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Diane of the green van

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Title:DianeoftheGreenVan
Author:LeonaDalrymple
ReleaseDate:June21,2005[eBook#16101]
Language:English
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GREENVAN***

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Frontispiece
[Frontispiece:"Excellency,asagentlemanwhoisnotacoward,itbehoovesyoutoexplain!"]


DIANEOFTHEGREENVAN


BY

LEONADALRYMPLE

"InArcadie,theLandofHearte'sDesire,
LetteuslingerwhileswithLuveresfond;
AsparklyngeComedietheyplaye—withFire—
UnwyttyngeFatestandswaytyngewithhirWande."

IllustrationsbyReginaldBirch

Chicago
TheReilly&BrittonCo.
Thirdprinting


1914

DianeoftheGreenVanwasawardedthe$10,000.00prizeinanovelcontestin
whichoverfivehundredmanuscriptsweresubmitted.


CONTENTS
Chapter
I OfaGreatWhiteBirdUponaLake
II AnIndoorTempest
III AWhim
IV TheVoiceoftheOpenCountry
V ThePhantomthatRosefromtheBottle
VI BaronTregar
VII Themar
VIII AfterSunset
IX InaStorm-HauntedWood
X OntheRidgeRoad
XI IntheCampoftheGypsyLady
XII ABulletinArcadia
XIII AWoodlandGuest
XIV BytheBackwaterPool
XV JokaiofVienna


XVI TheYoungManoftheSea
XVII InWhichtheBaronPays
XVIII Nomads
XIX ANomadicMinstrel
XX TheRomanceofMinstrelsy
XXI AttheGrayofDawn
XXII SylvanSuitors
XXIII Letters
XXIV TheLonelyCamper
XXV ADecemberSnowstorm
XXVI AnAccounting
XXVII TheSongofthePine-WoodSparrow
XXVIII TheNomadoftheFire-Wheel


XXIX TheBlackPalmer
XXX TheUnmasking
XXXI TheReckoning
XXXII ForestFriends
XXXIII BytheWindingCreek
XXXIV TheMoonAbovetheMarsh
XXXV TheWindoftheOkeechobee
XXXVI UndertheLiveOaks
XXXVII IntheGlades
XXXVIII InPhilip'sWigwam
XXXIX UndertheWildMarchMoon
XL TheVictory
XLI InMic-co'sLodge
XLII TheRainUpontheWigwam
XLIII TheRivalCampers
XLIV TheTaleofaCandlestick
XLV TheGypsyBlood
XLVI IntheForest
XLVII "TheMarshesofGlynn"
XLVIII OntheLakeShore
XLIX Mr.Dorrigan
L TheOtherCandlestick
LI IntheAdirondacks
LII ExtractsfromtheLettersofNormanWestfall
LIII ByMic-co'sPool
LIV OntheWestfallLake


ILLUSTRATIONS
"Excellency,asagentlemanwhoisnotacowarditbehoovesyou
toexplain."…Frontispiece
Dianeswunglightlyuptheforestpath
WhitegirlandIndianmaidthenclaspedhands
"No,Imaynottakeyourhand."


DianeoftheGreenVan


CHAPTERI
OFAGREATWHITEBIRDUPONALAKE
SpringwasstealinglightlyovertheConnecticuthills,ashy,tenderthingof
delicate green winging its way with witch-rod over the wooded ridges and the
sylvan paths of Diane Westfall's farm. And with the spring had come a great
hammering by the sheepfold and the stables where a smiling horde of
metropolitan workmen,shelteredbynightintheramblingoldfarmhouse,built
aningenioushouseuponwheelsandflirtedwiththehouse-maids.
Radiantly thespringsweptfromdelicateshynessintoabolderglowof leaf
andflower.Dogwoodsnowedalongtheridges,Solomon'ssealfloweredthickly
inthebogs,andfollowingthepathtothelakeonemorningwithRex,afavorite
St.Bernard,atherheels,Dianefeltwithathrillthatthesummeritselfhadcome
inthenightwithawind-flutterofwildflowerandtheflutingofnestingbirds.
The woodland was deliciously green and cool and alive with the piping of
robins.Overthelakewhichglimmeredfaintlythroughthetreesaheadcamethe
whir and hum of a giant bird which skimmed the lake with snowy wing and
came to rest like a truant gull. Of the habits of this extraordinary bird Rex,
barking,franklydisapproved,butfindinghismistress'sattentionheldundulyby
achirping,bright-wingedcaucusofbirdsofinferiorsizeandinterest,hebarked
andgallopedoffahead.
WhenpresentlyDianeemergedfromthelakepathandhaltedontheshore,he
wasgreatlyexcited.
Therewasanaeroplaneuponthewaterandintheaeroplaneatallyoungman
with considerable length of sinewy limb, lazily rolling a cigarette. Diane
unconsciouslyapprovedtheclearbronzeofhislean,burnedfaceandhiseyes,
blue,steady,calmasthewatersofthelakeherode.
Theaviatormetherastonishedglancewithoneoflaughingdeferenceevenas
shemarveledathisgenialairofstaunchphilosophy.
"I beg your pardon," stammered Diane, "but—but are you by any chance


