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- A Daughter Of The Land - 5/71 -
fervently hoped he would plow until noon, which he did. Nancy Ellen washed the dishes, and went into the front room to study, while Mrs. Bates put on her sunbonnet and began hoeing the potatoes. Not one of the family noticed that Monday's wash was not on the clothes line as usual. Kate and Adam drove as fast as they dared, and on reaching town, cashed the check, decided that Nancy Ellen's hat would serve, thus saving the price of a new one for emergencies that might arise, bought the shoes, and went to the depot, where they had an anxious hour to wait.
"I expect Grandpa will be pretty mad," said Adam.
"I am sure there is not the slightest chance but that he will be," said Kate.
"Dare you go back home when school is over?" he asked.
"Probably not," she answered.
"What will you do?" he questioned.
"When I investigated sister Nancy Ellen's bureau I found a list of the School Supervisors of the county, so I am going to put in my spare time writing them about my qualifications to teach their schools this winter. All the other girls did well and taught first-class schools, I shall also. I am not a bit afraid but that I may take my choice of several. When I finish it will be only a few days until school begins, so I can go hunt my boarding place and stay there."
"Mother would let you stay at our house," said Adam.
"Yes, I think she would, after yesterday; but I don't want to make trouble that might extend to Father and your father. I had better keep away."
"Yes, I guess you had," said Adam. "If Grandfather rows, he raises a racket. But maybe he won't!"
"Maybe! Wouldn't you like to see what happens when Mother come in from the potatoes and Nancy Ellen comes out from the living room, and Father comes to dinner, all about the same time?"
Adam laughed appreciatively.
"Wouldn't I just!" he cried. "Kate, you like my mother, don't you?"
"I certainly do! She has been splendid. I never dreamed of such a thing as getting the money from her."
"I didn't either," said Adam, "until -- I became a mind reader."
Kate looked straight into his eyes.
"How about that, Adam?" she asked.
Adam chuckled. "She didn't intend to say a word. She was going to let the Bateses fight it out among themselves. Her mouth was shut so tight it didn't look as if she could open it if she wanted to. I thought it would be better for you to borrow the money from her, so Father wouldn't get into a mess, and I knew how fine she was, so I just SUGGESTED it to her. That's all!"
"Adam, you're a dandy!" cried Kate.
"I am having a whole buggy load of fun, and you ought to go," said he. "It's all right! Don't you worry! I'll take care of you."
"Why, thank you, Adam!" said Kate. "That is the first time any one ever offered to take care of me in my life. With me it always has been pretty much of a 'go-it-alone' proposition."
"What of Nancy Ellen's did you take?" he asked. "Why didn't you get some gloves? Your hands are so red and work-worn. Mother's never look that way."
"Your mother never has done the rough field work I do, and I haven't taken time to be careful. They do look badly. I wish I had taken a pair of the lady's gloves; but I doubt if she would have survived that. I understand that one of the unpardonable sins is putting on gloves belonging to any one else."
Then the train came and Kate climbed aboard with Adam's parting injunction in her ears: "Sit beside an open window on this side!"
So she looked for and found the window and as she seated herself she saw Adam on the outside and leaned to speak to him again. Just as the train started he thrust his hand inside, dropped his dollar on her lap, and in a tense whisper commanded her: "Get yourself some gloves!" Then he ran.
Kate picked up the dollar, while her eyes dimmed with tears.
"Why, the fine youngster!" she said. "The Jim-dandy fine youngster!"
Adam could not remember when he ever had been so happy as he was driving home. He found his mother singing, his father in a genial mood, so he concluded that the greatest thing in the world to make a whole family happy was to do something kind for someone else. But he reflected that there would be far from a happy family at his grandfather's; and he was right. Grandmother Bates came in from her hoeing at eleven o'clock tired and hungry, expecting to find the wash dry and dinner almost ready. There was no wash and no odour of food. She went to the wood-shed and stared unbelievingly at the cold stove, the tubs of soaking clothes.
She turned and went into the kitchen, where she saw no signs of Kate or of dinner, then she lifted up her voice and shouted: "Nancy Ellen!"
Nancy Ellen came in a hurry. "Why, Mother, what is the matter?" she cried.
"Matter, yourself!" exclaimed Mrs. Bates. "Look in the wash room! Why aren't the clothes on the line? Where is that good-for- nothing Kate?"
Nancy Ellen went to the wash room and looked. She came back pale and amazed. "Maybe she is sick," she ventured. "She never has been; but she might be! Maybe she has lain down."
"On Monday morning! And the wash not out! You simpleton!" cried Mrs. Bates.
Nancy Ellen hurried upstairs and came back with bulging eyes.
"Every scrap of her clothing is gone, and half of mine!"
"She's gone to that fool Normal-thing! Where did she get the money?" cried Mrs. Bates.
"I don't know!" said Nancy Ellen. "She asked me yesterday, but of course I told her that so long as you and Father decided she was not to go, I couldn't possibly lend her the money."
"Did you look if she had taken it?"
Nancy Ellen straightened. "Mother! I didn't need do that!"
"You said she took your clothes," said Mrs. Bates.
"I had hers this time last year. She'll bring back clothes."
"Not here, she won't! Father will see that she never darkens these doors again. This is the first time in his life that a child of his has disobeyed him."
"Except Adam, when he married Agatha; and he strutted like a fighting cock about that."
"Well, he won't 'strut' about this, and you won't either, even if you are showing signs of standing up for her. Go at that wash, while I get dinner."
Dinner was on the table when Adam Bates hung his hat on its hook and saw the note for him. He took it down and read:
FATHER: I have gone to Normal. I borrowed the money of a woman who was willing to trust me to pay it back as soon as I earned it. Not Nancy Ellen, of course. She would not even loan me a pocket handkerchief, though you remember I stayed at home six weeks last summer to let her take what she wanted of mine. Mother: I think you can get Sally Whistler to help you as cheaply as any one and that she will do very well. Nancy Ellen: I have taken your second best hat and a few of your things, but not half so many as I loaned you. I hope it makes you mad enough to burst. I hope you get as mad and stay as mad as I have been most of this year while you taught me things you didn't know yourself; and I cooked and washed for you so you could wear fine clothes and play the lady. KATE
Adam Bates read that note to himself, stretching every inch of his six feet six, his face a dull red, his eyes glaring. Then he turned to his wife and daughter.
"Is Kate gone? Without proper clothing and on borrowed money," he demanded.
"I don't know," said Mrs. Bates. "I was hoeing potatoes all forenoon."
"Listen to this," he thundered. Then he slowly read the note aloud. But someway the spoken words did not have the same effect as when he read them mentally in the first shock of anger. When he heard his own voice read off the line, "I hope it makes you mad enough to burst," there was a catch and a queer gurgle in his throat. Mrs. Bates gazed at him anxiously. Was he so surprised and angry he was choking? Might it be a stroke? It was! It was a master stroke. He got no farther than "taught me things you didn't know yourself," when he lowered the sheet, threw back his head and laughed as none of his family ever had seen him laugh in his life; laughed and laughed until his frame was shaken and the tears rolled. Finally he looked at the dazed Nancy Ellen. "Get Sally Whistler, nothing!" he said. "You hustle your stumps and do for your mother what Kate did while you were away last summer. And if you have any common decency send your sister as many of your best things as you had of hers, at least. Do you hear me?"
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