“Nancy Ellen, I didn’t mean one ugly word I said. You gave me an awful surprise, and that was just my bald, ugly Bates way of taking it. I think you are one of the most beautiful women I ever have seen, alive or pictured. I have always thought you would make a fine marriage, and I am sure you will. I haven’t a doubt that Robert Gray is all you think him, and I am as glad for you as I can be. You can keep house in Hartley for two with scarcely any work at all, and you can have all the pretty clothes you want, and time to wear them. Doctors always get rich if they are good ones, and he is sure to be a good one, once he gets a start. If only we weren’t so beastly healthy there are enough Bates and Langs to support you for the first year. And I’ll help you sew, and do all I can for you. Now wipe up and look your handsomest!”
Nancy Ellen arose and put her arms around Kate’s neck, a stunningly unusual proceeding. “Thank you,” she said. “That is big and fine of you. But I always have shirked and put my work on you; I guess now I’ll quit, and do my sewing myself.”
Then she slipped the pink dress over her head and stood slowly fastening it as Kate started to leave the room. Seeing her go: “I wish you would wait and meet Robert,” she said. “I have told him about what a nice sister I have.”
“I think I’ll go on to Adam’s now,” said Kate. “I don’t want to wait until they go some place, and I miss them. I’ll do better to meet your man after I become more accustomed to bare facts, anyway. By the way, is he as tall as you?”
“Yes,” said Nancy Ellen, laughing. “He is an inch and a half taller. Why?”
“Oh, I hate seeing a woman taller than her husband and I’ve always wondered where we’d find men to reach our shoulders. But if they can be picked at random from the berry patch —”
So Kate went on her way laughing, lifting her white skirts high from the late August dust. She took a short cut through the woods and at a small stream, with sure foot, crossed the log to within a few steps of the opposite bank. There she stopped, for a young man rounded the bushes and set a foot on the same log; then he and Kate looked straight into each other’s eyes. Kate saw a clean-shaven, forceful young face, with strong lines and good colouring, clear gray eyes, sandy brown hair, even, hard, white teeth, and broad shoulders a little above her own. The man saw Kate, dressed in her best and looking her best. Slowly she extended her hand.
“I bet a picayune you are my new brother, Robert,” she said.
The young man gripped her hand firmly, held it, and kept on looking in rather a stunned manner at Kate.
“Well, aren’t you?” she asked, trying to withdraw the hand.
“I never, never would have believed it,” he said.
“Believed what?” asked Kate, leaving the hand where it was.
“That there could be two in the same family,” said he.