Emily's Quest by Lucy Maud Montgomery
"No more cambric-tea" had Emily Byrd Starr written in her diary
when she came home to New Moon from Shrewsbury, with high school days
behind her and immortality before her.
Which was a symbol. When Aunt Elizabeth Murray permitted Emily to
drink real tea--as a matter of course and not as an occasional
concession--she thereby tacitly consented to let Emily grow up. Emily
had been considered grownup by other people for some time, especially
by Cousin Andrew Murray and Friend Perry Miller, each of whom had
asked her to marry him and been disdainfully refused for his pains.
When Aunt Elizabeth found this out she knew it was no use to go on
making Emily drink cambric-tea. Though, even then, Emily had no real
hope that she would ever be permitted to wear silk stockings. A silk
petticoat might be tolerated, being a hidden thing, in spite of its
seductive rustle, but silk stockings were immoral.
So Emily, of whom it was whispered somewhat mysteriously by people
who knew her to people who didn't know her, "she writes," was
accepted as one of the ladies of New Moon, where nothing had ever
changed since her coming there seven years before and where the
carved ornament on the sideboard still cast the same queer shadow of
an Ethiopian silhouette on exactly the same place on the wall where
she had noticed it delightedly on her first evening there. An old
house that had lived its life long ago and so was very quiet and wise
and a little mysterious. Also a little austere, but very kind. Some
of the Blair Water and Shrewsbury people thought it was a dull place
and outlook for a young girl and said she had been very foolish to
refuse Miss Royal's offer of "a position on a magazine" in New York.
Throwing away such a good chance to make something of herself! But
Emily, who had very clear-cut ideas of what she was going to make of
herself, did not think life would be dull at New Moon or that she had
lost her chance of Alpine climbing because she had elected to stay
She belonged by right divine to the Ancient and Noble Order of
Story-tellers. Born thousands of years earlier she would have sat in
the circle around the fires of the tribe and enchanted her listeners.
Born in the foremost files of time she must reach her audience
through many artificial mediums.
But the materials of story weaving are the same in all ages and
all places. Births, deaths, marriages, scandals--these are the only
really interesting things in the world. So she settled down very
determinedly and happily to her pursuit of fame and fortune--and of
something that was neither. For writing, to Emily Byrd Starr, was not
primarily a matter of worldly lucre or laurel crown. It was something
she had to do. A thing--an idea--whether of beauty or
ugliness, tortured her until it was "written out." Humorous and
dramatic by instinct, the comedy and tragedy of life enthralled her
and demanded expression through her pen. A world of lost but immortal
dreams, lying just beyond the drop-curtain of the real, called to her
for embodiment and interpretation--called with a voice she could
She was filled with youth's joy in mere existence. Life was for
ever luring and beckoning her onward. She knew that a hard struggle
was before her; she knew that she must constantly offend Blair Water
neighbours who would want her to write obituaries for them and who,
if she used an unfamiliar word would say contemptuously that she was
"talking big;" she knew there would be rejection slips galore; she
knew there would be days when she would feel despairingly that she
could not write and that it was of no use to try; days when the
editorial phrase, "not necessarily a reflection on its merits," would
get on her nerves to such an extent that she would feel like
imitating Marie Bashkirtseff and hurling the taunting, ticking,
remorseless sitting-room clock out of the window; days when
everything she had done or tried to do would slump--become mediocre
and despicable; days when she would be tempted to bitter disbelief in
her fundamental conviction that there was as much truth in the poetry
of life as in the prose; days when the echo of that "random word" of
the gods, for which she so avidly listened, would only seem to taunt
her with its suggestions of unattainable perfection and loveliness
beyond the reach of mortal ear or pen.
She knew that Aunt Elizabeth tolerated but never approved her
mania for scribbling. In her last two years in Shrewsbury High School
Emily, to Aunt Elizabeth's almost incredulous amazement, had actually
earned some money by her verses and stories. Hence the toleration.
But no Murray had ever done such a thing before. And there was always
that sense, which Dame Elizabeth Murray did not like, of being shut
out of something. Aunt Elizabeth really resented the fact that Emily
had another world, apart from the world of New Moon and Blair Water,
a kingdom starry and illimitable, into which she could enter at will
and into which not even the most determined and suspicious of aunts
could follow her. I really think that if Emily's eyes had not so
often seemed to be looking at something dreamy and lovely and
secretive Aunt Elizabeth might have had more sympathy with her
ambitions. None of us, not even self-sufficing Murrays of New Moon,
like to be barred out.
Those of you who have already followed Emily through her years of
New Moon and Shrewsbury* must have a tolerable notion what she looked
like. For those of you to whom she comes as a stranger let me draw a
portrait of her as she seemed to the outward eye at the enchanted
portal of seventeen, walking where the golden chrysanthemums lighted
up an old autumnal, maritime garden. A place of peace, that garden of
New Moon. An enchanted pleasaunce, full of rich, sensuous colours and
wonderful spiritual shadows. Scents of pine and rose were in it; boom
of bees, threnody of wind, murmurs of the blue Atlantic gulf; and
always the soft sighing of the firs in Lofty John Sullivan's "bush"
to the north of it. Emily loved every flower and shadow and sound in
it, every beautiful old tree in and around it, especially her own
intimate, beloved trees--a cluster of wild cherries in the south-west
corner, Three Princesses of Lombardy, a certain maiden-like wild plum
on the brook path, the big spruce in the centre of the garden, a
silver maple and a pine farther on, an aspen in another corner always
coquetting with gay little winds, and a whole row of stately white
birches in Lofty John's bush.
* See Emily of New Moon and Emily Climbs.
Emily was always glad that she lived where there were many
trees--old ancestral trees, planted and tended by hands long dead,
bound up with everything of joy and sorrow that visited the lives in
A slender, virginal young thing. Hair like black silk.
Purplish-grey eyes, with violet shadows under them that always seemed
darker and more alluring after Emily had sat up to some unholy and
un-Elizabethan hour completing a story or working out the skeleton of
a plot; scarlet lips with a Murray-like crease at the corners; ears
with Puckish, slightly pointed tips. Perhaps it was the crease and
the ears that made certain people think her something of a puss. An
exquisite line of chin and neck; a smile with a trick in it; such a
slow-blossoming thing with a sudden radiance of fulfilment. And
ankles that scandalous old Aunt Nancy Priest of Priest Pond
commended. Faint stains of rose in her rounded cheeks that sometimes
suddenly deepened to crimson. Very little could bring that
transforming flush--a wind off the sea, a sudden glimpse of blue
upland, a flame-red poppy, white sails going out of the harbour in
the magic of morning, gulf-waters silver under the moon, a
Wedgwood-blue columbine in the old orchard. Or a certain whistle in
Lofty John's bush.
With all this--pretty? I cannot tell you. Emily was never
mentioned when Blair Water beauties were being tabulated. But no one
who looked upon her face ever forgot it. No one, meeting Emily the
second time ever had to say "Er--your face seems familiar but--"
Generations of lovely women were behind her. They had all given her
something of personality. She had the grace of running water.
Something, too, of its sparkle and limpidity. A thought swayed her
like a strong wind. An emotion shook her as a tempest shakes a rose.
She was one of those vital creatures of whom, when they do die, we
say it seems impossible that they can be dead. Against the background
of her practical, sensible clan she shone like a diamond flame. Many
people liked her, many disliked her. No one was ever wholly
indifferent to her.
Once, when Emily had been very small, living with her father down
in the little old house at Maywood, where he had died, she had
started out to seek the rainbow's end. Over long wet fields and hills
she ran, hopeful, expectant. But as she ran the wonderful arch was
faded--was dim--was gone. Emily was alone in an alien valley, not too
sure in which direction lay home. For a moment her lips quivered, her
eyes filled. Then she lifted her face and smiled gallantly at the
"There will be other rainbows," she said.
Emily was a chaser of rainbows.
Life at New Moon had changed. She must adjust herself to it. A
certain loneliness must be reckoned with. Ilse Burnley, the madcap
pal of seven faithful years, had gone to the School of Literature and
Expression in Montreal. The two girls parted with the tears and vows
of girlhood. Never to meet on quite the same ground again. For,
disguise the fact as we will, when friends, even the closest--perhaps
the more because of that very closeness--meet again after a
separation there is always a chill, lesser or greater, of change.
Neither finds the other quite the same. This is natural and
inevitable. Human nature is ever growing or retrogressing--never
stationary. But still, with all our philosophy, who of us can repress
a little feeling of bewildered disappointment when we realize that
our friend is not and never can be just the same as before--even
though the change may be by way of improvement? Emily, with the
strange intuition which supplied the place of experience, felt this
as Ilse did not, and felt that in a sense she was bidding good-bye
for ever to the Ilse of New Moon days and Shrewsbury years.
Perry Miller, too, former "hired boy" of New Moon, medalist of
Shrewsbury High School, rejected but not quite hopeless suitor of
Emily, butt of Ilse's rages, was gone. Perry was studying law in an
office in Charlottetown, with his eye fixed firmly on several
glittering legal goals. No rainbow ends--no mythical pots of gold for
Perry. He knew what he wanted would stay put and he was going
after it. People were beginning to believe he would get it. After
all, the gulf between the law clerk in Mr. Abel's office and the
Supreme Court Bench of Canada was no wider than the gulf between that
same law clerk and the barefoot gamin of Stovepipe
There was more of the rainbow-seeker in Teddy Kent, of the Tansy
Patch. He, too, was going. To the School of Design in Montreal. He,
too, knew--had known for years--the delight and allurement and
despair and anguish of the rainbow quest.
"Even if we never find it," he said to Emily, as they lingered in
the New Moon garden under the violet sky of a long, wondrous,
northern twilight, on the last evening before he went away, "there's
something in the search for it that's better than even the finding
"But we will find it," said Emily, lifting her eyes to a
star that glittered over the tip of one of the Three Princesses.
Something in Teddy's use of "we" thrilled her with its implications.
Emily was always very honest with herself and she never attempted to
shut her eyes to the knowledge that Teddy Kent meant more to her than
anyone else in the world. Whereas she--what did she mean to him?
Little? Much? Or nothing?
She was bareheaded and she had put a star-like cluster of tiny
yellow 'mums in her hair. She had thought a good deal about her dress
before she decided on her primrose silk. She thought she was looking
very well, but what difference did that make if Teddy didn't notice
it? He always took her so for granted, she thought a little
rebelliously. Dean Priest, now, would have noticed it and paid her
some subtle compliment about it.
"I don't know," said Teddy, morosely scowling at Emily's
topaz-eyed grey cat, Daffy, who was fancying himself as a skulking
tiger in the spirea thicket. "I don't know. Now that I'm really
flying the Blue Peter I feel--flat. After all--perhaps I can never do
anything worth while. A little knack of drawing--what does it amount
to? Especially when you're lying awake at three o'clock at
"Oh, I know that feeling," agreed Emily. "Last night I mulled over
a story for hours and concluded despairingly that I could
never write--that it was no use to try--that I couldn't do
anything really worth while. I went to bed on that note and drenched
my pillow with tears. Woke up at three and couldn't even cry. Tears
seemed as foolish as laughter--or ambition. I was quite bankrupt in
hope and belief. And then I got up in the chilly grey dawn and began
a new story. Don't let a three-o'clock-at-night feeling fog your
"Unfortunately there's a three o'clock every night," said Teddy.
"At that ungodly hour I am always convinced that if you want things
too much you're not likely ever to get them. And there are two
things that I want tremendously. One, of course, is to be a great
artist. I never supposed I was a coward, Emily, but I'm afraid now.
If I don't make good! Everybody'll laugh at me. Mother will say she
knew it. She hates to see me go really, you know. To go and fail! It
would be better not to go."
"No, it wouldn't," said Emily passionately, wondering at the same
time in the back of her head what was the other thing Teddy
wanted so tremendously. "You must not be afraid. Father said I wasn't
to be afraid of anything in that talk I had with him the night he
died. And isn't it Emerson who said, 'Always do what you are afraid
"I'll bet Emerson said that when he'd got through with being
afraid of things. It's easy to be brave when you're taking off your
"You know I believe in you, Teddy," said Emily softly.
"Yes, you do. You and Mr. Carpenter. You are the only ones who
really do believe in me. Even Ilse thinks that Perry has by far the
better chance of bringing home the bacon."
"But you are not going after bacon. You're going after rainbow
"And if I fail to find it--and disappoint you--that will be worst
"You won't fail. Look at that star, Teddy--the one just
over the youngest Princess. It's Vega of the Lyre. I've always loved
it. It's my dearest among the stars. Do you remember how, years ago
when you and Ilse and I sat out in the orchard on the evenings when
Cousin Jimmy was boiling pigs' potatoes, you used to spin us
wonderful tales about that star--and of a life you had lived in it
before you came to this world. There was no three o'clock in the
morning in that star."
"What happy, carefree little shavers we were those times," said
Teddy, in the reminiscent voice of a middle-aged, care-oppressed man
wistfully recalling youthful irresponsibility.
"I want you to promise me," said Emily, "that whenever you see
that star you'll remember that I am believing in
"Will you promise me that whenever you look at that star
you'll think of me?" said Teddy. "Or rather, let us promise each
other that whenever we see that star we'll always think of
each other--always. Everywhere and as long as we live."
"I promise," said Emily, thrilled. She loved to have Teddy look at
her like that.
A romantic compact. Meaning what? Emily did not know. She only
knew that Teddy was going away--that life seemed suddenly very blank
and cold--that the wind from the gulf, sighing among the trees in
Lofty John's bush was very sorrowful--that summer had gone and autumn
had come. And that the pot of gold at the rainbow's end was on some
very far-distant hill.
Why had she said that thing about the star? Why did dusk and
fir-scent and the afterglow of autumnal sunsets make people say
"NOVEMBER 18, 19--
"To-day the December number of Marchwood's came with my
verses Flying Gold in it. I consider the occasion worthy of
mention in my diary because they were given a whole page to
themselves and illustrated--the first time ever any poem of mine was
so honoured. It is trashy enough in itself, I suppose--Mr. Carpenter
only sniffed when I read it to him and refused to make any comment
whatever on it. Mr. Carpenter never 'damns with faint praise' but he
can damn with silence in a most smashing manner. But my poem
looked so dignified that a careless reader might fancy there
was something in it. Blessings on the good editor who was inspired to
have it illustrated. He has bolstered up my self-respect
"But I did not care overmuch for the illustration itself. The
artist did not catch my meaning at all. Teddy would have done
"Teddy is doing splendidly at the School of Design. And Vega
shines brilliantly every night. I wonder if he really does always
think of me when he sees it. Or if he ever does see it. Perhaps the
electric lights of Montreal blot it out. He seems to see a good bit
of Ilse. It's awfully nice for them to know each other in that big
city of strangers."
"NOVEMBER 26, 19--
"To-day was a glamorous November afternoon--summer-mild and
autumn-sweet. I sat and read a long while in the pond burying-ground.
Aunt Elizabeth thinks this a most gruesome place to sit in and tells
Aunt Laura that she is afraid there's a morbid streak in me. I can't
see anything morbid about it. It's a beautiful spot where wild, sweet
odours are always coming across Blair Water on the wandering winds.
And so quiet and peaceful, with the old graves all about me--little
green hillocks with small frosted ferns sprinkled over them. Men and
women of my house are lying there. Men and women who had been
victorious--men and women who had been defeated--and their victory
and defeat are now one. I never can feel either much exalted or much
depressed there. The sting and the tang alike go out of things. I
like the old, old red sandstone slabs, especially the one for Mary
Murray with its 'Here I Stay'--the inscription into which her husband
put all the concealed venom of a lifetime. His grave is right beside
hers and I feel sure they have forgiven each other long ago. And
perhaps they come back sometimes in the dark o' the moon and look at
the inscription and laugh at it. It is growing a little dim with tiny
lichens. Cousin Jimmy has given up scraping them away. Some day they
will overgrow it so that it will be nothing but a
green-and-red-and-silver smear on the old red stone."
"DEC. 20, 19--
"Something nice happened to-day. I feel pleasantly exhilarated.
Madison's took my story, A Flaw in the Indictment!!!!
Yes, it deserves some exclamation-points after it to a certainty. If
it were not for Mr. Carpenter I would write it in italics. Italics!
Nay, I'd use capitals. It is very hard to get in there. Don't I know!
Haven't I tried repeatedly and gained nothing for my pains but a
harvest of 'we-regrets?' And at last it has opened its doors to me.
To be in Madison's is a clear and unmistakable sign that
you're getting somewhere on the Alpine path. The dear editor was kind
enough to say it was a charming story.
"He sent me a cheque for fifty dollars. I'll soon be able to begin
to repay Aunt Ruth and Uncle Wallace what they spent on me in
Shrewsbury. Aunt Elizabeth as usual looked at the cheque suspiciously
but for the first time forebore to wonder if the bank would really
cash it. Aunt Laura's beautiful blue eyes beamed with pride. Aunt
Laura's eyes really do beam. She is one of the Victorians. Edwardian
eyes glitter and sparkle and allure but they never beam. And somehow
I do like beaming eyes--especially when they beam over my
"Cousin Jimmy says that Madison's is worth all the other
Yankee magazines put together in his opinion.
