For an instant after Marian had boarded her train Linda stood looking at it, her heart so heavy that it pained acutely. She had not said one word to make Marian feel that she did not want her to go. Not once had she put forward the argument that Marian's going would leave her to depend entirely for human sympathy upon the cook, and her guardian, also administrator of the Strong estate, John Gilman. So long as he was Marian's friend Linda had admired John Gilman. She had gone to him for some measure of the companionship she had missed in losing her father. Since Gilman had allowed himself to be captivated by Eileen, Linda had harbored a feeling concerning him almost of contempt. Linda was so familiar with every move that Eileen made, so thoroughly understood that there was a motive back of her every action, that she could not see why John Gilman, having known her from childhood, should not understand her also.
She had decided that the time had come when she would force Eileen to give her an allowance, however small, for her own personal expenses, that she must in some way manage to be clothed so that she was not a matter of comment even among the boys of her school, and she could see no reason why the absolute personal liberty she always had enjoyed so long as she disappeared when Eileen did not want her and appeared when she did, should not extend to her own convenience as well as Eileen's.
Life was a busy affair for Linda. She had not time to watch Marian's train from sight. She must hurry to the nearest street car and make all possible haste or she would be late for her classes. Throughout the day she worked with the deepest concentration, but she could not keep down the knowledge that Eileen would have things to say, possibly things to do, when they met that evening, for Eileen was capable of disconcerting hysteria. Previously Linda had remained stubbornly silent during any tirade in which Eileen chose to indulge. She had allowed herself to be nagged into doing many things that she despised, because she would not assert herself against apparent injustice. But since she had come fully to realize the results of Eileen's course of action for Marian and for herself, she was deliberately arriving at the conclusion that hereafter she would speak when she had a defense, and she would make it her business to let the sun shine on any dark spot that she discovered in Eileen.
Linda knew that if John Gilman were well acquainted with Eileen, he could not come any nearer to loving her than she did. Such an idea as loving Eileen never had entered Linda's thoughts. To Linda, Eileen was not lovable. That she should be expected to love her because they had the same parents and lived in the same home seemed absurd. She was slightly disappointed, on reaching home, to find that Eileen was not there.
"Will the lady of the house dine with us this evening? she asked as she stood eating an apple in the kitchen.
"She didn't say," answered Katy. "Have ye had it out about last night yet?"
"No," answered Linda. "That is why I was asking about her. I want to clear the atmosphere before I make my new start in life."
"Now, don't ye be going too far, lambie," cautioned Katy "Ye young things make such an awful serious business of life these days. In your scramble to wring artificial joy out of it you miss all the natural joy the good God provided ye."
"It seems to me, Katy," said Linda slowly, "that you should put that statement the other way round. It seems that life makes a mighty serious business for us young things, and it seems to me that if we don't get the right start and have a proper foundation life Is going to be spoiled for us. One life is all I've got to live in this world, and I would like it to be the interesting and the beautiful kind of life that Father lived."
Linda dropped to a chair.
"Katy," she said, leaning forward and looking intently into the earnest face of the woman before her, "Katy, I have been thinking an awful lot lately. There is a question you could answer for me if you wanted to."
"Well, I don't see any raison," said Katy, "why I shouldn't answer ye any question ye'd be asking me."
Linda's eyes narrowed as they did habitually in deep thought She was looking past Katy down the sunlit spaces of the wild garden that was her dearest possession, and then her eyes strayed higher to where the blue walls that shut in Lilac Valley ranged their peaks against the sky. "Katy," she said, scarcely above her breath, "was Mother like Eileen?"
Katy stiffened. Her red face paled slightly. She turned her back and slowly slid into the oven the pie she was carrying. She closed the door with more force than was necessary and then turned and deliberately studied Linda from the top of her shining black head to the tip of her shoe.
"Some," she said tersely.
"Yes, I know 'some'," said Linda, "but you know I was too young to pay much attention, and Daddy managed always to make me so happy that I never realized until he was gone that he not only had been my father but my mother as well. You know what I mean, Katy."
"Yes," said Katy deliberately, "I know what ye mean, lambie, and I'll tell ye the truth as far as I know it. She managed your father, she pampered him, but she deceived him every day, just about little things. She always made the household accounts bigger than they were, and used the extra money for Miss Eileen and herself—things like that. I'm thinkin' he never knew it. I'm thinking he loved her deeply and trusted her complete. I know what ye're getting at. She was not enough like Eileen to make him unhappy with her. He might have been if he had known all there was to know, but for his own sake I was not the one to give her away, though she constantly made him think that I was extravagant and wasteful in me work." Linda's eyes came back from the mountains and met Katy's straightly.
"Katy," she said, "did you ever see sisters as different as Eileen and I are?"
"No, I don't think I ever did," said Katy.
"It puzzles me," said Linda slowly. "The more I think about it, the less I can understand why, if we are sisters, we would not accidentally resemble each other a tiny bit in some way, and I must say I can't see that we do physically or mentally."
"No," said Katy, "ye were just as different as ye are now when I came to this house new and ye were both little things."
"And we are going to be as different and to keep on growing more different every day of our lives, because red war breaks out the minute Eileen comes home. I haven't a notion what she will say to me for what I did last night and what I am going to do in the future, but I have a definite idea as to what I am going to say to her."
"Now, easy; ye go easy, lambie," cautioned Katy.
"I wouldn't regret it," said Linda, "if I took Eileen by the shoulders and shook her till I shook the rouge off her cheek, and the brilliantine off her hair, and a million mean little subterfuges out of her soul. You know Eileen is lovely when she is natural, and if she would be straight-off-the-bat square, I would be proud to be her sister. As it is, I have my doubts, even about this sister business."
"Why, Linda, child, ye are just plain crazy," said Katy. "What kind of notions are you getting into your head?"
"I hear the front door," said Linda, "and I am going to march straight to battle. She's going up the front stairs. I did mean to short-cut up the back, but, come to think of it, I have served my apprenticeship on the back stairs. I believe I'll ascend the front myself. Good-bye, darlin', wish me luck."
Linda swung Katy around, hugged her tight, and dropped a kiss on the top of her faithful head.
"Ye just stick right up for your rights," Katy advised her. "Ye're a great big girl. 'Tain't going to be long till ye're eighteen. But mind your old Katy about going too far. If ye lose your temper and cat-spit, it won't get ye anywhere. The fellow that keeps the coolest can always do the best headwork."
"I get you," said Linda, "and that is good advice for which I thank you."
CHAPTER V. The Smoke of Battle
Then Linda walked down the hall, climbed the front stairs, and presented herself at Eileen's door, there to receive one of the severest shocks of her young life. Eileen had tossed her hat and fur upon a couch, seated herself at her dressing table, and was studying her hair in the effort to decide whether she could fluff it up sufficiently to serve for the evening or whether she must take it down and redress it. At Linda's step in the doorway she turned a smiling face upon her and cried: "Hello, little sister, come in and tell me the news."
Linda stopped as if dazed. The wonderment in which she looked at Eileen was stamped all over her. A surprised braid of hair hung over one of her shoulders. Her hands were surprised, and the skirt of her dress, and her shoes flatly set on the floor.
"Well, I'll be darned!" she ejaculated, and then walked to where she could face Eileen, and seated herself without making any attempt to conceal her amazement.
"Linda," said Eileen sweetly, "you would stand far better chance of being popular and making a host of friends if you would not be so coarse. I am quite sure you never heard Mama or me use such an expression."
For one long instant Linda was too amazed to speak. Then she recovered herself.
"Look here, Eileen, you needn't try any 'perfect lady' business on me," she said shortly. "Do you think I have forgotten the extent of your vocabulary when the curling iron gets too hot or you fail to receive an invitation to the Bachelors' Ball?"
Linda never had been capable of understanding Eileen. At that minute she could not know that Eileen had been facing facts through the long hours of the night and all through the day, and that she had reached the decision that for the future her only hope of working Linda to her will was to conciliate her, to ignore the previous night, to try to put their relationship upon the old basis by pretending that there never had been a break. She laughed softly.
"On rare occasions, I grant it. Of course a little swear slips out sometimes. What I am trying to point out is that you do too much of it."
"How did you ever get the idea," said Linda, "that I wanted to be popular and have hosts of friends? What would I do with them if I had them?"
"Why, use them, my child, use them," answered Eileen promptly.
"Let's cut this," said Linda tersely. "I am not your child. I'm getting to the place where I have serious doubt as to whether I am your sister or not. If I am, it's not my fault, and the same clay never made two objects quite so different. I came up here to fight, and I'm going to see it through. I'm on the warpath, so you may take your club and proceed to battle."
"What have we to fight about?" inquired Eileen.
"Every single thing that you have done that was unfair to me all my life," said Linda. "Since all of it has been deliberate you probably know more about the details than I do, so I'll just content myself with telling you that for the future, last night marked a change in the relations between us. I am going to be eighteen before so very long, and I have ceased to be your maid or your waitress or your dupe. You are not going to work me one single time when I have got brains to see through your schemes after this. Hereafter I take my place in my father's house and at my father's table on an equality with you."
Eileen looked at Linda steadily, trying to see to the depths of her soul. She saw enough to convince her that the young creature in front of her was in earnest.
"Hm," she said, "have I been so busy that I have failed to notice what a great girl you are getting?"
"Busy!" scoffed Linda. "Tell that to Katy. It's a kumquat!"
"Perhaps you are too big," continued Eileen, "to be asked to wait on the table any more."