waiting—toberescued?"
"Why—I—I believe I am!" exclaimed the young man readily, apparently
greatlypleasedathercommonsense."Atyourconvenience,ofcourse!"
"Areyou—er—sinkingormerelythere?"
"Merelyhere!"noddedtheyoungmanwithacharmingsmileofreassurance.
"This contraption is a—er—I—I think Dick calls it an hydro-aeroplane. It has
pontoonsandthingsgrowingalloveritforduckstuntsandifthewaterwasn'tso
infernally still, I'd be floating and smoking and likely in time I'd make shore.
That's a delightful pastime for you now," he added with a lazy smile of the
utmostgoodhumor,"tofloatandsmokeonasummerdayandgrabattheshore."
"Iwasundertheimpression,"commentedDianecritically,"thatinanhydroaeroplaneonecouldrisefromthewaterlikeabird.I'vereadsorecently."
"Onecan,"smiledtheshipwreckedphilosopherreadily,"providedhismotor
isn't deaf and dumb and insanely indifferent to suggestion. When it grows shy
and silent, one swims eventually and drips home, unless a dog barks and a
rescueremergesfromthetreesequippedwithsympathyandcommonsense.I've
amechanicianbackthere,"headdedsociably."He—he'sinatree,Ithink.I—er
—mislaidhiminaverydangerousaircurrent."
"Areyouaware,"inquiredthegirl,bitingherlip,"thatyou'retrespassing?"
"Lord, no!" exclaimed the aviator. "You don't mean it. Have you by any
chanceareputableropeanywhereaboutyou?"
"No," said Diane maliciously, "I haven't. As a rule, I do go about equipped
with ropes and hooks and things to—rescue trespassing hydroaviators, but—"
sheregardedhimthoughtfully."Doyouliketofloataboutandsmoke?"
The sun-browned skin of the young aviator reddened a trifle, but his eyes
laughed.
"I'manincurableoptimist,"helightlycountered,"orIwouldn'thavetriedto
flyoveraprivatelakeinaborrowedaeroplane."
"I believe," said Diane disapprovingly, "that you were cutting giddy circles


overthewateranddippingandskimming,weren'tyou?"
"Ididcutamonkeyshineortwo,"admittedtheyoungman."Iwashavinga
devilofatimeuntilyou—untilthe—er—catastropheoccurred."
"And Miss Westfall, the owner," murmured Diane with sympathy, "is
addicted to firearms. Hadn't you heard? She hunts! The Westfalls are all very
erraticandquick-tempered.Didn'tyouknowshewasatthefarm?"
Theyoungmanlookedexceedinglyuncomfortable.
"Great guns, no!" he exclaimed. "I presumed she was safe in New York…
And this is her lake and her water and her waves, when there are any, and no
matterhowIengineerit,I'vegottopoachsomeofherproperty.Someofit,"he
addedconversationally,"isinmyshoe.Lord,Iaminapickle!Areyouaguest
ofhers?"
"Yes,"saidDianecalmly.
"I'm staying over yonder on the hill there with Dick Sherrill," offered the
youngmancordially."Theyareopeningtheirplacewithapartyofmen,some
crackamateuraviators—andmyself.DoyouknowtheSherrills?"
"Perhaps I do," said Diane discouragingly. "Why didn't you float about and
smoke on Mr. Sherrill's lake?" she added curiously. "It's ever so much bigger
thanthis."
"Circumstances," began the young man with dignity, and lighted another
cigarette."Mymechanician,"headdedvolubly,afteranuncomfortableinterval
of silence, "is an exceedingly bold young man. He'll fly over anything, even a
cow. Isn't really mine either; he's borrowed, too. Dick keeps a few extra
mechanicians onhand,likeextracigars.It'sDick'sfaultI'mout alone.Helent
mymechaniciantoanotherchapandnobodyelsewouldcomewithme."
"I thought," flashed Diane pointedly, "I thought your mechanician was
somewhereinatree."
Theaviatorcoughedandreddeneduncomfortably.
"Doubtlessheis,"hesaidlamely."He—hemostalwaysis.Doyouknow,he


