Kate picked up the pen, handed it to her mother, signed afterward herself, and then carried it to each of her sisters, leaving Nancy Ellen and Mary until last. All of them signed up to Nancy Ellen. She hesitated, and she whispered to Kate: “Did Robert —?” Kate nodded. Nancy Ellen thought deeply a minute and then said slowly: “I guess it is the quickest and best we can do.” So she signed. Mary hesitated longer, but finally added her name. Kate passed on to the boys, beginning with Adam. Slowly he wrote his name, and as he handed back the paper he said: “Thank you, Kate, I believe it’s the sanest thing we can do. I can make it easier than the younger boys.”
“Then help them,” said Kate tersely, passing on.
Each boy signed in turn, all of them pleased with the chance. It was so much better than they had hoped, that it was a great relief, which most of them admitted; so they followed Adam’s example in thanking Kate, for all of them knew that in her brain had originated the scheme, which seemed to make the best of their troubles.
Then they sat closer and talked things over calmly and dispassionately. It was agreed that Adam and his mother should drive to Hartley the following afternoon and arrange for him to take out papers of administration for her, and start the adjustment of affairs. They all went home thinking more of each other, and Kate especially, than ever before. Mrs. Bates got dinner while Kate and Nancy Ellen went to work on the cool gray dress, so that it would be ready for the next afternoon. While her mother was away Kate cleaned the spare bedroom and moved her mother’s possessions into it. She made it as convenient and comfortable and as pretty as she could, but the house was bare to austerity, so that her attempt at prettifying was rather a failure. Then she opened the closed room and cleaned it, after studying it most carefully as it stood. The longer she worked, the stronger became a conviction that was slowly working its way into her brain. When she could do no more she packed her telescope, installed Sally Whistler in her father’s room, and rode to Hartley with a neighbour. From there she took the Wednesday hack for Walden.
The hackman was obliging, for after delivering the mail and some parcels, he took Kate to her home. While she waited for him, she walked the ravine bank planning about the mill which was now so sure that she might almost begin work. Surely she might as soon as she finished figuring, for she had visited the Court House in Hartley and found that George’s deeds were legal, and in proper shape. Her mind was filled with plans which this time must succeed.