Pearl treasured her private room with it's door to the Widow's Walk. Dashing up the narrow stairs to a spinning view of castle-like mountains, cloud dappled sky and an ocean of green tree tops, compensated for any jealousy Pearl might feel over Lily's light and airy bedroom.
Lily, who was a fragile fairy, in need of warm shaded spots and enriched broths, whose pale dresses and quiet bonnets made Pearl shrug with pity and relief that she wasn't the mousey one. Lily was a scant two years younger than Pearl, and coddled as her mother's baby, while Pearl rode out with Trapper on errands and found foxtails tangled in her hair and mud on her skirt hems. Yet the sisters looked so alike that people often mistook them for twins. Shining
black hair, pointed chins, long, sleepy eyes, pretty mouths full at the center, tapering very finely at the edge to form a mysterious smile, like a kitten with a secret.
Pearl had all the beaux. She loved to flirt and tease and ride out to visit friends with older brothers. And she loved Washo Rivercomb, the half-breed (some said Hungarian gypsy) ranch hand who loafed about town when the cattle were brought in. Washo was 20, with a black braid down his back and grey eyes. He was muscled, sun-bronzed and wildly fun-loving. Girls in town turned their heads beneath parasols and peeked through the sides of their bonnets, just to marvel at his jaunty walk,
form-fitting trousers and lusty strength. Washo sang at the top of his lungs and played fiddle at dances, a blue silk kerchief tied around his neck. He was well-liked around town, though not included in the finer functions, his being part-Indian and maybe even, a tinker.
Pearl was 18 now, and unfettered by the rules of attentive parents, met Washo in the shady private coves along Bears River, where soft sand beaches and deep pools invited naked swimming.
Trapper was a widower for seven years before he met Elaine. She preferred San Francisco but agreed to try a year "roughing it" at Bears River. Elaine's first and only year in the house preoccupied Trapper to such an extent that Pearl and Lily could do as they pleased. Pearl trysted with Washo while courting properly with young John Morgan, who drove a buggy with a shade top and planned to be a college man.
Lily spent much time indoors, embellishing a crazy quilt with expressive embroidery and wearing loose gowns to bear the heat better. She was growing plump and exercise was recommended. It was a rare day that Lily went out for a walk. She preferred moonlit wanderings, dreaming of her secret lover so vividly that he would step out of the dark and into her embrace. They melded together on the soft, fruit-scented meadow grasses that grew in rows between the apple orchard
trees, Pearl's tower window glowing through the branches.
Mortified one early afternoon at the expressive love-making of Trapper and Elaine, Lily grabbed Pearl's colorful bonnet woven with satin ribbons and headed for the front gardens. Pearl was napping on the chaise lounge and wouldn't be jealous of the missing bonnet, never loaned to wan Lily who might receive compliments meant for Pearl.