Part 1 out of 8
HER FATHER'S DAUGHTER by GENE STRATTON-PORTER
I."What Kind of Shoes Are the Shoes You Wear?"
II. Cotyledon of Multiflores Canyon
III. The House of Dreams
IV. Linda Starts a Revolution
V. The Smoke of Battle
VI. Jane Meredith
VII. Trying Yucca
VIII. The Bear Cat
IX. One Hundred Per Cent Plus
X. Katy to the Rescue
XI. Assisting Providence
XII. The Lay of the Land
XIII. Leavening the Bread of Life
XIV. Saturday's Child
XV. Linda's Hearthstone
XVI. Producing the Evidence
XVII. A Rock and a Flame
XVIII. Spanish Iris
XIX. The Official Bug-Catcher
XX. The Cap Sheaf
XXI. Shifting the Responsibility
XXII. The End of Marian's Contest
XXIII. The Day of Jubilee
XXIV. Linda's First Party
XXV. Buena Moza
XXVI. A Mouse Nest
XXVII. The Straight and Narrow
XXVIII. Putting It Up to Peter
XXIX. Katy Unburdens Her Mind
XXX. Peter's Release
XXXI. The End of Donald's Contest
XXXII. How the Wasp Built Her Nest
XXXIII. The Lady of the Iris
List of Characters
LINDA STRONG, Her Father's Daughter
DR. ALEXANDER STRONG, a Great Nerve Specialist
MRS. STRONG, His Wife
EILEEN STRONG, Having
MR. AND MRS. THORNE, Neighbors of the Strongs
MARIAN THORNE, a Dreamer of Houses
JOHN GILMAN, a Man of Law
PETER MORRISON, an Author
HENRY ANDERSON, an Architect
DONALD WHITING, a High School Senior
MARY LOUISE WHITING, His Sister
JUDGE AND MRS. WHITING, a Man of Law and a Woman of Culture
KATHERINE O' DONOVAN, the Strong Cook
OKA SAYYE, a High School Senior
JAMES HEITMAN, Accidentally Rich
MRS. CAROLINE HEITMAN, His Wife
CHAPTER I. "What Kind of Shoes Are the Shoes You Wear?"
"What makes you wear such funny shoes?"
Linda Strong thrust forward a foot and critically examined the
narrow vamp, the projecting sole, the broad, low heel of her
well-worn brown calfskin shoe. Then her glance lifted to the
face of Donald Whiting, one of the most brilliant and popular
seniors of the high school. Her eyes narrowed in a manner
habitual to her when thinking intently.
"Never you mind my shoes," she said deliberately. "Kindly fix
your attention on my head piece. When you see me allowing any
Jap in my class to make higher grades than I do, then I give you
leave to say anything you please concerning my head."
An angry red rushed to the boy's face. It was an irritating fact
that in the senior class of that particular Los Angeles high
school a Japanese boy stood at the head. This was embarrassing
to every senior.
"I say," said Donald Whiting, "I call that a mean thrust."
"I have a particular reason," said Linda.
"And I have 'a particular reason'," said Donald, "for being
interested in your shoes."
Linda laughed suddenly. When Linda laughed, which was very
seldom, those within hearing turned to look at her. Hers was not
a laugh that can be achieved. There were a few high places on
the peak of Linda's soul, and on one of them homed a small flock
of notes of rapture; notes as sweet as the voice of the
white-banded mockingbird of Argentina.
"How surprising!" exclaimed Linda. "We have been attending the
same school for three years; now, you stop me suddenly to tell me
that you are interested in the shape of my shoes."
"I have been watching them all the time," said Donald. 'Can't
understand why any girl wants to be so different. Why don't you
dress your hair the same as the other girls and wear the same
kind of clothes and shoes?"
"Now look here," interposed Linda "You are flying the track.I
am willing to justify my shoes, if I can, but here you go
including my dress and a big psychological problem, as well; but
I think perhaps the why of the shoes will explain the remainder.
Does the name 'Alexander Strong' mean anything to you?"
"The great nerve specialist?" asked Donald.
"Yes," said Linda. "The man who was the author of half-dozen
books that have been translated into many foreign tongue' and
are used as authorities all over the world. He happened to be
my father There are two children in our family. I have a sister
four years older than I am who is exactly like Mother,
and she and Mother were inseparable. I am exactly like
Father; because we understood each other, and because
both of us always new, although we never mentioned it;
that Mother preferred my sister Eileen to me, Father tried
to make it up to me, so from the time I can remember I was at
his heels. It never bothered him to have me playing around in
the library while he was writing his most complicated treatise.
I have waited in his car half a day at a time, playing or
reading, while he watched a patient or delivered a lecture at
some medical college. His mental relaxation was to hike or to
motor to the sea, to the mountains, to the canyons or the
desert, and he very seldom went without me even on long trips
when he was fishing or hunting with other men. There was not
much to know concerning a woman's frame or he psychology that
Father did not know, so there were two reason why he selected my
footwear as he did. One was because he be believed high heels
and pointed toes an outrage against the nervous province, and
the other was that I could not possibly have kept pace with him
except in shoes like these. No doubt, they are the same kind I
shall wear all my life, for walking. You probably don't know
it, but my home lies near the middle of Lilac Valley and I walk
over a mile each morning and evening to and from the cars. Does
this sufficiently explain my shoes?"
"I should think you'd feel queer," said Donald.
"I suspect I would if I had time to brood over it," Linda
replied, "but I haven't. I must hustle to get to school on time
in the morning. It's nearly or quite dark before I reach home in
the evening. My father believed in having a good time. He had
superb health, so he spent most of what he made as it came to
him. He counted on a long life. It never occurred to him that a
little piece of machinery going wrong would plunge him into
Eternity in a second."
"Oh, I remember!" cried the boy.
Linda's face paled slightly.
"Yes," she said, "it happened four years ago and I haven't gotten
away from the horror of it yet, enough ever to step inside of a
motor car; but I am going to get over that one of these days.
Brakes are not all defective, and one must take one's risks."
"You just bet I would," said Donald. "Motoring is one of the
greatest pleasures of modern life. I'll wager it makes some of
the gay old boys, like Marcus Aurelius for example, want to turn
over in their graves when they see us flying along the roads of
California the way we do."
"What I was getting at," said Linda, "was a word of reply to the
remainder of your indictment against me. Dad's income stopped
with him, and household expenses went on, and war came, so there
isn't enough money to dress two of us as most of the high school
girls are dressed. Eileen is so much older that it's her turn
first, and I must say she is not at all backward about exercising
her rights. I think that will have to suffice for the question
of dress but you may be sure that I am capable of wearing the
loveliest dress imaginable, that would be for a school girl, if
I had it to wear."
"Ah, there's the little 'fly in your ointment'--'dress that would
be suitable.' I bet in your heart you think the dresses that half
the girls in high school are wearing are NOT SUITABLE!"
"Commendable perspicacity, O learned senior," said Linda, "and
amazingly true. In the few short years I had with Daddy I
acquired a fixed idea as to what kind of dress is suitable and
sufficiently durable to wear while walking my daily two miles. I
can't seem to become reconciled to the custom of dressing the
same for school as for a party. You get my idea?"
"I get it all right enough," said Donald, "but I must think
awhile before I decide whether I agree with you. Why should you
be right, and hundreds of other girls be wrong?"
"I'll wager your mother would agree with me," suggested Linda.
"Did yours?" asked Donald.
"Halfway," answered Linda. "She agreed with me for me, but not
"And not for my sister," said Donald. "She wears the very
foxiest clothes that Father can afford to pay for, and when she
was going to school she wore them without the least regard as to
whether she was going to school or to a tea party or a matinee.
For that matter she frequently went to all three the same day.
"And that brings us straight to the point concerning you," said
"Sure enough!" said Donald. "There is me to be considered! What
is it you have against me?"
Linda looked at him meditatively.
"You SEEM exceptionally strong," she said. "No doubt are good in
athletics. Your head looks all right; it indicates brains. What
I want to know is why in the world you don't us them."
"What are you getting at, anyway?" asked Donald, with more than a
hint of asperity m his voice.
"I am getting at the fact," said Linda, "that a boy as big as you
and as strong as you and with as good brain and your opportunity
has allowed a little brown Jap to cross the Pacific Ocean and a
totally strange country to learn a language foreign to him, and,
and, with the same books and the same chances, to beat you at
your own game. You and every other boy in your classes ought to
thoroughly ashamed of yourselves. Before I would let a Jap,
either boy or girl, lead in my class, I would give up going to
school and go out and see if I could beat him growing lettuce and
"It's all very well to talk," said Donald hotly.
"And it's better to make good what you say," broke in Linda, with
equal heat. "There are half a dozen Japs in my classes but no
one of them is leading, you will notice, if I do wear peculiar
"Well, you would be going some if you beat the leading Jap in the
senior class," said Donald.
"Then I would go some," said Linda. "I'd beat him, or I'd go
straight up trying. You could do it if you'd make up your mind
to. The trouble with you is that you're wasting your brain on
speeding an automobile, on dances, and all sorts of foolishness
that is not doing you any good in any particular way. Bet you
are developing nerves smoking cigarettes. You are not
concentrating. Oka Sayye is not thinking of a thing except the
triumph of proving to California that he is head man in one of
the Los Angeles high schools. That's what I have got against
you, and every other white boy in your class, and in the long run
it stacks up bigger than your arraignment of my shoes."
"Oh, darn your shoes!" cried Donald hotly. "Forget 'em! I've got
to move on or I'll be late for trigonometry, but I don't know
when I've had such a tidy little fight with a girl, and I don't
enjoy feeling that I have been worsted. I propose another
session. May I come out to Lilac Valley Saturday afternoon and
flay you alive to pay up for my present humiliation?""
"Why, if your mother happened to be motoring that way and would
care to call, I think that would be fine," said Linda.
"Well, for the Lord's sake!" exclaimed the irate senior. "Can't
a fellow come and fight with you without being refereed by his
mother? Shall I bring Father too?"