"I wonder if Dean Priest will like A Flaw in the
Indictment. And if he will say so. He never praises
anything I write nowadays. And I feel such a craving to compel
him to. I feel that his is the only commendation, apart from Mr.
Carpenter's, that is worth anything.
"It's odd about Dean. In some mysterious way he seems to be
growing younger. A few years ago I thought of him as quite old. Now
he seems only middle-aged. If this keeps up he'll soon be a mere
youth. I suppose the truth is that my mind is beginning to mature a
bit and I'm catching up with him. Aunt Elizabeth doesn't like my
friendship with him any more than she ever did. Aunt Elizabeth has a
well-marked antipathy to any Priest. But I don't know what I'd do
without Dean's friendship. It's the very salt of life."
"JANUARY 15, 19--
"To-day was stormy. I had a white night last night after four
rejections of MSS. I had thought especially good. As Miss Royal
predicted, I felt that I had been an awful idiot not to have gone to
New York with her when I had the chance. Oh, I don't wonder babies
always cry when they wake up in the night. So often I want to do it,
too. Everything presses on my soul then and no cloud has a silver
lining. I was blue and disgruntled all the forenoon and looked
forward to the coming of the mail as the one possible rescue from the
doldrums. There is always such a fascinating expectancy and
uncertainty about the mail. What would it bring me? A letter from
Teddy--Teddy writes the most delightful letters. A nice thin envelope
with a cheque? A fat one woefully eloquent of more rejected MSS.? One
of Ilse's fascinating scrawls? Nothing of the sort. Merely an irate
epistle from Second-cousin-once-removed Beulah Grant of Derry Pond,
who is furious because she thinks I 'put her' into my story Fools
of Habit, which has just been copied into a widely circulated
Canadian farm paper. She wrote me a bitterly reproachful letter which
I received to-day. She thinks I 'might have spared an old friend who
has always wished me well.' She is 'not accustomed to being ridiculed
in the newspapers' and will I, in future, be so kind as to refrain
from making her the butt of my supposed wit in the public press.
Second-cousin-once-removed Beulah wields a facile pen of her own,
when it comes to that, and while certain things in her letter hurt me
other parts infuriated me. I never once even thought of Cousin
Beulah when I wrote that story. The character of Aunt Kate is
purely imaginary. And if I had thought of Cousin Beulah I most
certainly wouldn't have put her in a story. She is too stupid
and commonplace. And she isn't a bit like Aunt Kate, who is, I
flattered myself, a vivid, snappy, humorous old lady.
"But Cousin Beulah wrote to Aunt Elizabeth too, and we have had a
family ruction. Aunt Elizabeth won't believe I am guiltless--she
declares Aunt Kate is an exact picture of Cousin Beulah and
she politely requests me--Aunt Elizabeth's polite requests are
awesome things--not to caricature my relatives in my future
"'It is not,' said Aunt Elizabeth in her stateliest manner, 'a
thing any Murray should do--make money out of the
peculiarities of her friends.'
"It was just another of Miss Royal's predictions fulfilled. Oh,
was she as right about everything else? If she was--
"But the worst slam of all came from Cousin Jimmy, who had
chuckled over Fools of Habit.
"'Never mind old Beulah, pussy,' he whispered. 'That was fine. You
certainly did her up brown in Aunt Kate. I recognized her
before I'd read a page. Knew her by her nose.' There you are! I
unluckily happened to dower Aunt Kate with a 'long, drooping
nose.' Nor can it be denied that Cousin Beulah's nose is long
and drooping. People have been hanged on no clearer
circumstantial evidence. It was of no use to wail despairingly that I
had never even thought of Cousin Beulah. Cousin Jimmy just nodded and
"'Of course. Best to keep it quiet. Best to keep anything like
that pretty quiet.'
"The worst sting in all this is, that if Aunt Kate is
really like Cousin Beulah Grant then I failed egregiously in what I
was trying to do.
"However, I feel much better now than when I began this entry.
I've got quite a bit of resentment and rebellion and discouragement
out of my system.
"That's the chief use of a diary, I believe."
"FEB. 3, 19--
"This was a 'big day.' I had three acceptances. And one editor
asked me to send him some stories. To be sure, I hate having an
editor ask me to send a story, somehow. It's far worse than sending
them unasked. The humiliation of having them returned after all is
far deeper than when one just sends off a MS. to some dim
impersonality behind an editorial desk a thousand miles away.
"And I have decided that I can't write a story 'to order.' 'Tis a
diabolical task. I tried to lately. The editor of Young People
asked me to write a story along certain lines. I wrote it. He sent it
back, pointing out some faults and asking me to rewrite it. I tried
to. I wrote and rewrote and altered and interlined until my MS.
looked like a crazy patchwork of black and blue and red inks. Finally
I lifted one of the covers of the kitchen stove and dumped in the
original yarn and all my variations thereof.
"After this I'm just going to write what I want to. And the
editors can be--canonized!
"There are northern lights and a misty new moon to-night."
"FEB. 16, 19--
"My story What the Jest Was Worth was in The Home
Monthly to-day. But I was only one of 'others' on the cover.
However, to balance that I have been listed by name as 'one of the
well-known and popular contributors for the coming year' in
Girlhood Days. Cousin Jimmy has read this editor's foreword
over half a dozen times and I heard him murmuring 'well-known and
popular' as he split the kindlings. Then he went to the corner
store and bought me a new Jimmy-book. Every time I pass a new
milestone on the Alpine path Cousin Jimmy celebrates by giving me a
new Jimmy-book. I never buy a notebook for myself. It would hurt his
feelings. He always looks at the little pile of Jimmy-books on my
writing-table with awe and reverence, firmly believing that all sorts
of wonderful literature is locked up in the hodge-podge of
description and characters and 'bits' they contain.
"I always give Dean my stories to read. I can't help doing it,
although he always brings them back with no comment, or, worse than
no comment--faint praise. It has become a sort of obsession with me
to make Dean admit I can write something worth while in
its line. That would be triumph. But unless and until he does,
everything will be dust and ashes. Because--he knows."
"April 2, 19--
"The spring has affected a certain youth of Shrewsbury who comes
out to New Moon occasionally. He is not a suitor of whom the House of
Murray approves. Nor, which is more important, one of whom E. B.
Starr approves. Aunt Elizabeth was very grim because I went to a
concert with him. She was sitting up when I came home.
"'You see I haven't eloped, Aunt Elizabeth,' I said. 'I promise
you I won't. If I ever want to marry any one I'll tell you so and
marry him in spite of your teeth.'
"I don't know whether Aunt Elizabeth went to bed with an easier
mind or not. Mother eloped--thank goodness!--and Aunt Elizabeth is a
firm believer in heredity."
"April 15, 19--
"This evening I went away up the hill and prowled about the
Disappointed House by moonlight. The Disappointed House was built
thirty-seven years ago--partly built, at least--for a bride who never
came to it. There it has been ever since, boarded up, unfinished,
heart-broken, haunted by the timid, forsaken ghosts of things that
should have happened but never did. I always feel so sorry for it.
For its poor blind eyes that have never seen--that haven't even
memories. No homelight ever shone out through them--only once, long
ago, a gleam of firelight. It might have been such a nice little
house, snuggled against that wooded hill, pulling little spruces all
around it to cover it. A warm, friendly little house. And a
good-natured little house. Not like the new one at the Corner that
Tom Semple is putting up. It is a bad-tempered house.
Vixenish, with little eyes and sharp elbows. It's odd how much
personality a house can have even before it is ever lived in at all.
Once long ago, when Teddy and I were children, we pried a board off
the window and climbed in and made a fire in the fireplace. Then we
sat there and planned out our lives. We meant to spend them together
in that very house. I suppose Teddy has forgotten all about that
childish nonsense. He writes often and his letters are full and jolly
and Teddy-like. And he tells me all the little things I want to know
about his life. But lately they have become rather impersonal, it
seems to me. They might just as well have been written to Ilse as to
"Poor little Disappointed House. I suppose you will always be
"May 1, 19--
"Spring again! Young poplars with golden, ethereal leaves. Leagues
of rippling gulf beyond the silver-and-lilac sand-dunes.
"The winter has gone with a swiftness incredible, in spite of some
terrible, black three-o'clocks and lonely, discouraged twilights.
Dean will soon be home from Florida. But neither Teddy nor Ilse is
coming home this summer. This gave me a white night or two recently.
Ilse is going to the coast to visit an aunt--a mother's sister who
never took any notice of her before. And Teddy has got the chance of
illustrating a series of North-west Mounted Police stories for a New
York firm and must spend his holidays making sketches for it in the
far North. Of course it's a splendid chance for him and I wouldn't be
a bit sorry--if he seemed a bit sorry because he wasn't coming
to Blair Water. But he didn't.
"Well, I suppose Blair Water and the old life here are to him as a
tale that is told now.
"I didn't realize how much I had been building on Ilse and Teddy
being here for the summer or how much the hope of it had helped me
through a few bad times in the winter. When I let myself remember
that not once this summer will I hear Teddy's signal whistle in Lofty
John's bush--not once happen on him in our secret, beautiful haunts
of lane and brookside--not once exchange a thrilling, significant
glance in a crowd when something happened which had a special meaning
for us, all the colour seems to die out of life, leaving it just a
drab, faded thing of shreds and patches.
"Mrs. Kent met me at the post-office yesterday and stopped to
speak--something she very rarely does. She hates me as much as
"'I suppose you have heard that Teddy is not coming home this
"'Yes,' I said briefly.
"There was a certain odd, aching triumph in her eyes as she turned
away--a triumph I understood. She is very unhappy because Teddy will
not be home for her but she is exultant that he will not be
home for me. This shows, she is almost sure, that he cares
nothing about me.
"Well, I dare say she is right. Still one can't be altogether
gloomy in spring.
"And Andrew is engaged! To a girl of whom Aunt Addie entirely
approves. 'I could not be more pleased with Andrew's choice if I had
chosen her myself,' she said this afternoon to Aunt Elizabeth.
To Aunt Elizabeth and at me. Aunt Elizabeth was coldly
glad--or said she was. Aunt Laura cried a little--Aunt Laura always
cries a bit when any one she knows is born or dead or married or
engaged or come or gone or polling his first vote. She couldn't help
feeling a little disappointed. Andrew would have been such a
safe husband for me. Certainly there is no dynamite in
At first nobody thought Mr. Carpenter's illness serious. He had
had a good many attacks of rheumatism in recent years, laying him up
for a few days. Then he could hobble back to work, as grim and
sarcastic as ever, with a new edge to his tongue. In Mr. Carpenter's
opinion teaching in Blair Water School was not what it had been.
Nothing there now, he said, but rollicking, soulless young
nonentities. Not a soul in the school who could pronounce February or
"I'm tired trying to make soup in a sieve," he said gruffly.
Teddy and Ilse and Perry and Emily were gone--the four pupils who
had leavened the school with a saving inspiration. Perhaps Mr.
Carpenter was a little tired of--everything. He was not very old, as
years go, but he had burned up most of his constitution in a wild
youth. The little, timid, faded slip of a woman who had been his wife
had died unobtrusively in the preceding autumn. She had never seemed
to matter much to Mr. Carpenter; but he had "gone down" rapidly after
her funeral. The school children went in awe of his biting tongue and
his more frequent spurts of temper. The trustees began to shake their
heads and talk of a new teacher when the school year ended.
Mr. Carpenter's illness began as usual with an attack of
rheumatism. Then there was heart trouble. Dr. Burnley, who went to
see him despite his obstinate refusal to have a doctor, looked grave
and talked mysteriously of a lack of "the will to live." Aunt Louisa
Drummond of Derry Pond came over to nurse him. Mr. Carpenter
submitted to this with a resignation that was a bad omen--as if
nothing mattered any more.
"Have your own way. She can potter round if it will ease your
consciences. So long as she leaves me alone I don't care what she
does. I won't be fed and I won't be coddled and I
won't have the sheets changed. Can't bear her hair, though.
Too straight and shiny. Tell her to do something to it. And why does
her nose look as if it were always cold?"
Emily ran in every evening to sit awhile with him. She was the
only person the old man cared to see. He did not talk a great deal,
but he liked to open his eyes every few minutes and exchange a sly
smile of understanding with her--as if the two of them were laughing
together over some excellent joke of which only they could sample the
flavour. Aunt Louisa did not know what to make of this commerce of
grins and consequently disapproved of it. She was a kind-hearted
creature, with much real motherliness in her thwarted maiden breast,
but she was all at sea with these cheerful, Puckish, deathbed smiles
of her patient. She thought he had much better be thinking of his
immortal soul. He was not a member of the church, was he? He would
not even let the minister come in to see him. But Emily Starr was
welcomed whenever she came. Aunt Louisa had her own secret suspicion
of the said Emily Starr. Didn't she write? Hadn't she put her own
mother's second-cousin, body and bones, into one of her stories?
Probably she was looking for "copy" in this old pagan's deathbed.
That explained her interest in it, beyond a doubt. Aunt Louisa
looked curiously at this ghoulish young creature. She hoped Emily
wouldn't put her in a story.
For a long time Emily had refused to believe that it was
Mr. Carpenter's deathbed. He couldn't be so ill as all that.
He didn't suffer--he didn't complain. He would be all right as soon
as warmer weather came. She told herself this so often that she made
herself believe it. She could not let herself think of life in Blair
Water without Mr. Carpenter.
One May evening Mr. Carpenter seemed much better. His eyes flashed
with their old satiric fire, his voice rang with its old resonance;
he joked poor Aunt Louisa--who never could understand his jokes but
endured them with Christian patience. Sick people must be humoured.
He told a funny story to Emily and laughed with her over it till the
little low-raftered room rang. Aunt Louisa shook her head. There were
some things she did not know, poor lady, but she did know her own
humble, faithful little trade of unprofessional nursing; and she knew
that this sudden rejuvenescence was no good sign. As the Scotch would
say, he was "fey." Emily in her inexperience did not know this. She
went home rejoicing that Mr. Carpenter had taken such a turn for the
better. Soon he would be all right, back at school, thundering at his
pupils, striding absently along the road reading some dog-eared
classic, criticizing her manuscripts with all his old trenchant
humour. Emily was glad. Mr. Carpenter was a friend she could not
afford to lose.
Aunt Elizabeth wakened her at two. She had been sent for. Mr.
Carpenter was asking for her.
"Is he--worse?" asked Emily, slipping out of her high, black bed
with its carved posts.
"Dying," said Aunt Elizabeth briefly. "Dr. Burnley says he can't
last till morning."
Something in Emily's face touched Aunt Elizabeth.
"Isn't it better for him, Emily," she said with an unusual
gentleness. "He is old and tired. His wife has gone--they will not
give him the school another year. His old age would be very lonely.
Death is his best friend."
"I am thinking of myself," choked Emily.
She went down to Mr. Carpenter's house, through the dark,
beautiful spring night. Aunt Louisa was crying but Emily did not cry.
Mr. Carpenter opened his eyes and smiled at her--the same old, sly
"No tears," he murmured. "I forbid tears at my deathbed. Let
Louisa Drummond do the crying out in the kitchen. She might as well
earn her money that way as another. There's nothing more she can do
"Is there anything I can do?" asked Emily.
"Just sit here where I can see you till I'm gone, that's all. One
doesn't like to go out--alone. Never liked the thought of dying
alone. How many old she-weasels are out in the kitchen waiting for me
"There are only Aunt Louisa and Aunt Elizabeth," said Emily,
unable to repress a smile.
"Don't mind my not--talking much. I've been talking--all my life.
Through now. No breath--left. But if I think of anything--like you to
Mr. Carpenter closed his eyes and relapsed into silence. Emily sat
quietly, her head a soft blur of darkness against the window that was
beginning to whiten with dawn. The ghostly hands of a fitful wind
played with her hair. The perfume of June lilies stole in from the
bed under the open window--a haunting odour, sweeter than music, like
all the lost perfumes of old, unutterably dear years. Far off, two
beautiful, slender, black firs, of exactly the same height, came out
against the silver dawn-lit sky like the twin spires of some Gothic
cathedral rising out of a bank of silver mist. Just between them hung
a dim old moon, as beautiful as the evening crescent. Their beauty
was a comfort and stimulant to Emily under the stress of this strange
vigil. Whatever passed--whatever came--beauty like this was
Now and then Aunt Louisa came in and looked at the old man. Mr.
Carpenter seemed unconscious of these visitations but always when she
went out he opened his eyes and winked at Emily. Emily found herself
winking back, somewhat to her own horror--for she had sufficient
Murray in her to be slightly scandalized over deathbed winks. Fancy
what Aunt Elizabeth would say.
"Good little sport," muttered Mr. Carpenter after the second
exchange of winks. "Glad--you're there."
At three o'clock he grew rather restless. Aunt Louisa came in
"He can't die till the tide goes out, you know," she explained to
Emily in a solemn whisper.
"Get out of this with your superstitious blather," said Mr.
Carpenter loudly and clearly. "I'll die when I'm d--n well ready,
tide or no tide."
