A reader and I recently agreed that this is one of our favorite lines from Emilie Loring’s books, and I thought I would write a post with my favorite line from each book–thirty books, thirty lines. My only criterion was that it had to be a line that gave pleasure every time, the sort of line you would go to and never skip over.
If you remember, my sister Judy and I used to play a game in which she would open a book to a random page and read any line on the page. My job was to tell her what came next–and I did.
With confidence, then, I grabbed a handful of “Emilies” from my shelf, looked at each cover, and willed best quotes to present themselves.
Instead, a montage of images came to mind.
The Trail of Conflict: drawing room, piano, dying man, train, roses, ranch, burning paper, galloping horse, baby, inkwell, blanket…
Hilltops Clear: fog, chickens, eggs, books, roadster, tea leaves, jewels, green balloon, circus, fire, beets, cat…
There are trademark lines, of course, and these came trotting right out:
A few quick lines of dialogue also came to me right away–fun places in the books where I lean forward a little in anticipation of what’s coming or pause to enjoy what’s there.
“Name’s Drex. Danger.”Stars in Your Eyes
“Lady, you are in a spot.”Where Beauty Dwells
With some, short scenes came to mind–
She stole a glance in the direction of her rubbers. The toes coyly peeked from beneath the seat where she had left them. Could she retrieve those glittering belongings in her present aloof and disdainful mood? She could not.As Long As I Live
“Sorry, Beth,” Chris laughed. He had quite regained his temper. “I suppose you and Ted will always be kids to me.”
“Will we indeed?” There was a new quality in the girl’s voice which made Anne Bradford look at her quickly. “Come on, Ted. We must get our bibs and blocks.”My Dearest Love
More often, though, I thought of entire passages, with their settings, context, and dialogue fully intact. Maybe that’s why they’re called “passages–” they transport us right into a scene, and we live it. Maybe it was all of that practice with Judy; I remember too much! (No, I didn’t remember them verbatim, but nigh unto!)
Without order, rhyme, or reason, here are some favorite scenes of mine. If you recognize them, you’ll know what comes next; if you haven’t read the books yet, think of these as “book trailers” to help you find your next read.
The Trail of Conflict
The three men who had been looking into the fire turned. The girl’s heart went out to the elder Courtlandt in a rush of sympathy. His head was so high, his face so white, his eyes so full of hurt pride. The younger man’s face was quite as white, his head quite as high, but there was an aggressive set to lips and jaw, a mixture of amazement and antagonism in his eyes, then something else flamed there which she couldn’t diagnose as easily.
“He looks stunned. What did he expect, the pig-faced lady?” the girl thought contemptuously even as she advanced with extended hand and smiled up at the elder Courtlandt.
“Mr. Courtlandt, you seem like an old friend, my father has spoken of you so often,” she welcomed in her charming, well-bred voice which had a curiously stimulating lilt in it.
The color rushed back to Peter Courtlandt’s face, the expression in his eyes changed to one of relief and honest admiration as he bent over her hand.The Trail of Conflict
Here Comes the Sun!
“That is Billy’s foolish name for me. As I told you, men and boys bore me stiff when they wax sentimental–“
“Oh, then there are men in that small town from which you came? I got the impression that Jaffrey was the only man you knew.”
She flushed pinkly, thoroughly.
“I have met a few at family weddings.”Here Comes the Sun!
A Certain Crossroad
“I may be dense but why should my being here make you apologetic about your acceptance of Di’s invitation?”
“I have some sense of propriety.”
“Have you? When did it develop? As far as I am concerned your sense of propriety may take a day off. Why curtail your pleasure for an instant? … When I make a promise to others or myself I keep it if it is humanly possible. To be frank, if perhaps discourteous, I don’t care for quitters. They leave me cold. I haven’t time to think about the past. My work here is absorbing and the few friends for whom I have time are eminently satisfying.”
He felt the girl beside him stiffen as she retorted crisply:
“That speech is too long and too neatly phrased to be impromptu. I suspect that you have been rehearsing the last sentence since yesterday. It is a masterpiece of its kind.”A Certain Crossroad
Sandra regarded him incredulously. Of all things! Didn’t he see her or was he ignoring her? As he deposited his burden tenderly in the rumble, she reminded crisply:
He turned and awkwardly touched the cap pulled so low that only a nose and an inflexible line of mouth were visible.
“So I see, Miss.”
That “Miss” placed him. A groom.
“Weren’t you sent to meet me? I am expected at Mrs. Newsome’s.”