spendsalargepartofhissparetimeintrees—andswamps—andonce,Ibelieve,
hewasdiscoveredinachimney.I—I'dliketotellyoumoreabouthim,"hewent
onaffably."Once—"
"Thankyou,"saidDianepolitely,"butyou'vereallyentertainedmemorenow
thanonecouldexpectfromagentlemaninyourdistressingplight.Come,Rex."
She turned back again at the hemlocks which flanked the forest path. "I'll ask
MissWestfalltosendsomemen,"sheaddedandhalted.
ForDianehadsurprisedalookofsuchkeenregretintheyoungaviator'sface
thattheybothcoloredhotly.
"Beastly luck!" stammered the young man lamely. "I am disappointed. I—I
don'tseemtohaveanothermatch."
"Your cigarette is burning splendidly," hinted Diane coolly, "and you've a
matchinyourhand."
Foratense,magneticinstantthekeenblueeyesflashedacuriousmessageof
pleadingandapology,thentheaviatorfelltowhistlingsoftly,struckthematch
andfindingnoimmediatefunctionforit,droppeditinthewater.
"I don't in the least mind floating about," he stammered, his eyes sparkling
with silent laughter, "and possibly I'll make shore directly; but Lord love us!
don'tsendthesharp-shooteress—please!Betterabandonmetomyfate."
Slim and straight as the silver birches by the water, Diane hurried away up
thelake-path.
"Theyoungman,"sheflashedwithastampofherfoot,"isaverygreatfool."
"Johnny,"shesaidalittlelatertoalittle,bewhiskeredmanwithcheekslike
hardredwinterapples,"there'sasociable,happy-go-luckyyoungmanperched
onanaeroplaneinthemiddleofourlake.Bettertakearopeandrescuehim.I
don't think he knows enough about aeroplanes to be flying so promiscuously
aboutthecountry."
JohnnyJutescollectedabandofenthusiastsanddeparted.
"Nobodythere,MissDiane,"reportedyoungAllanCarmodyuponreturning;


"leastwise nobody that couldn't take care of himself. Only a chap buzzin'
almighty swift over the trees. Swooped down like a hawk when he saw us an'
wavedhishand,laughin'fittokillhimself,an'droppedJohnnyafiveran'gee!
Miss Diane, but he could drive some! Swift and cool-headed as a bird. He's
whizzin'offlikemadtowardtheSherrillplace,withhismotora-hummin'an'apurrin' like a cat. Leanish, sunburnt chap with eyes that 'pear to be laughin' a
lot."
Diane's eyes flashed resentfully and as she walked away to the house her
expressionwasdistinctlythoughtful.


CHAPTERII
ANINDOORTEMPEST

"Ifyou'rebroke,"saidStarrett,leering,"whydon'tyoumarryyourcousin?"
CarlGranberrystaredinsolentlyacrossthetable.
"Passthebuck,"heremindedcoolly."Andpouryourselfsomemorewhiskey.
You'reonlyagentlemanwhenyou'redrunk,Starrett.You'resobernow."
PaysonandWherrylaughed.Starrett,notyetinthewine-flushofhisheavy
courtesy,passedthebuckwithafrownofannoyance.
A log blazed in the library fireplace, staining with warm, rich shadows the
square-paneledceilingofoakandthehugewar-beatenslaboftable-woodabout
whichthemenweregathered,bothfeudalrelicsbroughttotheNewYorkhome
ofCarlGranberry'sunclefromaruinedcastleinSpain.
"If you've gone through all your money," resumed Starrett offensively, "I'd
marryDiane."
"Miss Westfall!" purred Carl correctively. "You've forgotten, Starrett, my
cousin'snameisWestfall,MissWestfall."
"Diane!"persistedStarrett.
With one of his incomprehensible whims, Carl swept the cards into a
disorderlyheapandshrugged.
"I'mthrough,"hesaidcurtly."Wherry,takethepot.Youneedit."
"Damnedirregular!"snappedStarrettsourly.
"So?" said Carl, and stared the recalcitrant into sullen silence. Rising, he


