George Holt clenched his big fist.
“Just you try it!” he threatened. “Just you try that!”
“You’ll live to see the day you’d thank me if I did. She ain’t been home. Mind you, she ain’t been home! She never seen her sister married at all! Tilly Nepple has a sister, living near the Bates, who worked in the kitchen. She’s visitin’ at Tilly’s now. Miss High-and-Mighty never seen her sister married at all! An’ it looked mighty queer, her comin’ here a week ahead of time, in the fall. Looks like she’d done somepin she don’t dare go home. No wonder she tears every scrap of mail she gets to ribbons an’ burns it. I told you she had a secret! If ever you’d listen to me.”
“Why, you’re crazy!” he exclaimed. “I did listen to you. What you told me was that I should go after her with all my might. So I did it. Now you come with this. Shut it up! Don’t let her get wind of it for the world!”
“And Tilly Nepple’s sister says old Land King Bates never give his daughter a cent, an’ he never gives none of his girls a cent. It’s up to the men they marry to take keer of them. The old skin-flint! What you want to do is to go long to your schoolin’, if you reely are going to make somepin of yourself at last, an’ let that big strap of a girl be, do —”
“Now, stop!” shouted George Holt. “Scenting another scandal, are you? Don’t you dare mar Kate Bates’ standing, or her reputation in this town, or we’ll have a time like we never had before. If old Bates doesn’t give his girls anything when they marry, they’ll get more when he dies. And so far as money is concerned, this has gone past money with me. I’m going to marry Kate Bates, as soon as ever I can, and I’ve got to the place where I’d marry her if she hadn’t a cent. If I can’t take care of her, she can take care of me. I am crazy about her, an’ I’m going to have her; so you keep still, an’ do all you can to help me, or you’ll regret it.”
“It’s you that will regret it!” she said.
“Stop your nagging, I tell you, or I’ll come at you in a way you won’t like,” he cried.
“You do that every day you’re here,” said Mrs. Holt, starting to the kitchen to begin dinner.
Kate appeared in half an hour, fresh and rosy, also prepared; for one of her little pupils had said: “Tilly Nepple’s sister say you wasn’t at your sister’s wedding at all. Did you cry ’cause you couldn’t go?”
Instantly Kate comprehended what must be town gossip, so she gave the child a happy solution of the question bothering her, and went to her boarding house forewarned. She greeted both Mrs. Holt and her son cordially, then sat down to dinner, in the best of spirits. The instant her chance came, Mrs. Holt said: “Now tell us all about the lovely wedding.”
“But I wasn’t managing the wedding,” said Kate cheerfully. “I was on the infare job. Mother and Nancy Ellen put the wedding through. You know our house isn’t very large, and close relatives fill it to bursting. I’ve seen the same kind of wedding about every eighteen months all my life. I had a new job this time, and one I liked better.”