“I—I killed the hog to-day;” she spoke sharply, slowly, as to a dense child. Peter Greyson started.
“Yes. While you were off—getting drunk, and while Nella-Rose was traipsing back there in the Hollow I killed the hog; but I’ll never do it again. It sickened the soul of me. I’m as good as Nella-Rose—just as good. If you can’t do your part, father, and she won’t do hers, that’s no reason for me being benastied with such work as I did to-day. You hear me?”
“Sure I hear you, Marg, and I’m plumb humiliated that—that I let you. It—it sha’n’t happen again. I’ll keep a smart watch next year. A gentleman can’t say more to his daughter than that—can he?”
“Saying is all very well—it’s the doing.” Marg was adamant. “I’m going to look out for myself from now on. You and Nella-Rose will find out.”
“What’s come to you, Marg?” Peter looked concerned.
“Something that hasn’t ever come before,” Marg replied, keeping her eyes on Nella-Rose. “There be times when you have to take your life by the throat and strangle it until it falls into shape. I’m gripping mine now.”
“It’s the killing of that hog!” groaned Peter. “It’s stirred you, and I can’t blame you. Killing ain’t for a lady; but Lord! what a man you’d ha’ made, Marg!”
“But I ain’t!” Marg broke in a bit wildly, “and other things are not for—for women to do and bear. I’m through. It’s Nella-Rose and me to share and share alike, or—”
But there was nothing more to say—the pause was eloquent. The three ate in silence for some moments and then talked of trivial things. Peter Greyson went early to bed and the sisters washed the dishes, sharing equally. They did the out-of-door duties of caring for the scanty live stock, and at last Nella-Rose went to her tiny room under the eaves, while Marg lay down upon the living-room couch.
When everything was at rest once more Nella-Rose stole to the low window of her chamber and, kneeling, looked forth at the peaceful moonlit scene. How still and white it was and how safe and strong the high hills looked! What had happened? Why, nothing could happen and yet—and yet—Then Nella-Rose closed her eyes and waited. With all her might she tried to force the “good, kind face” to materialize, but to no purpose. Suddenly an owl hooted hideously and, like a guilty thing, the girl by the window crept back to bed.
Owls were very wise and they could see things in the dark places with their wide-open eyes! Just then Nella-Rose could not have borne any investigation of her throbbing heart.
Lynda Kendall closed her desk and wheeled about in her chair with a perplexed expression on her strong, handsome face. Generally speaking, she went her way with courage and conviction, but since Conning Truedale’s breakdown, an element in her had arisen that demanded recognition and she had yet to learn how to control it and insist upon its subjection.