Part 3 out of 8
you have!" She had caught the flash of approval in the eyes of
Donald Whiting, and she had noted the flourish with which he
raised his hat when he saw her at a distance, and she knew what
he meant when he held up a book, past the covers of which she
could see protruding a thick fold of white paper. He had
foresworn whatever pleasure he might have thought of for Sunday.
He had prepared notes on some subject that he thought would
further him. The lift of his head, the flourish of his hat, and
the book all told Linda that he had struggled and that he felt
the struggle had brought an exhilarating degree of success. That
had made the day particularly bright for Linda. She had gone
home with a feeling of uplift and exultation in her heart. As
she closed the front door she cried up the stairway: "Eileen,
are you there?"
"Yes," answered a rather sulky voice from above.
Linda ascended, two steps at a bound.
"Thank you over and over, old thing!" she cried as she raced down
the hallway. "Behold me! I never did have a more becoming dress,
and Katy loaned me money, till my income begins, to get shoes and
a little scuff hat to go with it. Aren't I spiffy?"
She pirouetted in the doorway. Eileen gripped the brush she was
"You have good taste," she said. "It's a pretty dress, but
You're always howling about things being suitable. Do you call
that suitable for school?"
"It certainly is an innovation for me," said Linda, "but there
are dozens of dresses of the same material, only different cut
and colors in the high school today. As soon as I get my money
I'll buy a skirt and some blouses so I won't have to wear this
all the time; but I surely do thank you very much, and I surely
have had a lovely day. Did you have a nice time at Riverside?"
Eileen slammed down the brush and turned almost a distorted face
to Linda. She had temper to vent. In the hour's reflection
previous to Linda's coming, she realized that she had reached the
limit with Katy. If she antagonized her by word or look, she
would go to John Gilman, and Eileen dared not risk what she would
"No, I did not have a lovely time," she said. "I furnished the
men for the party and I expected to have a grand time, but the
first thing we did was to run into that inflated egotist calling
herself Mary Louise Whiting, and like a fool, Janie Brunson
introduced her to Peter Morrison. I had paired him with Janie on
purpose to keep my eye on him."
Linda tried hard but she could not suppress a chuckle: "Of
course you would!" she murmured softly.
Eileen turned her back. That had been her first confidence to
Linda. She was so aggrieved at that moment that she could have
told unanswering walls her tribulations. It would have been
better if she had done so. She might have been able to construe
silence as sympathy. Linda's laughter she knew exactly how to
interpret. "Served you right," was what it meant.
"I hadn't the least notion you would take an interest in anything
concerning me," she said. "People can talk all they please about
Mary Louise Whiting being a perfect lady but she is a perfect
beast. I have met her repeatedly and she has always ignored me,
and yesterday she singled out for her special attention the most
desirable man in my party--"
"'Most desirable,'" breathed Linda. "Poor John! I see his second
fiasco. Lavender crystals, please!"
Eileen caught her lip in mortification. She had not intended to
say what she thought.
"Well, you can't claim," she hurried on to cover her confusion,
"that it was not an ill-bred, common trick for her to take
possession of a man of my party, and utterly ignore me. She has
everything on earth that I want; she treats me like a dog, and
she could give me a glorious time by merely nodding her head."
"I am quite sure you are mistaken," said Linda. "From what I've
heard of her, she wouldn't mistreat anyone. Very probably what
she does is merely to feel that she is not acquainted with you.
You have an unfortunate way, Eileen, of defeating your own ends.
If you wanted to attract Mary Louise Whiting, you missed the best
chance you ever could have had, at three o'clock Saturday
afternoon, when you maliciously treated her only brother as you
would a mechanic, ordered him to our garage, and shut our door in
Eileen turned to Linda. Her mouth fell open. A ghastly greenish
white flooded her face.
"What do you mean?" she gasped.
"I mean," said Linda, "that Donald Whiting was calling on me, and
you purposely sent him to the garage."
Crash down among the vanities of Eileen's dressing table went her
lovely head, and she broke into deep and violent sobs. Linda
stood looking at her a second, slowly shaking her head. Then she
turned and went to her room.
Later in the evening she remembered the Roman scarf and told
Eileen of what she had done, and she was unprepared for Eileen's
reply: "That scarf always was too brilliant for me. You're
welcome to it if you want it."
"Thank you," said Linda gravely, "I want it very much indeed."
CHAPTER XI. Assisting Providence
Linda went to the library to see to what state of emptiness it
had been reduced by the removal of several pieces of furniture
she had ordered taken away that day. As she stood on the
threshold looking over the room as usual, a throb of loving
appreciation of Katy swept through her heart. Katy had been
there before her. The room had been freshly swept and dusted,
the rugs had been relaid, the furniture rearranged skilfully, and
the table stood at the best angle to be lighted either by day or
night. On the table and the mantel stood big bowls of lovely
fresh flowers. Linda was quite certain that anyone entering the
room for the first time would have felt it completely furnished,
and she doubted if even Marian would notice the missing pieces.
Cheered in her heart, she ran up to the billiard room, and there
again Katy had preceded her. The windows were shining. The
walls and floor had been cleaned. Everything was in readiness
for the new furniture. Her heart full of gratitude, Linda went
to her room, prepared her lessons for the next day, and then drew
out her writing materials to answer Marian's letter. She wrote:
I have an acute attack of enlargement of the heart. So many
things have happened since your leaving. But first I must tell
you about your sketch. We just know you did not leave it here.
Katy says there was not a scrap in our bedroom when she cleaned
it; and as she knows you make plans and how precious they are to
you, I guarantee she would have saved it if she had found
anything looking like a parallelogram on a piece of paper. And I
have very nearly combed the lawn, not only the north side, but
the west, south, and east; and then I broke the laws and went
over to your house and crawled through a basement window and
worked my way up, and I have hunted every room in it, but there
is nothing there. You must have lost that sketch after you
reached San Francisco. I hope to all that's peaceful you did not
lay it down in the offices of Nicholson and Snow, or where you
take your lessons. I know nothing about architecture, but I do
know something about comfort in a home, and I thought that was
the most comfortable and convenient-looking house I ever had
Now I'll go on and tell you all the news, and I don't know which
is the bigger piece to burst on you first. Would you be more
interested in knowing that Peter Morrison has bought three acres
on the other side of the valley from us and up quite a way, or in
the astonishing fact that I have a new dress, a perfect love of a
dress, really too good for school? You know there was blood in
my eye when you left, and I didn't wait long to start action. I
have managed to put the fear of God into Eileen's heart so that
she has agreed to a reasonable allowance for me from the first of
next month; but she must have felt at least one small wave of
contrition when I told her about a peculiarly enticing dress I
had seen at The Mode. She sent it up right away, and Katy,
blessed be her loving footprints, loaned me money to buy a blouse
and some shoes to match, so I went to school today looking very
like the Great General Average, minus rouge, lipstick, hairdress,
and French heels.
I do hope you will approve of two things I have done.
Then Linda recounted the emptying of the billiard room, the
inroads in the library, the listing of the technical books, and
what she proposed to do with the money. And then, her face
slightly pale and her fingers slightly trembling, she wrote:
And, Marian dear, I hope you won't be angry with me when I tell
you that I have put the Bear Cat into commission and driven it
three times already. It is running like the feline it is, and I
am being as careful as I can. I know exactly how you will feel.
It is the same feeling that has held me all these months, when I
wouldn't even let myself think of it. But something happened at
school one day, Marian. You know the Whitings? Mary Louise
Whiting's brother is in the senior class. He is a six-footer,
and while he is not handsome he is going to be a real man when he
is fully developed, and steadied down to work. One day last week
he made it his business to stop me in the hall and twit me about
my shoes, and incidentally to ask me why I didn't dress like the
other girls; and some way it came rougher than if it had been one
of the girls. The more I thought about it the more wronged I
felt, so I ended in a young revolution that is to bring me an
income, a suitable place to work in and has brought me such a
pretty dress. I think it has brought Eileen to a sense of at
least partial justice about money, and it brought me back the
Bear Cat. You know the proudest moment of my life was when
Father would let me drive the little beast, and it all came back
as natural as breathing. Please don't worry, Marian. Nothing
shall happen, I promise you.
It won't be necessary to tell you that Katy is her darling old
self, loyal and steadfast as the sun, and quite as necessary and
as comforting to me. And I have a couple of other interests in
life that are going to--I won't say make up for your absence,
because nothing could do that--but they are going to give me
something interesting to think about, something agreeable to work
at, while you are gone. But, oh, Marian, do hurry. Work all day
and part of the night. Be Saturday's child yourself if you must,
just so you get home quick, and where your white head makes a
beacon light for the truest, lovingest pal you will ever have,
Linda laid down the pen, slid down in her chair, and looked from
the window across the valley, and she wondered if in her view lay
the location that had been purchased by Peter Morrison. She
glanced back at her letter and sat looking at the closing lines
and the signature.
"Much good that will do her," she commented. "When a woman loves
a man and loves him with all her heart, as Marian loved John, and
when she loses him, not because she has done a single unworthy
thing herself, but because he is so rubber spined that he will
let another woman successfully intrigue him, a lot of comfort she
is going to get from the love of a schoolgirl!"
Linda's eyes strayed to the window again, and traveled down to
the city and up the coast, all the way to San Francisco, and out
of the thousands of homes there they pictured a small, neat room,
full of Marian's belongings, and Marian herself bending over a
worktable, absorbed in the final draft of her precious plans.
Linda could see Marian as plainly as she ever had seen her, but
she let her imagination run, and she fancied that when Marian was
among strangers and where no one knew of John Gilman's defection,
that hers might be a very heavy heart, that hers might be a very
sad face. Then she went to planning. She had been desolate,
heart hungry, and isolated herself. First she had endured, then
she had fought; the dawn of a new life was breaking over her
hill. She had found work she was eager to do. She could put the
best of her brain, the skill of her fingers, the creative impulse
of her heart, into it.
