“I don’t know,” answered Kate. “I was not there.”
“You weren’t? Why, where were you?” asked Nancy Ellen.
“Oh, I just took a walk!” answered Kate.
“Right at dinner time on Sunday? Well, I’ll be switched!” cried Nancy Ellen.
“Pity you weren’t oftener, when you most needed it,” said Kate, passing up the walk and entering the door. Her mother asked the same questions so Kate answered them.
“Well, I am glad you came home,” said Mrs. Bates. “There was no use tagging to Adam with a sorry story, when your father said flatly that you couldn’t go.”
“But I must go!” urged Kate. “I have as good a right to my chance as the others. If you put your foot down and say so, Mother, Father will let me go. Why shouldn’t I have the same chance as Nancy Ellen? Please Mother, let me go!”
“You stay right where you are. There is an awful summer’s work before us,” said Mrs. Bates.
“There always is,” answered Kate. “But now is just my chance while you have Nancy Ellen here to help you.”
“She has some special studying to do, and you very well know that she has to attend the County Institute, and take the summer course of training for teachers.”
“So do I,” said Kate, stubbornly. “You really will not help me, Mother?”
“I’ve said my say! Your place is here! Here you stay!” answered her mother.
“All right,” said Kate, “I’ll cross you off the docket of my hopes, and try Father.”
“Well, I warn you, you had better not! He has been nagged until his patience is lost,” said Mrs. Bates.
Kate closed her lips and started in search of her father. She found him leaning on the pig pen watching pigs grow into money, one of his most favoured occupations. He scowled at her, drawing his huge frame to full height.
“I don’t want to hear a word you have to say,” he said. “You are the youngest, and your place is in the kitchen helping your mother. We have got the last installment to pay on Hiram’s land this summer. March back to the house and busy yourself with something useful!”
Kate looked at him, from his big-boned, weather-beaten face, to his heavy shoes, then turned without a word and went back toward the house. She went around it to the cherry tree and with no preliminaries said to her sister: “Nancy Ellen, I want you to lend me enough money to fix my clothes a little and pay my way to Normal this summer. I can pay it all back this winter. I’ll pay every cent with interest, before I spend any on anything else.”
“Why, you must be crazy!” said Nancy Ellen.
“Would I be any crazier than you, when you wanted to go?” asked Kate.
“But you were here to help Mother,” said Nancy Ellen.
“And you are here to help her now,” persisted Kate.
“But I’ve got to fix up my clothes for the County Institute,” said Nancy Ellen, “I’ll be gone most of the summer.”