"I only thought," said Linda quietly, "that you would like your
mother to see the home and environment of any girl whose
acquaintance you made, but the fight we have coming will in all
probability be such a pitched battle that when I go over the top,
you won't ever care to follow me and start another issue on the
other side. You're dying right now to ask why I wear my hair in
braids down my back instead of in cootie coops over my ears."
"I don't give a hang," said Donald ungallantly, "as to how you ;
wear your hair, but I am coming Saturday to fight, and I don't
think Mother will take any greater interest in the matter than to
know that I am going to do battle with a daughter of Doctor I
"That is a very nice compliment to my daddy, thank you, said
Linda, turning away and proceeding in the direction of her own
classrooms. There was a brilliant sparkle in her eyes and she
sang in a muffled voice, yet distinctly enough to be heard:
"The shoes I wear are common-sense shoes,
And you may wear them if you choose."
"By gracious! She's no fool," he said to himself. In three
minutes' unpremeditated talk the "Junior Freak," as he mentally
denominated her, had managed to irritate him, to puncture his
pride, to entertain and amuse him.
"I wonder--" he said as he went his way; and all day he kept on
wondering, when he was not studying harder than ever before in
all his life.
That night Linda walked slowly along the road toward home. She
was not seeing the broad stretch of Lilac Valley, on every hand
green with spring, odorous with citrus and wild bloom, blue
walled with lacy lilacs veiling the mountain face on either side;
and she was not thinking of her plain, well-worn dress or her
common-sense shoes. What she was thinking was of every flaying,
scathing, solidly based argument she could produce the following
Saturday to spur Donald Whiting in some way to surpass Oka Sayye.
His chance remark that morning, as they stood near each other
waiting a few minutes in the hall, had ended in his asking to
come to see her, and she decided as she walked homeward that his
first visit in all probability would be his last, since she had
not time to spare for boys, when she had so many different
interests involved; but she did decide very finely in her own
mind that the would make that visit a memorable one for him.
In arriving at this decision her mind traveled a number of
devious roads. The thought that she had been criticized did not
annoy her as to the kind of criticism, but she did resent the
quality of truth about it. She was right in following the rules
her father had laid down for her health and physical well-being,
but was it right that she should wear shoes scuffed, resoled, and
even patched, when there was money enough for Eileen to have many
pairs of expensive laced boots, walking shoes, and fancy
slippers? She was sure she was right in wearing dresses suitable
for school, but was it right that she must wear them until they
were sunfaded, stained, and disreputable? Was it right that
Eileen should occupy their father and mother's suite, redecorated
and daintily furnished according to her own taste, to keep the
parts of the house that she cared to use decorated with flowers
and beautifully appointed, while Linda must lock herself in a
small stuffy bedroom room, dingy and none too comfortable, when
in deference to her pride she wished to work in secret until she
learned whether she could succeed.
Then she began thinking, and decided that the only available
place in the house for her use was the billiard room. She made
up her mind that she would demand the sole right to this big
attic room. She would sell the table and use the money to buy
herself a suitable worktable and a rug. She would demand that
Eileen produce enough money for better clothing for her, and then
she remembered what she had said to Donald Whiting about
conquering her horror for a motor car. Linda turned in at the
walk leading to her home, but she passed the front entrance and
followed around to the side. As she went she could hear voices
in the living room and she knew that Eileen was entertaining some
of her many friends; for Eileen was that peculiar creature known
as a social butterfly. Each day of her life friends came; or
Eileen went--mostly the latter, for Eileen had a knack of
management and she so managed her friends that, without their
realizing it, they entertained her many times while she
entertained them once. Linda went to the kitchen, Laid her books
and package of mail on the table, and, walking over to the stove,
she proceeded deliberately and heartily to kiss the cook.
"Katy, me darlin'," she said, "look upon your only child. Do you
notice a 'lean and hungry look' on her classic features?"
Katy turned adoring eyes to the young girl.
"It's growing so fast ye are, childie," she said. "It's only a
little while to dinner, and there's company tonight, so hadn't ye
better wait and not spoil your appetite with piecing?"
"Is there going to be anything 'jarvis'?" inquired Linda.
'"I'd say there is," said Katy. "John Gilman is here and two
friends of Eileen's. It's a near banquet, lassie."
"Then I'll wait," said Linda. "I want the keys to the garage."
Katy handed them to her and Linda went down the back walk beneath
an arch of tropical foliage, between blazing walls of brilliant
flower faces, unlocked the garage, and stood looking at her
In the revolution that had taken place in their home after the
passing of their father and mother, Eileen had dominated the
situation and done as she pleased, with the exception of two
instances. Linda had shown both temper and determination at the
proposal to dismantle the library and dispose of the cars. She
had told Eileen that she might take the touring car and do as she
pleased with it. For her share she wanted her father's roadster,
and she meant to have it. She took the same firm stand
concerning the Library. With the rest of the house Eileen might
do as she would. The library was to remain absolutely untouched
and what it contained was Linda's. To this Eileen had agreed,
but so far Linda had been content merely to possess her property.
Lately, driven by the feeling that she must find a way in which
she could earn money, she had been secretly working on some plans
that she hoped might soon yield her small returns. As for the
roadster, she as well as Eileen had been horror-stricken when the
car containing their father and mother and their adjoining
neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Thorne, driven by Marian Thorne, the
playmate and companion from childhood of the Strong girls, had
become uncontrollable and plunged down the mountain in a disaster
that had left only Marian, protected by the steering gear, alive.
They had simply by mutual agreement begun using the street cars
when they wanted to reach the city.
Linda stood looking at the roadster, jacked up and tucked under a
heavy canvas tent that she and her father had used on their
hunting and fishing trips. After a long time she laid strong
hands on the canvas and dragged it to one side. She looked the
car over carefully and then, her face very white and her hands
trembling, she climbed into it and slowly and mechanically went
through the motions of starting it. For another intent period
she sat with her hands on the steering gear, staring straight
ahead, and then she said slowly: "Something has got to be done.
It's not going to be very agreeable, but I am going to do it.
Eileen: has had things all her own way long enough. I am
getting such a big girl I ought to have a few things in my life
as I want them. Something must be done."
Then Linda proceeded to do something. What she did was to lean
forward, rest her head upon the steering wheel and fight to keep
down deep, pitiful sobbing until her whole slender body twisted
in the effort.
She was yielding to a breaking up after four years of endurance,
for the greater part in silence. As the months of the past year
had rolled their deliberate way, Linda had begun to realize that
the course her elder sister had taken was wholly unfair to her,
and slowly a tumult of revolt was growing in her soul. Without a
doubt the culmination had resulted from her few minutes' talk
with Donald Whiting in the hall that morning. It had started
Linda to thinking deeply, and the more deeply she thought the
clearly she saw the situation. Linda was a loyal soul and her
heart was honest. She was quite willing that Eileen should :
exercise her rights as head of the family, that she should take
the precedence to which she was entitled by her four years'
seniority, that she should spend the money which accrued monthly
from their father's estate as she saw fit, up to a certain point.
That point was where things ceased to be fair or to be just. If
there had been money to do no more for Eileen than had been done
for Linda, it would not have been in Linda's heart to utter a
complaint. She could have worn scuffed shoes and old dresses,
and gone her way with her proud young head held very high and a
jest on her lips; but when her mind really fastened on the
problem and she began to reason, she could not feel that Eileen
was just to her or that she was fair in her administration of the
money which should have been divided more nearly equally between
them, after the household expenses had been paid. Once rebellion
burned in her heart the flames leaped rapidly, and Linda began to
remember a thousand small things that she had scarcely noted at
the time of their occurrence.
She was leaning on the steering wheel, tired with nerve strain,
when she heard Katy calling her, and realized that she was needed
in the kitchen. As a matter of economy Eileen, after her
parents' passing, had dismissed the housemaid, and when there
were guests before whom she wished to make a nice appearance
Linda had been impressed either to wait on the table or to help
in the kitchen in order that Katy might attend the dining room,
so Linda understood what was wanted when Katy called her. She
ran her fingers over the steering wheel, worn bright by the touch
of her father's and her own hands, and with the buoyancy of
youth, found comfort. Once more she mechanically went through
the motions of starting the car, then she stepped down, closed
the door, and stood an instant thinking.
"You're four years behind the times," she said slowly. "No doubt
there's a newer and a better model; I suspect the tires are
rotten, but the last day I drove you for Daddy you purred like a
kitten, and ran like a clock, and if you were cleaned and oiled
and put in proper shape, there's no reason in the world why I
should not drive you again, as I have driven you hundreds of
miles when Daddy was tired or when he wanted to teach me the
rules of good motoring, and the laws of the road. I can do it
all right. I have got to do it, but it will be some time before
I'll care to tackle the mountains."
Leaving the cover on the floor, she locked the door and returned
to the kitchen.
"All right, Katy, what is the programme?" she inquired as lightly
as she could.
Katy had been cook in the Strong family ever since they had
moved to Lilac Valley. She had obeyed Mrs. Strong and Eileen.
She had worshiped the Doctor and Linda It always had been patent
to her eyes that Mrs. Strong was extremely partial to Eileen, so
Katy had joined forces with the Doctor in surreptitiously doing
everything her warm Irish heart prompted to prevent Linda from
feeling neglected. Her quick eyes saw the traces of tears on
Linda's face, and she instantly knew that the trip the girl had
made to the garage was in some way connected with some belongings
of her father's, so she said: "I am serving tonight but I want
you to keep things smoking hot and to have them dished up ready
for me so that everything will go smoothly."
"What would happen," inquired Linda, "if everything did NOT go
smoothly? Katy, do you think the roof would blow straight up if
I had MY way about something, just for a change?"
"No, I think the roof would stay right where it belongs," said
Katy with a chuckle, "but I do think its staying there would not
be because Miss Eileen wanted it to."