"I certainly am," retorted Linda, "and I am also too big to wear such shoes or such a dress as I have on at the present min. ute. I know all about the war and the inflation of prices and the reduction in income, but I know also that if there is enough to run the house, and dress you, and furnish you such a suite of rooms as you're enjoying right now, there is enough to furnish me suitable clothes, a comfortable bedroom and a place where I can leave my work without putting away everything I am doing each time I step from the room. I told you four years ago that you might take the touring car and do what you pleased with it. I have never asked what you did or what you got out of it, so I'll thank you to observe equal silence about anything I choose to do now with the runabout, which I reserved for myself. I told you to take this suite, and this is the first time that I have ever mentioned to you what you spent on it."
Linda waved an inclusive hand toward the fully equipped, dainty dressing table, over rugs of pale blue, and beautifully decorated walls, including the sleeping room and bath adjoining.
"So now I'll ask you to keep off while I do what I please about the library and the billiard room. I'll try to get along without much money in doing what I desire there, but I must have some new clothes. I want money to buy me a pair of new shoes for school. I want a pair of pumps suitable for evenings when there are guests to dinner. I want a couple of attractive school dresses. This old serge is getting too hot and too worn for common decency. And I also want a couple of dresses something like you are wearing, for afternoons and evenings."
Eileen stared aghast at Linda.
"Where," she inquired politely, "is the money for all this to come from?"
"Eileen," said Linda in a low tense voice, "I have reached the place where even the BOYS of the high school are twitting me about how I am dressed, and that is the limit. I have stood it for three years from the girls. I am an adept in pretending that I don't see, and I don't hear. I have got to the point where I am perfectly capable of walking into your wardrobe and taking out enough of the clothes there and selling them at a second-hand store to buy me what I require to dress me just plainly and decently. So take warning. I don't know where you are going to get the money, but you are going to get it. If you would welcome a suggestion from me, come home only half the times you dine yourself and your girl friends at tearooms and cafes in the city, and you will save my share that way. I am going to give you a chance to total your budget, and then I demand one half of the income from Father's estate above household expenses; and if I don't get it, on the day I am eighteen I shall go to John Gilman and say to him what I have said to you, and I shall go to the bank and demand that a division be made there, and that a separate bank book be started for me."
Linda's amazement on entering the room had been worthy of note. Eileen's at the present minute was beyond description. Dumbfounded was a colorless word to describe her state of mind.
"You don't mean that," she gasped in a quivering voice when at last she could speak.
"I can see, Eileen, that you are taken unawares," said Linda. "I have had four long years to work up to this hour. Hasn't it even dawned on you that this worm was ever going to turn? You know exquisite moths and butterflies evolve in the canyons from very unprepossessing and lowly living worms. You are spending your life on the butterfly stunt. Have I been such a weak worm that it hasn't ever occurred to you that I might want to try a plain, everyday pair of wings sometime myself?"
Eileen's face was an ugly red, her hands were shaking, her voice was unnatural, but she controlled her temper.
"Of course," she said, "I have always known that the time would come, after you finished school and were of a proper age, when you would want to enter society."
"No, you never knew anything of the kind," said Linda bluntly, "because I have not the slightest ambition to enter society either now or then. All I am asking is to enter the high school in a commonly decent, suitable dress; to enter our dining room as a daughter; to enter a workroom decently equipped for my convenience. You needn't be surprised if you hear some changes going on in the billiard room and see some changes going on in the library. And if I feel that I can muster the nerve to drive the runabout, it's my car, it's up to me."
"Linda!" wailed Eileen, "how can you think of such a thing? You wouldn't dare."
"Because I haven't dared till the present is no reason why I should deprive myself of every single pleasure in life," said Linda. "You spend your days doing exactly what you please; driving that runabout for Father was my one soul-satisfying diversion. Why shouldn't I do the thing I love most, if I can muster the nerve?"
Linda arose, and walking over to a table, picked up a magazine lying among some small packages that Eileen evidently had placed there on entering her room.
"Are you subscribing to this?" she asked.
She turned in her hands and leafed through the pages of a most attractive magazine, Everybody's Home. It was devoted to poetry, good fiction, and everything concerning home life from beef to biscuits, and from rugs to roses.
"I saw it on a newsstand," said Eileen. "I was at lunch with some girls who had a copy and they were talking about some articles by somebody named something—Meredith, I think it was—Jane Meredith, maybe she's a Californian, and she is advocating the queer idea that we go back to nature by trying modern cooking on the food the aborigines ate. If we find it good then she recommends that we specialize on the growing of these native vegetables for home use and for export—as a new industry."
"I see," said Linda. "Out-Burbanking Burbank, as it were."
"No, not that," said Eileen. "She is not proposing to evolve new forms. She is proposing to show us how to make delicious dishes for luncheon or dinner from wild things now going to waste. What the girls said was so interesting that I thought I'd get a copy and if I see anything good I'll turn it over to Katy."
"And where's Katy going to get the wild vegetables?" asked Linda sceptically.
"Why you might have some of them in your wild garden, or you could easily find enough to try—all the prowling the canyons you do ought to result in something."
"So it should," said Linda. "I quite agree with you. Did I understand you to say that I should be ready to go to the bank with you to arrange about my income next week?"
Again the color deepened in Eileen's face, again she made a visible effort at self-control.
"Oh, Linda," she said, "what is the use of being so hard? You will make them think at the bank that I have not treated you fairly."
"I?" said Linda, "I will make them think? Don't you think it is YOU who will make them think? Will you kindly answer my question?"
"If I show you the books," said Eileen, "if I divide what is left after the bills are paid so that you say yourself that it is fair, what more can you ask?"
"What I ought to do is exactly what I have said I would do," she said tersely, "but if you are going to put it on that basis I have no desire to hurt you or humiliate you in public. If you do that, I can't see that I have any reason to complain, so we'll call it a bargain and we'll say no more about it until the first of the month, unless the spirit moves you, after taking a good square look at me, to produce some shoes and a school dress instanter."
"I'll see what I can do," answered Eileen.
"All right then," said Linda. "See you at dinner."
She went to her own room, slipped off her school dress, brushed her hair, and put on the skirt and blouse she had worn the previous evening, these being the only extra clothing she possessed. As she straightened her hair she looked at herself intently.
"My, aren't you coming on!" she said to the figure in the glass. "Dressing for dinner! First thing you know you'll be a perfect lady."
CHAPTER VI. Jane Meredith
When Eileen came down to dinner that evening Linda understood at a glance that an effort was to be made to efface thoroughly from the mind of John Gilman all memory of the Eileen of the previous evening. She had decided on redressing her hair, while she wore one of her most becoming and attractive gowns. To Linda and Katy during the dinner she was simply charming. Having said what she wanted to say and received the assurance she desired, Linda accepted her advances cordially and displayed such charming proclivities herself that Eileen began covertly to watch her, and as she watched there slowly grew in her brain the conviction that something had happened to Linda. At once she began studying deeply in an effort to learn what it might be. There were three paramount things in Eileen's cosmos that could happen to a girl: She could have lovely clothing. Linda did not have it. She could have money and influential friends. Since Marian's going Linda had practically no friend; she was merely acquainted with almost everyone living in Lilac Valley. She could have a lover. Linda had none. But stay! Eileen's thought halted at the suggestion. Maybe she had! She had been left completely, to her own devices when she was not wanted about the house. She had been mingling with hundreds of boys and girls in high school. She might have met some man repeatedly on the street cars, going to and from school. In school she might have attracted the son of some wealthy and influential family; which was the only kind of son Eileen chose to consider in connection with Linda. Through Eileen's brain ran bits of the conversation of the previous evening. She recalled that the men she had intended should spend the evening waiting on her and paying her pretty compliments had spent it eating like hungry men, laughing and jesting with Linda and Marian, giving every evidence of a satisfaction with their entertainment that never had been evinced with the best brand of attractions she had to offer.
Eileen was willing to concede that Marian Thorne had been a beautiful girl, and she had known, previous to the disaster, that it was quite as likely that any man might admire Marian's flashing dark beauty as her blonde loveliness. Between them then it would have been merely a question of taste on the part of the man. Since Marian's dark head had turned ashen, Eileen had simply eliminated her at one sweep. That white hair would brand Marian anywhere as an old woman. Very likely no man ever would want to marry her. Eileen was sure she would not want to if she were a man. No wonder John Gilman had ceased to be attracted by a girl's face with a grandmother setting.
As for Linda, Eileen never had considered her at all except as a convenience to serve her own purposes. Last night she had learned that Linda had a brain, that she had wit, that she could say things to which men of the world listened with interest. She began to watch Linda. She appraised with deepest envy the dark hair curling naturally on her temples. She wondered how hair that curled naturally could be so thick and heavy, and she thought what a crown of glory would adorn Linda's head when the day came to coil those long dark braids around it and fasten them with flashing pins. She drew some satisfaction from the sunburned face and lean figure before her, but it was not satisfaction of soul-sustaining quality. There was beginning to be something disquieting about Linda. A roundness was creeping over her lean frame; a glow was beginning to color her lips and cheek bones; a dewy look could be surprised in her dark eyes occasionally. She had the effect of a creature with something yeasty bottled inside it that was beginning to ferment and might effervesce at any minute. Eileen had been so surprised the previous evening and again before dinner, that she made up her mind that hereafter one might expect almost anything from Linda. She would no longer follow a suggestion unless the suggestion accorded with her sense of right and justice. It was barely possible that it might be required to please her inclinations. Eileen's mind worked with unbelievable swiftness. She tore at her subject like a vulture tearing at a feast, and like a vulture she reached the vitals swiftly. She prefaced her question with a dry laugh. Then she leaned forward and asked softly: "Linda, dear, why haven't you told me?"