Horrified Aunt Louisa excused him to Emily on the ground that he
was wandering in his mind and slipped out.
"Excuse my common way, won't you?" said Mr. Carpenter. "I
had to shock her out. Couldn't have that elderly female
person--round watching me die. Given her--a good yarn to tell--the
rest of her--life. Awful--warning. And yet--she's a good soul. So
good--she bores me. No evil in her. Somehow--one needs--a spice--of
evil--in every personality. It's the--pinch of--salt--that brings
Another silence. Then he added gravely,
"Trouble is--the Cook--makes the pinch--too large--in most cases.
Inexperienced Cook--wiser after--a few eternities."
Emily thought he really was "wandering" now but he smiled at
"Glad you're here--little pal. Don't mind being--here--do
"No," said Emily.
"When a Murray says--no--she means it."
After another silence Mr. Carpenter began again, this time more to
himself, as it seemed, than anyone else.
"Going out--out beyond the dawn. Past the morning star. Used to
think I'd be frightened. Not frightened. Funny. Think how much I'm
going to know--in just a few more minutes, Emily. Wiser than anybody
else living. Always wanted to know--to know. Never liked
guesses. Done with curiosity--about life. Just curious now--about
death. I'll know the truth, Emily--just a few more minutes and I'll
know the--truth. No more guessing. And if--it's as I think--I'll
be--young again. You can't know what--it means. You--who are
young--can't have--the least idea--what it means--to be
His voice sank into restless muttering for a time, then rose
"Emily, promise me--that you'll never write--to please
Emily hesitated a moment. Just what did such a promise mean?
"Promise," whispered Mr. Carpenter insistently.
"That's right," said Mr. Carpenter with a sigh of relief. "Keep
that--and you'll be--all right. No use trying to please everybody. No
use trying to please--critics. Live under your own hat. Don't be--led
away--by those howls about realism. Remember--pine woods are just as
real as--pigsties--and a darn sight pleasanter to be in. You'll get
there--sometime--you have the root--of the matter--in you. And
don't--tell the world--everything. That's what's the--matter--with
our--literature. Lost the charm of mystery--and reserve. There's
something else I wanted to say--some caution--I can't--seem to
"Don't try," said Emily gently. "Don't tire yourself."
"Not--tired. Feel quite through--with being tired. I'm dying--I'm
a failure--poor as a rat. But after all, Emily--I've had a--darned
Mr. Carpenter shut his eyes and looked so deathlike that Emily
made an involuntary movement of alarm. He lifted a bleached hand.
"No--don't call her. Don't call that weeping lady back. Just
yourself, little Emily of New Moon. Clever little girl, Emily. What
was it--I wanted to say to her?"
A moment or two later he opened his eyes and said in a loud, clear
voice, "Open the door--open the door. Death must not be kept
Emily ran to the little door and set it wide. A strong wind of the
grey sea rushed in. Aunt Louisa ran in from the kitchen.
"The tide has turned--he's going out with it--he's gone."
Not quite. As Emily bent over him the keen, shaggy-brown eyes
opened for the last time. Mr. Carpenter essayed a wink but could not
"I've--thought of it," he whispered. "Beware--of--italics."
Was there a little impish chuckle at the end of the words? Aunt
Louisa always declared there was. Graceless old Mr. Carpenter had
died laughing--saying something about Italians. Of course he was
delirious. But Aunt Louisa always felt it had been a very unedifying
deathbed. She was thankful that few such had come in her
Emily went blindly home and wept for her old friend in the room of
her dreams. What a gallant old soul he was--going out into the
shadow--or into the sunlight?--with a laugh and a jest. Whatever his
faults there had never been anything of the coward about old Mr.
Carpenter. Her world, she knew, would be a colder place now that he
was gone. It seemed many years since she had left New Moon in the
darkness. She felt some inward monition that told her she had come to
a certain parting of the ways of life. Mr. Carpenter's death would
not make any external difference for her. Nevertheless, it was as a
milestone to which in after years she could look back and say,
"After I passed that point everything was different."
All her life she had grown, as it seemed, by these fits and
starts. Going on quietly and changelessly for months and years; then
all at once suddenly realizing that she had left some "low-vaulted
past" and emerged into some "new temple" of the soul more spacious
than all that had gone before. Though always, at first, with a chill
of change and a sense of loss.
The year after Mr. Carpenter's death passed quietly for
Emily--quietly, pleasantly--perhaps, though she tried to stifle the
thought, a little monotonously. No Ilse--no Teddy--no Mr. Carpenter.
Perry only very occasionally. But of course in the summer there was
Dean. No girl with Dean Priest for a friend could be altogether
lonely. They had always been such good friends, ever since the day,
long ago, when she had fallen over the rocky bank of Malvern Bay and
been rescued by Dean.* It did not matter in the least that he limped
slightly and had a crooked shoulder, or that the dreamy brilliance of
his green eyes sometimes gave his face an uncanny look. On the whole,
there was no one in all the world she liked quite so well as
Dean. When she thought this she always italicized the "liked." There
were some things Mr. Carpenter had not known.
*See Emily of New Moon.
Aunt Elizabeth never quite approved of Dean. But then Aunt
Elizabeth had no great love for any Priest.
There seemed to be a temperamental incompatibility between the
Murrays and the Priests that was never bridged over, even by the
occasional marriages between the clans.
"Priests, indeed," Aunt Elizabeth was wont to say contemptuously,
relegating the whole clan, root and branch, to limbo with one wave of
her thin, unbeautiful Murray hand. "Priests, indeed!"
"Murray is Murray and Priest is Priest and never the twain shall
meet," Emily shamelessly mischievously misquoted Kipling once when
Dean had asked in pretended despair why none of her aunts liked
"Your old Great-aunt Nancy over there at Priest Pond detests me,"
he said, with the little whimsical smile that sometimes gave him the
look of an amused gnome, "And the Ladies Laura and Elizabeth treat me
with the frosty politeness reserved by the Murrays for their dearest
foes. Oh, I think I know why."
Emily flushed. She, too, was beginning to have an unwelcome
suspicion why Aunts Elizabeth and Laura were even more frostily
polite to Dean than of yore. She did not want to have it; she thrust
it fiercely out and locked the door of thought upon it whenever it
intruded there. But the thing whined on her doorstep and would not be
banished. Dean, like everything and everybody else, seemed to have
changed overnight. And what did the change imply--hint? Emily refused
to answer this question. The only answer that suggested itself was
too absurd. And too unwelcome.
Was Dean Priest changing from friend to lover? Nonsense. Arrant
nonsense. Disagreeable nonsense. For she did not want him as a lover
and she did want him madly as a friend. She couldn't lose his
friendship. It was too dear, delightful, stimulating, wonderful. Why
did such devilish things ever happen? When Emily reached this point
in her disconnected musings she always stopped and retraced her
mental steps fiercely, terrified to realize that she was almost on
the point of admitting that "the something devilish" had already
happened or was in process of happening.
In one way it was almost a relief to her when Dean said casually
one November evening:
"I suppose I must soon be thinking of my annual migration."
"Where are you going this year?" asked Emily.
"Japan. I've never been there. Don't want to go now particularly.
But what's the use of staying? Would you want to talk to me in the
sitting-room all winter with the aunts in hearing?"
"No," said Emily between a laugh and a shiver. She recalled one
fiendish autumn evening of streaming rain and howling wind when they
couldn't walk in the garden but had to sit in the room where Aunt
Elizabeth was knitting and Aunt Laura crocheting by the table. It had
been awful. And again why? Why couldn't they talk as freely and
whimsically and intimately then as they did in the garden? The answer
to this at least was not to be expressed in any terms of sex. Was it
because they talked of so many things Aunt Elizabeth could not
understand and so disapproved of? Perhaps. But whatever the cause
Dean might as well have been at the other side of the world for all
the real conversation that was possible.
"So I might as well go," said Dean, waiting for this exquisite,
tall, white girl in an old garden to say she would miss him horribly.
She had said it every one of his flitting autumns for many years. But
she did not say it this time. She found she dared not.
Dean was looking at her with eyes that could be tender or
sorrowful or passionate, as he willed, and which now seemed to be a
mixture of all three expressions. He must hear her say she
would miss him. His true reason for going away again this winter was
to make her realize how much she missed him--make her feel that she
could not live without him.
"Will you miss me, Emily?"
"That goes without saying," answered Emily lightly--too lightly.
Other years she had been very frank and serious about it. Dean was
not altogether regretful for the change. But he could guess nothing
of the attitude of mind behind it. She must have changed because she
felt something--suspected something, of what he had striven for years
to hide and suppress as rank madness. What then? Did this new
lightness indicate that she didn't want to make a too important thing
of admitting she would miss him? Or was it only the instinctive
defence of a woman against something that implied or evoked too
"It will be so dreadful here this winter without you and Teddy and
Ilse that I will not let myself think of it at all," went on Emily.
"Last winter was bad. And this--I know somehow--will be worse. But
I'll have my work."
"Oh, yes, your work," agreed Dean with the little, tolerant,
half-amused inflection in his voice that always came now when he
spoke of her "work," as if it tickled him hugely that she should call
her pretty scribblings "work." Well, one must humour the charming
child. He could not have said so more plainly in words. His
implications cut across Emily's sensitive soul like a whip-lash. And
all at once her work and her ambitions became--momentarily at
least--as childish and unimportant as he considered them. She could
not hold her own conviction against him. He must know. He was so
clever--so well-educated. He must know. That was the agony of
it. She could not ignore his opinion. Emily knew deep down in her
heart that she would never be able wholly to believe in herself until
Dean Priest admitted that she could do something honestly worth while
in its way. And if he never admitted it--
"I shall carry pictures of you wherever I go, Star," Dean was
saying. Star was his old nickname for her--not as a pun on her name
but because he said she reminded him of a star. "I shall see you
sitting in your room by that old lookout window, spinning your pretty
cobwebs--pacing up and down in this old garden--wandering in the
Yesterday Road--looking out to sea. Whenever I shall recall a bit of
Blair Water loveliness I shall see you in it. After all, all other
beauty is only a background for a beautiful woman."
"Her pretty cobwebs--" ah, there it was. That was all Emily heard.
She did not even realize that he was telling her he thought
her a beautiful woman.
"Do you think what I write is nothing but cobwebs, Dean?" she
Dean looked surprised, doing it very well.
"Star, what else is it? What do you think it is yourself? I'm glad
you can amuse yourself by writing. It's a splendid thing to have a
little hobby of the kind. And if you can pick up a few shekels by
it--well, that's all very well too in this kind of a world. But I'd
hate to have you dream of being a Brontë or an Austen--and wake
to find you'd wasted your youth on a dream."
"I don't fancy myself a Brontë or an Austen," said Emily.
"But you didn't talk like that long ago, Dean. You used to think then
I could do something some day."
"We don't bruise the pretty visions of a child," said Dean. "But
it's foolish to carry childish dreams over into maturity. Better face
facts. You write charming things of their kind, Emily. Be content
with that and don't waste your best years yearning for the
unattainable or striving to reach some height far beyond your
Dean was not looking at Emily. He was leaning on the old sundial
and scowling down at it with the air of a man who was forcing himself
to say a disagreeable thing because he felt it was his duty.
"I won't be just a mere scribbler of pretty stories," cried
Emily rebelliously. He looked into her face. She was as tall as he
was--a trifle taller, though he would not admit it.
"You do not need to be anything but what you are," he said in a
low vibrant tone. "A woman such as this old New Moon has never seen
before. You can do more with those eyes--that smile--than you can
ever do with your pen."
"You sound like Great-aunt Nancy Priest," said Emily cruelly and
But had he not been cruel and contemptuous to her? Three o'clock
that night found her wide-eyed and anguished. She had lain through
sleepless hours face to face with two hateful convictions. One was
that she could never do anything worth doing with her pen. The other
was that she was going to lose Dean's friendship. For friendship was
all she could give him and it would not satisfy him. She must hurt
him. And oh, how could she hurt Dean whom life had used so cruelly?
She had said "no" to Andrew Murray and laughed a refusal to Perry
Miller without a qualm. But this was an utterly different thing.
Emily sat up in bed in the darkness and moaned in a despair that
was none the less real and painful because of the indisputable fact
that thirty years later she might be wondering what on earth she had
been moaning about.
"I wish there were no such things as lovers and love-making in the
world," she said with savage intensity, honestly believing she meant
Like everybody, in daylight Emily found things much less tragic
and more endurable than in the darkness. A nice fat cheque and a kind
letter of appreciation with it restored a good deal of her
self-respect and ambition. Very likely, too, she had imagined
implications into Dean's words and looks that he never meant. She was
not going to be a silly goose, fancying that every man, young or old,
who liked to talk to her, or even to pay her compliments in shadowy,
moonlit gardens, was in love with her. Dean was old enough to be her
Dean's unsentimental parting when he went away confirmed her in
this comforting assurance and left her free to miss him without any
reservations. Miss him she did abominably. The rain in autumn fields
that year was a very sorrowful thing and so were the grey ghost-fogs
coming slowly in from the gulf. Emily was glad when snow and sparkle
came. She was very busy, writing such long hours, often far into the
night, that Aunt Laura began to worry over her health and Aunt
Elizabeth once or twice remarked protestingly that the price of
coal-oil had gone up. As Emily paid for her own coal-oil this hint
had no effect on her. She was very keen about making enough money to
repay Uncle Wallace and Aunt Ruth what they had spent on her high
school years. Aunt Elizabeth thought this was a praiseworthy
ambition. The Murrays were an independent folk. It was a clan by-word
that the Murrays had a boat of their own at the Flood. No promiscuous
Ark for them.
Of course there were still many rejections--which Cousin Jimmy
carried home from the post-office speechless with indignation. But
the percentage of acceptances rose steadily. Every new magazine
conquered meant a step upward on her Alpine path. She knew she was
steadily gaining the mastery over her art. Even the "love talk" that
had bothered her so much in the old days came easily now. Had Teddy
Kent's eyes taught her so much? If she had taken time to think she
might have been very lonely. There were some bad hours. Especially
after a letter had come from Ilse full of all her gay doings in
Montreal, her triumphs in the School of Oratory and her pretty new
gowns. In the long twilights when she looked shiveringly from the
windows of the old farmhouse and thought how very white and cold and
solitary were the snow fields on the hill, how darkly remote and
tragic the Three Princesses, she lost confidence in her star. She
wanted summer; fields of daisies; seas misty with moonrise or purple
with sunset; companionship; Teddy. In such moments she always knew
she wanted Teddy.
Teddy seemed far away. They still corresponded faithfully, but the
correspondence was not what it was. Suddenly in the autumn Teddy's
letters had grown slightly colder and more formal. At this first hint
of frost the temperature of Emily's dropped noticeably.
But she had hours of rapture and insight that shed a glory
backward and forward. Hours when she felt the creative faculty within
her, burning like a never-dying flame. Rare, sublime moments when she
felt as a god, perfectly happy and undesirous. And there was always
her dream-world into which she could escape from monotony and
loneliness, and taste strange, sweet happiness unmarred by any cloud
or shadow. Sometimes she slipped mentally back into childhood and had
delightful adventures she would have been ashamed to tell her adult
She liked to prowl about a good deal by herself, especially in
twilight or moonlight alone with the stars and the trees, rarest of
"I can't be contented indoors on a moonlight night. I have to be
up and away," she told Aunt Elizabeth, who did not approve of
prowling. Aunt Elizabeth never lost her uneasy consciousness that
Emily's mother had eloped. And anyhow, prowling was odd. None of the
other Blair Water girls prowled.
There were walks over the hills in the owl's light when the stars
rose--one after another, the great constellations of myth and legend.
There were frosty moonrises that hurt her with their beauty; spires
of pointed firs against fiery sunsets; spruce copses dim with
mystery; pacings to and fro on the To-morrow Road. Not the To-morrow
Road of June, blossom-misted, tender in young green. Nor yet the
To-morrow Road of October, splendid in crimson and gold. But the
To-morrow Road of a still, snowy winter twilight--a white,
mysterious, silent place full of wizardry. Emily loved it better than
all her other dear spots. The spirit delight of that dream-haunted
solitude never cloyed--its remote charm never palled.
If only there had been a friend to talk things over with! One
night she awakened and found herself in tears, with a late moon
shining bluely and coldly on her through the frosted window-panes.
She had dreamed that Teddy had whistled to her from Lofty John's
bush--the old, dear, signal whistle of childhood days; and she had
run so eagerly across the garden to the bush. But she could not find
"Emily Byrd Starr, if I catch you crying again over a dream!" she
Only three dynamic things happened that year to vary the noiseless
tenor of Emily's way. In the autumn she had a love affair--as Aunt
Laura Victorianly phrased it. Rev. James Wallace, the new,
well-meaning, ladylike young minister at Derry Pond, began making
excuses for visiting Blair Water Manse quite often and from there
drifted over to New Moon. Soon everybody in Blair Water and Derry
Pond knew that Emily Starr had a ministerial beau. Gossip was very
rife. It was a foregone conclusion that Emily would jump at him. A
minister! Heads were shaken over it. She would never make a suitable
minister's wife. Never in the world. But wasn't it always the way? A
minister picking on the very last girl he should have.
