' for us, as Agatha says.  I
think he has ideas about other things than freight train gear.
According to his programme we must have so much time to become
acquainted, I must see his home and people, he must see mine.  If
there's more after that, I'm not informed.  Like as not there is.
It may come after we get back to-night, I can't say."

"Have you told him --?" asked Nancy Ellen.

"Not the details, but the essentials.  He knows that I can't go
home.  It came up one day in talking about land.  I guess they had
thought before, that my people were poor as church mice.  I
happened to mention how much land I had helped earn for my
brothers, and they seemed so interested I finished the job.  Well,
after they had heard about the Land King, it made a noticeable
difference in their treatment of me.  Not that they weren't always
fine, but it made, I scarcely know how to put it, it was so
intangible -- but it was a difference, an added respect.  You bet
money is a power!  I can see why Father hangs on to those deeds,
when I get out in the world.  They are his compensation for his
years of hard work, the material evidence that he has succeeded in
what he undertook.  He'd show them to John Jardine with the same
feeling John showed me improved car couplers, brakes, and air
cushions.  They stand for successes that win the deference of men.
Out in the little bit of world I've seen, I notice that men fight,
bleed, and die for even a tiny fraction of deference.  Aren't they
funny?  What would I care --?"

"Well, I'D care a lot!" said Nancy Ellen.

Kate surveyed her slowly.  "Yes, I guess you would."

They finished the dishes and went to church, because Robert was
accustomed to going.  They made a remarkable group.  Then they
went to the hotel for dinner, so that the girls would not have to
prepare it, and then in a double carriage Robert had secured for
the occasion, they drove to Bates Corners and as Kate said,
"Viewed the landscape o'er."  Those eight pieces of land, none
under two hundred acres, some slightly over, all in the very
highest state of cultivation, with modern houses, barns,
outbuildings, and fine stock grazing in the pastures, made an
impressive picture.  It was probably the first time that any of
the Bates girls had seen it all at once, and looked on it merely
as a spectacle.  They stopped at Adam's last, and while Robert was
busy with the team and John had alighted to help him, Nancy Ellen,
revealing tight lips and unnaturally red cheeks, leaned back to
Kate.

"This is about as mean a trick, and as big a shame as I've ever
seen," she said, hotly.  "You know I was brought up with this, and
I never looked at it with the eyes of a stranger before.  If ever
I get my fingers on those deeds, I'll make short work of them!"

"And a good job, too!" assented Kate, instantly.  "Look out!
There comes Adam."

"I'd just as soon tell him so as not!" whispered Nancy Ellen.

"Which would result in the deeds being recorded to-morrow and
spoiling our trip to-day, and what good would it do you?" said
Kate.

"None, of course!  Nothing ever does a Bates girl any good, unless
she gets out and does it for herself," retorted Nancy Ellen
spitefully.

"There, there," said Robert as he came to help Nancy Ellen protect
her skirts in alighting.  "I was afraid this trip would breed
discontent."

"What's the trouble?" asked John, as he performed the same service
for Kate.

"Oh, the girls are grouching a little because they helped earn all
this, and are to be left out of it," explained Robert in a low
voice.

"Let's get each one of them a farm that will lay any of these
completely in the shade," suggested John.

"All right for you, if you can do it," said Robert, laughing, "but
I've gone my limit for the present.  Besides, if you gave each of
them two hundred acres of the Kingdom of Heaven, it wouldn't stop
them from feeling that they had been defrauded of their birthright
here."

"How would you feel if you was served the same way?" asked John,
and even as she shook hands with Adam, and introduced John
Jardine, Kate found herself wishing that he had said "were."

As the girls had predicted, the place was immaculate, the yard
shady and cool from the shelter of many big trees, the house
comfortable, convenient, the best of everything in sight.  Agatha
and Susan were in new white dresses, while Adam Jr. and 3d wore
tan and white striped seersucker coats, and white duck trousers.
It was not difficult to feel a glow of pride in the place and
people.  Adam made them cordially welcome.

"You undoubtedly are blessed with good fortune," said Agatha.
"Won't you please enlighten us concerning your travels,
Katherine?"

So Kate told them everything she could think of that she thought
would interest and amuse them, even outlining for Agatha speeches
she had heard made by Dr. Vincent, Chaplain McCabe, Jehu DeWitt
Miller, a number of famous politicians, teachers, and ministers.
Then all of them talked about everything.  Adam took John and
Robert to look over the farm, whereupon Kate handed over her hat
for Agatha to finger and try on.

"And how long will it be, my dear," said Agatha to Kate, "before
you enter connubial bliss?"

"My goodness!  I'm glad you asked me that while the men are at the
barn," said Kate.  "Mr. Jardine hasn't said a word about it
himself, so please be careful what you say before him."

Agatha looked at Kate in wonder.

"You amaze me," she said.  "Why, he regards you as if he would
devour you.  He hasn't proposed for your hand, you say?  Surely
you're not giving him proper encouragement!"

"She isn't giving him any, further than allowing him to be
around," said Nancy Ellen.

"Do enlighten me!" cried the surprised Agatha.  "How astonishing!
Why, Kate, my dear, there is a just and proper amount of
encouragement that MUST be given any self-respecting youth, before
he makes his declarations.  You surely know that."

"No, I do not know it!" said Kate.  "I thought it was a man's
place to speak up loud and plain and say what he had to propose."

"Oh, dear!" wailed Agatha, wringing her thin hands, her face a
mirror of distress.  "Oh, dear, I very much fear you will lose
him.  Why, Katherine, after a man has been to see you a certain
number of times, and evidenced enough interest in you, my dear,
there are a thousand strictly womanly ways in which you can lend
his enterprise a little, only a faint amount of encouragement,
just enough to allow him to recognize that he is not -- not -- er
-- repulsive to you."

"But how many times must he come, and how much interest must he
evince?" asked Kate.

"I can scarcely name an exact number," said Agatha.  "That is
personal.  You must decide for yourself what is the psychological
moment at which he is to be taken.  Have you even signified to him
that you -- that you -- that you could be induced, even to
CONTEMPLATE marriage?"

"Oh, yes," said Kate, heartily.  "I told his mother that it was
the height of my ambition to marry by the time I'm twenty.  I told
her I wanted a man as tall as I am, two hundred acres of land, and
at least twelve babies."

Agatha collapsed suddenly.  She turned her shocked face toward
Nancy Ellen.

"Great Day of Rest!" she cried.  "No wonder the man doesn't
propose!"

When the men returned from their stroll, Agatha and Susan served
them with delicious frozen custard and Angel's food cake.  Then
they resumed their drive, passing Hiram's place last.  At the
corner Robert hesitated and turned to ask:  "Shall we go ahead,
Kate?"

"Certainly," said Kate.  "I want Mr. Jardine to see where I was
born and spent my time of legal servitude.  I suppose we daren't
stop.  I doubt if Mother would want to see me, and I haven't the
slightest doubt that Father would NOT; but he has no jurisdiction
over the road.  It's the shortest way -- and besides, I want to
see the lilac bush and the cabbage roses."

As they approached the place Nancy Ellen turned.

"Father's standing at the gate.  What shall we do?"

"There's nothing you can do, but drive straight ahead and you and
Robert speak to him," said Kate.  "Go fast, Robert."

He touched the team and at fair speed they whirled past the white
house, at the gate of which, stiffly erect, stood a brawny man of
six feet six, his face ruddy and healthy in appearance.  He was
dressed as he prepared himself to take a trip to pay his taxes, or
to go to Court.  He stood squarely erect, with stern, forbidding
face, looking directly at them.  Robert spoke to him, and Nancy
Ellen leaned forward and waved, calling "Father," that she might
be sure he knew her, but he gave not the slightest sign of
recognition.  They carried away a distinct picture of him, at his
best physically and in appearance; at his worst mentally.

"There you have it!" said Kate, bitterly.  "I'd be safe in
wagering a thousand dollars, if I had it, that Agatha or the
children told, at Hiram's or to Mother's girl, that we were
coming.  They knew we would pass about this time.  Mother was at
the side door watching, and Father was in his Sunday best, waiting
to show us what would happen if we stopped, and that he never
changes his mind.  It didn't happen by accident that he was
standing there dressed that way.  What do you think, Nancy Elen?"

"That he was watching for us!" said Nancy Ellen.

"But why do you suppose that he did it?" asked Kate.

"He thought that if he were NOT standing guard there, we might
stop in the road and at least call Mother out.  He wanted to be
seen, and seen at his best; but as always, in command, showing his
authority."

"Don't mind," said John Jardine.  "It's easy to understand the
situation."

"Thank you," said Kate.  "I hope you'll tell your mother that.  I
can't bear her to think that the trouble is wholly my fault."

"No danger of that," he said.  "Mother thinks there's nobody in
all the world like you, and so do I."

Nancy Ellen kicked Robert's shin, to let him know that she heard.
Kate was very depressed for a time, but she soon recovered and
they spent a final happy evening together.  When John had parted
from Robert and Nancy Ellen, with the arrangement that he was to
come again the following Saturday evening and spend Sunday with
them, he asked Kate to walk a short distance with him.  He seemed
to be debating some proposition in his mind, that he did not know
how to approach.  Finally he stopped abruptly and said:  "Kate,
Mother told me that she told you how I grew up.  We have been
together most of every day for six weeks.  I have no idea how a
man used to women goes at what I want, so I can only do what I
think is right, and best, and above all honest, and fair.  I'd be
the happiest I've ever been, to do anything on earth I've got the
money to do, for you.  There's a question I'm going to ask you the
next time I come.  You can think over all you know of me, and of
Mother, and of what we have, and are, and be ready to tell me how
you feel about everything next Sunday.  There's one question I
want to ask you before I go.  In case we can plan for a life
together next Sunday, what about my mother?"

"Whatever pleases her best, of course," said Kate.  "Any
arrangement that you feel will make her happy, will be all right
with me; in the event we agree on other things."

He laughed, shortly.

"This sounds cold-blooded and business-like," he said.  "But
Mother's been all the world to me, until I met you.  I must be
sure about her, and one other thing.  I'll write you about that
this week.  If that is all right with you, you can get ready for a
deluge.  I've held in as long as I can.  Kate, will you kiss me
good-bye?"

"That's against the rules," said Kate.  "That's getting the cart
before the horse."

"I know it," he said.  "But haven't I been an example for six
weeks?  Only one.  Please?"

They were back at Dr. Gray's gate, standing in the deep shelter of
a big maple.  Kate said:  "I'll make a bargain with you.  I'll
kiss you to-night, and if we come to an agreement next Sunday
night, you shall kiss me.  Is that all right?"

The reply was so indistinct Kate was not sure of it; but she took
his face between her hands and gave him exactly the same kind of
kiss she would have given Adam, 3d.  She hesitated an instant,
then gave him a second.  "You may take that to your mother," she
said, and fled up the walk.



TWO LETTERS

NANCY ELLEN and Robert were sitting on the side porch, not seeming
in the least sleepy, when Kate entered the house.  As she stepped
out to them, she found them laughing mysteriously.

"Take this chair, Kate," said Nancy Ellen.  "Come on, Robert,
let's go stand under the maple tree and let her see whether she
can see us."

"If you're going to rehearse any momentous moment of your
existence," said Kate, "I shouldn't think of even being on the
porch.  I shall keep discreetly in the house, even going at once
to bed.  Good-night!  Pleasant dreams!"

"Now we've made her angry," said Robert.

"I think there WAS 'a little touch of asperity,' as Agatha would
say, in that," said Nancy Ellen, "but Kate has a good heart.
She'll get over it before morning."

"Would Agatha use such a common word as 'little'?" asked Robert.

"Indeed, no!" said Nancy Ellen.  "She would say 'infinitesimal.'
But all the same he kissed her."

"If she didn't step up and kiss him, never again shall I trust my
eyes!" said the doctor.

"Hush!" cautioned Nancy Ellen.  "She's provoked now; if she hears
that, she'll never forgive us."

Kate did not need even a hint to start her talking in the morning.
The day was fine, a snappy tinge of autumn in the air, her head
and heart were full.  Nancy Ellen would understand and sympathize;
of course Kate told her all there was to tell.

"And even at that," said Nancy Ellen, "he hasn't just come out
right square and said 'Kate, will you marry me?' as I understand
it."

"Same here," laughed Kate.  "He said he had to be sure about his
mother, and there was 'one other thing' he'd write me about this
week, and he'd come again next Sunday; then if things were all
right with me -- the deluge!"

"And what is 'the other thing?'" asked Nancy Ellen.

"There he has me guessing.  We had six, long, lovely weeks of
daily association at the lake, I've seen his home, and his
inventions, and as much of his business as is visible to the eye
of a woman who doesn't know a tinker about business.  His mother
has told me minutely of his life, every day since he was born, I
think.  She insists that he never paid the slightest attention to
a girl before, and he says the same, so there can't be any hidden
ugly feature to mar my joy.  He is thoughtful, quick, kind, a
self-made business man.  He looks well enough, he acts like a
gentleman, he seldom makes a mistake in speech --"

"He doesn't say enough to MAKE any mistakes.  I haven't yet heard
him talk freely, give an opinion, or discuss a question," said
Nancy Ellen.

"Neither have I," said Kate.  "He's very silent, thinking out more
inventions, maybe.  The worst thing about him is a kind of hard-
headed self-assurance.  He got it fighting for his mother from
boyhood.  He knew she would freeze and starve if he didn't take
care of her; he HAD to do it.  He soon found he could.  It took
money to do what he had to do.  He got the money.  Then he began
performing miracles with it.  He lifted his mother out of poverty,
he dressed her 'in purple and fine linen,' he housed her in the
same kind of home other rich men of the Lake Shore Drive live in,
and gave her the same kind of service.  As most men do, when
things begin to come their way, he lived for making money alone.
He was so keen on the chase he wouldn't stop to educate and
culture himself; he drove headlong on, and on, piling up more, far
more than any one man should be allowed to have; so you can see
that it isn't strange that he thinks there's nothing on earth that
money can't do.  You can see THAT sticking out all over him.  At
the hotel, on boats, on the trains, anywhere we went, he pushed
straight for the most conspicuous place, the most desirable thing,
the most expensive.  I almost prayed sometimes that in some way he
would strike ONE SINGLE THING that he couldn't make come his way
with money; but he never did.  No.  I haven't an idea what he has
in his mind yet, but he's going to write me about it this week,
and if I agree to whatever it is, he is coming Sunday; then he has
threatened me with a 'deluge,' whatever he means by that."

"He means providing another teacher for Walden, taking you to
Chicago shopping for a wonderful trousseau, marrying you in his
Lake Shore palace, no doubt."

"Well, if that's what he means by a 'deluge,'" said Kate, "he'll
find the flood coming his way.  He'll strike the first thing he
can't do with money.  I shall teach my school this winter as I
agreed to.  I shall marry him in the clothes I buy with what I
earn.  I shall marry him quietly, here, or at Adam's, or before a
Justice of the Peace, if neither of you wants me.  He can't pick
me up, and carry me away, and dress me, and marry me, as if I were
a pauper."

"You're RIGHT about it," said Nancy Ellen.  "I don't know how we
came to be so different.  I should do at once any way he suggested
to get such a fine-looking man and that much money.  That it would
be a humiliation to me all my after life, I wouldn't think about
until the humiliation began, and then I'd have no way to protect
myself.  You're right!  But I'd get out of teaching this winter if
I could.  I'd love to have you here."

"But I must teach to the earn money for my outfit.  I'll have to
go back to school in the same old sailor."

"Don't you care," laughed Nancy Ellen.  "We know a secret!"

"That we do!" agreed Kate.

Wednesday Kate noticed Nancy Ellen watching for the boy Robert had
promised to send with the mail as soon as it was distributed,
because she was, herself.  Twice Thursday, Kate hoped in vain that
the suspense would be over.  It had to end Friday, if John were
coming Saturday night.  She began to resent the length of time he
was waiting.  It was like him to wait until the last minute, and
then depend on money to carry him through.

"He is giving me a long time to think things over," Kate said to
Nancy Ellen when there was no letter in the afternoon mail
Thursday.

"It may have been lost or delayed," said Nancy Ellen.  "It will
come to-morrow, surely."

Both of them saw the boy turn in at the gate Friday morning.  Each
saw that he carried more than one letter.  Nancy Ellen was on her
feet and nearer to the door; she stepped to it, and took the
letters, giving them a hasty glance as she handed them to Kate.

"Two," she said tersely.  "One, with the address written in the
clear, bold hand of a gentleman, and one, the straggle of a
country clod-hopper."

Kate smiled as she took the letters:  "I'll wager my hat, which is
my most precious possession," she said, "that the one with the
beautifully written address comes from the 'clod-hopper,' and the
'straggle' from the 'gentleman.'"

She glanced at the stamping and addresses and smiled again:  "So
it proves," she said.  "While I'm about it, I'll see what the
'clod-hopper' has to say, and then I shall be free to give my
whole attention to the 'gentleman.'"

"Oh, Kate, how can you!" cried Nancy Ellen.

"Way I'm made, I 'spect," said Kate.  "Anyway, that's the way this
is going to be done."

She dropped the big square letter in her lap and ran her finger
under the flap of the long, thin, beautifully addressed envelope,
and drew forth several quite as perfectly written sheets.  She
read them slowly and deliberately, sometimes turning back a page
and going over a part of it again.  When she finished, she glanced
at Nancy Ellen while slowly folding the sheets.  "Just for half a
cent I'd ask you to read this," she said.

"I certainly shan't pay anything for the privilege, but I'll read
it, if you want me to," offered Nancy Ellen.

"All right, go ahead," said Kate.  "It might possibly teach you
that you can't always judge a man by appearance, or hastily;
though just why George Holt looks more like a 'clod-hopper' than
Adam, or Hiram, or Andrew, it passes me to tell."

She handed Nancy Ellen the letter and slowly ripped open the flap
of the heavy white envelope.  She drew forth the sheet and sat an
instant with it in her fingers, watching the expression of Nancy
Ellen's face, while she read the most restrained yet impassioned
plea that a man of George Holt's nature and opportunities could
devise to make to a woman after having spent several months in the
construction of it.  It was a masterly letter, perfectly composed,
spelled, and written; for among his other fields of endeavour,
George Holt had taught several terms of country school, and taught
them with much success; so that he might have become a fine
instructor, had it been in his blood to stick to anything long
enough to make it succeed.  After a page as she turned the second
sheet Nancy Ellen glanced at Kate, and saw that she had not opened
the creased page in her hands.  She flamed with sudden irritation.

"You do beat the band!" she cried.  "You've watched for two days
and been provoked because that letter didn't come.  Now you've got
it, there you sit like a mummy and let your mind be so filled with
this idiotic drivel that you're not ever reading John Jardine's
letter that is to tell you what both of us are crazy to know."

"If you were in any mood to be fair and honest, you'd admit that
you never read a finer letter than THAT," said Kate.  "As for
THIS, I never was so AFRAID in all my life.  Look at that!"

She threw the envelope in Nancy Ellen's lap.

"That is the very first line of John Jardine's writing I have ever
seen," she said.  "Do you see anything about it to ENCOURAGE me to
go farther?"

"You Goose!" cried the exasperated Nancy Ellen.  "I suppose he
transacts so much business he scarcely ever puts pen to paper.
What's the difference how he writes?  Look at what he is and what
he does!  Go on and read his letter."

Kate arose and walked to the window, turning her back to Nancy
Ellen, who sat staring at her, while she read John Jardine's
letter.  Once Nancy Ellen saw Kate throw up her head and twist her
neck as if she were choking; then she heard a great gulping sob
down in her throat; finally Kate turned and stared at her with
dazed, incredulous eyes.  Slowly she dropped the letter,
deliberately set her foot on it, and leaving the room, climbed the
stairs.  Nancy Ellen threw George Holt's letter aside and snatched
up John Jardine's.  She read:

MY DEREST KATE:  I am a day late with this becos as I told you I
have no schooling and in writing a letter is where I prove it, so
I never write them, but it was not fare to you for you not to know
what kind of a letter I would write if I did write one, so here it
is very bad no dout but the best I can possably do which has got
nothing at all to do with my pashion for you and the aughful time
I will have till I here from you.  If you can stand for this
telagraf me and I will come first train and we will forget this
and I will never write another letter.  With derest love from
Mother, and from me all the love of my hart.  Forever yours only,
JOHN JARDINE.

The writing would have been a discredit to a ten-year-old
schoolboy.  Nancy Ellen threw the letter back on the floor; with a
stiffly extended finger, she poked it into the position in which
she thought she had found it, and slowly stepped back.

"Great God!" she said amazedly.  "What does the man mean?  Where
does that dainty and wonderful little mother come in?  She must be
a regular parasite, to take such ease and comfort for herself out
of him, and not see that he had time and chance to do better than
THAT for himself.  Kate will never endure it, never in the world!
And by the luck of the very Devil, there comes that school-proof
thing in the same mail, from that abominable George Holt, and Kate
reads it FIRST.  It's too bad!  I can't believe it!  What did his
mother mean?"

Suddenly Nancy Ellen began to cry bitterly; between sobs she could
hear Kate as she walked from closet and bureau to her trunk which
she was packing.  The lid slammed heavily and a few minutes later
Kate entered the room dressed for the street.

"Why are you weeping?" she asked casually.

Her eyes were flaming, her cheeks scarlet, and her lips twitching.
Nancy Ellen sat up and looked at her.  She pointed to the letter:
"I read that," she said.

"Well, what do I care?" said Kate.  "If he has no more respect for
me than to write me such an insult as that, why should I have the
respect for him to protect him in it?  Publish it in the paper if
you want to."

"Kate, what are you going to do?" demanded Nancy Ellen.

"Three things," said Kate, slowly putting on her long silk gloves.
"First, I'm going to telegraph John Jardine that I never shall see
him again, if I can possibly avoid it.  Second, I'm going to send
a drayman to get my trunk and take it to Walden.  Third, I'm going
to start out and walk miles, I don't know or care where; but in
the end, I'm going to Walden to clean the schoolhouse and get
ready for my winter term of school."

"Oh, Kate, you are such a fine teacher!  Teach him!  Don't be so
hurried!  Take more time to think.  You will break his heart,"
pleaded Nancy Ellen.

Kate threw out both hands, palms down.

"P-a-s-h, a-u-g-h, h-a-r-t, d-o-u-t, d-e-r-e," she slowly spelled
out the letters.  "What about my heart and my pride?  Think I can
respect that, or ask my children to respect it?  But thank you and
Robert, and come after me as often as you can, as a mercy to me.
If John persists in coming, to try to buy me, as he thinks he can
buy anything he wants, you needn't let him come to Walden; for
probably I won't be there until I have to, and I won't see him, or
his mother, so he needn't try to bring her in.  Say good-bye to
Robert for me."

She walked from the house, head erect, shoulders squared, and so
down the street from sight.  In half an hour a truckman came for
her trunk, so Nancy Ellen made everything Kate had missed into a
bundle to send with it.  When she came to the letters, she
hesitated.

"I guess she didn't want them," she said.  "I'll just keep them
awhile and if she doesn't ask about them, the next time she comes,
I'll burn them.  Robert must go after her every Friday evening,
and we'll keep her until Monday, and do all we can to cheer her;
and this very day he must find out all there is to know about that
George Holt.  That IS the finest letter I ever read; she does kind
of stand up for him; and in the reaction, impulsive as she is and
self-confident -- of course she wouldn't, but you never can tell
what kind of fool a girl will make of herself, in some cases."

Kate walked swiftly, finished two of the errands she set out to
do, then her feet carried her three miles from Hartley on the
Walden road, before she knew where she was, so she proceeded to
the village.

Mrs. Holt was not at home, but the house was standing open.  Kate
found her room cleaned, shining, and filled with flowers.  She
paid the drayman, opened her trunk, and put away her dresses,
laying out all the things which needed washing; then she bathed,
put on heavy shoes, and old skirt and waist, and crossing the road
sat in a secluded place in the ravine and looked stupidly at the
water.  She noticed that everything was as she had left it in the
spring, with many fresher improvements, made, no doubt, to please
her.  She closed her eyes, leaned against a big tree, and slow,
cold and hot shudders alternated in shaking her frame.

She did not open her eyes when she heard a step and her name
called.  She knew without taking the trouble to look that George
had come home, found her luggage in her room, and was hunting for
her.  She heard him come closer and knew when he seated himself
that he was watching her, but she did not care enough even to
move.  Finally she shifted her position to rest herself, opened
her eyes, and looked at him without a word.  He returned her gaze
steadily, smiling gravely.  She had never seen him looking so
well.  He had put in the summer grooming himself, he had kept up
the house and garden, and spent all his spare time on the ravine,
and farming on the shares with his mother's sister who lived three
miles east of them.  At last she roused herself and again looked
at him.

"I had your letter this morning," she said.

"I was wondering about that," he replied.

"Yes, I got it just before I started," said Kate.  "Are you
surprised to see me?"

"No," he answered.  "After last year, we figured you might come
the last of this week or the first of next, so we got your room
ready Monday."

"Thank you," said Kate.  "It's very clean and nice."

"I hope soon to be able to offer you such a room and home as you
should have," he said.  "I haven't opened my office yet.  It was
late and hot when I got home in June and Mother was fussing about
this winter -- that she had no garden and didn't do her share at
Aunt Ollie's, so I have farmed most of the summer, and lived on
hope; but I'll start in and make things fly this fall, and by
spring I'll be sailing around with a horse and carriage like the
best of them.  You bet I am going to make things hum, so I can
offer you anything you want."

"You haven't opened an office yet?" she asked for the sake of
saying something, and because a practical thing would naturally
suggest itself to her.

"I haven't had a breath of time," he said in candid disclaimer.

"Why don't you ask me what's the matter?"

"Didn't figure that it was any of my business in the first place,"
he said, "and I have a pretty fair idea, in the second."

"But how could you have?" she asked in surprise.

"When your sister wouldn't give me your address, she hinted that
you had all the masculine attention you cared for; then Tilly
Nepple visited town again last week and she had been sick and
called Dr. Gray.  She asked him about you, and he told what I fine
time you had at Chautauqua and Chicago, with the rich new friends
you'd made.  I was watching for you about this time, and I just
happened to be at the station in Hartley last Saturday when you
got off the train with your fine gentleman, so I stayed over with
some friends of mine, and I saw you several times Sunday.  I saw
that I'd practically no chance with you at all; but I made up my
mind I'd stick until I saw you marry him, so I wrote just as I
would if I hadn't known there was another man in existence."

"That was a very fine letter," said Kate.

"It is a very fine, deep, sincere love that I am offering you,"
said George Holt.  "Of course I could see prosperity sticking out
all over that city chap, but it didn't bother me much, because I
knew that you, of all women, would judge a man on his worth.  A
rising young professional man is not to be sneered at, at least
until he makes his start and proves what he can do.  I couldn't
get an early start, because I've always had to work, just as
you've seen me last summer and this, so I couldn't educate myself
so fast, but I've gone as fast and far as I could."

Kate winced.  This was getting on places that hurt and to matters
she well understood, but she was the soul of candour.  "You did
very well to educate yourself as you have, with no help at all,"
she said.

"I've done my best in the past, I'm going to do marvels in the
future, and whatever I do, it is all for you and yours for the
taking," he said grandiosely.

"Thank you," said Kate.  "But are you making that offer when you
can't help seeing that I'm in deep trouble?"

"A thousand times over," he said.  "All I want to know about your
trouble is whether there is anything a man of my size and strength
can do to help you."

"Not a thing," said Kate, "in the direction of slaying a gay
deceiver, if that's what you mean.  The extent of my familiarities
with John Jardine consists in voluntarily kissing him twice last
Sunday night for the first and last time, once for himself, and
once for his mother, whom I have since ceased to respect."

George Holt was watching her with eyes lynx-sharp, but Kate never
saw it.  When she mentioned her farewell of Sunday night, a queer
smile swept over his face and instantly disappeared.

"I should thing any girl might be permitted that much, in saying a
final good-bye to a man who had shown her a fine time for weeks,"
he commented casually.

"But I didn't know I was saying good-bye," explained Kate.  "I
expected him back in a week, and that I would then arrange to
marry him.  That was the agreement we made then."

As she began to speak, George Holt's face flashed triumph at
having led her on; at what she said it fell perceptibly, but he
instantly controlled it and said casually:  "In any event, it was
your own business."

"It was," said Kate.  "I had given no man the slightest
encouragement, I was perfectly free.  John Jardine was courting me
openly in the presence of his mother and any one who happened to
be around.  I intended to marry him.  I liked him as much as any
man need be liked.  I don't know whether it was the same feeling
Nancy Ellen had for Robert Gray or not, but it was a whole lot of
feeling of some kind.  I was satisfied with it, and he would have
been.  I meant to be a good wife to him and a good daughter to his
mother, and I could have done much good in the world and extracted
untold pleasure from the money he would have put in my power to
handle.  All was going 'merry as a marriage bell,' and then this
morning came my Waterloo, in the same post with your letter."

"Do you know what you are doing?" cried George Holt, roughly,
losing self-control with hope.  "YOU ARE PROVING TO ME, AND
ADMITTING TO YOURSELF, THAT YOU NEVER LOVED THAT MAN AT ALL.  You
were flattered, and tempted with position and riches, but your
heart was not his, or you would be mighty SURE of it, don't you
forget that!"

"I am not interested in analyzing exactly what I felt for him,"
said Kate.  "It made small difference then; it makes none at all
now.  I would have married him gladly, and I would have been to
him all a good wife is to any man; then in a few seconds I turned
squarely against him, and lost my respect for him.  You couldn't
marry me to him if he were the last and only man on earth; but it
hurt terribly, let me tell you that!"

George Holt suddenly arose and went to Kate.  He sat down close
beside her and leaned toward her.

"There isn't the least danger of my trying to marry you to him,"
he said, "because I am going to marry you myself at the very first
opportunity.  Why not now?  Why not have a simple ceremony
somewhere at once, and go away until school begins, and forget
him, having a good time by ourselves?  Come on, Kate, let's do it!
We can go stay with Aunt Ollie, and if he comes trying to force
himself on you, he'll get what he deserves.  He'll learn that
there is something on earth he can't buy with his money."

"But I don't love you," said Kate.

"Neither did you love him," retorted George Holt.  "I can prove it
by what you say.  Neither did you love him, but you were going to
marry him, and use all his wonderful power of position and wealth,
and trust to association to BRING love.  You can try that with me.
As for wealth, who cares?  We are young and strong, and we have a
fine chance in the world.  You go on and teach this year, and I'll
get such a start that by next year you can be riding around in
your carriage, proud as Pompey."

"Of course we could make it all right, as to a living," said Kate.
"Big and strong as we are, but --"

Then the torrent broke.  At the first hint that she would consider
his proposal George Holt drew her to him and talked volumes of
impassioned love to her.  He gave her no chance to say anything;
he said all there was to say himself; he urged that Jardine would
come, and she should not be there.  He begged, he pleaded, he
reasoned.  Night found Kate sitting on the back porch at Aunt
Ollie's with a confused memory of having stood beside the little
stream with her hand in George Holt's while she assented to the
questions of a Justice of the Peace, in the presence of the School
Director and Mrs. Holt.  She knew that immediately thereafter they
had walked away along a hot, dusty country road; she had tried to
eat something that tasted like salted ashes.  She could hear
George's ringing laugh of exultation breaking out afresh every few
minutes; in sudden irritation at the latest guffaw she clearly
remembered one thing:  in her dazed and bewildered state she had
forgotten to tell him that she was a Prodigal Daughter.



THE BRIDE

ONLY one memory in the ten days that followed before her school
began ever stood out clearly and distinctly with Kate.  That was
the morning of the day after she married George Holt.  She saw
Nancy Ellen and Robert at the gate so she went out to speak with
them.  Nancy Ellen was driving, she held the lines and the whip in
her hands.  Kate in dull apathy wondered why they seemed so deeply
agitated.  Both of them stared at her as if she might be a maniac.

"Is this thing in the morning paper true?" cried Nancy Ellen in a
high, shrill voice that made Kate start in wonder.  She did not
take the trouble to evade by asking "what thing?" she merely made
assent with her head.

"You are married to that -- that --" Nancy Ellen choked until she
could not say what.

"It's TIME to stop, since I am married to him," said Kate,
gravely.

"You rushed in and married him without giving Robert time to find
out and tell you what everybody knows about him?" demanded Nancy
Ellen.

"I married him for what I knew about him myself," said Kate.  "We
shall do very well."

"Do well!" cried Nancy.  "Do well!  You'll be hungry and in rags
the rest of your life!"

"Don't, Nancy Ellen, don't!" plead Robert.  "This is Kate's
affair, wait until you hear what she has to say before you go
further."

"I don't care what she has to say!" cried Nancy Ellen.  "I'm
saying my say right now.  This is a disgrace to the whole Bates
family.  We may not be much, but there isn't a lazy, gambling,
drunken loafer among us, and there won't be so far as I'm
concerned."

She glared at Kate who gazed at her in wonder.

"You really married this lout?" she demanded.

"I told you I was married," said Kate, patiently, for she saw that
Nancy Ellen was irresponsible with anger.

"You're going to live with him, you're going to stay in Walden to
live?" she cried.

"That is my plan at present," said Kate.

"Well, see that YOU STAY THERE," said Nancy Ellen.  "You can't
bring that -- that creature to my house, and if you're going to be
his wife, you needn't come yourself.  That's all I've got to say
to you, you shameless, crazy --"

"Nancy Ellen, you shall not!" cried Robert Gray, deftly slipping
the lines from her fingers, and starting the horse full speed.
Kate saw Nancy Ellen's head fall forward, and her hands lifted to
cover her face.  She heard the deep, tearing sob that shook her,
and then they were gone.  She did not know what to do, so she
stood still in the hot sunshine, trying to think; but her brain
refused to act at her will.  When the heat became oppressive, she
turned back to the shade of a tree, sat down, and leaned against
it.  There she got two things clear after a time.  She had married
George Holt, there was nothing to do but make the best of it.  But
Nancy Ellen had said that if she lived with him she should not
come to her home.  Very well.  She had to live with him, since she
had consented to marry him, so she was cut off from Robert and
Nancy Ellen.  She was now a prodigal, indeed.  And those things
Nancy Ellen had said -- she was wild with anger.  She had been
misinformed.  Those things could not be true.

"Shouldn't you be in here helping Aunt Ollie?" asked George's
voice from the front step where he seated himself with his pipe.

"Yes, in a minute," said Kate, rising.  "Did you see who came?"

"No.  I was out doing the morning work.  Who was it?" he asked.

"Nancy Ellen and Robert," she answered.

He laughed hilariously:  "Brought them in a hurry, didn't we?  Why
didn't they come in?"

"They came to tell me," said Kate, slowly, "that if I had married
you yesterday, as I did, that they felt so disgraced that I wasn't
to come to their home again."

"'Disgraced?'" he cried, his colour rising.  "Well, what's the
matter with me?"

"Not the things they said, I fervently hope."

"Well, they have some assurance to come out here and talk about
me, and you've got as much to listen, and then come and tell me
about it," he cried.

"It was over in a minute," said Kate.  "I'd no idea what they were
going to say.  They said it, and went.  Oh, I can't spare Nancy
Ellen, she's all I had!"

Kate sank down on the step and covered her face.  George took one
long look at her, arose, and walked out of hearing.  He went into
the garden and watched from behind a honeysuckle bush until he saw
her finally lift her head and wipe her eyes; then he sauntered
back, and sat down on the step beside her.

"That's right," he said.  "Cry it out, and get it over.  It was
pretty mean of them to come out here and insult you, and tell any
lie they could think up, and then drive away and leave you; but
don't mind, they'll soon get over it.  Nobody ever keeps up a fuss
over a wedding long."

"Nancy Ellen never told a lie in her life," said Kate.  "She has
too much self-respect.  What she said she THOUGHT was true.  My
only chance is that somebody has told her a lie.  You know best if
they did."

"Of course they did," he broke in, glibly.  "Haven't you lived in
the same house with me long enough to know me better than any one
else does?"

"You can live in the same house with people and know less about
them than any one else, for that matter," said Kate, "but that's
neither here nor there.  We're in this together, we got to get on
the job and pull, and make a success out of it that will make all
of them proud to be our friends.  That's the only thing left for
me.  As I know the Bates, once they make up their minds, they
never change.  With Nancy Ellen and Father both down on me, I'm a
prodigal for sure."

"What?" he cried, loudly.  "What?  Is your father in this, too?
Did he send you word you couldn't come home, either?  This is a
hell of a mess!  Speak up!"

Kate closed her lips, looked at him with deep scorn, and walked
around the corner of the house.  For a second he looked after her
threateningly, then he sprang to his feet, and ran to her,
catching her in his arms.

"Forgive me, dearest," he cried.  "That took the wind out of my
sails until I was a brute.  You'd no business to SAY a thing like
that.  Of course we can't have the old Land King down on us.
We've got to have our share of that land and money to buy us a
fine home in Hartley, and fix me up the kind of an office I should
have.  We'll borrow a rig and drive over to-morrow and fix things
solid with the old folks.  You bet I'm a star-spangled old
persuader, look what I did with you --"

"You stop!" cried Kate, breaking from his hold.  "You will drive
me crazy!  You're talking as if you married me expecting land and
money from it.  I haven't been home in a year, and my father would
deliberately kill me if I went within his reach."

"Well, score one for little old scratchin', pickin', Mammy!" he
cried.  "She SAID you had a secret!"

Kate stood very still, looking at him so intently that a sense of
shame must have stirred in his breast.

"Look here, Kate," he said, roughly.  "Mother did say you had a
secret, and she hinted at Christmas that the reason you didn't go
home was because your folks were at outs with you, and you can ask
her if I didn't tell her to shut up and leave you alone, that I
was in love with you, and I'd marry you and we'd get along all
right, even if you were barred from home, and didn't get a penny.
I just dare you to ask her."

"It's no matter," said Kate, wearily.  "I'd rather take your
word."

"All right, you take it, for that's the truth," he said.  "But
what was the rumpus?  How did you come to have a racket with your
old man?"

"Over my wanting to teach," said Kate.  Then she explained in
detail.

"Pother!  Don't you fret about that!" said George.  "I'm taking
care of you now, and I'll see that you soon get home and to
Grays', too; that's all buncombe.  As for your share of your
father's estate, you watch me get it!  You are his child, and
there is law!"

"There's law that allows him to deed his land to his sons before
he dies, and that is exactly what he has done," said Kate.

"The Devil, you say!" shouted George Holt, stepping back to stare
at her.  "You tell that at the Insane Asylum or the Feeble Minded
Home!  I've seen the records!  I know to the acre how much land
stands in your father's name.  Don't try to work that on me, my
lady."

"I am not trying to work anything on you," said Kate, dully,
wondering to herself why she listened, why she went on with it.
"I'm merely telling you.  In Father's big chest at the head of his
bed at home lies a deed for two hundred acres of land for each of
his seven sons, all signed and ready to deliver.  He keeps the
land in his name on record to bring him distinction and feed his
vanity.  He makes the boys pay the taxes, and ko-tow, and help
with his work; he keeps them under control; but the land is
theirs; none of the girls get a penny's worth of it!"

George Holt cleared his face with an effort.

"Well, we are no worse off than the rest of them, then," he said,
trying to speak naturally and cheerfully.  "But don't you ever
believe it!  Little old Georgie will sleep with this in his night
cap awhile, and it's a problem he will solve if he works himself
to death on it."

"But that is Father's affair," said Kate.  "You had best turn your
efforts, and lie awake nights thinking how to make enough money to
buy some land for us, yourself."

"Certainly!  Certainly!  I see myself doing it!" laughed George
Holt.  "And now, knowing how you feel, and feeling none to good
myself, we are going to take a few days off and go upstream,
fishing.  I'll take a pack of comforts to sleep on, and the tackle
and some food, and we will forget the whole bunch and go have a
good time.  There's a place, not so far away, where I have camped
beside a spring since I was a little shaver, and it's quiet and
cool.  Go get what you can't possibly exist without, nothing
more."

"But we must dig the potatoes," protested Kate.

"Let them wait until we get back; it's a trifle early, anyway," he
said.  "Stop objecting and get ready!  I'll tell Aunt Ollie.
We're chums.  Whatever I do is always all right with her.  Come
on!  This is our wedding trip.  Not much like the one you had
planned, no doubt, but one of some kind."

So they slipped beneath the tangle of vines and bushes, and,
following the stream of the ravine, they walked until mid-
afternoon, when they reached a spot that was very lovely, a clear,
clean spring, grassy bank, a sheltered cave-in floored with clean
sand, warm and golden.  From the depths of the cave George brought
an old frying pan and coffee pot.  He spread a comfort on the sand
of the cave for a bed, produced coffee, steak, bread, butter, and
fruit from his load, and told Kate to make herself comfortable
while he got dinner.  They each tried to make allowances for, and
to be as decent as possible with, the other, with the result that
before they knew it, they were having a good time; at least, they
were keeping the irritating things they thought to themselves, and
saying only the pleasant ones.

After a week, which George enjoyed to the fullest extent, while
Kate made the best of everything, they put away the coffee pot and
frying pan, folded the comforts, and went back to Aunt Ollie's for
dinner; then to Walden in the afternoon.  Because Mrs. Holt knew
they would be there that day she had the house clean and the best
supper she could prepare ready for them.  She was in a quandary as
to how to begin with Kate.  She heartily hated her.  She had been
sure the girl had a secret, now she knew it; for if she did not
attend the wedding of her sister, if she had not been at home all
summer, if her father and mother never mentioned her name or made
any answer to any one who did, there was a reason, and a good
reason.  Of course a man as rich as Adam Bates could do no wrong;
whatever the trouble was, Kate was at fault, she had done some
terrible thing.

"Hidin' in the bushes!" spat Mrs. Holt.  "Hidin' in the bushes!
Marry a man who didn't know he was goin' to be married an hour
before, unbeknownst to her folks, an' wouldn't even come in the
house, an' have a few of the neighbours in.  Nice doin's for the
school-ma'am!  Nice prospect for George."

Mrs. Holt hissed like a copperhead, which was a harmless little
creature compared with her, as she scraped, and slashed, and
dismembered the chicken she was preparing to fry.  She had not
been able, even by running into each store in the village, and the
post office, to find one person who would say a word against Kate.
The girl had laid her foundations too well.  The one thing people
could and did say was:  "How could she marry George Holt?"  The
worst of them could not very well say it to his mother.  They said
it frequently to each other and then supplied the true answers.
"Look how he spruced up after she came!"  "Look how he worked!"
"Look how he ran after and waited on her!"  "Look how nice he has
been all summer!"  Plenty was being said in Walden, but not one
word of it was for the itching ears of Mrs. Holt.  They had told
her how splendid Kate was, how they loved her, how glad they were
that she was to have the school again, how fortunate her son was,
how proud she should be, until she was almost bursting with
repressed venom.

She met them at the gate, after their week's camping.  They were
feeling in splendid health, the best spirits possible in the
circumstances, but appearing dirty and disreputable.  They were
both laughing as they approached the gate.

"Purty lookin' bride you be!" Mrs. Holt spat at Kate.

"Yes, aren't I?" laughed Kate.  "But you just give me a tub of hot
soapsuds and an hour, and you won't know me.  How are you?  Things
look as if you were expecting us."

"Hump!" said Mrs. Holt.

Kate laughed and went into the house.  George stepped in front of
his mother.

"Now you look here," he said.  "I know every nasty thing your mind
has conjured up that you'd LIKE to say, and have other folks say,
about Kate.  And I know as well as if you were honest enough to
tell me, that you haven't been able to root out one living soul
who would say a single word against her.  Swallow your secret!
Swallow your suspicions!  Swallow your venom, and forget all of
them.  Kate is as fine a woman as God ever made, and anybody who
has common sense knows it.  She can just MAKE me, if she wants to,
and she will; she's coming on fine, much faster and better than I
hoped for.  Now you drop this!  Stop it!  Do you hear?"

He passed her and hurried up the walk.  In an hour, both George
and Kate had bathed and dressed in their very best.  Kate put on
her prettiest white dress and George his graduation suit.  Then
together they walked to the post office for their mail, which
George had ordered held, before they left.  Carrying the bundle,
they entered several stores on trifling errands, and then went
home.  They stopped and spoke to everyone.  Kate kissed all her
little pupils she met, and told them to come to see her, and to be
ready to help clean the schoolhouse in the morning.  Word flew
over town swiftly.  The Teacher was back, wearing the loveliest
dress, and nicer than ever, and she had invited folks to come to
see her.

Kate and George had scarcely finished their supper, when the first
pair of shy little girls came for their kisses and to bring
"Teacher" a bunch of flowers and a pretty pocket handkerchief from
each.  They came in flocks, each with flowers, most with a towel
or some small remembrance; then the elders began to come,
merchants with comforts, blankets, and towels, hardware men with
frying pans, flat irons, and tinware.  By ten o'clock almost
everyone in Walden had carried Kate some small gift, wished her
joy all the more earnestly, because they felt the chances of her
ever having it were so small, and had gone their way, leaving her
feeling better than she had thought possible.