Linda's eyes were so clear and honest as they met Eileen's that she almost hesitated.
"A little more explicit, please," said the girl quietly.
"WHO IS HE?" asked Eileen abruptly.
"Oh, I haven't narrowed to an individual," said Linda largely "You have noticed a flock of boys following me from school and hanging around the front door? I have such hosts to choose from that it's going to take a particularly splendid knight on a snow-white charger—I think 'charger' is the proper word—to capture my young affections."
Eileen was satisfied. There wasn't any he. She might for a short time yet cut Linda's finances to the extreme limit. Whenever a man appeared on the horizon she would be forced to make a division at least approaching equality.
Linda followed Eileen to the living room and sat down with a book until John Gilman arrived. She had a desire to study him for a few minutes. She was going to write Marian a letter that night. She wanted to know if she could honestly tell her that Gilman appeared lonely and seemed to miss her. Katy had no chance to answer the bell when it rang. Eileen was in the hall. Linda could not tell what was happening from the murmur of voices. Presently John and Eileen entered the room, and as Linda greeted him she did have the impression that he appeared unusually thoughtful and worried. She sat for half an hour, taking slight part in the conversation. Then she excused herself and went to her room, and as she went she knew that she could not honestly write Marian what she had hoped, for in thirty minutes by the clock Eileen's blandishments had worked, and John Gilman was looking at her as if she were the most exquisite and desirable creature in existence.
Slowly Linda climbed the stairs and entered her room. She slid the bolt of her door behind her, turned on the lights, unlocked a drawer, and taking from it a heap of materials she scattered them over a small table, and picking up her pencil, she sat gazing at the sheet before her for some time. Then slowly she began writing:
It appeals to me that, far as modern civilization has gone in culinary efforts, we have not nearly reached the limits available to us as I pointed out last month. We consider ourselves capable of preparing and producing elaborate banquets, yet at no time are we approaching anything even to compare in lavishness and delicacy with the days of Lucullus. We are not feasting on baked swans, peacock tongues and drinking our pearls. I am not recommending that we should revive the indulgence of such lavish and useless expenditure, but I would suggest that if we tire with the sameness of our culinary efforts, we at least try some of the new dishes described in this department, established for the sole purpose of their introduction. In so doing we accomplish a multiple purpose. We enlarge the resources of the southwest. We tease stale appetites with a new tang. We offer the world something different, yet native to us. We use modern methods on Indian material and the results are most surprising. In trying these dishes I would remind you that few of us cared for oysters, olives, celery—almost any fruit or vegetable one could mention on first trial. Try several times and be sure you prepare dishes exactly right before condemning them as either fad or fancy. These are very real, nourishing and delicious foods that are being offered you. Here is a salad that would have intrigued the palate of Lucullus, himself. If you do not believe me, try it. The vegetable is slightly known by a few native mountaineers and ranchers. Botanists carried it abroad where under the name of winter-purslane it is used in France and England for greens or salad, while remaining practically unknown at home. Boiled and seasoned as spinach it makes equally good greens. But it is in salad that it stands pre-eminent.
Go to any canyon—I shall not reveal the name of my particular canyon—and locate a bed of miner's lettuce (Montia perfoliata). Growing in rank beds beside a cold, clean stream, you will find these pulpy, exquisitely shaped, pungent round leaves from the center of which lifts a tiny head of misty white lace, sending up a palate-teasing, spicy perfume. The crisp, pinkish stems snap in the fingers. Be sure that you wash the leaves carefully so that no lurking germs cling to them. Fill your salad bowl with the crisp leaves, from which the flowerhead has been plucked. For dressing, dice a teacup of the most delicious bacon you can obtain and fry it to a crisp brown together with a small sliced onion. Add to the fat two tablespoons of sugar, half a teaspoon of mustard; salt will scarcely be necessary the bacon will furnish that. Blend the fat, sugar, and mustard, and pour in a measure of the best apple vinegar, diluted to taste. Bring this mixture to the boiling point, and when it has cooled slightly pour it over the lettuce leaves, lightly turning with a silver fork. Garnish the edge of the dish with a deep border of the fresh leaves bearing their lace of white bloom intact, around the edge of the bowl, and sprinkle on top the sifted yolks of two hard-boiled eggs, heaping the diced whites in the center.
Linda paused and read this over carefully.
"That is all right," she said. "I couldn't make that much better."
She made a few corrections here and there, and picking up a colored pencil, she deftly sketched in a head piece of delicate sprays of miners' lettuce tipped at differing angles, fringy white with bloom. Below she printed: "A delicious Indian salad. The second of a series of new dishes to be offered made from materials used by the Indians. Compounded and tested in her own diet kitchen by the author."
Swiftly she sketched a tail piece representing a table top upon which sat a tempting-looking big salad bowl filled with fresh green leaves, rimmed with a row of delicate white flowers, from which you could almost scent a teasing delicate fragrance arising; and beneath, in a clear, firm hand, she stroked in the name, Jane Meredith. She went over her work carefully, then laid it flat on a piece of cardboard, shoved it into an envelope, directed it to the editor of Everybody's Home, laid it inside her geometry, and wrote her letter to Marian before going to bed.
In the morning on her way to the street car she gaily waved to a passing automobile going down Lilac Valley, in which sat John Gilman and Peter Morrison and his architect, and as they were driving in the direction from which she had come, Linda very rightly surmised that they were going to pick up Eileen and make a tour of the valley, looking for available building locations; and she wondered why Eileen had not told her that they were coming. Linda had been right about the destination of the car. It turned in at the Strong driveway and stopped at the door. John Gilman went to ring the bell and learn if Eileen were ready. Peter followed him. Henry Anderson stepped from the car and wandered over the lawn, looking at the astonishing array of bushes, vines, flowers, and trees.
From one to another he went, fingering the waxy leaves, studying the brilliant flower faces. Finally turning a corner and crossing the wild garden, to which he paid slight attention, he started down the other side of the house. Here an almost overpowering odor greeted his nostrils, and he went over to a large tree covered with rough, dark green, almost brownish, lance-shaped leaves, each branch terminating in a heavy spray of yellowish-green flowers, whose odor was of cloying sweetness. The bees were buzzing over it. It was not a tree with which he was familiar, and stepping back, he looked at it carefully. Then at its base, wind-driven into a crevice between the roots, his attention was attracted to a crumpled sheet of paper, upon which he could see lines that would have attracted the attention of any architect. He went forward instantly, picked up the sheet, and straightening it out he stood looking at it.
"Holy smoke!" he breathed softly. "What a find!"
He looked at the reverse of the sheet, his face becoming more intent every minute. When he heard Peter Morrison's voice calling him he hastily thrust the paper into his coat pocket; but he had gone only a few steps when he stopped, glanced keenly over the house and lawn, turned his back, and taking the sheet from his pocket, he smoothed it out, folded it carefully, and put it in an inside pocket. Then he joined the party.
At once they set out to examine the available locations that yet remained in Lilac Valley. Nature provided them a wonderful day of snappy sunshine and heady sea air. Spring favored them with lilac walls at their bluest, broken here and there with the rose-misted white mahogany. The violet nightshade was beginning to add deeper color to the hills in the sunniest wild spots. The panicles of mahonia bloom were showing their gold color. Wild flowers were lifting leaves of feather and lace everywhere, and most agreeable on the cool morning air was a faint breath of California sage. Up one side of the valley, weaving in and out, up and down, over the foothills they worked their way. They stopped for dinner at one of the beautiful big hotels, practically filled with Eastern tourists. Eileen never had known a prouder moment than when she took her place at the head of the table and presided over the dinner which was served to three most attractive specimens of physical manhood, each of whom was unusually well endowed with brain, all flattering her with the most devoted attention. This triumph she achieved in a dining room seating hundreds of people, its mirror-lined walls reflecting her exquisite image from many angles, to the click of silver, and the running accompaniment of many voices. What she had expected to accomplish in her own dining room had come to her before a large audience, in which, she had no doubt, there were many envious women. Eileen rayed loveliness like a Mariposa lily, and purred in utter contentment like a deftly stroked kitten.
When they parted in the evening Peter Morrison had memoranda of three locations that he wished to consider. That he might not seem to be unduly influenced or to be giving the remainder of Los Angeles County its just due, he proposed to motor around for a week before reaching an ultimate decision, but in his heart he already had decided that somewhere near Los Angeles he would build his home, and as yet he had seen nothing nearly so attractive as Lilac Valley.
CHAPTER VII. Trying Yucca
On her way to school that morning Linda stopped at the post office and pasted the required amount of stamps upon the package that she was mailing to New York. She hurried from her last class that afternoon to the city directory to find the street and number of James Brothers, figuring that the firm with whom Marian dealt would be the proper people for her to consult. She had no difficulty in finding the place for which she was searching, and she was rather agreeably impressed with the men to whom she talked. She made arrangements with their buyer to call at her home in Lilac Valley at nine o'clock the following Saturday morning to appraise the articles with which she wished to part.
Then she went to one of the leading book stores of the city and made inquiries which guided her to a reliable second-hand book dealer, and she arranged to be ready to receive his representative at ten o'clock on Saturday.
