“Of course you shall go!” shouted Polly as she finished the note, but even as she said it she glanced obliquely up the road and waved a hand behind her mother’s back.
“Sure you shall go!” cried Adam, when he finished the note, and sat beside the trunk seeing all the pretty things over again. “You just bet you shall go. Polly and I can keep house, fine! We don’t need any cousins hanging around. I’ll help Polly with her work, and then we’ll lock the house and she can come out with me. Sure you go! We’ll do all right.” Then he glanced obliquely down the road, where a slim little figure in white moved under the cherry trees of the York front yard, aimlessly knocking croquet balls here and there.
It was two weeks until time to go, but Kate began taking care of herself at once, solely because she did not want Nancy Ellen to be ashamed of her. She rolled her sleeves down to meet her gloves and used a sunbonnet instead of a sunshade. She washed and brushed her hair with care she had not used in years. By the time the tenth of July came, she was in very presentable condition, while the contents of the trunk did the remainder. As she was getting ready to go, she said to Polly: “Now do your best while I’m away, and I am sure I can arrange with Nancy Ellen about school this winter. When I get back, the very first thing I shall do will be to go to Hartley and buy some stuff to begin on your clothes. You shall have as nice dresses as the other girls, too. Nancy Ellen will know exactly what to get you.”
But she never caught a glimpse of Polly’s flushed, dissatisfied face or the tightening of her lips that would have suggested to her, had she seen them, that Miss Polly felt perfectly capable of selecting the clothing she was to wear herself. Adam took his mother’s trunk to the station in the afternoon. In the evening she held Polly on her knee, while they drove to Dr. Gray’s. Kate thought the children would want to wait and see them take the train, but Adam said that would make them very late getting home, they had better leave that to Uncle Robert and go back soon; so very soon they were duly kissed and unduly cautioned; then started back down a side street that would not even take them through the heart of the town. Kate looked after them approvingly: “Pretty good youngsters,” she said. “I told them to go and get some ice cream; but you see they are saving the money and heading straight home.” She turned to Robert. “Can anything happen to them?” she asked, in evident anxiety.
“Rest in peace, Kate,” laughed the doctor. “You surely know that those youngsters are going to be eighteen in a few weeks. You’ve reared them carefully. Nothing can, or will, happen to them, that would not happen right under your nose if you were at home. They will go from now on according to their inclinations.”
Kate looked at him sharply: “What do you mean by that?” she demanded.