She slipped into her room alone and read two letters, one a few
typewritten lines from John Jardine, saying he had been at
Hartley, also at Walden, and having found her married and gone,
there was nothing for him to do but wish that the man she married
had it in his heart to guard her life and happiness as he would
have done.  He would never cease to love her, and if at any time
in her life there was anything he could do for her, would she
please let him know.  Kate dropped the letter on her dresser, with
a purpose, and let it lie there.  The other was from Robert.  He
said he was very sorry, but he could do nothing with Nancy Ellen
at present.  He hoped she would change later.  If there was ever
anything he could do, to let him know.  Kate locked that letter in
her trunk.  She wondered as she did so why both of them seemed to
think she would need them in the future.  She felt perfectly able
to take care of herself.

Monday morning George carried Kate's books to school for her, saw
that she was started on her work in good shape, then went home,
put on his old clothes, and began the fall work at Aunt Ollie's.
Kate, wearing her prettiest blue dress, forgot even the dull ache
in her heart, as she threw herself into the business of educating
those young people.  She worked as she never had before.  She
seemed to have developed fresh patience, new perception, keener
penetration; she made the dullest of them see her points, and
interested the most inattentive.  She went home to dinner feeling
better.  She decided to keep on teaching a few years until George
was well started in his practice; if he ever got started.  He was
very slow in action it seemed to her, compared with his enthusiasm
when he talked.



STARTING MARRIED LIFE

FOR two weeks Kate threw herself into the business of teaching
with all her power.  She succeeded in so interesting herself and
her pupils that she was convinced she had done a wise thing.
Marriage did not interfere with her teaching; she felt capable and
independent so long as she had her salary.  George was working and
working diligently, to prepare for winter, whenever she was
present or could see results.  With her first month's salary she
would buy herself a warm coat, a wool suit, an extra skirt for
school, and some waists.  If there was enough left, she would have
another real hat.  Then for the remainder of the year she would
spend only for the barest necessities and save to help toward a
home something like Nancy Ellen's.  Whenever she thought of Nancy
Ellen and Robert there was a choking sensation in her throat, a
dull ache where she had been taught her heart was located.

For two weeks everything went as well as Kate hoped:  then Mrs.
Holt began to show the results of having been partially bottled
up, for the first time in her life.  She was careful to keep to
generalities which she could claim meant nothing, if anything she
said was taken up by either George or Kate.  George was too lazy
to quarrel unless he was personally angered; Kate thought best to
ignore anything that did not come in the nature of a direct
attack.  So long as Mrs. Holt could not understand how some folks
could see their way to live off of other folks, or why a girl who
had a chance to marry a fortune would make herself a burden to a
poor man, Kate made the mistake of ignoring her.  Thus emboldened
she soon became personal.  It seemed as if she spent her spare
time and mental force thinking up suggestive, sarcastic things to
say, where Kate could not help hearing them.  She paid no
attention unless the attack was too mean and premeditated; but to
her surprise she found that every ugly, malicious word the old
woman said lodged in her brain and arose to confront her at the
most inopportune times -- in the middle of a recitation or when
she roused enough to turn over in her bed at night.  The more
vigorously she threw herself into her school work, the more she
realized a queer lassitude, creeping over her.  She kept squaring
her shoulders, lifting her chin, and brushing imaginary cobwebs
from before her face.

The final Friday evening of the month, she stopped at the post
office and carried away with her the bill for her Leghorn hat,
mailed with nicely conceived estimate as to when her first check
would be due.  Kate visited the Trustee, and smiled grimly as she
slipped the amount in an envelope and gave it to the hack driver
to carry to Hartley on his trip the following day.  She had
intended all fall to go with him and select a winter headpiece
that would be no discredit to her summer choice, but a sort of
numbness was in her bones; so she decided to wait until the coming
week before going.  She declined George's pressing invitation to
go along to Aunt Ollie's and help load and bring home a part of
his share of their summer's crops, on the ground that she had some
work to prepare for the coming week.

Then Kate went to her room feeling faint and heavy.  She lay there
most of the day, becoming sorrier for herself, and heavier every
passing hour.  By morning she was violently ill; when she tried to
leave her bed, dizzy and faint.  All day she could not stand.
Toward evening, she appealed to George either to do something for
her himself, or to send for the village doctor.  He asked her a
few questions and then, laughing coarsely, told her that a doctor
would do her no good, and that it was very probable that she would
feel far worse before she felt better.  Kate stared at him in dumb
wonder.

"But my school!" she cried.  "My school!  I must be able to go to
school in the morning.  Could that spring water have been infected
with typhus?  I've never been sick like this before."

"I should hope not!" said George.  And then he told her bluntly
what caused her trouble.  Kate had been white to begin with, now
she slowly turned greenish as she gazed at him with incredulous
eyes.  Then she sprang to her feet.

"But I can't be ill!" she cried.  "I can't!  There is my school!
I've got to teach!  Oh, what shall I do?"

George had a very clear conception of what she could do, but he
did not intend to suggest it to her.  She could think of it, and
propose it herself.  She could not think of anything at that
minute, because she fainted, and fell half on the bed, half in his
arms as he sprang to her.  He laid her down, and stood a second
smiling triumphantly at her unheeding face.

"Easy snap for you this winter, Georgie, my boy!" he muttered.  "I
don't see people falling over each other to get to you for
professional services, and it's hard work anyway.  Zonoletics are
away above the head of these country ignoramuses; blue mass and
quinine are about their limit."

He took his time to bathe Kate's face.  Presently she sat up, then
fell on the pillow again.

"Better not try that!" warned George.  "You'll hurt yourself, and
you can't make it.  You're out of the game; you might as well get
used to it."

"I won't be out of the game!" cried Kate.  "I can't be!  What will
become of my school?  Oh, George, could you possibly teach for me,
only for a few days, until I get my stomach settled?"

"Why, I'd like to help you," he said, "but you see how it is with
me.  I've got my fall work finished up, and I'm getting ready to
open my office next week.  I'm going to rent that nice front room
over the post office."

"But, George, you must," said Kate.  "You've taught several terms.
You've a license.  You can take it until this passes.  If you have
waited from June to October to open your office, you can wait a
few more days.  Suppose you OPEN the office and patients don't
come, or we haven't the school; what would we LIVE on?  What would
I buy things with, and pay doctor bills?"

"Why didn't you think of that before you got married?  What was
your rush, anyway?  I can't figure it to save my soul," he said.

"George, the school can't go," she cried.  "If what you say is
true, and I suspect it is, I must have money to see me through."

"Then set your wits to work and fix things up with your father,"
he said casually.

Kate arose tall and straight, standing unwaveringly as she looked
at him in blazing contempt.

"So?" she said.  "This is the kind of man you are?  I'm not so
helpless as you think me.  I have a refuge.  I know where to find
it.  You'll teach my school until I'm able to take it myself, if
the Trustee and patrons will allow you, or I'll sever my relations
with you as quickly as I formed them.  You have no practice; I
have grave doubts if you can get any; this is our only chance for
the money we must have this winter.  Go ask the Trustee to come
here until I can make arrangements with him."

Then she wavered and rolled on the bed again.  George stood
looking at her between narrowed eyelids.

"Tactics I use with Mother don't go with you, old girl," he said
to himself.  "Thing of fire and tow, stubborn as an ox; won't be
pushed a hair's breadth; old Bates over again -- alike as two
peas.  But I'll break you, damn you, I'll break you; only, I WANT
that school.  Lots easier than kneading somebody's old stiff
muscles, while the money is sure.  Oh, I go after the Trustee, all
right!"

He revived Kate, and telling her to keep quiet, and not excite
herself, he explained that it was a terrible sacrifice to him to
put off opening his office any longer; she must forgive him for
losing self-control when he thought of it; but for her dear sake
he would teach until she was better -- possibly she would be all
right in a few days, and then she could take her work again.
Because she so devoutly hoped it, Kate made that arrangement with
the Trustee.  Monday, she lay half starved, yet gagging and ill,
while George went to teach her school.  As she contemplated that,
she grew sicker than she had been before.  When she suddenly
marshalled all the facts she knew of him, she stoutly refused to
think of what Nancy Ellen had said; when she reviewed his
character and disposition, and thought of him taking charge of the
minds of her pupils, Kate suddenly felt she must not allow that to
happen, she must not!  Then came another thought, even more
personal and terrible, a thought so disconcerting she mercifully
lost consciousness again.

She sent for the village doctor, and found no consolation from her
talk with him.  She was out of the school; that was settled.  No
harpy ever went to its meat with one half the zest Mrs. Holt found
in the situation.  With Kate so ill she could not stand on her
feet half the time, so ill she could not reply, with no spirit
left to appeal to George, what more could be asked?  Mrs. Holt
could add to every grievance she formerly had, that of a sick
woman in the house for her to wait on.  She could even make vile
insinuations to Kate, prostrate and helpless, that she would not
have dared otherwise.  She could prepare food that with a touch of
salt or sugar where it was not supposed to be, would have sickened
a well person.  One day George came in from school and saw a bowl
of broth sitting on a chair beside Kate's bed.

"Can't you drink it?" he asked.  "Do, if you possibly can," he
urged.  "You'll get so weak you'll be helpless."

"I just can't," said Kate.  "Things have such a sickening,
sweetish taste, or they are bitter, or sour; not a thing is as it
used to be.  I simply can't!"

A curious look crept over George's face.  He picked up the bowl
and tasted the contents.  Instantly his face went black; he
started toward the kitchen.  Kate heard part of what happened, but
she never lifted her head.  After a while he came back with more
broth and a plate of delicate toast.

"Try this," he said.  "I made it myself."

Kate ate ravenously.

"That's good!" she cried.

"I'll tell you what I'm going to do," he said.  "I'm going to take
you out to Aunt Ollie's for a week after school to-night.  Want to
go?"

"Yes!  Oh, yes!" cried Kate.

"All right," he said.  "I know where I can borrow a rig for an
hour.  Get ready if you are well enough, if you are not, I'll help
you after school."

That week with Aunt Ollie remained a bright spot in Kate's memory.
The October days were beginning to be crisp and cool.  Food was
different.  She could sleep, she could eat many things Aunt Ollie
knew to prepare especially; soon she could walk and be outdoors.
She was so much better she wrote George a note, asking him to walk
out and bring her sewing basket, and some goods she listed, and in
the afternoons the two women cut and sewed quaint, enticing little
garments.  George found Kate so much better when he came that he
proposed she remain another week.  Then for the first time he
talked to her about her theory of government and teaching, until
she realized that the School Director had told him he was
dissatisfied with him -- so George was trying to learn her ways.
Appalled at what might happen if he lost the school, Kate made
notes, talked at length, begged him to do his best, and to come at
once if anything went wrong.  He did come, and brought the school
books so she went over the lessons with him, and made marginal
notes of things suggested to her mind by the text, for him to
discuss and elucidate.  The next time he came, he was in such good
spirits she knew his work had been praised, so after that they
went over the lessons together each evening.  Thinking of what
would help him also helped fill her day.

He took her home, greatly improved, in much better spirits, to her
room, cleaned and ready for winter, with all of her things
possible to use in place, so that it was much changed, prettier,
and more convenient.  As they drove in she said of him:  "George,
what about it?  Did your mother purposely fix my food so I could
not eat it?"

"Oh, I wouldn't say that," he said.  "You know neither of you is
violently attached to the other.  She'll be more careful after
this, I'm sure she will."

"Why, have you been sick?" asked Kate as soon as she saw Mrs.
Holt.

She seemed so nervous and appeared so badly Kate was sorry for
her; but she could not help noticing how she kept watch on her
son.  She seemed to keep the width of the room and a piece of
furniture between them, while her cooking was so different that it
was not in the least necessary for George to fix things for Kate
himself, as he had suggested.  Everything was so improved, Kate
felt better.  She began to sew, to read, to sit for long periods
in profound thought, then to take walks that brought back her
strength and colour.  So through the winter and toward the
approach of spring they lived in greater comfort.  With Kate's
help, George was doing so well with the school that he was
frequently complimented by the parents.  That he was trying to do
good work and win the approval of both pupils and parents was
evident to Kate.  Once he said to her that he wondered if it would
be a good thing for him to put in an application for the school
the coming winter.  Kate stared at him in surprise:  "But your
profession," she objected.  "You should be in your office and
having enough practice to support us by then."

"Yes, I should!" he said.  "But this is a new thing, and you know
how these clodhoppers are."

"If I came as near living in the country, and worked at farming as
much as you do, that's the last thing I would call any human
being," said Kate.  "I certainly do know how they are, and what I
know convinces me that you need not look to them for any
patients."

"You seem to think I won't have any from any source," he said
hotly.

"I confess myself dubious," said Kate.  "You certainly are, or you
wouldn't be talking of teaching."

"Well, I'll just show you!" he cried.

"I'm waiting," said Kate.  "But as we must live in the meantime,
and it will be so long before I can earn anything again, and so
much expense, possibly it would be a good idea to have the school
to fall back on, if you shouldn't have the patients you hope for
this summer.  I think you have done well with the school.  Do your
level best until the term closes, and you may have a chance."

Laughing scornfully, he repeated his old boast:  "I'll just show
you!"

"Go ahead," said Kate.  "And while you are at it, be generous.
Show me plenty.  But in the meantime, save every penny you can, so
you'll be ready to pay the doctor's bills and furnish your
office."

"I love you advice; it's so Batesy," he said.  "I have money saved
for both contingencies you mention, but I'll tell you what I
think, and about this I'm the one who knows.  I've told you
repeatedly winter is my best time.  I've lost the winter trying to
help you out; and I've little chance until winter comes again.  It
takes cold weather to make folks feel what ails their muscles, and
my treatment is mostly muscular.  To save so we can get a real
start, wouldn't it be a good idea for you to put part of your
things in my room, take what you must have, and fix Mother's
bedroom for you, let her move her bed into her living room, and
spare me all you can of your things to fix up your room for my
office this summer.  That would save rent, it's only a few steps
from downtown, and when I wasn't busy with patients, I could be
handy to the garden, and to help you."

"If your mother is willing, I'll do my share," said Kate,
"although the room's cramped, and where I'll put the small party
when he comes I don't know, but I'll manage someway.  The big
objection to it is that it will make it look to people as if it
were a makeshift, instead of starting a real business."

"Real," was the wrong word.  It was the red rag that started
George raging, until to save her self-respect, Kate left the room.
Later in the day he announced that his mother was willing, she
would clean the living room and move in that day.  How Kate hated
the tiny room with its one exterior wall, only one small window,
its scratched woodwork, and soiled paper, she could not say.  She
felt physically ill when she thought of it, and when she thought
of the heat of the coming summer, she wondered what she would do;
but all she could do was to acquiesce.  She made a trip downtown
and bought a quart of white paint and a few rolls of dainty, fresh
paper.  She made herself ill with turpentine odours in giving the
woodwork three coats, and fell from a table almost killing herself
while papering the ceiling.  There was no room for her trunk; the
closet would not hold half her clothes; her only easy chair was
crowded out; she was sheared of personal comfort at a clip, just
at a time when every comfort should have been hers.  George
ordered an operating table, on which to massage his patients, a
few other necessities, and in high spirits, went about fixing up
his office and finishing his school.  He spent hours in the
woodshed with the remainder of Kate's white paint, making a sign
to hang in front of the house.

He was so pathetically anxious for a patient, after he had put his
table in place, hung up his sign, and paid for an announcement in
the county paper and the little Walden sheet, that Kate was sorry
for him.

On a hot July morning Mrs. Holt was sweeping the front porch when
a forlorn specimen of humanity came shuffling up the front walk
and asked to see Dr. Holt.  Mrs. Holt took him into the office and
ran to the garden to tell George his first patient had come.  His
face had been flushed from pulling weeds, but it paled perceptibly
as he started to the back porch to wash his hands.

"Do you know who it is, Mother?" he asked.

"It's that old Peter Mines," she said, "an' he looks fit to drop."

"Peter Mines!" said George.  "He's had about fifty things the
matter with him for about fifty years."

"Then you're a made man if you can even make him think he feels
enough better so's he'll go round talking about it," said Mrs.
Holt, shrewdly.

George stood with his hands dripping water an instant, thinking
deeply.

"Well said for once, old lady," he agreed.  "You are just exactly
right."

He hurried to his room, and put on his coat.

"A patient that will be a big boom for me," he boasted to Kate as
he went down the hall.

Mrs. Holt stood listening at the hall door.  Kate walked around
the dining room, trying to occupy herself.  Presently cringing
groans began to come from the room, mingling with George's deep
voice explaining, and trying to encourage the man.  Then came a
wild shriek and then silence.  Kate hurried out to the back walk
and began pacing up and down in the sunshine.  She did not know
it, but she was praying.

A minute later George's pallid face appeared at the back door:
"You come in here quick and help me," he demanded.

"What's the matter?" asked Kate.

"He's fainted.  His heart, I think.  He's got everything that ever
ailed a man!" he said.

"Oh, George, you shouldn't have touched him," said Kate.

"Can't you see it will make me, if I can help him!  Even Mother
could see that," he cried.

"But if his heart is bad, the risk of massaging him is awful,"
said Kate as she hurried after George.

Kate looked at the man on the table, ran her hand over the heart
region, and lifted terrified eyes to George.

"Do you think --?" he stammered.

"Sure of it!" she said, "but we can try.  Bring your camphor
bottle, and some water," she cried to Mrs. Holt.

For a few minutes, they worked frantically.  Then Kate stepped
back.  "I'm scared, and I don't care who knows it," she said.
"I'm going after Dr. James."

"No, you are not!" cried George.  "You just hold yourself.  I'll
have him out in a minute.  Begin at his feet and rub the blood up
to his heart."

"They are swollen to a puff, he's got no circulation," said Kate.
"Oh, George, how could you ever hope to do anything for a man in
this shape, with MUSCULAR treatment?"

"You keep still and rub, for God's sake," he cried, frantically.
"Can't you see that I am ruined if he dies on this table?"

"No, I can't," said Kate.  "Everybody would know that he was
practically dying when he came here.  Nobody will blame you, only,
you never should have touched him!  George, I AM going after Dr.
James."

"Well, go then," he said wildly.

Kate started.  Mrs. Holt blocked the doorway.

"You just stop, Missy!" she cried.  "You're away too smart, trying
to get folks in here, and ruin my George's chances.  You just stay
where you are till I think what to do, to put the best face on
this!"

"He may not be really gone!  The doctor might save him!" cried
Kate.

Mrs. Holt looked long at the man.

"He's deader 'an a doornail," she said.  "You stay where you are!"

Kate picked her up by the shoulders, set her to one side, ran from
the room and down the street as fast as possible.  She found the
doctor in his office with two patients.  She had no time to think
or temporize.

"Get your case and come to our house quick, doctor," she cried.
"An old man they call Peter Mines came to see George, and his
heart has failed.  Please hurry!"

"Heart, eh?" said the doctor.  "Well, wait a minute.  No use to go
about a bad heart without digitalis."

He got up and put on his hat, told the men he would be back soon,
and went to the nearest drug store.  Kate followed.  The men who
had been in the office came also.

"Doctor, hurry!" she panted.  "I'm so frightened."

"You go to some of the neighbours, and stay away from there," he
said.

"Hurry!" begged Kate.  "Oh, do hurry!"

She was beside him as they sped down the street, and at his
shoulder as they entered the room.  With one glance she lurched
against the casing and then she plunged down the hall, entered her
room, closed the door behind her, and threw herself on the bed.
She had only a glance, but in that glance she had seen Peter Mines
sitting fully clothed, his hat on his head, his stick in his
hands, in her easy chair; the operating table folded and standing
against the wall; Mrs. Holt holding the camphor bottle to Peter's
nose, while George had one hand over Peter's heart, the other
steadying his head.

The doctor swung the table in place, and with George's help laid
Peter on it, then began tearing open his clothes.  As they worked
the two men followed into the house to see if they could do
anything and excited neighbours began to gather.  George and his
mother explained how Peter had exhausted himself walking two miles
from the country that hot morning, how he had entered the office,
tottering with fatigue, and had fallen in the chair in a fainting
condition.  Everything was plausible until a neighbour woman,
eager to be the centre of attention for a second, cried:  "Yes, we
all see him come more'n an hour ago; and when he begin to let out
the yells we says to each other, 'THERE!  George has got his first
patient, sure!'  An' we all kind of waited to see if he'd come out
better."

The doctor looked at her sharply:  "More than an hour ago?" he
said.  "You heard cries?"

"Yes, more'n a good hour ago.  Yes, we all heard him yell, jist
once, good and loud!" she said.

The doctor turned to George.  Before he could speak his mother
intervened.

"That was our Kate done the yellin'," she said.  "She was scart
crazy from the start.  He jest come in, and set in the chair and
he's been there ever since."

"You didn't give him any treatment, Holt?" asked the doctor.

Again Mrs. Holt answered:  "Never touched him!  Hadn't even got
time to get his table open.  Wa'n't nothing he could 'a' done for
him anyway.  Peter was good as gone when he got here.  His fool
folks never ought 'a' let him out this hot day, sick as he was."

The doctor looked at George, at his mother, long at Peter.  "He
surely was too sick to walk that far in this heat," he said.  "But
to make sure, I'll look him over.  George, you help me.  Clear the
room of all but these two men."

HE began minutely examining Peter's heart region.  Then he rolled
him over and started to compress his lungs.  Long white streaks
marked the puffy red of the swollen, dropsical flesh.  The doctor
examined the length of the body, and looked straight into George
Holt's eyes.

"No use," he said.  "Bill, go to the 'phone in my office, and tell
Coroner Smith to get here from Hartley as soon as he can.  All
that's left to do here is to obey the law, and have a funeral.
Better some of the rest of you go tell his folks.  I've done all I
can do.  It's up to the Coroner now.  The rest of you go home, and
keep still till he comes."

When he and George were left alone he said tersely:  "Of course
you and your mother are lying.  You had this man stripped, he did
cry out, and he did die from the pain of the treatment you tried
to give him, in his condition.  By the way, where's your wife?
This is a bad thing for her right now.  Come, let's find her and
see what state she is in."

Together they left the room and entered Kate's door.  As soon as
the doctor was busy with her, George slipped back into the closed
room, rolled Peter on his back and covered him, in the hope that
the blood would settle until it would efface the marks of his work
before the Coroner arrived.  By that time the doctor was too busy
to care much what happened to Peter Mines; he was a poor old soul
better off as he was.  Across Kate's unconscious body he said to
George Holt:  "I'm going to let the Coroner make what he pleases
out of this, solely for your wife's sake.  But two things:  take
down that shingle.  Take it down now, and never put it up again if
you want me to keep still.  I'll give you what you paid for that
table.  It's a good one.  Get him out as soon as you can.  Set him
in another room.  I've got to have Mrs. Holt where I can work.
And send Sarah Nepple here to help me.  Move fast!  This is going
to be a close call.  And the other thing:  I've heard you put in
an application for our school this winter.  Withdraw it!  Now
move!"

So they set Peter in the living room, cleaned Kate's room quickly,
and moved in her bed.  By the time the Coroner arrived, the doctor
was too busy to care what happened.  On oath he said a few words
that he hoped would make life easier for Kate, and at the same
time pass muster for truth; told the Coroner what witnesses to
call; and gave an opinion as to Peter's condition.  He also added
that he was sure Peter's family would be very glad he was to
suffer no more, and then he went back to Kate who was suffering
entirely too much for safety.  Then began a long vigil that ended
at midnight with Kate barely alive and Sarah Nepple, the Walden
mid-wife, trying to divide a scanty wardrobe between a pair of
lusty twins.



A NEW IDEA

KATE slowly came back to consciousness.  She was conscious of her
body, sore from head to foot, with plenty of pain in definite
spots.  Her first clear thought was that she was such a big woman;
it seemed to her that she filled the room, when she was one
bruised ache from head to heels.  Then she became conscious of a
moving bundle on the bed beside her, and laid her hand on it to
reassure herself.  The size and shape of the bundle were not
reassuring.

"Oh, Lord!" groaned Kate.  "Haven't You any mercy at all?  It was
Your advice I followed when I took wing and started out in life."

A big sob arose in her throat, while at the same time she began to
laugh weakly.  Dr. James heard her from the hall and entered
hastily.  At the sight of him, Kate's eyes filled with terrified
remembrance.  Her glance swept the room, and rested on her rocking
chair.  "Take that out of here!" she cried.  "Take it out, split
it into kindling wood, and burn it."

"All right," said Dr. James calmly.  "I'll guarantee that you
never see it again.  Is there anything else you want?"

"You -- you didn't --?"

The doctor shook his head.  "Very sorry," he said, "but there
wasn't a thing could be done."

"Where is he?" she asked in a whisper.

"His people took him home immediately after the Coroner's inquest,
which found that he died from heart failure, brought on by his
long walk in the heat."

Kate stared at him with a face pitiful to behold.

"You let him think THAT?" she whispered again.

"I did," said the old doctor.  "I thought, and still think, that
for the sake of you and yours," he waved toward the bundle, "it
was the only course to pursue."

"Thank you," said Kate.  "You're very kind.  But don't you think
that I and mine are going to take a lot of shielding?  The next
man may not be so kindly disposed.  Besides, is it right?  Is it
honest?"

"It is for you," said the doctor.  "You had nothing to do with it.
If you had, things would not have gone as they did.  As for me, I
feel perfectly comfortable about it in my conscience, which is my
best guide.  All I had to do was to let them tell their story.  I
perjured myself only to the extent of testifying that you knew
nothing about it.  The Coroner could well believe that.  George
and his mother could easily manage the remainder."

Kate waved toward the bundle:  "Am I supposed to welcome and love
them?"

"A poet might expect you to," said the doctor.  "In the
circumstances, I do not.  I shall feel that you have done your
whole duty if you will try to nurse them when the time comes.  You
must have a long rest, and they must grow some before you'll
discover what they mean to you.  There's always as much chance
that they'll resemble your people as that they will not.  The boy
will have dark hair and eyes I think, but he looks exactly like
you.  The girl is more Holt."

"Where is George?" she asked.

"He was completely upset," said the doctor.  "I suggested that he
go somewhere to rest up a few days, so he took his tackle and went
fishing, and to the farm."

"Shouldn't he have stayed and faced it?" asked Kate.

"There was nothing for him to face, except himself, Kate," said
the doctor.

Kate shook her head.  She looked ghastly ill.

"Doctor," she said, "couldn't you have let me die?"

"And left your son and your little daughter to them?" he asked.
"No, Kate, I couldn't have let you die; because you've your work
in the world under your hand right now."

He said that because when he said "left your son and your little
daughter to them," Kate had reached over and laid her hand
possessively, defensively, on the little, squirming bundle, which
was all Dr. James asked of her.  Presently she looked the doctor
straight in the face.  "Exactly what do you know?" she asked.

"Everything," said the doctor.  "And you?"

"Everything," said Kate.

There was a long silence.  Then Kate spoke slowly:  "That George
didn't know that he shouldn't have touched that man, proves him
completely incompetent," she said.  "That he did, and didn't have
the courage to face the results, proves him lacking in principle.
He's not fit for either work to which he aspires."

"You are talking too much," said the doctor.  "Nurse Nepple is in
charge here, and Aunt Ollie.  George's mother went to the farm to
cook for him.  You're in the hands of two fine women, who will
make you comfortable.  You have escaped lasting disgrace with your
skirts clear, now rest and be thankful."

"I can't rest until I know one thing," said Kate.  "You're not
going to allow George to kill any one else?"

"No," said the doctor.  "I regretted telling him very much; but I
had to tell him THAT could not happen."

"And about the school?" she asked.  "I half thought he might get
it."

"He WON'T!" said the doctor.  "I'm in a position to know that.
Now try to take some rest."

Kate waved toward the babies:  "Will you please take them away
until they need me?" she asked.

"Of course," said the doctor.  "But don't you want to see them,
Kate?  There isn't a mark or blemish on either of them.  The boy
weighs seven pounds and the girl six; they seem as perfect as
children can be."

"You needn't worry about that," said Kate.  "Twins are a Bates
habit.  My mother had three pairs, always a boy and a girl, always
big and sound as any children; mine will be all right, too."

The doctor started to turn back the blanket.  Kate turned her head
away:  "Don't you think I have had about enough at present?" she
asked.  "I'd stake my life that as a little further piece of my
punishment, the girl looks exactly like Mrs. Holt."

"By Jove," said the doctor, "I couldn't just think who it was."

He carried the babies from the room, lowered the blinds, and Kate
tried to sleep, and did sleep, because she was so exhausted she
could not keep awake.

Later in the evening Aunt Ollie slipped in, and said George was in
the woodhouse, almost crying himself to death, and begging to see
her.

"You tell him I'm too sick to be seen for at least a week," said
Kate.

"But, my dear, he's so broken up; he feels so badly," begged Aunt
Ollie.

"So do I," said Kate.  "I feel entirely too badly to be worried
over seeing him.  I must take the babies now."

"I do wish you would!" persisted Aunt Ollie.

"Well, I won't," said Kate.  "I don't care if I never see him
again.  He knows WHY he is crying; ask him."

"I'll wager they ain't a word of truth in that tale they're
telling," she said.

Kate looked straight at her:  "Well, for their sakes and my sake,
and the babies' sake, don't TALK about it."

"You poor thing!" said Aunt Ollie, "I'll do anything in the world
to help you.  If ever you need me, just call on me.  I'll go start
him back in a hurry."

He came every night, but Kate steadily refused, until she felt
able to sit up in a chair, to see him, or his mother when she came
to see the babies.  She had recovered rapidly, was over the
painful part of nursing the babies, and had a long talk with Aunt
Ollie, before she consented to see George.  At times she thought
she never could see him again; at others, she realized her
helplessness.  She had her babies to nurse for a year; there was
nothing she could think of she knew to do, that she could do, and
take proper care of two children.  She was tied "hand and foot,"
as Aunt Ollie said.  And yet it was Aunt Ollie who solved her
problem for her.  Sitting beside the bed one day she said to Kate:
"My dear, do you know that I'm having a mighty good time?  I guess
I was lonesomer than I thought out there all alone so much, and
the work was nigh to breaking me during the long, cold winter.  I
got a big notion to propose somepin' to you that might be a
comfort to all of us."

"Propose away," said Kate.  "I'm at my wit's end."

"Well, what would you think of you and George taking the land,
working it on the shares, and letting me have this room, an' live
in Walden, awhile?"

Kate sat straight up in bed:  "Oh, Aunt Ollie!  Would you?" she
cried.  "Would you?  That would be a mercy to me; it would give
George every chance to go straight, if there is a straight impulse
in him."

"Yes, I will," said Aunt Ollie, "and you needn't feel that I am
getting the little end of the bargain, either.  The only
unpleasant thing about it will be my sister, and I'll undertake to
manage her.  I read a lot, an' I can always come to see you when
mortal sperrits will bear her no more.  She'll be no such trial to
me, as she is to you."

"You're an angel," said Kate.  "You've given me hope where I had
not a glimmer.  If I have George out there alone, away from his
mother, I can bring out all the good there is in him, and we can
get some results out of life, or I can assure myself that it is
impossible, so that I can quit with a clear conscience.  I do
thank you."

"All right, then, I'll go out and begin packing my things, and see
about moving this afternoon.  I'll leave my stoves, and beds, and
tables, and chairs for you; you can use your wedding things, and
be downright comfortable.  I'll like living in town a spell real
well."

So once more Kate saw hope a beckoning star in the distance, and
ruffled the wings of the spirit preparatory to another flight:
only a short, humble flight this time, close earth; but still as
full of promise as life seemed to hold in any direction for her.
She greeted George casually, and as if nothing had happened, when
she was ready to see him.

"You're at the place where words are not of the slightest use to
me," she said.  "I'm giving you one, and a final chance to ACT.
This seems all that is open to us.  Go to work like a man, and we
will see what we can make of our last chance."

Kate was so glad when she sat in the carriage that was to take her
from the house and the woman she abominated that she could
scarcely behave properly.  She clasped Adam tightly in her arms,
and felt truly his mother.  She reached over and tucked the
blanket closer over Polly, but she did not carry her, because she
resembled her grandmother, while Adam was a Bates.

George drove carefully.  He was on behaviour too good to last, but
fortunately both women with him knew him well enough not to expect
that it would.  When they came in sight of the house, Kate could
see that the grass beside the road had been cut, the trees
trimmed, and Oh, joy, the house freshly painted a soft, creamy
white she liked, with a green roof.  Aunt Ollie explained that she
furnished the paint and George did the work.  He had swung oblong
clothes baskets from the ceiling of a big, cheery, old-fashioned
bedroom for a cradle for each baby, and established himself in a
small back room adjoining the kitchen.  Kate said nothing about
the arrangement, because she supposed it had been made to give her
more room, and that George might sleep in peace, while she
wrestled with two tiny babies.

There was no doubt about the wrestling.  The babies seemed of
nervous temperament, sleeping in short naps and lightly.  Kate was
on her feet from the time she reached her new home, working when
she should not have worked; so that the result developed cross
babies, each attacked with the colic, which raged every night from
six o'clock until twelve and after, both frequently shrieking at
the same time.  George did his share by going to town for a bottle
of soothing syrup, which Kate promptly threw in the creek.  Once
he took Adam and began walking the floor with him, extending his
activities as far as the kitchen.  In a few minutes he had the
little fellow sound asleep and he did not waken until morning;
then he seemed to droop and feel listless.  When he took the baby
the second time and made the same trip to the kitchen, Kate laid
Polly on her bed and silently followed.  She saw George lay the
baby on the table, draw a flask from his pocket, pour a spoon
partly full, filling it the remainder of the way from the
teakettle.  As he was putting the spoon to the baby's lips, Kate
stepped beside him and taking it, she tasted the contents.  Then
she threw the spoon into the dishpan standing near and picked up
the baby.

"I knew it!" she said.  "Only I didn't know what.  He acted like a
drugged baby all last night and to-day.  Since when did you begin
carrying that stuff around with you, and feeding it to tiny
babies?"

"It's a good thing.  Dr. James recommended it.  He said it was
harmful to let them strain themselves crying, and very hard on
you.  You could save yourself a lot," he urged.

"I need saving all right," said Kate, "but I haven't a picture of
myself saving myself by drugging a pair of tiny babies."

He slipped the bottle back in his pocket.  Kate stood looking at
him so long and so intently, he flushed and set the flask on a
shelf in the pantry.  "It may come in handy some day when some of
us have a cold," he said.

Kate did her best, but she was so weakened by nursing both of the
babies, by loss of sleep, and overwork in the house, that she was
no help whatever to George in getting in the fall crops and
preparing for spring.  She had lost none of her ambition, but
there was a limit to her capacity.

In the spring the babies were big and lusty, eating her up, and
crying with hunger, until she was forced to resort to artificial
feeding in part, which did not agree with either of them.  As a
saving of time and trouble she decided to nurse one and feed the
other.  It was without thought on her part, almost by chance, yet
the chance was that she nursed Adam and fed Polly.  Then the
babies began teething, so that she was rushed to find time to
prepare three regular meals a day, and as for the garden and
poultry she had planned, George did what he pleased about them,
which was little, if anything.

He would raise so much to keep from being hungry, he would grow so
many roots, and so much cabbage for winter, he would tend enough
corn for a team and to fatten pork; right there he stopped and
went fishing, while the flask was in evidence on the pantry shelf
only two days.  Kate talked crop rotation, new seed,
fertilization, until she was weary; George heartily agreed with
her, but put nothing of it all into practice.

"As soon as the babies are old enough to be taken out," she said,
"things will be better.  I just can't do justice to them and my
work, too.  Three pairs!  My poor mother!  And she's alive yet!  I
marvel at it."

So they lived, and had enough to eat, and were clothed, but not
one step did they advance toward Kate's ideals of progression,
economy, accumulation.  George always had a little money, more
than she could see how he got from the farming.  There were a few
calves and pigs to sell occasionally; she thought possibly he saved
his share from them.

For four years, Kate struggled valiantly to keep pace with what
her mother always had done, and had required of her at home; but
she learned long before she quit struggling that farming with
George was hopeless.  So at last she became so discouraged she
began to drift into his way of doing merely what would sustain
them, and then reading, fishing, or sleeping the remainder of the
time.  She began teaching her children while very small, and daily
they had their lessons after dinner, while their father slept.

Kate thought often of what was happening to her; she hated it, she
fought it; but with George Holt for a partner she could not escape
it.  She lay awake nights, planning ways to make a start toward
prosperity; she propounded her ideas at breakfast.  To save time
in getting him early to work she began feeding the horses as soon
as she was up, so that George could go to work immediately after
breakfast; but she soon found she might as well save her strength.
He would not start to harness until he had smoked, mostly three
quarters of an hour.  That his neighbours laughed at him and got
ahead of him bothered him not at all.  All they said and all Kate
said, went, as he expressed it, "in at one ear, out at the other."

One day in going around the house Kate was suddenly confronted by
a thing she might have seen for three years, but had not noticed.
Leading from the path of bare, hard-beaten earth that ran around
the house through the grass, was a small forking path not so wide
and well defined, yet a path, leading to George's window.  She
stood staring at it a long time with a thoughtful expression on
her face.

That night she did not go to bed when she went to her room.
Instead she slipped out into the night and sitting under a
sheltering bush she watched that window.  It was only a short time
until George crawled from it, went stealthily to the barn, and a
few minutes later she saw him riding barebacked on one of the
horses he had bridled, down the footpath beside the stream toward
town.  She got up and crossing the barnyard shut the gate after
him, and closed the barn door.  She went back to the house and
closed his window and lighting a lamp set it on his dresser in
front of his small clock.  His door was open in the morning when
she passed it on her way to the kitchen, so she got breakfast
instead of feeding the horses.  He came in slowly, furtively
watching her.  She worked as usual, saying no unpleasant word.  At
length he could endure it no longer.

"Kate," he said, "I broke a bolt in the plow yesterday, and I
never thought of it until just as I was getting into bed, so to
save time I rode in to Walden and got another last night.  Ain't I
a great old economist, though?"

"You are a great something," she said.  "'Economist' would
scarcely be my name for it.  Really, George, can't you do better
than that?"

"Better than what?" he demanded.

"Better than telling such palpable lies," she said.  "Better than
crawling out windows instead of using your doors like a man;
better than being the most shiftless farmer of your neighbourhood
in the daytime, because you have spend most of your nights, God
and probably all Walden know how.  The flask and ready money I
never could understand give me an inkling."

"Anything else?" he asked, sneeringly.

"Nothing at present," said Kate placidly.  "I probably could find
plenty, if I spent even one night in Walden when you thought I was
asleep."

"Go if you like," he said.  "If you think I'm going to stay here,
working like a dog all day, year in and year out, to support a
daughter of the richest man in the county and her kids, you fool
yourself.  If you want more than you got, call on your rich folks
for it.  If you want to go to town, either night or day, go for
all I care.  Do what you damn please; that's what I am going to do
in the future and I'm glad you know it.  I'm tired climbing
through windows and slinking like a dog.  I'll come and go like
other men after this."

"I don't know what other men you are referring to," said Kate.
"You have a monopoly of your kind in this neighbourhood; there is
none other like you.  You crawl and slink as 'to the manner
born.'"

"Don't you go too far," he menaced with an ugly leer.

"Keep that for your mother," laughed Kate.  "You need never try a
threat with me.  I am stronger than you are, and you may depend
upon it I shall see that my strength never fails me again.  I know
now that you are all Nancy Ellen said you were."

"Well, if you married me knowing it, what are you going to do
about it?" he sneered.

"I didn't know it then.  I thought I knew you.  I thought she had
been misinformed," said Kate, in self-defence.

"Well," he said insultingly, "if you hadn't been in such a big
hurry, you could soon have found out all you wanted to know.  I
took advantage of it, but I never did understand your rush."

"You never will," said Kate.

Then she arose and went to see if the children had wakened.  All
day she was thinking so deeply she would stumble over the chairs
in her preoccupation.  George noticed it, and it frightened him.
After supper he came and sat on the porch beside her.

"Kate," he said, "as usual you are 'making mountains out of mole
hills.'  It doesn't damn a fellow forever to ride or walk, I
almost always walk, into town in the evening, to see the papers
and have a little visit with the boys.  Work all day in a field is
mighty lonesome; a man has got the have a little change.  I don't
deny a glass of beer once in awhile, or a game of cards with the
boys occasionally; but if you have lived with me over five years
here, and never suspected it before, it can't be so desperately
bad, can it?  Come now, be fair!"

"It's no difference whether I am fair or unfair," Kate said,
wearily.  "It explains why you simply will not brace up, and be a
real man, and do a man's work in the world, and achieve a man's
success."

"Who can get anywhere, splitting everything in halves?" he
demanded.

"The most successful men in this neighbourhood got their start
exactly that way," she said.

"Ah, well, farming ain't my job, anyway," he said.  "I always did
hate it.  I always will.  If I could have a little capital to
start with, I know a trick that would suit you, and make us
independent in no time."

Kate said no word, and seeing she was not going to, he continued:
"I've thought about this till I've got it all down fine, and it's
a great scheme; you'll admit that, even angry as you are.  It is
this:  get enough together to build a saw mill on my strip of
ravine.  A little damming would make a free water power worth a
fortune.  I could hire a good man to run the saw and do the work,
and I could take a horse and ride, or drive around among the
farmers I know, and buy up timber cheaper than most men could get
it.  I could just skin the eyes out of them."

"Did it ever occur to you that you could do better by being
honest?" asked Kate, wearily.

"Aw, well, Smarty!  you know I didn't mean that literally!" he
scoffed.  "You know I only meant I could talk, and jolly, and buy
at bed-rock prices; I know where to get the timber, and the two
best mill men in the country; we are near the railroad; it's the
dandiest scheme that ever struck Walden.  What do you think about
it?"

"I think if Adam had it he'd be rich from it in ten years," she
said, quietly.

"Then you DO think it's a bully idea," he cried.  "You WOULD try
it if we had a chance?"

"I might," said Kate.

"You know," he cried, jumping up in excitement, "I've never
mentioned this to a soul, but I've got it all thought out.  Would
you go to see your brother Adam, and see if you could get him to
take an interest for young Adam?  He could manage the money
himself."

"I wouldn't go to a relative of mine for a cent, even if the
children were starving," said Kate.  "Get, and keep, THAT clear in
your head."

"But you think there is something in it?" he persisted.

"I know there is," said Kate with finality.  "In the hands of the
right man, and with the capital to start."

"Kate, you can be the meanest," he said.

"I didn't intend to be, in this particular instance," she said.
"But honestly, George, what have I ever seen of you in the way of
financial success in the past that would give me hope for the
future?"

"I know it," he said, "but I've never struck exactly the right
thing.  This is what I could make a success of, and I would make a
good big one, you bet!  Kate, I'll not go to town another night.
I'll stop all that."  He drew the flask from his pocket and
smashed it against the closest tree.  "And I'll stop all there
ever was of that, even to a glass of beer on a hot day; if you say
so, if you'll stand by me this once more, if I fail this time,
I'll never ask you again; honest, I won't."

"If I had money, I'd try it, keeping the building in my own name
and keeping the books myself; but I've none, and no way to get
any, as you know," she said.  "I can see what could be done, but
I'm helpless."

"I'M NOT!" said George.  "I've got it all worked out.  You see I
was doing something useful with my head, if I wasn't always
plowing as fast as you thought I should.  If you'll back me, if
you'll keep books, if you'll handle the money until she is paid
back, I know Aunt Ollie will sell enough of this land to build the
mill and buy the machinery.  She could keep the house, and
orchard, and barn, and a big enough piece, say forty acres, to
live on and keep all of us in grub.  She and Mother could move out
here -- she said the other day she was tired of town and getting
homesick -- and we could go to town to put the children in school,
and be on the job.  I won't ever ask you and Mother to live
together again.  Kate, will you go in with me?  Will you talk to
Aunt Ollie?  Will you let me show you, and explain, and prove to
you?"

"I won't be a party to anything that would even remotely threaten
to lose Aunt Ollie's money for her," she said.

"She's got nobody on earth but me.  It's all mine in the end.  Why
not let me have this wonderful chance with it?  Kate, will you?"
he begged.

"I'll think about it," she conceded.  "If I can study out a sure,
honourable way.  I'll promise to think.  Now go out there, and
hunt the last scrap of that glass; the children may cut their feet
in the morning."

Then Kate went in to bed.  If she had looked from her window, she
might have seen George scratching matches and picking pieces of
glass from the grass.  When he came to the bottom of the bottle
with upstanding, jagged edges, containing a few drops, he glanced
at her room, saw that she was undressing in the dark, and lifting
it, he poured the liquid on his tongue to the last drop that would
fall.



THE WORK OF THE SUN

BEFORE Kate awakened the following morning George was out feeding
the horses, cattle, and chickens, doing the milking, and working
like the proverbial beaver.  By the time breakfast was ready, he
had convinced himself that he was a very exemplary man, while he
expected Kate to be convinced also.  He stood ready and willing to
forgive her for every mean deceit and secret sin he ever had
committed, or had it in his heart to commit in the future.  All
the world was rosy with him, he was flying with the wings of hope
straight toward a wonderful achievement that would bring pleasure
and riches, first to George Holt, then to his wife and children,
then to the old aunt he really cared more for than any one else.