At New Moon opinion was divided. Aunt Laura, who owned to a Dr.
Fell feeling about Mr. Wallace, hoped Emily wouldn't "take" him. Aunt
Elizabeth, in her secret soul, was not overfond of him either, but
she was dazzled by the idea of a minister. And such a safe lover. A
minister would never think of eloping. She thought Emily would be a
very lucky girl if she could "get" him.
When it became sadly evident that Mr. Wallace's calls at New Moon
had ceased, Aunt Elizabeth gloomily asked Emily the reason and was
horrified to hear that the ungrateful minx had told Mr. Wallace she
could not marry him.
"Why?" demanded Aunt Elizabeth in icy disapproval.
"His ears, Aunt Elizabeth, his ears," said Emily flippantly. "I
really couldn't risk having my children inherit ears like that."
The indelicacy of such a reply staggered Aunt Elizabeth--which was
probably why Emily had made it. She knew Aunt Elizabeth would be
afraid to refer to the subject again.
The Rev. James Wallace thought it was "his duty" to go West the
next spring. And that was that.
Then there was the episode of the local theatricals in Shrewsbury
which were written up with vitriolic abuse in one of the
Charlottetown papers. Shrewsbury people blamed Emily Byrd Starr for
doing it. Who else, they demanded, could or would have written with
such diabolic cleverness and sarcasm? Every one knew that Emily Byrd
Starr had never forgiven Shrewsbury people for believing those yarns
about her in the old John House affair. This was her method of
revenge. Wasn't that like the Murrays? Carrying a secret grudge for
years, until a suitable chance for revenge presented itself. Emily
protested her innocence in vain. It was never discovered who had
written the report and as long as she lived it kept coming up against
But in one way it worked out to her advantage. She was invited to
all the social doings in Shrewsbury after that. People were afraid to
leave her out lest she "write them up." She could not get to
everything--Shrewsbury was seven miles from Blair Water. But she got
to Mrs. Tom Nickle's dinner dance and thought for six weeks that it
had changed the current of her whole existence.
Emily-in-the-glass looked very well that night. She had got the
dress she had longed for for years--spent the whole price of a story
on it, to her Aunt's horror. Shot silk--blue in one light, silver in
another, with mists of lace. She remembered that Teddy had said that
when she got that dress he would paint her as an Ice-maiden in
Her right-hand neighbour was a man who kept making "funny
speeches" all through the meal and kept her wondering for what good
purpose God had ever fashioned him.
But her left-hand neighbour! He talked little but he looked! Emily
decided that she liked a man whose eyes said more than his lips. But
he told her she looked like "the moonbeam of a blue summer night" in
that gown. I think it was that phrase that finished Emily--shot her
clean through the heart--like the unfortunate little duck of the
nursery rhyme. Emily was helpless before the charm of a well-turned
phrase. Before the evening was over Emily, for the first time in her
life, had fallen wildly and romantically into the wildest and most
romantic kind of love--"the love the poets dreamed of," as she wrote
in her diary. The young man--I believe his beautiful and romantic
name was Aylmer Vincent--was quite as madly in love as she. He
literally haunted New Moon. He wooed beautifully. His way of saying
"dear lady" charmed her. When he told her that "a beautiful hand was
one of the chief charms of a beautiful woman" and looked adoringly at
hers Emily kissed her hands when she went to her room that night
because his eyes had caressed them. When he called her raptly
"a creature of mist and flame" she misted and flamed about dim old
New Moon until Aunt Elizabeth unthinkingly quenched her by asking her
to fry up a batch of doughnuts for Cousin Jimmy. When he told her she
was like an opal--milk-white outside but with a heart of fire and
crimson, she wondered if life would always be like this.
"And to think I once imagined I cared for Teddy Kent," she thought
in amazement at herself.
She neglected her writing and asked Aunt Elizabeth if she could
have the old blue box in the attic for a hope chest. Aunt Elizabeth
graciously acceded. The record of the new suitor had been
investigated and found impeccable. Good family--good social
position--good business. All the omens were auspicious.
And then a truly terrible thing happened.
Emily fell out of love just as suddenly as she had fallen into it.
One day she was, and the next she wasn't. That was all there was to
She was aghast. She couldn't believe it. She tried to pretend the
old enchantment still existed. She tried to thrill and dream and
blush. Nary thrill, nary blush. Her dark-eyed lover--why had
it never struck her before that his eyes were exactly like a
cow's?--bored her. Ay, bored her. She yawned one evening in the very
midst of one of his fine speeches. Why, there was nothing to him but
fine speeches. There was nothing to add to that.
She was so ashamed that she was almost ill over it. Blair people
thought she had been jilted and pitied her. The aunts who knew better
were disappointed and disapproving.
"Fickle--fickle--like all the Starrs," said Aunt Elizabeth
Emily had no spunk to defend herself. She supposed she deserved it
all. Perhaps she was fickle. She must be fickle. When such a glorious
conflagration fizzled out so speedily and utterly into ashes. Not a
spark of it left. Not even a romantic memory. Emily viciously inked
out the passage in her diary about "the love the poets dreamed
She was really very unhappy about it for a long while. Had she no
depth at all? Was she such a superficial creature that even love with
her was like the seeds that fell into the shallow soil in the
immortal parable? She knew other girls had these silly, tempestuous,
ephemeral affairs but she would never have supposed she would have
one--could have one. To be swept off her feet like that by a
handsome face and mellifluous voice and great dark eyes and a trick
of pretty speeches! In brief Emily felt that she had made an absolute
fool of herself and the Murray pride could not stick it.
To make it worse the young man married a Shrewsbury girl in six
months. Not that Emily cared whom he married or how soon. But it
meant that his romantic ardours were but things of
superficiality, too, and lent a deeper tinge of humiliation to the
silly affair. Andrew had been so easily consoled also. Percy Miller
was not wasting in despair. Teddy had forgotten her. Was she really
incapable of inspiring a deep and lasting passion in a man? To be
sure, there was Dean. But even Dean could go away winter after winter
and leave her to be wooed and won by any chance-met suitor.
"Am I fundamentally superficial?" poor Emily demanded of herself
with terrible intensity
She took up her pen again with a secret gladness. But for a
considerable time the love-making in her stories was quite cynical
and misanthropic in its flavour.
Teddy Kent and Ilse Burnley came home in the summer for a brief
vacation. Teddy had won an Art Scholarship which meant two years in
Paris and was to sail for Europe in two weeks. He had written the
news to Emily in an off-hand way and she had responded with the
congratulations of a friend and sister. There was no reference in
either letter to rainbow gold or Vega of the Lyre. Yet Emily looked
forward to his coming with a wistful, ashamed hope that would not be
denied. Perhaps--dared she hope it?--when they met again face to
face, in their old haunted woods and trysts--this coldness that had
grown up so inexplicably between them would vanish as a sea-fog
vanishes when the sun rose over the gulf. No doubt Teddy had had his
imitation love affairs as she had hers. But when he came--when they
looked again into each other's eyes--when she heard his signal
whistle in Lofty John's bush--
But she never heard it. On the evening of the day when she knew
Teddy was expected home she walked in the garden among brocaded
moths, wearing a new gown of "powder-blue" chiffon and listened for
it. Every robin call brought the blood to her cheek and made her
heart beat wildly. Then came Aunt Laura through the dew and dusk.
"Teddy and Ilse are here," she said.
Emily went in to the stately, stiff, dignified parlour of New
Moon, pale, queenly, aloof. Ilse hurled herself upon her with all her
old, tempestuous affection, but Teddy shook hands with a cool
detachment that almost equalled her own. Teddy? Oh, dear, no.
Frederick Kent, R.A.-to-be. What was there left of the old Teddy in
this slim, elegant young man with his sophisticated air and cool,
impersonal eyes, and general implication of having put off for ever
all childish things--including foolish old visions and insignificant
little country girls he had played with in his infancy?
In which conclusion Emily was horribly unjust to Teddy. But she
was not in a mood to be just to anybody. Nobody is who has made a
fool of herself. And Emily felt that that was just what she had
done--again. Mooning romantically about in a twilight garden,
specially wearing powder-blue, waiting for a lover's signal from a
beau who had forgotten all about her--or only remembered her as an
old schoolmate on whom he had very properly and kindly and
conscientiously come to call. Well, thank heaven, Teddy did not know
how absurd she had been. She would take excellent care that he should
never suspect it. Who could be more friendly and remote than a Murray
of New Moon? Emily's manner, she flattered herself, was admirable. As
gracious and impersonal as to an entire stranger. Renewed
congratulations on his wonderful success, coupled with an absolute
lack of all real interest in it. Carefully phrased, polite questions
about his work on her side; carefully phrased polite questions
about her work on his side. She had seen some of his
pictures in the magazines. He had read some of her stories. So
it went, with a wider gulf opening between them at every moment.
Never had Emily felt herself so far away from Teddy. She recognized
with a feeling that was almost terror how completely he had changed
in those two years of absence. It would in truth have been a ghastly
interview had it not been for Ilse, who chattered with all her old
breeziness and tang, planning out a two weeks of gay doings while she
was home, asking hundreds of questions; the same lovable old madcap
of laughter and jest and dressed with all her old gorgeous violations
of accepted canons of taste. In an extraordinary dress--a thing of
greenish-yellow. She had a big pink peony at her waist and another at
her shoulder. She wore a bright green hat with a wreath of pink
flowers on it. Great hoops of pearl swung in her ears. It was a weird
costume. No one but Ilse could have worn it successfully. And she
looked like the incarnation of a thousand tropic springs in
it--exotic, provocative, beautiful. So beautiful! Emily realized her
friend's beauty afresh with a pang not of envy, but of bitter
humiliation. Beside Ilse's golden sheen of hair and brilliance of
amber eyes and red-rose loveliness of cheeks she must look pale and
dark and insignificant. Of course Teddy was in love with Ilse. He had
gone to see her first--had been with her while Emily waited for him
in the garden. Well, it made no real difference. Why should it? She
would be just as friendly as ever. And was. Friendly with a
vengeance. But when Teddy and Ilse had gone--together--laughing and
teasing each other through the old To-morrow Road Emily went up to
her room and locked the door. Nobody saw her again until the next
The gay two weeks of Ilse's planning followed. Picnics, dances and
jamborees galore. Shrewsbury society decided that a rising young
artist was somebody to be taken notice of and took notice
accordingly. It was a veritable whirl of gaiety and Emily whirled
about in it with the others. No step lighter in the dance, no voice
quicker in the jest, and all the time feeling like the miserable
spirit in a ghost story she had once read who had a live coal in its
breast instead of a heart. All the time, feeling, too, far down under
surface pride and hidden pain, that sense of completion and
fulfilment which always came to her when Teddy was near her. But she
took good care never to be alone with Teddy, who certainly could not
be accused of any attempt to inveigle her into twosomes. His name was
freely coupled with Ilse's and they took so composedly the teasing
they encountered, that the impression gained ground that "things were
pretty well understood between them." Emily thought Ilse might have
told her if it were so. But Ilse, though she told many a tale of
lovers forlorn whose agonies seemed to lie very lightly on her
conscience, never mentioned Teddy's name, which Emily thought had a
torturing significance of its own. She inquired after Perry Miller,
wanting to know if he were as big an oaf as ever and laughing over
Emily's indignant defence.
"He will be Premier some day no doubt," agreed Ilse scornfully.
"He'll work like the devil and never miss anything by lack of asking
for it, but won't you always smell the herring-barrels of Stovepipe
Perry came to see Ilse, bragged a bit too much over his progress
and got so snubbed and manhandled that he did not come again.
Altogether the two weeks seemed a nightmare to Emily, who thought she
was unreservedly thankful when the time came for Teddy to go. He was
going on a sailing vessel to Halifax, wanting to make some nautical
sketches for a magazine, and an hour before flood-tide, while the
Mira Lee swung at anchor by the wharf at Stovepipe Town, he
came to say good-bye. He did not bring Ilse with him--no doubt,
thought Emily, because Ilse was visiting in Charlottetown; but Dean
Priest was there, so there was no dreaded solitude a deux.
Dean was creeping back into his own, after the two weeks' junketings
from which he had been barred out. Dean would not go to dances and
clam-bakes, but he was always hovering in the background, as
everybody concerned felt. He stood with Emily in the garden and there
was a certain air of victory and possession about him that did not
escape Teddy's eye. Dean, who never made the mistake of thinking
gaiety was happiness, had seen more than others of the little drama
that had been played out in Blair Water during those two weeks and
the dropping of the curtain left him a satisfied man. The old,
shadowy, childish affair between Teddy Kent of the Tansy Patch and
Emily of New Moon, was finally ended. Whatever its significance or
lack of significance had been, Dean no longer counted Teddy among his
Emily and Teddy parted with the hearty handshake and mutual good
wishes of old schoolmates who do indeed wish each other well but have
no very vital interest in the matter.
"Prosper and be hanged to you," as some old Murray had been wont
Teddy got himself away very gracefully. He had the gift of making
an artistic exit, but he did not once look back. Emily turned
immediately to Dean and resumed the discussion which Teddy's coming
had interrupted. Her lashes hid her eyes very securely. Dean, with
his uncanny ability to read her thoughts, should not--must not
guess--what? What was there to guess? Nothing--absolutely nothing.
Yet Emily kept her lashes down.
When Dean, who had some other engagement that evening, went away
half an hour later she paced sedately up and down among the gold of
primroses for a little while, the very incarnation, in all seeming,
of maiden meditation fancy free.
"Spinning out a plot, no doubt," thought Cousin Jimmy proudly, as
he glimpsed her from the kitchen window. "It beats me how she does
Perhaps Emily was spinning out a plot. But as the shadows deepened
she slipped out of the garden, through the dreamy peace of the old
columbine orchard--along the Yesterday Road--over the green pasture
field--past the Blair Water--up the hill beyond--past the
Disappointed House--through the thick fir wood. There, in a clump of
silver birches, one had an unbroken view of the harbour, flaming in
lilac and rose-colour. Emily reached it a little breathlessly--she
had almost run at the last. Would she be to late? Oh, what if she
should be too late?
The Mira Lee was sailing out of the harbour, a dream vessel
in the glamour of sunset, past purple headlands and distant,
fairylike, misty coasts. Emily stood and watched her till she had
crossed the bar into the gulf beyond. Stood and watched her until she
had faded from sight in the blue dimness of the falling night,
conscious only of a terrible hunger to see Teddy once more--just once
more. To say good-bye as it should have been said.
Teddy was gone. To another world. There was no rainbow in sight.
And what was Vega of the Lyre but a whirling, flaming, incredibly
She slipped down among the grasses at her feet and lay there
sobbing in the cold moonshine that had suddenly taken the place of
the friendly twilight.
Mingled with her sharp agony was incredulity. This thing could not
have happened. Teddy could no have gone away with only that soulless,
chilly, polite good-bye. After all their years of comradeship, if
nothing else. Oh, how would she ever get herself past three o'clock
"I am a hopeless fool," she whispered savagely. "He has forgotten.
I am nothing to him. And I deserve it. Didn't I forget him in those
crazy weeks when I was imagining myself in love with Aylmer Vincent?
Of course somebody has told him all about that. I've lost my chance
of real happiness through that absurd affair. Where is my pride? To
cry like this over a man who has forgotten me. But--but--it's so nice
to cry after having had to laugh for these hideous weeks."
Emily flung herself into work feverishly after Teddy had gone.
Through long summer days and nights she wrote, while the purple
stains deepened under her eyes and the rose stains faded out of her
cheeks. Aunt Elizabeth thought she was killing herself and for the
first time was reconciled to her intimacy with Jarback Priest, since
he dragged Emily away from her desk in the evenings at least for
walks and talks in the fresh air. That summer Emily paid off the last
of her indebtedness to Uncle Wallace and Aunt Ruth with her
But there was more than pot-boiling a-doing. In her first anguish
of loneliness, as she lay awake at three o'clock, Emily had
remembered a certain wild winter night when she and Ilse and Perry
and Teddy had been "stormed in" in the old John House on the Derry
Pond Road;* remembered all the scandal and suffering that had arisen
there-from; and remembered also that night of rapt delight "thinking
out" a story that had flashed into her mind at a certain gay,
significant speech of Teddy's. At least, she had thought it
significant then. Well, that was all over. But wasn't the
story somewhere? She had written the outline of that alluring,
fanciful tale in a Jimmy-book the next day. Emily sprang out of bed
in the still summer moonlight, lighted one of the famous candles of
New Moon, and rummaged through a pile of old Jimmy-books. Yes, here
it was. A Seller of Dreams. Emily squatted down on her
haunches and read it through. It was good. Again it seized
hold of her imagination and called forth all her creative impulse.
She would write it out--she would begin that very moment. Flinging a
dressing-gown over her white shoulders to protect them from the keen
gulf air she sat down before her open window and began to write.
Everything else was forgotten--for a time at least--in the subtle,
all-embracing joy of creation.
* See Emily Climbs.