Reaching home she took a note book and pencil, and studied the billiard room and the library, making a list of the furniture which she did not actually need. After that she began on the library shelves, listing such medical works as were of a technical nature. Books of fiction, history, art, and biography, and those books written by her father she did not include. She found that she had a long task which would occupy several evenings. Her mind was methodical and she had been with her father through sufficient business transactions to understand that in order to drive a good bargain she must know how many volumes she had to offer and the importance of their authors as medical authorities; she should also know the exact condition of each set of books. Since she had made up her mind to let them go, and she knew the value of many of the big, leather-bound volumes, she determined that she would not sell them until she could secure the highest possible price for them.
Two months previously she would have consulted John Gilman and asked him to arrange the transaction for her. Since he had allowed himself to be duped so easily—or at least it had seemed easy to Linda; for, much as she knew of Eileen, she could not possibly know the weeks of secret plotting, the plans for unexpected meetings, the trumped-up business problems necessary to discuss, the deliberate flaunting of her physical charms before him, all of which had made his conquest extremely hard for Eileen, but Linda, seeing only results, had thought it contemptibly easy—she would not ask John Gilman anything. She would go ahead on the basis of her agreement with Eileen and do the best she could alone.
She counted on Saturday to dispose of the furniture. The books might go at her leisure. Then the first of the week she could select such furniture as she desired in order to arrange the billiard room for her study. If she had a suitable place in which to work in seclusion, there need be no hurry about the library. She conscientiously prepared all the lessons required in her school course for the next day and then, stacking her books, she again unlocked the drawer opened the previous evening, and taking from it the same materials, set to work. She wrote:
Botanists have failed to mention that there is any connection between asparagus, originally a product of salt marshes, and Yucca, a product of the alkaline desert. Very probably there is no botanical relationship, but these two plants are alike in flavor. From the alkaline, sunbeaten desert where the bayonet plant thrusts up a tender bloom head six inches in height, it slowly increases in stature as it travels across country more frequently rain washed, and winds its way beside mountain streams to where in more fertile soil and the same sunshine it develops magnificent specimens from ten to fifteen and more feet in height. The plant grows a number of years before it decides to flower. When it reaches maturity it throws up a bloom stem as tender as the delicate head of asparagus, thick as one's upper arm, and running to twice one's height. This bloom stem in its early stages is colored the pale pink of asparagus, with faint touches of yellow, and hints of blue. At maturity it breaks into a gorgeous head of lavender-tinted, creamy pendent flowers covering the upper third of its height, billowing out slightly in the center, so that from a distance the waxen torch takes on very much the appearance of a flaming candle. For this reason, in Mexico, where the plant flourishes in even greater abundance than in California, with the exquisite poetry common to the tongue and heart of the Spaniard, Yucca Whipplei has been commonly named "Our Lord's Candle." At the most delicate time of their growth these candlesticks were roasted and eaten by the Indians. Based upon this knowledge, I would recommend two dishes, almost equally delicious, which may be prepared from this plant.
Take the most succulent young bloom stems when they have exactly the appearance of an asparagus head at its moment of delicious perfection. With a sharp knife, cut them in circles an inch in depth. Arrange these in a shallow porcelain baking dish, sprinkle with salt, dot them with butter, add enough water to keep them from sticking and burning. Bake until thoroughly tender. Use a pancake turner to slide the rings to a hot platter, and garnish with circles of hard-boiled egg. This you will find an extremely delicate and appetizing dish.
The second recipe I would offer is to treat this vegetable precisely as you would creamed asparagus. Cut the stalks in six-inch lengths, quarter them to facilitate cooking and handling, and boil in salted water. Drain, arrange in a hot dish, and pour over a carefully made cream sauce. I might add that one stalk would furnish sufficient material for several families. This dish should be popular in southwestern states where the plant grows profusely; and to cultivate these plants for shipping to Eastern markets would be quite as feasible as the shipping of asparagus, rhubarb, artichokes, or lettuce.
I have found both these dishes peculiarly appetizing, but I should be sorry if, in introducing Yucca as a food, I became instrumental in the extermination of this universal and wonderfully beautiful plant. For this reason I have hesitated about including Yucca among these articles; but when I see the bloom destroyed ruthlessly by thousands who cut it to decorate touring automobiles and fruit and vegetable stands beside the highways, who carry it from its native location and stick it in the parching sun of the seashore as a temporary shelter, I feel that the bloom stems might as well be used for food as to be so ruthlessly wasted.
The plant is hardy in the extreme, growing in the most unfavorable places, clinging tenaciously to sheer mountain and canyon walls. After blooming and seeding the plant seems to have thrown every particle of nourishment it contains into its development, it dries out and dies (the spongy wood is made into pincushions for the art stores); but from the roots there spring a number of young plants, which, after a few years of growth, mature and repeat their life cycle, while other young plants develop from the widely scattered seeds. The Spaniards at times call the plant Quiota. This word seems to be derived from quiotl, which is the Aztec name for Agave, from which plant a drink not unlike beer is produced, and suggests the possibility that there might have been a time when the succulent flower stem of the Yucca furnished drink as well as food for the Indians.
After carefully re-reading and making several minor corrections, Linda picked up her pencil, and across the top of a sheet of heavy paper sketched the peaks of a chain of mountains. Across the base she drew a stretch of desert floor, bristling with the thorns of many different cacti brilliant with their gold, pink, and red bloom, intermingled with fine grasses and desert flower faces.
At the left she painstakingly drew a huge plant of yucca with a perfect circle of bayonets, from the center of which uprose the gigantic flower stem the length of her page, and on the misty bloom of the flaming tongue she worked quite as late as Marian Thorne had ever seen a light burning in her window. When she had finished her drawing she studied it carefully a long time, adding a touch here and there, and then she said softly: "There, Daddy, I feel that even you would think that a faithful reproduction Tomorrow night I'll paint it."
John Gilman saw the light from Linda's window when he brought Eileen home that night, and when he left he glanced that way again, and was surprised to see the room still lighted, and the young figure bending over a worktable. He stood very still for a few minutes, wondering what could keep Linda awake so far into the night, and while his thoughts were upon her he wondered, too, why she did not care to have beautiful clothes such as Eileen wore; and then he went further and wondered why, when she could be as entertaining as she had been the night she joined them at dinner, she did not make her appearance oftener; and then, because the mind is a queer thing, and he had wondered about a given state of affairs, he went a step further, and wondered whether the explanation lay in Linda's inclinations or in Eileen's management, and then his thought fastened tenaciously upon the subject of Eileen's management.
He was a patient man. He had allowed his reason and better judgment to be swayed by Eileen's exquisite beauty and her blandishments. He did not regret having discovered before it was too late that Marian Thorne was not the girl he had thought her. He wanted a wife cut after the clinging-vine pattern. He wanted to be the dominating figure in his home. It had not taken Eileen long to teach him that Marian was self-assertive and would do a large share of dominating herself. He had thought that he was perfectly satisfied and very happy with Eileen; yet that day he repeatedly had felt piqued and annoyed with her. She had openly cajoled and flirted with Henry Anderson past a point which was agreeable for any man to see his sweetheart go with another man With Peter Morrison she had been unspeakably charming in a manner with which John was very familiar.
He turned up his coat collar, thrust his hands in his pockets, and swore softly. Looking straight ahead of him, he should have seen a stretch of level sidewalk, bordered on one hand by lacy, tropical foliage, on the other, by sheets of level green lawn, broken everywhere by the uprising boles of great trees, clumps of rare vines, and rows of darkened homes, attractive in architectural 'design' vine covered, hushed for the night. What he really saw was a small plateau, sun illumined, at the foot of a mountain across the valley, where the lilac wall was the bluest, where the sun shone slightly more golden than anywhere else in the valley, where huge live oaks outstretched rugged arms, where the air had a tang of salt, a tinge of sage, an odor of orange, shot through with snowy coolness, thrilled with bird song, and the laughing chuckle of a big spring breaking from the foot of the mountain. They had left the road and followed a narrow, screened path by which they came unexpectedly into this opening. They had stood upon it in wordless enchantment, looking down the slope beneath it, across the peace of the valley, to the blue ranges beyond.
"Just where are we?" Peter Morrison had asked at last.
John Gilman had been looking at a view which included Eileen. She lifted her face, flushed and exquisite, to Peter Morrison and answered in a breathless undertone, yet John had distinctly heard her:
"How wonderful it would be if we were at your house. Oh, I envy the woman who shares this with you!"
It had not been anything in particular, yet all day it had teased John Gilman's sensibilities. He felt ashamed of himself for not being more enthusiastic as he searched records and helped to locate the owner of that particular spot. To John, there was a new tone in Peter's voice, a possessive light in his eyes as he studied the location, and made excursions in several directions, to fix in his mind the exact position of the land.
He had indicated what he considered the topographical location for a house—stood on it facing the valley, and stepped the distance suitably far away to set a garage and figured on a short private road down to the highway. He very plainly was deeply prepossessed with a location John Gilman blamed himself for not having found first. Certainly nature had here grown and walled a dream garden in which to set a house of dreams. So, past midnight, Gilman stood in the sunshine, looking at the face of the girl he had asked to marry him and who had said that she would; and a small doubt crept into his heart, and a feeling that perhaps life might be different for him if Peter Morrison decided to come to Lilac Valley to build his home. Then the sunlight faded, night closed in, but as he went his homeward way John Gilman was thinking, thinking deeply and not at all happily.
CHAPTER VIII. The Bear Cat
"Friday's child is loving and giving, But Saturday's child must work for a living,"
Linda was chanting happily as she entered the kitchen early Saturday morning.
"Katy, me blessing," she said gaily, "did I ever point out to you the interesting fact that I was born on Saturday? And a devilish piece of luck it was, for I have been hustling ever since. It's bad enough to have been born on Monday and spoiled wash day, but I call Saturday the vanishing point, the end of the extreme limit."