Incidentally, his mother might have some share, while he would
bring such prosperity and activity to the village that all Walden
would forget every bad thing it had ever thought or known of him,
and delight to pay him honour.  Kate might have guessed all this
when she saw the pails full of milk on the table, and heard George
whistling "Hail the Conquering Hero Comes," as he turned the cows
into the pasture; but she had not slept well.  Most of the night
she had lain staring at the ceiling, her brain busy with
calculations, computations, most of all with personal values.

She dared not be a party to anything that would lose Aunt Ollie
her land; that was settled; but if she went into the venture
herself, if she kept the deeds in Aunt Ollie's name, the bank
account in hers, drew all the checks, kept the books, would it be
safe?  Could George buy timber as he thought; could she, herself,
if he failed?  The children were old enough to be in school now,
she could have much of the day, she could soon train Polly and
Adam to do even more than sweep and run errands; the scheme could
be materialized in the Bates way, without a doubt; but could it be
done in a Bates way, hampered and impeded by George Holt?  Was the
plan feasible, after all?  She entered into the rosy cloud
enveloping the kitchen without ever catching the faintest gleam of
its hue.  George came to her the instant he saw her and tried to
put his arm around her.  Kate drew back and looked at him
intently.

"Aw, come on now, Kate," he said.  "Leave out the heroics and be
human.  I'll do exactly as you say about everything if you will
help me wheedle Aunt Ollie into letting me have the money."

Kate stepped back and put out her hands defensively:  "A rare
bargain," she said, "and one eminently worthy of you.  You'll do
what I say, if I'll do what you say, without the slightest
reference as to whether it impoverishes a woman who has always
helped and befriended you.  You make me sick!"

"What's biting you now?" he demanded, sullenly.

Kate stood tall and straight before and above him

"If you have a good plan, if you can prove that it will work, what
is the necessity for 'wheedling' anybody?  Why not state what you
propose in plain, unequivocal terms, and let the dear, old soul,
who has done so much for us already, decide what she will do?"

"That's what I meant!  That's all I meant!" he cried.

"In that case, 'wheedle' is a queer word to use."

"I believe you'd throw up the whole thing; I believe you'd let the
chance to be a rich woman slip through your fingers, if it all
depended on your saying only one word you thought wasn't quite
straight," he cried, half in assertion, half in question.

"I honour you in that belief," said Kate.  "I most certainly
would."

"Then you turn the whole thing down?  You won't have anything to
do with it?" he cried, plunging into stoop-shouldered, mouth-
sagging despair.

"Oh, I didn't SAY that!" said Kate.  "Give me time!  Let me think!
I've got to know that there isn't a snare in it, from the title of
the land to the grade of the creek bed.  Have you investigated
that?  Is your ravine long enough and wide enough to dam it high
enough at our outlet to get your power, and yet not back water on
the road, and the farmers above you?  Won't it freeze in winter?
and can you get strong enough power from water to run a large saw?
I doubt it!"

"Oh, gee!   I never thought about that!" he cried.

"And if it would work, did you figure the cost of a dam into your
estimate of the building and machinery?"

He snapped his fingers in impatience.

"By heck!" he cried, "I forgot THAT, too!  But that wouldn't cost
much.  Look what we did in that ravine just for fun.  Why, we
could build that dam ourselves!"

"Yes, strong enough for conditions in September, but what about
the January freshet?" she said.

"Croak!  Croak!  You blame old raven," cried George.

"And have you thought," continued Kate, "that there is no room on
the bank toward town to set your mill, and it wouldn't be allowed
there, if there were?"

"You bet I have!" he said defiantly.  "I'm no such slouch as you
think me.  I've even stepped off the location!"

"Then," said Kate, "will you build a bridge across the ravine to
reach it, or will you buy a strip from Linn and build a road?"

George collapsed with a groan.

"That's the trouble with you," said Kate.  "You always build your
castle with not even sand for a foundation.  The most nebulous of
rosy clouds serve you as perfectly as granite blocks.  Before you
go glimmering again, double your estimate to cover a dam and a
bridge, and a lot of incidentals that no one ever seems able to
include in a building contract.  And whatever you do, keep a still
head until we get these things figured, and have some sane idea of
what the venture would cost."

"How long will it take?" he said sullenly.

"I haven't an idea.  I'd have to go the Hartley and examine the
records and be sure that there was no flaw in the deeds to the
land; but the first thing is to get a surveyor and know for sure
if you have a water-power that will work and not infringe on your
neighbours.  A thing like this can't be done in a few minutes'
persuasive conversation.  It will take weeks."

It really seemed as if it would take months.  Kate went to Walden
that afternoon, set the children playing in the ravine while she
sketched it, made the best estimate she could of its fall, and
approved the curve on the opposite bank which George thought could
be cleared for a building site and lumber yard.  Then she added a
location for a dam and a bridge site, and went home to figure and
think.  The further she went in these processes the more hopeless
the project seemed.  She soon learned that there must be an engine
with a boiler to run the saw.  The dam could be used only to make
a pond to furnish the water needed; but at that it would be
cheaper than to dig a cistern or well.  She would not even suggest
to Aunt Ollie to sell any of the home forty.  The sale of the
remainder at the most hopeful price she dared estimate would not
bring half the money needed, and it would come in long-time
payments.  Lumber, bricks, machinery, could not be had on time of
any length, while wages were cash every Saturday night.

"It simply can't be done," said Kate, and stopped thinking about
it, so far as George knew.

He was at once plunged into morose moping; he became sullen and
indifferent about the work, ugly with Kate and the children, until
she was driven almost frantic, and projects nearly as vague as
some of George's began to float through her head.

One Saturday morning Kate had risen early and finished cleaning up
her house, baking, and scrubbing porches.  She had taken a bath to
freshen and cool herself and was standing before her dresser,
tucking the last pins in her hair, when she heard a heavy step on
the porch and a loud knock on the screen door.  She stood at an
angle where she could peep; she looked as she reached for her
dress.  What she saw carried her to the door forgetful of the
dress.  Adam, Jr., stood there, white and shaken, steadying
himself against the casing.

"Adam!" cried Kate.  "Is Mother --?"

He shook his head.

"Father --?" she panted.

He nodded, seeming unable to speak.  Kate's eyes darkened and
widened.  She gave Adam another glance and opened the door.  "Come
in," she said.  "When did it happen?  How did he get hurt?"

In that moment she recalled that she had left her father in
perfect health, she had been gone more than seven years.  In that
time he could not fail to illness; how he had been hurt was her
first thought.  As she asked the question, she stepped into her
room and snatched up her second best summer dress, waiting for
Adam to speak as she slipped into it.  But speaking seemed to be a
very difficult thing for Adam.  He was slow in starting and words
dragged and came singly:  "Yesterday -- tired -- big dinner --
awful hot -- sunstroke -- "

"He's gone?" she cried.

Adam nodded in that queer way again.

"Why did you come?  Does Mother want me?" the questions leaped
from Kate's lips; her eyes implored him.  Adam was too stricken to
heed his sister's unspoken plea.

"Course," he said.  "All there -- your place -- I want you.  Only
one in the family -- not stark mad!"

Kate straightened tensely and looked at him again.  "All right,"
she said.  "I can throw a few things in my telescope, write the
children a note to take to their father in the field, and we can
stop in Walden and send Aunt Ollie out to cook for them; I can go
as well as not, for as long as Mother wants me."

"Hurry!" said Adam.

In her room Kate stood still a second, her eyes narrow, her
underlip sucked in, her heart almost stopped.  Then she said
aloud:  "Father's sons have wished he would die too long for his
death to strike even the most tolerant of them like that.
Something dreadful has happened.  I wonder to my soul -- !"

She waited until they were past Hartley and then she asked
suddenly:  "Adam, what is the matter?"

Then Adam spoke:  "I am one of a pack of seven poor fools, and
every other girl in the family has gone raving mad, so I thought
I'd come after you, and see if you had sense, or reason, or
justice, left in you."

"What do you want of me?" she asked dazedly.

"I want you to be fair, to be honest, to do as you'd be done by.
You came to me when you were in trouble," he reminded her.

Kate could not prevent the short laugh that sprang to her lips,
nor what she said: "And you would not lift a finger; young Adam
MADE his MOTHER help me.  Why don't you go to George for what you
want?"

Adam lost all self-control and swore sulphurously.

"I thought you'd be different," he said, "but I see you are going
to be just like the rest of the --!"

"Stop that!" said Kate.  "You're talking about my sisters -- and
yours.  Stop this wild talk, and tell me exactly what is the
matter."

"I'm telling nothing," said Adam.  "You can find out what is the
matter and go it with the rest of them, when you get there.
Mother said this morning she wished you were there, because you'd
be the only SANE one in the family, so I thought I'd bring you;
but I wish now I hadn't done it, for it stands to reason that you
will join the pack, and run as fast as the rest of the wolves."

"FROM a prairie fire, or TO a carcass?" asked Kate.

"I told you, you could find out when you got there.  I'm not going
to have them saying I influenced you, or bribed you," he said.


"Do you really think that they think you could, Adam?" asked Kate,
wonderingly.

"I have said all I'm going to say," said Adam, and then he began
driving his horse inhumanely fast, for the heat was deep, slow,
and burning.

"Adam, is there any such hurry?" asked Kate.  "You know you are
abusing your horse dreadfully."

Adam immediately jerked the horse with all his might, and slashed
the length of its body with two long stripes that rapidly raised
in high welts, so Kate saw that he was past reasoning with and
said no other word.  She tried to think who would be at home, how
they would treat her, the Prodigal, who had not been there in
seven years; and suddenly it occurred to Kate that, if she had
known all she now knew in her youth, and had the same decision to
make again as when she knew nothing, she would have taken wing,
just as she had.  She had made failures, she had hurt herself,
mind and body, but her honour, her self-respect were intact.
Suddenly she sat straight.  She was glad that she had taken a
bath, worn a reasonably decent dress, and had a better one in the
back of the buggy.  She would cut the Gordian knot with a
vengeance.  She would not wait to see how they treated her, she
would treat them!  As for Adam's state, there was only one surmise
she could make, and that seemed so incredible, she decided to wait
until her mother told her all about whatever the trouble was.

As they came in sight of the house, queer feelings took possession
of Kate.  She struggled to think kindly of her father; she tried
to feel pangs of grief over his passing.  She was too forthright
and had too good memory to succeed.  Home had been so unbearable
that she had taken desperate measures to escape it, but as the
white house with its tree and shrub filled yard could be seen more
plainly, Kate suddenly was filled with the strongest possessive
feeling she ever had known.  It was home.  It was her home.  Her
place was there, even as Adam had said.  She felt a sudden
revulsion against herself that she had stayed away seven years;
she should have taken her chances and at least gone to see her
mother.  She leaned from the buggy and watched for the first
glimpse of the tall, gaunt, dark woman, who had brought their big
brood into the world and stood squarely with her husband, against
every one of them, in each thing he proposed.

Now he was gone.  No doubt he had carried out his intentions. No
doubt she was standing by him as always.  Kate gathered her
skirts, but Adam passed the house, driving furiously as ever, and
he only slackened speed when he was forced to at the turn from the
road to the lane.  He stopped the buggy in the barnyard, got out,
and began unharnessing the horse.  Kate sat still and watched him
until he led it away, then she stepped down and started across the
barnyard, down the lane leading to the dooryard.  As she closed
the yard gate and rounded a widely spreading snowball bush, her
heart was pounding wildly.  What was coming?  How would the other
boys act, if Adam, the best balanced man of them all, was behaving
as he was?  How would her mother greet her?  With the thought,
Kate realized that she was so homesick for her mother that she
would do or give anything in the world to see her.  Then there was
a dragging step, a short, sharp breath, and wheeling, Kate stood
facing her mother.  She had come from the potato patch back of the
orchard, carrying a pail of potatoes in each hand.  Her face was
haggard, her eyes bloodshot, her hair falling in dark tags, her
cheeks red with exertion.  They stood facing each other.  At the
first glimpse Kate cried, "Oh, Mother," and sprang toward her.
Then she stopped, while her heart again failed her, for from the
astonishment on her mother's face, Kate saw instantly that she was
surprised, and had neither sent for nor expected her.  She was
nauseatingly disappointed.  Adam had said she was wanted, had been
sent for.  Kate's face was twitching, her lips quivering, but she
did not hesitate more than an instant.

"I see you were not expecting me," she said.  "I'm sorry.  Adam
came after me.  I wouldn't have come if he hadn't said you sent
for me."

Kate paused a minute hopefully.  Her mother looked at her
steadily.

"I'm sorry," Kate repeated.  "I don't know why he said that."

By that time the pain in her heart was so fierce she caught her
breath sharply, and pressed her hand hard against her side.  Her
mother stooped, set down the buckets, and taking off her
sunbonnet, wiped the sweat from her lined face with the curtain.

"Well, I do," she said tersely.

"Why?" demanded Kate.

"To see if he could use you to serve his own interests, of
course," answered her mother.  "He lied good and hard when he said
I sent for you; I didn't.  I probably wouldn't a-had the sense to
do it.  But since you are here, I don't mind telling you that I
never was so glad to see any one in all my born days."

Mrs. Bates drew herself full height, set her lips, stiffened her
jaw, and again used the bonnet skirt on her face and neck.  Kate
picked up the potatoes, to hide the big tears that gushed from her
eyes, and leading the way toward the house she said:  "Come over
here in the shade.  Why should you be out digging potatoes?"

"Oh, they's enough here, and willing enough," said Mrs. Bates.
"Slipped off to get away from them.  It was the quietest and the
peacefullest out there, Kate.  I'd most liked to stay all day, but
it's getting on to dinner time, and I'm short of potatoes."

"Never mind the potatoes," said Kate.  "Let the folks serve
themselves if they are hungry."

She went to the side of the smoke house, picked up a bench turned
up there, and carrying it to the shady side of a widely spreading
privet bush, she placed it where it would be best screened from
both house and barn.  Then setting the potatoes in the shade, she
went to her mother, put her arm around her, and drew her to the
seat.  She took her handkerchief and wiped her face, smoothed back
her straggled hair, and pulling out a pin, fastened the coil
better.

"Now rest a bit," she said, "and then tell me why you are glad to
see me, and exactly what you'd like me to do here.  Mind, I've
been away seven years, and Adam told me not a word, except that
Father was gone."

"Humph!  All missed the mark again," commented Mrs. Bates dryly.
"They all said he'd gone to fill you up, and get you on his side."

"Mother, what is the trouble?" asked Kate.  "Take your time and
tell me what has happened, and what YOU want, not what Adam
wants."

Mrs. Bates relaxed her body a trifle, but gripped her hands
tightly together in her lap.

"Well, it was quick work," she said.  "It all came yesterday
afternoon just like being hit by lightning.  Pa hadn't failed a
particle that any one could see.  Ate a big dinner of ham an'
boiled dumplings, an' him an' Hiram was in the west field.  It was
scorchin' hot an' first Hiram saw, Pa was down.  Sam Langley was
passin' an' helped get him in, an' took our horse an' ran for
Robert.  He was in the country but Sam brought another doctor real
quick, an' he seemed to fetch Pa out of it in good shape, so we
thought he'd be all right, mebby by morning, though the doctor
said he'd have to hole up a day or two.  He went away, promisin'
to send Robert back, and Hiram went home to feed.  I set by Pa
fanning him an' putting cloths on his head.  All at once he began
to chill.

"We thought it was only the way a-body was with sunstroke, and
past pilin' on blankets, we didn't pay much attention.  He SAID he
was all right, so I went to milk.  Before I left I gave him a
drink, an' he asked me to feel in his pants pocket an' get the key
an' hand him the deed box, till he'd see if everything was right.
Said he guessed he'd had a close call.  You know how he was.  I
got him the box and went to do the evening work.  I hurried fast
as I could.  Coming back, clear acrost the yard I smelt burning
wool, an' I dropped the milk an' ran.  I dunno no more about just
what happened 'an you do.  The house was full of smoke.  Pa was on
the floor, most to the sitting-room door, his head and hair and
hands awfully burned, his shirt burned off, laying face down, and
clear gone.  The minute I seen the way he laid, I knew he was
gone.  The bed was pourin' smoke and one little blaze about six
inches high was shootin' up to the top.  I got that out, and then
I saw most of the fire was smothered between the blankets where
he'd thrown them back to get out of the bed.  I dunno why he
fooled with the lamp.  It always stood on the little table in his
reach, but it was light enough to read fine print.  All I can
figure is that the light was going out of his EYES, an' he thought
IT WAS GETTIN' DARK, so he tried to light the lamp to see the
deeds.  He was fingerin' them when I left, but he didn't say he
couldn't see them.  The lamp was just on the bare edge of the
table, the wick way up an' blackened, the chimney smashed on the
floor, the bed afire."

"Those deeds are burned?" gasped Kate.  "All of them?  Are they
all gone?"

"Every last one," said Mrs. Bates.

"Well, if ONE is gone, thank God they all are," said Kate.

Her mother turned swiftly and caught her arm.

"Say that again!" she cried eagerly.

"Maybe I'm WRONG about it, but it's what I think," said Kate.  "If
the boys are crazy over all of them being gone, they'd do murder
if part had theirs, and the others had not."

Mrs. Bates doubled over on Kate's shoulder suddenly and struggled
with an inward spasm.

"You poor thing," said Kate.  "This is dreadful.  All of us know
how you loved him, how you worked together.  Can you think of
anything I can do?  Is there any special thing the matter?"

"I'm afraid!" whispered Mrs. Bates.  "Oh, Katie, I'm so afraid.
You know how SET he was, you know how he worked himself and all of
us -- he had to know what he was doing, when he fought the fire
till the shirt burned off him" -- her voice dropped to a harsh
whisper -- "what do you s'pose he's doing now?"

Any form of religious belief was a subject that never had been
touched upon or talked of in the Bates family.  Money was their
God, work their religion; Kate looked at her mother curiously.

"You mean you believe in after life?" she asked.

"Why, I suppose there must be SOMETHING," she said.

"I think so myself," said Kate.  "I always have.  I think there is
a God, and that Father is facing Him now, and finding out for the
first time in his experience that he is very small potatoes, and
what he planned and slaved for amounted to nothing, in the scheme
of the universe.  I can't imagine Father being subdued by anything
on earth, but it appeals to me that he will cut a pathetic figure
before the throne of an Almighty God."

A slow grin twisted Mrs. Bates' lips.

"Well, wherever he went," she said, "I guess he found out pretty
quick that he was some place at last where he couldn't be boss."

"I'm very sure he has," said Kate, "and I am equally sure the
discipline will be good for him.  But his sons!  His precious
sons!  What are they doing?"

"Taking it according to their bent," said Mrs. Bates.  "Adam is
insane, Hiram is crying."

"Have you had a lawyer?" asked Kate.

"What for?  We all know the law on this subject better than we
know our a, b, c's."

"Did your deed for this place go, too?" asked Kate.

"Yes," said Mrs. Bates, "but mine was recorded, none of the others
were.  I get a third, and the rest will be cut up and divided,
share and share alike, among ALL OF YOU, equally.  I think it's
going to kill Adam and ruin Andrew."

"It won't do either.  But this is awful.  I can see how the boys
feel, and really, Mother, this is no more fair to them than things
always have been for the girls.  By the way, what are they doing?"

"Same as the boys, acting out their natures.  Mary is openly
rejoicing.  So is Nancy Ellen.  Hannah and Bertha at least can see
the boys' side.  The others say one thing before the boys and
another among themselves.  In the end the girls will have their
shares and nobody can blame them.  I don't myself, but I think Pa
will rise from his grave when those farms are torn up."

"Don't worry," said Kate.  "He will have learned by now that
graves are merely incidental, and that he has no option on real
estate where he is.  Leave him to his harp, and tell me what you
want done."

"I want you to see that it was all accidental.  I want you to take
care of me.  I want you should think out the FAIR thing for all of
us to DO.  I want you to keep sane and cool-headed and shame the
others into behaving themselves.  And I want you to smash down
hard on their everlasting, 'why didn't you do this?' and 'why
didn't you do that?'  I reckon I've been told five hundred times
a-ready that I shouldn't a-give him the deeds.  Josie say it, an'
then she sings it.  NOT GIVE THEM TO HIM!  How could I help giving
them to him?  He'd a-got up and got them himself if I hadn't -- "

"You have cut out something of a job for me," said Kate, "but I'll
do my best.  Anyway, I can take care of you.  Come on into the
house now, and let me clean you up, and then I'll talk the rest of
them into reason, if you stand back of me, and let them see I'm
acting for you."

"You go ahead," said Mrs. Bates.  "I'll back whatever you say.
But keep them off of me!  Keep them off of me!"

After Kate had bathed her mother, helped her into fresh clothes,
and brushed her hair, she coaxed her to lie down, and by
diplomatic talk and stroking her head, finally soothed her to
sleep.  Then she went down and announced the fact, asked them all
to be quiet, and began making her way from group to group in an
effort to restore mental balance and sanity.  After Kate had
invited all of them to go home and stay until time for the funeral
Sunday morning, and all of them had emphatically declined, and
eagerly had gone on straining the situation to the breaking point,
Kate gave up and began setting the table.  When any of them tried
to talk or argue with her she said conclusively:  "I shall not say
one word about this until Monday.  Then we will talk things over,
and find where we stand, and what Mother wants.  This would be
much easier for all of us, if you'd all go home and calm down, and
plan out what you think would be the fair and just thing to do."

Before evening Kate was back exactly where she left off, for when
Mrs. Bates came downstairs, her nerves quieted by her long sleep,
she asked Kate what would be best about each question that arose,
while Kate answered as nearly for all of them as her judgment and
common sense dictated; but she gave the answer in her own way, and
she paved the way by making a short, sharp speech when the first
person said in her hearing that "Mother never should have given
him the deeds."  Not one of them said that again, while at Kate's
suggestion, mentally and on scraps of paper, every single one of
them figured that one third of sixteen hundred and fifty was five
hundred and fifty; subtracted from sixteen hundred and fifty this
left one thousand one hundred, which, divided by sixteen, gave
sixty-eight and three fourths.  This result gave Josie the
hysterics, strong and capable though she was; made Hiram violently
ill, so that he resorted to garden palings for a support; while
Agatha used her influence suddenly, and took Adam, Jr., home.

As she came to Kate to say that they were going, Agatha was white
as possible, her thin lips compressed, a red spot burning on
either cheek.

"Adam and I shall take our departure now, Katherine," she said,
standing very stiffly, her head held higher than Kate ever had
thought it could be lifted.  Kate put her arm around her sister-
in-law and gave her a hearty hug:  "Tell Adam I'll do what I think
is fair and just; and use all the influence I have to get the
others to do the same," she said.

"Fruitless!" said Agatha.  "Fruitless!  Reason and justice have
departed from this abode.  I shall hasten my pace, and take Adam
where my influence is paramount.  The state of affairs here is
deplorable, perfectly deplorable!  I shall not be missed, and I
shall leave my male offspring to take the place of his poor,
defrauded father."

Adam, 3d, was now a tall, handsome young man of twenty-two, quite
as fond of Kate as ever.  He wiped the dishes, and when the
evening work was finished, they talked with Mrs. Bates until they
knew her every wish.  The children had planned for a funeral from
the church, because it was large enough to seat the family and
friends in comfort; but when they mentioned this to Mrs. Bates,
she delivered an ultimatum on the instant:  "You'll do no such
thing!" she cried.  "Pa never went to that church living; I'll not
sanction his being carried there feet first, when he's helpless.
And we'll not scandalize the neighbours by fighting over money on
Sunday, either.  You'll all come Monday morning, if you want
anything to say about this.  If you don't, I'll put through the
business in short order.  I'm sick to my soul of the whole thing.
I'll wash my hands of it as quick as possible."

So the families all went to their homes; Kate helped her mother to
bed; and then she and Adam, 3d, tried to plan what would be best
for the morrow; afterward they sat down and figured until almost
dawn.

"There's no faintest possibility of pleasing everyone," said Kate.
"The level best we can do is to devise some scheme whereby
everyone will come as nearly being satisfied as possible."

"Can Aunt Josie and Aunt Mary keep from fighting across the
grave?" asked Adam.

"Only Heaven knows," said Kate.



THE BANNER HAND

SUNDAY morning Kate arose early and had the house clean and
everything ready when the first carriage load drove into the
barnyard.  As she helped her mother to dress, Mrs. Bates again
evidenced a rebellious spirit.  Nancy Ellen had slipped upstairs
and sewed fine white ruching in the neck and sleeves of her
mother's best dress, her only dress, in fact, aside from the
calicoes she worked in.  Kate combed her mother's hair and drew it
in loose waves across her temples.  As she produced the dress,
Mrs. Bates drew back.

"What did you stick them gew-gaws onto my dress for?" she
demanded.

"I didn't," said Kate.

"Oh, it was Nancy Ellen!  Well, I don't see why she wanted to make
a laughing stock of me," said Mrs. Bates.

"She didn't!" said Kate.  "Everyone is wearing ruching now; she
wanted her mother to have what the best of them have."

"Humph!" said Mrs. Bates.  "Well, I reckon I can stand it until
noon, but it's going to be a hot dose."

"Haven't you a thin black dress, Mother?" asked Kate.

"No," said Mrs. Bates, "I haven't; but you can make a pretty safe
bet that I will have one before I start anywhere again in such
weather as this."

"That's the proper spirit," said Kate.  "There comes Andrew.  Let
me put your bonnet on."

She set the fine black bonnet Nancy Ellen had bought on Mrs.
Bates' head at the proper angle and tied the long, wide silk
ribbon beneath her chin.  Mrs. Bates sat in martyr-like
resignation.  Kate was pleased with her mother's appearance.

"Look in the mirror," she said.  "See what a handsome lady you
are."

"I ain't seen in a looking-glass since I don't know when," said
Mrs. Bates.  "Why should I begin now?  Chances are 'at you have
rigged me up until I'll set the neighbours laughing, or else to
saying that I didn't wait until the breath was out of Pa's body to
begin primping."

"Nonsense, Mother," said Kate.  "Nobody will say or think
anything.  Everyone will recognize Nancy Ellen's fine Spencerian
hand in that bonnet and ruching.  Now for your veil!"

Mrs. Bates arose from her chair, and stepped back.

"There, there, Katie!" she said.  "You've gone far enough.  I'll
be sweat to a lather in this dress; I'll wear the head-riggin',
because I've go to, or set the neighbours talkin' how mean Pa was
not to let me have a bonnet; and between the two I'd rather they'd
take it out on me than on him."  She steadied herself by the chair
back and looked Kate in the eyes.  "Pa was always the banner hand
to boss everything," she said.  "He was so big and strong, and so
all-fired sure he was right, I never contraried him in the start,
so before I knowed it, I was waiting for him to say what to do,
and then agreeing with him, even when I knowed he was WRONG.  So
goin' we got along FINE, but it give me an awful smothered feeling
at times."

Kate stood looking at her mother intently, her brain racing, for
she was thinking to herself:  "Good Lord!  She means that to
preserve the appearance of self-respect she systematically agreed
with him, whether she thought he was right or wrong; because she
was not able to hold her own against him.  Nearly fifty years of
life like that!"

Kate tossed the heavy black crepe veil back on the bed.  "Mother,"
she said, "here alone, and between us, if I promise never to tell
a living soul, will you tell me the truth about that deed
business?"  Mrs. Bates seemed so agitated Kate added:  "I mean how
it started.  If you thought it was right and a fair thing to do."

"Yes, I'll tell you that," said Mrs. Bates.  "It was not fair, and
I saw it; I saw it good and plenty.  There was no use to fight
him; that would only a-drove him to record them, but I was sick of
it, an' I told him so."

Kate was pinning her hat.

"I have planned for you to walk with Adam," she said.

"Well, you can just change THAT plan, so far as I am concerned,"
said Mrs. Bates with finality.  "I ain't a-goin' with Adam.
Somebody had told him about the deeds before he got here.  He came
in ravin', and he talked to me something terrible.  He was the
first to say I shouldn't a-give Pa the box.  NOT GIVE IT TO HIM!
An' he went farther than that, till I just rose up an' called him
down proper; but I ain't feelin' good at him, an' I ain't goin'
with him.  I am goin' with you.  I want somebody with me that
understands me, and feels a little for me, an' I want the
neighbours to see that the minute I'm boss, such a fine girl as
you has her rightful place in her home.  I'll go with you, or I'll
sit down on this chair, and sit here."

"But you didn't send for me," said Kate.

"No, I hadn't quite got round to it yet; but I was coming.  I'd
told all of them that you were the only one in the lot who had any
sense; and I'd said I WISHED you were here, and as I see it, I'd
a-sent for you yesterday afternoon about three o'clock.  I was
coming to it fast.  I didn't feel just like standing up for
myself; but I'd took about all fault-finding it was in me to bear.
Just about three o'clock I'd a-sent for you, Katie, sure as God
made little apples."

"All right then," said Kate, "but if you don't tell them, they'll
always say I took the lead."

"Well, they got to say something," said Mrs. Bates.  "Most of 'em
would die if they had to keep their mouths shut awhile; but I'll
tell them fast enough."

Then she led the way downstairs.  There were enough members of the
immediate family to pack the front rooms of the house, the
neighbours filled the dining room and dooryard.  The church choir
sang a hymn in front of the house, the minister stood on the front
steps and read a chapter, and told where Mr. Bates had been born,
married, the size of his family and possessions, said he was a
good father, an honest neighbour, and very sensibly left his
future with his God.  Then the choir sang again and all started to
their conveyances.  As the breaking up began outside, Mrs. Bates
arose and stepped to the foot of the casket.  She steadied herself
by it and said:  "Some time back, I promised Pa that if he went
before I did, at this time in his funeral ceremony I would set his
black tin box on the foot of his coffin and unlock before all of
you, and in the order in which they lay, beginning with Adam, Jr.,
hand each of you boys the deed Pa had made you for the land you
live on.  You all know WHAT happened.  None of you know just HOW.
It wouldn't bring the deeds BACK if you did.  They're gone.  But I
want you boys to follow your father to his grave with nothing in
your hearts against HIM.  He was all for the men.  I don't ever
want to hear any of you criticize him about this, or me, either.
He did his best to make you upstanding men in your community, his
one failing being that he liked being an upstanding man himself so
well that he carried it too far; but his intentions was the best.
As for me, I'd no idea how sick he was, and nobody else did.  I
minded him just like all the rest of you always did; the BOYS
especially.  From the church I want all of you to go home until
to-morrow morning, and then I want my sons and daughters by BIRTH
only, to come here, and we'll talk things over, quietly, QUIETLY,
mind you; and decide what to do.  Katie, will you come with me?"

It was not quite a tearless funeral.  Some of the daughters-in-law
wept from nervous excitement; and some of the little children
cried with fear, but there were no tears from the wife of Adam
Bates, or his sons and daughters.  And when he was left to the
mercies of time, all of them followed Mrs. Bates' orders, except
Nancy Ellen and Robert, who stopped to help Kate with the dinner.
Kate slipped into her second dress and went to work.  Mrs. Bates
untied her bonnet strings and unfastened her dress neck as they
started home.  She unbuttoned her waist going up the back walk and
pulled it off at the door.

"Well, if I ever put that thing on in July again," she said, "you
can use my head for a knock-maul.  Nancy Ellen, can't you stop at
a store as you come out in the morning and get the goods, and you
girls run me up a dress that is nice enough to go out in, and not
so hot it starts me burning before my time?"

"Of course I can," said Nancy Ellen.  "About what do you want to
pay, Mother?"

"Whatever it takes to get a decent and a cool dress; cool, mind
you," said Mrs. Bates, "an' any colour but black."

"Why, Mother!" cried Nancy Ellen "it must be black!"

"No," said Mrs. Bates.  "Pa kept me in black all my life on the
supposition it showed the dirt the least.  There's nothing in
that.  It shows dirt worse 'an white.  I got my fill of black.
You can get a nice cool gray, if you want me to wear it."

"Well, I never!" said Nancy Ellen.  "What will the neighbours
say?"

"What do I care?" asked Mrs. Bates.  "They've talked about me all
my life, I'd be kinda lonesome if they's to quit."

Dinner over, Kate proposed that her mother should lie down while
they washed the dishes.

"I would like a little rest," said Mrs. Bates.  "I guess I'll go
upstairs."

"You'll do nothing of the kind," said Kate.  "It's dreadfully hot
up there.  Go in the spare room, where it is cool; we'll keep
quiet.  I am going to stay Tuesday until I move you in there,
anyway.  It's smaller, but it's big enough for one, and you'll
feel much better there."

"Oh, Katie, I'm so glad you thought of that," cried Mrs. Bates.
"I been thinking and thinking about it, and it just seems as if I
can't ever steel myself to go into that room to sleep again.  I'll
never enter that door that I don't see -- "

"You'll never enter it again as your room," said Kate.  "I'll fix
you up before I go; and Sally Whistler told me last evening she
would come and make her home with you if you wanted her.  You like
Sally, don't you?"

"Yes, I like her fine," said Mrs. Bates.

Quietly as possible the girls washed the dishes, pulled down the
blinds, closed the front door, and slipped down in the orchard
with Robert to talk things over.  Nancy Ellen was stiffly reserved
with Kate, but she WOULD speak when she was spoken to, which was
so much better than silence that Kate was happy over it.  Robert
was himself.  Kate thought she had never liked him so well.  He
seemed to grow even kinder and more considerate as the years
passed.  Nancy Ellen was prettier than Kate ever had seen her, but
there was a line of discontent around her mouth, and she spoke
pettishly on slight provocation, or none at all.  Now she was
openly, brazenly, brutally, frank in her rejoicing.  She thought
it was the best "JOKE" that ever happened to the boys; and she
said so repeatedly.  Kate found her lips closing more tightly and
a slight feeling of revulsion growing in her heart.  Surely in
Nancy Ellen's lovely home, cared for and shielded in every way,
she had no such need of money as Kate had herself.  She was
delighted when Nancy Ellen said she was sleepy, and was going to
the living-room lounge for a nap.  Then Kate produced her sheet of
figures.  She and Robert talked the situation over and carefully
figured on how an adjustment, fair to all, could be made, until
they were called to supper.

After supper Nancy Ellen and Robert went home, while Kate and her
mother sat on the back porch and talked until Kate had a clear
understanding and a definite plan in her mind, which was that much
improvement over wearing herself out in bitter revilings, or
selfish rejoicing over her brothers' misfortune.  Her mother
listened to all she had to say, asked a question occasionally,
objected to some things, and suggested others.  They arose when
they had covered every contingency they could think of and went
upstairs to bed, even though the downstairs was cooler.

As she undressed, Mrs. Bates said slowly:  "Now in the morning,
I'll speak my piece first; and I'll say it pretty plain.  I got
the whip-hand here for once in my life.  They can't rave and fight
here, and insult me again, as they did Friday night and Saturday
till you got here an' shut 'em up.  I won't stand it, that's flat!
I'll tell 'em so, and that you speak for me, because you can
figure faster and express yourself plainer; but insist that there
be no fussing, an' I'll back you.  I don't know just what life has
been doing to you, Katie, but Lord! it has made a fine woman of
you."

Kate set her lips in an even line and said nothing, but her heart
was the gladdest it had been in years.

Her mother continued:  "Seems like Nancy Ellen had all the chance.
Most folks thought she was a lot the purtiest to start with,
though I can't say that I ever saw so much difference.  She's had
leisure an' pettin', and her husband has made a mint o' money;
she's gone all over the country with him, and the more chance she
has, the narrower she grows, and the more discontenteder.  One
thing, she is awful disappointed about havin' no children.  I pity
her about that."

"Is it because she's a twin?" asked Kate.

"I'm afraid so," said Mrs. Bates.  "You can't tell much about
those things, they just seem to happen.  Robert and Nancy Ellen
feel awful bad about it.  Still, she might do for others what she
would for her own.  The Lord knows there are enough mighty nice
children in the world who need mothering.  I want to see your
children, Katie.  Are they nice little folks, straight and good
looking?"

"The boy is," said Kate.  "The girl is good, with the exception of
being the most stubborn child I've ever seen.  She looks so much
like a woman it almost sickens me to think of that I have to drive
myself to do her justice."

"What a pity!" said Mrs. Bates, slowly.

"Oh, they are healthy, happy youngsters," said Kate.  "They get as
much as we ever did, and don't expect any more.  I have yet to see
a demonstrative Bates."

"Humph!" said Mrs. Bates.  "Well, you ought to been here Friday
night, and I thought Adam came precious near it Saturday."

"Demonstrating power, or anger, yes," said Kate.  "I meant
affection.  And isn't it the queerest thing how people are made?
Of all the boys, Adam is the one who has had the most softening
influences, and who has made the most money, and yet he's acting
the worst of all.  It really seems as if failure and hardship make
more of a human being of folks than success."

"You're right," said Mrs. Bates.  "Look at Nancy Ellen and Adam.
Sometimes I think Adam has been pretty much galled with Agatha and
her money all these years; and it just drives him crazy to think
of having still less than she has.  Have you got your figures all
set down, to back you up, Katie?"

"Yes," said Kate.  "I've gone all over it with Robert, and he
thinks it's the best and only thing that can be done.  Now go to
sleep."

Each knew that the other was awake most of the night, but very few
words passed between them.  They were up early, dressed, and
waiting when the first carriage stopped at the gate.  Kate told
her mother to stay where she would not be worried until she was
needed, and went down herself to meet her brothers and sisters in
the big living room.  When the last one arrived, she called her
mother.  Mrs. Bates came down looking hollow-eyed, haggard, and
grim, as none of her children ever before had seen her.  She
walked directly to the little table at the end of the room, and
while still standing she said:  "Now I've got a few words to say,
and then I'll turn this over to a younger head an' one better at
figures than mine.  I've said my say as to Pa, yesterday.  Now
I'll say THIS, for myself.  I got my start, minding Pa, and
agreeing with him, young; but you needn't any of you throw it in
my teeth now, that I did.  There is only ONE woman among you, and
no MAN who ever disobeyed him.  Katie stood up to him once, and
got seven years from home to punish her and me.  He wasn't RIGHT
then, and I knew it, as I'd often known it before, and pretty
often since; but no woman God ever made could have lived with Adam
Bates as his wife and contraried him.  I didn't mind him any
quicker or any oftener than the rest of you; keep that pretty
clear in your heads, and don't one of you dare open your mouth
again to tell me, as you did Saturday, what I SHOULD a-done, and
what I SHOULDN'T.  I've had the law of this explained to me; you
all know it for that matter.  By the law, I get this place and one
third of all the other land and money.  I don't know just what
money there is at the bank or in notes and mortgages, but a
sixteenth of it after my third is taken out ain't going to make or
break any of you.  I've told Katie what I'm willing to do on my
part and she will explain it, and then tell you about a plan she
has fixed up.  As for me, you can take it or leave it.  If you
take it, well and good; if you don't, the law will be set in
motion to-day, and it will take its course to the end.  It all
depends on YOU.

"Now two things more.  At the start, what Pa wanted to do seemed
to me right, and I agreed with him and worked with him.  But when
my girls began to grow up and I saw how they felt, and how they
struggled and worked, and how the women you boys married went
ahead of my own girls, and had finer homes, an' carriages, and
easier times, I got pretty sick of it, and I told Pa so more'n
once.  He just raved whenever I did, an' he always carried his
keys in his pocket.  I never touched his chest key in my life,
till I handed him his deed box Friday afternoon.  But I agree with
my girls.  It's fair and right, since things have come out as they
have, that they should have their shares.  I would, too.

"The other thing is just this:  I'm tired to death of the whole
business.  I want peace and rest and I want it quick.  Friday and
Saturday I was so scared and so knocked out I s'pose I'd 'a' took
it if one of the sucking babies had riz up and commenced to tell
me what I should a-done, and what I shouldn't.  I'm THROUGH with
that.  You will all keep civil tongues in your heads this morning,
or I'll get up and go upstairs, an' lock myself in a room till
you're gone, an' if I go, it will mean that the law takes its
course; and if it does, there will be three hundred acres less
land to divide.  You've had Pa on your hands all your lives, now
you will go civil, and you will go easy, or you will get a taste
of Ma.  I take no more talk from anybody.  Katie, go ahead with
your figures."

Kate spread her sheet on the table and glanced around the room:

"The Milton County records show sixteen hundred and fifty acres
standing in Father's name," she said.  "Of these, Mother is heir
to five hundred and fifty acres, leaving one thousand one hundred
acres to be divided among sixteen of us, which give sixty-eight
and three-fourths acres to each.  This land is the finest that
proper fertilization and careful handling can make.  Even the
poorest is the cream of the country as compared with the
surrounding farms.  As a basis of estimate I have taken one
hundred dollars an acre as a fair selling figure.  Some is worth
more, some less, but that is a good average.  This would make the
share of each of us in cash that could easily be realized, six
thousand eight hundred and seventy-five dollars.  Whatever else is
in mortgages, notes, and money can be collected as it is due,
deposited in some bank, and when it is all in, divided equally
among us, after deducting Mother's third.  Now this is the law,
and those are the figures, but I shall venture to say that none of
us feel RIGHT about it, or ever will."

An emphatic murmur of approval ran among the boys, Mary and Nancy
Ellen stoutly declared that they did.

"Oh, no, you don't!" said Kate.  "If God made any woman of you so
that she feels right and clean in her conscience about this deal,
he made her WRONG, and that is a thing that has not yet been
proven of God.  As I see it, here is the boys' side:  from
childhood they were told, bribed, and urged to miss holidays, work
all week, and often on Sunday, to push and slave on the promise of
this land at twenty-one.  They all got the land and money to stock
it and build homes.  They were told it was theirs, required to pay
the taxes on it, and also to labour at any time and without wages
for Father.  Not one of the boys but has done several hundred
dollars' worth of work on Father's farm for nothing, to keep him
satisfied and to insure getting his deed.  All these years, each
man has paid his taxes, put thousands in improvements, in
rebuilding homes and barns, fertilizing, and developing his land.
Each one of these farms is worth nearly twice what it was the day
it was received.  That the boys should lose all this is no cause
for rejoicing on the part of any true woman; as a fact, no true
woman would allow such a thing to happen -- "

"Speak for yourself!" cried several of the girls at once.

"Now right here is where we come to a perfect understanding," said
Kate.  "I did say that for myself, but in the main what I say, I
say for MOTHER.  Now you will not one of you interrupt me again,
or this meeting closes, and each of you stands to lose more than
two thousand dollars, which is worth being civil for, for quite a
while.  No more of that!  I say any woman should be ashamed to
take advantage of her brother through an accident; and rob him of
years of work and money he was perfectly justified in thinking was
his.  I, for one, refuse to do it, and I want and need money
probably more than any of you.  To tear up these farms, to take
more than half from the boys, is too much.  On the other hand, for
the girls to help earn the land, to go with no inheritance at all,
is even more unfair.  Now in order to arrive at a compromise that
will leave each boy his farm, and give each girl the nearest
possible to a fair amount, figuring in what the boys have spent in
taxes and work for Father, and what each girl has LOST by not
having her money to handle all these years, it is necessary to
split the difference between the time Adam, the eldest, has had
his inheritance, and Hiram, the youngest, came into possession,
which by taking from and adding to, gives a fair average of
fifteen years.  Now Mother proposes if we will enter into an
agreement this morning with no words and no wrangling, to settle
on this basis:  she will relinquish her third of all other land,
and keep only this home farm.  She even will allow the fifty lying
across the road to be sold and the money put into a general fund
for the share of the girls.  She will turn into this fund all
money from notes and mortgages, and the sale of all stock,
implements, etc., here, except what she wants to keep for her use,
and the sum of three thousand dollars in cash, to provide against
old age.  This releases quite a sum of money, and three hundred
and fifty acres of land, which she gives to the boys to start this
fund as her recompense for their work and loss through a scheme in
which she had a share in the start.  She does this only on the
understanding that the boys form a pool, and in some way take from
what they have saved, sell timber or cattle, or borrow enough
money to add to this sufficient to pay to each girl six thousand
dollars in cash, in three months.  Now get out your pencils and
figure.  Start with the original number of acres at fifty dollars
an acre which is what it cost Father on an average.  Balance
against each other what the boys have lost in tax and work, and
the girls have lost in not having their money to handle, and cross
it off.  Then figure, not on a basis of what the boys have made
this land worth, but on what it cost Father's estate to buy, build
on, and stock each farm.  Strike the fifteen-year average on
prices and profits.  Figure that the girls get all their money
practically immediately, to pay for the time they have been out of
it; while each boy assumes an equal share of the indebtedness
required to finish out the six thousand, after Mother has turned
in what she is willing to, if this is settled HERE AND NOW."

"Then I understand," said Mary, "that if we take under the law,
each of us is entitled to sixty-eight and three quarter acres; and
if we take under Mother's proposition we are entitled to eighty-
seven and a half acres."

