Authors: Grace Livingston Hill
© 2013 by Grace Livingston Hill
Print ISBN 978-1-62029-394-2
Adobe Digital Edition (.epub) 978-1-62416-505-4
Kindle and MobiPocket Edition (.prc) 978-1-62416-504-7
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without written permission of the publisher.
All scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.
Cover design: Faceout Studio,
Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683,
Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses
Printed in the United States of America.
erry Kavanaugh thought when her beloved father died that the worst that could had come upon her. The day her mother told her, six months after her father’s funeral, that she was going to marry again, and that she was going to marry Sam Morgan, the multimillionaire, Kerry knew that there were worse things than death.
Sam Morgan had been a youthful acquaintance of Mrs. Kavanaugh’s—a sort of skeleton in the closet ever since Kerry could remember.
“If I had married Sam Morgan,” Mrs. Kavanaugh would say plaintively as she shivered in a cold room, “we wouldn’t have had to stay at such cheap hotels.”
And Kerry’s father would say in a tone as nearly acid as his gentle voice ever took, “Please leave me out of that, Isobel. If you had married Sam Morgan, remember,
would not have been staying at the same hotel.”
Then Kerry’s mother’s blue eyes would fill with tears, and her delicate lips would quiver, and she would say, “Now, Shannon! How cruel of you to take that simple remark in that way! You are always ready to take offense. I meant, of course, that if
That I wish we had more money! But of course, Shannon, when you have finished your wonderful book we shall have all we need. In fact, by the time you have written a second book I believe we shall have more than Sam Morgan has.”
Then Kerry’s father would look at her mother with something steely in his blue eyes, his thin, sensitive lips pressed firmly together, and would seem about to say something strong and decided, something in the nature of an ultimatum. But after a moment of looking with that piercing glance which made his wife shrink and shiver, a softer look would melt into his eyes, and a stony sadness settle around his lips. He would get up, draw his shabby robe around him, and go out into the draughty hotel hall where he would walk up and down for a while, with his hands clasped behind his back, and his gaze bent unseeing on the old ingrain carpet that stretched away in dim hotel vistas.
On one such occasion when Kerry was about ten, she had left her weeping mother huddled in a blanket in a big chair, magnifying her chilliness and her misery, and had crept out to the hall and slipped her cold, unhappy little hand into her father’s; and so for a full length and back they had paced the hall. Then Father had noticed that Kerry was shivering in her thin little dress that was too short for her and too narrow for her, and he opened wide his shabby robe and gathered her in close to him where it was warm and so walked her briskly back another length of the hall.
“Mother was crying,” explained Kerry. “I couldn’t listen to her any longer.”
Then a stricken look came into Father’s eyes, and he looked down at Kerry solicitously.
“Poor little mother!” he said. “She doesn’t always understand. You little mother is all right, Kerry, only she sometimes errs in judgment.”
Kerry said yes in a meek little voice and waited, and after they had taken another length of the hall, her father explained again. “She is such a beautiful little mother, you know, Kerry.”
“Oh yes!” assented Kerry eagerly, for she could see that a happier light was coming into her father’s eyes, and she really admired her frail little mother’s looks very much indeed.
“She’s always the most beautiful mother in the world, you know, Kerry.”
“Oh yes!” said Kerry again quite eagerly.
“You see,” said Father slowly, after another pause, “you ought to understand, little daughter, I took her from a beautiful home where she had every luxury, and it’s hard on her, very hard. She has to go without a great many things that she has been used to having. You see, I loved her, little Kerry!”
“Yes?” said Kerry with a question in her voice.
“And she loved me. She
to come!” It was as if he were arguing over and over with himself a long-debated question.
“But Father, of course,” bristled Kerry, “why wouldn’t she want to come with you? You’re the bestest father in the whole wide—”
Then Kerry’s father stopped her words with a kiss, and suddenly hastened his steps.
“She might have had the best in the land. She might have had riches and honor!”
“You mean that ugly, fat Sam Morgan, Father?” Kerry had asked innocently with a frown.
“Oh, not that man!” said her father sharply. “He is
Kerry remembered how her father had spoken the word, and then seemed to try to wipe it out with his voice.