crossedtothefire,hisdark,impudenteyeslingeringreflectivelyuponStarrett's
moodyface.
"Starrett," he mused, "I wonder what I ever saw in you anyway. You're
infernally shallow and alcoholic and your notions of poker are as distorted as
your morals. I'm not sure but I think you'd cheat." He shrugged wearily. "Get
out,"hesaidcollectively."I'mtired."
Starrett rose, sneering. There had been a subtle change to-night in his
customaryattitudeofparasiticgood-fellowship.
"I'm tired, too!" he exclaimed viciously. "Tired of your infernal whims and
insults. You're as full of inconsistencies as a lunatic. When you ought to be
insulted,youlaugh,andwhenafellowleastexpectsit,youblazeandraveand
stare him out of countenance. And I'm tired of drifting in here nights at your
beck and call, to be sent home like a kid when your mood changes. Mighty
amusingforus!Ifyou'renotvivisectingourlivesandcharactersforusinthat
impudent, philosophical way you have, you're preaching a sermon that you
couldn't—and wouldn't—follow yourself. And then you end by messing
everybody's cards in a heap and sending us home with the last pot in Dick
Wherry'spocketwhetheritbelongsthereornot.Itellyou,I'mtiredofit."
Carllaughed,asingularlymusicallaughwithanoteofmockeryinit.
"Who,"hedemandedelaborately,"who ever heardofa treasonousbarnacle
before?Abarnacle,Starrett,adheresandadheres,parasitetotheendaslongas
there's liquid, even as you adhered while the ship was keeled in gold.
Nevertheless, you're right. I'm all of what you say and more that you haven't
brainsenoughtofathom.Andsomethatyoucan'tfathomistomycredit—and
someofitisn't.As,forinstance,myinexplicablepokerpenchantforyou."
ToStarrett,hotoftemperandimpulse,hisgracefulmockerywasmaddening.
Cursingunderhisbreath,heseizedaglassandflungitfuriouslyathishost,who
laughedandmovedasidewiththelithenessofapanther.Theglasscrashedinto
fragments upon the wall of the marble fireplace. Payson and Wherry hurriedly
pushed back their chairs. Then, suddenly conscious of a rustle in the doorway,
theyallturned.
Wide dark eyes flashing with contempt, Diane Westfall stood motionless
uponthethreshold.TheaestheteinCarlthrilledirresistiblytohervividbeauty,


intensified to-night by the angry flame in her cheeks and the curling scarlet of
herlips.Therewerenosemi-tonesinDiane'sdarkbeauty,Carlreflected.Itwas
a thing of sable and scarlet, and the gold-brown satin of her gypsy skin was
warmwiththetintsofanautumnforest.Carelesslyathisease,Carlnotedhow
theboldeyesofthepaintedSpanishgrandeeabovethemantel,themildeyesof
thesaintintheTintorettopanelacrosstheroomandtheflashingeyesofDiane
seemedoddlytoconvergetoacommoncenterwhichwasStarrett,whiteandill
atease.AndofthesetheeyesofDianewereloveliest.
WiththeswiftgracewhichtoCarl'seyesalwaysboreinitsomethingofthe
primitive, Diane swept away, and the staring tableau dissolved into a trio of
discomfitedmenofwhomCarlseemedButanindifferentonlooker.
"Well,"fumedStarrettirritably,"whyinthunderdon'tyousaysomething?"
"Permitme,"drawled Carlimpudently, witha lazyflickerofhislashes,"to
apologizeformycousin'suntimelyintrusion.Ireallyfanciedshewassafeatthe
farm.Unfortunately,thehousebelongstoher.Besides,yourcrystalgymnastics,
Starrett,wereasunscheduledasherarrival.Asitis,you'venoblydemonstrated
an unalterable scientific fact. The collision of marble and glass is unvaryingly
eventful."
Bellowingindignantly,Starrettchargedintothehallway,followedbyPayson.
Presentlytheouterdoorslammedviolentlybehindthem.Wherrylingered.
Carlglancedcuriouslyathisflushedandboyishface.
"Well?"hequeriedlightly.
Wherrycolored.
"Carl,"hestammered,"you'vebeentalkingalotaboutparasitesto-nightand
I'dlikeyoutoknowthat—moneyhasn'tmadeajotofdifferencetome."Hemet
Carl's laughing glance with dogged directness and for a second something
flamedboyishlyinhisfacefromwhichCarl,frowning,turnedaway.
"Why don't you break away from this sort of thing, Dick?" he demanded
irritably."Starrettandmyselfandalltherestofit.You'resappingthesplendid
firesofyouryouthandinherentdecencyinunholyfurnaces.Yes,IknowStarrett
drags you about with him and you daren't offend him because he's your chief,


