“Well, I’d hardly call an orange and a stick of candy traffickin’ in affection,” said Mrs. Bates. “They’ll survive it without underminin’ their principles, I’ll be bound, or yours either. Katie, let’s make a beginning to-day. Let’s work what is right, and healthy, A fair part of the day, and then each day, and Sunday especially, let’s play and rest, just as hard as we work. It’s been all work and no play till we’ve been mighty ‘dull boys’ at our house; I’m free to say that I hanker for A change before I die.”
“Don’t speak so often of dying,” said Kate. “You’re all right. You’ve been too much alone. You’ll feel like yourself as soon as you get rested.”
“I guess I been thinking about it too much,” said Mrs. Bates. “I ain’t been so well as I might, an’ not being used to it, it worries me some. I got to buck up. The one thing I can’t do is to die; but I’m most tired enough to do it right now. I’ll be glad when we get home.”
Kate drove carefully, but as fast as she dared with her load. As they neared Bates Corners, the way became more familiar each mile. Kate forgot the children, forgot her mother, forgot ten years of disappointment and failure, and began a struggle to realize what was happening to her now. The lines slipped down, the horse walked slowly, the first thing she knew, big hot tears splashed on her hand. She gathered up the lines, drew a deep breath, and glanced at her mother, meeting her eye fairly. Kate tried to smile, but her lips were quivering.
“Glad, Katie?” asked Mrs. Bates.
“Me, too!” said Mrs. Bates.
They passed the orchard.
“There’s the house, there, Polly!” cried Adam.
“Why, Adam, how did you know the place?” asked Kate, turning.
Adam hesitated a second. “Ain’t you told us times a-plenty about the house and the lilac, and the snowball bush — " “Yes, and the cabbage roses,” added Polly.
“So I have,” said Kate. “Mostly last winter when we were knitting. Yes, this will be home for all the rest of our lives. Isn’t it grand? How will we ever thank Grandmother? How will we ever be good enough to pay her?”
Both children thought this a hint, so with one accord they arose and fell on Mrs. Bates’ back, and began to pay at once in coin of childhood.
“There, there,” said Kate, drawing them away as she stopped the horse at the gate. “There, there, you will choke Grandmother.”
Mrs. Bates pushed Kate’s arm down.
“Mind your own business, will you?” she said. “I ain’t so feeble that I can’t speak for myself awhile yet.”