She was almost sure that she had found a friend. She had a
feeling that when the coming Saturday had been lived Donald
Whiting would be her friend. He would want her advice and her
help in his work. She would want his companionship and the
stimulus of his mind, in hers. What Linda had craved was a dear
friend among the girls, but no girl had offered her friendship.
This boy had, so she would accept what the gods of time and
circumstance provided. It was a very wonderful thing that had
happened to her. Now why could not something equally wonderful
happen to Marian? Linda wrinkled her brows and thought deeply.
"It's the worst thing in all this world to work and work with
nobody to know about it and nobody to care," thought Linda.
"Marian could break a record if she thought John Gilman cared now
as he used to. It's almost a necessary element to her success.
If he doesn't care, she ought to be made to feel that somebody
cares. This thing of standing alone, since I have found a
friend, appeals to me as almost insupportable. Let me think."
It was not long until she had worked out a scheme for putting an
interest in Marian's life and giving her something for which to
work, until a more vital reality supplanted it. The result was
that she took some paper, went down to the library, and opening
the typewriter, wrote a letter. She read it over, making many
changes and corrections, and then she copied it carefully. When
she came to addressing it she was uncertain, but at last she hit
upon a scheme of sending it in the care of Nicholson and Snow
because Marian had told her that she meant to enter their contest
immediately she reached San Francisco, and she would have left
them her address. On the last reading of the letter she had
written, she decided that it was a manly, straightforward
production, which should interest and attract any girl. But how
was she to sign it? After thinking deeply for a long time, she
wrote "Philip Sanders, General Delivery," and below she added a
To save you the trouble of inquiring among your friends as to who
Philip Sanders is, I might as well tell you in the beginning that
he isn't. He is merely an assumption under which I shall hide my
personality until you let me know whether it is possible that you
could become even slightly interested in me, as a small return
for the very deep and wholesome interest abiding in my heart for
"Abiding," said Linda aloud. "It seems to me that there is
nothing in all the world quite so fine as a word. Isn't
'abiding' a good word? Doesn't it mean a lot? Where could you
find one other word that means being with you and also means
comforting you and loving you and sympathizing with you and
surrounding you with firm walls and a cushioned floor and a
starry roof? I love that word. I hope it impresses Marian with
all its wonderful meaning."
She went back to her room, put both letters into her Geometry,
and in the morning mailed them. She stood a long time hesitating
with the typewritten letter in her hand, but finally dropped it
in the letter box also.
"It will just be something," she said, "to make her think that
some man appreciates her lovely face and doesn't care if her hair
is white, and sees how steadfast and fine she is."
And then she slowly repeated, " 'steadfast,' that is another fine
word. It has pearls and rubies all over it."
After school that evening she visited James Brothers' and was
paid the full amount of the appraisement of her furniture. Then
she went to an art store and laid in a full supply of the
materials she needed for the work she was trying to do. Her
fingers were trembling as she handled the boxes of water colors
and selected the brushes and pencils for her work, and sheets of
drawing paper upon which she could do herself justice. When the
transaction was finished, she had a few dollars remaining. As
she put them in her pocket she said softly:
"That's gasoline. Poor Katy! I'm glad she doesn't need her
money, because she is going to have to wait for the allowance or
the sale of the books or on Jane Meredith. But it's only a few
days now, so that'll be all right."
CHAPTER XII. The Lay of the Land
Linda entered the street car for her daily ride to Lilac Valley.
She noticed Peter Morrison and Henry Anderson sitting beside each
other, deeply engrossed in a drawing. She had been accustomed to
ride in the open section of the car as she liked the fresh air.
She had a fleeting thought of entering the body of the car and
sitting where they would see her; and then a perverse spirit in
Linda's heart said to her:
"That is precisely what Eileen would do. You sit where you
Whereupon Linda dropped into the first vacant seat she could
reach, but it was only a few moments before Peter Morrison,
looking up from the plans he was studying, saw her, and lifting
his hat, beckoned her to come and sit with him. They made room
for her between them and spreading the paper across her lap, all
three of them began to discuss the plans for the foundation for
Peter's house. Anderson had roughly outlined the grounds,
sketching in the trees that were to be saved, the spring, and the
most available route for reaching the road. The discussion was
as to where the road should logically enter the grounds, and
where the garage should stand.
"Which reminds me," said Linda--"haven't you your car with you?
Or was that a hired one you were touring in?"
"Mine," said Peter Morrison, "but we toured so far, it's in the
shop for a general overhauling today."
"That being the case," said Linda, "walk home with me and I'll
take you to your place in mine and bring you back to the cars, if
you only want to stay an hour or two."
"Why, that would be fine," said Peter. "You didn't mention, the
other evening, that you had a car."
"No," said Linda, "I had been trying to keep cars out of my
thought for a long time, but I could endure it no longer the
other day, so I got mine out and tuned it up. If you don't mind
stacking up a bit, three can ride in it very comfortably."
That was the way it happened that Linda walked home after school
that afternoon between Peter Morrison and his architect, brought
out the Bear Cat, and drove them to Peter's location.
All that day, workmen had been busy under the management of a
well-instructed foreman, removing trees and bushes and stones and
clearing the spot that had been selected for the garage and
approximately for the house.
The soft brownish gray of Linda's dress was exactly the color to
intensify the darker brown of her eyes. There was a fluctuating
red in her olive cheeks, a brilliant red framing her even white
teeth. Once dressed so that she was satisfied with the results,
Linda immediately forgot her clothes, and plunged into Morrison's
"Peter," she said gravely, with Peter perfectly cognizant of the
twinkle in her dark eyes, "Peter, you may save money in a
straight-line road, but you're going to sin against your soul if
you build it. You'll have to economize in some other way, and
run your road around the base of those boulders, then come in
straight to the line here, and then you should swing again and
run out on this point, where guests can have one bewildering
glimpse of the length of our blue valley, and then whip them
around this clump of perfumy lilac and elders, run them to your
side entrance, and then scoot the car back to the garage. I
think you should place the front of your house about here."
Linda indicated where. "So long as you're buying a place like
this you don't want to miss one single thing; and you do want to
make the very most possible out of every beauty you have. And
you mustn't fail to open up and widen the runway from that
energetic, enthusiastic spring. Carry it across your road, sure.
It will cost you another little something for a safe bridge, but
there's nothing so artistic as a bridge with a cold stream
running under it. And think what a joyful time I'll have,
gathering specimens for you of every pretty water plant that
grows in my particular canyon. Any time when you're busy in your
library and you hear my car puffing up the incline and around the
corner and rattling across the bridge, you'll know that I am down
here giving you a start of watercress and miners' lettuce and
every lovely thing you could mention that likes to be nibbled or
loved-up, while it dabbles its toes in the water."
Peter Morrison looked at Linda reflectively. He looked for such
a long moment that Henry Anderson reached a nebulous conclusion.
"Fine!" he cried. "Every one of those suggestions is valuable to
an inexperienced man. Morrison, shan't I make a note of them?"
"Yes, Henry, you shall," said Peter. "I am going to push this
thing as fast as possible, so far as building the garage is
concerned and getting settled in it. After that I don't care if
I live on this spot until we know each other by the inch, before
I begin building my home. At the present minute it appeals to me
that 'home' is about the best word in the language of any nation.
I have a feeling that what I build here is going to be my home,
very possibly the only one I shall ever have. We must find the
spot on which the Lord intended that a house should grow on this
hillside, and then we must build that house so that it has a room
suitable for a workshop in which I may strive, under the best
conditions possible, to get my share of the joy of life and to
earn the money that I shall require to support me and entertain
my friends; and that sounds about as selfish as anything possibly
could. It seems to be mostly 'me' and 'mine,' and it's not the
real truth concerning this house. I don't believe there is a
healthy, normal man living who has not his dream. I have no
hesitation whatever in admitting that I have mine. This house
must be two things. It has got to be a concrete workshop for me,
and it has got to be an abstract abiding place for a dream. It's
rather difficult to build a dream house for a dream lady, so I
don't know what kind of a fist I am going to make of it."
Linda sat down on a boulder and contemplated her shoes for a
minute. Then she raised her ever-shifting, eager, young eyes to
Peter, and it seemed to him as he looked into them that there
were little gold lights flickering at the bottom of their
"Why, that's just as easy," she said. "A home is merely a home.
It includes a front porch and a back porch and a fireplace and a
bathtub and an ice chest and a view and a garden around it; all
the rest is incidental. If you have more money, you have more
incidentals. If you don't have so much, you use your imagination
and think you have just as much on less."
"Now, I wonder," said Peter, "when I find my dream lady, if she
will have an elastic imagination."
"Haven't you found her yet?" asked Linda casually.
"No," said Peter, "I haven't found her, and unfortunately she
hasn't found me. I have had a strenuous time getting my start in
life. It's mostly a rush from one point of interest to another,
dropping at any wayside station for refreshment and the use of a
writing table. Occasionally I have seen a vision that I have
wanted to follow, but I never have had time. So far, the lady of
this house is even more of a dream than the house."
"Oh, well, don't worry," said Linda comfortingly. "The world is
full of the nicest girls. When you get ready for a gracious lady
I'll find you one that will have an India-rubber imagination and
a great big loving heart and Indian-hemp apron strings so that
half a dozen babies can swing from them."
Morrison turned to Henry Anderson.
"You hear, Henry?" he said. "I'm destined to have a large
family. You must curtail your plans for the workroom and make
that big room back of it into a nursery."
"Well, what I am going to do," said Henry Anderson, "is to build
a place suitable for your needs. If any dream woman comes to it,
she will have to fit herself to her environment."
"Now, that isn't a bit nice of you," she said, "and I don't
believe Peter will pay the slightest attention to you. He'll let
me make you build a lovely room for the love of his heart, and a
great big bright nursery on the sunny side for his small people."