Katy laughed, and, as always, turned adoring eyes on Linda.
"I am not needing ye, lambie," she said. "Is it big business in the canyon ye're having today? Shall I be ready to be cooking up one of them God-forsaken Red Indian messes for ye when ye come back?"
Linda held up a warning finger.
"Hiss, Katy," she said. "That is a dark secret. Don't you be forgetting yourself and saying anything like that before anyone, or I would be ruined entirely."
"Well, I did think when ye began it," said Katy, "that of all the wild foolishness ye and your pa had ever gone through with, that was the worst, but that last mess ye worked out was so tasty to the tongue that I thought of it a lot, and I'm kind o' hankering for more."
Linda caught Katy and swung her around the kitchen in a wild war dance. Her gayest laugh bubbled clear from the joy peak of her soul.
"Katy," she said, "if you had lain awake all night trying to say something that would particularly please me, you couldn't have done better. That was a quaint little phrase and a true little phrase, and I know a little spot that it will fit exactly. What am I doing today? Well, several things, Katy. First, anything you need about the house. Next, I am going to empty the billiard room and sell some of the excess furniture of the library, and with the returns I am going to buy me a rug and a table and some tools to work with, so I won't have to clutter up my bedroom with my lessons and things I bring in that I want to save. And then I am going to sell the technical stuff from the library and use that money where it will be of greatest advantage to me. And then, Katy, I am going to manicure the Bear Cat and I am going to drive it again."
Linda hesitated. Katy stood very still, thinking intently, but finally she said: "That's all right; ye have got good common sense; your nerves are steady; your pa drilled ye fine. Many's the time he has bragged to me behind your back what a fine little driver he was making of ye. I don't know a girl of your age anywhere that has less enjoyment than ye. If it would be giving ye any happiness to be driving that car, ye just go ahead and drive it, lambie, but ye promise me here and now that ye will be mortal careful. In all my days I don't think I have seen a meaner-looking little baste of a car."
"Of course I'll be careful, Katy," said Linda. "That car was not bought for its beauty. Its primal object in this world was to arrive. Gee, how we shot curves, and coasted down the canyons, and gassed up on the level when some poor soul went batty from nerve strain! The truth is, Katy, that you can't drive very slowly. You have got to go the speed for which it was built. But I have had my training. I won't forget. I adore that car, Katy, and I don't know how I have ever kept my fingers off it this long. Today it gets a bath and a facial treatment, and when I have thought up some way to meet my big problem, you're going to have a ride, Katy, that will quite uplift your soul. We'll go scooting through the canyons, and whizzing around the mountains, and roaring along the beach, as slick as a white sea swallow."
"Now, easy, lambie, easy," said Katy. "Ye're planning to speed that thing before ye've got it off the jacks."
"No, that was mere talk," said Linda. "But, Katy, this is my great day. I feel in my bones that I shall have enough money by night to get me some new tires, which I must have before I can start out in safety."
"Of course ye must, honey. I would just be tickled to pieces to let ye have what ye need."
Linda slid her hand across Katy's lips and gathered her close in her arms.
"You blessed old darling," she said. "Of course you would, but I don't need it, Katy. I can sit on the floor to work, if I must, and instead of taking the money from the billiard table to buy a worktable, I can buy tires with that. But here's another thing I want to tell you, Katy. This afternoon a male biped is coming to this house, and he's not coming to see Eileen. His name is Donald Whiting, and when he tells you it is, and stands very straight and takes off his hat, and looks you in the eye and says, 'Calling on Miss Linda Strong,' walk him into the living room, Katy, and seat him in the best chair and put a book beside him and the morning paper; and don't you forget to do it with a flourish. He is nothing but a high-school kid, but he's the first boy that ever in all my days asked to come to see me so it's a big event; and I wish to my soul I had something decent to wear."
"Well, with all the clothes in this house," said Katy; and then she stopped and shut her lips tight and looked at Linda with belligerent Irish eyes.
"I know it," nodded Linda in acquiescence; "I know what you think; but never mind. Eileen has agreed to make me a fair allowance the first of the month, and if that isn't sufficient, I may possibly figure up some way to do some extra work that will bring me a few honest pennies, so I can fuss up enough to look feminine at times, Katy. In the meantime, farewell, oh, my belovedest. Call me at half-past eight, so I will be ready for business at nine."
Then Linda went to the garage and began operations. She turned the hose on the car and washed the dust from it carefully. Then she dried it with the chamois skins as she often had done before. She carefully examined the cushioning, and finding it dry and hard, she gave it a bath of olive oil and wiped and manipulated it. She cleaned the engine with extreme care. At one minute she was running to Katy for kerosene to pour through the engine to loosen the carbon. At another she was telephoning for the delivery of oil, gasoline, and batteries for which she had no money to pay, so she charged them to Eileen, ordering the bill to be sent on the first of the month. It seemed to her that she had only a good start when Katy came after her.
The business of appraising the furniture was short, and Linda was well satisfied with the price she was offered for it. After the man had gone she showed Katy the pieces she had marked to dispose of, and told her when they would be called for. She ate a few bites of lunch while waiting for the book man, and the results of her business with him quite delighted Linda. She had not known that the value of books had risen with the price of everything else. The man with whom she dealt had known her father. He had appreciated the strain in her nature which made her suggest that he should number and appraise the books, but she must be allowed time to go through each volume in order to remove any scraps of paper or memoranda which her father so frequently left in books to which he was referring. He had figured carefully and he had made Linda a far higher price than could have been secured by a man. As the girl went back to her absorbing task in the garage, she could see her way clear to the comforts and conveniences and the material that she needed for her work. When she reached the car she patted it as if it had been a living creature.
"Cheer up, nice old thing," she said gaily. "I know how to get new tires for you, and you shall drink all the gasoline and oil your tummy can hold. Now let me see. What must I do next? I must get you off your jacks; and oh, my gracious there are the grease cups, and that's a nasty job, but it must be done; and what is the use of Saturday if I can't do it? Daddy often did."
Linda began work in utter absorption. She succeeded in getting the car off the jacks. She was lying on her back under it, filling some of the most inaccessible grease cups, and she was softly singing as she worked:
"The shoes I wear are common-sense shoes—"
At that minute Donald Whiting swung down the street, turned in at the Strong residence, and rang the bell. Eileen was coming down the stairs, dressed for the street. She had inquired for Linda, and Katy had told her that she thought Miss Linda had decided to begin using her car, and that she was in the garage working on it. To Eileen's credit it may be said that she had not been told that a caller was expected. Linda never before had had a caller and, as always, Eileen was absorbed in her own concerns. Had she got the rouge a trifle brighter on one cheek than on the other? Was the powder evenly distributed? Would the veil hold the handmade curls in exactly the proper place? When the bell rang her one thought might have been that some of her friends were calling for her. She opened the door, and when she learned that Linda was being asked for, it is possible that she mistook the clean, interesting, and well-dressed youngster standing before her for a mechanic. What she said was: "Linda's working on her car. Go around to the left and you will find her in the garage, and for heaven's sake, get it right before you let her start out, for we've had enough horror in this family from motor accidents."
Then she closed the door before him and stood buttoning her gloves; a wicked and malicious smile spreading over her face.
"Just possibly," she said, "that youngster is from a garage, but if he is, he's the best imitation of the real thing that I have seen in these chaotic days."
Donald Whiting stopped at the garage door and looked in, before Linda had finished her grease cups, and in time to be informed that he might wear common-sense shoes if he chose. At his step, Linda rolled her black head on the cement floor and raised her eyes. She dropped the grease cup, and her face reddened deeply.
"Oh, my Lord!" she gasped breathlessly. "I forgot to tell Katy when to call me!"
In that instant she also forgot that the stress of the previous four years had accustomed men to seeing women do any kind of work in any kind of costume; but soon Linda realized that Donald Whiting was not paying any particular attention either to her or to her occupation. He was leaning forward, gazing at the car with positively an enraptured expression on his eager young face.
"Shades of Jehu!" he cried. "It's a Bear Cat!"
Linda felt around her head for the grease cup.
"Why, sure it's a Bear Cat," she said with the calmness of complete recovery. "And it's just about ready to start for its very own cave in the canyon."
Donald Whiting pitched his hat upon the seat, shook off his coat, and sent it flying after the hat. Then he began unbuttoning and turning back his sleeves.
"Here, let me do that," he said authoritatively. "Gee! I have never yet ridden in a Bear Cat. Take me with you, will you, Linda?"
"Sure," said Linda, pressing the grease into the cup with a little paddle and holding it up to see if she had it well filled. "Sure, but there's no use in you getting into this mess, because I have only got two more. You look over the engine. Did you ever grind valves, and do you think these need it?"
"Why, they don't need it," said Donald, "if they were all right when it was jacked up."
"Well, they were," said Linda. "It was running like a watch when it went to sleep. But do we dare take it out on these tires?"
"How long has it been?" asked Donald, busy at the engine.
"All of four years," answered Linda.
Donald whistled softly and started a circuit of the car, kicking the tires and feeling them.
"Have you filled them?" he asked.
"No," said Linda. "I did not want to start the engine until I had finished everything else."
"All right," he said, "I'll look at the valves first and then, if it is all ready, there ought to be a garage near that we can run to carefully, and get tuned up."
"There is," said Linda. "There is one only a few blocks down the street where Dad always had anything done that he did not want to do himself."
"That's that, then," said Donald.
Linda crawled from under the car and stood up, wiping her hands on a bit of waste.