"Well," said Linda deliberately, "we won't waste any time on
thinking We are going to have some positive knowledge on the
subject pretty immediately. I don't feel equal to starting any
domestic santana today, but the forces are gathering and the blow
is coming soon. To that I have firmly made up my mind."
"It's not the least mite I'm blaming you, honey," said Katy.
"Ye've got to be such a big girl that it's only fair things in
this house should go a good deal different."
"Is Marian to be here?" asked Linda as she stood beside the stove
peering into pans and kettles.
"Miss Eileen didn't say," replied Katy.
Linda's eyes reddened suddenly. She slammed down a lid with
"That is another deal Eileen's engineered," she said, "that is
just about as wrong as anything possibly can be. What makes me
the maddest about it is that John Gilman will let Eileen take him
by the nose and lead him around like a ringed calf. Where is his
common sense? Where is his perception? Where is his honor?"
"Now wait, dearie," said Katy soothingly, "wait. John Gilman is
a mighty fine man. Ye know how your father loved him and trusted
him and gave him charge of all his business affairs. Ye mustn't
go so far as to be insinuating that he is lacking in honor."
"No," said Linda, "that was not fair. I don't in the least know
that he ever ASKED Marian to marry him; but I do know that as
long as he was a struggling, threadbare young lawyer Marian was
welcome to him, and they had grand times together. The minute he
won the big Bailey suit and came into public notice and his
practice increased until he was independent, that minute Eileen
began to take notice, and it looks to me now as if she very
nearly had him."
"And so far as I can see," said Katy, "Miss Marian is taking it
without a struggle. She is not lifting a finger or making a move
to win him back."
"Of course she isn't!" said Linda indignantly. "If she thought
he preferred some other girl to her, she would merely say: 'If
John has discovered that he likes Eileen the better, why, that is
all right; but there wouldn't be anything to prevent seeing
Eileen take John from hurting like the deuce. Did you ever lose
a man you loved, Katy?"
"That I did not!" said Katy emphatically. "We didn't do any four
or five years' philanderin' to see if a man 'could make good'
when I was a youngster. When a girl and her laddie stood up to
each other and looked each other straight in the eye and had the
great understanding, there weren't no question of whether he
could do for her what her father and mither had been doing, nor
of how much he had to earn before they would be able to begin
life together. They just caught hands and hot-footed it to the
praste and told him to read the banns the next Sunday, and when
the law allowed they was man and wife and taking what life had
for them the way it came, and together. All this philanderin'
that young folks do nowadays is just pure nonsense, and waste of
"Sure!" laughed Linda. "When my brave comes along with his
blanket I'll just step under, and then if anybody tries to take
my man I'll have the right to go on the warpath and have a
scalping party that would be some satisfaction to the soul."
Then they served the dinner, and when the guests had left the
dining room, Katy closed the doors, and brought on the delicacies
she had hidden for Linda and patted and cajoled her while she ate
like any healthy, hungry young creature.
CHAPTER II. Cotyledon of Multiflores Canyon
"'Ave, atque vale!' Cotyledon!"
Linda slid down the side of the canyon with the deftness of the
expert. At the first available crevice she thrust in her Alpine
stick, and bracing herself, gained a footing. Then she turned
and by use of her fingers and toes worked her way back to the
plan, she had passed. She was familiar with many members of she
family, but such a fine specimen she seldom had found and she
could not recall having seen it in all of her botanies. Opposite
the plant she worked out a footing, drove her stick deep at the
base of a rock to brace herself, and from the knapsack on her
back took a sketchbook and pencil and began rapidly copying the
thick fleshy leaves of the flattened rosette, sitting securely at
the edge of a rock. She worked swiftly and with breathless
interest. When she had finished the flower she began sketching
in the moss-covered face of the boulder against which it grew,
and other bits of vegetation near.
"I think, Coty," she said, "it is very probable that I can come a
few simoleons with you. You are becoming better looking ever
For a touch of color she margined one side of her drawing with a
little spray of Pentstemon whose bright tubular flower the canyon
knew as "hummingbird's dinner horn." That gave, her the idea of
introducing a touch of living interest, so bearing down upon the
flowers from the upper right-hand corner of her drawing she
deftly sketched in a ruby-throated hummingbird, and across the
bottom of the sheet the lace of a few leaves of fern. Then she
returned the drawing and pencil to her knapsack, and making sure
of her footing, worked her way forward. With her long slender
fingers she began teasing the plant loose from the rock and the
surrounding soil. The roots penetrated deeper than she had
supposed and in her interest she forgot her precarious footing
and pulled hard. The plant gave way unexpectedly, and losing her
balance, Linda plunged down the side of the canyon catching
wildly at shrubs and bushes and bruising herself severely on
stones, finally landing in a sitting posture on the road that
traversed the canyon.
She was not seriously hurt, but she did not present a picturesque
figure as she sprawled in the road, her booted feet thrust
straight before her, one of her long black braids caught on a
bush at her back, her blouse pulled above her breeches, the
contents of her knapsack decorating the canyon side and the road
around her; but high in one hand, without break or blemish, she
triumphantly held aloft the rare Cotyledon. She shrugged her
shoulders, wiggled her toes, and moved her arms to assure herself
that no bones were broken; then she glanced at her drawings and
the fruits of her day's collecting scattered on the roadside
around her. She was in the act of rising when a motor car
containing two young men shot around a curve of the canyon,
swerved to avoid running over her, and stopped as abruptly as
"It's a girl!" cried the driver, and both men sprang to the road
and hurried to Linda's assistance. Her dark cheeks were red with
mortification, but she managed to recover her feet and tuck in
her blouse before they reached her
"We heard you coming down," said the elder of the young men, "and
we thought you might be a bear. Are you sure you're not hurt?"
Linda stood before them, a lithe slender figure, vivid with youth
"I am able to stand," she said, "so of course I haven't broken
any bones. I think I am fairly well battered, but you will
please to observe that there isn't a scratch on Cotyledon, and I
brought her down--at least I think it's she--from the edge of
that boulder away up there. Isn't she a beauty? Only notice the
delicate frosty 'bloom' on her leaves!"
"I should prefer," said the younger of the men, to know whether
you have any broken bones."
"I'm sure I am all right," answered Linda. "I have falling down
mountains reduced to an exact science. I'll bet you couldn't
slide that far and bring down Coty without a scratch.' "Well,
which is the more precious," said the young man. "Yourself or
"Why, the specimen!" answered Linda in impatience. "California
is full of girls; but this is the finest Cotyledon of this family
I have ever seen. Don't mistake this for any common stonecrop.
It looks to me like an Echeveria. I know what I mean to do with
the picture I have made of her, and I know exactly where she is
going to grow from this day on."
"Is there any way we can help you?" inquired the elder of the
For the first time Linda glanced at him, and her impression was
that he was decidedly attractive.
"No, thank you!" she answered briskly. "I am going to climb back
up to the boulder and collect the belongings I spilled on the
way down. Then I am going to carry Coty to the car line in a
kind of triumphal march, because she is the rarest find that I
have ever made. I hope you have no dark designs on Coty,
because this is 'what the owner had to do to redeem her.'"
Linda indicated her trail down the canyon side, brushed soil and
twigs from her trousers, turned her straight young back,
carefully set down her specimen, and by the aid of her recovered
stick began expertly making her way up the canyon side. "Here,
let me do that," offered the younger man. "You rest until I
collect your belongings." Linda glanced back over her shoulder.
"Thanks," she said. "I have a mental inventory of all the
pencils and knives and trowels I must find. You might overlook
the most important part of my paraphernalia; and really I am not
damaged. I'm merely hurt. Good-bye!"
Linda started back up the side of the canyon, leaving the young
men to enter their car and drive away. For a minute both of them
stood watching her.
"What will girls be wearing and doing next?" asked the elder of
the two as he started his car.
"What would you have a girl wear when she is occupied with
coasting down canyons?" said his friend. "And as for what she is
doing, it's probable that every high-school girl in Los Angeles
has a botanical collection to make before she graduates."
"I see!" said the man driving. "She is only a high-school kid, ,
but did you notice that she is going to make an extremely
attractive young woman?"
"Yes, I noticed just that; I noticed it very particularly,"
answered the younger man. "And I noticed also that she either
doesn't know it, or doesn't give a flip."
Linda collected her belongings, straightened her hair and
clothing, and, with her knapsack in place, and leaning rather on
heavily on her walking stick, made her way down the road to the
abutment of a small rustic bridge where she stopped to rest. The
stream at her feet was noisy and icy cold. It rushed through
narrow defiles in the rock, beat itself to foam against the faces
a of the big stones, fell over jutting cliffs, spread in
whispering pools, wound back and forth across the road at its
will, singing every foot of its downward way and watering beds of
crisp, cool miners' lettuce, great ferns, and heliotrope,
climbing clematis, soil and blue-eyed grass. All along its
length grew willows, and in a few places white-bodied sycamores.
Everywhere over the walls red above it that vegetation could find
a footing grew mosses, vines, flowers, and shrubs. On the
shadiest side homed most of the ferns and the Cotyledon. In the
sun, larkspur, lupin, and monkey flower; everywhere wild rose,
holly, mahogany, gooseberry, and bayoneted yucca all
intermingling in a curtain of variegated greens, brocaded with
flower arabesques of vivid red, white, yellow, and blue. Canyon
wrens and vireos sang as they nested. The air was clear, cool,
and salty from the near-by sea. Myriad leaf shadows danced on
the black roadbed, level as a barn floor, and across it trailed
the wavering image of hawk and vulture, gull and white sea
swallow. Linda studied the canyon with intent eyes, but bruised
flesh pleaded, so reluctantly she arose, shouldered her
belongings, and slowly followed the road out to the car line that
passed through Lilac Valley, still carefully bearing in triumph
the precious Cotyledon. An hour later she entered the driveway
of her home. She stopped to set her plant carefully in the wild
garden she and her father had worked all her life at collecting,
then followed the back porch and kitchen route.
