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Saturday's Child   By: (1880-1966)

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THE WORKS OF KATHLEEN NORRIS

SATURDAY'S CHILD

VOLUME IV

"Friday's child is loving and giving; But Saturday's child must work for her living."

To C. G. N.

How shall I give you this, who long have known Your gift of all the best of life to me? No living word of mine could ever be Without the stirring echo of your own. Under your hand, as mine, this book has grown, And you, whose faith sets all my musing free, You, whose true vision helps my eyes to see, Know that these pages are not mine alone.

Not mine to give, not yours, the happy days, The happy talks, the hoping and the fears That made this story of a happy life. But, in dear memory of your words of praise, And grateful memory of four busy years, Accept her portion of it, from your wife.

PART ONE

Poverty

SATURDAY'S CHILD

CHAPTER I

Not the place in which to look for the Great Adventure, the dingy, narrow office on the mezzanine floor of Hunter, Baxter & Hunter's great wholesale drug establishment, in San Francisco city, at the beginning of the present century. Nothing could have seemed more monotonous, more grimy, less interesting, to the outsider's eye at least, than life as it presented itself to the twelve women who were employed in bookkeeping there. Yet, being young, as they all were, each of these girls was an adventuress, in a quiet way, and each one dreamed bright dreams in the dreary place, and waited, as youth must wait, for fortune, or fame, or position, love or power, to evolve itself somehow from the dulness of her days, and give her the key that should open and shut the doors of Hunter, Baxter & Hunter's offices to her forever.

And, while they waited, working over the unvaried, stupid columns of the company's books, they talked, confided, became friends, and exchanged shy hints of ambition. The ill ventilated, neglected room was a little world, and rarely, in a larger world, do women come to know each other as intimately as these women did.

Therefore, on a certain sober September morning, the fact that Miss Thornton, familiarly known as "Thorny," was out of temper, speedily became known to all the little force. Miss Thornton was not only the oldest clerk there, but she was the highest paid, and the longest in the company's employ; also she was by nature a leader, and generally managed to impress her associates with her own mood, whatever it might be. Various uneasy looks were sent to day in her direction, and by eleven o'clock even the giggling Kirk sisters, who were newcomers, were imbued with a sense of something wrong.

Nobody quite liked to allude to the subject, or ask a direct question. Not that any one of them was particularly considerate or reserved by nature, but because Miss Thornton was known to be extremely unpleasant when she had any grievance against one of the younger clerks. She could maintain an ugly silence until goaded into speech, but, once launched, few of her juniors escaped humiliation. Ordinarily, however, Miss Thornton was an extremely agreeable woman, shrewd, kindly, sympathetic, and very droll in her passing comments on men and events. She was in her early thirties, handsome, and a not quite natural blonde, her mouth sophisticated, her eyes set in circles of a leaden pallor. An assertive, masterful little woman, born and reared in decent poverty, still Thorny claimed descent from one of the first families of Maryland, and talked a good deal of her birth. Her leading characteristic was a determination never, even in the slightest particular, to allow herself to be imposed upon, and she gloried in stories of her own success in imposing upon other people.

Miss Thornton's desk stood at the inner end of the long room, nearest the door that led out to the "deck," as the girls called the mezzanine floor beyond, and so nearest the little private office of Mr... Continue reading book >>




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