"I never believed," said Henry Anderson, "in counting your
chickens before they are hatched. There are a couple of acres
around Peter's house, and he can build an addition as his needs
"Messy idea," said Linda promptly. "Thing to do, when you build
a house, is to build it the way you want it for the remainder of
your life, so you don't have to tear up the scenery every few
years, dragging in lumber for expansion. And I'll tell you
another thing. If the homemakers of this country don't get the
idea into their heads pretty soon that they are not going to be
able to hold their own with the rest of the world, with no
children, or one child in the family, there's a sad day of
reckoning coming. With the records at the patent office open to
the world, you can't claim that the brain of the white man is not
constructive. You can look at our records and compare them with
those of countries ages and ages older than we are, which never
discovered the beauties of a Dover egg-beater or a washing
machine or a churn or a railroad or a steamboat or a bridge. We
are head and shoulders above other nations in invention, and just
as fast as possible, we are falling behind in the birth rate.
The red man and the yellow man and the brown man and the black
man can look at our egg-beaters and washing machines and bridges
and big guns, and go home and copy them; and use them while
rearing even bigger families than they have now. If every home
in Lilac Valley had at least six sturdy boys and girls growing up
in it with the proper love of country and the proper realization
of the white man's right to supremacy, and if all the world now
occupied by white men could make an equal record, where would be
the talk of the yellow peril? There wouldn't be any yellow
peril. You see what I mean?"
Linda lifted her frank eyes to Peter Morrison.
"Yes, young woman," said Peter gravely, "I see what you mean, but
this is the first time I ever heard a high-school kid propound
such ideas. Where did you get them?"
"Got them in Multiflores Canyon from my father to start with,"
said Linda, "but recently I have been thinking, because there is
a boy in high school who is making a great fight for a better
scholarship record than a Jap in his class. I brood over it
every spare minute, day or night, and when I say my prayers I
implore high Heaven to send him an idea or to send me one that I
can pass on to him, that will help him to beat that Jap."
"I see," said Peter Morrison. "We'll have to take time to talk
this over. It's barely possible I might be able to suggest
"You let that kid fight his own battles," said Henry Anderson
roughly. "He's no proper bug-catcher. I feel it in my bones."
For the first time, Linda's joy laugh rang over Peter Morrison's
"I don't know about that," she said gaily. "He's a wide-awake
specimen; he has led his class for four years when the Jap didn't
get ahead of him. But, all foolishness aside, take my word for
it, Peter, you'll be sorry if you don't build this house big
enough for your dream lady and for all the little dreams that may
spring from her heart."
"Nightmares, you mean," said Henry Anderson. "I can't imagine a
bunch of kids muddying up this spring and breaking the bushes and
using slingshots on the birds."
"Yes," said Linda with scathing sarcasm, "and wouldn't our
government be tickled to death to have a clear spring and a
perfect bush and a singing bird, if it needed six men to go over
the top to handle a regiment of Japanese!"
Then Peter Morrison laughed.
"Well, your estimate is too low, Linda," he said in his nicest
drawling tone of voice. "Believe me, one U. S. kid will never
march in a whole regiment of Japanese. They won't lay down their
guns and walk to surrender as bunches of Germans did. Nobody
need ever think that. They are as good fighters as they are
imitators. There's nothing for you to do, Henry, but to take to
heart what Miss Linda has said. Plan the house with a suite for
a dream lady, and a dining room, a sleeping porch and a nursery
big enough for the six children allotted to me."
"You're not really in earnest?" asked Henry Anderson in doubting
"I am in the deepest kind of earnest," said Peter Morrison.
"What Miss Linda says is true. As a nation, our people are
pampering themselves and living for their own pleasures. They
won't take the trouble or endure the pain required to bear and to
rear children; and the day is rolling toward us, with every turn
of the planet one day closer, when we are going to be outnumbered
by a combination of peoples who can take our own tricks and beat
us with them. We must pass along the good word that the one
thing America needs above every other thing on earth is HOMES AND
HEARTS BIG ENOUGH FOR CHILDREN, as were the homes of our
grandfathers, when no joy in life equaled the joy of a new child
in the family, and if you didn't have a dozen you weren't doing
your manifest duty."
"Well, if that is the way you see the light, we must enlarge this
house. As designed, it included every feminine convenience
anyway. But when I build my house I am going to build it for
"Then don't talk any more about being my bug-catcher," said Linda
promptly, "because when I build my house it's going to be a nest
that will hold six at the very least. My heart is perfectly set
on a brood of six."
Linda was quite unaware that the two men were studying her
closely, but if she had known what was going on in their minds
she would have had nothing to regret, because both of them found
her very attractive, and both of them were wondering how anything
so superficial as Eileen could be of the same blood as Linda.
"Are we keeping you too late?" inquired Peter.
"No," said Linda, "I am as interested as I can be. Finish
everything you want to do before we go. I hope you're going to
let me come over often and watch you with your building. Maybe I
can get an idea for some things I want to do. Eileen and I have
our house divided by a Mason and Dixon line. On her side is
Mother's suite, the dining room, the living room and the front
door. On mine there's the garage and the kitchen and Katy's
bedroom and mine and the library and the billiard room. At the
present minute I am interested in adapting the library to my
requirements instead of Father's, and I am emptying the billiard
room and furnishing it to make a workroom. I have a small talent
with a brush and pencil, and I need some bare walls to tack my
prints on to dry, and I need numerous places for all the things I
am always dragging in from the desert and the canyons; and since
I have the Bear Cat running, what I have been doing in that line
with a knapsack won't be worthy of mention."
"How did it come," inquired Henry Anderson, "that you had that
car jacked up so long?"
"Why, hasn't anybody told you," asked Linda, "about our day of
the Black Shadow?"
"John Gilman wrote me when it happened," said Peter softly, "but
I don't believe it has been mentioned before Henry. You tell
Linda turned to Henry Anderson, and with trembling lips and
paling cheeks, in a few brief sentences she gave him the details.
Then she said to Peter Morrison in a low voice: "And that is the
why of Marian Thorne's white head. Anybody tell you that?"
"That white head puzzled me beyond anything I ever saw," he said.
"I meant to ask John about it. He used to talk to me and write
to me often about her, and lately he hasn't; when I came I saw
the reason, and so you see I felt reticent on the subject."
"Well, there's nothing the matter with my tongue," said Linda.
"It's loose at both ends. Marian was an expert driver. She
drove with the same calm judgment and precision and graceful
skill that she does everything else, but the curve was steep and
something in the brakes was defective. It broke with a snap and
there was not a thing she could do. Enough was left of the
remains of the car to prove that. Ten days afterward her head
was almost as white as snow. Before that it was as dark as mine.
But her body is just as young and her heart is just as young and
her face is even more beautiful. I do think that a white crown
makes her lovelier than she was before. I have known Marian ever
since I can remember, and I don't know one thing about her that I
could not look you straight in the eye and tell you all about.
There is not a subterfuge or an evasion or a small mean deceit in
her soul. She is the brainiest woman and the biggest woman I
"I haven't a doubt of it," said Peter Morrison. "And while you
are talking about nice women, we met a mighty fine one at
Riverside on Sunday. Her name is Mary Louise Whiting. Do you
"Not personally," said Linda. "I don't recall that I ever saw
her. I know her brother, Donald. He is the high-school boy who
is having the wrestle with the Jap."
"I liked her too," said Henry Anderson. "And by the way, Miss
Linda, haven't bug-catchers any reputation at all as nest
builders? Is it true that among feathered creatures the hen
builds the home?"
"No, it's not," said Linda promptly. "Male birds make a splendid
record carrying nest material. What is true is that in the
majority of cases the female does the building."
"Well, what I am getting at," said Henry Anderson, "is this. Is
there anything I can do to help you with that billiard room that
you're going to convert to a workroom? What do you lack in it
that you would like to have? Do you need more light or air, or a
fireplace, or what? When you take us to the station, suppose you
drive us past your house and give me a look at that room and let
me think over it a day or two. I might be able to make some
suggestion that would help you."
"Now that is positively sweet of you," said Linda. "I never
thought of such a thing as either comfort or convenience. I
thought I had to take that room as it stands and do the best I
could with it, but since you mention it, it's barely possible
that more air might be agreeable and also more light, and if
there could be a small fireplace built in front of the chimney
where it goes up from the library fireplace, it certainly would
be a comfort, and it would add something to the room that nothing
"No workroom really has a soul if you can't smell smoke and see
red when you go to it at night."
"You little outdoor heathen," laughed Peter Morrison. "One would
think you were an Indian."
"I am a fairly good Indian," said Linda. "I have been scouting
around with my father a good many years. How about it, Peter?
Does the road go crooked?"
"Yes," said Peter, "the road goes crooked."
"Does the bed of the spring curve and sweep across the lawn and
drop off to the original stream below the tree-tobacco clump
"If you say so, it does," said Peter.
"Including the bridge?" inquired Linda.
"Including the bridge," said Peter. "I'll have to burn some
midnight oil, but I can visualize the bridge."
"And is this house where you 'set up your rest,' as you so
beautifully said the other night at dinner, going to lay its
corner stone and grow to its roof a selfish house, or is it going
to be generous enough for a gracious lady and a flight of little
Peter Morrison took off his hat. He turned his face toward the
length of Lilac Valley and stood, very tall and straight, looking
far away before him. Presently he looked down at Linda.
"Even so," he said softly. "My shoulders are broad enough; I
have a brain; and I am not afraid to work. If my heart is not
quite big enough yet, I see very clearly how it can be made to
"I have been told," said Linda in a low voice, "that Mary Louise
Whiting is a perfect darling."
Peter looked at her from the top of her black head to the tips of
her brown shoes. He could have counted the freckles bridging her
nose. The sunburn on her cheeks was very visible; there was
something arresting in the depth of her eyes, the curve of her
lips, the lithe slenderness of her young body; she gave the
effect of something smoldering inside that would leap at a
"I was not thinking of Miss Whiting," he said soberly.