Teddy was nothing but a dim memory--love was a blown-out candle.
Nothing mattered but her story. The characters came to life under her
hand and swarmed through her consciousness, vivid, alluring,
compelling. Wit, tears, and laughter trickled from her pen. She lived
and breathed in another world and came back to New Moon only at dawn
to find her lamp burned out, and her table littered with
manuscript--the first four chapters of her book. Her book! What magic
and delight and awe and incredulity in the thought.
For weeks Emily seemed to live really only when she was writing
it. Dean found her strangely rapt and remote, absent and impersonal.
Her conversation was as dull as it was possible for Emily's
conversation to be, and while her body sat or walked beside him her
soul was--where? In some region where he could not follow, at all
events. It had escaped him.
Emily finished her book in six weeks--finished it at dawn one
morning. She flung down her pen and went to her window, lifting her
pale, weary, triumphant little face to the skies of morning.
Music was dripping through the leafy silence in Lofty John's bush.
Beyond were dawn-rosy meadows and the garden of New Moon living in an
enchanted calm. The wind's dance over the hills seemed some dear
response to the music and rhythm in her being. Hills, sea, shadows,
all called to her with a thousand elfin voices of understanding and
acclaim. The old gulf was singing. Exquisite tears were in her eyes.
She had written it--oh, how happy she was! This moment atoned for
Finished--complete! There it lay--A Seller of Dreams--her
first book. Not a great book--oh, no, but hers--her very own.
Something to which she had given birth, which would never have
existed had she not brought it into being. And it was good.
She knew it was--felt it was. A fiery, delicate tale, instinct with
romance, pathos, humour. The rapture of creation still illuminated
it. She turned the pages over, reading a bit here and
there--wondering if she could really have written that. She
was right under the rainbow's end. Could she not touch the magic,
prismatic thing? Already her fingers were clasping the pot of
Aunt Elizabeth walked in with her usual calm disregard of any
useless formality such as knocking.
"Emily," she said severely, "have you been sitting up all night
Emily came back to earth with that abominable mental jolt which
can only be truly described as a thud--a "sickening thud" at that.
Very sickening. She stood like a convicted schoolgirl. And A
Seller of Dreams became instantly a mere heap of scribbled
"I--I didn't realize how time was passing, Aunt Elizabeth," she
"You are old enough to have better sense," said Aunt Elizabeth. "I
don't mind your writing--now. You seem to be able to earn a living by
it in a very ladylike way. But you will wreck your health if you keep
this sort of thing up. Have you forgotten that your mother died of
consumption? At any rate, don't forget that you must pick those beans
to-day. It's high time they were picked."
Emily gathered up her manuscript with all her careless rapture
gone. Creation was over; remained now the sordid business of getting
her book published. Emily typewrote it on the little third-hand
machine Perry had picked up for her at an auction sale--a machine
that wrote only half of any capital letter and wouldn't print the
"m's" at all. She put the capitals and the "m's" in afterwards with a
pen and sent the MS. away to a publishing firm. The publishing firm
sent it back with a typewritten screed stating that "their readers
had found some merit in the story but not enough to warrant an
This "damning with faint praise" flattened Emily out as not even a
printed slip could have done. Talk about three o'clock that night!
No, it is an act of mercy not to talk about it--or about many
successive three o'clocks.
"Ambition!" wrote Emily bitterly in her diary. "I could laugh!
Where is my ambition now? What is it like to be ambitious? To feel
that life is before you, a fair, unwritten white page where you may
inscribe your name in letters of success? To feel that you have the
wish and power to win your crown? To feel that the coming years are
crowding to meet you and lay their largess at your feet? I
once knew what it was to feel so."
All of which goes to show how very young Emily still was. But
agony is none the less real because in later years when we have
learned that everything passes, we wonder what we agonized about. She
had a bad three weeks of it. Then she recovered enough to send her
story out again. This time the publisher wrote to her that he might
consider the book if she would make certain changes in it. It was too
"quiet." She must "pep it up." And the ending must be changed
entirely. It would never do.
Emily tore his letter savagely into bits. Mutilate and degrade her
story? Never! The very suggestion was an insult.
When a third publisher sent it back with a printed slip Emily's
belief in it died. She tucked it away and took up her pen grimly.
"Well, I can write short stories at least. I must continue to do
Nevertheless, the book haunted her. After a few weeks she took it
out and reread it--coolly, critically, free alike from the delusive
glamour of her first rapture and from the equally delusive depression
of rejection slips. And still it seemed to her good. Not quite the
wonder-tale she had fancied it, perhaps; but still a good piece of
work. What then? No writer, so she had been told, was ever capable of
judging his own work correctly. If only Mr. Carpenter were alive! He
would tell her the truth. Emily made a sudden terrible resolution.
She would show it to Dean. She would ask for his calm unprejudiced
opinion and abide by it. It would be hard. It was always hard to show
her stories to any one, most of all to Dean, who knew so much and had
read everything in the world. But she must know. And she knew
Dean would tell her the truth, good or bad. He thought nothing of her
stories. But this was different. Would he not see something
worth while in this? If not--
"Dean, I want your candid opinion about this story. Will you read
it carefully, and tell me exactly what you think of it? I don't want
flattery--or false encouragement--I want the truth--the naked
"Are you so sure of that?" asked Dean dryly. "Very few people can
endure seeing the naked truth. It has to have a rag or two to make it
"I do want the truth," said Emily stubbornly. "This book
has been"--she choked a little over the confession, "refused three
times. If you find any good in it I'll keep on trying to find a
publisher for it. If you condemn it I'll burn it."
Dean looked inscrutably at the little packet she held out to him.
So this was what had wrapped her away from him all
summer--absorbed her--possessed her. The one black drop in his
veins--that Priest jealousy of being first--suddenly made its poison
He looked into her cold, sweet face and starry eyes, grey-purple
as a lake at dawn, and hated whatever was in the packet, but he
carried it home and brought it back three nights later. Emily met him
in the garden, pale and tense.
"Well," she said.
Dean looked at her, guilty. How ivory white and exquisite she was
in the chill dusk!
"'Faithful are the wounds of a friend.' I should be less than your
friend if I told you falsehoods about this, Emily."
"So--it's no good."
"It's a pretty little story, Emily. Pretty and flimsy and
ephemeral as a rose-tinted cloud. Cobwebs--only cobwebs. The whole
conception is too far-fetched. Fairy tales are out of the fashion.
And this one of yours makes overmuch of a demand on the credulity of
the reader. And your characters are only puppets. How could you write
a real story? You've never lived."
Emily clenched her hands and bit her lips. She dared not trust her
voice to say a single word. She had not felt like this since the
night Ellen Greene had told her her father must die. Her heart, that
had beaten so tumultuously a few minutes ago, was like lead, heavy
and cold. She turned and walked away from him. He limped softly after
her and touched her shoulder.
"Forgive me, Star. Isn't it better to know the truth? Stop
reaching for the moon. You'll never get it. Why try to write, anyway?
Everything has already been written."
"Some day," said Emily, compelling herself to speak steadily, "I
may be able to thank you for this. To-night I hate you."
"Is that just?" asked Dean quietly.
"No, of course it isn't just," said Emily wildly. "Can you expect
me to be just when you've just killed me? Oh, I know I asked for
it--I know it's good for me. Horrible things always are good for you,
I suppose. After you've been killed a few times you don't mind it.
But the first time one does--squirm. Go away, Dean. Don't come back
for a week at least. The funeral will be over then."
"Don't you believe I know what this means to you, Star?" asked
"You can't--altogether. Oh, I know you're sympathetic. I don't
want sympathy. I only want time to bury myself decently."
Dean, knowing it would be better to go, went. Emily watched him
out of sight. Then she took up the little dog-eared, discredited
manuscript he had laid on the stone bench and went up to her room.
She looked it over by her window in the fading light. Sentence after
sentence leaped out at her--witty, poignant, beautiful. No, that was
only her fond, foolish, maternal delusion. There was nothing of that
sort in the book. Dean had said so. And her book people. How she
loved them. How real they seemed to her. It was terrible to think of
destroying them. But they were not real. Only "puppets."
Puppets would not mind being burned. She glanced up at the starlit
sky of the autumn night. Vega of the Lyre shone bluely down upon her.
Oh, life was an ugly, cruel, wasteful thing!
Emily crossed over to her little fireplace and laid A Seller of
Dreams in the grate. She struck a match, knelt down and held it
to a corner with a hand that did not tremble. The flame seized on the
loose sheets eagerly, murderously. Emily clasped her hands over her
heart and watched it with dilated eyes, remembering the time she had
burned her old "account book" rather than let Aunt Elizabeth see it.
In a few moments the manuscript was a mass of writhing fires--in a
few more seconds it was a heap of crinkled ashes, with here and there
an accusing ghost-word coming out whitely on a blackened fragment, as
if to reproach her.
Repentance seized upon her. Oh, why had she done it? Why had she
burned her book? Suppose it was no good. Still, it was hers. It was
wicked to have burned it. She had destroyed something incalculably
precious to her. What did the mothers of old feel when their children
had passed through the fire to Moloch--when the sacrificial impulse
and excitement had gone? Emily thought she knew.
Nothing of her book, her dear book that had seemed so wonderful to
her, but ashes--a little, pitiful heap of black ashes. Could it be
so? Where had gone all the wit and laughter and charm that had seemed
to glimmer in its pages--all the dear folks who had lived in
them--all the secret delight she had woven into them as moonlight is
woven among pines? Nothing left but ashes. Emily sprang up in such an
anguish of regret that she could not endure it. She must get
out--away--anywhere. Her little room, generally so dear and beloved
and cosy, seemed like a prison. Out--somewhere--into the cold, free
autumn night with its grey ghost-mists--away from walls and
boundaries--away from that little heap of dark flakes in the
grate--away from the reproachful ghosts of her murdered book folks.
She flung open the door of the room and rushed blindly to the
Aunt Laura never to the day of her death forgave herself for
leaving that mending-basket at the head of the stair. She had never
done such a thing in her life before. She had been carrying it up to
her room when Elizabeth called peremptorily from the kitchen asking
where something was. Laura set her basket down on the top step and
ran to get it. She was away only a moment. But that moment was enough
for predestination and Emily. The tear-blinded girl stumbled over the
basket and fell--headlong down the long steep staircase of New Moon.
There was a moment of fear--a moment of wonderment--she felt plunged
into deadly cold--she felt plunged into burning heat--she felt a
soaring upward--a falling into unseen depths--a fierce stab of agony
in her foot--then nothing more. When Laura and Elizabeth came running
in there was only a crumpled silken heap lying at the foot of the
stairs with balls and stockings all around it and Aunt Laura's
scissors bent and twisted under the foot they had so cruelly
From October to April Emily Starr lay in bed or on the
sitting-room lounge watching the interminable windy drift of clouds
over the long white hills or the passionless beauty of winter trees
around quiet fields of snow, and wondering if she would ever walk
again--or walk only as a pitiable cripple. There was some obscure
injury to her back upon which the doctors could not agree. One said
it was negligible and would right itself in time. Two others shook
their heads and were afraid. But all were agreed about the foot. The
scissors had made two cruel wounds--one by the ankle, one on the sole
of the foot. Blood-poisoning set in. For days Emily hovered between
life and death, then between the scarcely less terrible alternative
of death and amputation. Aunt Elizabeth prevented that. When all the
doctors agreed that it was the only way to save Emily's life she said
grimly that it was not the Lord's will, as understood by the Murrays,
that people's limbs should be cut off. Nor could she be removed from
this position. Laura's tears and Cousin Jimmy's pleadings and Dr.
Burnley's execrations and Dean Priest's agreements budged her not a
jot. Emily's foot should not be cut off. Nor was it. When she
recovered unmaimed Aunt Elizabeth was triumphant and Dr. Burnley
The danger of amputation was over, but the danger of lasting and
bad lameness remained. Emily faced that all winter.
"If I only knew one way or the other," she said to Dean.
"If I knew, I could make up my mind to bear it--perhaps. But
to lie here--wondering--wondering if I'll ever be well."
"You will be well," said Dean savagely.
Emily did not know what she would have done without Dean that
winter. He had given up his invariable winter trip and stayed in
Blair Water that he might be near her. He spent the days with her,
reading, talking, encouraging, sitting in the silence of perfect
companionship. When he was with her Emily felt that she might even be
able to face a lifetime of lameness. But in the long nights when
everything was blotted out by pain she could not face it. Even when
there was no pain her nights were often sleepless and very terrible
when the wind wailed drearily about the old New Moon eaves or chased
flying phantoms of snow over the hills. When she slept she dreamed,
and in her dreams she was for ever climbing stairs and could never
get to the top of them, lured upward by an odd little whistle--two
higher notes and a low one--that ever retreated as she climbed. It
was better to lie awake than have that terrible, recurrent dream. Oh,
those bitter nights! Once Emily had not thought that the Bible verse
declaring that there would be no night in heaven contained an
attractive promise. No night? No soft twilight enkindled with stars?
No white sacrament of moonlight? No mystery of velvet shadow and
darkness? No ever-amazing miracle of dawn? Night was as beautiful as
day and heaven would not be perfect without it.
But now in these dreary weeks of pain and dread she shared the
hope of the Patmian seer. Night was a dreadful thing.
People said Emily Starr was very brave and patient and
uncomplaining. But she did not seem so to herself. They did not know
of the agonies of rebellion and despair and cowardice behind her
outward calmness of Murray pride and reserve. Even Dean did not
know--though perhaps he suspected.
She smiled gallantly when smiling was indicated, but she never
laughed. Not even Dean could make her laugh, though he tried with all
the powers of wit and humour at his command.
"My days of laughter are done," Emily said to herself. And her
days of creation as well. She could never write again. The "flash"
never came. No rainbow spanned the gloom of that terrible winter.
People came to see her continuously. She wished they would stay away.
Especially Uncle Wallace and Aunt Ruth, who were sure she would never
walk again and said so every time they came. Yet they were not so bad
as the callers who were cheerfully certain she would be all right in
time and did not believe a word of it themselves. She had never had
any intimate friends except Dean and Ilse and Teddy. Ilse wrote
weekly letters in which she rather too obviously tried to cheer Emily
up. Teddy wrote once when he heard of her accident. The letter was
very kind and tactful and sincerely sympathetic. Emily thought it was
the letter any indifferent friendly acquaintance might have written
and she did not answer it though he had asked her to let him know how
she was getting on. No more letters came. There was nobody but Dean.
He had never failed her--never would fail her. More and more as the
interminable days of storm and gloom passed she turned to him. In
that winter of pain she seemed to herself to grow so old and wise
that they met on equal ground at last. Without him life was a bleak,
grey desert devoid of colour or music. When he came the desert
would--for a time at least--blossom like the rose of joy and a
thousand flowerets of fancy and hope and illusion would fling their
garlands over it.
When spring came Emily got well--got well so suddenly and quickly
that even the most optimistic of the three doctors was amazed. True,
for a few weeks she had to limp about on a crutch, but the time came
when she could do without it--could walk alone in the garden and look
out on the beautiful world with eyes that could not be satisfied with
seeing. Oh, how good life was again! How good the green sod felt
beneath her feet! She had left pain and fear behind her like a
cast-off garment and felt gladness--no, not gladness exactly, but the
possibility of being glad once more sometime.
It was worth while to have been ill to realize the savour of
returning health and well-being on a morning like this, when a
sea-wind was blowing up over the long, green fields. There was
nothing on earth like a sea-wind. Life might, in some ways, be a
thing of shreds and tatters, everything might be changed or gone; but
pansies and sunset clouds were still fair. She felt again her old joy
in mere existence.
"'Truly the light is sweet and a pleasant thing it is for the eye
to behold the sun,'" she quoted dreamily.
Old laughter came back. On the first day that Emily's laughter was
heard again in New Moon Laura Murray, whose hair had turned from ash
to snow that winter, went to her room and knelt down by her bed to
thank God. And while she knelt there Emily was talking about God to
Dean in the garden on one of the most beautiful spring twilights
imaginable, with a little, growing moon in the midst of it.
"There have been times this past winter when I felt God hated me.
But now again I feel sure He loves me," she said softly.
"So sure?" questioned Dean dryly. "I think God is
interested in us but He doesn't love us. He likes to watch us to see
what we'll do. Perhaps it amuses Him to see us squirm."
"What a horrible conception of God!" said Emily with a shudder.
"You don't really believe that about Him, Dean."
"Because He would be worse than a devil then--a God who thought
only about his own amusement, without even the devil's justification
of hating us."
"Who tortured you all winter with bodily pain and mental anguish?"
"Not God. And He--sent me you," said Emily steadily. She
did not look at him; she lifted her face to the Three Princesses in
their Maytime beauty--a white-rose face now, pale from its winter's
pain. Beside her the big spirea, which was the pride of Cousin
Jimmy's heart, banked up in its June-time snow, making a beautiful
background for her. "Dean, how can I ever thank you for what you've
done for me--been to me--since last October? I can never put it in
words. But I want you to know how I feel about it."