"No, no, E. A.," said Kate, the old nickname for "Exceptional
Ability" slipping out before she thought.  "No, no!  Not so!  You
take sixty-eight and three quarters under the law.  Mother's
proposition is made ONLY to the boys, and only on condition that
they settle here and now; because she feels responsible to them
for her share in rearing them and starting them out as she did.
By accepting her proposition you lose eight hundred and seventy-
five dollars, approximately.  The boys lose on the same basis,
figuring at fifty dollars and acre, six thousand five hundred and
sixty-two dollars and fifty cents, plus their work and taxes, and
minus what Mother will turn in, which will be about, let me see --
It will take a pool of fifty-four thousand dollars to pay each of
us six thousand.  If Mother raises thirty-five thousand, plus sale
money and notes, it will leave about nineteen thousand for the
boys, which will divide up at nearly two thousand five hundred for
them to lose, as against less than a thousand for us.  That should
be enough to square matters with any right-minded woman, even in
our positions.  It will give us that much cash in hand, it will
leave the boys, some of the younger ones, in debt for years, if
they hold their land.  What more do you want?"

"I want the last cent that is coming to me," said Mary.

"I thought you would," said Kate.  "Yet you have the best home,
and the most money, of any of the girls living on farms.  I settle
under this proposition, because it is fair and just, and what
Mother wants done.  If she feels that this is defrauding the girls
any, she can arrange to leave what she has to us at her death,
which would more than square matters in our favour -- "

"You hold on there, Katie," said Mrs. Bates.  "You're going too
fast!  I'll get what's coming to me, and hang on to it awhile,
before I decide which way the cat jumps.  I reckon you'll all
admit that in mothering the sixteen of you, doing my share indoors
and out, and living with PA for all these years, I've earned it.
I'll not tie myself up in any way.  I'll do just what I please
with mine.  Figure in all I've told you to; for the rest -- let
be!"

"I beg your pardon," said Kate.  "You're right, of course.  I'll
sign this, and I shall expect every sister I have to do the same,
quickly and cheerfully, as the best way out of a bad business that
has hurt all of us for years, and then I shall expect the boys to
follow like men.  It's the fairest, decentest thing we can do,
let's get it over."

Kate picked up the pen, handed it to her mother, signed afterward
herself, and then carried it to each of her sisters, leaving Nancy
Ellen and Mary until last.  All of them signed up to Nancy Ellen.
She hesitated, and she whispered to Kate:  "Did Robert --?"  Kate
nodded.  Nancy Ellen thought deeply a minute and then said slowly:
"I guess it is the quickest and best we can do."  So she signed.
Mary hesitated longer, but finally added her name.  Kate passed on
to the boys, beginning with Adam.  Slowly he wrote his name, and
as he handed back the paper he said:  "Thank you, Kate, I believe
it's the sanest thing we can do.  I can make it easier than the
younger boys."

"Then HELP them," said Kate tersely, passing on.

Each boy signed in turn, all of them pleased with the chance.  It
was so much better than they had hoped, that it was a great
relief, which most of them admitted; so they followed Adam's
example in thanking Kate, for all of them knew that in her brain
had originated the scheme, which seemed to make the best of their
troubles.

Then they sat closer and talked things over calmly and
dispassionately.  It was agreed that Adam and his mother should
drive to Hartley the following afternoon and arrange for him to
take out papers of administration for her, and start the
adjustment of affairs.  They all went home thinking more of each
other, and Kate especially, than ever before.  Mrs. Bates got
dinner while Kate and Nancy Ellen went to work on the cool gray
dress, so that it would be ready for the next afternoon.  While
her mother was away Kate cleaned the spare bedroom and moved her
mother's possessions into it.  She made it as convenient and
comfortable and as pretty as she could, but the house was bare to
austerity, so that her attempt at prettifying was rather a
failure.  Then she opened the closed room and cleaned it, after
studying it most carefully as it stood.  The longer she worked,
the stronger became a conviction that was slowly working its way
into her brain.  When she could do no more she packed her
telescope, installed Sally Whistler in her father's room, and rode
to Hartley with a neighbour.  From there she took the Wednesday
hack for Walden.



KATE TAKES THE BIT IN HER TEETH

THE hackman was obliging, for after delivering the mail and some
parcels, he took Kate to her home.  While she waited for him, she
walked the ravine bank planning about the mill which was now so
sure that she might almost begin work.  Surely she might as soon
as she finished figuring, for she had visited the Court House in
Hartley and found that George's deeds were legal, and in proper
shape.  Her mind was filled with plans which this time must
succeed.

As she approached the house she could see the children playing in
the yard.  It was the first time she ever had been away from them;
she wondered if they had missed her.  She was amazed to find that
they were very decidedly disappointed to see her; but a few
pertinent questions developed the reason.  Their grandmother had
come with her sister; she had spent her time teaching them that
their mother was cold, and hard, and abused them, by not treating
them as other children were treated.  So far as Kate could see
they had broken every rule she had ever laid down for them:  eaten
until their stomachs were out of order, and played in their better
clothing, until it never would be nice again, while Polly shouted
at her approach:  "Give ME the oranges and candy.  I want to
divide them."

"Silly," said Kate.  "This is too soon.  I've no money yet, it
will be a long time before I get any; but you shall each have an
orange, some candy, and new clothing when I do.  Now run see what
big fish you can catch."

Satisfied, the children obeyed and ran to the creek.  Aunt Ollie,
worried and angered, told Adam to tell his father that Mother was
home and for him to come and take her and grandmother to Walden at
once.  She had not been able to keep Mrs. Holt from one steady
round of mischief; but she argued that her sister could do less,
with her on guard, than alone, so she had stayed and done her
best; but she knew how Kate would be annoyed, so she believed the
best course was to leave as quickly as possible.  Kate walked into
the house, spoke to both women, and went to her room to change her
clothing.  Before she had finished, she heard George's voice in
the house demanding:  "Where's our millionaire lady?  I want a
look at her."

Kate was very tired, slowly relaxing from intense nerve strain,
she was holding herself in check about the children.  She took a
tighter grip, and vowed she would not give Mrs. Holt the
satisfaction of seeing her disturbed and provoked, if she killed
herself in the effort at self-control.  She stepped toward the
door.

"Here," she called in a clear voice, the tone of which brought
George swiftly.

"What was he worth, anyway?" he shouted.

"Oh, millions and millions," said Kate, sweetly, "at least I THINK
so.  It was scarcely a time to discuss finances, in the face of
that horrible accident."

George laughed.  "Oh, you're a good one!" he cried.  "Think you
can keep a thing like that still?  The cats, and the dogs, and the
chickens of the whole county know about the deeds the old Land
King had made for his sons; and how he got left on it.  Served him
right, too!  We could here Andrew swear, and see Adam beat his
horse, clear over here!  That's right!  Go ahead!  Put on airs!
Tell us something we don't KNOW, will you?  Maybe you think I
wasn't hanging pretty close around that neighbourhood, myself!"

"Spying?" cried Kate.

"Looking for timber," he sneered.  "And never in all my life have
I seen anything to beat it.  Sixteen hundred and fifty acres of
the best land in the world.  Your share of land and money together
will be every cent of twelve thousand.  Oh, I guess I know what
you've got up your sleeve, my lady.  Come on, shell out!  Let's
all go celebrate.  What did you bring the children?"

Kate was rapidly losing patience in spite of her resolves.

"Myself," she said.  "From their appearance and actions, goodness
knows they needed me.  I have been to my father's funeral, George;
not to a circus."

"Humph!" said George.  "And home for the first time in seven
years.  You needn't tell me it wasn't the biggest picnic you ever
had!  And say, about those deeds burning up -- wasn't that too
grand?"

"Even if my father burned with them?" she asked.  "George, you
make me completely disgusted."

"Big hypocrite!" he scoffed.  "You know you're tickled silly.
Why, you will get ten times as much as you would if those deeds
hadn't burned.  I know what that estate amounts to.  I know what
that land is worth.  I'll see that you get your share to the last
penny that can be wrung out of it.  You bet I will!  Things are
coming our way at last.  Now we can build the mill, and do
everything we planned.  I don't know as we will build a mill.
With your fifteen thousand we could start a store in Hartley, and
do bigger things."

"The thing for you to do right now is to hitch up and take Aunt
Ollie and your mother home," said Kate.  "I'll talk to you after
supper and tell you all there is to know.  I'm dusty and tired
now."

"Well, you needn't try to fix up any shenanigan for me," he said.
"I know to within five hundred dollars of what your share of that
estate is worth, and I'll see that you get it."

"No one has even remotely suggested that I shouldn't have my share
of that estate," said Kate.

While he was gone, Kate thought intently as she went about her
work.  She saw exactly what her position was, and what she had to
do.  Their talk would be disagreeable, but the matter had to gone
into and gotten over.  She let George talk as he would while she
finished supper and they ate.  When he went for his evening work,
she helped the children scale their fish for breakfast and as they
worked she talked to them, sanely, sensibly, explaining what she
could, avoiding what she could not.  She put them to bed, her
heart almost sickened at what they had been taught and told.  Kate
was in no very propitious mood for her interview with George.  As
she sat on the front porch waiting for him, she was wishing with
all her heart that she was back home with the children, to remain
forever.  That, of course, was out of the question, but she wished
it.  She had been so glad to be with her mother again, to be of
service, to hear a word of approval now and then.  She must be
worthy of her mother's opinion, she thought, just as George
stepped on the porch, sat on the top step, leaned against a
pillar, and said:  "Now go on, tell me all about it."

Kate thought intently a second.  Instead of beginning with leaving
Friday morning:  "I was at the Court House in Hartley this
morning," she said.

"You needn't have done that," he scoffed.  "I spent most of the
day there Monday.  You bet folks shelled out the books when I told
them who I was, and what I was after.  I must say you folks have
some little reason to be high and mighty.  You sure have got the
dough.  No wonder the old man hung on to his deeds himself.  He
wasn't so FAR from a King, all right, all right."

"You mean you left your work Monday, and went to the Court House
in Hartley and told who you were, and spent the day nosing into my
father's affairs, before his SONS had done anything, or you had
any idea WHAT was to be done?" she demanded.

"Oh, you needn't get so high and mighty," he said.  "I propose to
know just where I am, about this.  I propose to have just what is
coming to me -- to you, to the last penny, and no Bates man will
manage the affair, either."

Suddenly Kate leaned forward.

"I foresee that you've fixed yourself up for a big
disappointment," she said.  "My mother and her eldest son will
settle my father's estate; and when it is settled I shall have
exactly what the other girls have.  Then if I still think it is
wise, I shall at once go to work building the mill.  Everything
must be shaved to the last cent, must be done with the closest
economy, I MUST come out of this with enough left to provide us a
comfortable home."

"Do that from the first profits of the mill," he suggested.

"I'm no good at 'counting chickens before they're hatched,'" said
Kate.  "Besides, the first profits from the mill, as you very well
know, if you would ever stop to think, must go to pay for logs to
work on, and there must always be a good balance for that purpose.
No.  I reserve enough from my money to fix the home I want; but I
shall wait to do it until the mill is working, so I can give all
my attention to it, while you are out looking up timber."

"Of course I can do all of it perfectly well," he said.  "And it's
a MAN'S business.  You'll make me look like fifty cents if you get
out among men and go to doing a thing no woman in this part of the
country ever did.  Why, it will look like you didn't TRUST me!"

"I can't help how it will look," said Kate.  "This is my last and
only dollar; if I lose it, I am out for life; I shall take no
risk.  I've no confidence in your business ability, and you know
it.  It need not hurt your pride a particle to say that we are
partners; that I'm going to build the mill, while you're going to
bring in the timber.  It's the only way I shall touch the
proposition.  I will give you two hundred dollars for the deed and
abstract of the ravine.  I'll give your mother eight hundred for
the lot and house, which is two hundred more than it is worth.
I'll lay away enough to rebuild and refurnish it, and with the
remainder I'll build the dam, bridge, and mill, just as quickly as
it can be done.  As soon as I get my money, we'll buy timber for
the mill and get it sawed and dried this winter.  We can be all
done and running by next June."

"Kate, how are you going to get all that land sold, and the money
in hand to divide up that quickly?  I don't think it ever can be
done.  Land is always sold on time, you know," he said.

Kate drew a deep breath.  "THIS land isn't going to be sold," she
said.  "Most of the boys have owned their farms long enough to
have enabled them to buy other land, and put money in the bank.
They're going to form a pool, and put in enough money to pay the
girls the share they have agreed to take; even if they have to
borrow it, as some of the younger ones will; but the older ones
will help them; so the girls are to have their money in cash, in
three months.  I was mighty glad of the arrangement for my part,
because we can begin at once on our plans for the mill."

"And how much do the girls get?" he asked darkly.

"Can't say just yet," said Kate.  "The notes and mortgages have to
be gone over, and the thing figured out; it will take some time.
Mother and Adam began yesterday; we shall know in a few weeks."

"Sounds to me like a cold-blooded Bates steal," he cried.  "Who
figured out what WAS a fair share for the girls; who planned that
arrangement?  Why didn't you insist on the thing going through
court; the land belong sold, and equal divisions of all the
proceeds?"

"Now if you'll agree not to say a word until I finish, I'll show
you the figures," said Kate.  "I'll tell you what the plan is, and
why it was made, and I'll tell you further that it is already
recorded, and in action.  There are no minor heirs.  We could make
an agreement and record it.  There was no will.  Mother will
administer.  It's all settled.  Wait until I get the figures."

Then slowly and clearly she went over the situation, explaining
everything in detail.  When she finished he sat staring at her
with a snarling face.

"You signed that?" he demanded.  "You signed that!  YOU THREW AWAY
AT LEAST HALF YOU MIGHT HAVE HAD!  You let those lazy scoundrels
of brothers of yours hoodwink you, and pull the wool over your
eyes like that?  Are you mad?  Are you stark, staring mad?"

"No, I'm quite sane," said Kate.  "It is you who are mad.  You
know my figures, don't you?  Those were the only ones used
yesterday.  The whole scheme was mine, with help from Mother to
the extent of her giving up everything except the home farm."

"You crazy fool!" he cried, springing up.

"Now stop," said Kate.  "Stop right there!  I've done what I think
is right, and fair, and just, and I'm happy with the results.  Act
decently, I'll stay and build the mill.  Say one, only one more of
the nasty, insulting things in your head, and I'll go in there and
wake up the children and we will leave now and on foot."

Confronted with Kate and her ultimatum, George arose and walked
down to the road; he began pacing back and forth in the moonlight,
struggling to regain command of himself.  He had no money.  He had
no prospect of any until Aunt Ollie died and left him her farm.
He was, as he expressed it, "up against it" there.  Now he was "up
against it" with Kate.  What she decided upon and proposed to do
was all he could do.  She might shave prices, and cut, and skimp,
and haggle to buy material, and put up her building at the least
possible expense.  She might sit over books and figure herself
blind.  He would be driving over the country, visiting with the
farmers, booming himself for a fat county office maybe, eating big
dinners, and being a jolly good fellow generally.  Naturally as
breathing, there came to him a scheme whereby he could buy at the
very lowest figure he could extract; then he would raise the price
to Kate enough to make him a comfortable income besides his share
of the business.  He had not walked the road long until his anger
was all gone.

He began planning the kind of horse he would have to drive, the
buggy he would want, and a box in it to carry a hatchet, a square,
measures, an auger, other tools he would need, and by Jove! it
would be a dandy idea to carry a bottle of the real thing.  Many a
farmer, for a good cigar and a few swallows of the right thing,
would warm up and sign such a contract as could be got in no other
manner; while he would need it on cold days himself.  George
stopped in the moonlight to slap his leg and laugh over the happy
thought.  "By George, Georgie, my boy," he said, "most days will
be cold, won't they?"

He had no word to say to Kate of his change of feeling in the
matter.  He did not want to miss the chance of twitting her at
every opportunity he could invent with having thrown away half her
inheritance; but he was glad the whole thing was settled so
quickly and easily.  He was now busy planning how he would spend
the money Kate agreed to pay him for the ravine; but that was
another rosy cloud she soon changed in colour, for she told him if
he was going to be a partner he could put in what money he had, as
his time was no more valuable than she could make hers teaching
school again -- in other words, he could buy his horse and buggy
with the price she paid for the location, so he was forced to
agree.  He was forced to do a great many things in the following
months that he hated; but he had to do them or be left out of the
proposition altogether.

Mrs. Bates and Adam administered the Bates estate promptly and
efficiently.  The girls had their money on time, the boys adjusted
themselves as their circumstances admitted.  Mrs. Bates had to
make so many trips to town, before the last paper was signed, and
the last transfer was made, that she felt she could not go any
farther, so she did not.  Nancy Ellen had reached the point where
she would stop and talk a few minutes to Kate, if she met her on
the streets of Hartley, as she frequently did now; but she would
not ask her to come home with her, because she would not bring
herself in contact with George Holt.  The day Kate went to Hartley
to receive and deposit her check, and start her bank account, her
mother asked her if she had any plan as to what she would do with
her money.  Kate told her in detail.  Mrs. Bates listened with
grim face:  "You better leave it in the bank," she said, "and use
the interest to help you live, or put it in good farm mortgages,
where you can easily get ten per cent."

Kate explained again and told how she was doing all the buying,
how she would pay all bills, and keep the books.  It was no use.
Mrs. Bates sternly insisted that she should do no such thing.  In
some way she would be defrauded.  In some way she would lose the
money.  What she was proposing was a man's work.  Kate had most of
her contracts signed and much material ordered, she could not
stop.  Sadly she saw her mother turn from her, declaring as she
went that Kate would lose every cent she had, and when she did she
need not come hanging around her.  She had been warned.  If she
lost, she could take the consequences.  For an instant Kate felt
that she could not endure it then she sprang after her mother.

"Oh, but I won't lose!" she cried.  "I'm keeping my money in my
own hands.  I'm spending it myself.  Please, Mother, come and see
the location, and let me show you everything."

"Too late now," said Mrs. Bates grimly, "the thing is done.  The
time to have told me was before you made any contracts.  You're
always taking the bit in your teeth and going ahead.  Well, go!
But remember, 'as you make your bed, so you can lie.'"

"All right," said Kate, trying to force a laugh.  "Don't you
worry.  Next time you get into a tight place and want to borrow a
few hundreds, come to me."

Mrs. Bates laughed derisively.  Kate turned away with a faint
sickness in her heart and when half an hour later she met Nancy
Ellen, fresh from an interview with her mother, she felt no better
-- far worse, in fact -- for Nancy Ellen certainly could say what
was in her mind with free and forceful directness.  With deft
tongue and nimble brain, she embroidered all Mrs. Bates had said,
and prophesied more evil luck in three minutes than her mother
could have thought of in a year.  Kate left them with no promise
of seeing either of them again, except by accident, her heart and
brain filled with misgivings.  "Must I always have 'a fly in my
ointment'?" she wailed to herself.  "I thought this morning this
would be the happiest day of my life.  I felt as if I were flying.
Ye Gods, but wings were never meant for me.  Every time I take
them, down I come kerflop, mostly in a 'gulf of dark despair,' as
the hymn book says.  Anyway, I'll keep my promise and give the
youngsters a treat."

So she bought each of them an orange, some candy, and goods for a
new Sunday outfit and comfortable school clothing.  Then she took
the hack for Walden, feeling in a degree as she had the day she
married George Holt.  As she passed the ravine and again studied
the location her spirits arose.  It WAS a good scheme.  It would
work.  She would work it.  She would sell from the yards to Walden
and the surrounding country.  She would see the dealers in Hartley
and talk the business over, so she would know she was not being
cheated in freight rates when she came to shipping.  She stopped
at Mrs. Holt's, laid a deed before her for her signature, and
offered her a check for eight hundred for the Holt house and lot,
which Mrs. Holt eagerly accepted.  They arranged to move
immediately, as the children were missing school.  She had a deed
with her for the ravine, which George signed in Walden, and both
documents were acknowledged; but she would not give him the money
until he had the horse and buggy he was to use, at the gate, in
the spring.

He wanted to start out buying at once, but that was going too far
in the future for Kate.  While the stream was low, and the banks
firm, Kate built her dam, so that it would be ready for spring,
put in the abutments, and built the bridge.  It was not a large
dam, and not a big bridge, but both were solid, well constructed,
and would serve every purpose.  Then Kate set men hauling stone
for the corner foundations.  She hoped to work up such a trade and
buy so much and so wisely in the summer that she could run all
winter, so she was building a real mill in the Bates way, which
way included letting the foundations freeze and settle over
winter.  That really was an interesting and a comfortable winter.

Kate and George both watched the children's studies at night,
worked their plans finer in the daytime, and lived as cheaply and
carefully as they could.  Everything was going well.  George was
doing his best to promote the mill plan, to keep Kate satisfied at
home, to steal out after she slept, and keep himself satisfied in
appetite, and some ready money in his pockets, won at games of
chance, at which he was an expert, and at cards, which he handled
like a master.



"AS A MAN SOWETH"

AT THE earliest possible moment in the spring, the building of the
mill began.  It was scarcely well under way when the work was
stopped by a week of heavy rains.  The water filled the ravine to
dangerous height and the roaring of the dam could be heard all
over town.  George talked of it incessantly.  He said it was the
sweetest music his ears had ever heard.  Kate had to confess that
she like the sound herself, but she was fearful over saying much
on the subject because she was so very anxious about the stability
of the dam.  There was a day or two of fine weather; then the
rains began again.  Kate said she had all the music she desired;
she proposed to be safe; so she went and opened the sluiceway to
reduce the pressure on the dam.  The result was almost immediate.
The water gushed through, lowering the current and lessening the
fall.  George grumbled all day, threatening half a dozen times to
shut the sluice; but Kate and the carpenter were against him, so
he waited until he came slipping home after midnight, his brain in
a muddle from drink, smoke, and cards.  As he neared the dam, he
decided that the reason he felt so badly was because he had missed
hearing it all day, but he would have it to go to sleep by.  So he
crossed the bridge and shut the sluice gate.  Even as he was doing
it the thunder pealed; lightning flashed, and high Heaven gave him
warning that he was doing a dangerous thing; but all his life he
had done what he pleased; there was no probability that he would
change then.  He needed the roar of the dam to quiet his nerves.

The same roar that put him to sleep, awakened Kate.  She lay
wondering at it and fearing.  She raised her window to listen.
The rain was falling in torrents, while the roar was awful, so
much worse than it had been when she fell asleep, that she had a
suspicion of what might have caused it.  She went to George's room
and shook him awake.

"Listen to the dam!" she cried.  "It will go, as sure as fate.
George, did you, Oh, did you, close the sluice-gate when you came
home?"

He was half asleep, and too defiant from drink to take his usual
course.

"Sure!" he said.  "Sweesish mushich ever hearsh.  Push me shleep."

He fell back on the pillow and went on sleeping.  Kate tried again
to waken him, but he struck at her savagely.  She ran to her room,
hurried into a few clothes, and getting the lantern, started
toward the bridge.  At the gate she stepped into water.  As far as
she could see above the dam the street was covered.  She waded to
the bridge, which was under at each end but still bare in the
middle, where it was slightly higher.  Kate crossed it and started
down the yard toward the dam.  The earth was softer there, and she
mired in places almost to her knees.  At the dam, the water was
tearing around each end in a mad race, carrying earth and
everything before it.  The mill side was lower than the street.
The current was so broad and deep she could not see where the
sluice was.  She hesitated a second to try to locate it from the
mill behind her; and in that instant there was a crack and a roar,
a mighty rush that swept her from her feet and washed away the
lantern.  Nothing saved her but the trees on the bank.  She struck
one, clung to it, pulled herself higher, and in the blackness
gripped the tree, while she heard the dam going gradually after
the first break.

There was no use to scream, no one could have heard her.  The
storm raved on; Kate clung to her tree, with each flash of
lightning trying to see the dam.  At last she saw that it was not
all gone.  She was not much concerned about herself.  She knew the
tree would hold.  Eagerly she strained her eyes toward the dam.
She could feel the water dropping lower, while the roar subsided
to a wild rush, and with flashes of lightning she could see what
she thought was at least half of the dam holding firm.  By that
time Kate began to chill.  She wrapped her arms around the tree,
and pressing her cheek against the rough bark, she cried as hard
as she could and did not care.  God would not hear; the neighbours
could not.  She shook and cried until she was worn out.  By that
time the water was only a muddy flow around her ankles; if she had
a light she could wade back to the bridge and reach home.  But if
she missed the bridge and went into the ravine, the current would
be too strong for her.  She held with one arm and tried to wipe
her face with the other hand.  "What a fool to cry!" she said.
"As if there were any more water needed here!"

Then she saw a light in the house, and the figures of the
children, carrying it from room to room, so she knew that one of
them had awakened for a drink, or with the storm, and they had
missed her.  Then she could see them at the front door, Adam's
sturdy feet planted widely apart, bracing him, as he held up the
lamp which flickered in the wind.  Then she could hear his voice
shouting:  "Mother!"  Instantly Kate answered.  Then she was sorry
she had, for both of them began to scream wildly.  There was a
second of that, then even the children realized its futility.

"She is out there in the water, WE GOT TO GET HER," said Adam.
"We got to do it!"

He started with the light held high.  The wind blew it out.  They
had to go back to relight it.  Kate knew they would burn their
fingers, and she prayed they would not set the house on fire.
When the light showed again, at the top of her lungs she screamed:
"Adam, set the broom on fire and carry it to the end of the
bridge; the water isn't deep enough to hurt you."  She tried
twice, then she saw him give Polly the lamp, and run down the
hall.  He came back in an instant with the broom.  Polly held the
lamp high, Adam went down the walk to the gate and started up the
sidewalk.  "He's using his head," said Kate to the tree.  "He's
going to wait until he reaches the bridge to start his light, so
it will last longer.  THAT is BATES, anyway.  Thank God!"

Adam scratched several matches before he got the broom well
ignited, then he held it high, and by its light found the end of
the bridge.  Kate called to him to stop and plunging and splashing
through mud and water, she reached the bridge before the broom
burned out.  There she clung to the railing she had insisted upon,
and felt her way across to the boy.  His thin cotton night shirt
was plastered to his sturdy little body.  As she touched him Kate
lifted him in her arms, and almost hugged the life from him.

"You big man!" she said.  "You could help Mother!  Good for you!"

"Is the dam gone?" he asked.

"Part of it," said Kate, sliding her feet before her, as she waded
toward Polly in the doorway.

"Did Father shut the sluice-gate, to hear the roar?"

Kate hesitated.  The shivering body in her arms felt so small to
her.

"I 'spect he did," said Adam.  "All day he was fussing after you
stopped the roar."  Then he added casually:  "The old fool ought-a
known better.  I 'spect he was drunk again!"

"Oh, Adam!" cried Kate, setting him on the porch.  "Oh, Adam!
What makes you say that?"

"Oh, all of them at school say that," scoffed Adam.  "Everybody
knows it but you, don't they, Polly?"

"Sure!" said Polly.  "Most every night; but don't you mind,
Mother, Adam and I will take care of you."

Kate fell on her knees and gathered both of them in a crushing hug
for an instant; then she helped them into to dry nightgowns and to
bed.  As she covered them she stooped and kissed each of them
before she went to warm and put on dry clothes, and dry her hair.
It was almost dawn when she walked to George Holt's door and
looked in at him lying stretched in deep sleep.

"You may thank your God for your children," she said.  "If it
hadn't been for them, I know what I would have done to you."

Then she went to her room and lay down to rest until dawn.  She
was up at the usual time and had breakfast ready for the children.
As they were starting to school George came into the room.

"Mother," said Polly, "there is a lot of folks over around the
dam.  What shall we tell them?"

Kate's heart stopped.  She had heard that question before.

"Tell them the truth," said Adam scornfully, before Kate could
answer.  "Tell them that Mother opened the sluiceway to save the
dam and Father shut it to hear it roar, and it busted!"

"Shall I, Mother?" asked Polly.

A slow whiteness spread over George's face; he stared down the
hall to look.

"Tell them exactly what you please," said Kate, "only you watch
yourself like a hawk.  If you tell one word not the way it was, or
in any way different from what happened, I'll punish you
severely."

"May I tell them I held the lamp while Adam got you out of the
water?" asked Polly.  "That would be true, you know."

George turned to listen, his face still whiter.

"Yes, that would be true," said Kate, "but if you tell them that,
the first thing they will ask will be 'where was your father?'
What will you say then?"

"Why, we'll say that he was so drunk we couldn't wake him up,"
said Polly conclusively.  "We pulled him, an' we shook him, an' we
yelled at him.  Didn't we, Adam?"

"I was not drunk!" shouted George.

"Oh, yes, you were," said Adam.  "You smelled all sour, like it
does at the saloon door!"

George made a rush at Adam.  The boy spread his feet and put up
his hands, but never flinched or moved.  Kate looking on felt
something in her heart that never had been there before.  She
caught George's arm, as he reached the child.

"You go on to school, little folks," she said.  "And for Mother's
sake try not to talk at all.  If people question you, tell them to
ask Mother.  I'd be so proud of you, if you would do that."

"I WILL, if you'll hold me and kiss me again like you did last
night when you got out of the water," said Polly.

"It is a bargain," said Kate.  "How about you, Adam?"

"I will for THAT, too," said Adam, "but I'd like awful well to
tell how fast the water went, and how it poured and roared, while
I held the light, and you got across.  Gee, if was awful, Mother!
So black, and so crashy, and so deep.  I'd LIKE to tell!"

"But you WON'T if I ask you not to?" queried Kate.

"I will not," said Adam.

Kate went down on her knees again, she held out her arms and both
youngsters rushed to her.  After they were gone, she and George
Holt looked at each other an instant, then Kate turned to her
work.  He followed:  "Kate -- " he began.

"No use!" said Kate.  "If you go out and look at the highest water
mark, you can easily imagine what I had to face last night when I
had to cross the bridge to open the sluice-gate, or the bridge
would have gone, too.  If the children had not wakened with the
storm, and hunted me, I'd have had to stay over there until
morning, if I could have clung to the tree that long.  First they
rescued me; and then they rescued YOU, if you only but knew it.
By using part of the money I had saved for the house, I can rebuild
the dam; but I am done with you.  We're partners no longer.  Not
with business, money, or in any other way, will I ever trust you
again.  Sit down there and eat your breakfast, and then leave my
sight."

Instead George put on his old clothing, crossed the bridge, and
worked all day with all his might trying to gather building
material out of the water, save debris from the dam, to clear the
village street.  At noon he came over and got a drink, and a piece
of bread.  At night he worked until he could see no longer, and
then ate some food from the cupboard and went to bed.  He was up
and at work before daybreak in the morning, and for two weeks he
kept this up, until he had done much to repair the work of the
storm.  The dam he almost rebuilt himself, as soon as the water
lowered to normal again.  Kate knew what he was trying to do, and
knew also that in a month he had the village pitying him, and
blaming her because he was working himself to death, and she was
allowing it.

She doggedly went on with her work; the contracts were made; she
was forced to.  As the work neared completion, her faith in the
enterprise grew.  She studied by the hour everything she could
find pertaining to the business.  When the machinery began to
arrive, George frequently spoke about having timber ready to begin
work on, but he never really believed the thing which did happen,
would happen, until the first load of logs slowly crossed the
bridge and began unloading in the yards.  A few questions elicited
from the driver the reply that he had sold the timber to young
Adam Bates of Bates Corners, who was out buying right and left and
paying cash on condition the seller did his own delivering.
George saw the scheme, and that it was good.  Also the logs were
good, while the price was less than he hoped to pay for such
timber.  His soul was filled with bitterness.  The mill was his
scheme.  He had planned it all.  Those thieving Bates had stolen
his plan, and his location, and his home, and practically
separated him from his wife and children.  It was his mill, and
all he was getting from it was to work with all his might, and not
a decent word from morning until night.  That day instead of
working as before, he sat in the shade most of the time, and that
night instead of going to bed he went down town.

When the mill was almost finished Kate employed two men who lived
in Walden, but had been working in the Hartley mills for years.
They were honest men of much experience.  Kate made the better of
them foreman, and consulted with him in every step of completing
the mill, and setting up the machinery.  She watched everything
with sharp eyes, often making suggestions that were useful about
the placing of different parts as a woman would arrange them.
Some of these the men laughed at, some they were more than glad to
accept.  When the engine was set up, the big saw in place, George
went to Kate.

"See here!" he said roughly.  "I know I was wrong about the
sluice-gate.  I was a fool to shut it with the water that high,
but I've learned my lesson; I'll never touch it again; I've worked
like a dog for weeks to pay for it; now where do I come in?
What's my job, how much is my share of the money, and when do I
get it?"

"The trouble with you, George, is that you have to learn a new
lesson about every thing you attempt.  You can't carry a lesson
about one thing in your mind, and apply it to the next thing that
comes up.  I know you have worked, and I know why.  It is fair
that you should have something, but I can't say what, just now.
Having to rebuild the dam, and with a number of incidentals that
have come up, in spite of the best figuring I could do, I have
been forced to use my money saved for rebuilding the house; and
even with that, I am coming out a hundred or two short.  I'm
strapped; and until money begins to come in I have none myself.
The first must go toward paying the men's wages, the next for
timber.  If Jim Milton can find work for you, go to work at the
mill, and when we get started I'll pay you what is fair and just,
you may depend on that.  If he hasn't work for you, you'll have to
find a job at something else."

"Do you mean that?" he asked wonderingly.

"I mean it," said Kate.

"After stealing my plan, and getting my land for nothing, you'd
throw me out entirely?" he demanded.

"You entreated me to put all I had into your plan, you told me
repeatedly the ravine was worth nothing, you were not even keeping
up the taxes on it until I came and urged you to, the dam is used
merely for water, the engine furnishes the real power, and if you
are thrown out, you have thrown yourself out.  You have had every
chance."

"You are going to keep your nephew on the buying job?" he asked

"I am," said Kate.  "You can have no job that will give you a
chance to involve me financially."

"Then give me Milton's place.  It's so easy a baby could do it,
and the wages you have promised him are scandalous," said George.

Kate laughed.  "Oh, George," she said, "you can't mean that!  Of
all your hare-brained ideas, that you could operate that saw, is
the wildest.  Oh course you could start the engine, and set the
saw running -- I could myself; but to regulate its speed, to
control it with judgment, you could no more do it than Polly.  As
for wages, Milton is working for less than he got in Hartley,
because he can be at home, and save his hack fare, as you know."

George went over to Jim Milton, and after doing all he could see
to do and ordering Milton to do several things he thought might be
done, he said casually:  "Of course I am BOSS around this shack,
but this is new to me.  You fellows will have to tell me what to
do until I get my bearings.  As soon as we get to running, I'll be
yard-master, and manage the selling and shipping.  I'm good at
figures, and that would be the best place for me."

"You'll have to settle with Mrs. Holt about that," said Jim
Milton.

"Of course," said George.  "Isn't she a wonder?  With my help,
we'll soon wipe the Hartley mills off the map, and be selling till
Grand Rapids will get her eye peeled.  With you to run the
machinery, me to manage the sales, and her to keep the books, we
got a combination to beat the world."

"In the meantime," said Jim Milton dryly, "you might take that
scoop shovel and clean the shavings and blocks off this floor.
Leave me some before the engine to start the first fire, and
shovel the rest into that bin there where it's handy.  It isn't
safe to start with so much loose, dry stuff lying around."

George went to work with the scoop shovel, but he watched every
movement Jim Milton made about the engine and machinery.  Often he
dropped the shovel and stood studying things out for himself, and
asking questions.  Not being sure of his position, Jim Milton
answered him patiently, and showed him all he wanted to know; but
he constantly cautioned him not to touch anything, or try to start
the machinery himself, as he might lose control of the gauge and
break the saw, or let the power run away with him.  George scoffed
at the idea of danger and laughed at the simplicity of the engine
and machinery.  There was little for him to do.  He hated to be
seen cleaning up the debris; men who stopped in passing kept
telling what a fine fellow young Bates was, what good timber he
was sending in.  Several of them told George frankly they thought
that was to be his job.  He was so ashamed of that, he began
instant improvisation.

"That was the way we first planned things," he said boastfully,
"but when it came to working out our plans, we found I would be
needed here till I learned the business, and then I'm going on the
road.  I am going to be the salesman.  To travel, dress well, eat
well, flirt with the pretty girls, and take big lumber orders will
just about suit little old Georgie."

"Wonder you remembered to put the orders in at all," said Jim
Milton dryly.

George glared at him.  "Well, just remember whom you take orders
from," he said, pompously.

"I take them from Mrs. Holt, and nobody else," said Milton, with
equal assurance.  "And I've yet to hear her say the first word
about this wonderful travelling proposition.  She thinks she will
do well to fill home orders and ship to a couple of factories she
already has contracts with.  Sure you didn't dream that travelling
proposition, George?"

At that instant George wished he could slay Jim Milton.  All day
he brooded and grew sullen and ugly.  By noon he quit working and
went down town.  By suppertime he went home to prove to his wife
that he was all right.  She happened to be coming across from the
mill, where she had helped Milton lay the first fire under the
boiler ready to touch off, and had seen the first log on the set
carriage.  It had been agreed that she was to come over at opening
time in the morning and start the machinery.  She was a proud and
eager woman when she crossed the bridge and started down the
street toward the gate.  From the opposite direction came George,
so unsteady that he was running into tree boxes, then lifting his
hat and apologizing to them for his awkwardness.  Kate saw at a
glance that he might fall any instant.  Her only thought was to
help him from the street, to where children would not see him.

She went to him and taking his arm started down the walk with him.
He took off his hat to her also, and walked with wavering dignity,
setting his steps as if his legs were not long enough to reach the
walk, so that each step ended with a decided thump.  Kate could
see the neighbours watching at their windows, and her own children
playing on the roof of the woodshed.  When the children saw their
parents, they both stopped playing to stare at them.  Then
suddenly, shrill and high, arose Adam's childish voice:

   "Father came home the other night,
    Tried to blow out the 'lectric light,
    Blew and blew with all his might,
    And the blow almost killed Mother."

Polly joined him, and they sang and shrilled, and shrieked it;
they jumped up and down and laughed and repeated it again and
again.  Kate guided George to his room and gave him a shove that
landed him on his bed.  Then to hush the children she called them
to supper.  They stopped suddenly, as soon as they entered the
kitchen door, and sat, sorry and ashamed while she went around,
her face white, her lips closed, preparing their food.  George was
asleep.  The children ate alone, as she could take no food.  Later
she cleaned the kitchen, put the children to bed, and sat on the
front porch looking at the mill, wondering, hoping, planning,
praying unconsciously.  When she went to bed at ten o'clock George
was still asleep.

He awakened shortly after, burning with heat and thirst.  He arose
and slipped to the back porch for a drink.  Water was such an
aggravation, he crossed the yard, went out the back gate, and down
the alley.  When he came back up the street, he was pompously,
maliciously, dangerously drunk.  Either less or more would have
been better.  When he came in sight of the mill, standing new and
shining in the moonlight, he was a lord of creation, ready to work
creation to his will.  He would go over and see if things were all
right.  But he did not cross the bridge, he went down the side
street, and entered the yard at the back.  The doors were closed
and locked, but there was as yet no latch on the sliding windows
above the work bench.  He could push them open from the ground.
He leaned a board against the side of the mill, set his foot on
it, and pulled himself up, so that he could climb on the bench.

That much achieved, he looked around him.  After a time his eyes
grew accustomed to the darkness, so that he could see his way
plainly.  Muddled half-thoughts began to filter through his brain.
He remembered he was abused.  He was out of it.  He remembered
that he was not the buyer for the mill.  He remembered how the men
had laughed when he had said that he was to be the salesman.  He
remembered that Milton had said that he was not to touch the
machinery.  He at once slid from the bench and went to the boiler.
He opened the door of the fire-box and saw the kindling laid ready
to light, to get up steam.  He looked at the big log on the set
carriage.  They had planned to start with a splurge in the
morning.  Kate was to open the throttle that started the
machinery.  He decided to show them that they were not so smart.
He would give them a good surprise by sawing the log.  That would
be a joke on them to brag about the remainder of his life.  He
took matches from his pocket and started the fire.  It seemed to
his fevered imagination that it burned far too slowly.  He shoved
in more kindling, shavings, ends left from siding.  This smothered
his fire, so he made trip after trip to the tinder box, piling in
armloads of dry, inflammable stuff.

Then suddenly the flames leaped up.  He slammed shut the door and
started toward the saw.  He could not make it work.  He jammed and
pulled everything he could reach.  Soon he realized the heat was
becoming intense, and turned to the boiler to see that the fire-
box was red hot almost all over, white hot in places.

"My God!" he muttered.  "Too hot!  Got to cool that down."

Then he saw the tank and the dangling hose, and remembered that he
had not filled the boiler.  Taking down the hose, he opened the
watercock, stuck in the nozzle, and turned on the water full
force.  Windows were broken across the street.  Parts of the fire-
box, boiler, and fire flew everywhere.  The walls blew out, the
roof lifted and came down, the fire raged among the new, dry
timbers of the mill.

When her windows blew in, Kate was thrown from her bed to the
floor.  She lay stunned a second, then dragged herself up to look
across the street.  There was nothing where the low white expanse
of roof had spread an hour before, while a red glare was creeping
everywhere over the ground.  She ran to George's room and found it
empty.  She ran to the kitchen, calling him, and found the back
door standing open.  She rushed back to her room and began trying
to put on her dress over her nightrobe.  She could not control her
shaking fingers, while at each step she cut her feet on broken
glass.  She reached the front door as the children came screaming
with fright.  In turning to warn them about the glass, she
stumbled on the top step, pitched forward headlong, then lay
still.  The neighbours carried her back to her bed, called the
doctor, and then saved all the logs in the yard they could.  The
following day, when the fire had burned itself out, the undertaker
hunted assiduously, but nothing could be found to justify a
funeral.



"FOR A GOOD GIRL"

FOR a week, Kate lay so dazed she did not care whether she lived
or died; then she slowly crept back to life, realizing that
whether she cared or not, she must live.  She was too young, too
strong, to quit because she was soul sick; she had to go on.  She
had life to face for herself and her children.  She wondered dully
about her people, but as none of the neighbours who had taken care
of her said anything concerning them, she realized that they had
not been there.  At first she was almost glad.  They were
forthright people.  They would have had something to say; they
would have said it tersely and to the point.

Adam, 3d, had wound up her affairs speedily by selling the logs he
had bought for her to the Hartley mills, paying what she owed, and
depositing the remainder in the Hartley Bank to her credit; but
that remainder was less than one hundred dollars.  That winter was
a long, dreadful nightmare to Kate.  Had it not been for Aunt
Ollie, they would have been hungry some of the time; they were
cold most of it.  For weeks Kate thought of sending for her
mother, or going to her; then as not even a line came from any of
her family, she realized that they resented her losing that much
Bates money so bitterly that they wished to have nothing to do
with her.  Often she sat for hours staring straight before her,
trying to straighten out the tangle she had made of her life.  As
if she had not suffered enough in the reality of living, she now
lived over in day and night dreams, hour by hour, her time with
George Holt, and gained nothing thereby.

All winter Kate brooded, barely managing to keep alive, and the
children in school.  As spring opened, she shook herself, arose,
and went to work.  It was not planned, systematic, effective,
Bates work.  Piecemeal she did anything she saw needed the doing.
The children helped to make garden and clean the yard.  Then all
of them went out to Aunt Ollie's and made a contract to plant and
raise potatoes and vegetables on shares.  They passed a neglected
garden on the way, and learning that the woman of the house was
ill, Kate stopped and offered to tend it for enough cords of
windfall wood to pay her a fair price, this to be delivered in
mid-summer.

With food and fire assured, Kate ripped up some of George's
clothing, washed, pressed, turned, and made Adam warm clothes for
school.  She even achieved a dress for Polly by making a front and
back from a pair of her father's trouser legs, and setting in side
pieces, a yoke and sleeves from one of her old skirts.  George's
underclothing she cut down for both of the children; then drew
another check for taxes and second-hand books.  While she was in
Hartley in the fall paying taxes, she stopped at a dry goods store
for thread, and heard a customer asking for knitted mittens, which
were not in stock.  After he had gone, she arranged with the
merchant for a supply of yarn which she carried home and began to
knit into mittens such as had been called for.  She used every
minute of leisure during the day, she worked hours into the night,
and soon small sums began coming her way. When she had a supply of
teamster's heavy mittens, she began on fancy coloured ones for
babies and children, sometimes crocheting, sometimes using
needles.  Soon she started both children on the rougher work with
her.  They were glad to help for they had a lively remembrance of
one winter of cold and hunger, with no Christmas.  That there were
many things she might have done that would have made more money
with less exertion Kate never seemed to realize.  She did the
obvious thing.  Her brain power seemed to be on a level with that
of Adam and Polly.