Henry Anderson was watching. Now he turned his back and
commenced talking about plans, but in his heart he said: "So
that's the lay of the land. You've got to hustle yourself,
Henry, or you won't have the ghost of a show."
Later, when they motored down the valley and stopped at the
Strong residence, Peter refused to be monopolized by Eileen. He
climbed the two flights of stairs with Henry Anderson and Linda
and exhausted his fund of suggestions as to what could be done to
that empty billiard room to make an attractive study of it.
Linda listened quietly to all their suggestions, and then she
"It would be fine to have another window, and a small skylight
would be a dream, and as for the fireplace you mention, I can't
even conceive how great it would be to have that; but my purse is
much more limited than Peter's, and while I have my school work
to do every day, my earning capacity is nearly negligible. I can
only pick up a bit here and there with my brush and pencil --
place cards and Easter cards and valentines, and once or twice
magazine covers, and little things like that. I don't see my way
clear to lumber and glass and bricks and chimney pieces."
Peter looked at Henry, and Henry looked at Peter, and a male high
sign, ancient as day, passed between them.
"Easiest thing in the world," said Peter. "It's as sure as
shooting that when my three or four fireplaces, which Henry's
present plans call for, are built, there is going to be all the
material left that can be used in a light tiny fireplace such as
could be built on a third floor, and when the figuring for the
house is done it could very easily include the cutting of a
skylight and an extra window or two here, and getting the
material in with my stuff, it would cost you almost nothing."
Linda's eyes opened wide and dewy with surprise and pleasure.
"Why, you two perfectly nice men!" she said. "I haven't felt as
I do this minute since I lost Daddy. It's wonderful to be taken
care of. It's better than cream puffs with almond flavoring."
Henry Anderson looked at Linda keenly.
"You're the darndest kid!" he said. "One minute you're smacking
your lips over cream puffs, and the next you're going to the
bottom of the yellow peril. I never before saw your combination
in one girl. What's the explanation?" For the second time that
evening Linda's specialty in rapture floated free.
"Bunch all the component parts into the one paramount fact that I
am Saturday's child," she said, "so I am constantly on the job of
working for a living, and then add to that the fact that I was
reared by a nerve specialist."
Then they went downstairs, and the men refused both Eileen's and
Linda's invitation to remain for dinner. When they had gone
Eileen turned to Linda with a discontented and aggrieved face.
"In the name of all that's holy, what are you doing or planning
to do?" she demanded.
"Not anything that will cost you a penny beyond my natural
rights," said Linda quietly.
"That is not answering my question," said Eileen. "You're not of
age and you're still under the authority of a guardian. If you
can't answer me, possibly you can him. Shall I send John Gilman
to ask what I want to know of you?"
"When did I ever ask you any questions about what you chose to
do?" asked Linda. "I am merely following the example that you
have previously set me. John Gilman and I used to be great
friends. It might help both of us to have a family reunion.
Send him by all means."
"You used to take pride," suggested Eileen, "in leading your
"And has anyone told you that I am not leading my class at the
present minute?" asked Linda.
"No," said Eileen, "but what I want to point out to you is that
the minute you start running with the boys you will quit leading
"Don't you believe it," said Linda quietly. "I'm not built that
way. I shan't concentrate on any boy to the exclusion of
chemistry and geometry, never fear it."
Then she thoughtfully ascended the stairs and went to work.
Eileen went to her room and sat down to think; and the more she
thought, the deeper grew her anger and chagrin; and to the
indifference that always had existed in her heart concerning
Linda was added in that moment a new element. She was jealous of
her. How did it come that a lanky, gangling kid in her tees had
been paid a visit by the son of possibly the most cultured and
influential family of the city, people of prestige, comfortable
wealth, and unlimited popularity? For four years she had
struggled to gain an entrance in some way into Louise Whiting's
intimate circle of friends, and she had ended by shutting the
door on the only son of the family. And why had she ever allowed
Linda to keep the runabout? It was not proper that a young girl
should own a high powered car like that. It was not proper that
she should drive it and go racing around the country, heaven knew
where, and with heaven knew whom. Eileen bit her lip until it
almost bled. Her eyes were hateful and her hands were nervous as
she reviewed the past week. She might think any mean thing that
a mean brain could conjure up, but when she calmed down to facts
she had to admit that there was not a reason in the world why
Linda should not drive the car she had driven for her father, or
why she should not take with her Donald Whiting or Peter Morrison
or Henry Anderson. The thing that rankled was that the car
belonged to Linda. The touring car which she might have owned
and driven, had she so desired, lay in an extremely slender
string of pearls around her neck at that instant. She reflected
that if she had kept her car and made herself sufficiently hardy
to drive it, she might have been the one to have taken Peter
Morrison to his home location and to have had many opportunities
for being with him.
"I've been a fool," said Eileen, tugging at the pearls viciously.
"They are nothing but a little bit of a string that looks as if I
were trying to do something and couldn't, at best. What I've got
to do is to think more of myself. I've got to plan some way to
prevent Linda from being too popular until I really get my mind
made up as to what I want to do."
CHAPTER XIII. Leavening the Bread of Life
"'A house that is divided against itself cannot stand,'" quoted
Linda. "I must keep in mind what Eileen said, not that there is
the slightest danger, but to fall behind in my grades is a thing
that simply must not happen. If it be true that Peter and Henry
can so easily and so cheaply add a few improvements in my
workroom in connection with Peter's building, I can see no reason
why they shouldn't do it, so long as I pay for it. I haven't a
doubt but that there will be something I can do for Peter, before
he finishes his building, that he would greatly appreciate,
while, since I'm handy with my pencil, I MIGHT be able to make a
few head and tail pieces for some of his articles that would make
them more attractive. I don't want to use any friend of mine: I
don't want to feel that I am not giving quite as much as I get,
but I think I see my way clear, between me and the Bear Cat, to
pay for all the favors I would receive in altering my study.
"First thing I do I must go through Father's books and get the
money for them, so I'll know my limitation when I come to select
furniture. And I don't know that I am going to be so terribly
modest when it comes to naming the sum with which I'll be
satisfied for my allowance. Possibly I shall exercise my age-old
prerogative and change my mind; I may just say 'half' right out
loud and stick to it. And there's another thing. Since the
editor of Everybody's Home has started my department and promised
that if it goes well he will give it to me permanently, I can
certainly depend on something from that. He has used my
Introduction and two instalments now. I should think it might be
fair to talk payments pretty soon. He should give me fifty
dollars for a recipe with its perfectly good natural history and
embellished with my own vegetable and floral decorations.
"In the meantime I think I might buy my worktable and possibly an
easel, so I can have real room to spread out my new material and
see how it would feel to do one drawing completely unhampered.
I'll order the table tonight, and then I'll begin on the books,
because I must have Saturday free; and I must be thinking about
the most attractive and interesting place I can take Donald to.
I just have to keep him interested until he gets going of his own
accord, because he shall beat Oka Sayye. I wouldn't let Donald
say it but I don't mind saying myself to myself with no one
present except myself that in all my life I have never seen
anything so masklike as the stolid little square head on that
Jap. I have never seen anything I dislike more than the oily,
stiff, black hair standing up on it like menacing bristles. I
have never had but one straight look deep into his eyes, but in
that look I saw the only thing that ever frightened me in looking
into a man's eyes in my whole life. And there is one thing that
I have to remember to caution Donald about. He must carry on
this contest in a perfectly open, fair, and aboveboard way, and
he simply must not antagonize Oka Sayye. There are so many of
the Japs. They all look so much alike, and there's a blood
brotherhood between them that will make them protect each other
to the death against any white man. It wouldn't be safe for
Donald to make Oka Sayye hate him. He had far better try to make
him his friend and put a spirit of honest rivalry into his heart;
but come to think of it, there wasn't anything like that in my
one look into Oka Sayye's eyes. I don't know what it was, but
whatever it was it was something repulsive."
With this thought in her mind Linda walked slowly as she
approached the high school the next time. Far down the street,
over the walks and across the grounds, her eyes were searching
eagerly for the tall slender figure of Donald Whiting. She did
not see him in the morning, but at noon she encountered him in
"Looking for you," he cried gaily when he saw her. "I've got my
pry in on Trig. The professor's interested. Dad fished out an
old Trig that he used when he was a boy and I have some new
angles that will keep my esteemed rival stirring up his gray
matter for some little time."
"Good for you! Joyous congratulations! You've got the idea!"
cried Linda. "Go to it! Start something all along the line, but
make it something founded on brains and reason and common sense.
But, Donald, I was watching for you. I wanted to say a word."
Donald Whiting bent toward her. The faintest suspicion of a
tinge of color crept into his cheeks.
"That's fine," he said. "What was it you wanted?"
"Only this," she said in almost a breathless whisper. "There is
nothing in California I am afraid of except a Jap, and I am
afraid of them, not potentially, not on account of what all of us
know they are planning in the backs of their heads for the
future, but right here and now, personally and physically. Don't
antagonize Oka Sayye. Don't be too precipitate about what you're
trying to do. Try to make it appear that you're developing ideas
for the interest and edification of the whole class. Don't incur
his personal enmity. Use tact."
"You think I am afraid of that little jiu-jitsu?', he scoffed.
"I can lick him with one hand."
"I haven't a doubt of it," said Linda, measuring his height and
apparent strength and fitness. "I haven't a doubt of it. But
let me ask you this confidentially: Have you got a friend who
would slip in and stab him in the back in case you were in an
encounter and he was getting the better of you?"
Donald Whiting's eyes widened. He looked at Linda amazed.
"Wouldn't that be going rather far?" he asked. "I think I have
some fairly good friends among the fellows, but I don't know just
whom I would want to ask to do me that small favor."
"That is precisely the point," cried Linda. "You haven't a
friend you would ask; and you haven't a friend who would do it,
if you did. But don't believe for one second that Oka Sayye
hasn't half a dozen who would make away with you at an unexpected
time and in a secluded place, and vanish, if it would in any way
further Oka Sayye's ambition, or help establish the supremacy of
the Japanese in California."
