The next morning Joanna overslept herself, in consequence of a restless hour during the first part of the night. As a result, it had struck half past seven before she went into her sister’s room. She was not the kind of person who knocks at doors, and burst in to find Ellen, inadequately clothed in funny little garments, doing something very busily inside the cupboard.
“Hullo, duckie! And how did you sleep in your lovely bed?”
She was once more aglow with the vitality and triumph of her own being, but the next moment she experienced a vague sense of chill—something was the matter with the room, something had happened to it. It had lost its sense of cheerful riot, and wore a chastened, hangdog air. In a spasm of consternation Joanna realized that Ellen had been tampering with it.
“What have you done?—Where’s my pictures?—Where’ve you put the window curtains?” she cried at last.
Ellen stiffened herself and tried not to look guilty.
“I’m just trying to find room for my own things.”
Joanna stared about her.
“Where’s father’s Buffalo certificate?”
“I’ve put it in the cupboard.”
“In the cupboard!—father’s ... and I’m blessed if you haven’t taken down the curtains.”
“They clash with the carpet—it quite hurts me to look at them. Really, Joanna, if this is my room, you oughtn’t to mind what I do in it.”
“Your room, indeed!—You’ve got some sass!—And I spending more’n forty pound fixing it up for you. I’ve given you new wall paper and new carpet and new curtains and all the best pictures, and took an unaccountable lot of trouble, and now you go and mess it up.”
“I haven’t messed it up. On the contrary”—Ellen’s vexation was breaking through her sense of guilt—“I’m doing the best I can to make it look decent. Since you say you’ve done it specially for me and spent all that money on it, I think at least you might have consulted my taste a little.”
“And what is your taste, ma’am?”
“A bit quieter than yours,” said Ellen saucily. “There are about six different shades of red and pink in this room.”
“And what shades would you have chosen, may I be so bold as to ask?” Joanna’s voice dragged ominously with patience—“the same shade as your last night’s gownd, which is the colour of the mould on jam? I’ll have the colours I like in my own house—I’m sick of your dentical, die-away notions. You come home from school thinking you know everything, when all you’ve learned is to despise my best pictures, and say my curtains clash with the carpet, when I chose ’em for a nice match. I tell you what, ma’am, you can just about put them curtains back, and them pictures, and that certificate of poor father’s that you’re so ashamed of.”
“I want to put my own pictures up,” said Ellen doggedly—“if I’ve got to live with your carpet and wallpaper, I don’t see why I shouldn’t have my own pictures.”