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A Daughter Of The Land by Gene Stratton-Porter

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"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 sign 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 the 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 you 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 on 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

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