“Are you, Miss? That’s funny. Seven Chimneys is the next place to where I work. I didn’t see nothing of a car as I come along. Sure you’re expected?”
The hint of suspicion in the voice was maddening. “Expected. Do you think I would step off a train in this uninhabited spot if I were not? I was engaged by Mr. Damon this morning as a secretary for Mrs. Newsome. I have been waiting for hours and hours.”
His lips twitched as he glanced at his wrist watch. Sandra qualified:
“It has seemed like hours anyway. What are you going to do about it?”
… He motioned toward the car.
“Get in, Miss. I’ll take you to Seven Chimneys. Guess my boss won’t mind if I’m a bit late getting that saddle home.”
Without waiting to know if she accepted his offer, he picked up her bags and piled them into the rumble.
“Your boss has a nice taste in automobiles,” Sandra approved as the roadster slid forward. She had a feeling that this taciturn man would be interesting if he could be made to talk. He had a determined chin and a clean-cut nose, a nose in a thousand. His hands were gloved. Too bad–a man’s hands told so much…
“We’ll be out of this road soon, Miss, and then you’ll see some of the most handsome scenery in the world.”
Handsome scenery! That was too obvious, it was out of character with his voice and face. The man wasn’t a groom. He was acting a part. Why? She would play up to him. She wasn’t such a bad actress herself.Uncharted Seas
“That’s that! Now we’ll celebrate! Let’s plan before we leave here. You want to get that electrical stuff, don’t you? Mind if I go with you? Luncheon, talkie–there’s a super-production in town–dinner somewhere we can dance and then home.”
His voice, his enthusiasm almost swept Pamela into the vortex of his plan. The sight of a woman with every accessory keyed to her chic costume, steadied her. Dinner and dance in her present clothes! Never! Then she would stay at home forever. When would she get money to buy new ones? Every cent she made for a year or two must go into equipment for the Silver Moon. A tide of rebellion swept her. Why should it? She had a purse full of money now. Why spend it for electrical gadgets? Why not on herself? Terry would say, “Sure, Pam! Go to it! You’ve earned it.”
“Well? We have just this one day to spend together–at present. Where shall we begin?”
Heart-quickening impatience in Scott Mallory’s voice, the least glint of the pursuing male in his gray eyes. A wave of recklessness left Pamela high and dry on a rock of determination. She would live this one day to the full–no matter if when the clock struck twelve she had to cut all thought of romance from her life for years…
“I will meet you at one-thirty.”
“Not until one-thirty! It’s a lifetime to wait.”
“You are an eloquent advocate, aren’t you? I have things to do–heaps and heaps of them. Tell me where to meet you for luncheon. After that my life is in your hands.”
Sparks of laughter in his eyes flamed to fire. “Do you mean that?”
“With–reservations. Don’t notice what I say. I’m a wild woman when I get to the city.”
… Mallory was waiting when she reached the green and gold foyer of the restaurant at thirty-five minutes after one a little breathless. He looked straight at her without a sign of recognition, before he turned to glare at a wall clock, to impatiently confirm its story by a glance at his watch. Why should he know her? Hadn’t she spent the morning and most of the electrical equipment money in an attempt to look as little as possible like the girl who had entered his office? To save precious time she had confided to a shopping expert what she wanted, what she had to spend and the brief time in which she had to spend it… The result was the hat of the week, with a sparkling clip the twin of one which glittered on her antelope bag, a chic short-sleeved black velvet frock with a coat for street and luncheon, cream chamois gloves, a string of synthetic pearls… She had emerged with a modish wave in her hair, a touch of perfume under one ear and a glaze on her nails like a opaline glass.
Mallory wheeled. Regarded her incredulously. “What have you done to yourself? You look taller.”
“High heels. Don’t you like me taller?” She threw just the right amount of wistfulness into voice and eyes. Truly the decent to Avernus was as swift as it purported to be–and more heady.
Scott Mallory laughed. “Changed your line with your clothes, haven’t you… Did you travel up from the Cape with a wardrobe trunk concealed about your person?”
“‘The feel of Paris.’ Like them?”
“The clothes? Mad about them.”
She was conscious of a guilty accession of color. “These are not clothes. The frock and hat are a mammoth coffee tricolater. The electric ice-cream freezer–plus a few much needed kitchen utensils–completes the ensemble.” His laugh brought her eyes to his.
“And it was only a short time ago you were wondering if you would forget how to spend money!”
“Ladies must dress. Then you are not shocked?”
