the room of the snow, and not inconveniencing anybody.
"Vad? Was Vad in on it, mum? I never saw her." Wally straightened up with a fresh chunk of cake in his hand. "Was she scared?"
"Yes," his mother admitted reluctantly, "I guess she was, all right. First the squaws--and, poor girl, I made her shake hands all round--and then Grant here, acting like a wild hyena--"
"Say, PLEASE don't tell me who she is, or where she belongs, or anything like that," Grant interposed, with some sarcasm. "I smashed her flat between me and the wall, and I scared the daylights out of her; and I'm told I should have appeared at my best. But who she is, or where she belongs--"
"She belongs right here." Phoebe's tone was a challenge, whether she meant it to be so or not. "This is going to be her home from now on; and I want you boys to treat her nicer than you've been doing. She's been here a week almost; and there ain't one of you that's made friends with her yet, or tried to, even. You've played jokes on her, and told her things to scare her--and my grief! I was hoping she'd have a softening influence on you, and make gentlemen of you. And far as I can make out, just having her on the place seems to put the Old Harry into every one of you! It isn't right. It isn't the way I expected my boys would act toward a stranger--a girl especially. And I did hope Grant would behave better."
"Sure, he ought to. Us boneheads don't know any better--but Grant's EDUCATED." Wally grinned and winked elaborately at his mother's back.
"I'm not educated up to Christmas angels that look as if they'd been stepped on," Grant defended himself.
"She's a real nice little thing. If you boys would quit teasing the life out of her, I don't doubt but what, in six months or so, you wouldn't know the girl," Phoebe argued, with some heat.
"I don't know the girl now." Grant spoke dryly. "I don't want to. If I'd held a tomahawk in one hand and her flowing locks in the other, and was just letting a war-whoop outa me, she'd look at me--the way she did look." He snorted in contemptuous amusement, and gave a little, writhing twist of his slim body into his trousers. "I never did like blondes," he added, in a tone of finality, and started up the steps.