"Whatever have ye been doing to yourself, honey?" cried Katy.
"I came a cropper down Multiflores Canyon where it is so steep
that it leans the other way. I pretty well pulverized myself for
a pulverulent, Katy, which is a poor joke."
"Now ain't that just my luck!" wailed Katy, snatching a cake
cutter and beginning hurriedly to stamp out little cakes from the
dough before her.
"Well, I don't understand in exactly what way," said Linda,
absently rubbing her elbows and her knees. "Seems to me it's my
promontories that have been knocked off, not yours, Katy."
"Yes, and ain't it just like ye," said Katy, "to be coming in
late, and all banged up when Miss Eileen has got sudden notice
that there is going to be company again and I have an especial
dinner to serve, and never in the world can I manage if ye don't
help me !"
"Why, who is coming now?" asked Linda, seating herself on the
nearest chair and beginning to unfasten her boots slowly.
"Well, first of all, there is Mr. Gilman, of course."
"'Of course,'" conceded Linda. "If he tried to get past our
house, Eileen is perfectly capable of setting it on fire to stop
him. She's got him 'vamped' properly."
"Oh I don't know that ye should say just that," said Katy "Eileen
is a mighty pretty girl, and she is SOME manager."
"You can stake your hilarious life she is," said Linda, viciously
kicking a boot to the center of the kitchen. "She can manage to
go downtown for lunch and be invited out to dinner thirteen times
a week, and leave us at home to eat bread and milk, bread heavily
stressed. She can manage to get every cent of the income from
the property in her fingers, and a great big girl like me has to
go to high school looking so tacky that even the boys are
beginning to comment on it. Manage, I'll say she can manage, not
to mention managing to snake John Gilman right out of Marian's
fingers. I doubt if Marian fully realizes yet that she's lost
her man; and I happen to know that she just plain loved John!"
The second boot landed beside the first, then Linda picked them
both up and started toward the back hall.
"Honey, are ye too bad hurt to help me any?" asked Katy, as she
"Of course not," said Linda. "Give me a few minutes to take a
bath and step into my clothes and then I'll be on the job."
With a black scowl on her face, Linda climbed the dingy back
stairway in her stocking-feet. At the head of the stairs she
paused one minute, glanced at the gloom of her end of the house,
then she turned and walked to the front of the hall where there
were potted ferns, dainty white curtains, and bright rugs. The
door of the guest room stood open and she could see that it was
filled with fresh flowers and ready for occupancy. The door of
her sister's room was slightly ajar and she pushed it open and
stood looking inside. In her state of disarray she made a
shocking contrast to the flowerlike figure busy before a dressing
table. Linda was dark, narrow, rawboned, overgrown in height,
and forthright of disposition. Eileen was a tiny woman,
delicately moulded, exquisitely colored, and one of the most
perfectly successful tendrils from the original clinging vine in
her intercourse with men, and with such women as would tolerate
the clinging-vine idea in the present forthright days. With a
strand of softly curled hair in one hand and a fancy pin in the
other, Eileen turned a disapproving look upon her sister.
"What's the great idea?" demanded Linda shortly.
"Oh, it's perfectly splendid," answered Eileen. "John Gilman's
best friend is motoring around here looking for a location to
build a home. He is an author and young and good looking and not
married, and he thinks he would like to settle somewhere near Los
Angeles. Of course John would love to have him in Lilac Valley
because he hopes to build a home here some day for himself. His
name is Peter Morrison and John says that his articles and
stories have horse sense, logic, and humor, and he is making a
lot of money."
"Then God help John Gilman, if he thinks now that he is in love
with you," said Linda dryly.
Eileen arched her eyebrows, thinned to a hair line, and her lips
drew together in disapproval.
"What I can't understand," she said, "is how you can be so
unspeakably vulgar, Linda."
Linda laughed sharply.
"And this Peter Morrison and John are our guests for dinner?"
"Yes," said Eileen. "I am going to show them this valley inside
and out. I'm so glad it's spring. We're at our very best. It
would be perfectly wonderful to have an author for a neighbor,
and he must be going to build a real house, because he has his
architect with him; and John says that while he is young, he has
done several awfully good houses. He has seen a couple of them
in in San Francisco."
Linda shrugged her shoulders.
"Up the flue goes Marian's chance of drawing the plans for John
Gilman's house," she said. "I have heard him say a dozen times
he would not build a house unless Marian made the plans."
Eileen deftly placed the strand of hair and set the jewelled pin
"Just possibly things have changed slightly," she suggested.
"Yes," said Linda, "I observe that they have. Marian has sold
the home she adored. She is leaving friends she loved and
trusted, and who were particularly bound to her by a common grief
without realizing exactly how it is happening. She certainly
must know that you have taken her lover, and I have not a doubt
but that is the reason she has discovered she can no longer work
at home, that she must sell her property and spend the money
cooped up in a city, to study her profession further."
"Linda," said Eileen, her face pale with anger, "you are
positively insufferable. Will you leave my room and close the
door after you?"
"Well, Katy has just informed me," said Linda, "that this dinner
party doesn't come off without my valued assistance, and before I
agree to assist, I'll know ONE thing. Are you proposing to
entertain these three men yourself, or have you asked Marian?"
Eileen indicated an open note lying on her dressing table.
"I did not know they were coming until an hour ago," she said.
"_I_ barely had time to fill the vases and dust, and then I ran
up to dress so that there would be someone presentable when they
"All right then, we'll agree that this is a surprise party, but
if John Gilman has told you so much about them, you must have
been expecting them, and in a measure prepared for them at any
time. Haven't you talked it over with Marian, and told her that
you would want her when they came?"
Eileen was extremely busy with another wave of hair. She turned
her back and her voice was not quite steady as she answered.
"Ever since Marian got this 'going to the city to study' idea in
her head I have scarcely seen her. She had an awful job to empty
the house, and pack such things as she wants to keep, and she is
working overtime on a very special plan that she thinks maybe
she'll submit in a prize competition offered by a big firm of San
Francisco architects, so I have scarcely seen her for six weeks."
"And you never once went over to help her with her work, or to
encourage her or to comfort her? You can't think Marian can
leave this valley and not be almost heartbroken," said Linda.
"You just make me almost wonder at you. When you think of the
kind of friends that Marian Thorne's father and mother, and our
father and mother were, and how we children were reared together,
and the good times we have had in these two houses--and then the
awful day when the car went over the cliff, and how Marian clung
to us and tried to comfort us, when her own health was broken--
and Marian's the same Marian she has always been, only nicer
every day--how you can sit there and say you have scarcely seen
her in six of the hardest weeks of her life, certainly surprises
me. I'll tell you this: I told Katy I would help her, but I
won't do it if you don't go over and make Marian come tonight."
Eileen turned to her sister and looked at her keenly. Linda's
brow was sullen, and her jaw set.
"A bed would look mighty good to me and I will go and get into
mine this minute if you don't say you will go and ask her, in
such a way that she comes," she threatened.
Eileen hesitated a second and then said: "All right, since you
make such a point of it I will ask her."
"Very well," said Linda. "Then I'll help Katy the very best I
CHAPTER III. The House of Dreams
In less than an hour, Linda was in the kitchen, dressed in an old
green skirt and an orange blouse. Katy pinned one of her aprons
on the girl and told her that her first job was to set the table.
"And Miss Eileen has given most particular orders that I use the
very best of everything. Lay the table for four, and you are to
be extremely careful in serving not to spill the soup."
Linda stood very quietly for a second, her heavy black brows
drawn together in deep thought.
"When did Eileen issue these instructions?" she inquired.
"Not five minutes ago," said Katy. "She just left me kitchen and
I'll say I never saw her lookin' such a perfect picture. That
new dress of hers is the most becoming one she has ever had."
Almost unconsciously, Linda's hand reached to the front of her
well-worn blouse, and she glanced downward at her skirt and
"Um-hm," she said meditatively, "another new dress for Eileen,
which means that I will get nothing until next month's allowance
comes in, if I do then. The table set for four, which,
interpreted, signifies that she has asked Marian in such a way
that Marian won't come. And the caution as to care with the soup
means that I am to serve my father's table like a paid waitress.
Katy, I have run for over three years on Eileen's schedule, but
this past year I am beginning to use my brains and I am reaching
the place of self-assertion. That programme won't do, Katy.
It's got to be completely revised. You just watch me and see how
I follow those instructions."
Then Linda marched out of the kitchen door and started across the
lawn in the direction of a big brown house dimly outlined through
widely spreading branches of ancient live oaks, palm, and bamboo
thickets. She entered the house without knocking and in the hall
uttered a low penetrating whistle. It was instantly answered
from upstairs. Linda began climbing, and met Marian at the top.
"Why, Marian," she cried, "I had no idea you were so far along.
The house is actually empty."
"Practically everything went yesterday," answered Marian. "Those
things of Father's and Mother's and my own that I wish to keep I
have put in storage, and the remainder went to James's Auction
Rooms. The house is sold, and I am leaving in the morning."
"Then that explains," questioned Linda, "why you refused Eileen's
invitation to dinner tonight?"
"On the contrary," answered Marian, "an invitation to dinner
tonight would be particularly and peculiarly acceptable to me,
since the kitchen is barren as the remainder of the house, and I
was intending to slip over when your room was lighted to ask if I
might spend the night with you."
Linda suddenly gathered her friend in her arms and held her
"Well, thank heaven that you felt sufficiently sure of me to come
to me when you needed me. Of course you shall spend the night
with me; and I must have been mistaken in thinking Eileen had
been here. She probably will come any minute. There are guests
for the night. John is bringing that writer friend of his. Of
course you know about him. It's Peter Morrison."
Marian nodded her head. "Of course! John has always talked of
him. He had some extremely clever articles in The Post lately."
