Kate shook her head: “I have nothing to say.”
“Jest as well,” said Mrs. Bates. “Re-hashing don’t do any good. Come back, and come to-day; but stiffen up. That paper you are holding is a warrantee deed to the home two hundred to you and your children after you. You take possession to-day. There’s money in the bank to paper, an’ paint, and make any little changes you’d like, such as cutting doors or windows different places, floorin’ the kitchen new, or the like. Take it an’ welcome. I got more ’an enough to last me all my days; all I ask of you is my room, my food, and your company. Take the farm, and do what you pretty please with it.”
“But, Mother!” cried Kate. “The rest of them! They’d tear me limb for limb. I don’t dare take this.”
“Oh, don’t you?” asked Mrs. Bates. “Well, I still stand for quite a bit at Bates Corners, and I say you will take that farm, and run it as you like. It is mine, I give it to you. We all know it wasn’t your fault you lost your money, though it was a dose it took some of us a good long time to swallow. You are the only one out of your share; you settled things fine for the rest of them; and they all know it, and feel it. You’ll never know what you did for me the way you put me through Pa’s funeral; now if you’ll just shut up, and stick that deed somewhere it won’t burn, and come home an’ plant me as successfully as you did Pa, you’ll have earned all you’ll get, an’ something coming. Now set us out a bite to eat, and let’s be off.”
Kate slowly arose and handed back the deed.
“I’ll be flying around so lively I might lose that,” she said, “you put it where you had it, till we get to Hartley, and then I’ll get a place in the bank vault for it. I can’t quite take this in, just yet, but you know I’ll do my best for you, Mother!”
“Tain’t likely I’d be here else,” said Mrs. Bates, “and tea, Katie. A cup of good strong hot tea would fix me up about proper, right now.”
Kate went to the kitchen and began setting everything she had to eat on the table. As she worked Polly came flying in the door crying: “Mother, who has come?” so Kate stepped toward the living room to show the child to her grandmother and as she advanced she saw a queer thing. Adam was sitting on his grandmother’s lap. Her arms were tight around him, her face buried in his crisp hair, and he was patting her shoulder and telling her he would take care of her, while her voice said distinctly: “Of course you will, birdie!” Then the lad and the old woman laid their heads together and laughed almost hysterically.
“Well, if that isn’t quick work!” said Kate to herself. Then she presented Polly, who followed Adam’s lead in hugging the stranger first and looking at her afterward. God bless all little children. Then Adam ran to tell the second-hand man to come at one o’clock and Dr. James that he might have the keys at three. They ate hurriedly. Kate set out what she wished to save; the children carried things to the wagon; she packed while they ran after their books, and at three o’clock all of them climbed into the spring wagon, and started to Bates Corners.