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Valancy had lived spiritually in the Blue Castle ever since she could remember.She had been a very tiny child when she found herself possessed of it.Nobody in the Stirling clan, or its ramifications, suspected this, least of all her mother and Cousin Stickles.They never knew that Valancy had two homes--the ugly red brick box of a home, on Elm Street, and the Blue Castle in Spain.For that matter, there were a good many things about Valancy that nobody suspected.But her laughter was very superficial and presently she lay there, a huddled, futile little figure, listening to the rain pouring down outside and watching, with a sick distaste, the chill, merciless light creeping into her ugly, sordid room.Most, if not all, of the Stirlings would have died of horror if they had known half the things Valancy did in her Blue Castle. At twelve, this lover was a fair lad with golden curls and heavenly blue eyes.At fifteen, he was tall and dark and pale, but still necessarily handsome. At twenty-five, he had a clean-cut jaw, slightly grim, and a face strong and rugged rather than handsome.

And she was afraid her mother would notice her red eyes at breakfast and keep at her with minute, persistent, mosquito-like questions regarding the cause thereof.There were only two pictures that were not of relatives. Valancy sometimes felt that she could have done something for her room herself, even without money, if she were permitted. But, after all, what did it matter if a room, which you used for nothing except sleeping and dressing in, were ugly?One, an old chromo of a puppy sitting on a rainy doorstep. That forlorn little dog crouched on the doorstep in the driving rain! The other picture was a faded, passe-partouted engraving of Queen Louise coming down a stairway, which Aunt Wellington had lavishly given her on her tenth birthday. But her mother had negatived every timid suggestion and Valancy did not persist. Valancy was never permitted to stay alone in her room for any other purpose. Frederick Stirling and Cousin Stickles believed, could only want to be alone for some sinister purpose.Jewels that queens might have worn; robes of moonlight and fire; couches of roses and gold; long flights of shallow marble steps, with great, white urns, and with slender, mist-clad maidens going up and down them; courts, marble-pillared, where shimmering fountains fell and nightingales sang among the myrtles; halls of mirrors that reflected only handsome knights and lovely women--herself the loveliest of all, for whose glance men died.All that supported her through the boredom of her days was the hope of going on a dream spree at night. One who wooed her with all the romantic ardour of the age of chivalry and won her after long devotion and many deeds of derring-do, and was wedded to her with pomp and circumstance in the great, banner-hung chapel of the Blue Castle.

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