“I’ll think about it,” she conceded. “If I can study out a sure, honourable way. I’ll promise to think. Now go out there, and hunt the last scrap of that glass; the children may cut their feet in the morning.”
Then Kate went in to bed. If she had looked from her window, she might have seen George scratching matches and picking pieces of glass from the grass. When he came to the bottom of the bottle with upstanding, jagged edges, containing a few drops, he glanced at her room, saw that she was undressing in the dark, and lifting it, he poured the liquid on his tongue to the last drop that would fall.
Before Kate awakened the following morning George was out feeding the horses, cattle, and chickens, doing the milking, and working like the proverbial beaver. By the time breakfast was ready, he had convinced himself that he was a very exemplary man, while he expected Kate to be convinced also. He stood ready and willing to forgive her for every mean deceit and secret sin he ever had committed, or had it in his heart to commit in the future. All the world was rosy with him, he was flying with the wings of hope straight toward a wonderful achievement that would bring pleasure and riches, first to George Holt, then to his wife and children, then to the old aunt he really cared more for than any one else.
Incidentally, his mother might have some share, while he would bring such prosperity and activity to the village that all Walden would forget every bad thing it had ever thought or known of him, and delight to pay him honour. Kate might have guessed all this when she saw the pails full of milk on the table, and heard George whistling “Hail the Conquering Hero Comes,” as he turned the cows into the pasture; but she had not slept well. Most of the night she had lain staring at the ceiling, her brain busy with calculations, computations, most of all with personal values.
She dared not be a party to anything that would lose Aunt Ollie her land; that was settled; but if she went into the venture herself, if she kept the deeds in Aunt Ollie’s name, the bank account in hers, drew all the checks, kept the books, would it be safe? Could George buy timber as he thought; could she, herself, if he failed? The children were old enough to be in school now, she could have much of the day, she could soon train Polly and Adam to do even more than sweep and run errands; the scheme could be materialized in the Bates way, without a doubt; but could it be done in a Bates way, hampered and impeded by George Holt? Was the plan feasible, after all? She entered into the rosy cloud enveloping the kitchen without ever catching the faintest gleam of its hue. George came to her the instant he saw her and tried to put his arm around her. Kate drew back and looked at him intently.
“Aw, come on now, Kate,” he said. “Leave out the heroics and be human. I’ll do exactly as you say about everything if you will help me wheedle Aunt Ollie into letting me have the money.”