The week of Christmas vacation was going to be the hardest; everyone expected the teacher to go home for the Holidays. Many of them knew that her sister was marrying the new doctor of Hartley. When Kate was wondering how she could possibly conceal the rupture with her family, Robert Gray drove into Walden and found her at the schoolhouse. She was so delighted to see him that she made no attempt to conceal her joy. He had driven her way for exercise and to pay her a call. When he realized from her greeting how she had felt the separation from her family, he had an idea that he at once propounded: “Kate, I have come to ask a favour of you,” he said.
“Granted!” laughed Kate. “Whatever can it be?”
“Just this! I want you to pack a few clothes, drive to Hartley with me and do what you can to straighten out the house, so there won’t be such confusion when Nancy Ellen gets there.”
Kate stared at him in a happy daze. “Oh, you blessed Robert Gray! What a Heavenly idea!” she cried. “Of course it wouldn’t be possible for me to fix Nancy Ellen’s house the way she would, but I could put everything where it belonged, I could arrange well enough, and I could have a supper ready, so that you could come straight home.”
“Then you will do it?” he asked.
“Do it?” cried Kate. “Do it! Why, I would be willing to pay you for the chance to do it. How do you think I’m to explain my not going home for the Holidays, and to my sister’s wedding, and retain my self-respect before my patrons?”
“I didn’t think of it in that way,” he said.
“I’m crazy,” said Kate. “Take me quickly! How far along are you?”
“House cleaned, blinds up, stoves all in, coal and wood, cellar stocked, carpets down, and furniture all there, but not unwrapped or in place. Dishes delivered but not washed; cooking utensils there, but not cleaned.”
“Enough said,” laughed Kate. “You go marry Nancy Ellen. I shall have the house warm, arranged so you can live in it, and the first meal ready when you come. Does Nancy Ellen know you are here?”
“No. I have enough country practice that I need a horse; I’m trying this one. I think of you often so I thought I’d drive out. How are you making it, Kate?”