After her father’s burial there followed the collapse which comes so frequently to those women who have the power to bear great trials in silence.
In the small, white bed, with vines reddening around the window and shining into the room, Katrine lay, day after day, with the pallor of death on her face and a horrible nausea of life, but with a merciful benumbing of the power to suffer further. For more than a fortnight she lay, worn out with the task of living, with a Heaven-sent indifference to trouble past or to come.
But with the return of strength the problem of daily living was to be solved. The little stock of money which she and Nora had between them was used for the last sad needs of her father, and with Dermott McDermott away she knew no one to whom she could turn.
“Don’t you be minding troubles like these, though, Miss Katrine,” Nora sympathized. “Niver ye mind a bit! Ye’re wanting to go away, and we’ll find the money to go. We’ve some bits of trinkets, an old watch or two, and I’m a good hand at a bargain. And we’ll not want to carry the furniture on our backs like turtles, either. I know a woman in Marlton whose heart’s been set on the old sideboard for months back. We’ll go slow, Miss Katrine, but with your voice we’ve no great cause for worry, my lamb. Look at the thing with sense, and trust to Nora; she’ll manage it all. And in a few weeks we’ll be off to New York, that wicked old place that I’m far from denyin’ I like fine.”
On the day before this departure there fell an event, small in itself, yet so momentous in its outcome that in the story of Katrine it cannot remain untold.
Sad and wide-eyed, she was sitting in her black frock, huddled close to the big pine-tree at the foot of the garden, when Barney O’Grady, the son of Nora, came out of the beech woods. He had been crying, and at sight of Katrine he threw himself on the grass, breaking into a passion of tears, and clutching at her skirt as a child might have done.
“Barney!” Katrine cried. “Barney, dear, what’s your trouble?” and she put a soft hand on the boy’s tousled red hair.
“Mother’s going to leave me here,” he said, “and I want to go. I hate it, hate it, hate it, here all alone! I want to go! I want to go!” he moaned.
“Is it the money?” Katrine asked.
“Yes,” the boy answered, “there’s not enough for us all. And I’m to stay with Mr. McDermott till I earn enough to come. And I want to go now.”
“But if you should get in New York, what would you do?” Katrine demanded.
“Newspaper work,” was the answer. “I’ve the gift for it,” he explained, with an assured vanity, between his sobs.
She had known such lonesomeness and understood it, yet, with all the willingness in the world to help the boy, she had not one penny which she might call her own. Nora kept everything, and she reasoned if Nora had made up her mind that Barney was to stay in North Carolina the chances were heavy that there he would remain.