“I have just as much right to go as you had,” said Kate.
“Father and Mother both say you shall not go,” answered her sister.
“I suppose there is no use to remind you that I did all in my power to help you to your chance.”
“You did no more than you should have done,” said Nancy Ellen.
“And this is no more than you should do for me, in the circumstances,” said Kate.
“You very well know I can’t! Father and Mother would turn me out of the house,” said Nancy Ellen.
“I’d be only too glad if they would turn me out,” said Kate. “You can let me have the money if you like. Mother wouldn’t do anything but talk; and Father would not strike you, or make you go, he always favours you.”
“He does nothing of the sort! I can’t, and I won’t, so there!” cried Nancy Ellen.
“‘Won’t,’ is the real answer, ‘so there,’” said Kate.
She went into the cellar and ate some cold food from the cupboard and drank a cup of milk. Then she went to her room and looked over all of her scanty stock of clothing, laying in a heap the pieces that needed mending. She took the clothes basket to the wash room, which was the front of the woodhouse, in summer; built a fire, heated water, and while making it appear that she was putting the clothes to soak, as usual, she washed everything she had that was fit to use, hanging the pieces to dry in the building.
“Watch me fly!” muttered Kate. “I don’t seem to be cutting those curves so very fast; but I’m moving. I believe now, having exhausted all home resources, that Adam is my next objective. He is the only one in the family who ever paid the slightest attention to me, maybe he cares a trifle what becomes of me, but Oh, how I dread Agatha! However, watch me take wing! If Adam fails me I have six remaining prospects among my loving brothers, and if none of them has any feeling for me or faith in me there yet remain my seven dear brothers-in-law, before I appeal to the tender mercies of the neighbours; but how I dread Agatha! Yet I fly!”
Kate was far from physical flight as she pounded the indignation of her soul into the path with her substantial feet. Baffled and angry, she kept reviewing the situation as she went swiftly on her way, regardless of dust and heat. She could see no justice in being forced into a position that promised to end in further humiliation and defeat of her hopes. If she only could find Adam at the stable, as she passed, and talk with him alone! Secretly, she well knew that the chief source of her dread of meeting her sister-in-law was that to her Agatha was so funny that ridiculing her had been regarded as perfectly legitimate pastime. For Agatha was funny; but she had no idea of it, and could no more avoid it than a bee could avoid being buzzy, so the manner in which her sisters-in-law imitated her and laughed at her, none too secretly, was far from kind. While she never guessed what was going on, she realized the antagonism in their attitude and stoutly resented it.