She turned to George: “Of course your mother told you that Dr. Gray came after me. He came to ask me as an especial favour to go to his new house in Hartley, and do what I could to arrange it, and to have a supper ready. I was glad. I’d seen six weddings that I can remember, all exactly alike — there’s nothing to them; but brushing those new carpets, unwrapping nice furniture and placing it, washing pretty new dishes, untying the loveliest gifts and arranging them — that was something new in a Bates wedding. Oh, but I had a splendid time!”
George Holt looked at his mother in too great disgust to conceal his feelings.
“Another gilt-edged scandal gone sky high,” he said. Then he turned to Kate. “One of the women who worked in your mother’s kitchen is visiting here, and she started a great hullabaloo because you were not at the wedding. You probably haven’t got a leg left to stand on. I suspect the old cats of Walden have chewed them both off, and all the while you were happy, and doing the thing any girl would much rather have done. Lord, I hate this eternal picking! How did you come back, Kate?”
“Dr. Gray brought me.”
“I should think it would have made talk, your staying there with him,” commented Mrs. Holt.
“Fortunately, the people of Hartley seem reasonably busy attending their own affairs,” said Kate. “Doctor Gray had been boarding at the hotel all fall, so he just went on living there until after the wedding.”
George glared at his mother, but she avoided his eyes, and laughing in a silly, half-confused manner she said: “How much money did your father give the bride?”
“I can’t tell you, in even dollars and cents,” said Kate. “Nancy Ellen didn’t say.”
Kate saw the movement of George’s foot under the table, and knew that he was trying to make his mother stop asking questions; so she began talking to him about his work. As soon as the meal was finished he walked with her to school, visiting until the session began. He remained three days, and before he left he told Kate he loved her, and asked her to be his wife. She looked at him in surprise and said: “Why, I never thought of such a thing! How long have you been thinking about it?”
“Since the first instant I saw you!” he declared with fervour.
“Hum! Matter of months,” said Kate. “Well, when I have had that much time, I will tell you what I think about it.”
Kate finished her school in the spring, then went for a visit with Nancy Ellen and Robert, before George Holt returned. She was thankful to leave Walden without having seen him, for she had decided, without giving the matter much thought, that he was not the man she wanted to marry. In her heart she regretted having previously contracted for the Walden school another winter because she felt certain that with the influence of Dr. Gray, she could now secure a position in Hartley that would enable her either to live with, or to be near, her sister. With this thought in mind, she tried to make the acquaintance of teachers in the school who lived in Hartley and she soon became rather intimate with one of them.