Authors: Gilbert Morris
© 2003 by Gilbert Morris
Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
Bethany House Publishers is a Division of
Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Ebook edition created 2011
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher and copyright owners.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Cover illustration by Bill Graf
Cover production by Becky Noyes
TO GINGER CONLON
You will alway be a miracle to me, my dear Ginger. Words could never express how proud I am to have such a woman in my family.
5. October 24, 1929—Black Thursday
13. A Different Kind of Christmas
23. The Right Man Takes the Blame
A Birthday to Remember
Kat Winslow sailed through the back door so fast it slammed with a bang, but she did not pause for an instant. She threaded her way through the servants who crowded the kitchen, and Susan Mason—never called anything but Cook—turned from the stove, a harried look on her face. “Why aren’t you dressed, Katherine? You look awful!”
The twelve-year-old simply grabbed a cookie from the counter, laughed, and sped out of the kitchen. The sound of the musicians warming up for the dance caught her attention for a moment, but then she ignored it. Turning up an ornate curving staircase, she raced to the top and then to the door at the far end of the long hallway. She opened the door and stepped inside but was halted when a cry met her.
“Kat, shut that door! I’m not dressed!”
“What kind of underwear is that?” Kat asked, ignoring her sister’s protests. She advanced and walked around her sister, her head cocked to one side.
Jenny Winslow was wearing a peach-colored satin bra, embroidered at the edges with white flowers, and a girdle attached to fine silk stockings. Jenny was a striking young woman of seventeen with red hair and unusually dark green eyes. Her face was heart shaped, and her lips were broad and expressive. Right now they were expressing distaste. “Don’t you ever bother to knock?”
“Not for family I don’t.”
“What are you wearing those overalls for? It’s almost time
for my party to begin. And you’re filthy! What have you been doing?”
“I’ve been in the garden digging up worms. I’m going fishing in the morning.” Kat went over and plumped herself down in a chair and examined her older sister curiously.
Kat had gray-green eyes and tawny hair, and she cared nothing for what she called “girlie” stuff, including clothes and makeup and parties. A summer’s tan coated her skin, and a few light freckles were scattered across her nose.
Marie DuPree, the dark-haired French ladies’ maid at the Winslow house, made a face. “I never see a girl like you,” she snorted. “You care nothing for clothes, and you go around looking like a hobo. Hurry now—you need to take a bath and get into your party dress.”
Ignoring Marie, Kat stared at her sister and demanded, “Jenny, when will I have bosoms?”
Jenny blinked with shock and gasped slightly. “Kat, do you
to say everything that comes into your mind?”
“How am I going to say it if it doesn’t come into my mind? When will I?”
Jenny laughed shortly and shook her head in disbelief. “You ought to be more careful what you say. It’s not polite to talk about such things.”
“It’s not genteel.”
“But when will I?”
“Very soon, I suppose. Maybe next year. Now go get dressed, and Marie will come and help you do your hair.”
“I can fix it myself.”
“I know how you’ll fix it! You mind what I say.” She smiled and ran her hand over Kat’s hair. “It’s my birthday, remember. I get to have my own way.”
Kat grinned broadly. “You always get your own way.”
“Out of here—go!”
As the door closed behind Kat, Marie said, “Do you theenk she will ever outgrow—whatever eet eez she has become?”
“She’s just a tomboy, Marie. She’ll grow out of it.”
“Were you zat way when you were her age?”
“No, I was certainly never that way, but I’m not worried about her. She’ll change.”
Marie crossed the room to pick up Jenny’s dress, holding it for a moment and running her hand over it fondly. A thought struck her, and she motioned with her head. “And Miss Hannah, will she be at zee party?”
“You know she won’t, Marie.”
“I thought, maybe, since eet was your birthday—”
“She used to come to parties when it was just the family, but you know how she hates to be around parties and things like that with outsiders.”
Marie cocked her head to one side. She was an attractive young woman of twenty with intense black eyes. “Was she always so . . . so strange?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Why she eez so afraid of people?”
“I can’t say.”