"Well, he is one," said Linda, "and an architect who is touring
with him is two; they are looking for a location to build a house
for the writer. You can see that it would be a particularly
attractive feather in our cap if he would endorse our valley
sufficiently to home in it. So Eileen has invited them to sample
our brand of entertainment, and in the morning no doubt she will
be delighted to accompany them and show them all the beautiful
spots not yet preempted."
"Oh, heavens," cried Marian, "I'm glad I never showed her my
"Well, if you are particular about wanting a certain place I
sincerely hope you did not," said Linda.
"I am sure I never did," answered Marian. "I so love one spot
that I have been most secretive about it. I am certain I never
went further than to say there was a place on which I would love
to build for myself the house of my dreams. I have just about
finished getting that home on paper, and I truly have high hopes
that I may stand at least a fair chance of winning with it the
prize Nicholson and Snow are offering. That is one of the
reasons why I am hurrying on my way to San Francisco much sooner
than I had expected to go. I haven't a suitable dinner dress
because my trunks have gone, but among such old friends it won't
matter. I have one fussy blouse in my bag, and I'll be over as
soon as I can see to closing up the house and dressing."
Linda hurried home, and going to the dining room, she laid the
table for six in a deft and artistic manner. She filled a basket
with beautiful flowers of her own growing for a centerpiece, and
carefully followed Eileen's instruction to use the best of
everything. When she had finished she went to the kitchen.
"Katy," she said, "take a look at my handiwork."
"It's just lovely," said Katy heartily.
"I quite agree with you," answered Linda, "and now in pursuance
of a recently arrived at decision, I have resigned, vamoosed,
quit, dead stopped being waitress for Eileen. I was seventeen my
last birthday. Hereafter when there are guests I sit at my
father's table, and you will have to do the best you can with
"And it's just exactly right ye are," said Katy. "I'll do my
best, and if that's not good enough, Miss Eileen knows what she
"Now listen to you," laughed Linda. "Katy, you couldn't be
driven to leave me, by anything on this earth that Eileen could
do; you know you couldn't."
Katy chuckled quietly. "Sure, I wouldn't be leaving ye, lambie,"
she said. "We'll get everything ready, and I can serve I six as
nicely as anyone. But you're not forgetting that Miss Eileen
said most explicit to lay the table for FOUR?'
"I am not forgetting," said Linda. "For Eileen's sake I am I
sorry to say that her ship is on the shoals. She is not going to
have clear sailing with little sister Linda any longer. This is
the year of woman's rights, you know, Katy, and I am beginning to
realize that my rights have been badly infringed upon for lo
these many years. If Eileen chooses to make a scene before
guests, that is strictly up to Eileen. Now what is it you want
me to do?"
Katy directed and Linda worked swiftly. Soon they heard a motor
stop, and laughing voices told them that the guests had arrived.
"Now I wonder," said Linda, "whether Marian is here yet."
At that minute Marian appeared at the kitchen door.
"Linda," she said breathlessly, "I am feeling queer about this.
Eileen hasn't been over."
"Oh, that's all right," said Linda casually. "The folks have
come, and she was only waiting to make them a bit at home before
she ran after you."
"She was not allowing me much time to dress."
"That's 'cause she knew you did not need it," retorted Linda.
"The more you fuss up, the less handsome you are, and you never
owned anything in your life so becoming as that old red blouse.
So farewell, Katy, we're due to burst into high society tonight.
We're going to help Eileen vamp a lawyer, and an author, and an
architect, one apiece. Which do you prefer, Marian?"
"I'll take the architect," said Marian. "We should have
something in common since I am going to be a great architect
myself one of these days."
"Why, that is too bad," said Linda. "I'll have to rearrange the
table if you insist, because I took him, and left you the author,
and it was for love of you I did it. I truly wanted him myself,
all the time."
They stopped in the dining room and Marian praised Linda's work
in laying the table; and then, together they entered the living
At the moment of their entrance, Eileen was talking animatedly
about the beauties of the valley as a location for a happy home.
When she saw the two girls she paused, the color swiftly faded
from her face, and Linda, who was watching to see what would
happen, noticed the effort she made at self-control, but she was
very sure that their guests did not.
It never occurred to Linda that anyone would consider good looks
in connection with her overgrown, rawboned frame and lean face,
but she was accustomed to seeing people admire Marian, for Marian
was a perfectly modeled woman with peach bloom cheeks, deep, dark
eyes, her face framed in a waving mass of hair whose whiteness
dated from the day that the brakes of her car failed and she
plunged down the mountain with her father beside her, and her
mother and Doctor and Mrs. Strong in the back seat. Ten days
afterward Marian's head of beautiful dark hair was muslin white.
Now it framed a face of youth and beauty with peculiar pathos.
"Striking" was perhaps the one adjective which would best
John Gilman came hastily to greet them. Linda, after a swift
glance at Eileen, turned astonished eyes on their guests. For
one second she looked at the elder of them, then at the younger.
There was no recognition in her eyes, and there was a decided
negative in a swift movement of her head. Both men understood
that she did not wish them to mention that they ever had seen her
previously. For an instant there was a strained situation.
Eileen was white with anger. John Gilman was looking straight at
Marian, and in his soul he must have wondered if he had been wise
in neglecting her for Eileen. Peter Morrison and his architect,
Henry Anderson, had two things to think about. One was the
stunning beauty of Marian Thorne as she paused in the doorway,
the light misting her white hair and deepening the tints of her
red waist The other was why the young girl facing them had
forbidden them to reveal that two hours before they had seen her
in the canyon. Katy, the efficient life-saver of the Strong
family, announced dinner, and Linda drew back the curtains and
led the way to the dining room, saying when they had arrived: "I
didn't have time in my hour's notice to make elaborate place
cards as I should have liked to do, so these little pen sketches
will have to serve."
To cover his embarrassment and to satisfy his legal mind, John
Gilman turned to Linda, asking: "Why 'an hour'? I told Eileen a
week ago I was expecting the boys today."
"But that does not prove that Eileen mentioned it to me,"
answered Linda quietly; "so you must find your places from the
cards I could prepare in a hurry."
This same preparation of cards at the round table placed Eileen
between the architect and the author, Marian between the author
and John Gilman, and Linda between Gilman and the architect,
which added one more tiny gale to the storm of fury that was
raging in the breast of white-faced Eileen. The situation was so
strained that without fully understanding it, Marian, who was
several years older than either of the Strong sisters, knew that
although she was tired to the point of exhaustion she should
muster what reserve force she could to the end of making the
dinner party particularly attractive, because she was deeply
interested i n drawing to the valley every suitable home seeker
it was possible to locate there. It was the unwritten law of the
valley that whenever a home seeker passed through, every soul who
belonged exerted the strongest influence to prove that the stars
hung lower and shone bigger and in bluer heavens than anywhere
else on earth; that nowhere could be found air to equal the
energizing salt breezes from the sea, snow chilled, perfumed with
almond and orange; that the sun shone brighter more days in the
year, and the soil produced a greater variety of vegetables and
fruits than any other spot of the same size on God's wonderful
footstool. This could be done with unanimity and enthusiasm by
every resident of Lilac Valley for the very simple reason that it
was the truth. The valley stood with its steep sides raying blue
from myriad wild lilacs; olives and oranges sloped down to the
flat floor, where cultivated ranches and gardens were so screened
by eucalyptus and pepper trees, palm and live oak, myriads of
roses of every color and variety, and gaudy plants gathered there
from the entire girth of the tropical world, that to the traveler
on the highway trees and flowers predominated. The greatest
treasure of the valley was the enthusiastic stream of icy
mountain water that wandered through the near-by canyon and
followed the length of the valley on its singing, chuckling way
to the ocean. All the residents of Lilac Valley had to do to
entrance strangers with the location was to show any one of a
dozen vantage points, and let visitors test for themselves the
quality of the sunshine and air, and study the picture made by
the broad stretch of intensively cultivated valley, walled on
either side by mountains whose highest peaks were often
cloud-draped and for ever shifting their delicate pastel shades
from gray to blue, from lavender to purple, from tawny yellow to
sepia, under the play of the sun and clouds.
They had not been seated three minutes before Linda realized from
her knowledge of Eileen that the shock had been too great, if
such a thing might be said of so resourceful a creature as
Eileen. Evidently she was going to sulk in the hope that this
would prove that any party was a failure at which she did not
exert herself to be gracious. It had not been in Linda's heart
to do more than sit quietly in the place belonging by right to
her, but when she realized what was going to happen, she sent
Marian one swift appealing glance, and then desperately plunged
into conversation to cover Eileen's defection.
"I have been told," she said, addressing the author, "that you
are looking for a home in California. Is this true, or is it
merely that every good Californian hopes this will happen when
any distinguished Easterner comes our way?"
"I can scarcely answer you," said Peter Morrison, "because my
ideas on the subject are still slightly nebulous, but I am only
too willing to see them become concrete."
"You have struck exactly the right place," said Linda. "We have
concrete by the wagon load in this valley and we are perfectly
willing to donate the amount required to materialize your ideas.
Do you dream of a whole ranch or only a nest?"
"Well, the fact is," answered Peter Morrison with a most
attractive drawl in his slow speech, "the fact is the dimensions
of my dream must fit my purse. Ever since I finished college I
have been in newspaper work and I have lived in an apartment in
New York except while I was abroad. When I came back my paper
sent me to San Francisco and from there I motored down to see for
myself if the wonderful things that are written about Los Angeles
County are true."
"That is not much of a compliment to us," said Linda slowly.
"How do you think we would dare write them if they were not
This caused such a laugh that everyone felt much easier. Marian
turned her dark eyes toward Peter Morrison.
"Linda and I are busy people," she said. "We waste little time
in indirections, so I hope it's not out of the way for me to ask
straightforwardly if you are truly in earnest, about wanting a
home in Lilac Valley?"