"Do you know what tires cost now?" she asked anxiously.
"They have 'em at the garage," answered Donald, "and if I were you, I wouldn't get a set; I would get two. I would-put them on the rear wheels. You might be surprised at how long some of these will last. Anyway, that would be the thing to do."
"Of course," said Linda, in a relieved tone. "That would be the thing to do."
"Now," she said, "I must be excused a few minutes till I clean up so I am fit to go on the streets. I hope you won't think I forgot you were coming."
Donald laughed drily.
"When 'shoes' was the first word I heard," he said, "I did not for a minute think you had forgotten."
"No, I didn't forget," said Linda. "What I did do was to become so excited about cleaning up the car that I let time go faster than I thought it could. That was what made me late."
"Well, forget it!" said Donald. "Run along and jump into something, and let us get our tires and try Kitty out."
Linda reached up and released the brakes. She stepped to one side of the car and laid her hands on it.
"Let us run it down opposite the kitchen door," she said, "then you go around to the front, and I'll let you in, and you can read something a few minutes till I make myself presentable."
"Oh, I'll stay out here and look around the yard and go over the car again," said the boy. "What a bunch of stuff you have got growing here; I don't believe I ever saw half of it before." "It's Daddy's and my collection," said Linda. "Some day I'll show you some of the things, and tell you how we got them, and why they are rare. Today I just naturally can't wait a minute until I try my car."
"Is it really yours?" asked Donald enviously.
"Yes," said Linda. "It's about the only thing on earth that is peculiarly and particularly mine. I haven't a doubt there are improved models, but Daddy had driven this car only about nine months. It was going smooth as velvet, and there's no reason why it should not keep it up, though I suspect that by this time there are later models that could outrun it."
"Oh, I don't know," said the boy. "It looks like some little old car to me. I bet it can just skate."
"I know it can," said Linda, "if I haven't neglected something. We'll start carefully, and we'll have the inspector at the salesrooms look it over."
Then Linda entered the kitchen door to find Katy with everything edible that the house afforded spread before her on the table.
"Why, Katy, what are you doing?" she asked.
"I was makin' ready," explained Katy, "to fix ye the same kind of lunch I would for Miss Eileen. Will ye have it under the live oak, or in the living room?"
"Neither," said Linda. "Come upstairs with me, and in the storeroom you'll find the lunch case and the thermos bottles and don't stint yourself, Katy. This is a rare occasion. It never happened before. Probably it will never happen again. Let's make it high altitude while we are at it."
"I'll do my very best with what I happen to have," said Katy; "but I warn you right now I am making a good big hole in the Sunday dinner."
"I don't give two whoops," said Linda, "if there isn't any Sunday dinner. In memory of hundreds of times that we have eaten bread and milk, make it a banquet, Katy, and we'll eat bread and milk tomorrow."
Then she took the stairway at a bound, and ran to her room. In a very short time she emerged, clad in a clean blouse and breeches' her climbing boots, her black hair freshly brushed and braided.
"I ought to have something," said Linda, "to shade my eyes. The glare's hard on them facing the sun."
Going down the hall she came to the storeroom, opened a drawer' and picked out a fine black felt Alpine hat that had belonged to her father. She carried it back to her room and, standing at the glass, tried it on, pulling it down on one side, turning it up at the other, and striking a deep cleft across the crown. She looked at herself intently for a minute, and then she reached up and deliberately loosened the hair at her temples.
"Not half bad, all things considered, Linda," she said. "But, oh, how you do need a tich of color."
She ran down the hall and opened the door to Eileen's room, and going to her chiffonier, pulled out a drawer containing an array of gloves, veils, and ribbons. At the bottom of the ribbon stack, her eye caught the gleam of color for which she was searching, and she deftly slipped out a narrow scarf of Roman stripes with a deep black fringe at the end. Sitting down, she fitted the hat over her knee, picked up the dressing-table scissors, and ripped off the band. In its place she fitted the ribbon, pinning it securely and knotting the ends so that the fringe reached her shoulder. Then she tried the hat again. The result was blissfully satisfactory. The flash of orange, the blaze of red, the gleam of green, were what she needed.
"Thank you very much, sister mine," she said, "I know you I would be perfectly delighted to loan me this."
CHAPTER IX. One Hundred Per Cent Plus
Then she went downstairs and walked into the kitchen, prepared for what she would see, by what she heard as she approached.
With Katy's apron tied around his waist, Donald Whiting was occupied in squeezing orange, lemon, and pineapple juice over a cake of ice in a big bowl, preparatory to the compounding of Katy's most delicious brand of fruit punch. Without a word, Linda stepped to the bread board and began slicing the bread and building sandwiches, while Katy hurried her preparations for filling the lunch box. A few minutes later Katy packed them in the car, kissed Linda good-bye, and repeatedly cautioned Donald to make her be careful.
As the car rolled down the driveway and into the street, Donald looked appraisingly at the girl beside him.
"Is it the prevailing custom in Lilac Valley for young ladies to kiss the cook?" inquired Donald laughingly.
"Now, you just hush," said Linda. "Katy is NOT the cook, alone. Katy's my father, and my mother, and my family, and my best friend—"
"Stop right there," interposed Donald. "That is quite enough for any human to be. Katy's a multitude. She came out to the car with the canteen, and when I offered to help her, without any 'polly foxin',' she just said: 'Sure. Come in and make yourself useful.' So I went, and I am expecting amazing results from the job she gave me."
"Come to think of it," said Linda, "I have small experience with anybody's cooking except Katy's and my own, but so far as I know, she can't very well be beaten."
Carefully she headed the car into the garage adjoining the salesrooms. There she had an ovation. The manager and several of the men remembered her. The whole force clustered around the Bear Cat and began to examine it, and comment on it, and Linda climbed out and asked to have the carburetor adjusted, while the mechanic put on a pair of tires. When everything was satisfactory, she backed to the street, and after a few blocks of experimental driving, she headed for the Automobile Club to arrange for her license and then turned straight toward Multiflores Canyon, but she did not fail to call Donald Whiting's attention to every beauty of Lilac Valley as they passed through. When they had reached a long level stretch of roadway leading to the canyon, Linda glanced obliquely at the boy beside her.
"It all comes back as natural as breathing," she said. "I couldn't forget it any more than I could forget how to walk, or to swim. Sit tight. I am going to step on the gas for a bit, just for old sake's sake."
"That's all right," said Donald, taking off his hat and giving his head a toss so that the wind might have full play through his hair. "But remember our tires are not safe. Better not go the limit until we get rid of these old ones, and have a new set all around."
Linda settled back in her seat, took a firm grip on the wheel, and started down the broad, smooth highway, gradually increasing the speed. The color rushed to her cheeks. Her eyes were gleaming.
"Listen to it purr!" she cried to Donald. "If you hear it begin to growl, tell me."
And then for a few minutes they rode like birds on the path of the wind. When they approached the entrance to the canyon, gradually Linda slowed down. She turned an exultant flashing face to Donald Whiting.
"That was a whizzer," said the boy. "I'll tell you I don't know what I'd give to have a car like this for my very own. I'll bet not another girl in Los Angeles has a car that can go like that."
"And I don't believe I have any business with it," said Linda; "but since circumstances make it mine, I am going to keep it and I am going to drive it."
"Of course you are," said Donald emphatically. "Don't you ever let anybody fool you out of this car, because if they wanted to, it would be just because they are jealous to think they haven't one that will go as fast."
"There's not the slightest possibility of my giving it up so long as I can make the engine turn over," she said. "I told you how Father always took me around with him, and there's nothing in this world I am so sure of as I am sure that I am spoiled for a house cat. I have probably less feminine sophistication than any girl of my age in the world, and I probably know more about camping and fishing and the scientific why and wherefore of all outdoors than most of them. I just naturally had such a heavenly time with Daddy that it never has hurt my feelings to be left out of any dance or party that ever was given. The one thing that has hurt is the isolation. Since I lost Daddy I haven't anyone but Katy. Sometimes, when I see a couple of nice, interesting girls visiting with their heads together, a great feeling of envy wells up in my soul, and I wish with all my heart that I had such a friend."
"Ever try to make one?" asked Donald. "There are mighty fine girls in the high school."
"I have seen several that I thought I would like to be friends with," said Linda, "but I am so lacking in feminine graces that I haven't known how to make advances, in the first place, and I haven't had the courage, in the second."
"I wish my sister were not so much older than you," said Donald.
"How old is your sister?" inquired Linda.
"She will be twenty-three next birthday," said Donald; "and of all the nice girls you ever saw, she is the queen."
"Yes," she assented, "I am sure I have heard your sister mentioned. But didn't you tell me she had been reared for society?"
"No, I did not," said Donald emphatically. "I told you Mother j believed in dressing her as the majority of other girls were dressed, but I didn't say she had been reared for society. She has been reared with an eye single to making a well-dressed, cultured, and gracious woman."
"I call that fine," said Linda. "Makes me envious of you. Now forget everything except your eyes and tell me what you see. Have you ever been here before?"
"I have been through a few times before, but seems to me I never saw it looking quite so pretty."
Linda drove carefully, but presently Donald uttered an exclamation as she swerved from the road and started down what appeared to be quite a steep embankment and headed straight for the stream.
"Sit tight," she said tersely. "The Bear Cat just loves its cave. It knows where it is going."
She broke through a group of young willows and ran the car! into a tiny plateau, walled in a circle by the sheer sides of the! canyon reaching upward almost out of sight, topped with great jagged overhanging boulders. Crowded to one side, she stopped the car and sat quietly, smiling at Donald Whiting.