butyou'recleverandyoucangetanotherjob.Intenyears,asyou'regoingnow,
you'll be an alcoholic ash-heap of jaded passions. What's more, you have
infernal luck at cards and you haven't money enough to keep on losing so
heavily.HalfofthepokersermonsStarrett'sbeengrowlingaboutwerepreached
foryou."
Nowthereweremad,irreverentmomentswhenCarlGranberrydeliveredhis
pokersermonswiththeeloquentmannerismsofthepulpit,save,asPaysonheld,
theywereinfinitelymorelogicalandeloquent,butto-night,huskinghislogicof
these externals, he fell flatly to preaching an unadorned philosophy of
continenceacutelyatvariancewithhisownhabits.
Wherrystaredwonderinglyatthetall,lithefigurebythefire.
"Carl,"hesaidatlast,"tellme,areyouhonestlyinearnestwhenyouragthe
fellowssoaboutworkanddecencyandallthatsortofthing?"
Carlyawnedandlightedacigar.
"Ibelieve,"saidhe,"intheeternalefficacyofgood.Ibelieveinthetelepathic
potencyofmoralforce.Ibelieveinphysicalconservationfortheeugenicgood
of the race and mental dominance over matter. But I'm infernally lazy myself,
and it's easy to preach. It's even easier to create a counter-philosophy of
condonance and individualism, and I'm alternately an ethical egoist, a Fabian
socialistandacynic.Moreover,I'macreatureofwhimsandinconsistenciesand
there are black nights in my temperament when John Barleycorn lightens the
gloom; and there are other nights when he treacherously deepens it—but I'm
peculiarlybalancedandsubjecttoirresistiblefitsofmoralatrophy.Allofwhich
has nothing at all to do with the soundness of my impersonal philosophy.
Wherefore,"withaflashofhiseasyimpudence,"whenIpreach,Imeanit—for
theotherfellow."
Wherry glanced at the handsome face of his erratic friend with frank
allegianceinhiseyes.
Carl flung his cigar into the fire, poured himself some whiskey and pushed
thedecanteracrossthetable.
"Haveadrink,"hesaidwhimsically.


Dick obeyed. It was an inconsistent supplement to the sermon but
characteristic.
"Carl,"hesaid,flushingundertheironicalbatteryoftheother'seyes,"Idon't
thinkIunderstandyou—"
Carllaughed.
"Nobodydoes,"hesaid."Idon'tmyself."