"Then I'll have to answer you," said Peter, "that I have an
attractive part of the 'makin's' and I am in deadly earnest about
wanting a home somewhere. I am sick in my soul of narrow
apartments and wheels and the rush and roar of the city. There
was a time when I ate and drank it. It was the very breath of
life to me. I charged on Broadway like a caterpillar tank
charging in battle; but it is very remarkable how quickly one
changes in this world. I have had some success in my work, and
the higher I go, the better work I feel I can do in a quiet place
and among less enervating surroundings. John and I were in
college together, roommates, and no doubt he has told you that we
graduated with the same class. He has found his location here
and I would particularly enjoy having a home near him. They tell
me there are well-trained servants to look after a house and care
for a bachelor, so I truly feel that if I can find a location I
would like, and if Henry can plan me a house, and I can stretch
my purse to cover the investment, that there is a very large
possibility that somewhere within twenty miles of Los Angeles I
may find the home of my dreams."
"One would almost expect," said Marian, "that a writer would say
something more original. This valley is filled with people who
came here saying precisely what you have said; and the lure of
the land won them and here they are, shameless boosters of
"Why shameless?" inquired Henry Anderson.
"Because California so verifies the wildest statement that can be
made concerning her that one may go the limit of imagination
without shame," laughed Marian. "I try in all my dealings to
stick to the straight and narrow path."
"Oh, kid, don't stick to the straight and narrow," broke in
Linda, "there's no scenery."
Eileen laid down her fork and stared in white-lipped amazement at
the two girls, but she was utterly incapable of forgetting
herself and her neatly arranged plans to have the three
cultivated and attractive young men all to herself for the
evening. She realized too, from the satisfaction betrayed in the
glances these men were exchanging among each other, the ease with
which they sat, and the gusto with which they ate the food Katy
was deftly serving them, that something was happening which never
had happened at the Strong table since she had presided as its
head, her sole endeavor having been to flatter her guests or to
extract flattery for herself from them.
"That is what makes this valley so adorable," said Marian when at
last she could make herself heard. "It is neither straight nor
narrow. The wing of a white sea swallow never swept a lovelier
curve on the breast of the ocean than the line of this valley.
My mother was the dearest little woman, and she used to say that
this valley was outlined by a gracious gesture from the hand of
God in the dawn of Creation."
Peter Morrison deliberately turned in his chair, his eyes intent
on Marian's earnest face.
"You almost make me want to say, in the language of an old hymn I
used to hear my mother sing, 'Here will I set up my rest.' With
such a name as Lilac Valley and with such a thought in the heart
concerning it, I scarcely feel that there is any use in looking
further. How about it, Henry? Doesn't it sound conclusive to
"It certainly does," answered Henry Anderson, "and from what I
could see as we drove in, it looks as well as it sounds."
Peter Morrison turned to his friend.
"Gilman," he said, "you're a lawyer; you should know the things
I'd like to. Are there desirable homesites still to be found in
the valley, and does the inflation of land at the present minute
put it out of my reach?"
"Well, that is on a par with the average question asked a
lawyer," answered Gilman, "but part of it I can answer definitely
and at once. I think every acre of land suitable for garden or
field cultivation is taken. I doubt if there is much of the
orchard land higher up remaining and what there is would command
a rather stiff price; but if you would be content with some small
plateau at the base of a mountain where you could set any sort of
a house and have--say two or three acres, mostly of sage and
boulders and greasewood and yucca around it "
"Why in this world are you talking about stones and sage and
greasewood?" cried Linda. "Next thing they'll be asking about
mountain lions and rattlesnakes."
"I beg your pardon," said Gilman, "I fear none of us has
remembered to present Miss Linda as a coming naturalist. She got
her start from her father, who was one of the greatest nerve
specialists the world ever has known. She knows every inch of
the mountains, the canyons and the desert. She always says that
she cut her teeth on a chunk of adobe, while her father hunted
the nests of trap-door spiders out in Sunland. What should 1
have said when describing a suitable homesite for Peter, Linda?"
"You should have assumed that immediately, Peter,"--Linda lifted
her eyes to Morrison's face with a sparkle of gay challenge, and
by way of apology interjected--"I am only a kid, you know, so I
may call John's friend Peter--you should have assumed that sage
and greasewood would simply have vanished from any home location
chosen by Peter, leaving it all lacy blue with lilac, and misty
white with lemonade bush, and lovely gold with monkey flower, and
purple with lupin, and painted blood red with broad strokes of
Indian paint brush, and beautifully lighted with feathery flames
from Our Lord's Candles, and perfumy as altar incense with wild
"Oh, my soul," said Peter Morrison. "Good people, I have
located. I have come to stay. I would like three acres but I
could exist with two; an acre would seem an estate to me, and my
ideas of a house, Henry, are shriveling. I did have a dream of
something that must have been precious near a home. There might
have been an evanescent hint of flitting draperies and
inexperienced feet in it, but for the sake of living and working
in such a location as Miss Linda describes, I would gladly cut my
residence to a workroom and a sleeping room and kitchen."
"Won't do," said Linda. "A house is not a house in California
without a furnace and a bathroom. We are cold as blue blazes
here when the sun goes down and the salty fog creeps up from the
sea, and the icy mist rolls down from the mountains to chill our
bones; and when it has not rained for six months at a stretch,
your own private swimming pool is a comfort. This to add
verisimilitude to what everyone else in Lilac Valley is going to
"I hadn't thought I would need a fire," said Peter, "and I was
depending on the ocean for my bathtub. I am particularly fond of
a salt rub."
So far, Eileen had not deigned to enter the conversation. It was
all so human, so far from her ideas of entertaining that the
disapproval on her lips was not sufficiently veiled to be
John Gilman, glancing in her direction, realized that he was
having the best time he had ever had in the Strong household
since the passing of his friends, Doctor and Mrs. Strong, vaguely
wondered why. And it occurred to him that Linda and Marian were
dominating the party. He said the most irritating thing possible
in the circumstances: "I am afraid you are not feeling well this
Eileen laughed shortly.
"The one perfect thing about me," she said with closely cut
precision, "is my health. I haven't the faintest notion what it
means to be ill. I am merely waiting for the conversation to
take a I turn where I can join in it intelligently."
"Why, bless the child!" exclaimed Linda. "Can't you talk
intelligently about a suitable location for a home? On what
subject is a woman supposed to be intelligent if she is not at
her best on the theme of home. If you really are not interested
you had better begin to polish up, because it appeals to me that
the world goes just so far in one direction, and then it whirls
to the right-about and goes equally as far in the opposite
direction. If Daddy were living I think he would say we have
reached the limit with apartment house homes minus fireplaces,
with restaurant dining minus a blessing, with jazz music minus
melody, with jazz dancing minus grace, with national progress
"Linda!" cried Eileen indignantly.
"Good gracious!" cried Linda. "Do I get the shillalah for that?
Weren't all of us rocked in cradles? I think that the pendulum
has swung far and it is time to swing back to where one man and
one woman choose any little spot on God's footstool, build a nest
and plan their lives in accord with personal desire and
inclination instead of aping their neighbors."
"Bravo!" cried Henry Anderson. "Miss Linda, if you see any
suitable spot, and you think I would serve for a bug-catcher,
won't you please stake the location?"
"Well, I don't know about that," said Linda. "Would it be the
old case of 'I furnish the bread and you furnish the water'?"
"No," said Peter Morrison, "it would not. Henry is doing mighty
well. I guarantee that he would furnish a cow that would produce
"How joyous!" said Linda. "I feel quite competent to manage the
bread question. We'll call that settled then. When I next cast
an appraising eye over my beloved valley, I shan't select the
choicest spot in it for Peter Morrison to write a book in; and I
want to warn you people when you go hunting to keep a mile away
from Marian's plot. She has had her location staked from
childhood and has worked on her dream house until she has it all
ready to put the ice in the chest and scratch the match for the
living room fire-logs. The one thing she won't ever tell is
where her location is, but wherever it is, Peter Morrison, don't
you dare take it."
"I wouldn't for the world," said Peter Morrison gravely. "If
Miss Thorne will tell me even on which side of the valley her
location lies, I will agree to stay on the other side."
"Well there is one thing you can depend upon," said the
irrepressible Linda before Marian had time to speak. "It is sure
to be on the sunny side. Every living soul in California is
looking for a place in the sun."
"Then I will make a note of it," said Peter Morrison. "But isn't
there enough sun in all this lovely valley that I may have a
place in it too?"
"You go straight ahead and select any location you like," said
Marian. "I give you the freedom of the valley. There's not one
chance in ten thousand that you would find or see anything
attractive about the one secluded spot I have always hoped I
might some day own. '
"This is not fooling, then?" asked Peter Morrison. "You truly
have a place selected where you would like to live?"
"She truly has the spot selected and she truly has the house on
paper and it truly is a house of dreams," said Linda. "I dream
about it myself. When she builds it and lives in it awhile and
finds out all the things that are wrong with it, then I am going
to build one like it, only I shall eliminate all the mistakes she
"I have often wondered," said Henry Anderson, "if such a thing
ever happened as that people built a house and lived in it, say
ten years, and did not find one single thing about it that they
would change if they had it to build over again. I never have
heard of such a case. Have any of you?"
"I am sure no one has," said John Gilman meditatively, "and it's
a queer thing. I can't see why people don't plan a house the way
they want it before they build."
Marian turned to him--the same Marian he had fallen in love with
when they were children.
"Mightn't it be," she asked, "that it is due to changing
conditions caused by the rapid development of science and
invention? If one had built the most perfect house possible five
years ago and learned today that infinitely superior lighting and
heating l and living facilities could be installed at much less
expense and far greater convenience, don't you think that one
would want to change? Isn't life a series of changes? Mustn't
one be changing constantly to keep abreast of one's day and age?"
"Why, surely," answered Gilman, "and no doubt therein lies at
least part of the answer to Anderson's question."
"And then," added Marian, "things happen in families. Sometimes
more babies than they expect come to newly married people and
they require more room."
"My goodness, yes!" broke in Linda. "Just look at Sylvia
Townsend--twins to begin with."
"Linda!" breathed Eileen, aghast.
