The girl had often attempted to lean upon her in the preparation of some of her lessons, now and then asking to see her problems in mathematics and her translations in German and Latin. But this was something that Katherine would not lend herself to, except in so far as, occasionally, to remind her of some forgotten point in a rule that would suggest a way to work out the knotty problem, or to give her a cue as to case or tense, that would assist in the translation.
While she shrank from wronging her, even in thought, there were times when she felt sure that she had taken advantage of her absence from the room to look over her papers and copy from them.
“I cannot let you see my work,” she said one day, when, after repeated but unheeded hints, Sadie had asked her outright to allow her to look at her problems, saying that she had not had time to do them for herself. “It would not be honest,” she continued, determined to settle the matter once for all; “it would simply be showing Miss Reynolds my work and claiming it as your own.”
“Now I call that downright mean and disobliging,” Sadie returned, with an injured air, but flushing uncomfortably and forgetting for the moment the many other acts of kindness Katherine had shown her. “Of course, I don’t expect you to do it every day, but just this once, so that I can make a good showing in the class, could do no harm; and, honey, I’ll promise to spend all my recreation time, this afternoon, going over the work for myself.”
“But that would be like using a key, which is forbidden, you know. No, Sadie, I can’t do it,” Katherine reiterated, firmly but kindly. “It may seem ‘disobliging’ to you, but you know that is not my motive. I feel that I should be doing you a personal wrong, besides deceiving others, to allow you to lean on me in any such way. You have just as much time to prepare your lessons as I have; you are naturally quick and bright, and, if you would spend fewer hours in shopping and visiting, there is no reason why you cannot make as good a record for yourself as anyone else. One must do one’s own work, or be robbed of mental capacity and strength if one depends upon another.”
“Oh, shucks!” retorted Sadie, with an impatient shrug and a very red face, as she employed the Southern localism, “don’t preach to me. I reckon my ‘mental capacity’ will hold out long enough to pull me through Hilton.” And with this sharp and angry thrust she flounced out of the room, banging the door after her.
This was the first time there had been an open rupture between them, although on two or three occasions, when Katherine had quietly resisted being imposed upon beyond a certain limit, the girl had manifested something of her hot Southern temper. She had always gotten over it very quickly, however, and harmony had been restored.
Katherine regretted this “rift in the lute,” but she knew that she was doing right, and, after a few minutes spent in silently declaring that “error is not power and is always overcome with good,” she serenely resumed her study.