"How about it?" she asked in a low voice.
The boy looked around him, carefully examining the canyon walls, and then at the level, odorous floor where one could not step without crushing tiny flowers of white, cerise, blue, and yellow. Big ferns grew along the walls, here and there "Our Lord's Candles" lifted high torches not yet lighted, the ambitious mountain stream skipped and circled and fell over its rocky bed, while many canyon wrens were singing.
"Do you think," she said, "that anyone driving along here at an ordinary rate of speed would see that car?"
"No," said Donald, getting her idea, "I don't believe they would."
"All right, then," said Linda. "Toe up even and I'll race YoU to the third curve where you see the big white sycamore."
Donald had a fleeting impression of a flash of khaki, a gleam of red, and a wave of black as they started. He ran with all the speed he had ever attained at a track meet. He ran with all his might. He ran until his sides strained and his breath came short; but the creature beside him was not running; she was flying; and long before they neared the sycamore he knew he was beaten, so he laughingly cried to her to stop it. Linda turned to him panting and laughing.
"I make that dash every time I come to the canyon, to keep my muscle up, but this is the first time I have had anyone to race with in a long time."
Then together they slowly walked down the smooth black floor between the canyon walls. As they crossed a small bridge Linda leaned over and looked down.
"Anyone at your house care about 'nose twister'?" she asked lightly.
"Why, isn't that watercress?" asked Donald.
"Sure it is," said Linda. "Anyone at your house like it?"
"Every one of us," answered Donald. "We're all batty about cress salad—and, say, that reminds me of something! If you know so much about this canyon and everything in it, is there any place in it where a fellow could find a plant, a kind of salad lettuce, that the Indians used to use?"
"Might be," said Linda carelessly. "For why?"
"Haven't you heard of the big sensation that is being made in feminine circles by the new department in Everybody's Home?" inquired Donald. "Mother and Mary Louise were discussing it the other day at lunch, and they said that some of the recipes for dishes to be made from stuff the Indians used sounded delicious. One reminded them of cress, and when we saw the cress I wondered if I could get them some of the other."
"Might," said Linda drily, "if you could give me a pretty good idea of what it is that you want."
"When you know cress, it's queer that you wouldn't know other things in your own particular canyon," said Donald.
Linda realized that she had overdone her disinterestedness a trifle.
"I suspect it's miners' lettuce you want," she said. "Of course I know where there's some, but you will want it as fresh as possible if you take any, so we'll finish our day first and gather it the last thing before we leave."
How it started neither of them noticed, but they had not gone far before they were climbing the walls and hanging to precarious footings. Her cheeks flushed, her eyes brilliant, her lips laughing, Linda was showing Donald thrifty specimens of that Cotyledon known as "old hen and chickens," telling him of the rare Echeveria of the same family, and her plunge down the canyon side while trying to uproot it, exulting that she had brought down the plant without a rift in the exquisite bloom on its leaves.
Linda told about her fall, and the two men who had passed at that instant, and how she had met them later, and who they were, and what they were doing. Then Donald climbed high for a bunch of larkspur, and Linda showed him how to turn his back to the canyon wall and come down with the least possible damage to his person and clothing. When at last both of them were tired they went back to the car. Linda spread an old Indian blanket over the least flower-grown spot she could select, brought out the thermos bottles and lunch case, and served their lunch. With a glass of fruit punch in one hand and a lettuce sandwich in the other, Donald smiled at Linda.
"I'll agree about Katy. She knows how," he said appreciatively.
"Katy is more than a cook," said Linda quietly. "She is a human being. She has the biggest, kindest heart. When anybody's sick or in trouble she's the greatest help. She is honest; she has principles; she is intelligent. In her spare time she reads good books and magazines. She knows what is going on in the world. She can talk intelligently on almost any subject. It's no disgrace to be a cook. If it were, Katy would be unspeakable. Fact is, at the present minute there's no one in all the world so dear to me as Katy. I always talk Irish with her."
"Well, I call that rough on your sister," said Donald.
"Maybe it is," conceded Linda. "I suspect a lady wouldn't have i said that, but Eileen and I are so different. She never has made the slightest effort to prove herself lovable to me, and so I have never learned to love her. Which reminds me—how did you happen to come to the garage?"
"The very beautiful young lady who opened the door mistook me for a mechanic. She told me I would find you working on your car and for goodness' sake to see that it was in proper condition before you drove it."
Linda looked at him with wide, surprised eyes in which a trace of indignation was plainly discernible.
"Now listen to me," she said deliberately. "Eileen is a most sophisticated young lady. If she saw you, she never in this world, thought you were a mechanic sent from a garage presenting yourself at our front door."
"There might have been a spark of malice in the big blue-gray I eyes that carefully appraised me," said Donald.
"Your choice of words is good," said Linda, refilling the punch glass. "'Appraise' fits Eileen like her glove. She appraises every thing on a monetary basis, and when she can't figure that it's going to be worth an appreciable number of dollars and cents to her—'to the garage wid it,' as Katy would say."
When they had finished their lunch Linda began packing the box and Donald sat watching her.
"At this point," said Linda, "Daddy always smoked. Do you smoke?"
There was a hint of deeper color in the boy's cheeks.
"I did smoke an occasional cigarette," he said lightly, "up to the day, not a thousand years ago, when a very emphatic young lady who should have known, insinuated that it was bad for the nerves, and going on the presumption that she knew, I haven't smoked a cigarette since and I'm not going to until I find out whether I can do better work without them."
Linda folded napkins and packed away accessories thoughtfully. Then she looked into the boy's eyes.
"Now we reach the point of our being here together," she said. "It's time to fight, and I am sorry we didn't go at it gas and bomb the minute we met. You're so different from what I thought you were. If anyone had told me a week ago that you would take off your coat and mess with my automobile engine, or wear Katy's apron and squeeze lemons in our kitchen I would have looked him over for Daddy's high sign of hysteria, at least. It's too bad to I have such a good time as I have had this afternoon, and then end with a fight."
"That's nothing," said Donald. "You couldn't have had as good a time as I have had. You're like another boy. A fellow can be just a fellow with you, and somehow you make everything you touch mean something it never meant before. You have made me feel that I would be about twice the man I am if I had spent the time I have wasted in plain jazzing around, hunting Cotyledon or trap-door spiders' nests."
"I get you," said Linda. "It's the difference between a girl reared in an atmosphere of georgette and rouge, and one who has grown up in the canyons with the oaks and sycamores. One is natural and the other is artificial. Most boys prefer the artificial."
"I thought I did myself," said Donald, "but today has taught me that I don't. I think, Linda, that you would make the finest friend a fellow ever had. I firmly and finally decline to fight with you; but for God's sake, Linda, tell me how I can beat that little cocoanut-headed Jap."
Linda slammed down the lid to the lunch box. Her voice was smooth and even but there was battle in her eyes and she answered decisively: "Well, you can't beat him calling him names. There is only one way on God's footstool that you can beat him. You can't beat him legislating against him. You can't beat him boycotting him. You can't beat him with any tricks. He is as sly as a cat and he has got a whole bag full of tricks of his own, and he has proved right here in Los Angeles that he has got a brain that is hard to beat. All you can do, and be a man commendable to your own soul, is to take his subject and put your brain on it to such purpose that you cut pigeon wings around him. What are you studying in your classes, anyway?"
"Trigonometry, Rhetoric, Ancient History, Astronomy," answered Donald.
"And is your course the same as his?" inquired Linda.
"Strangely enough it is," answered Donald. "We have been in the same classes all through high school. I think the little monkey—"
"Man, you mean," interposed Linda.
"'Man,'" conceded Donald. "Has waited until I selected my course all the way through, and then he has announced what he would take. He probably figured that I had somebody with brains back of the course I selected, and that whatever I studied would be suitable for him."
"I haven't a doubt of it," said Linda. "They are quick; oh! they are quick; and they know from their cradles what it is that they have in the backs of their heads. We are not going to beat them driving them to Mexico or to Canada, or letting them monopolize China. That is merely temporizing. That is giving them fertile soil on which to take the best of their own and the level best of ours, and by amalgamating the two, build higher than we ever have. There is just one way in all this world that we can beat Eastern civilization and all that it intends to do to us eventually. The white man has dominated by his color so far in the history of the world, but it is written in the Books that when the men of color acquire our culture and combine it with their own methods of living and rate of production, they are going to bring forth greater numbers, better equipped for the battle of life, than we are. When they have got our last secret, constructive or scientific, they will take it, and living in a way that we would not, reproducing in numbers we don't, they will beat us at any game we start, if we don't take warning while we are in the ascendancy, and keep there."
"Well, there is something to think about," said Donald Whiting, staring past Linda at the side of the canyon as if he had seen the same handwriting on the wall that dismayed Belshazzar at the feast that preceded his downfall.
"I see what you're getting at," he said. "I had thought that there might be some way to circumvent him."
"There is!" broke in Linda hastily. "There is. You can beat him, but you have got to beat him in an honorable way and in a way that is open to him as it is to you."
"I'll do anything in the world if you will only tell me how," said Donald. "Maybe you think it isn't grinding me and humiliating me properly. Maybe you think Father and Mother haven't warned me. Maybe you think Mary Louise isn't secretly ashamed of me. How can I beat him, Linda?"
Linda's eyes were narrowed to a mere line. She was staring at the wall back of Donald as if she hoped that Heaven would intercede in her favor and write thereon a line that she might translate to the boy's benefit.