"So glad you like my name, dear," murmured Linda sweetly.
"And then," continued Marian, "changes come to other people as
they have to me. I can't say that I had any fault to find with
either the comforts or the conveniences of Hawthorne House until
Daddy and Mother were swept from it at one cruel sweep; and after
that it was nothing to me but a haunted house, and I don't feel
that I can be blamed for wanting to leave it. I will be glad to
know that there are people living in it who won't see a big
strong figure meditatively smoking before the fireplace and a
gray dove of a woman sitting on the arm of his chair. I will be
glad, if Fate is kind to me and people like my houses, to come
back to the valley when I can afford to and build myself a home
that has no past--a place, in fact, where I can furnish my own
ghost, and if I meet myself on the stairs then I won't be shocked
"I don't think there is a soul in the valley who blames you for
selling your home and going, Marian," said Linda soberly. "I
think it would be foolish if you did not."
The return to the living room brought no change. Eileen pouted
while Linda and Marian thoroughly enjoyed themselves and gave the
guests a most entertaining evening. So disgruntled was Eileen,
when the young men had gone, that she immediately went to her
room, leaving Linda and Marian to close the house and make their
own arrangements for the night. Whereupon Linda deliberately led
Marian to the carefully dusted and flower-garnished guest room
and installed her with every comfort and convenience that the
house afforded. Then bringing her brushes from her own room, she
and Marian made themselves comfortable, visiting far into the
"I wonder," said Linda. "if Peter Morrison will go to a real
estate man in the morning and look over the locations remaining
in Lilac Valley."
"Yes, I think he will," said Marian conclusively.
"It seems to me," said Linda, "that we did a whole lot of talking
about homes tonight; which reminds me, Marian, in packing have
you put in your plans? Have you got your last draft with you?"
"No," answered Marian, "it's in one of the cases. I haven't
anything but two or three pencil sketches from which I drew the
final plans as I now think I'll submit them for the contest.
Wouldn't it be a tall feather in my cap, Linda, if by any chance
l I should win that prize?"
"It would be more than a feather," said Linda. "It would be a
whole cap, and a coat to wear with it, and a dress to match the
coat, and slippers to match the dress, and so forth just like
'The House That Jack Built.' Have you those sketches, Marian?"
Opening her case, Marian slid from underneath the garments folded
in it, several sheets on which were roughly penciled sketches of
the exterior of a house--on the reverse, the upstairs and
downstairs floor plans; and sitting down, she explained these to
Linda. Then she left them lying on a table, waiting to be
returned to her case before she replaced her clothes in the
morning. Both girls were fast asleep when a mischievous wind
slipped down the valley, and lightly lifting the top sheet,
carried it through the window, across the garden, and dropped it
at the foot of a honey-dripping loquat.
Because they had talked until late in the night of Marian's plans
and prospects in the city, of Peter Morrison's proposed residence
in the valley, of how lonely Linda would be without Marian, of
everything concerning their lives except the change in Eileen and
John Gilman, the two girls slept until late in the morning, so
that there were but a few minutes remaining in which Marian might
dress, have a hasty breakfast and make her train. In helping
her, it fell to Linda to pack Marian's case. She put the
drawings she found on the table in the bottom, the clothing and
brushes on top of them, and closing the case, carried it herself
until she delivered it into the porter's hands as Marian boarded
CHAPTER IV. Linda Starts a Revolution
The last glimpse Marian Thorne had of Linda was as she stood
alone, waving her hand, her cheeks flushed, her eyes shining, her
final word cheery and encouraging. Marian smiled and waved in
return until the train bore her away. Then she sat down wearily
and stared unseeingly from a window. Life did such very dreadful
things to people. Her girlhood had been so happy. Then came the
day of the Black Shadow, but in her blackest hour she had not
felt alone. She had supposed she was leaning on John Gilman as
securely as she had leaned on her father. She had learned, with
the loss of her father, that one cannot be sure of anything in
this world least of all of human life. Yet in her darkest days
she had depended on John Gilman. She had every reason to believe
that it was for her that he struggled daily to gain a footing in
his chosen profession. When success came, when there was no
reason that Marian could see why they might not have begun life
together, there had come a subtle change in John, and that change
had developed so rapidly that in a few weeks' time, she was
forced to admit that the companionship and loving attentions that
once had been all hers were now all Eileen's.
She sat in the train, steadily carrying her mile after mile
farther from her home, and tried to think what had happened and
how and why it had happened. She could not feel that she had
been wrong in her estimate of John Gilman. Her valuation of him
been taught her by her father and mother and by Doctor and Mrs.
Strong and by John Gilman himself. Dating from the time that
Doctor Strong had purchased the property and built a home in
Lilac Valley beside Hawthorne House, Marian had admired Eileen
and had loved her. She was several years older than the
beautiful girl she had grown up beside. Age had not mattered;
Eileen's beauty had not mattered. Marian was good looking
She always had known that Eileen had imposed upon her and was
selfish with her, but Eileen's impositions were so skillfully
maneuvered, her selfishness was so adorably taken for granted
that Marian in retrospection felt that perhaps she was
responsible for at least a small part of it. She never had been
able to see the inner workings of Eileen's heart. She was not
capable of understanding that when John Gilman was poor and
struggling Eileen had ignored him. It had not occurred to Marian
that when the success for which he struggled began to come
generously, Eileen would begin to covet the man she had
previously disdained. She had always striven to find friends
among people of wealth and distinction. How was Marian to know
that when John began to achieve wealth and distinction, Eileen
would covet him also?
Marian could not know that Eileen had studied her harder than she
ever studied any book, that she had deliberately set herself to
make the most of every defect or idiosyncrasy in Marian, at the
same time offering herself as a charming substitute. Marian was
prepared to be the mental, the spiritual, and the physical mate
of a man.
Eileen was not prepared to be in truth and honor any of these.
She was prepared to make any emergency of life subservient to her
own selfish desires. She was prepared to use any man with whom
she came in contact for the furtherance of any whim that at the
hour possessed her. What she wanted was unbridled personal
liberty, unlimited financial resources.
Marian, almost numbed with physical fatigue and weeks of mental
strain, came repeatedly against the dead wall of ignorance when
she tried to fathom the change that had taken place between
herself and John Gilman and between herself and Eileen. Daniel
Thorne was an older man than Doctor Strong. He had accumulated
more property. Marian had sufficient means at her command to
make it unnecessary for her to acquire a profession or work for
her living, but she had always been interested in and loved to
plan houses and help her friends with buildings they were
erecting. When the silence and the loneliness of her empty home
enveloped her, she had begun, at first as a distraction, to work
on the drawings for a home that an architect had made for one of
her neighbors. She had been able to suggest so many comforts and
conveniences, and so to revise these plans that, at first in a
desultory way, later in real earnest, she had begun to draw plans
for houses. Then, being of methodical habit and mathematical
mind, she began scaling up the plans and figuring on the cost of
building, and so she had worked until she felt that she was
evolving homes that could be built for the same amount of money
and lived in with more comfort and convenience than the homes
that many of her friends were having planned for them by
architects of the city.
To one spot in the valley she had gone from childhood as a secret
place in which to dream and study. She had loved that retreat
until it had become a living passion with her. The more John
Gilman neglected her, the more she concentrated upon her plans,
and when the hour came in which she realized what she had lost
and what Eileen had won, she reached the decision to sell her
home, go to the city, and study until she knew whether she really
could succeed at her chosen profession.
Then she would come back to the valley, buy the spot she coveted,
build the house of which she dreamed, and in it she would spend
the remainder of her life making homes for the women who knew how
to hold the love of men. When she reached the city she had
decided that if one could not have the best in life, one must be
content with the next best, and for her the next best would be
homes for other people, since she might not materialize the home
she had dreamed for John Gilman and herself. She had not wanted
to leave the valley. She had not wanted to lose John Gilman.
She had not wanted to part with the home she had been reared in.
Yet all of these things seemed to have been forced upon her. All
Marian knew to do was to square her shoulders, take a deep
breath, put regrets behind her, and move steadily toward the best
future she could devise for herself.
She carried letters of introduction to the San Francisco
architects, Nicholson and Snow, who had offered a prize for the
best house that could be built in a reasonable time for fifteen
thousand dollars. She meant to offer her plans in this
competition. Through friends she had secured a comfortable place
in which to live and work. She need undergo no hardships in
searching for a home, in clothing herself, in paying for
instruction in the course in architecture she meant to pursue.
Concerning Linda she could not resist a feeling of exultation.
Linda was one of the friends in Lilac Valley about whom Marian
could think wholeheartedly and lovingly. Sometimes she had been
on the point of making a suggestion to Linda, and then she had
contented herself with waiting in the thought that very soon
there must come to the girl a proper sense of her position and
her rights. The experience of the previous night taught Marian
that Linda had arrived. She would no longer be the compliant
little sister who would run Eileen's errands, wait upon her
guests and wear disreputable clothing. When Linda reached a
point where she was capable of the performance of the previous
night, Marian knew that she would proceed to live up to her blue
china in every ramification of life. She did not know exactly
how Linda would follow up the assertion of her rights that she
had made, but she did know that in some way she would follow it
up, because Linda was a very close reproduction of her father.
She had been almost constantly with him during his life, very
much alone since his death. She was a busy young person. From
Marian's windows she had watched the business of carrying on the
wild-flower garden that Linda and her father had begun. What the
occupation was that kept the light burning in Linda's room far
into the night Marian did not know. For a long time she had
supposed that her studies were difficult for her, and when she
had asked Linda if it were not possible for her to prepare her
lessons without so many hours of midnight study she had caught
the stare of frank amazement with which the girl regarded her and
in that surprised, almost grieved look she had realized that very
probably a daughter of Alexander Strong, who resembled him as
Linda resembled him, would not be compelled to overwork to master
the prescribed course of any city high school. What Linda was
doing during those midnight hours Marian did not know, but she
did know that she was not wrestling with mathematics and
languages--at least not all of the time. So Marian knowing
Linda's gift with a pencil, had come to the conclusion that she
was drawing pictures; but circumstantial evidence was all she had
as a basis for her conviction. Linda went her way silently and
alone. She was acquainted with everyone living in Lilac Valley,
frank and friendly with all of them; aside from Marian she had no
intimate friend. Not another girl in the valley cared to follow
Linda's pursuits or to cultivate the acquaintance of the
breeched, booted girl, constantly devoting herself to outdoor
study with her father during his lifetime, afterward alone.