“Shocked! My dear girl, I am inexpressibly relieved to find you so human. I had begun to fear that you were all saint and sacrifice.”
“… Oh, I shall repent and pay and pay–unfortunately Terry will too–when I struggle with inadequate equipment in the green and white kitchen. Let’s forget my brainstorm.”
“Just a minute. Breath-taking as you are now, you will never look lovelier than in the white apron and cap. You looked so young and troubled, yet your eyes were so valiant that Thanksgiving day that when I said good-bye, I felt as if I were heartlessly abandoning an adorable child who was struggling against fear.”
“I remember that you called me, ‘child.'”
“Not plain, ‘child.'”
She leaned toward him. “Honestly now, how could you call me ‘plain child’?”
His laugh was one of the nicest of the many nice things about him, Pamela decided, his teeth were so perfect.
“If a demure little Quaker had suddenly gone tap-dancer I couldn’t be more surprised. I didn’t know you had it in you.”
“Dual personality. I told you that I shed my work-day line with my linen frock. Hope you are not disappointed.”
Her heart caught and plunged on.Fair Tomorrow
Janice turned her back on Harcourt and bent over her papers. Why had he appeared tonight for the first time,, as Miss Martha had reminded him, since she had come? Anything to do with that “plan” of which he had spoken? …
“Give these to the lady who turned her back on us, Tubby.” There was laughter in Harcourt’s voice. Beginning to be friendly, was he? A trifle late in the day, Janice resented indignantly.
“Thank you, I don’t eat nuts.”
Grant paused in the act of setting down a saucer full of meats. “Says you! Who gobbled all that walnut fudge Miss Mary made for me? All right. We’ll keep these for them as likes ’em, eh, Chief?”
… Harcourt laid down his hammer and rose. He patted Miss Martha’s angular shoulder.
“When I’m President I’ll have you in my Cabinet as minister of matrimony.” He crossed to the desk, gently lifted Janice’s chin.
“How’s the scratch, dear?”
The color flamed to the girl’s hair. Her heart seemed to stop. What did he mean by speaking to her in that possessive voice, touching her with fingers that sent a tingling warmth from feet to head. The room was so still she could hear furtive rustling in the moss chinking. Were they all as paralyzed with surprise as she? Chester, face white, took an impetuous step toward her.
Grant caught his arm, laughed, an embarrassed, shaky laugh. “Come on, Jimmy. We’re de trop. Nightie-night, Miss Martha, Miss Mary.”
The door closed. With an inarticulate word or two about lights in the Waffle Shop, the Samp sisters hurriedly departed. Janice roused from her stupefaction. Hands gripping the back of the chair behind her, she faced Harcourt’s indomitable eyes.
“What did you mean, speaking to me like that, before–before everyone. I felt as though I’d been tagged or–or posted ‘No Trespassing.'”
She stopped for breath.
“Glad I got the idea across. Good night, Jan. We start at sun-up, remember.”
Speechless with amazement, she stared at the door he had closed behind him.Lighted Windows
And here is the scene with the line that sent me on this quest:
“That little cynical smile which just touches his lips and eyes, the perfection of his clothes, the perfection of his hand with that curious seal ring, in the photograph in the living room at Valleyview got on my nerves. Every day when I looked at it…” Noah Caswell interrupted bluntly;
“Why look at it?”
“It has a sort of hypnotic attraction.”
“Um-m, I see. Go on…”
[Geoff announces that he is going to stay in town, not return to the city.]
Nancy experienced the sensation of being dropped several floors in a lift. Here to stay! Was she responsible? … Here to stay! What effect would his staying have on the manager of the mills? She met his eyes. He commented curtly:
“You look frightened. Because I’m staying? Little girls shouldn’t set sparks to fuses unless they’re game to watch them go off. Good-night!”
He departed as suddenly as he had appeared. A too emphatically closed door shook the firearms. Noah Caswell regarded his daughter quizzically… His lips twitched as he observed irrelevantly;
“Strangely potent this thing we call, for want of a better name, ‘attraction,’ isn’t it?”Gay Courage
I would still like to try the “30 for 30”–thirty books, thirty quotes–but I’d also like to hear from you.
Is there a line you especially enjoy, time after time? I haven’t even touched on statements of purpose, values, and philosophy; maybe your favorites are from that set?
Write your favorites in our comments section and/or on our Facebook page. I can’t wait to see what you choose!
What a comforting thought. All of these books, all of these parts…
Happy landings, everyone!