“Dead!” she muttered.
Then, as if her work were finished, she turned and made her way through the crowd and walked slowly down the street. Men stood aside to let her pass, as if they felt the power of her spirit and feared the touch of her garments.
Two or three men had run to the house of the nearest doctor. The crowd thickened. As I sat looking down at the dead face in my lap, a lawyer who had come out of the court room pressed near me and bent over and looked at the set eyes of Benjamin Grimshaw and said:
“She floored him at last. I knew she would. He tried not to see her, but I tell ye that bony old finger of hers burnt a hole in him. He couldn’t stand it. I knew he’d blow up some day under the strain. She got him at last.”
“Who got him?” another asked.
“Rovin’ Kate. She killed him pointing her finger at him—so.”
“She’s got an evil eye. Everybody’s afraid o’ the crazy ol’ Trollope!”
“Nonsense! She isn’t half as crazy as the most of us,” said the lawyer. “In my opinion she had a good reason for pointing her finger at that man. She came from the same town he did over in Vermont. Ye don’t know what happened there.”
The doctor arrived. The crowds made way for him. He knelt beside the still figure and made the tests. He rose and shook his head, saying:
“It’s all over. Let one o’ these boys go down and bring the undertaker.”
Benjamin Grimshaw, the richest man in the township, was dead, and I have yet to hear of any mourners.
Three days later I saw his body lowered into its grave. The little, broken-spirited wife stood there with the same sad smile on her face that I had noted when I first saw her in the hills. Rovin’ Kate was there in the clothes she had worn Christmas day. She was greatly changed. Her hair was neatly combed. The wild look had left her eyes. She was like one whose back is relieved of a heavy burden. Her lips moved as she scattered little red squares of paper into the grave. I suppose they thought it a crazy whim of hers—they who saw her do it. I thought that I understood the curious bit of symbolism and so did the schoolmaster, who stood beside me. Doubtless the pieces of paper numbered her curses.
“The scarlet sins of his youth are lying down with him in the dust,” Hacket whispered as we walked away together.
Which is the Story of the Chosen Ways
UNCLE PEABODY’S WAY AND MINE