For an instant after Marian had boarded her train Linda stood
looking at it, her heart so heavy that it pained acutely. She
had not said one word to make Marian feel that she did not want
her to go. Not once had she put forward the argument that
Marian's going would leave her to depend entirely for human
sympathy upon the cook, and her guardian, also administrator of
the Strong estate, John Gilman. So long as he was Marian's
friend Linda had admired John Gilman. She had gone to him for
some measure of the companionship she had missed in losing her
father. Since Gilman had allowed himself to be captivated by
Eileen, Linda had harbored a feeling concerning him almost of
contempt. Linda was so familiar with every move that Eileen
made, so thoroughly understood that there was a motive back of
her every action, that she could not see why John Gilman, having
known her from childhood, should not understand her also.
She had decided that the time had come when she would force
Eileen to give her an allowance, however small, for her own
personal expenses, that she must in some way manage to be clothed
so that she was not a matter of comment even among the boys of
her school, and she could see no reason why the absolute personal
liberty she always had enjoyed so long as she disappeared when
Eileen did not want her and appeared when she did, should not
extend to her own convenience as well as Eileen's.
Life was a busy affair for Linda. She had not time to watch
Marian's train from sight. She must hurry to the nearest street
car and make all possible haste or she would be late for her
classes. Throughout the day she worked with the deepest
concentration, but she could not keep down the knowledge that
Eileen would have things to say, possibly things to do, when they
met that evening, for Eileen was capable of disconcerting
hysteria. Previously Linda had remained stubbornly silent during
any tirade in which Eileen chose to indulge. She had allowed
herself to be nagged into doing many things that she despised,
because she would not assert herself against apparent injustice.
But since she had come fully to realize the results of Eileen's
course of action for Marian and for herself, she was deliberately
arriving at the conclusion that hereafter she would speak when
she had a defense, and she would make it her business to let the
sun shine on any dark spot that she discovered in Eileen.
Linda knew that if John Gilman were well acquainted with Eileen,
he could not come any nearer to loving her than she did. Such an
idea as loving Eileen never had entered Linda's thoughts. To
Linda, Eileen was not lovable. That she should be expected to
love her because they had the same parents and lived in the same
home seemed absurd. She was slightly disappointed, on reaching
home, to find that Eileen was not there.
"Will the lady of the house dine with us this evening? she asked
as she stood eating an apple in the kitchen.
"She didn't say," answered Katy. "Have ye had it out about last
"No," answered Linda. "That is why I was asking about her. I
want to clear the atmosphere before I make my new start in life."
"Now, don't ye be going too far, lambie," cautioned Katy "Ye
young things make such an awful serious business of life these
days. In your scramble to wring artificial joy out of it you
miss all the natural joy the good God provided ye."
"It seems to me, Katy," said Linda slowly, "that you should put
that statement the other way round. It seems that life makes a
mighty serious business for us young things, and it seems to me
that if we don't get the right start and have a proper foundation
life Is going to be spoiled for us. One life is all I've got to
live in this world, and I would like it to be the interesting and
the beautiful kind of life that Father lived."
Linda dropped to a chair.
"Katy," she said, leaning forward and looking intently into the
earnest face of the woman before her, "Katy, I have been thinking
an awful lot lately. There is a question you could answer for me
if you wanted to."
"Well, I don't see any raison," said Katy, "why I shouldn't
answer ye any question ye'd be asking me."
Linda's eyes narrowed as they did habitually in deep thought She
was looking past Katy down the sunlit spaces of the wild garden
that was her dearest possession, and then her eyes strayed higher
to where the blue walls that shut in Lilac Valley ranged their
peaks against the sky. "Katy," she said, scarcely above her
breath, "was Mother like Eileen?"
Katy stiffened. Her red face paled slightly. She turned her
back and slowly slid into the oven the pie she was carrying.
She closed the door with more force than was necessary and then
turned and deliberately studied Linda from the top of her
shining black head to the tip of her shoe.
"Some," she said tersely.
"Yes, I know 'some'," said Linda, "but you know I was too young
to pay much attention, and Daddy managed always to make me so
happy that I never realized until he was gone that he not only
had been my father but my mother as well. You know what I mean,
"Yes," said Katy deliberately, "I know what ye mean, lambie, and
I'll tell ye the truth as far as I know it. She managed your
father, she pampered him, but she deceived him every day, just
about little things. She always made the household accounts
bigger than they were, and used the extra money for Miss Eileen
and herself--things like that. I'm thinkin' he never knew it.
I'm thinking he loved her deeply and trusted her complete. I
know what ye're getting at. She was not enough like Eileen to
make him unhappy with her. He might have been if he had known
all there was to know, but for his own sake I was not the one to
give her away, though she constantly made him think that I was
extravagant and wasteful in me work."Linda's eyes came back from
the mountains and met Katy's straightly.
"Katy," she said, "did you ever see sisters as different as
Eileen and I are?"
"No, I don't think I ever did," said Katy.
"It puzzles me," said Linda slowly. "The more I think about it,
the less I can understand why, if we are sisters, we would not
accidentally resemble each other a tiny bit in some way, and I
must say I can't see that we do physically or mentally."
"No," said Katy, "ye were just as different as ye are now when I
came to this house new and ye were both little things."
"And we are going to be as different and to keep on growing more
different every day of our lives, because red war breaks out the
minute Eileen comes home. I haven't a notion what she will say
to me for what I did last night and what I am going to do in the
future, but I have a definite idea as to what I am going to say
"Now, easy; ye go easy, lambie," cautioned Katy.
"I wouldn't regret it," said Linda, "if I took Eileen by the
shoulders and shook her till I shook the rouge off her cheek,
and the brilliantine off her hair, and a million mean little
subterfuges out of her soul. You know Eileen is lovely when she
is natural, and if she would be straight-off-the-bat square, I
would be proud to be her sister. As it is, I have my doubts,
even about this sister business."
"Why, Linda, child, ye are just plain crazy," said Katy. "What
kind of notions are you getting into your head?"
"I hear the front door," said Linda, "and I am going to march
straight to battle. She's going up the front stairs. I did mean
to short-cut up the back, but, come to think of it, I have served
my apprenticeship on the back stairs. I believe I'll ascend the
front myself. Good-bye, darlin', wish me luck."
Linda swung Katy around, hugged her tight, and dropped a kiss on
the top of her faithful head.
"Ye just stick right up for your rights," Katy advised her.
"Ye're a great big girl. 'Tain't going to be long till ye're
eighteen. But mind your old Katy about going too far. If ye
lose your temper and cat-spit, it won't get ye anywhere. The
fellow that keeps the coolest can always do the best headwork."
"I get you," said Linda, "and that is good advice for which I
CHAPTER V. The Smoke of Battle
Then Linda walked down the hall, climbed the front stairs, and
presented herself at Eileen's door, there to receive one of the
severest shocks of her young life. Eileen had tossed her hat and
fur upon a couch, seated herself at her dressing table, and was
studying her hair in the effort to decide whether she could fluff
it up sufficiently to serve for the evening or whether she must
take it down and redress it. At Linda's step in the doorway she
turned a smiling face upon her and cried: "Hello, little sister,
come in and tell me the news."
Linda stopped as if dazed. The wonderment in which she looked at
Eileen was stamped all over her. A surprised braid of hair hung
over one of her shoulders. Her hands were surprised, and the
skirt of her dress, and her shoes flatly set on the floor.
"Well, I'll be darned!" she ejaculated, and then walked to where
she could face Eileen, and seated herself without making any
attempt to conceal her amazement.
"Linda," said Eileen sweetly, "you would stand far better chance
of being popular and making a host of friends if you would not be
so coarse. I am quite sure you never heard Mama or me use such
For one long instant Linda was too amazed to speak. Then she
"Look here, Eileen, you needn't try any 'perfect lady' business
on me," she said shortly. "Do you think I have forgotten the
extent of your vocabulary when the curling iron gets too hot or
you fail to receive an invitation to the Bachelors' Ball?"
Linda never had been capable of understanding Eileen. At that
minute she could not know that Eileen had been facing facts
through the long hours of the night and all through the day, and
that she had reached the decision that for the future her only
hope of working Linda to her will was to conciliate her, to
ignore the previous night, to try to put their relationship upon
the old basis by pretending that there never had been a break.
She laughed softly.
"On rare occasions, I grant it. Of course a little swear slips
out sometimes. What I am trying to point out is that you do too
much of it."
"How did you ever get the idea," said Linda, "that I wanted to be
popular and have hosts of friends? What would I do with them if
I had them?"
"Why, use them, my child, use them," answered Eileen promptly.
"Let's cut this," said Linda tersely. "I am not your child. I'm
getting to the place where I have serious doubt as to whether I
am your sister or not. If I am, it's not my fault, and the same
clay never made two objects quite so different. I came up here
to fight, and I'm going to see it through. I'm on the warpath,
so you may take your club and proceed to battle."
"What have we to fight about?" inquired Eileen.
"Every single thing that you have done that was unfair to me all
my life," said Linda. "Since all of it has been deliberate you
probably know more about the details than I do, so I'll just
content myself with telling you that for the future, last night
marked a change in the relations between us. I am going to be
eighteen before so very long, and I have ceased to be your maid
or your waitress or your dupe. You are not going to work me one
single time when I have got brains to see through your schemes
after this. Hereafter I take my place in my father's house and
at my father's table on an equality with you."