When the children began to carry home Christmas talk, Kate opened
her mouth to say the things that had been said to her as a child;
then tightly closed it.  She began getting up earlier, sitting up
later, knitting feverishly.  Luckily the merchant could sell all
she could furnish.  As the time drew nearer, she gathered from the
talk of the children what was the deepest desire of their hearts.
One day a heavy wind driving ice-coated trees in the back yard
broke quite a large limb from a cherry tree.  Kate dragged it into
the woodhouse to make firewood.  She leaned it against the wall to
wait until the ice melted, and as it stood there in its silvery
coat, she thought how like a small tree the branch was shaped, and
how pretty it looked.  After the children had gone to school the
next day she shaped it with the hatchet and saw, and fastened it
in a small box.  This she carried to her bedroom and locked the
door.  She had not much idea what she was going to do, but she
kept thinking.  Soon she found enough time to wrap every branch
carefully with the red tissue paper her red knitting wool came in,
and to cover the box smoothly.  Then she thought of the country
Christmas trees she had seen decorated with popcorn and
cranberries.  She popped the corn at night and the following day
made a trip up the ravine, where she gathered all the bittersweet
berries, swamp holly, and wild rose seed heads she could find.
She strung the corn on fine cotton cord putting a rose seed pod
between each grain, then used the bittersweet berries to terminate
the blunt ends of the branches, and climb up the trunk.  By the
time she had finished this she was really interested.  She
achieved a gold star for the top from a box lid and a piece of
gilt paper Polly had carried home from school.  With yarn ends and
mosquito netting, she whipped up a few little mittens, stockings,
and bags.  She cracked nuts from their fall store and melting a
little sugar stirred in the kernels until they were covered with a
sweet, white glaze.  Then she made some hard candy, and some fancy
cookies with a few sticks of striped candy cut in circles and
dotted on the top.  She polished red, yellow, and green apples and
set them under the tree.

When she made her final trip to Hartley before Christmas the
spirit of the day was in the air.  She breathed so much of it that
she paid a dollar and a half for a stout sled and ten cents for a
dozen little red candles, five each for two oranges, and fifteen
each for two pretty little books, then after long hesitation added
a doll for Polly.  She felt that she should not have done this,
and said so, to herself; but knew if she had it to do over, she
would do the same thing again.  She shook her shoulders and took
the first step toward regaining her old self-confidence.

"Pshaw!  Big and strong as I am, and Adam getting such a great
boy, we can make it," she said.  Then she hurried to the hack and
was driven home barely in time to rush her bundles into her room
before school was out.  She could scarcely wait until the children
were in bed to open the parcels.  The doll had to be dressed, but
Kate was interested in Christmas by that time, and so contemplated
the spider-waisted image with real affection.  She never had owned
a doll herself.  She let the knitting go that night, and cut up an
old waist to make white under-clothing with touches of lace, and a
pretty dress.  Then Kate went to her room, tied the doll in a safe
place on the tree, put on the books, and set the candles with
pins.  As she worked she kept biting her lips, but when it was all
finished she thought it was lovely, and so it was.  As she set the
sled in front of the tree she said:  "There, little folks, I
wonder what you will think of that!  It's the best I can do.  I've
a nice chicken to roast; now if only, if only Mother or Nancy
Ellen would come, or write a line, or merely send one word by
Tilly Nepple."

Suddenly Kate lay down on the bed, buried her face in the pillow
while her shoulders jerked and shook in dry sobs for a long time.
At last she arose, went to the kitchen, bathed her face, and
banked the fires.  "I suppose it is the Bates way," she said, "but
it's a cold, hard proposition.  I know what's the matter with all
of them.  They are afraid to come near me, or show the slightest
friendliness, for fear I'll ask them to help support us.  They
needn't worry, we can take care of ourselves."

She set her tree on the living room table, arranged everything to
the best advantage, laid a fire in the stove, and went to sleep
Christmas eve, feeling more like herself than she had since the
explosion.  Christmas morning she had the house warm and the tree
ready to light while the children dressed.  She slipped away their
every-day clothing and laid out their best instead.  She could
hear them talking as they dressed, and knew the change of clothing
had filled them with hope.  She hastily lighted the tree, and was
setting the table as they entered the dining room.

"Merry Christmas, little people," she cried in a voice they had
not heard in a long time.  They both rushed to her and Kate's
heart stood still as they each hugged her tight, kissed her, and
offered a tiny packet.  From the size and feeling of these, she
realized that they were giving her the candy they had received the
day before at school.  Surprises were coming thick and fast with
Kate.  That one shook her to her foundations.  They loved candy.
They had so little!  They had nothing else to give.  She held them
an instant so tightly they were surprised at her, then she told
them to lay the packages on the living room table until after
breakfast.  Polly opened the door, and screamed.  Adam ran, and
then both of them stood silently before the brave little tree,
flaming red, touched with white, its gold star shining.  They
looked at it, and then at each other, while Kate, watching at an
angle across the dining room, distinctly heard Polly say in an
awed tone:  "Adam, hadn't we better pray?"

Kate lifted herself full height, and drew a deep breath.  "Well, I
guess I manage a little Christmas after this," she said, "and
maybe a Fourth of July, and a birthday, and a few other things.  I
needn't be such a coward.  I believe I can make it."

From that hour she began trying to think of something she could do
that would bring returns more nearly commensurate with the time
and strength she was spending.  She felt tied to Walden because
she owned the house, and could rely on working on shares with Aunt
Ollie for winter food; but there was nothing she could do there
and take care of the children that would bring more than the most
meagre living.  Still they were living, each year more
comfortably; the children were growing bigger and stronger; soon
they could help at something, if only she could think what.  The
time flew, each day a repetition of yesterday's dogged, soul-
tiring grind, until some days Kate was close to despair.  Each day
the house grew shabbier; things wore out and could not be
replaced; poverty showed itself more plainly.  So three more years
of life in Walden passed, setting their indelible mark on Kate.
Time and again she almost broke the spell that bound her, but she
never quite reached the place where her thought cleared, her heart
regained its courage, her soul dared take wing, and try another
flight.  When she thought of it, "I don't so much mind the
falling," said Kate to herself; "but I do seem to select the
hardest spots to light on."

Kate sat on the back steps, the sun shone, her nearest neighbour
was spading an onion bed.  She knew that presently she would get
out the rake and spade and begin another year's work; but at that
minute she felt too hopeless to move.  Adam came and sat on the
step beside her.  She looked at him and was surprised at his size
and apparent strength. Someway he gave her hope.  He was a good
boy, he had never done a mean, sneaking thing that she knew of.
He was natural, normal, mischievous; but he had not an underhand
inclination that she could discover.  He would make a fine-
looking, big man, quite as fine as any of the Bates men; even
Adam, 3d, was no handsomer than the fourth Adam would be.  Hope
arose in her with the cool air of spring on her cheek and its wine
in her nostrils.  Then out of the clear sky she said it:  "Adam,
how long are we going to stay in the beggar class?"

Adam jumped, and turned surprised eyes toward her.  Kate was
forced to justify herself.

"Of course we give Aunt Ollie half we raise," she said, "but
anybody would do that.  We work hard, and we live little if any
better than Jasons, who have the County Trustee in three times a
winter.  I'm big and strong, you're almost a man, why don't we DO
something?  Why don't we have some decent clothes, some money for
out work and" -- Kate spoke at random -- "a horse and carriage?"

"A horse and carriage?" repeated Adam, staring at her.

"Why not?" said Kate, casually.

"But how?" cried the amazed boy.

"Why, earn the money, and buy it!" said Kate, impatiently.  "I'm
about fed up on earning cabbage, and potatoes, and skirmishing for
wood.  I'd prefer to have a dollar in my pocket, and BUY what we
need.  Can't you use your brain and help me figure out a way to
earn some MONEY?"

"I meant to pretty soon now, but I thought I had to go to school a
few years yet," he said.

"Of course you do," said Kate.  "I must earn the money, but can't
you help me think how?"

"Sure," said Adam, sitting straight and seeming thoughtful, "but
give me a little time.  What would you -- could you, do?"

"I taught before I was married," said Kate; "but methods of
teaching change so I'd have to have a Normal term to qualify for
even this school.  I could put you and Polly with Aunt Ollie this
summer; but I wouldn't, not if we must freeze and starve together -- "

"Because of Grandma?" asked the boy.  Kate nodded.

"I borrowed money to go once, and I could again; but I have been
away from teaching so long, and I don't know what to do with you
children.  The thing I would LIKE would be to find a piece of land
somewhere, with a house, any kind of one on it, and take it to
rent.  Land is about all I really know.  Working for money would
be of some interest.  I am so dead tired working for potatoes.
Sometimes I see them flying around in the air at night."

"Do you know of any place you would like?" asked Adam.

"No, I don't," said Kate, "but I am going to begin asking and I'm
going to keep my eyes open.  I heard yesterday that Dr. James
intends to build a new house.  This house is nothing, but the lot
is in the prettiest place in town.  Let's sell it to him, and take
the money, and buy us some new furniture and a cow, and a team,
and wagon, and a buggy, and go on a piece of land, and live like
other people.  Seems to me I'll die if I have to work for potatoes
any longer.  I'm heart sick of them.  Don't say a word to anybody,
but Oh, Adam, THINK!  Think HARD!  Can't you just help me THINK?"

"You are sure you want land?" asked the boy.

"It is all I know," said Kate.  "How do you feel about it?"

"I want horses, and cows, and pigs -- lots of pigs -- and sheep,
and lots of white hens," said Adam, promptly.

"Get the spade and spade the onion bed until I think," said Kate.
"And that reminds me, we didn't divide the sets last fall.
Somebody will have to go after them."

"I'll go," said Adam, "but it's awful early.  It'll snow again.
Let me go after school Friday and stay over night.  I'd like to go
and stay over night with Aunt Ollie.  Grandma can't say anything
to me that I'll listen to.  You keep Polly, and let me go alone.
Sure I can."

"All right," said Kate.  "Spade the bed, and let it warm a day.
It will be good for it.  But don't tell Polly you're going, or
she'll want to go along."

Until Friday night, Kate and Adam went around in such a daze of
deep thought that they stumbled, and ran against each other; then
came back to their affairs suddenly, looking at each other and
smiling understandingly.  After one of these encounters Kate said
to the boy:  "You may not arrive at anything, Adam, but I
certainly can't complain that you are not thinking."

Adam grinned:  "I'm not so sure that I haven't got it," he said.

"Tell me quick and let me think, too" said Kate.

"But I can't tell you yet," said Adam.  "I have to find out
something first."

Friday evening he wanted to put off his trip until Saturday
morning, so Kate agreed.  She was surprised when he bathed and put
on his clean shirt and trousers, but said not a word.  She had
made some study of child psychology, she thought making the trip
alone was of so much importance to Adam that he was dressing for
the occasion.  She foresaw extra washing, yet she said nothing to
stop the lad.  She waved good-bye to him, thinking how sturdy and
good looking he was, as he ran out of the front door.  Kate was
beginning to be worried when Adam had not returned toward dusk
Sunday evening, and Polly was cross and fretful.  Finally they saw
him coming down the ravine bank, carrying his small bundle of
sets.  Kate felt a glow of relief; Polly ran to meet him.  Kate
watched as they met and saw Adam take Polly's hand.

"If only they looked as much alike as some twins do, I'd be
thankful," said Kate.

Adam delivered the sets, said Aunt Ollie and Grandma were all
right, that it was an awful long walk, and he was tired.  Kate
noticed that his feet were dust covered, but his clothes were so
clean she said to him:  "You didn't fish much."

"I didn't fish any," said Adam, "not like I always fish," he
added.

"Had any time to THINK?" asked Kate.

"You just bet I did," said the boy.  "I didn't waste a minute."

"Neither did I," said Kate.  "I know exactly what the prettiest
lot in town can be sold for."

"Good!" cried Adam.  "Fine!"

Monday Kate wanted to get up early and stick the sets, but Adam
insisted that Aunt Ollie said the sign would not be right until
Wednesday.  If they were stuck on Monday or Tuesday, they would
all grow to top.

"My goodness!  I knew that," said Kate.  "I am thinking so hard
I'm losing what little sense I had; but anyway, mere thinking is
doing me a world of good.  I am beginning to feel a kind of rising
joy inside, and I can't imagine anything else that makes it."

Adam went to school, laughing.  Kate did the washing and ironing,
and worked in the garden getting beds ready.  Tuesday she was at
the same occupation, when about ten o'clock she dropped her spade
and straightened, a flash of perfect amazement crossing her face.
She stood immovable save for swaying forward in an attitude of
tense listening.

"Hoo! hoo!"

Kate ran across the yard and as she turned the corner of the house
she saw a one-horse spring wagon standing before the gate, while a
stiff, gaunt figure sat bolt upright on the seat, holding the
lines.  Kate was at the wheel looking up with a face of delighted
amazement.

"Why, Mother!" she cried.  "Why, Mother!"

"Go fetch a chair and help me down," said Mrs. Bates, "this seat
is getting tarnation hard."

Kate ran after a chair, and helped her mother to alight.  Mrs.
Bates promptly took the chair, on the sidewalk.

"Just drop the thills," she said.  "Lead him back and slip on the
halter.  It's there with his feed."

Kate followed instructions, her heart beating wildly.  Several
times she ventured a quick glance at her mother.  How she had
aged!  How lined and thin she was!  But Oh, how blessed good it
was to see her!  Mrs. Bates arose and they walked into the house,
where she looked keenly around, while her sharp eyes seemed to
appraise everything as she sat down and removed her bonnet.

"Go fetch me a drink," she said, "and take the horse one and then
I'll tell you why I came."

"I don't care why you came," said Kate, "but Oh, Mother, thank God
you are here!"

"Now, now, don't get het up!" cautioned Mrs. Bates.  "Water, I
said."

Kate hurried to obey orders; then she sank on a chair and looked
at her mother.  Mrs. Bates wiped her face and settled in the chair
comfortably.

"They's no use to waste words," she said.  "Katie, you're the only
one in the family that has any sense, and sometimes you ain't got
enough so's you could notice it without a magnifyin' glass; but
even so, you're ahead of the rest of them.  Katie, I'm sick an'
tired of the Neppleses and the Whistlers and being bossed by the
whole endurin' Bates tribe; sick and tired of it, so I just came
after you."

"Came after me?" repeated Kate stupidly.

"Yes, parrot, 'came after you,'" said Mrs. Bates.  "I told you,
you'd no great amount of sense.  I'm speakin' plain, ain't I?  I
don't see much here to hold you.  I want you should throw a few
traps, whatever you are beholden to, in the wagon - that's why I
brought it - and come on home and take care of me the rest of my
time.  It won't be so long; I won't interfere much, nor be much
bother.  I've kep' the place in order, but I'm about fashed.  I
won't admit it to the rest of them; but I don't seem to mind
telling you, Katie, that I am almost winded.  Will you come?"

"Of course I will," said Kate, a tide of effulgent joy surging up
in her heart until it almost choked her.  "Of course I will,
Mother, but my children, won't they worry you?"

"Never having had a child about, I s'pect likely they may," said
Mrs. Bates, dryly.  "Why, you little fool!  I think likely it's
the children I am pinin' for most, though I couldn't a-stood it
much longer without YOU.  Will you get ready and come with me to-
day?"

"Yes," said Kate, "if I can make it.  There's very little here I
care for; I can have the second-hand man give me what he will for
the rest; and I can get a good price for the lot to-day, if I say
so.  Dr. James wants it to build on.  I'll go and do the very best
I can, and when you don't want me any longer, Adam will be bigger
and we can look out for ourselves.  Yes, I'll get ready at once if
you want me to."

"Not much of a haggler, are you, Katie?" said Mrs. Bates.  "Why
don't you ask what rooms you're to have, and what I'll pay you,
and how much work you'll have to do, and if you take charge of the
farm, and how we share up?"

Kate laughed:  "Mother," she said, "I have been going to school
here, with the Master of Life for a teacher; and I've learned so
many things that really count, that I know now NONE of the things
you mention are essential.  You may keep the answers to all those
questions; I don't care a cent about any of them.  If you want me,
and want the children, all those things will settle themselves as
we come to them.  I didn't use to understand you; but we got well
enough acquainted at Father's funeral, and I do, now.  Whatever
you do will be fair, just, and right.  I'll obey you, as I shall
expect Adam and Polly to."

"Well, for lands sakes, Katie," said Mrs. Bates.  "Life must a-
been weltin' it to you good and proper.  I never expected to see
you as meek as Moses.  That Holt man wasn't big enough to beat
you, was he?"

"The ways in which he 'beat' me no Bates would understand.  I had
eight years of them, and I don't understand them yet; but I am so
cooked with them, that I shall be wild with joy if you truly mean
for me to pack up and come home with you for awhile."

"Oh, Lordy, Katie!" said Mrs. Bates.  "This whipped out, take-
anything-anyway style ain't becomin' to a big, fine, upstanding
woman like you.  Hold up your head, child!  Hold up your head, and
say what you want, an' how you want it!"

"Honestly, Mother, I don't want a thing on earth but to go home
with you and do as you say for the next ten years," said Kate.

"Stiffen up!" cried Mrs. Bates.  "Stiffen up!"  "Don't be no
broken reed, Katie!  I don't want you dependin' on ME; I came to
see if you would let ME lean on YOU the rest of the way.  I wa'n't
figuring that there was anything on this earth that could get you
down; so's I was calculatin' you'd be the very one to hold me up.
Since you seem to be feeling unaccountably weak in the knees,
let's see if we can brace them a little.  Livin' with Pa so long
must kind of given me a tendency toward nussin' a deed.  I've got
one here I had executed two years ago, and I was a coming with it
along about now, when 'a little bird tole me' to come to-day, so
here I am.  Take that, Katie."

Mrs. Bates pulled a long sealed envelope from the front of her
dress and tossed it in Kate's lap.

"Mother, what is this?" asked Kate in a hushed voice.

"Well, if you'd rather use your ears than your eyes, it's all the
same to me," said Mrs. Bates.  "The boys always had a mortal
itchin' to get their fingers on the papers in the case.  I can't
say I don't like the difference; and I've give you every chance,
too, an you WOULDN'T demand, you WOULDN'T specify.  Well, I'll
just specify myself.  I'm dead tired of the neighbours taking care
of me, and all of the children stoppin' every time they pass, each
one orderin' or insinuatin' according to their lights, as to what
I should do.  I've always had a purty clear idea of what I wanted
to do myself.  Over forty years, I sided with Pa, to keep the
peace; NOW I reckon I'm free to do as I like.  That's my side.
You can tell me yours, now."

Kate shook her head:   "I have nothing to say."

"Jest as well," said Mrs. Bates.  "Re-hashing don't do any good.
Come back, and come to-day; but stiffen up.  That paper you are
holding is a warrantee deed to the home two hundred to you and
your children after you.  You take possession to-day.  There's
money in the bank to paper, an' paint, and make any little changes
you'd like, such as cutting doors or windows different places,
floorin' the kitchen new, or the like.  Take it an' welcome.  I
got more 'an enough to last me all my days; all I ask of you is my
room, my food, and your company.  Take the farm, and do what you
pretty please with it."

"But, Mother!" cried Kate.  "The rest of them!  They'd tear me
limb for limb.  I don't DARE take this."

"Oh, don't you?" asked Mrs. Bates.  "Well, I still stand for quite
a bit at Bates Corners, and I say you WILL take that farm, and run
it as you like.  It is mine, I give it to you.  We all know it
wasn't your fault you lost your money, though it was a dose it
took some of us a good long time to swallow.  You are the only one
out of your share; you settled things fine for the rest of them;
and they all know it, and feel it.  You'll never know what you did
for me the way you put me through Pa's funeral; now if you'll just
shut up, and stick that deed somewhere it won't burn, and come
home an' plant me as successfully as you did Pa, you'll have
earned all you'll get, an' something coming.  Now set us out a
bite to eat, and let's be off."

Kate slowly arose and handed back the deed.

"I'll be flying around so lively I might lose that," she said,
"you put it where you had it, till we get to Hartley, and then
I'll get a place in the bank vault for it.  I can't quite take
this in, just yet, but you know I'll do my best for you, Mother!"

"Tain't likely I'd be here else," said Mrs. Bates, "and tea,
Katie.  A cup of good strong hot tea would fix me up about proper,
right now."

Kate went to the kitchen and began setting everything she had to
eat on the table.  As she worked Polly came flying in the door
crying:  "Mother, who has come?" so Kate stepped toward the living
room to show the child to her grandmother and as she advanced she
saw a queer thing.  Adam was sitting on his grandmother's lap.
Her arms were tight around him, her face buried in his crisp hair,
and he was patting her shoulder and telling her he would take care
of her, while her voice said distinctly:  "Of course you will,
birdie!"  Then the lad and the old woman laid their heads together
and laughed almost hysterically.

"WELL, IF THAT ISN'T QUICK WORK!" said Kate to herself.  Then she
presented Polly, who followed Adam's lead in hugging the stranger
first and looking at her afterward.  God bless all little
children.  Then Adam ran to tell the second-hand man to come at
one o'clock and Dr. James that he might have the keys at three.
They ate hurriedly.  Kate set out what she wished to save; the
children carried things to the wagon; she packed while they ran
after their books, and at three o'clock all of them climbed into
the spring wagon, and started to Bates Corners.

Kate was the last one in.  As she climbed on the seat beside her
mother and took the lines, she handed Mrs. Bates a small china mug
to hold for her.  It was decorated with a very fat robin and on a
banner floating from its beak was inscribed:  "For a Good Girl."



LIFE'S BOOMERANG

AS THEY drove into Hartley, Mrs. Bates drew forth the deed.

"You are right about the bank being a safe place for this," she
said.  "I've had it round the house for two years, and it's a fair
nervous thing to do.  I wish I'd a-had sense to put it there and
come after you the day I made it.  But there's no use crying over
spilt milk, nor fussin' with the grease spot it makes; salt it
down safely now, and when you get it done, beings as this setting
is fairly comfortable, take time to run into Harding's and pick up
some Sunday-school clothes for the children that will tally up
with the rest of their relations'; an' get yourself a cheap frock
or two that will spruce you up a bit till you have time to decide
what you really want."

Kate passed the lines to her mother, and climbed from the wagon.
She returned with her confidence partly restored and a new look on
her face.  Her mother handed her two dimes.

"I can wait five minutes longer," she said.  "Now get two nice
oranges and a dime's worth of candy."

Kate took the money and obeyed orders.  She handed the packages to
her mother as she climbed into the wagon and again took the lines,
heading the horse toward the old, familiar road.  Her mother
twisted around on the seat and gave each of the children an orange
and a stick of candy.

"There!" she said.  "Go on and spoil yourselves past redemption."

Kate laughed.  "But, Mother," she said, "you never did that for
us."

"Which ain't saying I never WANTED to," said Mrs. Bates, sourly.
"You're a child only once in this world; it's a little too rough
to strip childhood of everything.  I ain't so certain Bates ways
are right, that for the rest of my time I'm goin' to fly in the
face of all creation to prove it.  If God lets me live a few years
more, I want the faces around me a little less discontenteder than
those I've been used to.  If God Almighty spares me long enough, I
lay out to make sure that Adam and Polly will squeeze out a tear
or two for Granny when she is laid away."

"I think you are right, Mother," said Kate.  "It didn't cost
anything, but we had a real pretty Christmas tree this year, and I
believe we can do better next time.  I want the children to love
you, but don't BUY them."

"Well, I'd hardly call an orange and a stick of candy traffickin'
in affection," said Mrs. Bates.  "They'll survive it without
underminin' their principles, I'll be bound, or yours either.
Katie, let's make a beginning to-day.  LET'S WORK WHAT IS RIGHT,
AND HEALTHY, A FAIR PART OF THE DAY, AND THEN EACH DAY, AND SUNDAY
ESPECIALLY, LET'S PLAY AND REST, JUST AS HARD AS WE WORK.  IT'S
BEEN ALL WORK AND NO PLAY TILL WE'VE BEEN MIGHTY 'DULL BOYS' AT
OUR HOUSE; I'M FREE TO SAY THAT I HANKER FOR A CHANGE BEFORE I
DIE."

"Don't speak so often of dying," said Kate.  "You're all right.
You've been too much alone.  You'll feel like yourself as soon as
you get rested."

"I guess I been thinking about it too much," said Mrs. Bates.  "I
ain't been so well as I might, an' not being used to it, it
worries me some.  I got to buck up.  The one thing I CAN'T do is
to die; but I'm most tired enough to do it right now.  I'll be
glad when we get home."

Kate drove carefully, but as fast as she dared with her load.  As
they neared Bates Corners, the way became more familiar each mile.
Kate forgot the children, forgot her mother, forgot ten years of
disappointment and failure, and began a struggle to realize what
was happening to her now.  The lines slipped down, the horse
walked slowly, the first thing she knew, big hot tears splashed on
her hand.  She gathered up the lines, drew a deep breath, and
glanced at her mother, meeting her eye fairly.  Kate tried to
smile, but her lips were quivering.

"Glad, Katie?" asked Mrs. Bates.

Kate nodded.

"Me, too!" said Mrs. Bates.

They passed the orchard.

"There's the house, there, Polly!" cried Adam.

"Why, Adam, how did you know the place?" asked Kate, turning.

Adam hesitated a second.  "Ain't you told us times a-plenty about
the house and the lilac, and the snowball bush -- "  "Yes, and the
cabbage roses," added Polly.

"So I have," said Kate.  "Mostly last winter when we were
knitting.  Yes, this will be home for all the rest of our lives.
Isn't it grand?  How will we ever thank Grandmother?  How will we
ever be good enough to pay her?"

Both children thought this a hint, so with one accord they arose
and fell on Mrs. Bates' back, and began to pay at once in coin of
childhood.

"There, there," said Kate, drawing them away as she stopped the
horse at the gate.  "There, there, you will choke Grandmother."

Mrs. Bates pushed Kate's arm down.

"Mind your own business, will you?" she said.  "I ain't so feeble
that I can't speak for myself awhile yet."

In a daze Kate climbed down, and ran to bring a chair to help her
mother.  The children were boisterously half eating Mrs. Bates up;
she had both of them in her arms, with every outward evidence of
enjoying the performance immensely.  That was a very busy evening,
for the wagon was to be unpacked; all of them were hungry, while
the stock was to be fed, and the milking done.  Mrs. Bates and
Polly attempted supper; Kate and Adam went to the barn; but they
worked very hurriedly, for Kate could see how feeble her mother
had grown.

When at last the children were bathed and in bed, Kate and her
mother sat on the little front porch to smell spring a few minutes
before going to rest.  Kate reached over and took her mother's
hand.

"There's no word I know in any language big enough to thank you
for this, Mother," she said.  "The best I can do is make each day
as nearly a perfect expression of what I feel as possible."

Mrs. Bates drew away her hand and used it to wipe her eyes; but
she said with her usual terse perversity:  "My, Kate!  You're most
as wordy as Agatha.  I'm no glibtonguer, but I bet you ten dollars
it will hustle you some to be any gladder than I am."

Kate laughed and gave up the thanks question.

"To-morrow we must get some onions in," she said. "Have you made
any plans about the farm work for this year yet?"

"No," said Mrs. Bates.  "I was going to leave that till I decided
whether I'd come after you this spring or wait until next.  Since
I decided to come now, I'll just leave your farm to you.  Handle
it as you please."

"Mother, what will the other children say?" implored Kate.

"Humph!  You are about as well acquainted with them as I am.  Take
a shot at it yourself.  If it will avoid a fuss, we might just say
you had to come to stay with me, and run the farm for me, and let
them get used to your being here, and bossing things by degrees;
like the man that cut his dog's tail off an inch at a time, so it
wouldn't hurt so bad."

"But by inches, or 'at one fell swoop,' it's going to hurt," said
Kate.

"Sometimes it seems to me," said Mrs. Bates, "that the more we get
HURT in this world the decenter it makes us.  All the boys were
hurt enough when Pa went, but every man of them has been a BIGGER,
BETTER man since.  Instead of competing as they always did, Adam
and Andrew and the older, beforehandeder ones, took hold and
helped the younger as you told them to, and it's done the whole
family a world of good.  One thing is funny.  To hear Mary talk
now, you'd think she engineered that plan herself.  The boys are
all thankful, and so are the girls.  I leave it to you.  Tell them
or let them guess it by degrees, it's all one to me."

"Tell me about Nancy Ellen and Robert," said Kate.

"Robert stands head in Hartley.  He gets bigger and broader every
year.  He is better looking than a man has any business to be; and
I hear the Hartley ladies give him plenty of encouragement in
being stuck on himself, but I think he is true to Nancy Ellen, and
his heart is all in his work.  No children.  That's a burning
shame!  Both of them feel it.  In a way, and strictly between you
and me, Nancy Ellen is a disappointment to me, an' I doubt if she
ain't been a mite of a one to him.  He had a right to expect a
good deal of Nancy Ellen.  She had such a good brain, and good
body, and purty face.  I may miss my guess, but it always strikes
me that she falls SHORT of what he expected of her.  He's coined
money, but she hasn't spent it in the ways he would.  Likely I
shouldn't say it, but he strikes me as being just a leetle mite
too good for her."

"Oh, Mother!" said Kate.

"Now you lookey here," said Mrs. Bates.  "Suppose you was a man of
Robert's brains, and education, and professional ability, and you
made heaps of money, and no children came, and you had to see all
you earned, and stood for, and did in a community spent on the
SELFISHNESS of one woman.  How big would you feel?  What end is
that for the ambition and life work of a real man?  How would you
like it?"

"I never thought of such a thing," said Kate.

"Well, mark my word, you WILL think of it when you see their home,
and her clothes, and see them together," said Mrs. Bates.

"She still loves pretty clothing so well?" asked Kate.

"She is the best-dressed woman in the county, and the best
looking," said Mrs. Bates, "and that's all there is to her.  I'm
free to say with her chances, I'm ashamed of what she has, and
hasn't made of herself.  I'd rather stand in your shoes, than
hers, this minute, Katie."

"Does she know I'm here?" asked Kate.

"Yes.  I stopped and told her on my way out, this morning," said
Mrs. Bates.  "I asked them to come out for Sunday dinner, and they
are coming."

"Did you deliver the invitation by force?" asked Kate.

"Now, none of your meddling," said Mrs. Bates.  "I got what I went
after, and that was all I wanted.  I've told her an' told her to
come to see you during the last three years, an' I know she WANTED
to come; but she just had that stubborn Bates streak in her that
wouldn't let her change, once her mind was made up.  It did give
us a purty severe jolt, Kate, havin' all that good Bates money
burn up."

"I scarcely think it jolted any of you more than it did me," said
Kate dryly.

"No, I reckon it didn't," said Mrs. Bates.  "But they's no use
hauling ourselves over the coals to go into that.  It's past.  You
went out to face life bravely enough and it throwed you a
boomerang that cut a circle and brought you back where you started
from.  Our arrangements for the future are all made.  Now it's up
to us to live so that we get the most out of life for us an' the
children.  Those are mighty nice children of yours, Kate.  I take
to that boy something amazin', and the girl is the nicest little
old lady I've seen in many a day.  I think we will like knittin'
and sewin' together, to the top of our bent."

"My, but I'm glad you like them, Mother," said Kate.  "They are
all I've got to show for ten years of my life."

"Not by a long shot, Katie," said Mrs. Bates.  "Life has made a
real woman of you.  I kept watchin' you to-day comin' over; an' I
was prouder 'an Jehu of you.  It's a debatable question whether
you have thrown away your time and your money.  I say you've got
something to show for it that I wish to God the rest of my
children had.  I want you should brace your back, and stiffen your
neck, and make things hum here.  Get a carpenter first.  Fix the
house the way it will be most convenient and comfortable.  Then
paint and paper, and get what new things you like, in reason -- of
course, in reason -- and then I want you should get all of us
clothes so's there ain't a noticeable difference between us and
the others when we come together here or elsewhere.  Put in a
telephone; they're mighty handy, and if you can scrape up a place
-- I washed in Nancy Ellen's tub a few weeks ago.  I never was wet
all over at once before in my life, and I'm just itching to try it
again.  I say, let's have it, if it knocks a fair-sized hole in a
five-hundred-dollar bill.  An' if we had the telephone right now,
we could call up folks an' order what we want without ever budgin'
out of our tracks.  Go up ahead, Katie, I'll back you in anything
you can think of.  It won't hurt my feelings a mite if you can
think of one or two things the rest of them haven't got yet.
Can't you think of something that will lay the rest of them clear
in the shade?  I just wish you could.  Now, I'm going to bed."

Kate went with her mother, opened her bed, pulled out the pins,
and brushed her hair, drew the thin cover over her, and blew out
the light.  Then she went past the bed on her way to the door, and
stooping, she kissed her mother for the first time since she could
remember.

Then she lighted a lamp, hunted a big sheet of wrapping paper, and
sitting down beside the living room table, she drew a rough sketch
of the house.  For hours she pored over it, and when at last she
went to bed, on the reverse of the sheet she had a drawing that
was quite a different affair; yet it was the same house with very
few and easily made changes that a good contractor could
accomplish in a short time.  In the morning, she showed these
ideas to her mother who approved all of them, but still showed
disappointment visibly.

"That's nothing but all the rest of them have," she said.  "I
thought you could think up some frills that would be new, and
different."

"Well," said Kate, "would you want to go to the expense of setting
up a furnace in the cellar?  It would make the whole house toasty
warm; it would keep the bathroom from freezing in cold weather;
and make a better way to heat the water."

"Now you're shouting!" cried Mrs. Bates.  "That's it!  But keep
still.  Don't you tell a soul about it, but go on and do it,
Katie.  Wade right in!  What else can you think of?"

"A brain specialist for you," said Kate.  "I think myself this is
enough for a start; but if you insist on more, there's a gas line
passing us out there on the road; we could hitch on for a very
reasonable sum, and do away with lamps and cooking with wood."

"Goody for you!  That's it!" cried Mrs. Bates.  "That's the very
thing!  Now brush up your hair your prettiest, and put on your new
blue dress, and take the buggy, and you and Adam go see how much
of this can be started to-day.  Me and Polly will keep house."

In a month all of these changes had been made, and were in running
order; the painting was finished, new furniture in place, a fair
start made on the garden, while a strong, young, hired man was not
far behind Hiram with his plowing.  Kate was so tired she almost
staggered; but she was so happy she arose each morning refreshed,
and accomplished work enough for three average women before the
day was over.  She suggested to her mother that she use her money
from the sale of the Walden home to pay for what furniture she had
bought, and then none of the others could feel that they were
entitled to any share in it, at any time.  Mrs. Bates thought that
a good idea, so much ill will was saved among the children.

They all stopped in passing; some of them had sharp words to say,
which Kate instantly answered in such a way that this was seldom
tried twice.  In two months the place was fresh, clean,
convenient, and in good taste.  All of them had sufficient
suitable clothing, while the farm work had not been neglected
enough to hurt the value of the crops.

In the division of labour, Adam and the hired man took the barn
and field work, Mrs. Bates and Polly the house, while Kate threw
all her splendid strength wherever it was most needed.  If a horse
was sick, she went to the barn and doctored it.  If the hay was
going to get wet, she pitched hay.  If the men had not time for
the garden she attended it, and hoed the potatoes.  For a change,
everything went right.  Mrs. Bates was happier than she ever had
been before, taking the greatest interest in the children.  They
had lived for three years in such a manner that they would never
forget it.  They were old enough to appreciate what changes had
come to them, and to be very keen about their new home and life.
Kate threw herself into the dream of her heart with all the zest
of her being.  Always she had loved and wanted land.  Now she had
it.  She knew how to handle it.  She could make it pay as well as
any Bates man, for she had man strength, and all her life she had
heard men discuss, and helped men apply man methods.

There was a strong strain of her father's spirit of driving in
Kate's blood; but her mother was so tired of it that whenever Kate
had gone just so far the older woman had merely to caution:  "Now,
now, Katie!" to make Kate realized what she was doing and take a
slower pace.  All of them were well, happy, and working hard; but
they also played at proper times, and in convenient places.  Kate
and her mother went with the children when they fished in the
meadow brook, or hunted wild flowers in the woods for Polly's bed
in the shade of the pear tree beside the garden.  There were
flowers in the garden now, as well as vegetables.  There was no
work done on Sunday.  The children always went to Sunday-school
and the full term of the District School at Bates Corners.  They
were respected, they were prosperous, they were finding a joy in
life they never before had known, while life had taught them how
to appreciate its good things as they achieved them.

The first Christmas Mrs. Bates and Kate made a Christmas tree from
a small savine in the dooryard that stood where Kate wanted to set
a flowering shrub she had found in the woods.  Guided by the
former year, and with a few dollars they decided to spend, these
women made a real Christmas tree, with gifts and ornaments, over
which Mrs. Bates was much more excited than the children.  Indeed,
such is the perversity of children that Kate's eyes widened and
her mouth sagged when she heard Adam say in a half-whisper to
Polly:  "This is mighty pretty, but gee, Polly, there'll never be
another tree as pretty as ours last year!"

While Polly answered:  "I was just thinking about it, Adam.
Wasn't it the grandest thing?"

The next Christmas Mrs. Bates advanced to a tree that reached the
ceiling, with many candles, real ornaments, and an orange, a
stocking of candy and nuts, and a doll for each girl, and a knife
for each boy of her grandchildren, all of whom she invited for
dinner.  Adam, 3d, sat at the head of the table, Mrs. Bates at the
foot.  The tiniest tots that could be trusted without their
parents ranged on the Dictionary and the Bible, of which the Bates
family possessed a fat edition for birth records; no one had ever
used it for any other purpose, until it served to lift Hiram's
baby, Milly, on a level with her roast turkey and cranberry jelly.
For a year before her party Mrs. Bates planned for it.  The tree
was beautiful, the gifts amazing, the dinner, as Kate cooked and
served it, a revelation, with its big centre basket of red,
yellow, and green apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, and flowers.
None of them ever had seen a table like that.  Then when dinner
was over, Kate sat before the fire and in her clear voice, with
fine inflections, she read from the Big Book the story of the
guiding star and the little child in the manger.  Then she told
stories, and they played games until four o'clock; and then Adam
rolled all of the children into the big wagon bed mounted on the
sled runners, and took them home.  Then he came back and finished
the day.  Mrs. Bates could scarcely be persuaded to go to bed.
When at last Kate went to put out her mother's light, and see that
her feet were warm and her covers tucked, she found her crying.

"Why, Mother!" exclaimed Kate in frank dismay.  "Wasn't everything
all right?"

"I'm just so endurin' mad," sobbed Mrs. Bates, "that I could a-
most scream and throw things.  Here I am, closer the end of my
string than anybody knows.  Likely I'll not see another Christmas.
I've lived the most of my life, and never knowed there was a time
like that on earth to be had.  There wasn't expense to it we
couldn't easy have stood, always.  Now, at the end of my tether, I
go and do this for my grandchildren.  'Tween their little shining
faces and me, there kept coming all day the little, sad,
disappointed faces of you and Nancy Ellen, and Mary, and Hannah,
and Adam, and Andrew, and Hiram and all the others.  Ever since he
went I've thought the one thing I COULDN'T DO WAS TO DIE AND FACE
ADAM BATES, but to-day I ain't felt so scared of him.  Seems to me
HE has got about as much to account for as I have."

Kate stood breathlessly still, looking at her mother.  Mrs. Bates
wiped her eyes.  "I ain't so mortal certain," she said, "that I
don't open up on him and take the first word.  I think likely I
been defrauded out of more that really counts in this world, than
he has.  Ain't that little roly-poly of Hannah's too sweet?  Seems
like I'll hardly quit feeling her little sticky hands and her
little hot mouth on my face when I die; and as she went out she
whispered in my ear:  'Do it again, Grandma, Oh, please do it
again!' an it's more'n likely I'll not get the chance, no matter
how willing I am.  Kate, I am going to leave you what of my money
is left -- I haven't spent so much -- and while you live here, I
wish each year you would have this same kind of a party and pay
for it out of that money, and call it 'Grandmother's Party.'  Will
you?"

"I surely will," said Kate.  "And hadn't I better have ALL of
them, and put some little thing from you on the tree for them?
You know how Hiram always was wild for cuff buttons, and Mary
could talk by the hour about a handkerchief with lace on it, and
Andrew never yet has got that copy of 'Aesop's Fables,' he always
wanted.  Shall I?"

"Yes," said Mrs. Bates.  "Oh, yes, and when you do it, Katie, if
they don't chain me pretty close in on the other side, I think
likely I'll be sticking around as near as I can get to you."

Kate slipped a hot brick rolled in flannel to the cold old feet,
and turning out the light she sat beside the bed and stroked the
tired head until easy breathing told her that her mother was sound
asleep.  Then she went back to the fireplace and sitting in the
red glow she told Adam, 3d, PART of what her mother had said.
Long after he was gone, she sat gazing into the slowly graying
coals, her mind busy with what she had NOT told.

That spring was difficult for Kate.  Day after day she saw her
mother growing older, feebler, and frailer.  And as the body
failed, up flamed the wings of the spirit, carrying her on and on,
each day keeping her alive, when Kate did not see how it could be
done.  With all the force she could gather, each day Mrs. Bates
struggled to keep going, denied that she felt badly, drove herself
to try to help about the house and garden.  Kate warned the
remainder of the family what they might expect at any hour; but
when they began coming in oftener, bringing little gifts and being
unusually kind, Mrs. Bates endured a few of the visits in silence,
then she turned to Kate and said after her latest callers:  "I
wonder what in the name of all possessed ails the folks?  Are they
just itching to start my funeral?  Can't they stay away until you
send them word that the breath's out of my body?"

"Mother, you shock me," said Kate.  "They come because they LOVE
you.  They try to tell you so with the little things they bring.
Most people would think they were neglected, if their children did
NOT come to see them when they were not so well."

"Not so well!" cried Mrs. Bates.  "Folly!  I am as well as I ever
was.  They needn't come snooping around, trying to make me think
I'm not.  If they'd a-done it all their lives, well and good; it's
no time for them to begin being cotton-mouthed now."

"Mother," said Kate gently, "haven't YOU changed, yourself, about
things like Christmas, for example?  Maybe your children are
changing, too.  Maybe they feel that they have missed something
they'd like to have from you, and give back to you, before it's
too late.  Just maybe," said Kate.

Mrs. Bates sat bolt upright still, but her flashing eyes softened.

"I hadn't just thought of that," she said.  "I think it's more
than likely.  Well, if it's THAT way, I s'pose I've got to button
up my lip and stand it; but it's about more than I can go, when I
know that the first time I lose my grip I'll land smash up against
Adam Bates and my settlement with him."

"Mother," said Kate still more gently, "I thought we had it
settled at the time Father went that each of you would be
accountable to GOD, not to each other.  I am a wanderer in
darkness myself, when it come to talking about God, but this I
know, He is SOMEWHERE and He is REDEEMING love.  If Father has
been in the light of His love all these years, he must have
changed more, far more than you have.  He'll understand now how
wrong he was to force ways on you he knew you didn't think right;
he'll have more to account to you for than you ever will to him;
and remember this only, neither of you is accountable, save to
your God."

Mrs. Bates arose and walked to the door, drawn to full height, her
head very erect.  The world was at bloom-time.  The evening air
was heavily sweet with lilacs, and the widely branching, old apple
trees of the dooryard with loaded with flowers.  She stepped
outside.  Kate followed.  Her mother went down the steps and down
the walk to the gate.  Kate kept beside her, in reach, yet not
touching her.  At the gate she gripped the pickets to steady
herself as she stared long and unflinchingly at the red setting
sun dropping behind a white wall of bloom.  Then she slowly
turned, life's greatest tragedy lining her face, her breath coming
in short gasps.  She spread her hands at each side, as if to
balance herself, her passing soul in her eyes, and looked at Kate.

"Katherine Eleanor," she said slowly and distinctly, "I'm going
now.  I can't fight it off any longer.  I confess myself.  I
burned those deeds.  Every one of them.  Pa got himself afire, but
he'd thrown THEM out of it.  It was my chance.  I took it.  Are
you going to tell them?"

Kate was standing as tall and straight as her mother, her hands
extended the same, but not touching her.

"No," she said.  "You were an instrument in the hands of God to
right a great wrong.  No!  I shall never tell a soul while I live.
In a minute God himself will tell you that you did what He willed
you should."

"Well, we will see about that right now," said Mrs. Bates, lifting
her face to the sky.  "Into thy hands, O Lord, into thy hands!"

Then she closed her eyes and ceased to breathe.  Kate took her
into her arms and carried her to her bed.



SOMEWHAT OF POLLY

IF THE spirit of Mrs. Bates hovered among the bloom-whitened apple
trees as her mortal remains were carried past the lilacs and
cabbage rose bushes, through a rain of drifting petals, she must
have been convinced that time had wrought one great change in the
hearts of her children.  They had all learned to weep; while if
the tears they shed were a criterion of their feelings for her,
surely her soul must have been satisfied.  They laid her away with
simple ceremony and then all of them went to their homes, except
Nancy Ellen and Robert, who stopped in passing to learn if there
was anything they could do for Kate.  She was grieving too deeply
for many words; none of them would ever understand the deep bond
of sympathy and companionship that had grown to exist between her
and her mother.  She stopped at the front porch and sat down,
feeling unable to enter the house with Nancy Ellen, who was deeply
concerned over the lack of taste displayed in Agatha's new spring
hat.  When Kate could endure it no longer she interrupted:  "Why
didn't all of them come?"

"What for?" asked Nancy Ellen.

"They had a right to know what Mother had done," said Kate in a
low voice.