“I mean, Kerry, that he was not worthy of your mother, your beautiful mother. But there were others she might have had who could have given her everything. It is true I thought I would be able to do so, too, someday, but my plans haven’t worked out, not yet—But Kerry, little Kerry, beautiful Mother gave up all her chances in life for me. We must remember that. We must not mind when she feels the lack of things. She ought to have them. She was made for them. She is your beautiful little mother, Kerry, you will always remember that?”
“Oh yes,” caroled Kerry for she could feel that a different tone was coming into her father’s voice, the tone he wore when he went out and bought Mother a rose, and made jokes and laughed and cheered Mother so that she smiled. Kerry was glad the cloud was passing, so she promised. But she always remembered that promise. And she never forgot the tone her father used, nor the look of his face, when he called Sam Morgan a
That was a word nice people didn’t say. It was a word that she had been taught not to use, except when it applied to rose insects. It showed that Father felt very deeply about it that he would use the word, and she could sense that there had been apology to her in his eyes when he used it. She would never forget the thought of that great big, thick-lipped Sam Morgan as a louse crawling around. Even as a rose louse he acquired the sense of destructiveness. Rose lice spoiled roses, and her beautiful little mother was like a rose.
After that Kerry’s father worked harder than ever on his book. He used Kerry’s little bedroom for a study, and his papers would be littered over her bed and small bureau, and Kerry never went in there except when she had to, to get something, while Father was working; and then she went on tiptoe. He was always deep into one of the big, musty books he brought from the library, and he must not be disturbed. He told her one day that he was going to make Mother rich when his book was done, but there was still much work to be done on it, much, much work, for it was to be the very greatest book of its kind that had ever been written, and it would not do to hurry, because there must be no mistakes in the book.
Kerry’s mother read a great many story books, and ate a great deal of chocolate candy. Sometimes she gave some to Kerry, but most of the time she said it wasn’t good for little girls.
Kerry went to school whenever they stayed long enough in a place to make it worth while, for Father had to go to a great many different places to be near some of the big libraries so that he might finish his book sooner. And when they would think he was almost done with the book, he would find out there was some other book or books he must consult before he would be sure that his own was complete, and so they would journey on again to other cheap hotels.
In this way they spent some years in Europe and Kerry had wide opportunities of seeing foreign lands, of visiting big art galleries, and wonderful cathedrals, and studying history right in the historic places. For often Kerry’s father would stop his work in the middle of a morning, or an afternoon, and take her out for a walk, and then he would tell her about the different places they were passing, and give her books out of the library to read about them. He taught her Latin also, and to speak French and German and Italian. As she grew older, she would go by herself to visit the galleries and buildings, and would study them and delight in them, and read about the pictures, and so she grew in her own soul. Sometimes, on rare occasions, her beautiful mother would go with her to a gallery, dressed in a new coat, or a pretty hat that her father had bought for her, and people would always turn to look at the beautiful mother. Once Mother told her that she had been called the most beautiful girl in her hometown when she married Father.
And once, when Mother and she had gone to the Louvre together, Sam Morgan had suddenly turned up.
Kerry had not seen him for several years, and he had grown puffier and redder than before. There were bags under his eyes, and he wore loud, sporty clothes. Kerry’s mother was rapturously glad to see him, but Kerry hated his being there. He tried to kiss her, though she was now sixteen, just back from school in Germany. Kerry shied away, but he did kiss her full on her shrinking mouth with his big, wet lips, and she hated it. She looked at him and remembered that her father had called him a louse. She took her handkerchief out and opening it wiped her lips,
, and then she walked away and studied the pictures until her mother called her and said they must go home. Even then Sam Morgan had walked with her mother down the street until they reached their own hotel, but Kerry had walked far behind!
Kerry had never mentioned this to her father, but somehow he always seemed to know when Sam Morgan had been around and Mother had seen him.
For two long years Kerry had been put in a school in Germany, while her father and mother went to Russia and China and some other strange countries because it had been found necessary for the sake of the book. They had been long years to Kerry, and she had worked hard to make the time pass. Her only joy during those two years was her father’s letters. Her mother seldom wrote anything except a little chippering postscript or a picture postcard. Kerry sensed that her father had prompted even those. Yet Kerry loved her mother. She was so very beautiful. Sometimes Kerry took delight in just thinking how beautiful and fragile her mother was. It seemed somehow to make up for all the things she lacked, like not being well enough to keep house and make a home for them, and not being able to eat anything but the dainties, never any crusts. Kerry had been brought up to really like crusts.