"Um-hm," said Donald Whiting.
He was looking far past Linda and now his eyes were narrowed in
thought. "I believe you're RIGHT about it."
"I've thought of you so often since I tried to spur you to beat
Oka Sayye," said Linda. "I feel a sort of responsibility for
you. It's to the honor and glory of all California, and the
United States, and the white race everywhere for you to beat him,
but if any harm should come to you I would always feel that I
shouldn't have urged it."
"Now that's foolishness," said Donald earnestly. "If I am such a
dub that I didn't have the ambition to think up some way to beat
a Jap myself, no matter what happens you shouldn't regret having
been the one to point out to me my manifest duty. Dad is a
Harvard man, you know, and that is where he's going to send me,
and in talking about it the other night I told him about you, and
what you had said to me. He's the greatest old scout, and was
mightily interested. He went at once and opened a box of books
in the garret and dug out some stuff that will be a big help to
me. He's going to keep posted and see what he can do; he said
even worse things to me than you did; so you needn't feel that
you have any responsibility; besides that, it's not proved yet
that I can beat Oka Sayye."
"Yes, it is!" said Linda, sending a straight level gaze deep into
his eyes. "Yes, it is! Whenever a white man makes up his mind
what he's going to do, and puts his brain to work, he beats any
man, of any other color. Sure you're going to beat him."
"Fat chance I have not to," said Donald, laughing ruefully. "If
I don't beat him I am disgraced at home, and with you; before I
try very long in this highly specialized effort I am making,
every professor in the high school and every member of my class
is bound to become aware of what is going on. You're mighty
right about it. I have got to beat him or disgrace myself right
at the beginning of my nice young career."
"Of course you'll beat him," said Linda.
"At what hour did you say I should come, Saturday?"
"Oh, come with the lark for all I care," said Linda. "Early
morning in the desert is a mystery and a miracle, and the larks
have been there just long enough to get their voices properly
tuned for their purest notes."
Then she turned and hurried away. Her first leisure minute after
reaching home she went to the library wearing one of Katy's big
aprons, and carrying a brush and duster. Beginning at one end of
each shelf, she took down the volumes she intended to sell,
carefully dusted them, wiped their covers, and the place on which
they had stood, and then opened and leafed through them so that
no scrap of paper containing any notes or memoranda of possible
value should be overlooked. It was while handling these volumes
that Linda shifted several of the books written by her father, to
separate them from those with which she meant to part. She had
grown so accustomed to opening each book she handled and looking
through it, that she mechanically opened the first one she picked
up and from among its leaves there fell a scrap of loose paper.
She picked it up and found it was a letter from the publishers of
the book. Linda's eyes widened suddenly as she read:
MY DEAR STRONG:
Sending you a line of congratulations. You have gone to the head
of the list of "best sellers" among medical works, and the cheque
I draw you for the past six months' royalties will be
considerably larger than that which goes to your most esteemed
contemporary on your chosen subject.
Very truly yours,
The signature was that of Frederic Dickman, the editor of one of
the biggest publishing houses of the country.
"Hm," she said to herself softly. "Now that is a queer thing.
That letter was written nearly five years ago. I don't know why
I never thought of royalties since Daddy went. I frequently
heard him mention them before. I suppose they're being paid to
John Gilman as administrator, or to the Consolidated Bank, and
cared for with Father's other business. There's no reason why
these books should not keep on selling. There are probably the
same number of young men, if not a greater number, studying
medicine every year. I wonder now, about these royalties. I
must do some thinking."
Then Linda began to examine books more carefully than before.
The letter she carried with her when she went to her room; but
she made a point of being on the lawn that evening when John
Gilman came, and after talking to him a few minutes, she said
very casually: "John, as Father's administrator, does a royalty
from his medical books come to you?"
"No," said Gilman. "It is paid to his bank."
"I don't suppose," said Linda casually, "it would amount to
enough to keep one in shoes these inflated days."
"Oh, I don't know about that," said John testily. "I have seen a
few of those cheques in your Father's time. You should be able
to keep fairly well supplied with shoes."
"So I should," said Linda drily. "So I should."
Then she led him to the back of the house and talked the incident
out of his mind as cleverly as possible by giving him an
intensive botanical study of Cotyledon. But she could not
interest him quite so deeply as she had hoped, for presently he
said: "Eileen tells me that you're parting with some of the
"Only technical ones for which I could have no possible use,"
said Linda. "I need clothes, and have found that had I a proper
place to work in and proper tools to work with, I could earn
quite a bit with my brush and pencil, and so I am trying to get
enough money together to fit up the billiard room for a workroom,
since nobody uses it for anything else."
"I see," said John Gilman. "I suppose running a house is
extremely expensive these days, but even so the income from your
estate should be sufficient to dress a schoolgirl and provide for
anything you would want in the way of furnishing a workroom."
"That's what I have always thought myself," said Linda; "but
Eileen doesn't agree with me, and she handles the money. When
the first of the month comes, we are planning to go over things
together, and she is going to make me a proper allowance."
"That is exactly as it should be," said Gilman. "I never
realized till the other night at dinner that you have grown such
a great girl, Linda. That's fine! Fix your workroom the way you
would like to have it, and if there's anything I can do to help
you in any way, you have only to command me. I haven't seen you
"No," said Linda, "but I don't feel that it is exactly my fault.
Marian and I were always pals. When I saw that you preferred
Eileen, I kept with Marian to comfort her all I could. I don't
suppose she cared, particularly. She couldn't have, or she would
at least have made some effort to prevent Eileen from
monopolizing you. She probably was mighty glad to be rid of you;
but since you had been together so much, I thought she might miss
you, so I tried to cover your defection."
John Gilman's face flushed. He stood very still, while he seemed
"Of course you were free to follow your inclinations, or Eileen's
machinations, whichever you did follow," Linda said lightly, "but
'them as knows' could tell you, John, as Katy so well puts it,
that you have made the mistake of your young life."
Then she turned and went to the garage, leaving John to his visit
The Eileen who took possession of John was an Eileen with whom he
was not acquainted. He had known, the night of the dinner party,
that Eileen was pouting, but there had been no chance to learn
from her what her grievance was, and by the next time they met
she was a bundle of flashing allurement, so he ignored the
occurrence. This evening, for the first time, it seemed to him
that Eileen was not so beautiful a woman as he had thought her.
Something had roiled the blood in her delicate veins until it had
muddied the clear freshness of her smooth satiny skin. There was
discontent in her eyes, which were her most convincing
attraction. They were big eyes, wide open and candid. She had
so trained them through a lifetime of practice that she could
meet other eyes directly while manipulating her most dextrous
evasion. Whenever Eileen was most deceptively subtle, she was
looking straight at her victim with the innocent appeal of a baby
in her gaze.
John Gilman had had his struggle. He had succeeded. He had
watched, and waited, and worked incessantly, and when his
opportunity came he was ready. Success had come to such a degree
that in a short time he had assured himself of comfort for any
woman he loved. He knew that his appearance was quite as
pleasing as that of his friend. He knew that in manner and
education they were equals. He was now handling large business
affairs. He had made friends in high places. Whenever Eileen
was ready, he would build and furnish a home he felt sure would
be equal, if not superior, to what Morrison was planning. Why
had Eileen felt that she would envy any woman who shared life
with Peter Morrison?
All that day she had annoyed him, because there must have been in
the very deeps of his soul "a still, small voice" whispering to
him that he had not lived up to the best traditions of a
gentleman in his course with Marian. While no definite plans had
been made, there had been endless assumption. Many times they
had talked of the home they would make together. When he reached
the point where he decided that he never had loved Marian as a
man should love the woman he marries, he felt justified in
turning to Eileen, but in his heart he knew that if he had been
the man he was pleased to consider himself, he would have gone to
Marian Thorne and explained, thereby keeping her friendship,
while he now knew that he must have earned her contempt.
The day at Riverside had been an enigma he could not solve.
Eileen was gay to a degree that was almost boisterous. She had
attracted attention and comment which no well-bred woman would
The growing discontent in John's soul had increased under Linda's
direct attack. He had known Linda since she was four years old
and had been responsible for some of her education. He had been
a large influence in teaching Linda from childhood to be a good
sport, to be sure she was right and then go ahead, and if she
hurt herself in the going, to rub the bruise, but to keep her
A thing patent to the eye of every man who turned an appraising
look upon Linda always had been one of steadfast loyalty. You
could depend upon her. She was the counterpart of her father;
and Doctor Strong had been loved by other men. Wherever he had
gone he had been surrounded. His figure had been one that
attracted attention. When he had spoken, his voice and what he
had to say had commanded respect. And then there had emanated
from him that peculiar physical charm which gives such pleasing
and distinguished personality to a very few people in this world.
This gift too had descended to Linda. She could sit and look
straight at you with her narrow, interested eyes, smile faintly,
and make you realize what she thought and felt without opening
her lips. John did not feel very well acquainted with the girl
who had dominated the recent dinner party, but he did see that
she was attractive, that both Peter Morrison and Henry Anderson
had been greatly amused and very much entertained by her. He had
found her so interesting himself that he had paid slight
attention to Eileen's pouting.
Tonight he was forced to study Eileen, for the sake of his own
comfort to try to conciliate her. He was uncomfortable because
he was unable to conduct himself as Eileen wished him to, without
a small sickening disgust creeping into his soul. Before the
evening was over he became exasperated, and ended by asking
flatly: "Eileen, what in the dickens is the matter with you?"
It was a new tone and a new question on nerves tensely strung.
"If you weren't blind you'd know without asking," retorted Eileen
"Then I am 'blind,' for I haven't the slightest notion. What
have I done?"
"Isn't it just barely possible," asked Eileen, "that there might
be other people who would annoy and exasperate me? I have not
hinted that you have done anything, although I don't know that
it's customary for a man calling on his betrothed to stop first
for a visit with her sister."