"But what was the use?" asked Nancy Ellen.  "Adam had been
managing the administrator business for Mother and paying her
taxes with his, of course when she made a deed to you, and had it
recorded, they told him.  All of us knew it for two years before
she went after you.  And the new furniture was bought with your
money, so it's yours; what was there to have a meeting about?"

"Mother didn't understand that you children knew," said Kate.

"Sometimes I thought there were a lot of things Mother didn't
understand," said Nancy Ellen, "and sometimes I thought she
understood so much more than any of the rest of us, that all of us
would have had a big surprise if we could have seen her brain."

"Yes, I believe we would," said Kate.  "Do you mind telling me how
the boys and girls feel about this?"

Nancy Ellen laughed shortly.  "Well, the boys feel that you
negotiated such a fine settlement of Father's affairs for them,
that they owe this to you.  The girls were pretty sore at first,
and some of them are nursing their wrath yet; but there wasn't a
thing on earth they could do.  All of them were perfectly willing
that you should have something -- after the fire -- of course,
most of them thought Mother went too far."

"I think so myself," said Kate.  "But she never came near me, or
wrote me, or sent me even one word, until the day she came after
me.  I had nothing to do with it --"

"All of us know that, Kate," said Nancy Ellen.  "You needn't
worry.  We're all used to it, and we're all at the place where we
have nothing to say."

To escape grieving for her mother, Kate worked that summer as
never before.  Adam was growing big enough and strong enough to be
a real help.  He was interested in all they did, always after the
reason, and trying to think of a better way.  Kate secured the
best agricultural paper for him and they read it nights together.
They kept an account book, and set down all they spent, and
balanced against it all they earned, putting the difference, which
was often more than they hoped for, in the bank.

So the years ran.  As the children grew older, Polly discovered
that the nicest boy in school lived across the road half a mile
north of them; while Adam, after a real struggle in his loyal twin
soul, aided by the fact that Henry Peters usually had divided his
apples with Polly before Adam reached her, discovered that Milly
York, across the road, half a mile south, liked his apples best,
and was as nice a girl as Polly ever dared to be.  In a dazed way,
Kate learned these things from their after-school and Sunday talk,
saw that they nearly reached her shoulder, and realized that they
were sixteen.  So quickly the time goes, when people are busy,
happy, and working together.  At least Kate and Adam were happy,
for they were always working together.  By tacit agreement, they
left Polly the easy housework, and went themselves to the fields
to wrestle with the rugged work of a farm.  They thought they were
shielding Polly, teaching her a woman's real work, and being kind
to her.

Polly thought they were together because they liked to be; doing
the farm work because it suited them better; while she had known
from babyhood that for some reason her mother did not care for her
as she did for Adam.  She thought at first that it was because
Adam was a boy.  Later, when she noticed her mother watching her
every time she started to speak, and interrupting with the never-
failing caution:  "Now be careful!  THINK before you speak!  Are
you SURE?" she wondered why this should happen to her always, to
Adam never.  She asked Adam about it, but Adam did not know.  It
never occurred to Polly to ask her mother, while Kate was so
uneasy it never occurred to her that the child would notice or
what she would think.  The first time Polly deviated slightly from
the truth, she and Kate had a very terrible time.  Kate felt fully
justified; the child astonished and abused.

Polly arrived at the solution of her problem slowly.  As she grew
older, she saw that her mother, who always was charitable to
everyone else, was repelled by her grandmother, while she loved
Aunt Ollie.  Older still, Polly realized that SHE was a
reproduction of her grandmother.  She had only to look at her to
see this; her mother did not like her grandmother, maybe Mother
did not like her as well as Adam, because she resembled her
grandmother.  By the time she was sixteen, Polly had arrived at a
solution that satisfied her as to why her mother liked Adam
better, and always left her alone in the house to endless cooking,
dishwashing, sweeping, dusting, washing, and ironing, while she
hoed potatoes, pitched hay, or sheared sheep.  Polly thought the
nicer way would have been to do the housework together and then go
to the fields together; but she was a good soul, so she worked
alone and brooded in silence, and watched up the road for a
glimpse of Henry Peters, who liked to hear her talk, and to whom
it mattered not a mite that her hair was lustreless, her eyes
steel coloured, and her nose like that of a woman he never had
seen.  In her way, Polly admired her mother, loved her, and worked
until she was almost dropping for Kate's scant, infrequent words
of praise.

So Polly had to be content in the kitchen.  One day, having
finished her work two hours before dinnertime, she sauntered to
the front gate.  How strange that Henry Peters should be at the
end of the field joining their land.  When he waved, she waved
back.  When he climbed the fence she opened the gate.  They met
halfway, under the bloomful shade of a red haw.  Henry wondered
who two men he had seen leaving the Holt gate were, and what they
wanted, but he was too polite to ask.  He merely hoped they did
not annoy her.  Oh, no, they were only some men to see Mother
about some business, but it was most kind of him to let her know
he was looking out for her.  She got so lonely; Mother never would
let her go to the field with her.  Of course not!  The field was
no place for such a pretty girl; there was enough work in the
house for her.  His sister should not work in the field, if he had
a sister, and Polly should not work there, if she belonged to him;
No-sir-ee!  Polly looked at Henry with shining, young girl eyes,
and when he said she was pretty, her blue-gray eyes softened, her
cheeks pinked up, the sun put light in her hair nature had failed
to, and lo and behold, the marvel was wrought -- plain little
Polly became a thing of beauty.  She knew it instantly, because
she saw herself in Henry Peters' eyes.  And Henry was so amazed
when this wonderful transformation took place in little Polly,
right there under the red haw tree, that his own eyes grew big and
tender, his cheeks flooded with red blood, his heart shook him,
and he drew to full height, and became possessed of an
overwhelming desire to dance before Polly, and sing to her.  He
grew so splendid, Polly caught her breath, and then she smiled on
him a very wondering smile, over the great discovery; and Henry
grew so bewildered he forgot either to dance or sing as a
preliminary.  He merely, just merely, reached out and gathered
Polly in his arms, and held her against him, and stared down at
her wonderful beauty opening right out under his eyes.

"Little Beautiful!" said Henry Peters in a hushed, choking voice,
"Little Beautiful!"

Polly looked up at him.  She was every bit as beautiful as he
thought her, while he was so beautiful to Polly that she gasped
for breath.  How did he happen to look as he did, right under the
red haw, in broad daylight?  He had been hers, of course, ever
since, shy and fearful, she had first entered Bates Corners
school, and found courage in his broad, encouraging smile.  Now
she smiled on him, the smile of possession that was in her heart.
Henry instantly knew she always had belonged to him, so he grasped
her closer, and bent his head.

When Henry went back to the plow, and Polly ran down the road,
with the joy of the world surging in her heart and brain, she knew
that she was going to have to account to her tired, busy mother
for being half an hour late with dinner; and he knew he was going
to have to explain to an equally tired father why he was four
furrows short of where he should be.

He came to book first, and told the truth.  He had seen some men
go to the Holts'.  Polly was his little chum; and she was always
alone all summer, so he just walked that way to be sure she was
safe.  His father looked at him quizzically.

"So THAT'S the way the wind blows!" he said.  "Well, I don't know
where you could find a nicer little girl or a better worker.  I'd
always hoped you'd take to Milly York; but Polly is better; she
can work three of Milly down.  Awful plain, though!"

This sacrilege came while Henry's lips were tingling with their
first kiss, and his heart was drunken with the red wine of
innocent young love.

"Why, Dad, you're crazy!" he cried.  "There isn't another girl in
the whole world as pretty and sweet as Polly.  Milly York?  She
can't hold a candle to Polly!  Besides, she's been Adam's as long
as Polly has been mine!"

"God bless my soul!" cried Mr. Peters.  "How these youngsters to
run away with us.  And are you the most beautiful young man at
Bates Corners, Henry?"

"I'm beautiful enough that Polly will put her arms around my neck
and kiss me, anyway," blurted Henry.  "So you and Ma can get ready
for a wedding as soon as Polly says the word.  I'm ready, right
now."

"So am I," said Mr. Peters, "and from the way Ma complains about
the work I and you boys make her, I don't think she will object to
a little help.  Polly is a good, steady worker."

Polly ran, but she simply could not light the fire, set the table,
and get things cooked on time, while everything she touched seemed
to spill or slip.  She could not think what, or how, to do the
usual for the very good reason that Henry Peters was a Prince, and
a Knight, and a Lover, and a Sweetheart, and her Man; she had just
agreed to all this with her soul, less than an hour ago under the
red haw.  No wonder she was late, no wonder she spilled and
smeared; and red of face she blundered and bungled, for the first
time in her life.  Then in came Kate.  She must lose no time, the
corn must be finished before it rained.  She must hurry -- for the
first time dinner was late, while Polly was messing like a perfect
little fool.

Kate stepped in and began to right things with practised hand.
Disaster came when she saw Polly, at the well, take an instant
from bringing in the water, to wave in the direction of the Peters
farm.  As she entered the door, Kate swept her with a glance.

"Have to upset the bowl, as usual?" she said, scathingly.  "Just
as I think you're going to make something of yourself, and be of
some use, you begin mooning in the direction of that big, gangling
Hank Peters.  Don't you ever let me see you do it again.  You are
too young to start that kind of foolishness.  I bet a cow he was
hanging around here, and made you late with dinner."

"He was not!  He didn't either!" cried Polly, then stopped in
dismay, her cheeks burning.  She gulped and went on bravely:
"That is, he wasn't here, and he didn't make ME late, any more
than I kept HIM from his work.  He always watches when there are
tramps and peddlers on the road, because he knows I'm alone.  I
knew he would be watching two men who stopped to see you, so I
just went as far as the haw tree to tell him I was all right, and
we got to talking --"

If only Kate had been looking at Polly then!  But she was putting
the apple butter and cream on the table.  As she did so, she
thought possibly it was a good idea to have Henry Peters seeing
that tramps did not frighten Polly, so she missed dawn on the face
of her child, and instead of what might have been, she said:
"Well, I must say THAT is neighbourly of him; but don't you dare
let him get any foolish notions in his head.  I think Aunt Nancy
Ellen will let you stay at her house after this, and go to the
Hartley High School in winter, so you can come out of that much
better prepared to teach than I ever was.  I had a surprise
planned for you to-night, but now I don't know whether you deserve
it or not.  I'll have to think."

Kate did not think at all.  After the manner of parents, she SAID
that, but her head was full of something she thought vastly more
important just then; of course Polly should have her share in it.
Left alone to wash the dishes and cook supper while her mother
went to town, it was Polly, who did the thinking.  She thought
entirely too much, thought bitterly, thought disappointedly, and
finally thought resentfully, and then alas, Polly thought
deceitfully.  Her mother had said:  "Never let me see you."  Very
well, she would be extremely careful that she was NOT seen; but
before she slept she rather thought she would find a way to let
Henry know how she was being abused, and about that plan to send
her away all the long winter to school.  She rather thought Henry
would have something to say about how his "Little Beautiful" was
being treated.  Here Polly looked long and searchingly in the
mirror to see if by any chance Henry was mistaken, and she
discovered he was.  She stared in amazement at the pink-cheeked,
shining eyed girl she saw mirrored.  She pulled her hair looser
around the temples, and drew her lips over her teeth.  Surely
Henry was mistaken.  "Little Beautiful" was too moderate.  She
would see that he said "perfectly lovely," the next time, and he
did.



KATE'S HEAVENLY TIME

ONE evening Kate and Polly went to the front porch to rest until
bedtime and found a shining big new trunk sitting there, with
Kate's initials on the end, her name on the check tag, and a key
in the lock.  They unbuckled the straps, turned the key, and
lifted the lid.  That trunk contained underclothing, hose, shoes,
two hats, a travelling dress with half a dozen extra waists, and
an afternoon and an evening dress, all selected with especial
reference to Kate's colouring, and made one size larger than Nancy
Ellen wore, which fitted Kate perfectly.  There were gloves, a
parasol, and a note which read:

DEAR KATE:  Here are some clothes.  I am going to go North a week
after harvest.  You can be spared then as well as not.  Come on!
Let's run away and have one good time all by ourselves.  It is my
treat from start to finish.  The children can manage the farm
perfectly well.  Any one of her cousins will stay with Polly, if
she will be lonely.  Cut loose and come on, Kate.  I am going.  Of
course Robert couldn't be pried away from his precious patients;
we will have to go alone; but we do not care.  We like it.  Shall
we start about the tenth, on the night train, which will be
cooler?  NANCY ELLEN.

"We shall!" said Kate emphatically, when she finished the note.
"I haven't cut loose and had a good time since I was married; not
for eighteen years.  If the children are not big enough to take
care of themselves, they never will be.  I can go as well as not."

She handed the note to Polly, while she shook out dresses and
gloated over the contents of the trunk.

"Of course you shall go!" shouted Polly as she finished the note,
but even as she said it she glanced obliquely up the road and
waved a hand behind her mother's back.

"Sure you shall go!" cried Adam, when he finished the note, and
sat beside the trunk seeing all the pretty things over again.
"You just bet you shall go.  Polly and I can keep house, fine!  We
don't need any cousins hanging around.  I'll help Polly with her
work, and then we'll lock the house and she can come out with me.
Sure you go!  We'll do all right."  Then he glanced obliquely down
the road, where a slim little figure in white moved under the
cherry trees of the York front yard, aimlessly knocking croquet
balls here and there.

It was two weeks until time to go, but Kate began taking care of
herself at once, solely because she did not want Nancy Ellen to be
ashamed of her.  She rolled her sleeves down to meet her gloves
and used a sunbonnet instead of a sunshade.  She washed and
brushed her hair with care she had not used in years.  By the time
the tenth of July came, she was in very presentable condition,
while the contents of the trunk did the remainder.  As she was
getting ready to go, she said to Polly:  "Now do your best while
I'm away, and I am sure I can arrange with Nancy Ellen about
school this winter.  When I get back, the very first thing I shall
do will be to go to Hartley and buy some stuff to begin on your
clothes.  You shall have as nice dresses as the other girls, too.
Nancy Ellen will know exactly what to get you."

But she never caught a glimpse of Polly's flushed, dissatisfied
face or the tightening of her lips that would have suggested to
her, had she seen them, that Miss Polly felt perfectly capable of
selecting the clothing she was to wear herself.  Adam took his
mother's trunk to the station in the afternoon.  In the evening
she held Polly on her knee, while they drove to Dr. Gray's.  Kate
thought the children would want to wait and see them take the
train, but Adam said that would make them very late getting home,
they had better leave that to Uncle Robert and go back soon; so
very soon they were duly kissed and unduly cautioned; then started
back down a side street that would not even take them through the
heart of the town.  Kate looked after them approvingly:  "Pretty
good youngsters," she said.  "I told them to go and get some ice
cream; but you see they are saving the money and heading straight
home."  She turned to Robert.  "Can anything happen to them?" she
asked, in evident anxiety.

"Rest in peace, Kate," laughed the doctor.  "You surely know that
those youngsters are going to be eighteen in a few weeks.  You've
reared them carefully.  Nothing can, or will, happen to them, that
would not happen right under your nose if you were at home.  They
will go from now on according to their inclinations."

Kate looked at him sharply:  "What do you mean by that?" she
demanded.

He laughed:  "Nothing serious," he said.  "Polly is half Bates, so
she will marry in a year or two, while Adam is all Bates, so he
will remain steady as the Rock of Ages, and strictly on the job.
Go have your good time, and if I possibly can, I'll come after
you."

"You'll do nothing of the kind," said Nancy Ellen, with finality.
"You wouldn't leave your patients, and you couldn't leave dear
Mrs. Southey."

"If you feel that way about it, why do you leave me?" he asked.

"To show the little fool I'm not afraid of her, for one thing,"
said Nancy Ellen with her head high.  She was very beautiful in
her smart travelling dress, while her eyes flashed as she spoke.
The doctor looked at her approvingly.

"Good!" he cried.  "I like a plucky woman!  Go to have a good
time, Nancy Ellen; but don't go for that.  I do wish you would
believe that there isn't a thing the matter with the little woman,
she's -- "

"I can go even farther than that," said Nancy Ellen, dryly.  "I
KNOW 'there isn't a thing the matter with the little woman,'
except that she wants you to look as if you were running after
her.  I'd be safe in wagering a thousand dollars that when she
hears I'm gone, she will send for you before to-morrow evening."

"You may also wager this," he said.  "If she does, I shall be very
sorry, but I'm on my way to the country on an emergency call.
Nancy Ellen, I wish you wouldn't!"

"Wouldn't go North, or wouldn't see what every other living soul
in Hartley sees?" she asked curtly.  Then she stepped inside to
put on her hat and gloves.

Kate looked at the doctor in dismay.  "Oh, Robert!" she said.

"I give you my word of honour, Kate," he said.  "If Nancy Ellen
only would be reasonable, the woman would see shortly that my wife
is all the world to me.  I never have been, and never shall be,
untrue to her.  Does that satisfy you?"

"Of course," said Kate.  "I'll do all in my power to talk Nancy
Ellen out of that, on this trip.  Oh, if she only had children to
occupy her time!"

"That's the whole trouble in a nutshell," said the doctor; "but
you know there isn't a scarcity of children in the world.  Never a
day passes but I see half a dozen who need me, sorely.  But with
Nancy Ellen, NO CHILD will do unless she mothers it, and
unfortunately, none comes to her."

"Too bad!" said Kate.  "I'm so sorry!"

"Cheer her up, if you can," said the doctor.

An hour later they were speeding north, Nancy Ellen moody and
distraught, Kate as frankly delighted as any child.  The spring
work was over; the crops were fine; Adam would surely have the
premium wheat to take to the County Fair in September; he would
work unceasingly for his chance with corn; he and Polly would be
all right; she could see Polly waiting in the stable yard while
Adam unharnessed and turned out the horse.

Kate kept watching Nancy Ellen's discontented face.  At last she
said:  "Cheer up, child!  There isn't a word of truth in it!"

"I know it," said Nancy Ellen.

"Then why take the way of all the world to start, and KEEP people
talking?" asked Kate.

"I'm not doing a thing on earth but attending strictly to my own
business," said Nancy Ellen.

"That's exactly the trouble," said Kate.  "You're not.  You let
the little heifer have things all her own way.  If it were my man,
and I loved him as you do Robert Gray, you can stake your life I
should be doing something, several things, in fact."

"This is interesting," said Nancy Ellen.  "For example --?"

Kate had not given such a matter a thought.  She looked from the
window a minute, her lips firmly compressed.  Then she spoke
slowly:  "Well, for one thing, I should become that woman's bosom
companion.  About seven times a week I should uncover her most
aggravating weakness all unintentionally before the man in the
case, at the same time keeping myself, strictly myself.  I should
keep steadily on doing and being what he first fell in love with.
Lastly, since eighteen years have brought you no fulfillment of
the desire of your heart, I should give it up, and content myself
and delight him by taking into my heart and home a couple of the
most attractive tiny babies I could find.  Two are scarcely more
trouble than one; you can have all the help you will accept; the
children would never know the difference, if you took them as
babies, and soon you wouldn't either; while Robert would be
delighted.  If I were you, I'd give myself something to work for
besides myself, and I'd give him so much to think about at home,
that charming young grass widows could go to grass!"

"I believe you would," said Nancy Ellen, wonderingly.  "I believe
you would!"

"You're might right, I would," said Kate.  "If I were married to a
man like Robert Gray, I'd fight tooth and nail before I'd let him
fall below his high ideals.  It's as much your job to keep him up,
as it is his to keep himself.  If God didn't make him a father, I
would, and I'd keep him BUSY on the job, if I had to adopt
sixteen."

Nancy Ellen laughed, as they went to their berths.  The next
morning they awakened in cool Michigan country and went speeding
north among evergreen forests and clear lakes mirroring the
pointed forest tops and blue sky, past slashing, splashing
streams, in which they could almost see the speckled trout darting
over the beds of white sand.  By late afternoon they had reached
their destination and were in their rooms, bathed, dressed, and
ready for the dinner hour.  In the evening they went walking,
coming back to the hotel tired and happy.  After several days they
began talking to people and making friends, going out in fishing
and boating parties in the morning, driving or boating in the
afternoon, and attending concerts or dances at night.  Kate did
not dance, but she loved to see Nancy Ellen when she had a
sufficiently tall, graceful partner; while, as she watched the
young people and thought how innocent and happy they seemed, she
asked her sister if they could not possibly arrange for Adam and
Polly to go to Hartley a night or two a week that winter, and join
the dancing class.  Nancy Ellen was frankly delighted, so Kate
cautiously skirted the school question in such a manner that she
soon had Nancy Ellen asking if it could not be arranged.  When
that was decided, Nancy Ellen went to dance, while Kate stood on
the veranda watching her.  The lights from the window fell
strongly on Kate.  She was wearing her evening dress of smoky
gray, soft fabric, over shining silk, with knots of dull blue
velvet and gold lace here and there.  She had dressed her hair
carefully; she appeared what she was, a splendid specimen of
healthy, vigorous, clean womanhood.

"Pardon me, Mrs. Holt," said a voice at her elbow, "but there's
only one head in this world like yours, so this, of course, must
be you."

Kate's heart leaped and stood still.  She turned slowly, then held
out her hand, smiling at John Jardine, but saying not a word.  He
took her hand, and as he gripped it tightly he studied her
frankly.

"Thank God for this!" he said, fervently.  "For years I've dreamed
of you and hungered for the sight of your face; but you cut me off
squarely, so I dared not intrude on you -- only the Lord knows how
delighted I am to see you here, looking like this."

Kate smiled again.

"Come away," he begged.  "Come out of this.  Come walk a little
way with me, and tell me WHO you are, and HOW you are, and all the
things I think of every day of my life, and now I must know.  It's
brigandage!  Come, or I shall carry you!"

"Pooh!  You couldn't!" laughed Kate.  "Of course I'll come!  And I
don't own a secret.  Ask anything you want to know.  How good it
is to see you!  Your mother --?"

"At rest, years ago," he said.  "She never forgave me for what I
did, in the way I did it.  She said it would bring disaster, and
she was right.  I thought it was not fair and honest not to let
you know the worst.  I thought I was too old, and too busy, and
too flourishing, to repair neglected years at that date, but
believe me, Kate, you waked me up.  Try the hardest one you know,
and if I can't spell it, I'll pay a thousand to your pet charity."

Kate laughed spontaneously.  "Are you in earnest?" she asked.

"I am incomprehensibly, immeasurably in earnest," he said, guiding
her down a narrow path to a shrub-enclosed, railed-in platform,
built on the steep side of a high hill, where they faced the moon-
whitened waves, rolling softly in a dancing procession across the
face of the great inland sea.  Here he found a seat.

"I've nothing to tell," he said.  "I lost Mother, so I went on
without her.  I learned to spell, and a great many other things,
and I'm still making money.  I never forget you for a day; I never
have loved and never shall love any other woman.  That's all about
me, in a nutshell; now go on and tell me a volume, tell me all
night, about you.  Heavens, woman, I wish you could see yourself,
in that dress with the moon on your hair.  Kate, you are the
superbest thing!  I always shall be mad about you.  Oh, if only
you could have had a little patience with me.  I thought I
COULDN'T learn, but of course I COULD.  But, proceed!  I mustn't
let myself go."

Kate leaned back and looked a long time at the shining white waves
and the deep blue sky, then she turned to John Jardine, and began
to talk.  She told him simply a few of the most presentable
details of her life:  how she had lost her money, then had been
given her mother's farm, about the children, and how she now
lived.  He listened with deep interest, often interrupting to ask
a question, and when she ceased talking he said half under his
breath:  "And you're now free!  Oh, the wonder of it!  You're now,
free!"

Kate had that night to think about the remainder of her life.  She
always sincerely hoped that the moonlight did not bewitch her into
leading the man beside her into saying things he seemed to take
delight in saying.

She had no idea what time it was; in fact, she did not care even
what Nancy Ellen thought or whether she would worry.  The night
was wonderful; John Jardine had now made a man of himself worthy
of all consideration; being made love to by him was enchanting.
She had been occupied with the stern business of daily bread for
so long that to be again clothed as other women and frankly adored
by such a man as John Jardine was soul satisfying.  What did she
care who worried or what time it was?

"But I'm keeping you here until you will be wet with these mists,"
John Jardine cried at last.  "Forgive me, Kate, I never did have
any sense where you were concerned!  I'll take you back now, but
you must promise me to meet me here in the morning, say at ten
o'clock.  I'll take you back now, if you'll agree to that."

"There's no reason why I shouldn't," said Kate.

"And you're free, free!" he repeated.

The veranda, halls, and ballroom were deserted when they returned
to the hotel.  As Kate entered her room, Nancy Ellen sat up in bed
and stared at her sleepily, but she was laughing in high good
humour.  She drew her watch from under her pillow and looked at
it.

"Goodness gracious, Miss!" she cried.  "Do you know it's almost
three o'clock?"

"I don't care in the least," said Kate, "if it's four or five.
I've had a perfectly heavenly time.  Don't talk to me.  I'll put
out the light and be quiet as soon as I get my dress off.  I think
likely I've ruined it."

"What's the difference?" demanded Nancy Ellen, largely.  "You can
ruin half a dozen a day now, if you want to."

"What do you mean?" asked Kate.

"'Mean?'" laughed Nancy Ellen.  "I mean that I saw John Jardine or
his ghost come up to you on the veranda, looking as if he'd eat
you alive, and carry you away about nine o'clock, and you've been
gone six hours and come back having had a 'perfectly heavenly
time.'  What should I mean!  Go up head, Kate!  You have earned
your right to a good time.  It isn't everybody who gets a second
chance in this world.  Tell me one thing, and I'll go to sleep in
peace and leave you to moon the remainder of the night, if you
like.  Did he say he still loved you?"

"Still and yet," laughed Kate.  "As I remember, his exact words
were that he 'never had loved and never would love any other
woman.'  Now are you satisfied?"

Nancy Ellen sprang from the bed and ran to Kate, gathering her in
her strong arms.  She hugged and kissed her ecstatically.  "Good!
Good!  Oh, you darling!" she cried.  "There'll be nothing in the
world you can't have!  I just know he had gone on making money; he
was crazy about you.  Oh, Kate, this is too good!  How did I ever
think of coming here, and why didn't I think of it seven years
ago?  Kate, you must promise me you'll marry him, before I let you
go."

"I'll promise to THINK about it," said Kate, trying to free
herself, for despite the circumstances and the hour, her mind flew
back to a thousand times when only one kind word from Nancy Ellen
would have saved her endless pain.  It was endless, for it was
burning in her heart that instant.  At the prospect of wealth,
position, and power, Nancy Ellen could smother her with caresses;
but poverty, pain, and disgrace she had endured alone.

"I shan't let you go till you promise," threatened Nancy Ellen.
"When are you to see him again?"

"Ten, this morning," said Kate.  "You better let me get to bed, or
I'll look a sight."

"Then promise," said Nancy Ellen.

Kate laid firm hands on the encircling arms.  "Now, look here,"
she said, shortly, "it's about time to stop this nonsense.
There's nothing I can promise you.  I must have time to think.
I've got not only myself, but the children to think for.  And I've
only got till ten o'clock, so I better get at it."

Kate's tone made Nancy Ellen step back.

"Kate, you haven't still got that letter in your mind, have you?"
she demanded.

"No!" laughed Kate, "I haven't!  He offered me a thousand dollars
if I could pronounce him a word he couldn't spell; and it's
perfectly evident he's studied until he is exactly like anybody
else.  No, it's not that!"

"Then what is it?  Simpleton, there WAS nothing else!" cried Nancy
Ellen.

"Not so much at that time; but this is nearly twenty years later,
and I have the fate of my children in my hands.  I wish you'd go
to bed and let me think!" said Kate.

"Yes, and the longer you think the crazier you will act," cried
Nancy Ellen.  "I know you!  You better promise me now, and stick
to it."

For answer Kate turned off the light; but she did not go to bed.
She sat beside the window and she was still sitting there when
dawn crept across the lake and began to lighten the room.  Then
she stretched herself beside Nancy Ellen, who roused and looked at
her.

"You just coming to bed?" she cried in wonder.

"At least you can't complain that I didn't think," said Kate, but
Nancy Ellen found no comfort in what she said, or the way she said
it.  In fact, she arose when Kate did, feeling distinctly sulky.
As they returned to their room from breakfast, Kate laid out her
hat and gloves and began to get ready to keep her appointment.
Nancy Ellen could endure the suspense no longer.

"Kate," she said in her gentlest tones, "if you have no mercy on
yourself, have some on your children.  You've no right, positively
no right, to take such a chance away from them."

"Chance for what?" asked Kate tersely.

"Education, travel, leisure, every opportunity in the world,"
enumerated Nancy Ellen.

Kate was handling her gloves, her forehead wrinkled, her eyes
narrowed in concentration.

"That is one side of it," she said.  "The other is that neither my
children nor I have in our blood, breeding, or mental cosmos, the
background that it takes to make one happy with money in unlimited
quantities.  So far as I'm concerned personally, I'm happier this
minute as I am, than John Jardine's money ever could make me.  I
had a fierce struggle with that question long ago; since I have
had nearly eight years of life I love, that is good for my soul,
the struggle to leave it would be greater now.  Polly would be
happier and get more from life as the wife of big gangling Henry
Peters, than she would as a millionaire's daughter.  She'd be very
suitable in a farmhouse parlour; she'd be a ridiculous little
figure at a ball.  As for Adam, he'd turn this down quick and
hard."

"Just you try him!" cried Nancy Ellen.

"For one thing, he won't be here at ten o'clock," said Kate, "and
for another, since it involves my becoming the wife of John
Jardine, it isn't for Adam to decide.  This decision is strictly
my own.  I merely mention the children, because if I married him,
it would have an inevitable influence on their lives, an influence
that I don't in the least covet either for them or for myself.
Nancy Ellen, can't you remotely conceive of such a thing as one
human being in the world who is SATISFIED THAT HE HAS HIS SHARE,
and who believes to the depths of his soul that no man should be
allowed to amass, and to use for his personal indulgence, the
amount of money that John Jardine does?"

"Yes, I can," cried Nancy Ellen, "when I see you, and the way you
act!  You have chance after chance, but you seem to think that
life requires of you a steady job of holding your nose to the
grindstone.  It was rather stubby to begin with, go on and grind
it clear off your face, if you like."

"All right," said Kate.  "Then I'll tell you definitely that I
have no particular desire to marry anybody; I like my life
immensely as I'm living it.  I'm free, independent, and my
children are in the element to which they were born, and where
they can live naturally, and spend their lives helping in the
great work of feeding, clothing, and housing their fellow men.
I've no desire to leave my job or take them from theirs, to start
a lazy, shiftless life of self-indulgence.  I don't meddle much
with the Bible, but I have a profound BELIEF in it, and a large
RESPECT for it, as the greatest book in the world, and it says:
'By the sweat of his brow shall man earn his bread,' or words to
that effect.  I was born a sweater, I shall just go on sweating
until I die; I refuse to begin perspiring at my time of life."

"You big fool!" cried Nancy Ellen.

"Look out!  You're 'in danger of Hell fire,' when you call me
that!" warned Kate.

"Fire away!" cried Nancy Ellen, with tears in her eyes and voice.
"When I think what you've gone through -- "

Kate stared at her fixedly.  "What do you know about what I've
gone though?" she demanded in a cold, even voice.  "Personally, I
think you're not qualified to MENTION that subject; you better let
it rest.  Whatever it has been, it's been of such a nature that I
have come out of it knowing when I have my share and when I'm well
off, for me.  If John Jardine wants to marry me, and will sell all
he has, and come and work on the farm with me, I'll consider
marrying him.  To leave my life and what I love to go to Chicago
with him, I do not feel called on, or inclined to do.  No, I'll
not marry him, and in about fifteen minutes I'll tell him so."

"And go on making a mess of your life such as you did for years,"
said Nancy Ellen, drying her red eyes.

"At least it was my life," said Kate.  "I didn't mess things for
any one else."

"Except your children," said Nancy Ellen.

"As you will," said Kate, rising.  "I'll not marry John Jardine;
and the sooner I tell him so and get it over, the better.  Good-
bye.  I'll be back in half an hour."

Kate walked slowly to the observation platform, where she had been
the previous evening with John Jardine; and leaning on the
railing, she stood looking out over the water, and down the steep
declivity, thinking how best she could word what she had to say.
She was so absorbed she did not hear steps behind her or turn
until a sharp voice said:  "You needn't wait any longer.  He's not
coming!"

Kate turned and glanced at the speaker, and then around to make
sure she was the person being addressed.  She could see no one
else.  The woman was small, light haired, her face enamelled,
dressed beyond all reason, and in a manner wholly out of place for
morning at a summer resort in Michigan.

"If you are speaking to me, will you kindly tell me to whom you
refer, and give me the message you bring?" said Kate.

"I refer to Mr. John Jardine, Mrs. Holt," said the little woman
and then Kate saw that she was shaking, and gripping her hands for
self-control.

"Very well," said Kate.  "It will save me an unpleasant task if he
doesn't come.  Thank you," and she turned back to the water.

"You certainly didn't find anything unpleasant about being with
him half last night," said the little woman.

Kate turned again, and looked narrowly at the speaker.  Then she
laughed heartily.  "Well done, Jennie!" she cried.  "Why, you are
such a fashionable lady, such a Dolly Varden, I never saw who you
were.  How do you do?  Won't you sit down and have a chat?  It's
just dawning on me that very possibly, from your dress and manner,
I SHOULD have called you Mrs. Jardine."

"Didn't he tell you?" cried Jennie.

"He did not," said Kate.  "Your name was not mentioned.  He said
no word about being married."

"We have been married since a few weeks after Mrs. Jardine died.
I taught him the things you turned him down for not knowing; I
have studied him, and waited on him, and borne his children, and
THIS is my reward.  What are you going to do?"

"Go back to the hotel, when I finish with this view," said Kate.
"I find it almost as attractive by day as it was by night."

"Brazen!" cried Mrs. Jardine.

"Choose your words carefully," said Kate.  "I was here first; since
you have delivered your message, suppose you go and leave me to my
view."

"Not till I get ready," said Mrs. Jardine.  "Perhaps it will help
you to know that I was not twenty feet from you at any time last
night; and that I stood where I could have touched you, while my
husband made love to you for hours."

"So?" said Kate.  "I'm not at all surprised.  That's exactly what
I should have expected of you.  But doesn't it clarify the
situation any, at least for me, when I tell you that Mr. Jardine
gave me no faintest hint that he was married?  If you heard all we
said, you surely remember that you were not mentioned?"

Mrs. Jardine sat down suddenly and gripped her little hands.  Kate
studied her intently.  She wondered what she would look like when
her hair was being washed; at this thought she smiled broadly.
That made the other woman frantic.

"You can well LAUGH at me," she said.  "I made the banner fool of
the ages of myself when I schemed to marry him.  I knew he loved
you.  He told me so.  He told me, just as he told you last night,
that he never had loved any other woman and he never would.  I
thought he didn't know himself as I knew him.  He was so grand to
his mother, I thought if I taught him, and helped him back to
self-respect, and gave him children, he must, and would love me.
Well, I was mistaken.  He does not, and never will.  Every day he
thinks of you; not a night but he speaks your name.  He thinks all
things can be done with money -- "

"So do you, Jennie," interrupted Kate.  "Well, I'll show you that
this CAN'T!"

"Didn't you hear him exulting because you are now free?" cried
Jennie.  "He thinks he will give me a home, the children, a big
income; then secure his freedom and marry you."

"Oh, don't talk such rot!" cried Kate.  "John Jardine thinks no
such thing.  He wouldn't insult me by thinking I thought such a
thing.  That thought belongs where it sprang from, right in your
little cramped, blonde brain, Jennie."

"You wouldn't?  Are you sure you wouldn't?" cried Jennie, leaning
forward with hands clutched closely.

"I should say not!" said Kate.  "The last thing on earth I want is
some other woman's husband.  Now look here, Jennie, I'll tell you
the plain truth.  I thought last night that John Jardine was as
free as I was; or I shouldn't have been here with him.  I thought
he was asking me again to marry him, and I was not asleep last
night, thinking it over.  I came here to tell him that I would
not.  Does that satisfy you?"

"Satisfy?" cried Jennie.  "I hope no other woman lives in the kind
of Hell I do."

"It's always the way," said Kate, "when people will insist on
getting out of their class.  You would have gotten ten times more
from life as the wife of a village merchant, or a farmer, than you
have as the wife of a rich man.  Since you're married to him, and
there are children, there's nothing for you to do but finish your
job as best you can.  Rest your head easy about me.  I wouldn't
touch John Jardine married to you; I wouldn't touch him with a
ten-foot pole, divorced from you.  Get that clear in your head,
and do please go!"

Kate turned again to the water, but when she was sure Jennie was
far away she sat down suddenly and asked of the lake:  "Well,
wouldn't that freeze you?"



POLLY TRIES HER WINGS

FINALLY Kate wandered back to the hotel and went to their room to
learn if Nancy Ellen was there.  She was and seemed very much
perturbed.  The first thing she did was to hand Kate a big white
envelope, which she opened and found to be a few lines from John
Jardine, explaining that he had been unexpectedly called away on
some very important business.  He reiterated his delight in having
seen her, and hoped for the same pleasure at no very distant date.
Kate read it and tossed it on the dresser.  As she did so, she saw
a telegram, lying opened among Nancy Ellen's toilet articles, and
thought with pleasure that Robert was coming.  She glanced at her
sister for confirmation, and saw that she was staring from the
window as if she were in doubt about something.  Kate thought
probably she was still upset about John Jardine, and that might as
well be gotten over, so she said:  "That note was not delivered
promptly.  It is from John Jardine.  I should have had it before I
left.  He was called away on important business and wrote to let
me know he would not be able to keep his appointment; but without
his knowledge, he had a representative on the spot."

Nancy Ellen seemed interested so Kate proceeded:  "You couldn't
guess in a thousand years.  I'll have to tell you spang!  It was
his wife."

"His wife!" cried Nancy Ellen.  "But you said -- "

"So I did," said Kate.  "And so he did.  Since the wife loomed on
the horizon, I remembered that he said no word to me of marriage;
he merely said he always had loved me and always would -- "

"Merely?" scoffed Nancy Ellen.  "Merely!"

"Just 'merely,'" said Kate.  "He didn't lay a finger on me; he
didn't ask me to marry him; he just merely met me after a long
separation, and told me that he still loved me."

"The brute!" said Nancy Ellen.  "He should be killed."

"I can't see it," said Kate.  "He did nothing ungentlemanly.  If
we jumped to wrong conclusions that was not his fault.  I doubt if
he remembered or thought at all of his marriage.  It wouldn't be
much to forget.  I am fresh from an interview with his wife.
She's an old acquaintance of mine.  I once secured her for his
mother's maid.  You've heard me speak of her."

"Impossible!  John Jardine would not do that!" cried Nancy Ellen.

"There's a family to prove it," said Kate.  "Jennie admits that
she studied him, taught him, made herself indispensable to him,
and a few weeks after his mother's passing, married him, after he
had told her he did not love her and never could.  I feel sorry
for him."

"Sure!  Poor defrauded creature!" said Nancy Ellen.  "What about
her?"

"Nothing, so far as I can see," said Kate.  "By her own account
she was responsible.  She should have kept in her own class."

"All right.  That settles Jennie!" said Nancy Ellen.  "I saw you
notice the telegram from Robert -- now go on and settle me!"

"Is he coming?" asked Kate.

"No, he's not coming," said Nancy Ellen.

"Has he eloped with the widder?" asked Kate flippantly.

"He merely telegraphs that he thinks it would be wise for us to
come home on the first train," said Nancy Ellen.  "For all I can
make of that, the elopement might quite as well be in your family
as mine."

Kate held out her hand, Nancy Ellen laid the message in it.  Kate
studied it carefully; then she raised steady eyes to her sister's
face.

"Do you know what I should do about this?" she asked.

"Catch the first train, of course," she said.

"Far be it from me," said Kate.  "I should at once telegraph him
that his message was not clear, to kindly particularize.  We've
only got settled.  We're having a fine time; especially right now.
Why should we pack up and go home?  I can't think of any
possibility that could arise that would make it necessary for him
to send for us.  Can you?"

"I can think of two things," said Nancy Ellen.  "I can think of a
very pretty, confiding, little cat of a woman, who is desperately
infatuated with my husband; and I can think of two children
fathered by George Holt, who might possibly, just possibly, have
enough of his blood in their veins to be like him, given
opportunity.  Alone for a week, there is barely a FAINT
possibility that YOU might be needed.  Alone for the same week,
there is the faintest possibility that ROBERT is in a situation
where I could help him."

Kate drew a deep breath.

"Isn't life the most amusing thing?" she asked.  "I had almost
forgotten my wings.  I guess we'd better take them, and fly
straight home."

She arose and called the office to learn about trains, and then
began packing her trunk.  As she folded her dresses and stuffed
them in rather carelessly she said:  "I don't know why I got it
into my head that I could go away and have a few days of a good
time without something happening at home."

"But you are not sure anything has happened at home.  This call
may be for me," said Nancy Ellen.

"It MAY, but this is July," said Kate.  "I've been thinking hard
and fast.  It's probable I can put my finger on the spot."

Nancy Ellen paused and standing erect she looked questioningly at
Kate.

"The weak link in my chain at the present minute is Polly," said
Kate.  "I didn't pay much attention at the time, because there
wasn't enough of it really to attract attention; but since I
think, I can recall signs of growing discontent in Polly, lately.
She fussed about the work, and resented being left in the house
while I went to the fields, and she had begun looking up the road
to Peters' so much that her head was slightly turned toward the
north most of the time.  With me away -- "

"What do you think?" demanded Nancy Ellen.

"Think very likely she has decided that she'll sacrifice her
chance for more schooling and to teach, for the sake of marrying a
big, green country boy named Hank Peters," said Kate.

"Thereby keeping in her own class," suggested Nancy Ellen.

Kate laughed shortly.  "Exactly!" she said.  "I didn't aspire to
anything different for her from what she has had; but I wanted her
to have more education, and wait until she was older.  Marriage is
too hard work for a girl to begin at less than eighteen.  If it is
Polly, and she has gone away with Hank Peters, they've no place to
go but his home; and if ever she thought I worked her too hard,
she'll find out she has played most of her life, when she begins
taking orders from Mrs. Amanda Peters.  You know her!  She never
can keep a girl more than a week, and she's always wanting one.
If Polly has tackled THAT job, God help her."

"Cheer up!  We're in that delightful state of uncertainty where
Polly may be blacking the cook stove, like a dutiful daughter;
while Robert has decided that he'd like a divorce," said Nancy
Ellen.

"Nancy Ellen, there's nothing in that, so far as Robert is
concerned.  He told me so the evening we came away," said Kate.

Nancy Ellen banged down a trunk lid and said:  "Well, I am getting
to the place where I don't much care whether there is or there is
not."

"What a whopper!" laughed Kate.  "But cheer up.  This is my
trouble.  I feel it in my bones.  Wish I knew for sure.  If she's
eloped, and it's all over with, we might as well stay and finish
our visit.  If she's married, I can't unmarry her, and I wouldn't
if I could."

"How are you going to apply your philosophy to yourself?" asked
Nancy Ellen.

"By letting time and Polly take their course," said Kate.  "This
is a place where parents are of no account whatever.  They stand
back until it's time to clean up the wreck, and then they get
theirs -- usually theirs, and several of someone's else, in the
bargain."

As the train stopped at Hartley, Kate sat where she could see
Robert on the platform.  It was only a fleeting glance, but she
thought she had never seen him look so wholesome, so vital, so
much a man to be desired.

"No wonder a woman lacking in fine scruples would covet him,"
thought Kate.  To Nancy Ellen she said hastily:  "The trouble's
mine.  Robert's on the platform."

"Where?" demanded Nancy Ellen, peering from the window.

Kate smiled as she walked from the car and confronted Robert.

"Get it over quickly," she said.  "It's Polly?"

He nodded.

"Did she remember to call on the Squire?" she asked.

"Oh, yes," said Robert.  "It was at Peters', and they had the
whole neighbourhood in."

Kate swayed slightly, then lifted her head, her eyes blazing.  She
had come, feeling not altogether guiltless, and quite prepared to
overlook a youthful elopement.  The insult of having her only
daughter given a wedding at the home of the groom, about which the
whole neighbourhood would be laughing at her, was a different
matter.  Slowly the high colour faded from Kate's face, as she
stepped back.  "Excuse me, Nancy Ellen," she said.  "I didn't mean
to deprive you of the chance of even speaking to Robert.  I KNEW
this was for me; I was over-anxious to learn what choice morsel
life had in store for me now.  It's one that will be bitter on my
tongue to the day of my death."

"Oh, Kate, I as so sorry that if this had to happen, it happened
in just that way," said Nancy Ellen, "but don't mind.  They're
only foolish kids!"

"Who?  Mr. and Mrs. Peters, and the neighbours, who attended the
wedding!  Foolish kids?  Oh, no!" said Kate.  "Where's Adam?"

"I told him I'd bring you out," said Robert.

"Why didn't he send for you, or do something?" demanded Kate.