"I have been watching pretty sharply," she said. "Take them as a race, as a unit—of course there are exceptions, there always are—but the great body of them are mechanical. They are imitative. They are not developing anything great of their own in their own country. They are spreading all over the world and carrying home sewing machines and threshing machines and automobiles and cantilever bridges and submarines and aeroplanes—anything from eggbeaters to telescopes. They are not creating one single thing. They are not missing imitating everything that the white man can do anywhere else on earth. They are just like the Germans so far as that is concerned."
"I get that, all right enough," said Donald. "Now go on. What is your deduction? How the devil am I to beat the best? He is perfect, right straight along in everything."
The red in Linda's cheeks deepened. Her eyes opened their widest. She leaned forward, and with her closed fist, pounded the blanket before him.
"Then, by gracious," she said sternly, "you have got to do something new. You have got to be perfect, PLUS."
"'Perfect, plus?'" gasped Donald.
"Yes, sir!" said Linda emphatically. "You have got to be perfect, plus. If he can take his little mechanical brain and work a thing out till he has got it absolutely right, you have got to go further than that and discover something pertaining to it not hitherto thought of and start something NEW. I tell you you must use your brains. You should be more than an imitator. You must be a creator!"
Donald started up and drew a deep breath.
"Well, some job I call that," he said. "Who do you think I am, the Almighty?"
"No," said Linda quietly, "you are not. You are merely His son, created in His own image, like Him, according to the Book, and you have got to your advantage the benefit of all that has been learned down the ages. We have got to take up each subject in your course, and to find some different books treating this same subject. We have got to get at it from a new angle. We must dig into higher authorities. We have got to coach you till, when you reach the highest note possible for the parrot, you can go ahead and embellish it with a few mocking-bird flourishes. All Oka Sayye knows how to do is to learn the lesson in his book perfectly, and he is 100 per cent. I have told you what you must do to add the plus, and you can do it if you are the boy I take you for. People have talked about the 'yellow peril' till it's got to be a meaningless phrase. Somebody must wake up to the realization that it's the deadliest peril that ever has menaced white civilization. Why shouldn't you have your hand in such wonderful work?"
"Linda," said the boy breathlessly, "do you realize that you have been saying 'we'? Can you help me? Will you help me?"
"No," said Linda, "I didn't realize that I had said 'we.' I didn't mean two people, just you and me. I meant all the white boys and girls of the high school and the city and the state and the whole world. If we are going to combat the 'yellow peril' we must combine against it. We have got to curb our appetites and train our brains and enlarge our hearts till we are something bigger and finer and numerically greater than this yellow peril. We can't take it and pick it up and push it into the sea. We are not Germans and we are not Turks. I never wanted anything in all this world worse than I want to see you graduate ahead of Oka Sayye. And then I want to see the white boys and girls of Canada and of England and of Norway and Sweden and Australia, and of the whole world doing exactly what I am recommending that you do in your class and what I am doing personally in my own. I have had Japs in my classes ever since I have been in school, but Father always told me to study them, to play the game fairly, but to BEAT them in some way, in some fair way, to beat them at the game they are undertaking."
"Well, there is one thing you don't take into consideration," said Donald. "All of us did not happen to be fathered by Alexander Strong. Maybe we haven't all got your brains."
"Oh, posher!" said Linda. "I know of a case where a little Indian was picked up from a tribal battlefield in South America and brought to this country and put into our schools, and there was nothing that any white pupil in the school could do that he couldn't, so long as it was imitative work. You have got to be constructive. You have got to work out some way to get ahead of them; and if you will take the history of the white races and go over their great achievements in mechanics, science, art, literature—anything you choose—when a white man is constructive, when he does create, he can simply cut circles around the colored races. The thing is to get the boys and girls of today to understand what is going on in the world, what they must do as their share in making the world safe for their grandchildren. Life is a struggle. It always has been. It always will be. There is no better study than to go into the canyons or the deserts and efface yourself and watch life. It's an all-day process of the stronger annihilating the weaker. The one inexorable thing in the world is Nature. The eagle dominates the hawk; the hawk, the falcon; the falcon, the raven; and so on down to the place where the hummingbird drives the moth from his particular trumpet flower. The big snake swallows the little one. The big bear appropriates the desirable cave."
"And is that what you are recommending people to do?"
"No," said Linda, "it is not. That is wild. We go a step ahead of the wild, or we ourselves become wild. We have brains, and with our brains we must do in a scientific way what Nature does with tooth and claw. In other words, and to be concrete, put these things in the car while I fold the blanket. We'll gather our miners' lettuce and then we'll go home and search Daddy's library and see if there is anything bearing in a higher way on any subject you are taking, so that you can get from it some new ideas, some different angle, some higher light, something that will end in speedily prefacing Oka Sayye's perfect with your pluperfect!"
CHAPTER X. Katy to the Rescue
Linda delivered Donald Whiting at his door with an armload of books and a bundle of miners' lettuce and then drove to her home in Lilac Valley—in the eye of the beholder on the floor-level macadam road; in her own eye she scarcely grazed it. The smooth, easy motion of the car, the softly purring engine were thrilling. The speed at which she was going was like having wings on her body. The mental stimulus she had experienced in concentrating her brain on Donald Whiting's problem had stimulated her imagination. The radiant color of spring; the chilled, perfumed, golden air; the sure sense of having found a friend, had ruffled the plumes of her spirit. On the home road Donald had plainly indicated that he would enjoy spending the morrow with her, and she had advised him to take the books she had provided and lock himself in his room and sweat out some information about Monday's lessons which would at least arrest his professor's attention, and lead his mind to the fact that something was beginning to happen. And then she had laughingly added: "Tomorrow is Katy's turn. I told the old dear I would take her as soon as I felt the car was safe. Every day she does many things that she hopes will give me pleasure. This is one thing I can do that I know will delight her."
"Next Saturday, then?" questioned Donald. And Linda nodded.
"Sure thing. I'll be thinking up some place extra interesting. Come in the morning if you want, and we'll take a lunch and go for the day. Which do you like best, mountains or canyons or desert or sea?"
"I like it best wherever what you're interested in takes you," said Donald simply.
"All right, then," answered Linda, "we'll combine business and pleasure."
So they parted with another meeting arranged.
When she reached home she found Katy tearfully rejoicing, plainly revealing how intensely anxious she had been. But when Linda told her that the old tires had held, that the car ran wonderfully, that everything was perfectly safe, that she drove as unconsciously as she breathed, and that tomorrow Katy was to go for a long ride, her joy was incoherent.
Linda laughed. She patted Katy and started down the hallway, when she called back: "What is this package?"
"A delivery boy left it special only a few minutes ago. Must be something Miss Eileen bought and thought she would want tomorrow, and then afterward she got this invitation and went on as she was."
Linda stood gazing at the box. It did look so suspiciously like a dress box.
"Katy," she said, "I have just about got an irresistible impulse to peep. I was telling Eileen last night of a dress I saw that I thought perfect. It suited me better than any other dress I ever did see. It was at 'The Mode.' This box is from 'The Mode.' Could there be a possibility that she sent it up specially for me?"
"I think she would put your name on it if she meant it for ye," said Katy.
"One peep would show me whether it is my dress or not," said Linda, "and peep I'm going to."
She began untying the string.
"There's one thing," said Katy, "Miss Eileen's sizes would never fit ye."
"Might," conceded Linda. "I am taller than she is, but I could wear her waists if I wanted to, and she always alters her skirts herself to save the fees. Glory be! This is my dress, and there's a petticoat and stockings to match it. Why, the nice old thing! I suggested hard enough, but in my heart I hardly thought she would do it. Oh, dear, now if I only had some shoes, and a hat."
Linda was standing holding the jacket in one hand, the stockings in the other, her face flaming. Katy drew herself to full height. She reached over and picked the things from Linda's fingers.
"If ye know that is your dress, lambie," she said authoritatively, "ye go right out and get into that car and run to town and buy ye a pair of shoes."
"But I have no credit anywhere and I have no money, yet," said Linda.
"Well, I have," said Katy, "and this time ye're going to stop your stubbornness and take enough to get ye what you need. Ye go to the best store in Los Angeles and come back here with a pair of shoes that just match those stockings, and ye go fast, before the stores close. If ye've got to speed a little, do it in the country and do it judacious."
"Katy, you're arriving!" cried Linda. "'Judicious speeding' is one thing I learned better than any other lesson about driving a motor car. Three fourths of the driving Father and I did we were speeding judiciously."
Katy held the skirt to Linda's waist.
"Well, maybe it's a little shorter than any you have been wearing, but it ain't as short as Eileen and all the rest of the girls your age have them, so that's all right, honey. Slip on your coat."
Katy's fingers were shaking as she lifted the jacket and Linda slipped into it.
"Oh, Lord," she groaned, "ye can't be wearing that! The sleeves don't come much below your elbows."
"You will please to observe," said Linda, "that they are flowing sleeves and they are not intended to come below the elbows; but it's a piece of luck I tried it on, for it reminds me that it's a jacket suit and I must have a blouse. When you get the shoe money, make it enough for a blouse—two blouses, Katy, one for school and one to fuss up in a little."
Without stopping to change her clothing, Linda ran to the garage and hurried back to the city. It was less than an hour's run, but she made it in ample time to park her car and buy the shoes. She selected a pair of low oxfords of beautiful color, matching the stockings. Then she hurried to one of the big drygoods stores and bought the two waists and an inexpensive straw hat that would harmonize with the suit; a hat small enough to stick, in the wind, with brim enough to shade her eyes. In about two hours she was back with Katy and they were in her room trying on the new clothing.