Kate stood looking at her mother intently, her brain racing, for she was thinking to herself: “Good Lord! She means that to preserve the appearance of self-respect she systematically agreed with him, whether she thought he was right or wrong; because she was not able to hold her own against him. Nearly fifty years of life like that!”
Kate tossed the heavy black crepe veil back on the bed. “Mother,” she said, “here alone, and between us, if I promise never to tell a living soul, will you tell me the truth about that deed business?” Mrs. Bates seemed so agitated Kate added: “I mean how it started. If you thought it was right and a fair thing to do.”
“Yes, I’ll tell you that,” said Mrs. Bates. “It was not fair, and I saw it; I saw it good and plenty. There was no use to fight him; that would only a-drove him to record them, but I was sick of it, an’ I told him so.”
Kate was pinning her hat.
“I have planned for you to walk with Adam,” she said.
“Well, you can just change that plan, so far as I am concerned,” said Mrs. Bates with finality. “I ain’t a-goin’ with Adam. Somebody had told him about the deeds before he got here. He came in ravin’, and he talked to me something terrible. He was the first to say I shouldn’t a-give Pa the box. Not give it to him! An’ he went farther than that, till I just rose up an’ called him down proper; but I ain’t feelin’ good at him, an’ I ain’t goin’ with him. I am goin’ with you. I want somebody with me that understands me, and feels a little for me, an’ I want the neighbours to see that the minute I’m boss, such a fine girl as you has her rightful place in her home. I’ll go with you, or I’ll sit down on this chair, and sit here.”
“But you didn’t send for me,” said Kate.
“No, I hadn’t quite got round to it yet; but I was coming. I’d told all of them that you were the only one in the lot who had any sense; and I’d said I wished you were here, and as I see it, I’d a-sent for you yesterday afternoon about three o’clock. I was coming to it fast. I didn’t feel just like standing up for myself; but I’d took about all fault-finding it was in me to bear. Just about three o’clock I’d a-sent for you, Katie, sure as God made little apples.”
“All right then,” said Kate, “but if you don’t tell them, they’ll always say I took the lead.”
“Well, they got to say something,” said Mrs. Bates. “Most of ’em would die if they had to keep their mouths shut awhile; but I’ll tell them fast enough.”