"I'm afraid the facts are that Polly lied to him," said Robert.
"She told him that Peters were having a party, and Mrs. Peters
wanted her to come early and help her with the supper.  They had
the Magistrate out from town and had the ceremony an hour before
Adam got there.  When he arrived, and found out what had happened,
he told Polly and the Peters family exactly his opinion of them;
and then he went home and turned on all the lights, and sat where
he could be seen on the porch all evening, as a protest in
evidence of his disapproval, I take it."

Slowly the colour began to creep back into Kate's face.  "The good
boy!" she said, in commendation.

"He called me at once, and we talked it over and I sent you the
telegram; but as he said, it was done; there was no use trying to
undo it.  One thing will be a comfort to you.  All of your family,
and almost all of your friends, left as soon as Adam spoke his
piece, and they found it was a wedding and not a party to which
they'd been invited.  It was a shabby trick of Peters."

Kate assented.  "It was because I felt instinctively that Mrs.
Peters had it in her to do tricks like that, that I never would
have anything to do with her," said Kate, "more than to be passing
civil.  This is how she gets her revenge, and her hired girl, for
no wages, I'll be bound!  It's a shabby trick.  I'm glad Adam
saved me the trouble of telling her so."

Robert took Nancy Ellen home, and then drove to Bates Corners with
Kate.

"In a few days now I hope we can see each other oftener," he said,
on the way.  "I got a car yesterday, and it doesn't seem so
complicated.  Any intelligent person can learn to drive in a short
time.  I like it so much, and I knew I'd have such constant use
for it that -- now this is a secret -- I ordered another for Nancy
Ellen, so she can drive about town, and run out here as she
chooses.  Will she be pleased?"

"She'll be overjoyed!  That was dear of you, Robert.  Only one
thing in world would please her more," said Kate.

"What's that?" asked Robert.

Kate looked him in the eye, and smiled.

"Oh," he said.  "But there is nothing in it!"

"Except TALK, that worries and humiliates Nancy Ellen," said Kate.

"Kate," he said suddenly, "if you were in my shoes, what would you
do?"

"The next time I got a phone call, or a note from Mrs. Southey,
and she was having one of those terrible headaches, I should say:
'I'm dreadfully sorry, Mrs. Southey, but a breath of talk that
might be unpleasant for you, and for my wife, has come to my ear,
so I know you'll think it wiser to call Dr. Mills, who can serve
you better than I.  In a great rush this afternoon.  Good-bye!'
THAT is what I should do, Robert, and I should do it quickly, and
emphatically.  Then I should interest Nancy Ellen in her car for a
time, and then I should keep my eyes open, and the first time I
found in my practice a sound baby with a clean bill of health, and
no encumbrances, I should have it dressed attractively, and bestow
it on Nancy Ellen as casually as I did the car.  And in the
meantime, love her plenty, Robert.  You can never know how she
FEELS about this; and it's in no way her fault.  She couldn't
possibly have known; while you would have married her just the
same if you had known.  Isn't that so?"

"It's quite so.  Kate, I think your head is level, and I'll follow
your advice to the letter.  Now you have 'healed my lame leg,' as
the dog said in McGuffey's Third, what can I do for THIS poor
dog?"

"Nothing," said Kate.  "I've got to hold still, and take it.  Life
will do the doing.  I don't want to croak, but remember my word,
it will do plenty."

"We'll come often," he said as he turned to go back.

Kate slowly walked up the path, dreading to meet Adam.  He
evidently had been watching for her, for he came around the corner
of the house, took her arm, and they walked up the steps and into
the living room together.  She looked at him; he looked at her.
At last he said:  "I'm afraid that a good deal of this is my
fault, Mother."

"How so?" asked Kate, tersely.

"I guess I betrayed your trust in me," said Adam, heavily.  "Of
course I did all my work and attended to things; but in the
evening after work was over, the very first evening on the way
home we stopped to talk to Henry at the gate, and he got in and
came on down.  We could see Milly at their gate, and I wanted her,
I wanted her so much, Mother; and it was going to be lonesome, so
all of us went on there, and she came up here and we sat on the
porch, and then I took her home and that left Henry and Polly
together.  The next night Henry took us to town for a treat, and
we were all together, and the next night Milly asked us all there,
and so it went.  It was all as open and innocent as it could be;
only Henry and Polly were in awful earnest and she was bound she
wouldn't be sent to town to school -- "

"Why didn't she tell me so?  She never objected a word, to me,"
said Kate.

"Well, Mother, you are so big, and Polly was so little, and she
was used to minding -- "

"Yes, this looks like it," said Kate.  "Well, go on!"

"That's all," said Adam.  "It was only that instead of staying at
home and attending to our own affairs we were somewhere every
night, or Milly and Henry were here.  That is where I was to
blame.  I'm afraid you'll never forgive me, Mother; but I didn't
take good care of Sister.  I left her to Henry Peters, while I
tried to see how nice I could be to Milly.  I didn't know what
Polly and Henry were planning; honest, I didn't, Mother.  I would
have told Uncle Robert and sent for you if I had.  I thought when
I went there it was to be our little crowd like it was at York's.
I was furious when I found they were married.  I told Mr. and Mrs.
Peters what they were, right before the company, and then I came
straight home and all the family, and York's, and most of the
others, came straight away.  Only a few stayed to the supper.  I
was so angry with Polly I just pushed her away, and didn't even
say good-night to her.  The little silly fool!  Mother, if she had
told you, you would have let her stay at home this winter and got
her clothing, and let her be married here, when she was old
enough, wouldn't you?"

"Certainly!" said Kate.  "All the world knows that.  Bates all
marry; and they all marry young.  Don't blame yourself, Adam.  If
Polly had it in her system to do this, and she did, or she
wouldn't have done it, the thing would have happened when I was
here, and right under my nose.  It was a scheme all planned and
ready before I left.  I know that now.  Let it go!  There's
nothing we can do, until things begin to go WRONG, as they always
do in this kind of wedding; then we shall get our call.  In the
meantime, you mustn't push your sister away.  She may need you
sooner than you'd think; and will you just please have enough
confidence in my common sense and love for you, to come to me,
FIRST, when you feel that there's a girl who is indispensable to
your future, Adam?"

"Yes, I will," said Adam.  "And it won't be long, and the girl
will be Milly York."

"All right," said Kate, gravely, "whenever the time comes, let me
know about it.  Now see if you can find me something to eat till I
lay off my hat and wash.  It was a long, hot ride, and I'm tired.
Since there's nothing I can do, I wish I had stayed where I was.
No, I don't, either!  I see joy coming over the hill for Nancy
Ellen."

"Why is joy coming to Nancy Ellen?" asked the boy, pausing an
instant before he started to the kitchen.

"Oh, because she's had such a very tough, uncomfortable time with
life," said Kate, "that in the very nature of things joy SHOULD
come her way."

The boy stood mystified until the expression on his face so amused
Kate that she began laughing, then he understood.

"That's WHY it's coming," said Kate; "and, here's HOW it's coming.
She is going to get rid of a bothersome worry that's troubling her
head -- and she's going to have a very splendid gift, but it's a
deep secret."

"Then you'll have to whisper it," said Adam, going to her and
holding a convenient ear.  Kate rested her hands on his shoulder a
minute, as she leaned on him, her face buried in his crisp black
hair.  Then she whispered the secret.

"Crickey, isn't that grand!" cried the boy, backing away to stare
at her.

"Yes, it is so grand I'm going to try it ourselves," said Kate.
"We've a pretty snug balance in the bank, and I think it would be
great fun evenings or when we want to go to town in a hurry and
the horses are tired."

Adam was slowly moving toward the kitchen, his face more of a
study than before.

"Mother," he said as he reached the door, "I be hanged if I know
how to take you!  I thought you'd just raise Cain over what Polly
has done; but you act so sane and sensible; someway it doesn't
seem so bad as it did, and I feel more sorry for Polly than like
going back on her.  And are you truly in earnest about a car?"

"I'm going to think very seriously about it this winter, and I
feel almost sure it will come true by early spring," said Kate.
"But who said anything about 'going back on Polly?'"

"Oh, Mrs. York and all the neighbours said that you'd never
forgive her, and that she'd never darken your door again, and
things like that until I was almost crazy," answered Adam.

Kate smiled grimly.  "Adam," she said, "I had seven years of that
'darken you door' business, myself.  It's a mighty cold, hard
proposition.  It's a wonder the neighbours didn't remember that.
Maybe they did, and thought I was so much of a Bates leopard that
I couldn't change my spots.  If they are watching me, they will
find that I am not spotted; I'm sorry and humiliated over what
Polly has done; but I'm not going to gnash my teeth, and tear my
hair, and wail in public, or in private.  I'm trying to keep my
real mean spot so deep it can't be seen.  If ever I get my chance,
Adam, you watch me pay back Mrs. Peters.  THAT is the size and
location of my spot; but it's far deeper than my skin.  Now go on
and find me food, man, food!"

Adam sat close while Kate ate her supper, then he helped her
unpack her trunk and hang away her dresses, and then they sat on
the porch talking for a long time.

When at last they arose to go to bed Kate said:  "Adam, about
Polly:  first time you see her, if she asks, tell her she left
home of her own free will and accord, and in her own way, which,
by the way, happens to be a Holt way; but you needn't mention
that.  I think by this time she has learned or soon she will learn
that; and whenever she wants to come back and face me, to come
right ahead.  I can stand it if she can.  Can you get that
straight?"

Adam said he could.  He got that straight and so much else that by
the time he finished, Polly realized that both he and her mother
had left her in the house to try to SHIELD her; that if she had
told what she wanted in a straightforward manner she might have
had a wedding outfit prepared and been married from her home at a
proper time and in a proper way, and without putting her mother to
shame before the community.  Polly was very much ashamed of
herself by the time Adam finished.  She could not find it in her
heart to blame Henry; she knew he was no more to blame than she
was; but she did store up a grievance against Mr. and Mrs. Peters.
They were older and had had experience with the world; they might
have told Polly what she should do instead of having done
everything in their power to make her do what she had done,
bribing, coaxing, urging, all in the direction of her
inclinations.

At heart Polly was big enough to admit that she had followed her
inclinations without thinking at all what the result would be.
Adam never would have done what she had.  Adam would have thought
of his mother and his name and his honour.  Poor little Polly had
to admit that honour with her had always been a matter of, "Now
remember," "Be careful," and like caution on the lips of her
mother.

The more Polly thought, the worse she felt.  The worse she felt,
the more the whole Peters family tried to comfort her.  She was
violently homesick in a few days; but Adam had said she was to
come when she "could face her mother," and Polly suddenly found
that she would rather undertake to run ten miles than to face her
mother, so she began a process of hiding from her.  If she sat on
the porch, and saw her mother coming, she ran in the house.  She
would go to no public place where she might meet her.  For a few
weeks she lived a life of working for Mrs. Peters from dawn to
dark, under the stimulus of what a sweet girl she was, how
splendidly she did things, how fortunate Henry was, interspersed
with continual kissing, patting, and petting, all very new and
unusual to Polly.  By that time she was so very ill, she could not
lift her head from the pillow half the day, but it was to the
credit of the badly disappointed Peters family that they kept up
the petting.  When Polly grew better, she had no desire to go
anywhere; she worked to make up for the trouble she had been
during her illness, to sew every spare moment, and to do her full
share of the day's work in the house of an excessively nice woman,
whose work never was done, and most hopeless thing of all, never
would be.  Mrs. Peters' head was full of things that she meant to
do three years in the future.  Every night found Polly so tired
she staggered to bed early as possible; every morning found her
confronting the same round, which from the nature of her condition
every morning was more difficult for her.

Kate and Adam followed their usual routine with only the
alterations required by the absence of Polly.  Kate now prepared
breakfast while Adam did the feeding and milking; washed the
dishes and made the beds while he hitched up; then went to the
field with him.  On rainy days he swept and she dusted; always
they talked over and planned everything they did, in the house or
afield; always they schemed, contrived, economized, and worked to
attain the shortest, easiest end to any result they strove for.
They were growing in physical force, they were efficient, they
attended their own affairs strictly.  Their work was always done
on time, their place in order, their deposits at the bank
frequent.  As the cold days came they missed Polly, but scarcely
ever mentioned her.  They had more books and read and studied
together, while every few evenings Adam picked up his hat and
disappeared, but soon he and Milly came in together.  Then they
all read, popped corn, made taffy, knitted, often Kate was called
away by some sewing or upstairs work she wanted to do, so that the
youngsters had plenty of time alone to revel in the wonder of
life's greatest secret.

To Kate's ears came the word that Polly would be a mother in the
spring, that the Peters family were delighted and anxious for the
child to be a girl, as they found six males sufficient for one
family.  Polly was looking well, feeling fine, was a famous little
worker, and seldom sat on a chair because some member of the
Peters family usually held her.

"I should think she would get sick of all that mushing," said Adam
when he repeated these things.

"She's not like us," said Kate.  "She'll take all she can get, and
call for more.  She's a long time coming; but I'm glad she's well
and happy."

"Buncombe!" said Adam.  "She isn't so very well.  She's white as
putty, and there are great big, dark hollows under her eyes, and
she's always panting for breath like she had been running.  Nearly
every time I pass there I see her out scrubbing the porches, or
feeding the chickens, or washing windows, or something.  You bet
Mrs. Peters has got a fine hired girl now, and she's smiling all
over about it."

"She really has something to smile about," said Kate.

To Polly's ears went the word that Adam and her mother were having
a fine time together, always together; and that they had Milly
York up three times a week to spend the evening; and that Milly
said that it passed her to see why Polly ran away from Mrs. Holt.
She was the grandest woman alive, and if she had any running to do
in her neighbourhood, she would run TO her, and not FROM her.
Whereupon Polly closed her lips firmly and looked black, but not
before she had said:  "Well, if Mother had done just one night a
week of that entertaining for Henry and me, we wouldn't have run
from her, either."

Polly said nothing until April, then Kate answered the telephone
one day and a few seconds later was ringing for Adam as if she
would pull down the bell.  He came running and soon was on his way
to Peters' with the single buggy, with instructions to drive
slowly and carefully and on no account to let Polly slip getting
out.  The Peters family had all gone to bury an aunt in the
neighbourhood, leaving Polly alone for the day; and Polly at once
called up her mother, and said she was dying to see her, and if
she couldn't come home for the day, she would die soon, and be
glad of it.  Kate knew the visit should not have been made at that
time and in that way; but she knew that Polly was under a
dangerous nervous strain; she herself would not go to Peters' in
Mrs. Peters' absence; she did not know what else to do.  As she
waited for Polly she thought of many things she would say; when
she saw her, she took her in her arms and almost carried her into
the house, and she said nothing at all, save how glad she was to
see her, and she did nothing at all, except to try with all her
might to comfort and please her, for to Kate, Polly did not seem
like a strong, healthy girl approaching maternity.  She appeared
like a very sick woman, who sorely needed attention, while a few
questions made her so sure of it that she at once called Robert.
He gave both of them all the comfort he could, but what he told
Nancy Ellen was:  "Polly has had no attention whatever.  She wants
me, and I'll have to go; but it's a case I'd like to side-step.
I'll do all I can, but the time is short."

"Oh, Lord!" said Nancy Ellen.  "Is it one more for Kate?"

"Yes," said Robert, "I am very much afraid it's 'one more for
Kate.'"



ONE MORE FOR KATE

POLLY and Kate had a long day together, while Adam was about the
house much of the time.  Both of them said and did everything they
could think of to cheer and comfort Polly, whose spirits seemed
most variable.  One minute she would be laughing and planning for
the summer gaily, the next she would be gloomy and depressed, and
declaring she never would live through the birth of her baby.  If
she had appeared well, this would not have worried Kate; but she
looked even sicker than she seemed to feel.  She was thin while
her hands were hot and tremulous.  As the afternoon went on and
time to go came nearer, she grew more and more despondent, until
Kate proposed watching when the Peters family came home, calling
them up, and telling them that Polly was there, would remain all
night, and that Henry should come down.

Polly flatly vetoed the proposition, but she seemed to feel much
better after it had been made.  She was like herself again for a
short time, and then she turned to Kate and said suddenly:
"Mother, if I don't get over this, will you take my baby?"

Kate looked at Polly intently.  What she saw stopped the ready
answer that was on her lips.  She stood thinking deeply.  At last
she said gently:  "Why, Polly, would you want to trust a tiny baby
with a woman you ran away from yourself?"

"Mother, I haven't asked you to forgive me for the light I put you
in before the neighbours," said Polly, "because I knew you
couldn't honestly do it, and wouldn't lie to say you did.  I don't
know WHAT made me do that.  I was TIRED staying alone at the house
so much, I was WILD about Henry, I was BOUND I wouldn't leave him
and go away to school.  I just thought it would settle everything
easily and quickly.  I never once thought of how it would make you
look and feel.  Honestly I didn't, Mother.  You believe me, don't
you?"

"Yes, I believe you," said Kate.

"It was an awful thing for me to do," said Polly.  "I was foolish
and crazy, and I suppose I shouldn't say it, but I certainly did
have a lot of encouragement from the Peters family.  They all
seemed to think it would be a great joke, that it wouldn't make
any difference, and all that, so I just did it.  I knew I
shouldn't have done it; but, Mother, you'll never know the fight
I've had all my life to keep from telling stories and sneaking.  I
hated your everlasting:  'Now be careful,' but when I hated it
most, I needed it worst; and I knew it, when I grew older.  If
only you had been here to say, 'Now be careful,' just once, I
never would have done it; but of course I couldn't have you to
keep me straight all my life.  All I can say is that I'd give my
life and never whimper, if I could be back home as I was this time
last year, and have a chance to do things your way.  But that is
past, and I can't change it.  What I came for to-day, and what I
want to know now is, if I go, will you take my baby?"

"Polly, you KNOW the Peters family wouldn't let me have it," said
Kate.

"If it's a boy, they wouldn't WANT it," said Polly.  "Neither
would you, for that matter.  If it's a girl, they'll fight for it;
but it won't do them any good.  All I want to know is, WILL YOU
TAKE IT?"

"Of course I would, Polly," said Kate.

"Since I have your word, I'll feel better," said Polly.  "And
Mother, you needn't be AFRAID of it.  It will be all right.  I
have thought about it so much I have it all figured out.  It's
going to be a girl, and it's going to be exactly like you, and its
name is going to be Katherine Eleanor.  I have thought about you
every hour I was awake since I have been gone; so the baby will
have to be exactly like you.  There won't be the taint of
Grandmother in it that there is in me.  You needn't be afraid.  I
quit sneaking forever when Adam told me what I had done to you.  I
have gone straight as a dart, Mother, every single minute since,
Mother; truly I have!"

Kate sat down suddenly, an awful sickness in her heart.

"Why, you poor child you!" she said.

"Oh, I've been all right," said Polly.  "I've been almost petted
and loved to death; but Mother, there never should be the amount
of work attached to living that there is in that house.  It's
never ending, it's intolerable.  Mrs. Peters just goes until she
drops, and then instead of sleeping, she lies awake planning some
hard, foolish, unnecessary thing to do next.  Maybe she can stand
it herself, but I'm tired out.  I'm going to sit down, and not
budge to do another stroke until after the baby comes, and then I
am going to coax Henry to rent a piece of land, and move to
ourselves."

Kate took heart.  "That will be fine!" she cried.  "That will be
the very thing.  I'll ask the boys to keep their eyes open for any
chance for you."

"You needn't take any bother about it," said Polly, "because that
isn't what is going to happen.  All I want to be sure of now is
that you and Adam will take my baby.  I'll see to the rest."

"How will you see to it, Polly?" asked Kate, gently.

"Well, it's already seen to, for matter of that," said Polly
conclusively.  "I've known for quite a while that I was sick; but
I couldn't make them do anything but kiss me, and laugh at me,
until I am so ill that I know better how I feel than anybody else.
I got tired being laughed at, and put off about everything, so one
day in Hartley, while Mother Peters was shopping, I just went in
to the lawyer Grandmother always went to, and told him all about
what I wanted.  He has the papers made out all right and proper;
so when I send for Uncle Robert, I am going to send for him, too,
and soon as the baby comes I'll put in its name and sign it, and
make Henry, and then if I have to go, you won't have a bit of
trouble."

Kate gazed at Polly in dumb amazement.  She was speechless for a
time, then to break the strain she said:  "My soul!  Did you
really, Polly?  I guess there is more Bates in you than I had
thought!"

"Oh, there's SOME Bates in me," said Polly.  "There's enough to
make me live until I sign that paper, and make Henry Peters sign
it, and send Mr. Thomlins to you with it and the baby.  I can do
that, because I'm going to!"

Ten days later she did exactly what she had said she would. Then
she turned her face to the wall and went into a convulsion out of
which she never came.  While the Peters family refused Kate's plea
to lay Polly beside her grandmother, and laid her in their family
lot, Kate, moaning dumbly, sat clasping a tiny red girl in her
arms.  Adam drove to Hartley to deposit one more paper, the most
precious of all, in the safety deposit box.

Kate and Adam mourned too deeply to talk about it.  They went
about their daily rounds silently, each busy with regrets and self
investigations.  They watched each other carefully, were kinder
than they ever had been to everyone they came in contact with; the
baby they frankly adored.  Kate had reared her own children with
small misgivings, quite casually, in fact; but her heart was torn
to the depths about this baby.  Life never would be even what it
had been before Polly left them, for into her going there entered
an element of self-reproach and continual self-condemnation.  Adam
felt that if he had been less occupied with Milly York and had
taken proper care of his sister, he would not have lost her.  Kate
had less time for recrimination, because she had the baby.

"Look for a good man to help you this summer, Adam," she said.
"The baby is full of poison which can be eliminated only slowly.
If I don't get it out before teething, I'll lose her, and then we
never shall hear the last from the Peters family."  Adam consigned
the Peters family to a location he thought suitable for them on
the instant.  He spoke with unusual bitterness, because he had
heard that the Peters family were telling that Polly had grieved
herself to death, while his mother had engineered a scheme whereby
she had stolen the baby.  Occasionally a word drifted to Kate here
and there, until she realized much of what they were saying.  At
first she grieved too deeply to pay any attention, but as the
summer went on and the baby flourished and grew fine and strong,
and she had time in the garden, she began to feel better; grief
began to wear away, as it always does.

By midsummer the baby was in short clothes, sitting in a high
chair, which if Miss Baby only had known it, was a throne before
which knelt her two adoring subjects.  Polly had said the baby
would be like Kate.  Its hair and colouring were like hers, but it
had the brown eyes of its father, and enough of his facial lines
to tone down the too generous Bates features.  When the baby was
five months old it was too pretty for adequate description.  One
baby has no business with perfect features, a mop of curly, yellow
silk hair, and big brown eyes.  One of the questions Kate and Adam
discussed most frequently was where they would send her to
college, while one they did not discuss was how sick her stomach
teeth would make her.  They merely lived in mortal dread of that.
"Convulsion," was a word that held a terror for Kate above any
other in the medical books.

The baby had a good, formal name, but no one ever used it.  Adam,
on first lifting the blanket, had fancied the child resembled its
mother and had called her "Little Poll."  The name clung to her.
Kate could not call such a tiny morsel either Kate or Katherine;
she liked "Little Poll," better.  The baby had three regular
visitors.  One was her father.  He was not fond of Kate; Little
Poll suited him.  He expressed his feeling by bringing gifts of
toys, candy, and unsuitable clothes.  Kate kept these things in
evidence when she saw him coming and swept them from sight when he
went; for she had the good sense not to antagonize him.  Nancy
Ellen came almost every day, proudly driving her new car, and with
the light of a new joy on her face.  She never said anything to
Kate, but Kate knew what had happened.  Nancy Ellen came to see
the baby.  She brought it lovely and delicate little shoes,
embroidered dresses and hoods, cloaks and blankets.  One day as
she sat holding it she said to Kate:  "Isn't the baby a dreadful
bother to you?  You're not getting half your usual work done."

"No, I'm doing UNUSUAL work," said Kate, lightly.  "Adam is hiring
a man who does my work very well in the fields; there isn't money
that would hire me to let any one else take my job indoors, right
now."

A slow red crept into Nancy Ellen's cheeks.  She had meant to be
diplomatic, but diplomacy never worked well with Kate.  As Nancy
Ellen often said, Kate understood a sledge-hammer better.  Nancy
Ellen used the hammer.  Her face flushed, her arms closed tightly.
"Give me this baby," she demanded.

Kate looked at her in helpless amazement.

"Give it to me," repeated Nancy Ellen.

"She's a gift to me," said Kate, slowly.  "One the Peters family
are searching heaven and earth to find an excuse to take from me.
I hear they've been to a lawyer twice, already.  I wouldn't give
her up to save my soul alive, for myself; for you, if I would let
you have her, they would not leave you in possession a day."

"Are they really trying to get her?" asked Nancy Ellen, slowly
loosening her grip.

"They are," said Kate.  "They sent a lawyer to get a copy of the
papers, to see if they could pick a flaw in them."

"Can they?" cried Nancy Ellen.

"God knows!" said Kate, slowly.  "I HOPE not.  Mr. Thomlins is the
best lawyer in Hartley; he says not.  He says Henry put his neck
in the noose when he signed the papers.  The only chance I can see
for him would be to plead undue influence.  When you look at her,
you can't blame him for wanting her.  I've two hopes.  One that
his mother will not want the extra work; the other that the next
girl he selects will not want the baby.  If I can keep them going
a few months more with a teething scare, I hope they will get over
wanting her."

"If they do, then may we have her?" asked Nancy Ellen.

Kate threw out her hands.  "Take my eyes, or my hands, or my
feet," she said; "but leave me my heart."

Nancy Ellen went soon after, and did not come again for several
days.  Then she began coming as usual, so that the baby soon knew
her and laughed in high glee when she appeared.  Dr. Gray often
stopped in passing to see her; if he was in great haste, he
hallooed at the gate to ask if she was all right.  Kate was
thankful for this, more than thankful for the telephone and car
that would bring him in fifteen minutes day or night, if he were
needed.  But he was not needed.  Little Poll throve and grew fat
and rosy; for she ate measured food, slept by the clock, in a
sanitary bed, and was a bathed, splendidly cared for baby.  When
Kate's family and friends laughed, she paid not the slightest
heed.

"Laugh away," she said.  "I've got something to fight with this
baby; I don't propose for the battle to come and find the chances
against me, because I'm unprepared."

With scrupulous care Kate watched over the child, always putting
her first, the house and land afterward.  One day she looked up
the road and saw Henry Peters coming.  She had been expecting
Nancy Ellen.  She had finished bathing the baby and making her
especially attractive in a dainty lace ruffled dress with blue
ribbons and blue shoes that her sister had brought on her latest
trip.  Little Poll was a wonderful picture, for her eyes were
always growing bigger, her cheeks pinker, her skin fairer, her
hair longer and more softly curling.  At first thought Kate had
been inclined to snatch off the dress and change to one of the
cheap, ready-made ginghams Henry brought, but the baby was so
lovely as she was, she had not the heart to spoil the picture,
while Nancy Ellen might come any minute.  So she began putting
things in place while Little Poll sat crowing and trying to pick
up a sunbeam that fell across her tray.  Her father came to the
door and stood looking at her.  Suddenly he dropped in a chair,
covered his face with his hands and began to cry, in deep,
shuddering sobs.  Kate stood still in wonderment.  As last she
seated herself before him and said gently:  "Won't you tell me
about it, Henry?"

Henry struggled for self-control.  He looked at the baby
longingly.  Finally he said:  "It's pretty tough to give up a baby
like that, Mrs. Holt.  She's my little girl.  I wish God had
struck my right hand with palsy, when I went to sign those
papers."

"Oh, no, you don't, Henry," said Kate, suavely.  "You wouldn't
like to live the rest of your life a cripple.  And is it any worse
for me to have your girl in spite of the real desires and dictates
of your heart, than it was for you to have mine?  And you didn't
take the intelligent care of my girl that I'm taking of yours,
either.  A doctor and a little right treatment at the proper time
would have saved Polly to rear her own baby; but there's no use to
go into that.  I was waiting for Polly to come home of her own
accord, as she left it; and while I waited, a poison crept into
her system that took her.  I never shall feel right about it;
neither shall you -- "

"No, I should say I won't!" said Henry emphatically.  "I never
thought of anything being the matter with Polly that wouldn't be
all over when the baby came -- "

"I know you didn't, Henry," said Kate.  "I know how much you would
have done, and how gladly, if you had known.  There is no use
going into that, we are both very much to blame; we must take our
punishment.  Now what is this I hear about your having been to see
lawyers and trying to find a way to set aside the adoption papers
you signed?  Let's have a talk, and see what we can arrive at.
Tell me all about it."

So Henry told Kate how he had loved Polly, how he felt guilty of
her death, how he longed for and wanted her baby, how he had
signed the paper which Polly put before him so unexpectedly, to
humour her, because she was very ill; but he had not dreamed that
she could die; how he did not feel that he should be bound by that
signature now.  Kate listened with the deepest sympathy, assenting
to most he said until he was silent.  Then she sat thinking a long
time.  At last she said:  "Henry, if you and Polly had waited
until I came home, and told me what you wanted and how you felt, I
should have gotten her ready, and given you a customary wedding,
and helped you to start a life that I think would have saved her
to you, and to me.  That is past, but the fact remains.  You are
hurt over giving up the baby as you have; I'm hurt over losing my
daughter as I did; we are about even on the past, don't you
think?"

"I suppose we are," he said, heavily.

"That being agreed," said Kate, "let us look to the future.  You
want the baby now, I can guess how much, by how much I want her,
myself.  I know YOUR point of view; there are two others, one is
mine, and the other is the baby's.  I feel that it is only right
and just that I should have this little girl to replace the one
you took from me, in a way far from complimentary to me.  I feel
that she is mine, because Polly told me the day she came to see me
how sick she had been, how she had begged for a doctor, and been
kissed and told there was nothing the matter with her, when she
knew she was very ill.  She gave the baby to me, and at that time
she had been to see a lawyer, and had her papers all made out
except the signatures and dates.  Mr. Thomlins can tell you that;
and you know that up to that time I had not seen Polly, or had any
communication with her.  She simply was unnerved at the thought of
trusting her baby to the care she had had."

Kate was hitting hard and straight from the shoulder.  The baby,
busy with her sunbeam, jabbered unnoticed.

"When Polly died as she did," continued Kate, "I knew that her
baby would be full of the same poison that killed her; and that it
must be eliminated before it came time to cut her worst teeth, so
I undertook the work, and sleeping or waking, I have been at it
ever since.  Now, Henry, is there any one at your house who would
have figured this out, and taken the time, pains, and done work
that I have?  Is there?"

"Mother raised six of us." he said defensively.

"But she didn't die of diathesis giving birth to the first of
you," said Kate.  "You were all big, strong boys with a perfectly
sound birthright.  And your mother is now a much older, wearier
woman than she was then, and her hands are far too full every day,
as it is.  If she knew how to handle the baby as I have, and was
willing to add the work to her daily round, would you be willing
to have her?  I have three times her strength, while I consider
that I've the first right.  Then there is the baby's side of the
question.  I have had her through the worst, hardest part of
babyhood; she is accustomed to a fixed routine that you surely
will concede agrees with her; she would miss me, and she would not
thrive as she does with me, for her food and her hours would not
be regular, while you, and your father, and the boys would tire
her to death handling her.  That is the start.  The finish would
be that she would grow up, if she survived, to take the place
Polly took at your house, while you would marry some other girl,
as you WILL before a year from now.  I'm dreadfully sorry to say
these things to you, Henry, but you know they are the truth.  If
you're going to try to take the baby, I'm going to fight you to
the last dollar I can raise, and the last foot of land I own.
That's all.  Look at the baby; think it over; and let me know what
you'll do as soon as you can.  I'm not asking mercy at your hands,
but I do feel that I have suffered about my share."

"You needn't suffer any longer," said Henry, drying his eyes.
"All you say is true; just as what I said was true; but I might as
well tell you, and let one of us be happy.  I saw my third lawyer
yesterday, and he said the papers were unbreakable unless I could
prove that the child was neglected, and not growing right, or not
having proper care.  Look at her!  I might do some things!  I did
do a thing as mean as to persuade a girl to marry me without her
mother's knowledge, and ruined her life thereby, but God knows I
couldn't go on the witness stand and swear that that baby is not
properly cared for!  Mother's job is big enough; and while it
doesn't seem possible now, very likely I shall marry again, as
other men do; and in that event, Little Poll WOULD be happier with
you.  I give her up.  I think I came this morning to say that I
was defeated; and to tell you that I'd give up if I saw that you
would fight.  Keep the baby, and be as happy as you can.  You
shan't be worried any more about her.  Polly shall have this thing
as she desired and planned it.  Good-bye."

When he had gone Kate knelt on the floor, laid her head on the
chair tray, and putting her arms around the baby she laughed and
cried at the same time, while Miss Baby pulled her hair, patted
her face, and plastered it with wet, uncertain kisses.  Then Kate
tied a little bonnet on the baby's head and taking her in her
arms, she went to the field to tell Adam.  It seemed to Kate that
she could see responsibility slipping from his shoulders, could
see him grow taller as he listened.  The breath of relief he drew
was long and deep.

"Fine!" he cried.  "Fine!  I haven't told you HALF I knew.  I've
been worried until I couldn't sleep."

Kate went back to the house so glad she did not realize she was
touching earth at all.  She fed the baby and laid her down for her
morning nap, and then went out in the garden; but she was too
restless to work.  She walked bareheaded in the sun and was glad
as she never before in her life had known how to be glad.  The
first thing Kate knew she was standing at the gate looking up at
the noonday sky and from the depths of her heart she was crying
aloud:  "Praise ye the Lord, Oh my soul.  Let all that is within
me praise His holy name!"

For the remainder of the day Kate was unblushingly insane.  She
started to do a hundred things and abandoned all of them to go out
and look up at the sky and to cry repeatedly:  "Praise the Lord!"

If she had been asked to explain why she did this, Kate could have
answered, and would have answered:  "Because I FEEL like it!"  She
had been taught no religion as a child, she had practised no
formal mode of worship as a woman.  She had been straight, honest,
and virtuous.  She had faced life and done with small question the
work that she thought fell to her hand.  She had accepted joy,
sorrow, shame, all in the same stoic way.  Always she had felt
that there was a mighty force in the universe that could as well
be called God as any other name; it mattered not about the name;
it was a real force, and it was there.

That day Kate exulted.  She carried the baby down to the brook in
the afternoon and almost shouted; she sang until she could have
been heard a mile.  She kept straight on praising the Lord,
because expression was imperative, and that was the form of
expression that seemed to come naturally to her.  Without giving a
thought as to how, or why, she followed her impulses and praised
the Lord.  The happier she grew, the more clearly she saw how
uneasy and frightened she had been.

When Nancy Ellen came, she took only one glance at Kate's
glorified face and asked:  "What in this world has happened to
you?"

Kate answered in all seriousness:  "My Lord has 'shut the lions'
mouths,' and they are not going to harm me."

Nancy Ellen regarded her closely.  "I hope you aren't running a
temperature," she said.  "I'll take a shot at random.  You have
found out that the Peters family can't take Little Poll."

Kate laughed joyously.  "Better than that, sister mine!" she
cried.  "I have convinced Henry that he doesn't want her himself
as much as he wants me to have her, and he can speedily convert
his family.  He will do nothing more!  He will leave me in peace
with her."

"Thank God!" said Nancy Ellen.

"There you go, too!" cried Kate.  "That's the very first thought
that came to me, only I said, 'Praise the Lord,' which is exactly
the same thing; and Nancy Ellen, since Robert has been trying to
praise the Lord for twenty years, and both of us do praise Him
when our time comes, wouldn't it be a good idea to open up our
heads and say so, not only to ourselves and to the Lord, but to
the neighbours?  I'm afraid she won't understand much of it, but I
think I shall find the place and read to Little Poll about Abraham
and Isaac to-night, and probably about Hagar and Ishmael to-morrow
night, and it wouldn't surprise me a mite to hear myself saying
'Praise the Lord,' right out loud, any time, any place.  Let's
gather a great big bouquet of our loveliest flowers, and go tell
Mother and Polly about it."

Without a word Nancy Ellen turned toward the garden.  They
gathered the flowers and getting in Nancy Ellen's car drove the
short distance to the church where Nancy Ellen played with the
baby in the shade of a big tree while Kate arranged her flowers.
Then she sat down and they talked over their lives from childhood.

"Nancy Ellen, won't you stay to supper with us?" asked Kate.

"Yes," said Nancy Ellen, rising, "I haven't had such a good time
in years.  I'm as glad for you as I'd be if I had such a child
assured me, myself."

"You can't bring yourself --?" began Kate.

"Yes, I think so," said Nancy Ellen.  "Getting things for Little
Poll has broken me up so, I told Robert how I felt, and he's
watching in his practice, and he's written several letters of
inquiry to friends in Chicago.  Any day now I may have my work cut
out for me."

"Praise the Lord again!" cried Kate.  "I see where you will be
happier than you ever have been.  Real life is just beginning for
you."

Then they went home and prepared a good supper and had such a fine
time they were exalted in heart and spirit.  When Nancy Ellen
started home, Kate took the baby and climbed in the car with her,
explaining that they would go a short way and walk back.  She went
only as far as the Peters gate; then she bravely walked up to the
porch, where Mr. Peters and some of the boys sat, and said
casually:  "I just thought I'd bring Little Poll up to get
acquainted with her folks.  Isn't she a dear?"

An hour later, as she walked back in the moonlight, Henry beside
her carrying the baby, he said to her:  "This is a mighty big
thing, and a kind thing for you to do, Mrs. Holt.  Mother has been
saying scandalous things about you."

"I know," said Kate.  "But never mind!  She won't any more."

The remainder of the week she passed in the same uplifted mental
state.  She carried the baby in her arms and walked all over the
farm, going often to the cemetery with fresh flowers.  Sunday
morning, when the work was all done, the baby dressed her
prettiest, Kate slipped into one of her fresh white dresses and
gathering a big bunch of flowers started again to whisper above
the graves of her mother and Polly the story of her gladness, and
to freshen the flowers, so that the people coming from church
would see that her family were remembered.  When she had finished
she arose, took up the baby, and started to return across the
cemetery, going behind the church, taking the path she had
travelled the day she followed the minister's admonition to "take
the wings of morning."  She thought of that.  She stood very
still, thinking deeply.

"I took them," she said.  "I've tried flight after flight; and
I've fallen, and risen, and fallen, and got up and tried again,
but never until now have I felt that I could really 'fly to the
uttermost parts of the earth.'  There is a rising power in me that
should benefit more than myself.  I guess I'll just join in."

She walked into the church as the last word of the song the
congregation were singing was finished, and the minister was
opening his lips to say:  "Let us pray."  Straight down the aisle
came Kate, her bare, gold head crowned with a flash of light at
each window she passed.  She paused at the altar, directly facing
the minister.

"Baby and I would like the privilege of praising the Lord with
you," she said simply, "and we would like to do our share in
keeping up this church and congregation to His honour and glory.
There's some water.  Can't you baptize us now?"

The minister turned to the pitcher, which always stood on his
desk, filled his palm, and asked:  "What is the baby's name?"

"Katherine Eleanor Peters," said Kate.

"Katherine Eleanor, I baptize thee," said the minister, and he
laid his hand on the soft curls of the baby.  She scattered the
flowers she was holding over the altar as she reached to spat her
hands in the water on her head and laughed aloud.

"What is your name?" asked the minister.

"Katherine Eleanor Holt," said Kate.

Again the minister repeated the formula, and then he raised both
hands and said:  "Let us pray."



THE WINGED VICTORY

KATE turned and placing the baby on the front seat, she knelt and
put her arms around the little thing, but her lips only repeated
the words:  "Praise the Lord for this precious baby!"  Her heart
was filled with high resolve.  She would rear the baby with such
care.  She would be more careful with Adam.  She would make heroic
effort to help him to clean, unashamed manhood.  She would be a
better sister to all her family.  She would be friendlier, and
have more patience with the neighbours.  She would join in
whatever effort the church was making to hold and increase its
membership among the young people, and to raise funds to keep up
the organization.  All the time her mind was busy thinking out
these fine resolves, her lips were thanking the Lord for Little
Poll.  Kate arose with the benediction, picked up the baby, and
started down the aisle among the people she had known all her
life.  On every side strong hands stretched out to greet and
welcome her.  A daughter of Adam Bates was something new as a
church member.  They all knew how she could work, and what she
could give if she chose; while that she had stood at the altar and
been baptized, meant that something not customary with the Bates
family was taking place in her heart.  So they welcomed her, and
praised the beauty and sweetness of the baby until Kate went out
into the sunshine, her face glowing.

Slowly she walked home and as she reached the veranda, Adam took
the baby.

"Been to the cemetery?" he asked.

Kate nodded and dropped into a chair.

"That's too far to walk and carry this great big woman," he said,
snuggling his face in the baby's neck, while she patted his cheeks
and pulled his hair.  "Why didn't you tell me you wanted to go,
and let me get out the car?"

Kate looked at him speculatively.

"Adam," she said, "when I started out, I meant only to take some
flowers to Mother and Polly.  As I came around the corner of the
church to take the footpath, they were singing 'Rejoice in the
Lord!'  I went inside and joined.  I'm going to church as often as
I can after this, and I'm going to help with the work of running
it."

"Well, I like that!" cried Adam, indignantly.  "Why didn't you let
me go with you?"

Kate sat staring down the road.  She was shocked speechless.
Again she had followed an impulse, without thinking of any one
besides herself.  Usually she could talk, but in that instant she
had nothing to say.  Then a carriage drew into the line of her
vision, stopped at York's gate, and Mr. York alighted and swung to
the ground a slim girlish figure and then helped his wife.  Kate
had a sudden inspiration.  "But you would want to wait a little
and join with Milly, wouldn't you?" she asked.  "Uncle Robert
always has been a church member.  I think it's a fine stand for a
man to take."

"Maybe that would be better," he said.  "I didn't think of Milly.
I only thought I'd like to have been with you and Little Poll."

"I'm sure Milly will be joining very soon, and that she'll want
you with her," said Kate.

She was a very substantial woman, but for the remainder of that
day she felt that she was moving with winged feet.  She sang, she
laughed, she was unspeakably happy.  She kept saying over and
over:  "And a little child shall lead them."  Then she would catch
Little Poll, almost crushing her in her strong arms.  It never
occurred to Kate that she had done an unprecedented thing.  She
had done as her heart dictated.  She did not know that she put the
minister into a most uncomfortable position, when he followed her
request to baptize her and the child.  She had never thought of
probations, and examinations, and catechisms.  She had read the
Bible, as was the custom, every morning before her school.  In
that book, when a man wanted to follow Jesus, he followed; Jesus
accepted him; and that was all there was to it, with Kate.

The middle of the week Nancy Ellen came flying up the walk on
winged feet, herself.  She carried photographs of several small
children, one of them a girl so like Little Poll that she might
have been the original of the picture.

"They just came," said Nancy Ellen rather breathlessly.  "I was
wild for that little darling at once.  I had Robert telegraph them
to hold her until we could get there.  We're going to start on the
evening train and if her blood seems good, and her ancestors
respectable, and she looks like that picture, we're going to bring
her back with us.  Oh, Kate, I can scarcely wait to get my fingers
on her.  I'm hungry for a baby all of my own."

Kate studied the picture.

"She's charming!" she said.  "Oh, Nancy Ellen, this world is
getting entirely too good to be true."

Nancy Ellen looked at Kate and smiled peculiarly.

"I knew you were crazy," she said, "but I never dreamed of you
going such lengths.  Mrs. Whistler told Robert, when she called
him in about her side, Tuesday.  I can't imagine a Bates joining
church."

"If that is joining church, it's the easiest thing in the world,"
said Kate.  "We just loved doing it, didn't we, Little Poll?  Adam
and Milly are going to come in soon, I'm almost sure.  At least he
is willing.  I don't know what it is that I am to do, but I
suppose they will give me my work soon."

"You bet they'll give you work soon, and enough," said Nancy
Ellen, laughing.  "But you won't mind.  You'll just put it
through, as you do things out here.  Kate, you are making this
place look fine.  I used to say I'd rather die than come back here
to live, but lately it has been growing so attractive, I've been
here about half my time, and wished I were the other half."

Kate slipped her arm around Nancy Ellen as they walked to the
gate.

"You know," said Nancy Ellen, "the MORE I study you, the LESS I
know about you.  Usually it's sickness, and sorrow, and losing
their friends that bring people to the consolations of the church.
You bore those things like a stoic.  When they are all over, and
you are comfortable and happy, just the joy of being sure of
Little Poll has transformed you.  Kate, you make me think of the
'Winged Victory,' this afternoon.  If I get this darling little
girl, will she make me big, and splendid, and fine, like you?"

Kate suddenly drew Nancy Ellen to her and kissed her a long, hard
kiss on the lips.

"Nancy Ellen," she said, "you ARE 'big, and splendid, and fine,'
or you never would be going to Chicago after this little
motherless child.  You haven't said a word, but I know from the
joy of you and Robert during the past months that Mrs. Southey
isn't troubling you any more; and I'm sure enough to put it into
words that when you get your little child, she will lead you
straight where mine as led me.  Good-bye and good luck to you, and
remember me to Robert."