"For the love of Mike!" said John Gilman. "Am I to be found
fault with for crossing the lawn a minute to see how Linda's wild
garden is coming on? I have dug and helped set enough of those
plants to justify some interest in them as they grow."
"And the garden was your sole subject of conversation?" inquired
Eileen, implied doubt conveyed nicely.
"No, it was not," answered Gilman, all the bulldog in his nature
coming to the surface.
"As I knew perfectly," said Eileen. "I admit that I'm not
feeling myself. Things began going wrong recently, and
everything has gone wrong since. I think it all began with
Marian Thorne's crazy idea of selling her home and going to the
city to try to ape a man."
"Marian never tried to ape a man in her life," said John,
instantly yielding to a sense of justice. "She is as strictly
feminine as any woman I ever knew."
"Do you mean to say that you think studying architecture is a
woman's work?" sneered Eileen.
"Yes, I do," said Gilman emphatically. "Women live in houses.
They're in them nine tenths of the time to a man's one tenth.
Next to rocking a cradle I don't know of any occupation in this
world more distinctly feminine than the planning of comfortable
homes for homekeeping people."
Eileen changed the subject swiftly. "What was Linda saying to
you?" she asked.
"She was showing me a plant, a rare Echeveria of the Cotyledon
family, that she tobogganed down one side of Multiflores Canyon
and delivered safely on the roadway without its losing an
appreciable amount of 'bloom' from its exquisitely painted
Eileen broke in rudely. "Linda has missed Marian. There's not a
possible thing to make life uncomfortable for me that she is not
doing. You needn't tell me you didn't see and understand her
rude forwardness the other night!"
"No, I didn't see it," said John, "because the fact is I thought
the kid was positively charming, and so did Peter and Henry
because both of them said so. There's one thing you must take
into consideration, Eileen. The time has come when she should
have clothes and liberty and opportunity to shape her life
according to her inclinations. Let me tell you she will attract
attention in georgette and laces."
"And where are the georgette and laces to come from?" inquired
Eileen sarcastically. "All outgo and no income for four years is
leaving the Strong finances in mighty precarious shape, I can
"All right," said Gilman, "I'm financially comfortable now. I'm
ready. Say the word. We'll select our location and build our
home, and let Linda have what there is of the Strong income till
she is settled in life. You have pretty well had all of it for
the past four years."
"Yes," said Eileen furiously, "I have 'pretty well' had it, in a
few little dresses that I have altered myself and very frequently
made entirely. I have done the best I could, shifting and
skimping, and it's not accomplished anything that I have really
wanted. According to men, the gas and the telephone and the
electric light and the taxes and food and cook pay for
themselves. All a woman ever spends money on is clothes!"
"Eileen," chuckled John Gilman, "this sounds exactly as if we
were married, and we're not, yet."
"No," said Eileen, "thank heaven we're not. If it's come to the
place where you're siding with everybody else against me, and
where you're more interested in what my kid sister has to say to
you than you are in me, I don't think we ever shall be."
Then, from stress of nerve tension and long practice, some big
tears gushed up and threatened to overflow Eileen's lovely eyes.
That never should happen, for tears are salt water and they cut
little rivers through even the most carefully and skillfully
constructed complexion, while Eileen's was looking its worst that
evening. She hastily applied her handkerchief, and John Gilman
took her into his arms; so the remainder of the evening it was as
if they were not married. But when John returned to the subject
of a home and begged Eileen to announce their engagement and let
him begin work, she evaded him, and put him off, and had to have
time to think, and she was not ready, and there were many
excuses, for none of which Gilman could see any sufficient
reason. When he left Eileen that night, it was with a heavy
CHAPTER XIV. Saturday's Child
Throughout the week Linda had worked as never during her life
previously, in order to save Saturday for Donald Whiting. She
ran the Bear Cat down to the garage and had it looked over once
more to be sure that everything was all right. Friday evening,
on her way from school, she stopped at a grocery where she knew
Eileen kept an account, and for the first time ordered a few
groceries. These she carried home with her, and explained to
Katy what she wanted.
Katy fully realized that Linda was still her child, with no
thought in her mind save standing at the head of her classes,
carrying on the work she had begun with her father, keeping up
her nature study, and getting the best time she could out of life
in the open as she had been taught to do from her cradle.
Katy had not the slightest intention of opening her lips to say
one word that might put any idea into the head of her beloved
child, but she saw no reason why she herself should not harbor
all the ideas she pleased.
Whereupon, actuated by a combination of family pride, love,
ambition in her chosen profession, Katy made ready to see that on
the morrow the son of Frederick Whiting should be properly
nourished on his outing with Linda.
At six o'clock Saturday morning Linda ran the Bear Cat to the
back door, where she and Katy packed it. Before they had
finished, Donald Whiting came down the sidewalk, his cheeks
flushed with the exercise of walking, his eyes bright with
anticipation, his cause forever won--in case he had a cause--with
Katy, because she liked the wholesome, hearty manner in which he
greeted Linda, and she was dumbfounded when he held out his hand
to her and said laughingly: "Blessed among women, did you put in
a fine large consignment of orange punch?"
"No," said Katy, "I'll just tell ye flat-footed there ain't going
to be any punch, but, young sir, you're eshcortin' a very capable
young lady, and don't ye bewail the punch, because ye might be
complimenting your face with something ye would like a hape
"Can't be done, Katy," cried Donald.
"Ye must have a poor opinion of us," laughed Katy, "if ye are
thinking ye can get to the end of our limitations in one lunch.
Fourteen years me and Miss Linda's been on this lunch-box stunt.
Don't ye be thinkin' ye can exhaust us in any wan trip, or in any
So they said good-bye to Katy and rolled past Eileen's room on
the way to the desert. Eileen stood at the window watching them,
and never had her heart been so full of discontent and her soul
the abiding place of such envy or her mind so busy. Just when
she had thought life was going to yield her what she craved, she
could not understand how or why things should begin to go wrong.
As the Bear Cat traversed Lilac Valley, Linda was pointing out
Peter Morrison's location. She was telling Donald Whiting where
to find Peter's articles, and what a fine man he was, and that he
had promised to think how he could help with their plan to make
of Donald a better scholar than was Oka Sayye.
"Well, I call that mighty decent of a stranger," said Donald.
"But he is scarcely more of a stranger than I am," answered
Linda. "He is a writer. He is interested in humanity. It's the
business of every man in this world to reach out and help every
boy with whom he comes in contact into the biggest, finest
manhood possible. He only knows that you're a boy tackling a big
job that means much to every white boy to have you succeed with,
and for that reason he's just as interested as I am. Maybe, when
we come in this evening, I'll run up to his place, and you can
talk it over with him. If your father helped you at one angle,
it's altogether probable that Peter Morrison could help you at
Donald Whiting rubbed his knee reflectively. He was sitting half
turned in the wide seat so that he might watch Linda's hands and
her face while she drove.
"Well, that's all right," he said heartily. "You can write me
down as willing and anxious to take all the help I can get, for
it's going to be no microscopic job, that I can tell you. One
week has waked up the Jap to the fact that there's something
doing, and he's digging in and has begun, the last day or two, to
speak up in class and suggest things himself. Since I've been
studying him and watching him, I have come to the conclusion that
he is much older than I am. Something he said in class yesterday
made me think he had probably had the best schooling Japan could
give him before he came here. The next time you meet him look
for a suspicion of gray hairs around his ears. He's too blamed
comprehensive for the average boy of my age. You said the Japs
were the best imitators in the world and I have an idea in the
back of my head that before I get through with him, Oka Sayye is
going to prove your proposition."
Linda nodded as she shot the Bear Cat across the streetcar tracks
and headed toward the desert. The engine was purring softly as
it warmed up. The car was running smoothly. The sun of early
morning was shining on them through bracing, salt, cool air, and
even in the valley the larks were busy, and the mockingbirds, and
from every wayside bush the rosy finches were singing. All the
world was coming to the exquisite bloom of a half-tropical
country. Up from earth swept the heavy odors of blooming citrus
orchards, millions of roses, and the overpowering sweetness of
gardens and cultivated flowers; while down from the mountains
rolled the delicate breath of the misty blue lilac, the pungent
odor of California sage, and the spicy sweet of the lemonade
bush. They were two young things, free for the day, flying down
a perfect road, adventuring with Providence. They had only gone
a few miles when Donald Whiting took off his hat, stuffed it down
beside him, and threw back his head, shaking his hair to the wind
in a gesture so soon to become familiar to Linda. She glanced
across at him and found him looking at her. A smile broke over
her lips. One of her most spontaneous laughs bubbled up in her
"Topping, isn't it!" she cried gaily.
"It's the best thing that ever happened to me," answered Donald
Whiting instantly. "Our car is a mighty good one and Dad isn't
mean about letting me drive it. I can take it frequently and can
have plenty of gas and take my crowd; but lordy, I don't believe
there's a boy or girl living that doesn't just positively groan
when they see one of these little gray Bear Cats go loping past.
And I never even had a ride in one before. I can't get over the
fact that it's yours. It wouldn't seem so funny if it belonged
to one of the fellows."
With steady hand and gradually increasing speed, Linda put the
Bear Cat over the roads of early morning. Sometimes she stopped
in the shade of pepper, eucalyptus, or palm, where the larks were
specializing in their age-old offertory. And then again they
went racing until they reached the real desert. Linda ran the
car under the shade of a tall clump of bloom-whitened alders.
She took off her hat, loosened the hair at her temples, and
looked out across the long morning stretch of desert.
"It's just beginning to be good," she said. She began pointing
with her slender hand. "That gleam you see over there is the
gold of a small clump of early poppies. The purple beyond it is
lupin. All these exquisite colors on the floor are birds'-eyes
and baby blue eyes, and the misty white here and there is
forget-me-not. It won't be long til thousands and thousands of
yucca plants will light their torches all over the desert and all
the alders show their lacy mist. Of course you know how
exquisitely the Spaniards named the yucca 'Our Lord's Candles.'