CHAPTERIII
AWHIM

Thefireinthemarblefireplacedieddown,leapinginfitfulshadowoverthe
iron-bound doors riveted in nail-heads. They too were relics from the Spanish
castle which Norman Westfall had stripped of its ancient appurtenances to
fashionanappropriatesettingforthebeautifulyoungSpanishwifewhosedeath
at the birth of Diane had goaded him to suicide. That Norman Westfall had
regardedthevitalsparkwithinhimasanindifferentthingtobesnuffedoutatthe
will of the clay it dominated, was consistent with the Westfall intolerance of
customandconvention.
BythefireCarlsmokedandstaredatthedyingembers.Forallhisinsolent
habit of dominance and mockery he was keenly sensitive and to-night the
significant defection of Starrett and Payson after months of sycophantic
friendship, had made him quiver inwardly like a hurt child. Only Wherry had
stayed with him when his career of reckless expenditure had arrived at its
inevitablegoalofruin.
Thereremained,financially,what?Barelyfourthousandayearinsecurities
soiron-boundbyhismother'swillthathecouldnottouchthem.
BlackresentmentflamedhotlyupinhisheartatthememoryoftheWestfall
custom of willing the bulk of the great estate to the oldest son. It had left his
motherwithapatrimonywhichCarl,inheriting,hadchosencontemptuouslyto
regard as a dwarfish thing of gold sufficient only for the heedless purchase of
oneflaming,brillianthouroflife.Thathusbandeditmightpurchasealifetimeof
grayhourstingedintermittentlywithroseorcrimson,Carlhaddismissedwitha
cynicallaugh,quotingOmarKhayyam.
Starrett had sneeringly suggested that, to remedy his fallen fortunes—he
might marry Diane! Carl laughed softly but recalling suddenly how Diane had
lookedasshestoodinthedoorway,theflameofherhonestangersettingoffher


primitivegrace,hefrownedthoughtfullyatthefire,swayedbyoneofthemad,
reckless whims which frequently rocketed through his brain to heedless
consummation.WhereforehepresentlydispatchedaservanttoDianewithanote
scribbledcarelesslyuponthefaceoftheaceofdiamonds.
"MayIseeyou?"itran."Iamstillinthelibrary.Ifyoulike,I'llcomeup."
Shecametothelibrary,franklysurprised.Carlrarelysawfittoapologizeor
seekadvice.
With his ready gallantry, habitually colored by a subtle sex-mockery, Carl
rose,drewachairforherandleanedagainstthemantel,smiling.
"I'msorry,"saidhecivilly,"I'msorryStarrettsofarforgothimself."
"SoamI,"saidDiane."Bacchanaliantableausarenotatalltomyliking."
"Normine,"admittedCarl."AsanaestheteImustownthatStarrettistoofat
for a really graceful villain. I fancied you were indefinitely domiciled at the
farm.AuntAgathahasbeenfussing—"
"Iwas,"noddedDiane."Awhimofminebroughtmehome."
Carl dropped easily into a chair and glanced at his cousin's profile. The
delicate oval of her face was firelit; her night-black hair one with the deeper
shadows ofthe room.There was mysteryinthelovely duskofDiane'seyes—
anddiscontent—andsomethingmuteandwistfulcryingforexpression.
"I'veapropositiontomake,"saidCarllightly."It'spartlycommercial,partly
belatedjustice,partlyeugenicandpartlypersonal."
"Your money is quite gone, is it not?" asked Diane, raising finely arched
expressiveeyebrows.
"Itis,"admittedCarlruefully."Mycareerasabibulousmeteorisover.Last
night, afteranexquisite shower ofgolden fire, Icametumbling to earthinthe
fashion of meteors, a disillusioned stone. In other words—stone broke. May I
smoke?"
"Assuredly."


Carllightedacigarette.
"Andthepropositionwhichisatthesametimecommercial,eugenicand—er
—personal?" reminded Diane curiously. Carl ignored the delicate note of
sarcasm.
"Itismerely,"hesaidwithaflashofimpudence,"thatyouwillmarryme."
Diane'seyeswidened.
"Howfranklycommercial!"shemurmured.
"Isn'tit?"saidCarl."Andanexcellentopportunityforbelatedjusticeaswell.
Mymother,saveforourinfernalSaliclawofinheritance,wasentitledtohalfthe
Westfallestate."
Diane stared curiously at the fire-rimmed hem of her satin skirt. There was
somethingofCarl'slazyimpudenceinthearchofhereyebrows.
"There yet remains the eugenic inducement and, I believe, a personal one!"
shehinted.
"Thank heaven," exclaimed Carl devoutly, "that we're both logicians. The
eugenicconsiderationisthatbybirthandbrainsandbreedingIamyourlogical
mate."
Diane'seyesflashedwithswiftcontempt.
"Birth!"sherepeated.
The black demon of ungovernable temper leaped brutally from Carl's eyes.
Leaningforwardhecaughtthegirl'shandsinaviciousgripthathurthercruelly
thoughforallherswiftcolorshedidnotflinch.
"Listen, Diane," he said, his face very white; "if there is one thing in this
rottenworld ofcustomandconventionandimmoralmoralitywhichIhonestly
respect,itisthememoryofmymother.Thereforeyouwillpleaseabstainfrom
contemptuousreferencetoherbylookorword."
Diane met the clear, compelling rebuke of his fine eyes with unwavering