Nancy Ellen stood intently studying the picture she held in her
hand.  Then she looked at Kate, smiling with misty eyes:  "I
think, Kate, I'm very close, if I am not really where you are this
minute," she said.  Then she started her car; but she looked back,
waving and smiling until the car swerved so that Kate called after
her:  "Do drive carefully, Nancy Ellen!"

Kate went slowly up the walk.  She stopped several times to
examine the shrubs and bushes closely, to wish for rain for the
flowers.  She sat on the porch a few minutes talking to Little
Poll, then she went inside to answer the phone.

"Kate?" cried a sharp voice.

"Yes," said Kate, recognizing a neighbour, living a few miles down
the road.

"Did Nancy Ellen just leave your house?" came a breathless query.

"Yes," said Kate again.

"I just saw a car that looked like hers slip in the fresh sand at
the river levee, and it went down, and two or three times over."

"O God!" said Kate.  Then after an instant:  "Ring the dinner bell
for your men to get her out.  I'll phone Robert, and come as soon
as I can get there."

Kate called Dr. Gray's office.  She said to the girl:  "Tell the
doctor that Mrs. Howe thinks she saw Nancy Ellen's car go down the
river levee, and two or three times over.  Have him bring what he
might need to Howe's, and hurry.  Rush him!"

Then she ran to her bell and rang so frantically that Adam came
running.  Kate was at the little garage they had built, and had
the door open.  She told him what she had heard, ran to get the
baby, and met him at the gate.  On the way she said, "You take the
baby when we get there, and if I'm needed, take her back and get
Milly and her mother to come stay with you.  You know where her
things are, and how to feed her.  Don't you dare let them change
any way I do.  Baby knows Milly; she will be good for her and for
you.  You'll be careful?"

"Of course, Mother," said Adam.

He called her attention to the road.

"Look at those tracks," he said.  "Was she sick?  She might have
been drunk, from them."

"No," said Kate, "she wasn't sick.  She WAS drunk, drunken with
joy.  She had a picture of the most beautiful little baby girl.
They were to start to Chicago after her to-night.  I suspect she
was driving with the picture in one hand.  Oh, my God, have
mercy!"

They had come to deep grooves in loose gravel, then the cut in the
embankment, then they could see the wrecked car standing on the
engine and lying against a big tree, near the water, while two men
and a woman were carrying a limp form across the meadow toward the
house.  As their car stopped, Kate kissed the baby mechanically,
handed her to Adam, and ran into the house where she dragged a
couch to the middle of the first room she entered, found a pillow,
and brought a bucket of water and a towel from the kitchen.  They
carried Nancy Ellen in and laid her down.  Kate began unfastening
clothing and trying to get the broken body in shape for the doctor
to work upon; but she spread the towel over what had been a face
of unusual beauty.  Robert came in a few minutes, then all of them
worked under his directions until he suddenly sank to the floor,
burying his face in Nancy Ellen's breast; then they knew.  Kate
gathered her sister's feet in her arms and hid her face beside
them.  The neighbours silently began taking away things that had
been used, while Mrs. Howe chose her whitest sheet, and laid it on
a chair near Robert.

Two days later they laid Nancy Ellen beside her mother.  Then they
began trying to face the problem of life without her.  Robert said
nothing.  He seemed too stunned to think.  Kate wanted to tell him
of her final visit with Nancy Ellen, but she could not at that
time.  Robert's aged mother came to him, and said she could remain
as long as he wanted her, so that was a comfort to Kate, who took
time to pity him, even in her blackest hour.  She had some very
black ones.  She could have wailed, and lamented, and relinquished
all she had gained, but she did not.  She merely went on with
life, as she always had lived it, to the best of her ability when
she was so numbed with grief she scarcely knew what she was doing.
She kept herself driven about the house, and when she could find
no more to do, took Little Poll in her arms and went out in the
fields to Adam, where she found the baby a safe place, and then
cut and husked corn as usual.  Every Sabbath, and often during the
week, her feet carried her to the cemetery, where she sat in the
deep grass and looked at those three long mounds and tried to
understand life; deeper still, to fathom death.

She and her mother had agreed that there was "something."  Now
Kate tried as never before to understand what, and where, and why,
that "something" was.  Many days she would sit for an hour at a
time, thinking, and at last she arrived at fixed convictions that
settled matters forever with her.  One day after she had arranged
the fall roses she had grown, and some roadside asters she had
gathered in passing, she sat in deep thought, when a car stopped
on the road.  Kate looked up to see Robert coming across the
churchyard with his arms full of greenhouse roses.  He carried a
big bunch of deep red for her mother, white for Polly, and a large
sheaf of warm pink for Nancy Ellen.  Kate knelt up and taking her
flowers, she moved them lower, and silently helped Robert place
those he had brought.  Then she sat where she had been, and looked
at him.

Finally he asked:  "Still hunting the 'why,' Kate?"

"'Why' doesn't so much matter," said Kate, "as 'where.'  I'm
enough of a fatalist to believe that Mother is here because she
was old and worn out.  Polly had a clear case of uric poison,
while I'd stake my life Nancy Ellen was gloating over the picture
she carried when she ran into that loose sand.  In each of their
cases I am satisfied as to 'why,' as well as about Father.  The
thing that holds me, and fascinates me, and that I have such a
time being sure of, is 'where.'"

Robert glanced upward and asked:  "Isn't there room enough up
there, Kate?"

"Too much!" said Kate.  "And what IS the soul, and HOW can it
bridge the vortex lying between us and other worlds, that man
never can, because of the lack of air to breathe, and support
him?"

"I don't know," said Robert; "and in spite of the fact that I do
know what a man CANNOT do, I still believe in the immortality of
the soul."

"Oh, yes," said Kate.  "If there is any such thing in science as a
self-evident fact, that is one.  THAT is provable."

Robert looked at her eager face.  "How would you go about proving
it, Kate?" he asked.

"Why, this way," said Kate, leaning to straighten and arrange the
delicate velvet petalled roses with her sure, work-abused fingers.
"Take the history of the world from as near dawn as we have any
record, and trace it from the igloo of the northernmost Esquimo,
around the globe, and down to the ice of the southern pole again,
and in blackest Africa, farthest, wildest Borneo, you will never
discover one single tribe of creatures, upright and belonging to
the race of man, who did not come into the world with four primal
instincts.  They all reproduce themselves, they all make something
intended for music, they all express a feeling in their hearts by
the exercise we call dance, they all believe in the after life of
the soul.  This belief is as much a PART of any man, ever born in
any location, as his hands and his feet.  Whether he believes his
soul enters a cat and works back to man again after long
transmigration, or goes to a Happy Hunting Ground as our Indians,
makes no difference with the fact that he enters this world with
belief in after life of some kind.  We see material evidence in
increase that man is not defeated in his desire to reproduce
himself; we have advanced to something better than tom-toms and
pow-wows for music and dance; these desires are fulfilled before
us, now tell me why the very strongest of all, the most deeply
rooted, the belief in after life, should come to nothing.  Why
should the others be real, and that a dream?"

"I don't think it is," said Robert.

"It's my biggest self-evident fact," said Kate, conclusively.  "I
never heard any one else say these things, but I think them, and
they are provable.  I always believed there was something; but
since I saw Mother go, I know there is.  She stood in full evening
light, I looked straight in her face, and Robert, you know I'm no
creature of fancies and delusions, I tell you I SAW HER SOUL PASS.
I saw the life go from her and go on, and on.  I saw her body
stand erect, long enough for me to reach her, and pick her up,
after its passing.  That I know."

"I shouldn't think of questioning it, Kate," said Robert.  "But
don't you think you are rather limiting man, when you narrow him
to four primal instincts?"

"Oh, I don't know," said Kate.  "Air to breathe and food to
sustain are presupposed.  Man LEARNS to fight in self-defense, and
to acquire what he covets.  He learns to covet by seeing stronger
men, in better locations, surpass his achievements, so if he is
strong enough he goes and robs them by force.  He learns the
desire for the chase in food hunting; I think four are plenty to
start with."

"Probably you are right," said the doctor, rising.  "I must go
now.  Shall I take you home?"

Kate glanced at the sun and shook her head.  "I can stay half an
hour longer.  I don't mind the walk.  I need exercise to keep me
in condition.  Good-bye!"

As he started his car he glanced back.  She was leaning over the
flowers absorbed in their beauty.  Kate sat looking straight
before her until time to help with the evening work, and prepare
supper, then she arose.  She stood looking down a long time;
finally she picked up a fine specimen of each of the roses and
slowly dropped them on her father's grave.

"There!  You may have that many," she said.  "You look a little
too lonely, lying here beside the others with not a single one,
but if you could speak, I wonder whether you would say, 'Thank
you!' or 'Take the damn weeds off me!'"



BLUE RIBBON CORN

NEVER in her life had Kate worked harder than she did that fall;
but she retained her splendid health.  Everything was sheltered
and housed, their implements under cover, their stock in good
condition, their store-room filled, and their fruits and
vegetables buried in hills and long rows in the garden.  Adam had
a first wheat premium at the County Fair and a second on corn,
concerning which he felt abused.  He thought his corn scored the
highest number of points, but that the award was given another man
because of Adam's having had first on wheat.  In her heart Kate
agreed with him; but she tried to satisfy him with the blue ribbon
on wheat and keep him interested sufficiently to try for the first
on corn the coming year.  She began making suggestions for the
possible improvement of his corn.  Adam was not easily
propitiated.

"Mother," he said, "you know as well as you know you're alive,
that if I had failed on wheat, or had second, I would have been
given FIRST on my corn; my corn was the best in every way, but
they thought I would swell up and burst if I had two blue ribbons.
That was what ailed the judges.  What encouragement is that to try
again?  I might grow even finer corn in the coming year than I did
this, and be given no award at all, because I had two this year.
It would amount to exactly the same thing."

"We'll get some more books, and see if we can study up any new
wrinkles, this winter," said Kate.  "Now cheer up, and go tell
Milly about it.  Maybe she can console you, if I can't."

"Nothing but justice will console me," said Adam.  "I'm not
complaining about losing the prize; I'm fighting mad because my
corn, my beautiful corn, that grew and grew, and held its head so
high, and waved its banners of triumph to me with every breeze,
didn't get its fair show.  What encouragement is there for it to
try better the coming year?  The crows might as well have had it,
or the cutworms; while all my work is for nothing."

"You're making a big mistake," said Kate.  "If your corn was the
finest, it was, and the judges knew it, and you know it, and very
likely the man who has the first prize, knows it.  You have a
clean conscience, and you know what you know.  They surely can't
feel right about it, or enjoy what they know.  You have had the
experience, you have the corn for seed; with these things to back
you, clear a small strip of new land beside the woods this winter,
and try what that will do for you."

Adam looked at her with wide eyes.  "By jing, Mother, you are a
dandy!" he said.  "You just bet I'll try that next year, but don't
you tell a soul; there are more than you who will let a strip be
cleared, in an effort to grow blue ribbon corn.  How did you come
to think of it?"

"Your saying all your work had been for nothing, made me think of
it," she answered.  "Let them give another man the prize, when
they know your corn is the best.  It's their way of keeping a
larger number of people interested and avoiding the appearance of
partiality; this contest was too close; next year, you grow such
corn, that the CORN will force the decision in spite of the
judges.  Do you see?"

"I see," said Adam.  "I'll try again."

After that life went on as usual.  The annual Christmas party was
the loveliest of all, because Kate gave it loving thought, and
because all of their hearts were especially touched.  As spring
came on again, Kate and Adam studied over their work, planning
many changes for the better, but each time they talked, when
everything else was arranged, they came back to corn.  More than
once, each of them dreamed corn that winter while asleep, they
frankly talked of it many times a day.  Location, soil,
fertilizers, seed, cultivation -- they even studied the almanacs
for a general forecast of the weather.  These things brought them
very close together.  Also it was admitted between them, that
Little Poll "grappled them with hooks of steel."  They never
lacked subjects for conversation.  Poll always came first, corn
next, and during the winter there began to be discussion of plans
for Adam and Milly.  Should Milly come with them, or should they
build a small house on the end of the farm nearest her mother?
Adam did not care, so he married Milly speedily.  Kate could not
make up her mind.  Milly had the inclination of a bird for a
personal and private nest of her own.  So spring came to them.

August brought the anniversary of Nancy Ellen's death, which again
saddened all of them.  Then came cooler September weather, and the
usual rush of preparation for winter.  Kate was everywhere and
enjoying her work immensely.  On sturdy, tumbly legs Little Poll
trotted after her or rode in state on her shoulder, when distances
were too far.  If Kate took her to the fields, as she did every
day, she carried along the half of an old pink and white quilt,
which she spread in a shaded place and filled the baby's lap with
acorns, wild flowers, small brightly coloured stones, shells, and
whatever she could pick up for playthings.  Poll amused herself
with these until the heat and air made her sleepy, then she laid
herself down and slept for an hour or two.  Once she had trouble
with stomach teeth that brought Dr. Gray racing, and left Kate
white and limp with fear.  Everything else had gone finely and
among helping Adam, working in her home, caring for the baby,
doing whatever she could see that she thought would be of benefit
to the community, and what was assigned her by church committees,
Kate had a busy life.  She had earned, in a degree, the leadership
she exercised in her first days in Walden.  Everyone liked her;
but no one ever ventured to ask her for an opinion unless they
truly wanted it.

Adam came from a run to Hartley for groceries one evening in late
September, with a look of concern that Kate noticed on his face.
He was very silent during supper and when they were on the porch
as usual, he still sat as if thinking deeply.  Kate knew that he
would tell her what he was thinking about when he was ready but
she was not in the least prepared for what he said.

"Mother, how do you feel about Uncle Robert marrying again?" he
asked suddenly.

Kate was too surprised to answer.  She looked at him in amazement.
Instead of answering, she asked him a question:  "What makes you
ask that?"

"You know how that Mrs. Southey pursued him one summer.  Well,
she's back in Hartley, staying at the hotel right across from his
office; she's dressed to beat the band, she's pretty as a picture;
her car stands out in front all day, and to get to ride in it, and
take meals with her, all the women are running after her.  I hear
she has even had Robert's old mother out for a drive.  What do you
think of that?"

"Think she's in love with him, of course, and trying to marry him,
and that she will very probably succeed.  If she has located where
she is right under his eye, and lets him know that she wants him
very much, he'll, no doubt, marry her."

"But what do you THINK about it?" asked Adam.

"I've had no TIME to think," said Kate.  "At first blush, I'd say
that I shall hate it, as badly as I could possibly hate anything
that was none of my immediate business.  Nancy Ellen loved him so.
I never shall forget that day she first told me about him, and how
loving him brought out her beauty, and made her shine and glow as
if from an inner light.  I was always with her most, and I loved
her more than all the other girls put together.  I know that
Southey woman tried to take him from her one summer not long ago,
and that he gave her to understand that she could not, so she went
away.  If she's back, it means only one thing, and I think
probably she'll succeed; but you can be sure it will make me
squirm properly."

"I THOUGHT you wouldn't like it," he said emphatically.

"Now understand me, Adam," said Kate.  "I'm no fool.  I didn't
expect Robert to be more than human.  He has no children, and he'd
like a child above anything else on earth.  I've known that for
years, ever since it became apparent that none was coming to Nancy
Ellen.  I hadn't given the matter a thought, but if I had been
thinking, I would have thought that as soon as was proper, he
would select a strong, healthy young woman, and make her his wife.
I know his mother is homesick, and wants to go back to her
daughters and their children, which is natural.  I haven't an
objection in the world to him marrying a PROPER woman, at a proper
time and place; but Oh, dear Lord, I do dread and despise to see
that little Southey cat come back and catch him, because she knows
how."

"Did you ever see her, Mother?"

"No, I never," said Kate, "and I hope I never shall.  I know what
Nancy Ellen felt, because she told me all about it that time we
were up North.  I'm trying with all my might to have a Christian
spirit.  I swallowed Mrs. Peters, and never blinked, that anybody
saw; but I don't, I truly don't know from where I could muster
grace to treat a woman decently, who tried to do to my sister,
what I KNOW Mrs. Southey tried to do to Nancy Ellen.  She planned
to break up my sister's home; that I know.  Now that Nancy Ellen
is gone, I feel to-night as if I just couldn't endure to see Mrs.
Southey marry Robert."

"Bet she does it!" said Adam.

"Did you see her?" asked Kate.

"See her!" cried Adam.  "I saw her half a dozen times in an hour.
She's in the heart of the town, nothing to do but dress and motor.
Never saw such a peach of a car.  I couldn't help looking at it.
Gee, I wish I could get you one like that!"

"What did you think of her looks?" asked Kate.

"Might pretty!" said Adam, promptly.  "Small, but not tiny; plump,
but not fat; pink, light curls, big baby blue eyes and a sort of
hesitating way about her, as if she were anxious to do the right
thing, but feared she might not, and wished somebody would take
care of her."

Kate threw out her hands with a rough exclamation.  "I get the
picture!" she said.  "It's a dead centre shot.  THAT gets a man,
every time.  No man cares a picayune about a woman who can take
care of herself, and help him with his job if he has a ghost of a
chance at a little pink and white clinger, who will suck the life
and talent out of him, like the parasite she is, while she makes
him believe he is on the job, taking care of her.  You can rest
assured it will be settled before Christmas."

Kate had been right in her theories concerning the growing of blue
ribbon corn.  At the County Fair in late September Adam exhibited
such heavy ears of evenly grained white and yellow corn that the
blue ribbon he carried home was not an award of the judges; it was
a concession to the just demands of the exhibit.

Then they began husking their annual crop.  It had been one of the
country's best years for corn.  The long, even, golden ears they
were stripping the husks from and stacking in heaps over the field
might profitably have been used for seed by any farmer.  They had
divided the field in halves and Adam was husking one side, Kate
the other.  She had a big shock open and kneeling beside it she
was busy stripping open the husks, and heaping up the yellow ears.
Behind her the shocks stood like rows of stationed sentinels;
above, the crisp October sunshine warmed the air to a delightful
degree; around the field, the fence rows were filled with purple
and rose coloured asters, and everywhere goldenrod, yellower than
the corn, was hanging in heavy heads of pollen-spraying bloom.

On her old pink quilt Little Poll, sound asleep, was lifted from
the shade of one shock to another, while Kate worked across her
share of the field.  As she worked she kept looking at the child.
She frankly adored her, but she kept her reason and held to rigid
rules in feeding, bathing, and dressing.  Poll minded even a
gesture or a nod.

Above, the flocking larks pierced the air with silver notes, on
the fence-rows the gathering robins called to each other; high in
the air the old black vulture that homed in a hollow log in Kate's
woods, looked down on the spots of colour made by the pink quilt,
the gold corn, the blue of Kate's dress, and her yellow head.  An
artist would have paused long, over the rich colour, the grouping
and perspective of that picture, while the hazy fall atmosphere
softened and blended the whole.  Kate, herself, never had appeared
or felt better.  She worked rapidly, often glancing across the
field to see if she was even with, or slightly in advance of Adam.
She said it would never do to let the boy get "heady," so she made
a point of keeping even with him, and caring for Little Poll, "for
good measure."

She was smiling as she watched him working like a machine as he
ripped open husks, gave the ear a twist, tossed it aside, and
reached for the next.  Kate was doing the same thing, quite as
automatically.  She was beginning to find the afternoon sun almost
hot on her bare head, so she turned until it fell on her back.
Her face was flushed to coral pink, and framed in a loose border
of her beautiful hair.  She was smiling at the thought of how Adam
was working to get ahead of her, smiling because Little Poll
looked such a picture of healthy loveliness, smiling because she
was so well, she felt super-abundant health rising like a
stimulating tide in her body, smiling because the corn was the
finest she ever had seen in a commonly cultivated field, smiling
because she and Adam were of one accord about everything, smiling
because the day was very beautiful, because her heart was at
peace, her conscience clear.

She heard a car stop at her gate, saw a man alight and start
across the yard toward the field, and knew that her visitor had
seen her, and was coming to her.  Kate went on husking corn and
when the man swung over the fence of the field she saw that he was
Robert, and instantly thought of Mrs. Southey, so she ceased to
smile.  "I've got a big notion to tell him what I think of him,"
she said to herself, even as she looked up to greet him.
Instantly she saw that he had come for something.

"What is it?" she asked.

"Agatha," he said.  "She's been having some severe heart attacks
lately, and she just gave me a real scare."

Instantly Kate forgot everything, except Agatha, whom she
cordially liked, and Robert, who appeared older, more tired, and
worried than she ever had seen him.  She thought Agatha had "given
him a real scare," and she decided that it scarcely would have
been bad enough to put lines in his face she never had noticed
before, dark circles under his eyes, a look of weariness in his
bearing.  She doubted as she looked at him if he were really
courting Mrs. Southey.  Even as she thought of these things she
was asking:  "She's better now?"

"Yes, easier, but she suffered terribly.  Adam was upset
completely.  Adam, 3d, and Susan and their families are away from
home and won't be back for a few days unless I send for them.
They went to Ohio to visit some friends.  I stopped to ask if it
would be possible for you to go down this evening and sleep there,
so that if there did happen to be a recurrence, Adam wouldn't be
alone."

"Of course," said Kate, glancing at the baby.  "I'll go right
away!"

"No need for that," he said, "if you'll arrange to stay with Adam
to-night, as a precaution.  You needn't go till bed-time.  I'm
going back after supper to put them in shape for the night.  I'm
almost sure she'll be all right now; but you know how frightened
we can get about those we love."

"Yes, I know," said Kate, quietly, going straight on ripping open
ear after ear of corn.  Presently she wondered why he did not go.
She looked up at him and met his eyes.  He was studying her
intently.  Kate was vividly conscious in an instant of her bare
wind-teased head, her husking gloves; she was not at all sure that
her face was clean.  She smiled at him, and picking up the
sunbonnet lying beside her, she wiped her face with the skirt.

"If this sun hits too long on the same spot, it grows warm," she
told him.

"Kate, I do wish you wouldn't!" he exclaimed abruptly.

Kate was too forthright for sparring.

"Why not?" she asked.

"For one thing, you are doing a man's work," he said.  "For
another, I hate to see you burn the loveliest hair I ever saw on
the head of a woman, and coarsen your fine skin."

Kate looked down at the ear of corn she held in her hands, and
considered an instant.

"There hasn't any man been around asking to relieve me of this
work," she said.  "I got my start in life doing a man's work, and
I'm frank to say that I'd far rather do it any day, than what is
usually considered a woman's.  As for my looks, I never set a
price on them or let them interfere with business, Robert."

"No, I know you don't," he said.  "But it's a pity to spoil you."

"I don't know what's the matter with you," said Kate, patiently.
She bent her head toward him.  "Feel," she said, "and see if my
hair isn't soft and fine.  I always cover it in really burning
sun; this autumn haze is good for it.  My complexion is exactly as
smooth and even now, as it was the day I first met you on the
footlog over twenty years ago.  There's one good thing about the
Bates women.  They wear well.  None of us yet have ever faded, and
frazzled out.  Have you got many Hartley women, doing what you
call women's work, to compare with me physically, Robert?"

"You know the answer to that," he said.

"So I do!" said Kate.  "I see some of them occasionally, when
business calls me that way.  Now, Robert, I'm so well, I feel like
running a footrace the first thing when I wake up every morning.
I'm making money, I'm starting my boy in a safe, useful life; have
you many year and a half babies in your practice that can beat
Little Poll?  I'm as happy as it's humanly possible for me to be
without Mother, and Polly, and Nancy Ellen.  Mother used always to
say that when death struck a family it seldom stopped until it
took three.  That was my experience, and saving Adam and Little
Poll, it took my three dearest; but the separation isn't going to
be so very long.  If I were you I wouldn't worry about me, Robert.
There are many women in the world willing to pay for your
consideration; save it for them."

"Kate, I'm sorry I said anything," he said hastily.  "I wouldn't
offend you purposely, you know."

Kate looked at him in surprise.  "But I'm not offended," she said,
snapping an ear and reaching for another.  "I am merely telling
you!  Don't give me a thought!  I'm all right!  If you'll save me
an hour the next time Little Poll has a tooth coming through,
you'll have completely earned my gratitude.  Tell Agatha I'll come
as soon as I finish my evening work."

That was clearly a dismissal, for Kate glancing across the field
toward Adam, saw that he had advanced to a new shock, so she began
husking faster than before.



THE ELEVENTH HOUR

ROBERT said good-bye and started back toward his car.  Kate looked
after him as he reached the fence.  A surge of pity for him swept
up in her heart.  He seemed far from happy, and he surely was very
tired.  Impulsive as always, she lifted her clear voice and
called:  "Robert!"

He paused with his foot on a rail of the fence, and turned toward
her.

"Have you had any dinner?" she asked.

He seemed to be considering.  "Come to think of it, I don't
believe I have," he said.

"I thought you looked neglected," said Kate.  "Sonny across the
field is starting a shock ahead of me; I can't come, but go to the
kitchen -- the door is unlocked -- you'll find fried chicken and
some preserves and pickles in the pantry; the bread box is right
there, and the milk and butter are in the spring house."

He gave Kate one long look.  "Thank you," he said and leaped the
fence.  He stopped on the front walk and stood a minute, then he
turned and went around the house.  She laughed aloud.  She was
sending him to chicken perfectly cooked, barely cold, melon
preserves, pickled cucumbers, and bread like that which had for
years taken a County Fair prize each fall; butter yellow as the
goldenrod lining the fences, and cream stiff enough to stand
alone.  Also, he would find neither germ nor mould in her pantry
and spring house, while it would be a new experience for him to
let him wait on himself.  Kate husked away in high good humour,
but she quit an hour early to be on time to go to Agatha.  She
explained this to Adam, when she told him that he would have to
milk alone, while she bathed and dressed herself and got supper.

When she began to dress, Kate examined her hair minutely, and
combed it with unusual care.  If Robert was at Agatha's when she
got there, she would let him see that her hair was not sunburned
and ruined.  To match the hair dressing, she reached back in her
closet and took down her second best white dress.  She was hoping
that Agatha would be well enough to have a short visit.  Kate
worked so steadily that she seldom saw any of her brothers and
sisters during the summer.  In winter she spent a day with each of
them, if she could possibly manage.  Anyway, Agatha would like to
see her appearing well, so she put on the plain snowy linen, and
carefully pinning a big apron over it, she went to the kitchen.
They always had a full dinner at noon and worked until dusk.  Her
bath had made her later than she intended to be.  Dusk was
deepening, evening chill was beginning to creep into the air.  She
closed the door, fed Little Poll and rolled her into bed; set the
potatoes boiling, and began mixing the biscuit.  She had them just
ready to roll when steam lifted the lid of the potato pot; with
the soft dough in her hand she took a step to right it.  While it
was in her fingers, she peered into the pot.

She did not look up on the instant the door opened, because she
thought it would be Adam.  When she glanced toward the door, she
saw Robert standing looking at her.  He had stepped inside, closed
the door, and with his hand on the knob was waiting for her to see
him.

"Oh!  Hello!" said Kate.   "I thought it was Adam.  Have you been
to Agatha's yet?"

"Yes.  She is very much better," he said.  "I only stopped to tell
you that her mother happened to come out for the night, and
they'll not need you."

"I'm surely glad she is better," said Kate, "but I'm rather
disappointed.  I've been swimming, and I'm all ready to go."

She set the pot lid in place accurately and gave her left hand a
deft turn to save the dough from dripping.  She glanced from it to
Robert, expecting to see him open the door and disappear.  Instead
he stood looking at her intently.  Suddenly he said:  "Kate, will
you marry me?"

Kate mechanically saved the dough again, as she looked at the pot
an instant, then she said casually:  "Sure!  It would be splendid
to have a doctor right in the house when Little Poll cuts her
double teeth."

"Thank you!" said Robert, tersely.  "No doubt that WOULD be a
privilege, but I decline to marry you in order to see Little Poll
safely through teething.  Good-night!"

He stepped outside and closed the door very completely, and
somewhat pronouncedly.

Kate stood straight an instant, then realized biscuit dough was
slowly creeping down her wrist.  With a quick fling, she shot the
mass into the scrap bucket and sinking on the chair she sat on to
peel vegetables, she lifted her apron, laid her head on her knees,
and gave a big gulping sob or two.  Then she began to cry
silently.  A minute later the door opened again.  That time it had
to be Adam, but Kate did not care what he saw or what he thought.
She cried on in perfect abandon.

Then steps crossed the room, someone knelt beside her, put an arm
around her and said:  "Kate, why are you crying?"

Kate lifted her head suddenly, and applied her apron skirt.  "None
of your business," she said to Robert's face, six inches from
hers.

"Are you so anxious as all this about Little Poll's teeth?" he
asked.

"Oh, DRAT Little Poll's teeth!" cried Kate, the tears rolling
uninterruptedly.

"Then WHY did you say that to me?" he demanded.

"Well, you said you 'only stopped to tell me that I needn't go to
Agatha's,'" she explained.  "I had to say something, to get even
with you!"

"Oh," said Robert, and took possession.  Kate put her arms around
his neck, drew his head against hers, and knew a minute of
complete joy.

When Adam entered the house his mother was very busy.  She was
mixing more biscuit dough, she was laughing like a girl of
sixteen, she snatched out one of their finest tablecloths, and put
on many extra dishes for supper, while Uncle Robert, looking like
a different man, was helping her.  He was actually stirring the
gravy, and getting the water, and setting up chairs.  And he was
under high tension, too.  He was saying things of no moment, as if
they were profound wisdom, and laughing hilariously at things that
were scarcely worth a smile.  Adam looked on, and marvelled and
all the while his irritation grew.  At last he saw a glance of
understanding pass between them.  He could endure it no longer.

"Oh, you might as well SAY what you think," he burst forth.  "You
forgot to pull down the blinds."

Both the brazen creatures laughed as if that were a fine joke.
They immediately threw off all reserve.  By the time the meal was
finished, Adam was struggling to keep from saying the meanest
things he could think of.  Also, he had to go to Milly, with
nothing very definite to tell.  But when he came back, his mother
was waiting for him.  She said at once:  "Adam, I'm very sorry the
blind was up to-night.  I wanted to talk to you, and tell you
myself, that the first real love for a man that I have ever known,
is in my heart to-night."

"Why, Mother!" said Adam.

"It's true," said Kate, quietly.  "You see Adam, the first time I
ever saw Robert Gray, I knew, and he knew, that he had made a
mistake in engaging himself to Nancy Ellen; but the thing was
done, she was happy, we simply realized that we would have done
better together, and let it go at that.  But all these years I
have known that I could have made him a wife who would have come
closer to his ideals than my sister, and SHE should have had the
man who wanted to marry me.  They would have had a wonderful time
together."

"And where did my father come in?" asked Adam, quietly.

"He took advantage of my blackest hour," said Kate.  "I married
him when I positively didn't care what happened to me.  The man I
could have LOVED was married to my sister, the man I could have
married and lived with in comfort to both of us was out of the
question; it was in the Bates blood to marry about the time I did;
I had seen only the very best of your father, and he was an
attractive lover, not bad looking, not embarrassed with one single
scruple -- it's the way of the world.  I took it.  I paid for it.
Only God knows how dearly I paid; but Adam, if you love me, stand
by me now.  Let me have this eleventh hour happiness, with no
alloy.  Anything I feel for your Uncle Robert has nothing in the
world to do with my being your mother; with you being my son.
Kiss me, and tell me you're glad, Adam."

Adam rose up and put his arms around his mother.  All his
resentment was gone.  He was happy as he could be for his mother,
and happier than he ever before had been for himself.

The following afternoon, Kate took the car and went to see Agatha
instead of husking corn.  She dressed with care and arrived about
three o'clock, leading Poll in whitest white, with cheeks still
rosy from her afternoon nap.  Agatha was sitting up and delighted
to see them.  She said they were the first of the family who had
come to visit her, and she thought they had come because she was
thinking of them.  Then she told Kate about her illness.  She said
it dated from father Bates stroke, and the dreadful days
immediately following, when Adam had completely lost self-control,
and she had not been able to influence him.  "I think it broke my
heart," she said simply.  Then they talked the family over, and at
last Agatha said:  "Kate, what is this I hear about Robert?  Have
you been informed that Mrs. Southey is back in Hartley, and that
she is working every possible chance and using multifarious
blandishments on him?"

Kate laughed heartily and suddenly.  She never had heard
"blandishments" used in common conversation.  As she struggled to
regain self-possession Agatha spoke again.

"It's no laughing matter," she said.  "The report has every ear-
mark of verisimilitude.  The Bates family has a way of feeling
deeply.  We all loved Nancy Ellen.  We all suffered severely and
lost something that never could be replaced when she went.  Of
course all of us realized that Robert would enter the bonds of
matrimony again; none of us would have objected, even if he
remarried soon; but all of us do object to his marrying a woman
who would have broken Nancy Ellen's heart if she could; and
yesterday I took advantage of my illness, and TOLD him so.  Then I
asked him why a man of his standing and ability in this community
didn't frustrate that unprincipled creature's vermiculations
toward him, by marrying you, at once."

Slowly Kate sank down in her chair.  Her face whitened and then
grew greenish.  She breathed with difficulty.

"Oh, Agatha!" was all she could say.

"I do not regret it," said Agatha.  "If he is going to ruin
himself, he is not going to do it without knowing that the Bates
family highly disapprove of his course."

"But why drag me in?" said Kate, almost too shocked to speak at
all.  "Maybe he LOVES Mrs. Southey.  She has let him see how she
feels about him; possibly he feels the same about her."

"He does, if he weds her," said Agatha, conclusively.  "Anything
any one could say or do would have no effect, if he had centred
his affections upon her, of that you may be very sure."

"May I?" asked Kate, dully.

"Indeed, you may!" said Agatha.  "The male of the species, when he
is a man of Robert's attainments and calibre, can be swerved from
pursuit of the female he covets, by nothing save extinction."

"You mean," said Kate with an effort, "that if Robert asked a
woman to marry him, it would mean that he loved her."

"Indubitably!" cried Agatha.

Kate laughed until she felt a little better, but she went home in
a mood far different from that in which she started.  Then she had
been very happy, and she had intended to tell Agatha about her
happiness, the very first of all.  Now she was far from happy.
Possibly -- a thousand things, the most possible, that Robert had
responded to Agatha's suggestion, and stopped and asked her that
abrupt question, from an impulse as sudden and inexplicable as had
possessed her when she married George Holt.  Kate fervently wished
she had gone to the cornfield as usual that afternoon.

"That's the way it goes," she said angrily, as she threw off her
better dress and put on her every-day gingham to prepare supper.
"That's the way it goes!  Stay in your element, and go on with
your work, and you're all right.  Leave your job and go trapesing
over the country, wasting your time, and you get a heartache to
pay you.  I might as well give up the idea that I'm ever to be
happy, like anybody else.  Every time I think happiness is coming
my way, along comes something that knocks it higher than
Gilderoy's kite.  Hang the luck!"

She saw Robert pass while she was washing the dishes, and knew he
was going to Agatha's, and would stop when he came back.  She
finished her work, put Little Poll to bed, and made herself as
attractive as she knew how in her prettiest blue dress.  All the
time she debated whether she would say anything to him about what
Agatha had said or not.  She decided she would wait awhile, and
watch how he acted.  She thought she could soon tell.  So when
Robert came, she was as nearly herself as possible, but when he
began to talk about being married soon, the most she would say was
that she would begin to think about it at Christmas, and tell him
by spring.  Robert was bitterly disappointed.  He was very lonely;
he needed better housekeeping than his aged mother was capable of,
to keep him up to a high mark in his work.  Neither of them was
young any longer; he could see no reason why they should not be
married at once.  Of the reason in Kate's mind, he had not a
glimmering.  But Kate had her way.  She would not even talk of a
time, or express an opinion as to whether she would remain on the
farm, or live in Nancy Ellen's house, or sell it and build
whatever she wanted for herself.  Robert went away baffled, and
disappointed over some intangible thing he could not understand.

For six weeks Kate tortured herself, and kept Robert from being
happy.  Then one morning Agatha stopped to visit with her, while
Adam drove on to town.  After they had exhausted farming, Little
Poll's charms, and the neighbours, Agatha looked at Kate and said:
"Katherine, what is this I hear about Robert coming here every
day, now?  It appeals to me that he must have followed my advice."

"Of course he never would have thought of coming, if you hadn't
told him so," said Kate dryly.

"Now THERE you are in error," said the literal Agatha, as she
smoothed down Little Poll's skirts and twisted her ringlets into
formal corkscrews.  "Right THERE, you are in error, my dear.  The
reason I told Robert to marry you was because he said to me, when
he suggested going after you to stay the night with me, that he
had seen you in the field when he passed, and that you were the
most glorious specimen of womanhood that he ever had seen.  He
said you were the one to stay with me, in case there should be any
trouble, because your head was always level, and your heart was
big as a barrel."

"Yes, that's the reason I can't always have it with me," said
Kate, looking glorified instead of glorious.  "Agatha, it just
happens to mean very much to me.  Will you just kindly begin at
the beginning, and tell me every single word Robert said to you,
and you said to him, that day?"

"Why, I have informed you explicitly," said Agatha, using her
handkerchief on the toe of Poll's blue shoe.  "He mentioned going
after you, and said what I told you, and I told him to go.  He
praised you so highly that when I spoke to him about the Southey
woman I remembered it, so I suggested to him, as he seemed to
think so well of you.  It just that minute flashed into my mind;
but HE made me think of it, calling you 'glorious,' and 'level
headed,' and 'big hearted.'  Heavens!  Katherine Eleanor, what
more could you ask?"

"I guess that should be enough," said Kate.

"One certainly would presume so," said Agatha.

Then Adam came, and handed Kate her mail as she stood beside his
car talking to him a minute, while Agatha settled herself.  As
Kate closed the gate behind her, she saw a big, square white
envelope among the newspapers, advertisements, and letters.  She
slipped it out and looked at it intently.  Then she ran her finger
under the flap and read the contents.  She stood studying the few
lines it contained, frowning deeply.  "Doesn't it beat the band?"
she asked of the surrounding atmosphere.  She went up the walk,
entered the living room, slipped the letter under the lid of the
big family Bible, and walking to the telephone she called Dr.
Gray's office.  He answered the call in person.

"Robert, this is Kate," she said.  "Would you have any deeply
rooted objections to marrying me at six o'clock this evening?"

"Well, I should say not!" boomed Robert's voice, the "not" coming
so forcibly Kate dodged.

"Have you got the information necessary for a license?" she asked.

"Yes," he answered.

"Then bring one, and your minister, and come at six," she said.
"And Oh, yes, Robert, will it be all right with you if I stay here
and keep house for Adam until he and Milly can be married and move
in?  Then I'll come to your house just as it is.  I don't mind
coming to Nancy Ellen's home, as I would another woman's."

"Surely!" he cried.  "Any arrangement you make will satisfy me."

"All right, I'll expect you with the document and the minister at
six, then," said Kate, and hung up the receiver.

Then she took it down again and calling Milly, asked her to bring
her best white dress, and come up right away, and help her get
ready to entertain a few people that evening.  Then she called her
sister Hannah, and asked her if she thought that in the event she,
Kate, wished that evening at six o'clock to marry a very fine man,
and had no preparations whatever made, her family would help her
out to the extent of providing the supper.  She wanted all of
them, and all the children, but the arrangement had come up
suddenly, and she could not possibly prepare a supper herself, for
such a big family, in the length of time she had.  Hannah said she
was perfectly sure everyone of them would drop everything, and be
tickled to pieces to bring the supper, and to come, and they would
have a grand time.  What did Kate want?  Oh, she wanted bread, and
chicken for meat, maybe some potato chips, and Angel's Food cake,
and a big freezer or two of Agatha's best ice cream, and she
thought possibly more butter, and coffee, than she had on hand.
She had plenty of sugar, and cream, and pickles and jelly.  She
would have the tables all set as she did for Christmas.  Then Kate
rang for Adam and put a broom in his hand as he entered the back
door.  She met Milly with a pail of hot water and cloths to wash
the glass.  She went to her room and got out her best afternoon
dress of dull blue with gold lace and a pink velvet rose.  She
shook it out and studied it.  She had worn it twice on the trip
North.  None of them save Adam ever had seen it.  She put it on,
and looked at it critically.  Then she called Milly and they
changed the neck and sleeves a little, took a yard of width from
the skirt, and behold! it became a "creation," in the very height
of style.  Then Kate opened her trunk, and got out the petticoat,
hose, and low shoes to match it, and laid them on her bed.

Then they set the table, laid a fire ready to strike in the cook
stove, saw that the gas was all right, set out the big coffee
boiler, and skimmed a crock full of cream.  By four o'clock, they
could think of nothing else to do.  Then Kate bathed and went to
her room to dress.  Adam and Milly were busy making themselves
fine.  Little Poll sat in her prettiest dress, watching her
beloved "Tate," until Adam came and took her.  He had been
instructed to send Robert and the minister to his mother's room as
soon as they came.  Kate was trying to look her best, yet making
haste, so that she would be ready on time.  She had made no
arrangements except to spread a white goatskin where she and
Robert would stand at the end of the big living room near her
door.  Before she was fully dressed she began to hear young voices
and knew that her people were coming.  When she was ready Kate
looked at herself and muttered:  "I'll give Robert and all of them
a good surprise.  This is a real dress, thanks to Nancy Ellen.
The poor girl!  It's scarcely fair to her to marry her man in a
dress she gave me; but I'd stake my life she'd rather I'd have him
than any other woman."

It was an evening of surprises.  At six, Adam lighted a big log,
festooned with leaves and berries so that the flames roared and
crackled up the chimney.  The early arrivals were the young people
who had hung the mantel, gas fixtures, curtain poles and draped
the doors with long sprays of bittersweet, northern holly, and
great branches of red spice berries, dogwood with its red leaves
and berries, and scarlet and yellow oak leaves.  The elders
followed and piled the table with heaps of food, then trailed red
vines between dishes.  In a quandary as to what to wear, without
knowing what was expected of him further than saying "I will," at
the proper moment, Robert ended by slipping into Kate's room,
dressed in white flannel.  The ceremony was over at ten minutes
after six.  Kate was lovely, Robert was handsome, everyone was
happy, the supper was a banquet.  The Bates family went home, Adam
disappeared with Milly, while Little Poll went to sleep.

Left to themselves, Robert took Kate in his arms and tried to tell
her how much he loved her, but felt he expressed himself poorly.
As she stood before him, he said:  "And now, dear, tell me what
changed you, and why we are married to-night instead of at
Christmas, or in the spring."

"Oh, yes," said Kate, "I almost forgot!  Why, I wanted you to
answer a letter for me."

"Lucid!" said Robert.  He seated himself beside the table.  "Bring
on the ink and stationary, and let me get it over."

Kate obeyed, and with the writing material, laid down the letter
she had that morning received from John Jardine, telling her that
his wife had died suddenly, and that as soon as he had laid her
away, he was coming to exact a definite promise from her as to the
future; and that he would move Heaven and earth before he would
again be disappointed.  Robert read the letter and laid it down,
his face slowing flushing scarlet.

"You called me out here, and married me expressly to answer this?"
he demanded.

"Of course!" said Kate.  "I thought if you could tell him that his
letter came the day I married you, it would stop his coming, and
not be such a disappointment to him."

Robert pushed the letter from him violently, and arose "By -- --!"
he checked himself and stared at her.  "Kate, you don't MEAN
that!" he cried.  "Tell me, you don't MEAN that!"

"Why, SURE I do," said Kate.  "It gave me a fine excuse.  I was so
homesick for you, and tired waiting to begin life with you.
Agatha told me about her telling you the day she was ill, to marry
me; and the reason I wouldn't was because I thought maybe you
asked me so offhandlike, because she TOLD you to, and you didn't
really love me.  Then this morning she was here, and we were
talking, and she got round it again, and then she told me ALL you
said, and I saw you did love me, and that you would have asked me
if she hadn't said anything, and I wanted you so badly.  Robert,
ever since that day we met on the footlog, I've know that you were
the only man I'd every really WANT to marry.  Robert, I've never
come anywhere near loving anybody else.  The minute Agatha told me
this morning, I began to think how I could take back what I'd been
saying, how I could change, and right then Adam handed me that
letter, and it gave me a fine way out, and so I called you.  Sure,
I married you to answer that, Robert; now go and do it."

"All right," he said.  "In a minute."

Then he walked to her and took her in his arms again, but Kate
could not understand why he was laughing until he shook when he
kissed her.





End of Project Gutenberg's A Daughter Of The Land, by Gene Stratton-Porter


Colophon

This file was acquired from Project Gutenberg, and it is in the public domain. It is re-distributed here as a part of the Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts (http://infomotions.com/alex/) by Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.) for the purpose of freely sharing, distributing, and making available works of great literature. Its Infomotions unique identifier is etext3722, and it should be available from the following URL:

http://infomotions.com/etexts/id/etext3722



Infomotions, Inc.

Infomotions Man says, "Give back to the 'Net."