"I've done nothing except snatch at happiness. Do you know what
happiness it was to me to do something for you Star--help you in some
way--to see you turning to me in your pain for something that only I
could give--something I had learned in my own years of loneliness?
And to let myself dream something that couldn't come true--that I
knew ought not to come true--"
Emily trembled and shivered slightly. Yet why hesitate--why put
off that which she had fully made up her mind to do?
"Are you so sure, Dean," she said in a low tone, "that your
dream--can't come true?"
There was a tremendous sensation in the Murray clan when Emily
announced that she was going to marry Dean Priest. At New Moon the
situation was very tense for a time. Aunt Laura cried and Cousin
Jimmy went about shaking his head and Aunt Elizabeth was exceedingly
grim. Yet in the end they made up their minds to accept it. What else
could they do? By this time even Aunt Elizabeth realized that when
Emily said she was going to do a thing she would do it
"You would have made a worse fuss if I had told you I was going to
marry Perry of Stovepipe Town," said Emily when she had heard all
Aunt Elizabeth had to say.
"Of course that is true enough," admitted Aunt Elizabeth when
Emily had gone out. "And, after all, Dean is well-off--and the
Priests are a good family."
"But so--so Priesty," sighed Laura. "And Dean is far, far
too old for Emily. Besides, his great-great-grandfather went
"Dean won't go insane."
"His children might."
"Laura," said Elizabeth rebukingly, and dropped the subject.
"Are you very sure you love him, Emily?" Aunt Laura asked that
"Yes--in a way," said Emily.
Aunt Laura threw out her hands and spoke with a sudden passion
utterly foreign to her.
"But there's only one way of loving."
"Oh no, dearest of Victorian aunties," answered Emily gaily.
"There are a dozen different ways. You know I've tried one or
two ways already. And they failed me. Don't worry about Dean and me.
We understand each other perfectly."
"I only want you to be happy, dear."
"And I will be happy--I am happy. I'm not a romantic little
dreamer any longer. Last winter took that all out of me. I'm going to
marry a man whose companionship satisfies me absolutely and he's
quite satisfied with what I can give him--real affection and
comradeship. I am sure that is the best foundation for a happy
marriage. Besides, Dean needs me. I can make him happy. He has
never been happy. Oh, it is delightful to feel that you hold
happiness in your hand and can hold it out, like a pearl beyond
price, to one who longs for it."
"You're too young," reiterated Aunt Laura.
"It's only my body that's young. My soul is a hundred years old.
Last winter made me feel so old and wise. You know."
"Yes, I know." But Laura also knew that this very feeling old and
wise merely proved Emily's youth. People who are old and wise
never feel either. And all this talk of aged souls didn't do away
with the fact that Emily, slim, radiant, with eyes of mystery, was
not yet twenty, while Dean Priest was forty-two. In fifteen
years--but Laura would not think of it.
And, after all, Dean would not take her away. There had
been happy marriages with just as much disparity of age.
Nobody, it must be admitted, seemed to regard the match with
favour. Emily had a rather abominable time of it for a few weeks. Dr.
Burnley raged about the affair and insulted Dean. Aunt Ruth came over
and made a scene.
"He's an infidel, Emily."
"He isn't!" said Emily indignantly.
"Well, he doesn't believe what we believe," declared Aunt
Ruth as if that ought to settle the matter for any true Murray.
Aunt Addie, who had never forgiven Emily for refusing her son,
even though Andrew was now happily and suitably, most
suitably, married, was very hard to bear. She contrived to make Emily
feel a most condescending pity. She had lost Andrew, so must console
herself with lame Jarback Priest. Of course Aunt Addie did not put it
in so many blunt words but she might as well have. Emily understood
her implications perfectly.
"Of course, he's richer than a young man could be,"
conceded Aunt Addie.
"And interesting," said Emily. "Most young men are such
bores. They haven't lived long enough to learn that they are not the
wonders to the world they are to their mothers."
So honours were about even there.
The Priests did not like it any too well either. Perhaps because
they did not care to see a rich uncle's possessions thus slipping
through the fingers of hope. They said Emily Starr was just marrying
Dean for his money, and the Murrays took care that she should hear
they had said it. Emily felt that the Priests were continually and
maliciously discussing her behind her back.
"I'll never feel at home in your clan," she told Dean
"Nobody will ask you to. You and I, Star, are going to live unto
ourselves. We are not going to walk or talk or think or breathe
according to any clan standard, be it Priest or Murray. If the
Priests disapprove of you as a wife for me the Murrays still more
emphatically disapprove of me as a husband for you. Never mind. Of
course the Priests find it hard to believe that you are marrying me
because you care anything for me. How could you? I find it hard to
But you do believe it, Dean? Truly I care more for you than
any one in the world. Of course--I told you--I don't love you like a
silly, romantic girl."
"Do you love any one else?" asked Dean quietly. It was the first
time he had ventured to ask the question.
"No. Of course--you know--I've had one or two broken-backed love
affairs--silly schoolgirl fancies. That is all years behind me. Last
winter seems like a lifetime--dividing me by centuries from those old
follies. I'm all yours, Dean."
Dean lifted the hand he held and kissed it. He had never yet
touched her lips.
"I can make you happy, Star. I know it. Old--lame as I am, I can
make you happy. I've been waiting for you all my life, my star.
That's what you've always seemed to me, Emily. An exquisite,
unreachable star. Now I have you--hold you--wear you on my heart. And
you will love me yet--some day you will give me more than
The passion in his voice startled Emily a little. It seemed in
some way to demand more of her than she had to give. And Ilse, who
had graduated from the School of Oratory and had come home for a week
before going on a summer concert tour, struck another note of warning
that disturbed faintly for a time.
"In some ways, honey, Dean is just the man for you. He's clever
and fascinating and not so horribly conscious of his own importance
as most of the Priests. But you'll belong to him body and soul. Dean
can't bear any one to have any interest outside of him. He must
possess exclusively. If you don't mind that--"
"I don't think I do."
"Oh, I'm done with that. I seem to have no interest in it
since my illness. I saw--then--how little it really mattered--how
many more important things there were--"
"As long as you feel like that you'll be happy with Dean.
Heigh-ho." Ilse sighed and pulled the blood-red rose that was pinned
to her waist to pieces. "It makes me feel fearfully old and wise to
be talking like this of your getting married, Emily. It seems
so--absurd in some ways. Yesterday we were schoolgirls. To-day you're
engaged. To-morrow--you'll be a grandmother."
"Aren't you--isn't there anybody in your own life, Ilse?"
"Listen to the fox that lost her tail. No, thank you. Besides--one
might as well be frank. I feel an awful mood of honest confession on
me. There's never been anybody for me but Perry Miller. And you've
got your claws in him."
Perry Miller. Emily could not believe her ears.
"Ilse Burnley! You've always laughed at him--raged at him--"
"Of course I did. I liked him so much that it made me furious to
see him making a fool of himself. I wanted to be proud of him and he
always made me ashamed of him. Oh, there were times when he made me
mad enough to bite the leg off a chair. If I hadn't cared, do you
suppose it would have mattered what kind of a donkey he was? I can't
get over it--the 'Burnley sotness,' I suppose. We never change. Oh,
I'd have jumped at him--would yet--herring-barrels, Stovepipe Town
and all. There you have it. But never mind. Life is very decent
"Don't dream it. Emily, I won't have you setting about making
matches for me. Perry never gave me two thoughts--never will. I'm not
going to think of him. What's that old verse we laughed over once
that last year in high school--thinking it was all nonsense?
Since ever the world was spinning
And till the world shall end
You've your man in the beginning
Or you have him in the end,
But to have him from start to finish
And neither to borrow nor lend
Is what all of the girls are wanting
And none of the gods can send.
"Well, next year I'll graduate. For years after that a career. Oh,
I dare say I'll marry some day."
"Teddy?" said Emily, before she could prevent herself. She could
have bitten her tongue off the moment the word escaped it.
Ilse gave her a long, keen look, which Emily parried successfully
with all the Murray pride--too successfully, perhaps.
"No, not Teddy. Teddy never thought about me. I doubt if he thinks
of any one but himself. Teddy's a duck but he's selfish, Emily, he
"No, no," indignantly. She could not listen to this.
"Well, we won't quarrel over it. What difference does it make if
he is? He's gone out of our lives anyway. The cat can have him. He's
going to climb to the top--they thought him a wow in Montreal. He'll
make a wonderful portrait painter--if he can only cure himself of his
old trick of putting you into all the faces he paints."
"Nonsense. He doesn't--"
"He does. I've raged at him about it times without number.
Of course he denies it. I really think he's quite unconscious of it
himself. It's the hang-over from some old unconscious emotion, I
suppose--to use the jargon of modern psychologists. Never mind. As I
said, I mean to marry sometime. When I'm tired of a career. It's very
jolly now--but some day. I'll make a sensible wedding o't,
just as you're doing, with a heart of gold and a pocket of silver.
Isn't it funny to be talking of marrying some man you've never even
seen? What is he doing at this very moment?
Shaving--swearing--breaking his heart over some other girl? Still,
he's to marry me. Oh, we'll be happy enough, too. And we'll
visit each other, you and I--and compare our children--call your
first girl Ilse, won't you, friend of my heart--and--and what a
devilish thing it is to be a woman, isn't it, Emily?"
Old Kelly, the tin peddler, who had been Emily's friend of many
years, had to have his say about it, too. One could not suppress Old
"Gurrl dear, is it true that ye do be after going to marry Jarback
"Quite true." Emily knew it was of no use to expect Old Kelly to
call Dean anything but Jarback. But she always winced.
Old Kelly crabbed his face.
"Ye're too young at the business of living to be marrying any
one--laste of all a Praste."
"Haven't you been twitting me for years with my slowness in
getting a beau?" asked Emily shyly.
"Gurrl dear, a joke is a joke. But this is beyond joking. Don't be
pig-headed now, there's a jewel. Stop a bit and think it over. There
do be some knots mighty aisy to tie but the untying is a cat of a
different brade. I've always been warning ye against marrying a
Praste. 'Twas a foolish thing--I might av known it. I should 've
towld ye to marry one."
"Dean isn't like the other Priests, Mr. Kelly. I'm going to be
Old Kelly shook his bushy, reddish grey head incredulously.
"Then you'll be the first Praste woman that ever was, not aven
laving out the ould Lady at the Grange. But she liked a fight
every day. It'll be the death av you."
"Dean and I won't fight--at least not every day." Emily was having
some fun to herself. Old Kelly's gloomy predictions did not worry
her. She took rather an impish delight in egging him on.
"Not if ye give him his own way. He'll sulk if ye don't. All the
Prastes sulk if they don't get it. And he'll be that jealous--ye'll
never dare spake to another man. Oh, the Prastes rule their wives.
Old Aaron Praste made his wife go down on her knees whenever she had
a little favour to ask. Me feyther saw it wid his own eyes."
"Mr. Kelly, do you really suppose any man could make
me do that?"
Old Kelly's eyes twinkled in spite of himself.
"The Murray knee jints do be a bit stiff for that," he
acknowledged, "But there's other things. Do ye be after knowing that
his Uncle Jim never spoke when he could grunt and always said 'Ye
fool' to his wife when she conterdicted him."
"But perhaps she was a fool, Mr. Kelly."
"Mebbe. But was it polite? I lave it to ye. And his father threw
the dinner dishes at his wife whin she made him mad. 'Tis a fact, I'm
telling you. Though the old divil was amusing when he was
"That sort of thing always skips a generation," said Emily. "And
if not--I can dodge."
"Gurrl dear, there do be worse things than having a dish or two
flung at ye. Ye kin dodge them. But there's things ye can't
dodge. Tell me now, do ye know"--Old Kelly lowered his voice
ominously--"that 'tis said the Prastes do often get tired av bein'
married to the wan woman."
Emily was guilty of giving Mr. Kelly one of the smiles Aunt
Elizabeth had always disapproved of.
"Do you really think Dean will get tired of me? I'm not beautiful,
dear Mr. Kelly, but I am very interesting."
Old Kelly gathered up his lines with the air of a man who
surrenders at discretion.
"Well, gurrl dear, ye do be having a good mouth for kissing,
anyway. I see ye're set on it. But I do be thinking the Lord intended
ye for something different. Anyway, here's hoping we'll all make a
good end. But he knows too much, that Jarback Praste, he's after
knowing far too much."
Old Kelly drove off, waiting till he was decently out of earshot
"Don't it bate hell? And him as odd-looking as a cross-eyed
Emily stood still for a few minutes looking after Old Kelly's
retreating chariot. He had found the one joint in her armour and the
thrust had struck home. A little chill crept over her as if a wind
from the grave had blown across her spirit. All at once an old, old
story whispered long ago by Great-aunt Nancy to Caroline Priest
flashed into her recollection. Dean, so it was said, had seen the
Black Mass celebrated.
Emily shook the recollection from her. That was all
nonsense--silly, malicious, envious gossip of stay-at-homes. But Dean
did know too much. He had eyes that had seen too much. In a
way that had been part of the distinct fascination he had always had
for Emily. But now it frightened her. Had she not always felt--did
she not still feel--that he always seemed to be laughing at the world
from some mysterious standpoint of inner knowledge--a knowledge she
did not share--could not share--did not, to come down to the bare
bones of it, want to share? He had lost some intangible, all-real
zest of faith and idealism. It was there deep in her heart--an
inescapable conviction, thrust it out of sight as she might. For a
moment she felt with Ilse that it was a decidedly devilish thing to
be a woman.
"It serves me right for bandying words with Old Jock Kelly on such
a subject," she thought angrily.
Consent was never given in set terms to Emily's engagement. But
the thing came to be tacitly accepted. Dean was well-to-do. The
Priests had all the necessary traditions, including that of a
grandmother who had danced with the Prince of Wales at the famous
ball in Charlottetown. After all, there would be a certain relief in
seeing Emily safely married.
"He won't take her far away from us," said Aunt Laura, who could
have reconciled herself to almost anything for that. How could they
lose the one bright, gay thing in that faded house?
"Tell Emily," wrote old Aunt Nancy, "that twins run in the Priest
But Aunt Elizabeth did not tell her.
Dr. Burnley, who had made the most fuss, gave in when he heard
that Elizabeth Murray was overhauling the chests of quilts in the
attic of New Moon and that Laura was hemstitching table linen.
"Those whom Elizabeth Murray has joined together let no man put
asunder," he said resignedly.
Aunt Laura cupped Emily's face in her gentle hands and looked deep
into her eyes. "God bless you, Emily, dear child."
"Very mid-Victorian," commented Emily to Dean. "But I liked
On one point Aunt Elizabeth was adamant Emily should not be
married until she was twenty. Dean, who had dreamed of an autumn
wedding and a winter spent in a dreamy Japanese garden beyond the
western sea, gave in with a bad grace. Emily, too, would have
preferred an earlier bridal. In the back of her mind, where she would
not even glance at it, was the feeling that the sooner it was over
and made irrevocable, the better.
Yet she was happy, as she told herself very often and very
sincerely. Perhaps there were dark moments when a disquieting
thought stared her in the face--it was but a crippled, broken-winged
happiness--not the wild, free-flying happiness she had dreamed of.
But that, she reminded herself, was lost to her for ever.
One day Dean appeared before her with a flush of boyish excitement
on his face.
"Emily, I've been and gone and done something. Will you approve?
Oh, Lord, what will I do if you don't approve."
"What is it you've done?"
"I've bought me a house."
"A house! I, Dean Priest, am a landed proprietor--owning a house,
a garden and a spruce lot five acres in extent. I, who this morning
hadn't a square inch of earth to call my own. I, who all my life have
been hungry to own a bit of land."
"What house have you bought, Dean?"
"Fred Clifford's house--at least the house he has always owned by
a legal quibble. Really our house--appointed--foreordained for
us since the foundation of the world."
"The Disappointed House?"
"Oh, yes, that was your old name for it. But it isn't going to be
Disappointed any longer. That is--if--Emily, do you approve of
what I've done?"
"Approve? You're simply a darling, Dean. I've always loved that
house. It's one of those houses you love the minute you see them.
Some houses are like that, you know--full of magic. And others have
nothing at all of it in them. I've always longed to see that house
fulfilled. Oh--and somebody told me you were going to buy that big
horrible house at Shrewsbury. I was afraid to ask if it were
"Emily, take back those words. You knew it wasn't true. You knew
me better. Of course, all the Priests wanted me to buy that house. My
dear sister was almost in tears because I wouldn't. It was to be had
at a bargain--and it was such an elegant house."
"It is elegant--with all the word implies," agreed Emily.
"But it's an impossible house--not because of its size or its
elegance but just because of its impossibility."
"E-zackly. Any proper woman would feel the same. I'm so glad
you're pleased, Emily. I had to buy Fred's house yesterday in
Charlottetown--without waiting to consult you--another man was on the
point of buying it, so I wired Fred instantly. Of course, if you
hadn't liked it I'd have sold it again. But I felt you would.
We'll make such a home of it, dear. I want a home. I've had many
habitations but no homes. I'll have it finished and fixed up as
beautifully as possible for you, Star--my Star who is fit to shine in
the palaces of kings."