Isn't that the prettiest name for a flower, and isn't it the
"It certainly is," answered Donald.
"Had any experience with the desert?" Linda asked lightly.
"Hunted sage hens some," answered Donald.
"Oh, well, that'll be all right," said Linda. "I wondered if
you'd go murdering yourself like a tenderfoot."
"What's the use of all this artillery?" inquired Donald as he
stepped from the car.
"Better put on your hat. You're taller than most of the bushes;
you'll find slight shade," cautioned Linda. "The use is purely a
matter of self-protection. The desert has got such a devil of a
fight for existence, without shade and practically without water,
that it can't afford to take any other chance of extermination,
and so it protects itself with needles here and spears there and
sabers at other places and roots that strike down to China
everywhere. First thing we are going to get is some soap."
"Great hat!" exclaimed Donald. "If you wanted soap why didn't
you bring some?"
"For all you know," laughed Linda, "I may be going to education
you up a little. Dare you to tell me how many kinds of soap I
can find today that the Indians used, and where I can find it."
"Couldn't tell you one to save my life," said Donald.
"And born and reared within a few miles of the desert!" scoffed
Linda. "Nice Indian you'd make. We take our choice today
between finding deer-brush and digging for amole, because the
mock oranges aren't ripe enough to be nice and soapy yet. I've
got the deer-brush spotted, and we'll pass an amole before we go
very far. Look for a wavy blue-green leaf like a wide blade of
grass and coming up like a lily."
So together they went to the deer-brush and gathered a bunch of
flowers that Linda bound together with some wiry desert grass and
fastened to her belt. It was not long before Donald spied an
amole, and having found one, discovered many others growing near.
Then Linda led the way past thorns and brush, past impenetrable
beds of cholla, until they reached a huge barrel cactus that she
had located with the glasses. Beside this bristling monstrous
growth Linda paused, and reached for the axe, which Donald handed
to her. She drew it lightly across the armor protecting the
"Short of Victrola needles?" she inquired. "Because if you are,
these make excellent ones. A lot more singing quality to them
than the steel needles, not nearly so metallic."
"Well, I am surely going to try that," said Donald. "Never heard
of such a thing."
Linda chopped off a section of plant. Then she picked one of the
knives from the bucket and handed it to him.
"All right, you get what you want," she said, "while I operate on
She set her feet firmly in the sand, swung the axe, and with a
couple of deft strokes sliced off the top of the huge plant, and
from the heart of it lifted up half a bucketful of the juicy
interior, with her dipper.
"If we didn't have drink, here is where we would get it, and
mighty good it is," she said, pushing down with the dipper until
she formed a small pool in the heart of the plant which rapidly
filled. "Have a taste."
"Jove, that is good!" said Donald. "What are you going to do
"Show you later," laughed Linda. "Think I'll take a sip myself."
Then by a roundabout route they started on their return to the
car. Once Linda stopped and gathered a small bunch of an
extremely curious little plant spreading over the ground, a tiny
reddish vine with quaint round leaves that looked as if a drop of
white paint rimmed with maroon had fallen on each of them.
"I never saw that before," said Donald. "What are you going to
do with it?"
"Use it on whichever of us gets the first snake bite," said
Linda. "That is rattlesnake weed and if a poisonous snake bites
you, score each side of the wound with the cleanest, sharpest
knife you have and then bruise the plant and bind it on with your
handkerchief, and forget it."
"Is that what you do?" inquired Donald.
"Why sure," said Linda, "that is what I would do if a snake were
so ungallant as to bite me, but there doesn't seem to be much of
the antagonistic element in my nature. I don't go through the
desert exhaling the odor of fright, and so snakes lie quiescent
or slip away so silently that I never see them."
"Now what on earth do you mean by that?" inquired Donald.
"Why that is the very first lesson Daddy ever taught me when he
took me to the mountains and the desert. If you are afraid, your
system throws off formic acid, and the animals need only the
suspicion of a scent of it to make them ready to fight. Any
animal you encounter or even a bee, recognizes it. One of the
first things that I remember about Daddy was seeing him sit on
the running board of the runabout buckling up his desert boots
while he sang to me,
'Let not your heart be troubled Neither let it be afraid,'
as he got ready to take me on his back and go into the desert for
our first lesson; he told me that a man was perfectly safe in
going to the forest or the desert or anywhere he chose among any
kind of animals if he had sufficient self-control that no odor of
fear emanated from him. He said that a man was safe to make his
way anywhere he wanted to go, if he started his journey by
recognizing a blood brotherhood with anything living he would
meet on the way; and I have heard Enos Mills say that when he was
snow inspector of Colorado he traveled the crest of the Rockies
from one end of the state to the other without a gun or any means
"Now, that is something new to think about," said Donald.
"And it's something that is very true," said Linda. "I have seen
it work times without number. Father and I went quietly up the
mountains, through the canyons, across the desert, and we would
never see a snake of any kind, but repeatedly we would see men
with guns and dogs out to kill, to trespass on the rights of the
wild, and they would be hunting for sticks and clubs and firing
their guns where we had passed never thinking of lurking danger.
If you start out in accord, at one with Nature, you're quite as
safe as you are at home, sometimes more so. But if you start out
to stir up a fight, the occasion is very rare on which you can't
"And that reminds me," said Donald, with a laugh, "that a week
ago I came to start a fight with you. What has become of that
fight we were going to have, anyway?"
"You can search me," laughed Linda, throwing out her hands in a
graceful gesture. "There's not a scrap of fight in my system
concerning you, but if Oka Sayye were having a fight with you and
I were anywhere around, you'd have one friend who would help you
to handle the Jap."
Donald looked at Linda thoughtfully.
"By the great hocus-pocus," he said, "you know, I believe you.
If two fellows were having a pitched battle most of the girls I
know would quietly faint or run, but I do believe that you would
stand by and help a fellow if he needed it."
"That I surely would," said Linda; "but don't you say 'most of
the girls I know' and then make a statement like that concerning
girls, because you prove that you don't know them at all. A few
years ago, I very distinctly recall how angry many women were at
this line in one of Kipling's poems:
The female of the species is more deadly than the male,
and there was nothing to it save that a great poet was trying to
pay womanhood everywhere the finest compliment he knew how. He
always has been fundamental in his process of thought. He gets
right back to the heart of primal things. When he wrote that
line he was not really thinking that there was a nasty poison in
the heart of a woman or death in her hands. What he was thinking
was that in the jungle the female lion or tiger or jaguar must go
and find a particularly secluded cave and bear her young and
raise them to be quite active kittens before she leads them out,
because there is danger of the bloodthirsty father eating them
when they are tiny and helpless. And if perchance a male finds
the cave of his mate and her tiny young and enters it to do
mischief, then there is no recorded instance I know of in which
the female, fighting in defense of her young, has not been 'more
deadly than the male.' And that is the origin of the
much-discussed line concerning the female of the species, and it
holds good fairly well down the line of the wild. It's even true
among such tiny things as guinea pigs and canary birds. There is
a mother element in the heart of every girl. Daddy used to say
that half the women in the world married the men they did because
they wanted to mother them. You can't tell what is in a woman's
heart by looking at her. You must bring her face to face with an
emergency before you can say what she'll do, but I would be
perfectly willing to stake my life on this: There is scarcely a
girl you know who would see you getting the worst of a fight, say
with Oka Sayye, or someone who meant to kill you or injure you,
who would not pick up the first weapon she could lay her hands
on, whether it was an axe or a stick or a stone, and go to your
defense, and if she had nothing else to fight with, I have heard
of women who put up rather a tidy battle with their claws.
Sounds primitive, doesn't it?"
"It sounds true," said Donald reflectively. "I see, young lady,
where one is going to have to measure his words and think before
he talks to you."
"Pretty thought!" said Linda lightly. "We'll have a great time
if you must stop to consider every word before you say it."
"Well, anyway," said Donald, "when are we going to have that
fight which was the purpose of our coming together?"
"Why, we're not ever going to have it," answered Linda. "I have
got nothing in this world to fight with you about since you're
doing your level best to beat Oka Sayye. I have watched your
head above the remainder of your class for three years and wanted
to fight with you on that point."
"Now that's a queer thing," said Donald, "because I have watched
you for three years and wanted to fight with you about your
drygoods, and now since I've known you only such a short while, I
don't care two whoops what you wear. It's a matter of perfect
indifference to me. You can wear French heels or baby pumps, or
go barefoot. You would still be you."
"Is it a truce?" asked Linda. I
"No, ma'am," said Donald, "it's not a truce. That implies war
and we haven't fought. It's not armed neutrality; it's not even
watchful waiting. It's my friend, Linda Strong. Me for her and
her for me, if you say so."
He reached out his hand. Linda laid hers in it, and looking into
his eyes, she said: "That is a compact. We'll test this
friendship business and see what there is to it. Now come on;
let's run for the canyon."
It was only a short time until the Bear Cat followed its trail of
the previous Saturday, and, rushing across the stream, stopped at
its former resting place, while Linda and Donald sat looking at
the sheer-walled little room before them.
"I can see," said Linda, "a stronger tinge in the green. There
are more flowers in the carpet. There is more melody in the
birds' song. We are going to have a better time than we had last
Saturday. First let's fix up our old furnace, because we must
have a fire today."
