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A Mountain Woman and Other Stories

Up the Gulch
"GO West?" sighed Kate. "Why, yes! I'd like to go West."
She looked at the babies, who were playing on the floor with their father, and sighed
again.
"You've got to go somewhere, you know, Kate. It might as well be west as in any other
direction. And this is such a chance! We can't have mamma lying around on sofas
without any roses in her cheeks, can we?" He put this last to the children, who, being yet
at the age when they talked in "Early English," as their father called it, made a clamorous
but inarticulate reply.
Major Shelly, the grandfather of these very young persons, stroked his mustache and
looked indulgent.
"Show almost human intelligence, don't they?" said their father, as he lay flat on his back
and permitted the babies to climb over him.
"Ya-as," drawled the major. "They do. Don't see how you account for it, Jack."
Jack roared, and the lips of the babies trembled with fear.
Their mother said nothing. She was on the sofa, her hands lying inert, her eyes fixed on
her rosy babies with an expression which her father-in-law and her husband tried hard not
to notice.
It was not easy to tell why Kate was ailing. Of course, the babies were young, but there
were other reasons.
"I believe you're too happy," Jack sometimes said to her. "Try not to be quite so happy,
Kate. At least, try not to take your happiness so seriously. Please don't adore me so; I'm
only a commonplace fellow. And the babies -- they're not going to blow away."
But Kate continued to look with intense eyes at her little world, and to draw into it with
loving and generous hands all who were willing to come.
"Kate is just like a kite," Jack explained to his father, the major; "she can't keep afloat
without just so many bobs."
Kate's "bobs" were the unfortunates she collected around her. These absorbed her
strength. She felt their misery with sympathies that were abnormal. The very laborer in
the streets felt his toil less keenly than she, as she watched the drops gather on his brow.
 
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