“Well,” I thought, “if I’m in for an adventure I may as well be spry about it. Andrew’ll be home by half-past twelve and if I’m going to give him the slip I’d better get a start. I suppose he’ll think I’m crazy! He’ll follow me, I guess. Well, he just shan’t catch me, that’s all!” A kind of anger came over me to think that I’d been living on that farm for nearly fifteen years—yes, sir, ever since I was twenty-five—and hardly ever been away except for that trip to Boston once a year to go shopping with cousin Edie. I’m a home-keeping soul, I guess, and I love my kitchen and my preserve cupboard and my linen closet as well as grandmother ever did, but something in that blue October air and that crazy little red-bearded man just tickled me.
“Look here, Mr. Parnassus,” I said, “I guess I’m a fat old fool but I just believe I’ll do that. You hitch up your horse and van and I’ll go pack some clothes and write you a check. It’ll do Andrew all the good in the world to have me skip. I’ll get a chance to read a few books, too. It’ll be as good as going to college!” And I untied my apron and ran for the house. The little man stood leaning against a corner of the van as if he were stupefied. I dare say he was.
I ran into the house through the front door, and it struck me as comical to see a copy of one of Andrew’s magazines lying on the living-room table with “The Revolt of Womanhood” printed across it in red letters. “Here goes for the revolt of Helen McGill,” I thought. I sat down at Andrew’s desk, pushed aside a pad of notes he had been jotting down about “the magic of autumn,” and scrawled a few lines:
Don’t be thinking I’m crazy. I’ve gone off for an adventure. It just came over me that you’ve had all the adventures while I’ve been at home baking bread. Mrs. McNally will look after your meals and one of her girls can come over to do the housework. So don’t worry. I’m going off for a little while—a month, maybe—to see some of this happiness and hayseed of yours. It’s what the magazines call the revolt of womanhood. Warm underwear in the cedar chest in the spare room when you need it. With love, Helen.
I left the note on his desk.
Mrs. McNally was bending over the tubs in the laundry. I could see only the broad arch of her back and hear the vigorous zzzzzzz of her rubbing. She straightened up at my call.
“Mrs. McNally,” I said, “I’m going away for a little trip. You’d better let the washing go until this afternoon and get Andrew’s dinner for him. He’ll be back about twelve-thirty. It’s half-past ten now. You tell him I’ve gone over to see Mrs. Collins at Locust Farm.”
Mrs. McNally is a brawny, slow-witted Swede. “All right Mis’ McGill,” she said. “You be back to denner?”
“No, I’m not coming back for a month,” I said. “I’m going away for a trip. I want you to send Rosie over here every day to do the housework while I’m away. You can arrange with Mr. McGill about that. I’ve got to hurry now.”