So they left the car, and under Linda's direction they
reconstructed the old fireplace at which the girl and her father
had cooked when botanizing in Multiflores. In a corner secluded
from wind, using the wall of the canyon for a back wall, big
boulders the right distance apart on each side, and small stones
for chinking, Linda superintended the rebuilding of the
She unpacked the lunch box, set the table, and when she had
everything in readiness she covered the table, and taking a
package, she carried it on a couple of aluminium pie pans to
where her fire was burning crisply. With a small field axe she
chopped a couple of small green branches, pointed them to her
liking, and peeled them. Then she made a poker from one of the
saplings they had used to move the rocks, and beat down her fire
until she had a bright bed of deep coals. When these were
arranged exactly to her satisfaction, she pulled some sprays of
deer weed bloom from her bundle and, going down to the creek,
made a lather and carefully washed her hands, tucking the towel
she used in drying them through her belt. Then she came back to
the fire and, sitting down beside it, opened the package and
began her operations. On the long, slender sticks she strung a
piece of tenderloin beef, about three inches in circumference and
one fourth of an inch in thickness, then half a slice of bacon,
and then a slice of onion. This she repeated until her skewer
would bear no more weight. Then she laid it across the rocks
walling her fire, occasionally turning it while she filled the
second skewer. Then she brought from the car the bucket of pulp
she had taken from the barrel cactus, transferred it to a piece
of cheesecloth and deftly extracted the juice. To this she added
the contents of a thermos bottle containing a pint of sugar that
had been brought to the boiling point with a pint of water and
poured over some chopped spearmint to which had been added the
juice of half a dozen lemons and three or four oranges. From a
small, metal-lined compartment, Linda took a chunk of ice and
dropped it into this mixture.
She was sitting on the ground, one foot doubled under her, the
other extended. She had taken off her hat; the wind and the
bushes had roughened her hair. Exercise had brought deep red to
her cheeks and her lips. Happiness had brought a mellow glow to
her dark eyes. She had turned back her sleeves, and her slender
hands were fascinatingly graceful in their deft handling of
everything she touched. They were a second edition of the hands
with which Alexander Strong had felt out defective nerve systems
and made delicate muscular adjustments. She was wholly absorbed
in what she was doing. Sitting on the blanket across from her
Donald Whiting was wholly absorbed in her and he was thinking.
He was planning how he could please her, how he could earn her
friendship. He was admitting to himself that he had very little,
if anything, to show for hours of time that he had spent in
dancing, at card games, beach picnics, and races. All these
things had been amusing. But he had nothing to show for the time
he had spent or the money he had wasted. Nothing had happened
that in any way equipped him for his battle with Oka Sayye.
Conversely, this girl, whom he had resented, whom he had
criticized, who had claimed his notice only by her radical
difference from the other girls, had managed, during the few
minutes he had first talked with her in the hall, to wound his
pride, to spur his ambition, to start him on a course that must
end in lasting and material benefit to him even if he failed in
making a higher record of scholarship than Oka Sayye. It was
very certain that the exercise he was giving his brain must be
beneficial. He had learned many things that were intensely
interesting to him and he had not even touched the surface of
what he could see that she had been taught by her father or had
learned through experience and personal investigation. She had
been coming to the mountains and the canyons alone, for four
years doing by herself what she would have done under her
father's supervision had he lived. That argued for steadfastness
and strength of character. She would not utter one word of
flattery. She would say nothing she did not mean. Watching her
intently, Donald Whiting thought of all these things. He thought
of what she had said about fighting for him, and he wondered if
it really was true that any girl he knew would fight for him. He
hardly believed it when he remembered some of his friends, so
entirely devoted to personal adornment and personal
gratification. But Linda had said that all women were alike in
their hearts. She knew about other things. She must know about
this. Maybe all women would fight for their young or for their
men, but he knew of no other girl who could drive a Bear Cat with
the precision and skill with which Linda drove. He knew no other
girl who was master of the secrets of the desert and the canyons
and the mountains. Certainly he knew no other girl who would tug
at great boulders and build a fireplace and risk burning her
fingers and scorching her face to prepare a meal for him. So he
watched Linda and so he thought.
At first he thought she was the finest pal a boy ever had, and
then he thought how he meant to work to earn and keep her
friendship; and then, as the fire reddened Linda's cheeks and she
made running comments while she deftly turned her skewers of
brigand beefsteak, food that half the Boy Scouts in the country
had been eating for four years, there came an idea with which he
dallied until it grew into a luring vision.
"Linda," he asked suddenly, "do you know that one of these days
you're going to be a beautiful woman?"
Linda turned her skewers with intense absorption. At first he
almost thought she had not heard him, but at last she said
quietly: "Do you really think that is possible, Donald?"
"You're lovely right now !" answered the boy promptly.
"For goodness' sake, have an eye single to your record for truth
and veracity," said Linda. "Doesn't this begin to smell zippy?"
"It certainly does," said Donald. "It's making me ravenous. But
honest, Linda, you are a pretty girl."
"Honest, your foot!" said Linda scornfully. "I am not a pretty
girl. I am lean and bony and I've got a beak where I should have
a nose. Speaking of pretty girls, my sister, Eileen, is a pretty
girl. She is a downright beautiful girl."
"Yes," said Donald, "she is, but she can't hold a candle to you.
How did she look when she was your age?"
"I can't remember Eileen," said Linda, "when she was not
exquisitely dressed and thinking more about taking care of her
shoes than anything else in the world. I can't remember her when
she was not curled, and even when she was a tiny thing Mother put
a dust of powder on her nose. She said her skin was so delicate
that it could not bear the sun. She never could run or play or
motor much or do anything, because she has always had to be saved
for the sole purpose of being exquisitely beautiful. Talk about
lilies of the field, that's what Eileen is! She is an improvement
on the original lily of the field--she's a lily of the drawing
room. Me, now, I'm more of a Joshua tree."
Donald Whiting laughed, as Linda intended that he should.
A minute afterward she slid the savory food from a skewer upon
one of the pie pans, tossed back the cover from the little table,
stacked some bread-and-butter sandwiches beside the meat and
handed the pan to Donald.
"Fall to," she said, "and prove that you're a man with an
appreciative tummy. Father used to be positively ravenous for
this stuff. I like it myself."
She slid the food from the second skewer to a pan for herself,
settled the fire to her satisfaction and they began their meal.
Presently she filled a cup from the bucket beside her and handed
it to Donald. At the same time she lifted another for herself.
"Here's to the barrel cactus," she said. "May the desert grow
enough of them so that we'll never lack one when we want to have
a Saturday picnic."
Laughingly they drank this toast; and the skewers were filled a
second time. When they could eat no more they packed away the
lunch things, buried the fire, took the axe and the field
glasses, and started on a trip of exploration down the canyon.
Together they admired delicate and exquisite ferns growing around
great gray boulders. Donald tasted hunters' rock leek, and
learned that any he found while on a hunting expedition would
furnish a splendid substitute for water. Linda told him of rare
flowers she lacked and what they were like and how he would be
able to identify what she wanted in case he should ever find any
when he was out hunting or with his other friends. They peeped
into the nesting places of canyon wrens and doves and finches,
and listened to the exquisite courting songs of the birds whose
hearts were almost bursting with the exuberance of spring and the
joy of home making. When they were tired out they went back to
the dining room and after resting a time, they made a supper from
the remnants of their dinner. When they were seated in the car
and Linda's hand was on the steering wheel, Donald reached across
and covered it with his own.
"Wait a bit," he said. "Before we leave here I want to ask you a
question and I want you to make me a promise."
"All right," said Linda. "What's your question?"
"What is there," said Donald, "that I can do that would give you
such pleasure as you have given me?"
Linda could jest on occasions, but by nature she was a serious
person. She looked at Donald reflectively.
"Why, I think," she said at last, "that having a friend, having
someone who understands and who cares for the things I do, and
who likes to go to the same places and to do the same things, is
the biggest thing that has happened to me since I lost my father.
I don't see that you are in any way in my debt, Donald."
"All right then," said the boy, "that brings me to the promise I
want you to make me. May we always have our Saturdays together
"Sure!" said Linda, "I would be mightily pleased. I'll have to
work later at night and scheme, maybe. By good rights Saturday
belongs to me anyway because I am born Saturday's child."
"Well, hurrah for Saturday! It always was a grand old day," said
Donald, "and since I see what it can do in turning out a girl
like you, I've got a better opinion of it than ever. We'll call
that settled. I'll always ask you on Friday at what hour to
come, and hereafter Saturday is ours."
"Ours it is," said Linda.
Then she put the Bear Cat through the creek and on the road and,
driving swiftly as she dared, ran to Lilac Valley and up to Peter
She was amazed at the amount of work that had been accomplished.
The garage was finished. Peter's temporary work desk and his cot
were in it. A number of his personal belongings were there. The
site for his house had been selected and the cellar was being
Linda descended from the Bear Cat and led Donald before Peter.
"Since you're both my friends," she said, "I want you to know
each other. This is Donald Whiting, the Senior I told you about,
Mr. Morrison. You know you said you would help him if you
"Certainly," said Peter. "I am very glad to know any friend of
yours, Miss Linda. Come over to my workroom and let's hear about
"Oh, go and talk it over between yourselves," said Linda. "I am
going up here to have a private conversation with the spring. I
want it to tell me confidentially exactly the course it would
enjoy running so that when your house is finished and I come to
lay out your grounds I will know exactly how it feels about
making a change."
"Fine!" said Peter. "Take your time and become extremely
confidential, because the more I look at the location and the
more I hear the gay chuckling song that that water sings, the
more I am in love with your plan to run it across the lawn and
bring it around the boulder."
"It would be a downright sin not to have that water in a
convenient place for your children to play in, Peter," said
"Then that's all settled," said Peter. "Now, Whiting, come this
way and we'll see whether I can suggest anything that will help
you with your problem."
"Whistle when you are ready, Donald," called Linda as she turned
Peter Morrison glanced after her a second, and then he led Donald
Whiting to a nail keg in the garage and impaled that youngster on
the mental point of a mental pin and studied him as carefully as
any scientist ever studied a rare specimen. When finally he let
him go, his mental comment was: "He's a mighty fine kid. Linda
is perfectly safe with him."
CHAPTER XV. Linda's Hearthstone
Early the following week Linda came from school one evening to
find a load of sand and a heap of curiously marked stones beside