"Let's go right up and look at it," said Emily. "I want to tell it
what is coming to it. I want to tell it it is going to live at
"We'll go up and look at it and in it. I've got the key.
Got it from Fred's sister. Emily, I feel as if I'd reached up and
plucked the moon."
"Oh, I've picked a lapful of stars," cried Emily gaily.
They went up to the Disappointed House--through the old orchard
full of columbines and along the To-morrow Road, across a pasture
field, up a little slope of golden fern, and over an old meandering
fence with its longers bleached to a silvery grey, with clusters of
wild everlastings and blue asters in its corners, then up the little
winding, capricious path on the long fir hill, which was so narrow
they had to walk singly and where the air always seemed so full of
nice whispery sounds.
When they came to its end there was a sloping field before them,
dotted with little, pointed firs, windy, grassy, lovable. And on top
of it, surrounded by hill glamour and upland wizardry, with great
sunset clouds heaped up over it, the house--their house.
A house with the mystery of woods behind it and around it, except
on the south side where the land fell away in a long hill looking
down on the Blair Water, that was like a bowl of dull gold now, and
across it to meadows of starry rest beyond and the Derry Pond Hills
that were as blue and romantic as the famous Alsatian Mountains.
Between the house and the view, but not hiding it, was a row of
wonderful Lombardy poplars.
They climbed the hill to the gate of a little enclosed garden--a
garden far older than the house which had been built on the site of a
little log cabin of pioneer days.
"That's a view I can live with," said Dean exultingly. "Oh, 'tis a
dear place this. The hill is haunted by squirrels, Emily. And there
are rabbits about. Don't you love squirrels and rabbits? And there
are any number of shy violets hereabouts in spring, too. There is a
little mossy hollow behind those young firs that is full of violets
Sweeter than lids of Emily's eyes
Or Emily's breath.
Emily's a nicer name than Cytherea or Juno, I think. I want
you to notice especially that little gate over yonder. It isn't
really needed. It opens only into that froggy marsh beyond the wood.
But isn't it a gate? I love a gate like that--a reasonless gate. It's
full of promise. There may be something wonderful beyond. A
gate is always a mystery, anyhow--it lures--it is a symbol. And
listen to that bell ringing somewhere in the twilight across the
harbour. A bell in twilight always has a magic sound--as if it came
from somewhere 'far far in fairyland.' There are roses in that far
corner--old-fashioned roses like sweet old songs set to flowering.
Roses white enough to lie in your white bosom, my sweet, roses red
enough to star that soft dark cloud of your hair. Emily, do you know
I'm a little drunk to-night--on the wine of life. Don't wonder if I
say crazy things."
Emily was very happy. The old, sweet garden seemed to be talking
to her as a friend in the drowsy, winking light. She surrendered
herself utterly to the charm of the place. She looked at the
Disappointed House adoringly. Such a dear thoughtful little
house. Not an old house--she liked it for that--an old house knew too
much--was haunted by too many feet that had walked over its
threshold--too many anguished or impassioned eyes that had looked out
of its windows. This house was ignorant and innocent like herself.
Longing for happiness. It should have it. She and Dean would drive
out the ghosts of things that never happened. How sweet it would be
to have a home of her very own.
"That house wants us as badly as we want it," she said.
"I love you when your tones soften and mute like that, Star," said
Dean. "Don't ever talk so to any other man, Emily."
Emily threw him a glance of coquetry that very nearly made him
kiss her. He had never kissed her yet. Some subtle prescience always
told him she was not yet ready to be kissed. He might have dared it
there and then, in that hour of glamour that had transmuted
everything into terms of romance and charm--he might even have won
her wholly then. But he hesitated--and the magic moment passed. From
somewhere down the dim road behind the spruces came laughter.
Harmless, innocent laughter of children. But it broke some faintly
"Let us go in and see our house," said Dean. He led the way across
the wild-grown grasses to the door that opened into the living-room.
The key turned stiffly in the rusted lock. Dean took Emily's hand and
drew her in.
"Over your own threshold, sweet--"
He lifted his flashlight and threw a circle of shifting light
around the unfinished room, with its bare, staring, lathed walls, its
sealed windows, its gaping doorways, its empty fireplace--no, not
quite empty. Emily saw a little heap of white ashes in it--the ashes
of the fire she and Teddy had kindled years ago that adventurous
summer evening of childhood--the fire by which they had sat and
planned out their lives together. She turned to the door with a
"Dean, it looks too ghostly and forlorn. I think I'd rather
explore it by daylight. The ghosts of things that never happened are
worse than the ghosts of things that did."
It was Dean's suggestion that they spend the summer finishing and
furnishing their house--doing everything possible themselves and
fixing it up exactly as they wanted it.
"Then we can be married in the spring--spend the summer listening
to temple bells tinkling over eastern sands--watch Philae by
moonlight--hear the Nile moaning by Memphis--come back in the autumn,
turn the key of our own door--be at home."
Emily thought the programme delightful. Her aunts were dubious
about it--it didn't seem quite proper and respectable really--people
would talk terribly. And Aunt Laura was worried over some old
superstition that it wasn't lucky to furnish a house before a
wedding. Dean and Emily didn't care whether it was respectable and
lucky or not. They went ahead and did it.
Naturally they were overwhelmed with advice from every one in the
Priest and Murray clans--and took none of it. For one thing, they
wouldn't paint the Disappointed House--just shingled it and left the
shingles to turn woodsy grey, much to Aunt Elizabeth's horror.
"It's only Stovepipe Town houses that aren't painted," she
They replaced the old, unused, temporary board steps, left by the
carpenters thirty years before, with broad, red sandstones from the
shore. Dean had casement windows put in with diamond shaped panes
which Aunt Elizabeth warned Emily would be terrible things to keep
clean. And he added a dear little window over the front door with a
little roof over it like a shaggy eyebrow and in the living-room they
had a French window from which you could step right out into the fir
And Dean had jewels of closets and cupboards put in
"I'm not such a fool as to imagine that a girl can keep on loving
a man who doesn't provide her with proper cupboards," he
Aunt Elizabeth approved of the cupboards but thought they were
clean daft in regard to the wallpapers. Especially the living-room
paper. They should have had something cheerful there--flowers or gold
stripes; or even, as a vast concession to modernity, some of those
"landscape papers" that were coming in. But Emily insisted on
papering it with a shadowy grey paper with snowy pine branches over
it. Aunt Elizabeth declared she would as soon live in the woods as in
such a room. But Emily in this respect, as in all others concerning
her own dear house, was "as pig-headed as ever," so exasperated Aunt
Elizabeth averred, quite unconscious that a Murray was borrowing one
of Old Kelly's expressions.
But Aunt Elizabeth was really very good. She dug up, out of long
undisturbed boxes and chests, china and silver belonging to her
stepmother--the things Juliet Murray would have had if she had
married in orthodox fashion a husband approved of her clan--and gave
them to Emily. There were some lovely things among them--especially a
priceless pink lustre jug and a delightful old dinner-set of real
willow-ware--Emily's grandmother's own wedding-set. Not a piece was
missing. And it had shallow thin cups and deep saucers and scalloped
plates and round, fat, pobby tureens. Emily filled the built-in
cabinet in the living-room with it and gloated over it. There were
other things she loved too; a little gilt-framed oval mirror with a
black cat on top of it, a mirror that had so often reflected
beautiful women that it lent a certain charm to every face; and an
old clock with a pointed top and two tiny gilded spires on each side,
a clock that gave warning ten minutes before it struck, a gentlemanly
clock never taking people unawares. Dean wound it up but would not
"When we come home--when I bring you in here as bride and queen,
you shall start it going," he said.
It turned out, too, that the Chippendale sideboard and the
claw-footed mahogany table at New Moon were Emily's. And Dean had no
end of quaint delightful things picked up all over the world--a sofa
covered with striped silk that had been in the Salon of a Marquise of
the Old Regime, a lantern of wrought-iron lace from an old Venetian
palace to hang in the living-room, a Shiraz rug, a prayer-rug from
Damascus, brass andirons from Italy, jades and ivories from China,
lacquer bowls from Japan, a delightful little green owl in Japanese
china, a painted Chinese perfume-bottle of agate which he had found
in some weird place in Mongolia, with the perfume of the east--which
is never the perfume of the west--clinging to it, a Chinese teapot
with dreadful golden dragons coiling over it--five-clawed dragons
whereby the initiated knew that it was of the Imperial cabinets. It
was part of the loot of the Summer Palace in the Boxer Rebellion,
Dean told Emily, but he would not tell her how it had come into his
"Not yet. Some day. There's a story about almost everything I've
put in this house."
They had a great day putting the furniture in the living-room.
They tried it in a dozen different places and were not satisfied
until they had found the absolutely right one. Sometimes they could
not agree about it and then they would sit on the floor and argue it
out. And if they couldn't settle it they got Daffy to pull straws
with his teeth and decide it that way. Daffy was always around. Saucy
Sal had died of old age and Daffy was getting stiff and a bit cranky
and snored dreadfully when he was sleeping, but Emily adored him and
would not go to the Disappointed House without him. He always slipped
up the hill path beside her like a grey shadow dappled with dark.
"You love that old cat more than you do me, Emily," Dean once
said--jestingly yet with an undernote of earnest.
"I have to love him," defended Emily. "He's growing old.
You have all the years before us. And I must always have a cat
about. A house isn't a home without the ineffable contentment of a
cat with its tail folded about its feet. A cat gives mystery, charm,
suggestion. And you must have a dog."
"I've never cared to have a dog since Tweed died. But perhaps I'll
get one--an altogether different kind of a one. We'll need a dog to
keep your cats in order. Oh, isn't it nice to feel that a place
belongs to you?"
"It's far nicer to feel that you belong to a place," said Emily,
looking about her affectionately.
"Our house and we are going to be good friends," agreed Dean.
They hung their pictures one day. Emily brought her favourites up,
including the Lady Giovanna and Mona Lisa. These two were hung in the
corner between the windows.
"Where your writing-desk will be," said Dean. "And Mona Lisa will
whisper to you the ageless secret of her smile and you shall put it
in a story."
"I thought you didn't want me to write any more stories," said
Emily. "You've never seemed to like the fact of my writing."
"That was when I was afraid it would take you away from me. Now,
it doesn't matter. I want you to do just as pleases you."
Emily felt indifferent. She had never cared to take up her pen
since her illness. As the days passed she felt a growing distaste to
the thought of ever taking it up. To think of it meant to think of
the book she had burned; and that hurt beyond bearing. She had
ceased to listen for her "random word"--she was an exile from her old
"I'm going to hang old Elizabeth Bas by the fireplace," said Dean.
"'Engraving from a portrait by Rembrandt.' Isn't she a delightful old
woman, Star, in her white cap and tremendous white ruff collar? And
did you ever see such a shrewd, humorous, complacent, slightly
contemptuous old face?"
"I don't think I should want to have an argument with Elizabeth,"
reflected Emily. "One feels that she is keeping her hands folded
under compulsion and might box your ears if you disagreed with
"She has been dust for over a century," said Dean dreamily. "Yet
here she is living on this cheap reprint of Rembrandt's canvas. You
are expecting her to speak to you. And I feel, as you do, that she
wouldn't put up with any nonsense."
"But likely she has a sweetmeat stored away in some pocket of her
gown for you. That fine, rosy, wholesome old woman. She ruled
her family--not a doubt of it. Her husband did as she told him--but
never knew it."
"Had she a husband?" said Dean doubtfully. "There's no
wedding-ring on her finger."
"Then she must have been a most delightful old maid," averred
"What a difference between her smile and Mona Lisa's," said Dean,
looking from one to the other. "Elizabeth is tolerating things--with
just a hint of a sly, meditative cat about her. But Mona Lisa's face
has that everlasting lure and provocation that drives men mad and
writes scarlet pages on dim historical records. La Gioconda would be
a more stimulating sweetheart. But Elizabeth would be nicer for an
Dean hung a little old miniature of his mother up over the
mantelpiece. Emily had never seen it before. Dean Priest's mother had
been a beautiful woman.
"But why does she look so sad?"
"Because she was married to a Priest," said Dean.
"Will I look sad?" teased Emily.
"Not if it rests with me," said Dean.
But did it? Sometimes that question forced itself on Emily, but
she would not answer it. She was very happy two-thirds of that
summer--which she told herself was a high average. But in the other
third were hours of which she never spoke to any one--hours in which
her soul felt caught in a trap--hours when the great, green emerald
winking on her finger seemed like a fetter. And once she even took it
off just to feel free for a little while--a temporary escape for
which she was sorry and ashamed the next day, when she was quite sane
and normal again, contented with her lot and more interested than
ever in her little grey house, which meant so much to her--"more to
me than Dean does," she said to herself once in a three-o'clock
moment of stark, despairing honesty; and then refused to believe it
Old Great-aunt Nancy of Priest Pond died that summer, very
suddenly. "I'm tired of living. I think I'll stop," she said one
day--and stopped. None of the Murrays benefited by her will;
everything she had was left to Caroline Priest; but Emily got the
gazing-ball and the brass chessy-cat knocker and the gold
ear-rings--and the picture Teddy had done of her in water-colours
years ago. Emily put the chessy-cat on the front porch door of the
Disappointed House and hung the great silvery gazing-ball from the
Venetian lantern and wore the quaint old ear-rings to many rather
delightful pomps and vanities. But she put the picture away in a box
in the New Moon attic--a box that held certain sweet, old, foolish
letters full of dreams and plans.
They had glorious minutes of fun when they stopped to rest
occasionally. There was a robin's nest in the fir at the north corner
which they watched and protected from Daffy.
"Think of the music penned in this fragile, pale blue wall," said
Dean, touching an egg one day. "Not the music of the moon perhaps,
but an earthlier, homelier music, full of wholesome sweetness and the
joy of living. This egg will some day be a robin, Star, to whistle us
blithely home in the afterlight."
They made friends with an old rabbit that often came hopping out
of the woods into the garden. They had a game as to who could count
the most squirrels in the daytime and the most bats in the evening.
For they did not always go home as soon as it got too dark to work.
Sometimes they sat out on their sandstone steps listening to the
melancholy loveliness of night-wind on the sea and watching the
twilight creep up from the old valley and the shadows waver and
flicker under the fir-trees and the Blair Water turning to a great
grey pool tremulous with early stars. Daff sat beside them, watching
everything with his great moonlight eyes, and Emily pulled his ears
now and then.
"One understands a cat a little better now. At all other times he
is inscrutable, but in the time of dusk and dew we can catch a
glimpse of the tantalizing secret of his personality."
"One catches a glimpse of all kinds of secrets now," said Dean.
"On a night like this I always think of the 'hills where spices
grow.' That line of the old hymn Mother used to sing has always
intrigued me--though I can't 'fly like a youthful hart or roe.'
Emily, I can see that you are getting your mouth in the proper shape
to talk about the colour we'll paint the woodshed. Don't you do it.
No one should talk paint when she's expecting a moonrise. There'll be
a wonderful one presently--I've arranged for it. But if we
must talk of furniture let's plan for a few things we haven't
got yet and must have--a canoe for our boating trips along the
Milky Way, for instance--a loom for the weaving of dreams and a jar
of pixy-brew for festal hours. And can't we arrange to have the
spring of Ponce de Leon over in that corner? Or would you prefer a
fount of Castaly? As for your trousseau, have what you like in it but
there must be a gown of grey twilight with an evening star for
your hair. Also one trimmed with moonlight and a scarf of sunset
Oh, she liked Dean. How she liked him. If she could only
One evening she slipped up alone to see her little house by
moonlight. What a dear place it was. She saw herself there in the
future--flitting through the little rooms--laughing under the
firs--sitting hand in hand with Teddy at the fireplace--Emily came to
herself with a shock. With Dean, of course, with Dean. A mere trick
of the memory.
There came a September evening when everything was done--even to
the horseshoe over the door to keep the witches out--even to the
candles Emily had stuck all about the living-room--a little, jolly,
yellow candle--a full, red, pugnacious candle--a dreamy, pale blue
candle--a graceless candle with aces of hearts and diamonds all over
it--a slim, dandyish candle.
And the result was good. There was a sense of harmony in the
house. The things in it did not have to become acquainted but were
good friends from the very start. They did not shriek at each other.
There was not a noisy room in the house.
"There's absolutely nothing more we can do," sighed Emily. "We
can't even pretend there's anything more to do."
"I suppose not," agreed Dean regretfully. Then he looked at the
fireplace where kindlings and pinewood were laid.
"Yes, there is," he cried. "How could we have forgotten it? We've
got to see if the chimney will draw properly. I'm going to light that
Emily sat down on the settee in the corner and when the fire began
to burn Dean came and sat beside her. Daffy lay stretched out at
their feet, his little striped flanks moving peacefully up and
Up blazed the merry flames. They shimmered over the old
piano--they played irreverent hide-and-seek with Elizabeth Bas'
adorable old face--they danced on the glass doors of the cupboard
where the willow-ware dishes were; they darted through the kitchen
door and the row of brown and blue bowls Emily had ranged on the
dresser winked back at them.
