“Did you hear unusual sounds when John came to bid me good-night?” asked Mrs. Jardine of Kate.
“Yes,” laughed Kate, “I did. And I’m sure I made a fairly accurate guess as to the cause.”
“What did you think?” asked Mrs. Jardine.
“I thought Mr. Jardine had missed Susette, and you’d had to tell him,” said Kate.
“You’re quite right. It’s a good thing she went on and lost herself in New York. I’m not at all sure that he doesn’t contemplate starting out to find her yet.”
“Let Susette go!” said Kate. “We’re interested in forgetting her. There’s a little country school-teacher here, who wants to take her place, and it will be the very thing for your mother and for her, too. She’s the one serving us; notice her in particular.”
“If she’s a teacher, how does she come to be serving us?” he asked.
“I’m a teacher; how do I come to be dining with you?” said Kate. “This is such a queer world, when you go adventuring in it. Jennie had a small school in an out county, a widowed mother and a big family to help support; so she figured that the only way she could come here to try to prepare herself for a better school was to work for her room and board. She serves the table two hours, three times a day, and studies between times. She tells me that almost every waiter in the dining hall is a teacher. Please watch her movements and manner and see if you think her suitable. Goodness knows she isn’t intended for a teacher.”
“I like her very much,” said John Jardine. “I’ll engage her as soon as we finish.”
Kate smiled, but when she saw the ease and dexterity with which he ended Jennie Weeks’ work as a waiter and installed her as his mother’s maid, making the least detail all right with his mother, with Jennie, with the manager, she realized that there had been nothing for her to smile about. Jennie was delighted, and began her new undertaking earnestly, with sincere desire to please. Kate helped her all she could, while Mrs. Jardine developed a fund of patience commensurate with the need of it. She would have endured more inconvenience than resulted from Jennie’s inexperienced hands because of the realization that her son and the girl she had so quickly learned to admire were on the lake, rambling the woods, or hearing lectures together.
When she asked him how long he could remain, he said as long as she did. When she explained that she was enjoying herself thoroughly and had no idea how long she would want to stay, he said that was all right; he had only had one vacation in his life; it was time he was having another. When she marvelled at this he said: “Now, look here, Mother, let’s get this business straight, right at the start. I told you when I came I’d seen the woman I wanted. If you want me to go back to business, the way to do it is to help me win her.”
“But I don’t want you ‘to go back to business’; I want you to have a long vacation, and learn all you can from the educational advantages here.”