directness.
"My mother," said Carl steadily, "was a fine, big, splendid woman,
unconventionallikealltheWestfalls,andacenturyaheadofhertime.Moreover,
shehadacodeofmoralityquiteherown.IfAuntAgatha'sshockedsensibilities
had not eliminated her from your life so early, contact with her broad
understanding of things would have tempered your sex insularity." He glanced
pityinglyatDiane."You'vefireandvision,Diane,"hesaidbluntly,"butyou're
intolerant.It'saWestfalltrait."Helaughedsoftly."Howscornfullyyouusedto
laugh and jeer at boys, because you were swifter of foot and keener of vision
thananyofthem,becauseyoucouldleapandrunandswimlikeawildthing!
Intoleranceagain,Diane,evenasayoungster!"
Heroserestlessly,smilingdownatherwithalazyexpressionofdeferencein
hiseyes.
"Wonderful, beautiful lady of fire and ebony!" he said gently, with a
bewildering change of mood which brought the vivid color to Diane's dark
cheek. "There's the wild, sweet wine of the forest in your very blood! And it's
alwayscalling!"
"Yes,"noddedDianewistfully,"it'salwayscalling.Howdidyouknow?"
"Bythewizardryofeyeandintuition!"helaughedlightly."Andthepersonal
consideration,"headdedpleasantly;"we'vecomeatlasttothat."
AtideofcolorsweptbrightlyoverDiane'sface.
"Surely,Carl,"sheexclaimedwithaswift,levelglance,"youdon'tmeanthat
youcare?"
"No," said Carl honestly, "I don't. I mean just this. Will you permit me to
care?To-nightasyoustoodthereinthedoorwayIknewforthefirsttimethat,if
Ichose,Icouldloveyouverygreatly."
"Loveisn'tlikethat,"flashedDiane."Itcomesunbidden."
"To different natures come different dawnings of the immortal white fire!"
shruggedCarl."Mylovewillbelargelyamatterofwill.I'marmoredheavily."


"Foragoldenkey!"scoffedDiane,rising.
"Ah, well,"said Carlimpudently,"itwas well worthatry!I'msureIcould
lovewithallthefieryappurtenancesoftheDevilhimselfifIshedthearmor."


CHAPTERIV
THEVOICEOFTHEOPENCOUNTRY

"Aunt Agatha!" Diane rapped lightly at her aunt's bedroom door. "Are you
asleep?"
"No,noindeed!"puffedAuntAgathaforlornly."Certainlynot.Wheninthe
worlddidyoucomebackfromthefarm,child?I'veworriedso!Andlikeyou,
too,tocomebackasunexpectedlyasyouwent."Sheopenedthedoorwiderfor
herniecetoenter."Butasforsleep,Diane,IhopeI'mnotascallousasthat.I
shan'tsleepawinkto-night,I'msureofit."
AuntAgathadabbedineffectuallyatherround,aggrievedeyes.
"Carl's a terrible responsibility for me, Diane," she went on, "though to be
suretherehavebeenwildnightswhenI'veputcottoninmyearsandlockedthe
doorandifI'donlyrememberedtodothatIwouldn'thaveheardtheglasscrash
—oneoftheFlorentineset,too,Ihaven'ttheghostofadoubt.Ifeelthosethings,
Diane. Mamma, too, had a gift of feeling things she didn't know for sure—
mammadid!—andtheservantstalk—ofcoursetheydo!—whowouldn't?Imust
say,though,Carl'salwayskindtome;Iwillsaythatforhimbut—"
The excellent lady whose mental convolutions permitted her to speculate
wildly in words with the least possible investment of ideas, rambled by
serpentinepathsofcomplainttoaconversationalcul-de-sacandtrailedoffina
tragicsniff.
Dianeresolutelysmotheredherimpatience.
"I—I only ran down overnight. Aunt Agatha," she said, "to—to tell you
something—"
"Youcan'tmeanit!"puffedAuntAgathahelplessly."Whatintheworldare
yougoingbacktothefarmfor?Dearme,Diane,you'regrowingnotional—and