“And she eez thirty now—never married? That eez not normal.”
A troubled light touched Jenny’s eyes. She took the dress from Marie and held it up in front of her. Her eyes were on the large full-length mirror, but her mind was on her sister. “I don’t understand Hannah,” she sighed. “All she wants to do is read sermons and go to church. Here, help me put the dress on.”
Marie took the dress and helped Jenny slip it on, then fastened it. “It eez a beautiful dress!” She sighed. The sleeveless dress was made out of cream silk chiffon and had a low cowl neckline. The bodice fit snugly to the waist, and the smooth silk skirt flowed gently out until it touched the ground in soft drapes around her legs.
Jenny turned around, looking at the back, then said, “Go up and see if you can talk Hannah into coming. I know she
probably won’t come, but I bought her a new dress, so ask her.”
“I will go, but you are right, Miss Jennifer. She probably will not come.” Marie shook her head and looked back over her shoulder before leaving the room. “She eez not
Kat rushed into her own bedroom, slammed the door behind her, then gave the room a quick glance. How different it was from Jenny’s ornate room. Instead of feminine accouterments, hers was filled with specimens she had caught—butterflies pinned to the wall, insects in jars, and a dried snakeskin hanging from a peg. Books were scattered everywhere, all of them having to do with bugs or snakes or animals. A clipper ship model, half finished, filled a table, and clothes littered the room. Pictures cut from magazines and newspapers were pinned carelessly to the walls. The room was a despair to the maid, but nothing anyone said changed Kat’s habits. Remembering her sister’s admonition, she peeled off her overalls, snatched up a blue robe, then dashed down the hallway to the bathroom, where she took a quick bath, splashing water all over the floor. She left a dirty bathtub ring, for she had indeed gotten grubby digging for worms, but she knew the maids would take care of that.
When she returned to her room, she slipped into the pretty new dress Jenny had bought for her. It was a shiny green cotton with shoes to match. She put on the shoes, then gave her hair a few swipes with a brush. She liked keeping it short and would have cut it even shorter—like a boy’s—but both her sisters and their father drew the line at that.
Leaving her room, Kat heard the orchestra again, and when she reached the foot of the stairs, she saw people coming in the front door being greeted by her father. Standing beside him was Lucy Daimen, and Kat involuntarily made a face.
I don’t see why he has to marry that old Lucy!
She wove her way back to the kitchen and picked up some diamond-cut canapés, one in each hand, and went outside through a side door. She stopped abruptly when she saw a man and a woman standing in the shadows of the side garden. The chauffeur had his arms around the new maid. Mabel Bateman was only seventeen, and in the faint light from the kitchen window, Kat could tell that her face was red.
Kat said very loudly, “What are you doing, Earl?”
Earl Crane, a burly man with tow-colored hair and hazel eyes, whirled quickly, anger twisting his face. “Nothing!” he said. “Go on back to the party!”
“I’ll bet Daddy wouldn’t like it if he knew you were kissing Mabel.”
Mabel took this opportunity to pull away and dash past Kat into the house.
“You’re a pretty nosy kid,” Earl complained.
“I won’t tell Dad if you’ll do me a favor.”
“What kind of a favor?”
“Teach me how to drive the car.”
“I can’t do that! Your dad would fire me!”
“He won’t have to know. You teach me to drive when nobody’s around, and I won’t tell Dad you’re kissing the maids.”
Crane laughed conspiratorially. “Okay, kid, we’ll do it.”
Kat was pleased with this arrangement. She had often asked her father to let her drive, but he had always refused. Now she thought about what fun it would be to drive, and she skipped back into the house. For the next ten minutes she wandered around tasting the canapés and petit fours. She was finally interrupted by her father, who appeared with Lucy Daimen at his side.
“Are you ready for the party, Kat?” he asked.
Lewis Winslow carried his fifty-five years well. He had always been slim and had gained little weight over the years. His light brown hair had minute flecks of gray, and his dark brown eyes peered at her from his squarish face. For some
reason, he did not seem particularly happy at this moment, though he smiled warmly at his youngest daughter.