“There’s no faintest possibility of pleasing everyone,” said Kate. “The level best we can do is to devise some scheme whereby everyone will come as nearly being satisfied as possible.”
“Can Aunt Josie and Aunt Mary keep from fighting across the grave?” asked Adam.
“Only Heaven knows,” said Kate.
THE BANNER HAND
Sunday morning Kate arose early and had the house clean and everything ready when the first carriage load drove into the barnyard. As she helped her mother to dress, Mrs. Bates again evidenced a rebellious spirit. Nancy Ellen had slipped upstairs and sewed fine white ruching in the neck and sleeves of her mother’s best dress, her only dress, in fact, aside from the calicoes she worked in. Kate combed her mother’s hair and drew it in loose waves across her temples. As she produced the dress, Mrs. Bates drew back.
“What did you stick them gew-gaws onto my dress for?” she demanded.
“I didn’t,” said Kate.
“Oh, it was Nancy Ellen! Well, I don’t see why she wanted to make a laughing stock of me,” said Mrs. Bates.
“She didn’t!” said Kate. “Everyone is wearing ruching now; she wanted her mother to have what the best of them have.”
“Humph!” said Mrs. Bates. “Well, I reckon I can stand it until noon, but it’s going to be a hot dose.”
“Haven’t you a thin black dress, Mother?” asked Kate.
“No,” said Mrs. Bates, “I haven’t; but you can make a pretty safe bet that I will have one before I start anywhere again in such weather as this.”
“That’s the proper spirit,” said Kate. “There comes Andrew. Let me put your bonnet on.”
She set the fine black bonnet Nancy Ellen had bought on Mrs. Bates’ head at the proper angle and tied the long, wide silk ribbon beneath her chin. Mrs. Bates sat in martyr-like resignation. Kate was pleased with her mother’s appearance.
“Look in the mirror,” she said. “See what a handsome lady you are.”
“I ain’t seen in a looking-glass since I don’t know when,” said Mrs. Bates. “Why should I begin now? Chances are ’at you have rigged me up until I’ll set the neighbours laughing, or else to saying that I didn’t wait until the breath was out of Pa’s body to begin primping.”
“Nonsense, Mother,” said Kate. “Nobody will say or think anything. Everyone will recognize Nancy Ellen’s fine Spencerian hand in that bonnet and ruching. Now for your veil!”
Mrs. Bates arose from her chair, and stepped back.
“There, there, Katie!” she said. “You’ve gone far enough. I’ll be sweat to a lather in this dress; I’ll wear the head-riggin’, because I’ve go to, or set the neighbours talkin’ how mean Pa was not to let me have a bonnet; and between the two I’d rather they’d take it out on me than on him.” She steadied herself by the chair back and looked Kate in the eyes. “Pa was always the banner hand to boss everything,” she said. “He was so big and strong, and so all-fired sure he was right, I never contraried him in the start, so before I knowed it, I was waiting for him to say what to do, and then agreeing with him, even when I knowed he was wrong. So goin’ we got along fine, but it give me an awful smothered feeling at times.”