farmsareverydampinspring."
Dianewalkedawaytothewindowandstoodstaringthoughtfullyoutatthe
metropolitanglitteroflightsbeyond.
"Oh, Aunt Agatha!" she exclaimed restlessly, "you can't imagine how very
tired I grow of it all—of lights and cities and restaurants and everything
artificial!Surelythesecitydaysandnightsofsillyfrivolityareonlythefrothof
life! Have you ever longed to sleep in the woods," she added abruptly, "with
starstwinklingoverheadandthemoonlightshoweringsoftlythroughthetrees?"
"I'm very sure I never have!" said Aunt Agatha with considerable decision.
"And it's not at all likely I ever shall. There are bugs and things," she added
vaguely,"andsnakesthatwriggleabout."
"I've always wanted to lie and dream by a camp fire," mused Diane,
unconsciousofacertainstartledflutterofAuntAgatha'sdressinggown,"tohear
the wind rising in the forest and the lap of the lake against the shore." She
wheeledabruptly,hereyesbrightwithexcitement."AndI'mgoingtotryit."
"To sleep by a lake in springtime!" gasped Aunt Agatha in great distress.
"Diane,Ibegofyou,don'tdoit!Ionceknewamanwhosleptoutsomewhere—
such a nice man, too!—and something bit him—a heron, I think, or a herring.
No!Itcouldn'thavebeeneither.Isn'titfunnyhowIdoforget!Strangestthing!
Buttosleepbyalakeinspringtime,thinkofthat!"
"Oh,no,no,no,AuntAgatha!"laughedDiane."Ididn'tmeanquitethat.I'm
merelygoingbacktotheGladefarmto-morrowto—"sheglancedwithfurtive
uncertainty at her aunt and halted. "Aunt Agatha, I've been planning a gypsy
cart!There!It'soutatlastandIdreadedthetelling!Whenthesummercomes,
I'mgoingtotravelaboutinmywonderfulhouseonwheelsandliveinthefree,
wild,opencountry!"
"Ican'tbelieveit!"saidAuntAgatha,staring."Ican't—Iwon'tbelieveit!"
"Don'tbeagoose!"beggedthegirlhappily."Allwinterthevoiceoftheopen
country has been calling—calling! There's quicksilver in my veins. See, Aunt
Agatha,seethespringmoon—the'PlantingMoon'anIndiangirlIusedtoknow
in college called it! How gloriously it must be shining over silent woods and
lakes,flashingsilveronthepinesandtheripplesbytheshore.Andthesea,the


great,wide,beautiful,mysteriousseadroningunderamillionstars!"
"Thinkofthat!"breathedAuntAgathaincredulously."Amillionstars!Ican't
believe it. But dear me, Diane, there are seas and stars and moons and things
righthereinNewYork."
WithaswiftflashoftendernessDianeslippedherarmaboutAuntAgatha's
perturbedshoulders.
"You're not going to mind at all!" she wheedled gently. "I'm sure of it. I'd
havetogoanyway.It'sinmybloodlikethehintofsummerintheairto-night."
AuntAgathamerelystared.TheWestfallswerecongenitalenigmas.
"A gypsy cart!" she gurgled presently, rising phoenix-like at last from a
dumb-struck supineness. "A gypsy cart! Well! A wheelbarrow wouldn't have
surprisedmemore,Diane,awheelbarrowwithamotor!"
"Don't you remember Mrs. Jarley's wagon?" reminded Diane. "It had
windowsandcurtains—"
"Surely,"brokeinAuntAgathawithstraineddignity,"you'renotgoinginfor
waxworkslikeMrs.Jarley!"
"Dear,no!"laughedDiane,withasparkleofamusementinhereyes."There
aresomanywildflowersandbirdsandlegendstostudyIshouldn'thavetime!"
"Greatheavens," murmuredAuntAgathafaintly,"myearshavegonequeer
likemother's."
"Andmaybe I'llnotbebackforayear,"offeredDianecalmly."I canwork
souththroughthewinter—"
AuntAgathafelltragicallybackinherchairandgasped.
"Didn't we take a whole year to motor over Europe?" demanded Diane
impetuously. "And that was nothing like so fascinating as my gypsy house on
wheels."
"IfIcouldonlyhavelookedahead!"breathedAuntAgatha,shuddering."If


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