"This is home," said Dean softly. "It's lovelier than I've ever
dreamed of its being. This is how we'll sit on autumn evenings all
our lives, shutting out the cold misty nights that come in from the
sea--just you and I alone with the firelight and the sweetness. But
sometimes we'll let a friend come in and share it--sip of our joy and
drink of our laughter. We'll just sit here and think about it
all--till the fire burns out."
The fire crackled and snapped. Daffy purred. The moon shone down
through the dance of the fir-boughs straight on them through the
windows. And Emily was thinking--could not help thinking--of the time
she and Teddy had sat there. The odd part was that she did not think
of him longingly or lovingly. She just thought of him. Would she, she
asked herself, in mingled exasperation and dread, find herself
thinking of Teddy when she was standing up to be married to Dean?
When the fire had died down into white ashes Dean got up.
"It was worth while to have lived long dreary years for this--and
to live them again, if need be, looking back to it," he said, holding
out his hand. He drew her nearer. What ghost came between the lips
that might have met? Emily turned away with a sigh.
"Our happy summer is over, Dean."
"Our first happy summer," corrected Dean. But his voice
suddenly sounded a little tired.
They locked the door of the Disappointed House one November
evening and Dean gave the key to Emily.
"Keep it till spring," he said, looking out over the quiet, cold,
grey fields across which a chilly wind was blowing. "We won't come
back here till then."
In the stormy winter that followed, the cross-lots path to the
little house was so heaped with drifts that Emily never went near it.
But she thought about it often and happily, waiting amid its snows
for spring and life and fulfilment. That winter was, on the whole, a
happy time. Dean did not go away and made himself so charming to the
older ladies of New Moon that they almost forgave him for being
Jarback Priest. To be sure, Aunt Elizabeth never could understand
more than half of his remarks and Aunt Laura put down to his debit
account the change in Emily. For she was changed. Cousin Jimmy and
Aunt Laura knew that, though no one else seemed to notice it. Often
there was an odd restlessness in her eyes. And something was missing
from her laughter. It was not so quick--so spontaneous as of old. She
was a woman before her time, thought Aunt Laura with a sigh. Was that
dreadful fall down the New Moon stairs the only cause? Was
Emily happy? Laura dared not ask. Did she love Dean Priest
whom she was going to marry in June? Laura did not know; but she
did know that love is something that cannot be generated by
any intellectual rule o' thumb. Also that a girl who is as happy as
an engaged girl should be does not spend so many hours when she
should be sleeping, pacing up and down her room. This was not to be
explained away on the ground that Emily was thinking out stories,
Emily had given up writing. In vain Miss Royal wrote pleading and
scolding letters from New York. In vain Cousin Jimmy slyly laid a new
Jimmy-book at intervals on her desk. In vain Laura timidly hinted
that it was a pity not to keep on when you had made such a good
start. Even Aunt Elizabeth's contemptuous assertion that she had
always known Emily would get tired of it--"the Starr fickleness, you
see"--failed to sting Emily back to her pen. She could not write--she
would never try to write again.
"I've paid my debts and I've enough in the bank to get what Dean
calls my wedding doo-dabs. And you've crocheted two filet spreads for
me," she told Aunt Laura a little wearily and bitterly. "So what does
"Was it--your fall that took away your--your ambition?" faltered
poor Aunt Laura, voicing what had been her haunting dread all
Emily smiled and kissed her.
"No, darling. That had nothing to do with it. Why worry over a
simple, natural thing? Here I am, going to be married, with a
prospective house and husband to think about. Doesn't that explain
why I've ceased to care about--other things?"
It should have, but that evening Emily went out of the house after
sunset. Her soul was pining for freedom and she went out to slip its
leash for a little while. It had been an April day, warm in the sun,
cold in the shadow. You felt the coldness even amid the sunlight
warmth. The evening was chill. The sky was overcast with wrinkled,
grey clouds, save along the west where a strip of yellow sky gleamed
palely and in it, sad and fair, a new moon setting behind a dark
hill. No living creature but herself seemed abroad and the cold
shadows settling down over the withered fields lent to the landscape
of too-early spring an aspect inexpressibly dreary and mournful. It
made Emily feel hopeless, as if the best of life already lay in the
past. Externals always had a great influence upon her--too great
perhaps. Yet she was glad it was a dour evening. Anything else would
have insulted her mood. She heard the sea shuddering beyond the
dunes. An old verse from one of Roberts' poems came into her
Grey rocks and greyer sea.
And surf along the shore,
And in my heart a name
My lips shall speak no more.
Nonsense! Weak, silly, sentimental nonsense. No more of it!
But that letter from Ilse that day. Teddy was coming home. He was
to sail on the Flavian. He was going to be home most of the
"If it could only have been all over--before he came," muttered
Always to be afraid of to-morrow? Content--even happy with
to-day--but always afraid of tomorrow. Was this to be her life? And
why that fear of to-morrow?
She had brought the key of the Disapppinted House with her. She
had not been in it since November and she wanted to see
it--beautiful, waiting, desirable. Her home. In its charm and
sanity vague, horrible fears and doubts would vanish. The soul of
that happy last summer would come back to her. She paused at the
garden gate to look lovingly at it--the dear little house nestled
under the old trees that sighed softly as they had sighed to her
childhood visions. Below, Blair Water was grey and sullen. She loved
Blair Water in all its changes--its sparkle of summer, its silver of
dusk, its miracle of moonlight, its dimpled rings of rain. And she
loved it now, dark and brooding. There was somehow a piercing sadness
in that sullen, waiting landscape all around her--as if--the odd
fancy crossed her mind--as if it were afraid of spring. How
this idea of fear haunted her! She looked up beyond the spires of the
Lombardies on the hill. And in a sudden pale rift between the clouds
a star shone down on her--Vega of the Lyre.
With a shiver Emily hurriedly unlocked the door and stepped in.
The house seemed to be vacant--waiting for her. She fumbled through
the darkness to the matches she knew were on the mantelpiece and
lighted the tall, pale-green taper beside the clock. The beautiful
room glimmered out at her in the flickering light--just as they had
left it that last evening. There was Elizabeth Bas, who could never
have known the meaning of fear--Mona Lisa, who mocked at it. But the
Lady Giovanna, who never turned her saintly profile to look squarely
at you. Had she ever known it--this subtle, secret fear that one
could never put in words?--that would be so ridiculous if one could
put it in words? Dean Priest's sad lovely mother. Yes, she had known
fear; it looked out of her pictured eyes now in that dim, furtive
Emily shut the door and sat down in the armchair beneath Elizabeth
Bas' picture. She could hear the dead, dry leaves of a dead summer
rustling eerily on the beech just outside the window. And the
wind--rising--rising--rising. But she liked it. "The wind is
free--not a prisoner like me." She crushed the unbidden thought down
sternly. She would not think such things. Her fetters were of
her own forging. She had put them on willingly, even desirously.
Nothing to do but wear them gracefully.
How the sea moaned down there below the fields! But here in the
little house what a silence there was! Something strange and uncanny
about the silence. It seemed to hold some profound meaning. She would
not have dared to speak lest something should answer her. Yet
fear suddenly left her. She felt dreamy--happy--far away from life
and reality. The walls of the shadowy room seemed slowly to fade from
her vision. The pictures withdrew themselves. There seemed to be
nothing before her but Great-aunt-Nancy's gazing-ball hung from the
old iron lantern--a big, silvery, gleaming globe. In it she saw the
reflected room, like a shining doll's-house, with herself sitting in
the old, low chair and the taper on the mantelpiece like a tiny,
impish star. Emily looked at it as she leaned back in her
chair--looked at it till she saw nothing but that tiny point of light
in a great misty universe.
Did she sleep? Dream? Who knows? Emily herself never knew. Twice
before in her life--once in delirium*--once in sleep** she had drawn
aside the veil of sense and time and seen beyond. Emily never liked
to remember those experiences. She forgot them deliberately. She had
not recalled them for years. A dream--a fancy fever-bred. But
* See Emily of New Moon. ** See
A small cloud seemed to shape itself within the gazing-ball. It
dispersed--faded. But the reflected doll's-house in the ball was
gone. Emily saw an entirely different scene--a long lofty room filled
with streams of hurrying people--and among them a face she knew.
The gazing-ball was gone--the room in the Disappointed House was
gone. She was no longer sitting in her chair looking on. She was
in that strange, great room--she was among those throngs of
people--she was standing by the man who was waiting impatiently
before a ticket-window. As he turned his face and their eyes met she
saw that it was Teddy--she saw the amazed recognition in his eyes.
And she knew, indisputably that he was in some terrible danger--and
that she must save him.
It seemed to her that she caught his hand and pulled him away from
the window. Then she was drifting back from him--back--back--and he
was following--running after her--heedless of the people he ran
into--following--following--she was back on the chair--outside of the
gazing-ball--in it she still saw the station-room shrunk again to
play-size--and that one figure running--still running--the cloud
again--filling the ball--whitening--wavering--thinning--clearing.
Emily was lying back in her chair staring fixedly into Aunt Nancy's
gazing-ball, where the living-room was reflected calmly and silverly,
with a dead-white spot that was her face and one solitary taper-light
twinkling like an impish star.
Emily, feeling as if she had died and come back to life, got
herself out of the Disappointed House somehow, and locked the door.
The clouds had cleared away and the world was dim and unreal in
starlight. Hardly realizing what she was doing she turned her face
seaward through the spruce wood--down the long, windy,
pasture-field--over the dunes to the sandshore--along it like a
haunted, driven creature in a weird, uncanny half-lit kingdom. The
sea afar out was like grey satin half hidden in a creeping fog but it
washed against the sands as she passed in little swishing, mocking
ripples. She was shut in between the misty sea and the high, dark
sand-dunes. If she could only go on so forever--never have to turn
back and confront the unanswerable question the night had put to
She knew, beyond any doubt or cavil or mockery that she had
seen Teddy--had saved, or tried to save him, from some unknown peril.
And she knew, just as simply and just as surely that she loved
him--had always loved him, with a love that lay at the very
foundation of her being.
And in two months' time she was to be married to Dean Priest.
What could she do? To marry him now was unthinkable. She could not
live such a lie. But to break his heart--snatch from him all the
happiness possible to his thwarted life--that, too, was
Yes, as Ilse had said, it was a very devilish thing to be a
"Particularly," said Emily, filled with bitter self-contempt, "a
woman who seemingly doesn't know her own mind for a month at a time.
I was so sure last summer that Teddy no longer meant anything to
me--so sure that I really cared enough for Dean to marry him. And now
to-night--and that horrible power or gift or curse coming again when
I thought I had outgrown it--left it behind forever."
Emily walked on that eerie sandshore half the night and slipped
guiltily and stealthily into New Moon in the wee sma's to fling
herself on her bed and fall at last into the absolute slumber of
A very ghastly time followed. Fortunately Dean was away, having
gone to Montreal on business. It was during his absence that the
world was horrified by the tragedy of the Flavian's fatal
collision with an iceberg. The headlines struck Emily in the face
like a blow, Teddy was to have sailed on the Flavian--Had
he--had he? Who could tell her? Perhaps his mother--his queer,
solitary mother who hated her with a hatred that Emily always felt
like a tangible thing between them. Hitherto Emily would have shrunk
unspeakably from seeking Mrs. Kent. Now nothing mattered except
finding out if Teddy were on the Flavian. She hurried to the
Tansy Patch. Mrs Kent came to the door--unaltered in all the years
since Emily had first known her--frail, furtive, with her bitter
mouth and that disfiguring red scar across her paleness. Her face
changed as it always did when she saw Emily. Hostility and fear
contended in her dark, melancholy eyes.
"Did Teddy sail on the Flavian?" demanded Emily without
Mrs. Kent smiled--an unfriendly little smile.
"Does it matter to you?" she said.
"Yes." Emily was very blunt. The "Murray" look was on her
face--the look few people could encounter undefeatedly. "If you
Mrs. Kent told her, unwillingly, hating her, shaking like a little
dead leaf quivering with a semblance of life in a cruel wind.
"He did not. I had a cable from him to-day. At the last moment he
was prevented from sailing."
"Thank you." Emily turned away, but not before Mrs. Kent had seen
the joy and triumph that had leaped into her shadowy eyes. She sprang
forward and caught Emily's arm.
"It is nothing to you," she cried wildly. "Nothing to you whether
he is safe or not. You are going to marry another man. How dare you
come here--demanding to know of my son--as if you had a right?"
Emily looked down at her pityingly, understandingly. This poor
creature whose jealousy, coiled in her soul like a snake, had made
life a vale of torment for her.
"No right perhaps--except the right of loving him," she said.
Mrs. Kent struck her hands together wildly.
"You--you dare to say that--you who are to marry another man?"
"I am not going to marry another man," Emily found herself saying.
It was quite true. For days she had not known what to do--now quite
unmistakably she knew what she must do. Dreadful as it would be,
still something that must be done. Everything was suddenly clear and
bitter and inevitable before her.
"I cannot marry another man, Mrs. Kent, because I love Teddy. But
he does not love me. I know that quite well. So you need not hate me
She turned and went swiftly away from the Tansy Patch. Where was
her pride, she wondered the pride of "the proud Murrays"--that she
could so calmly acknowledge an unsought, unwanted love. But pride
just then had no place in her.
When the letter came from Teddy--the first letter for so
long--Emily's hand trembled so that she could hardly open it.
"I must tell you of a strange thing that has happened," he wrote.
"Perhaps you know it already. And perhaps you know nothing and will
think me quite mad. I don't know what to think of it myself. I know
only what I saw--or thought I saw.
"I was waiting to buy my ticket for the boat-train to Liverpool--I
was to sail on the Flavian. Suddenly I felt a touch on my
arm--I turned and saw you. I swear it. You said,
'Teddy--come.' I was so amazed I could not think or speak. I could
only follow you. You were running--no, not running. I don't
know how you went--I only knew that you were retreating. How rotten
this all sounds. Was I crazy? And all at once you weren't
there--though we were by now away from the crowd in an open space
where nothing could have prevented me from seeing you. Yet I looked
everywhere--and came to my senses to realize that the boat-train had
gone and I had lost my passage on the Flavian. I was
furious--ashamed--until the news came. Then--I felt my scalp
"Emily--you're not in England? It can't be possible you are in
England. But then--what was it I saw in that station?
"Anyhow, I suppose it saved my life. If I had gone on the
Flavian--well, I didn't. Thanks to--what?
"I'll be home soon. Will sail on the Moravian--if you don't
prevent me again. Emily, I heard a queer story of you long
ago--something about Ilse's mother. I've almost forgotten. Take care.
They don't burn witches nowadays, of course--but still--"
No, they didn't burn witches. But still--Emily felt that she could
have more easily faced the stake than what was before her.
Emily went up the hill path to keep tryst with Dean at the
Disappointed House. She had had a note from him that day, written on
his return from Montreal, asking her to meet him there at dusk. He
was waiting for her on the doorstep--eagerly, happily. The robins
were whistling softly in the fir copse and the evening was fragrant
with the tang of balsam. But the air all about them was filled with
the strangest, saddest, most unforgettable sound in nature--the soft,
ceaseless wash on a distant shore on a still evening of the breakers
of a spent storm. A sound rarely heard and always to be remembered.
It is even more mournful than the rain-wind of night--the heart-break
and despair of all creation is in it. Dean took a quick step forward
to meet her--then stopped abruptly. Her face--her eyes--what had
happened to Emily in his absence? This was not Emily--this
strange, white, remote girl of the pale twilight.
"Emily--what is it?" asked Dean--knowing before she told him.
Emily looked at him. If you had to deal a mortal blow why try to
"I can't marry you after all, Dean," she said. "I don't love
That was all she could say. No excuses--no self-defence. There was
none she could make. But it was shocking to see all the happiness
wiped out of a human face like that.
There was a little pause--a pause that seemed an eternity with
that unbearable sorrow of the sea throbbing through it. Then Dean
said still quietly:
"I knew you didn't love me. Yet you were--content to marry
me--before this. What has made it impossible?"
It was his right to know. Emily stumbled through her silly,
"You see," she concluded miserably, "when--I can call like that to
him across space--I belong to him. He doesn't love me--he never
will--but I belong to him. . . . Oh, Dean, don't look so. I
had to tell you this--but if you wish it--I will marry
you--only I felt you must know the whole truth--when I knew it
"Oh, a Murray of New Moon always keeps her word." Dean's face
twisted mockingly. "You will marry me--if I want you to. But I don't
want it--now. I see how impossible it is just as clearly as you do. I
will not marry a woman whose heart is another man's."
"Can you ever forgive me, Dean?"
"What is there to forgive? I can't help loving you and you can't
help loving him. We must let it go at that. Even the gods can't
unscramble eggs. I should have known that only youth could call to
youth--and I was never young. If I ever had been, even though I am
old now, I might have held you."
He dropped his poor grey face in his hands. Emily found herself
thinking what a nice, pleasant, friendly thing death would be.
But when Dean looked up again his face had changed. It had the
old, mocking, cynical look.
"Don't look so tragic, Emily. A broken engagement is a very slight
thing nowadays. And it's an ill wind that blows nobody good. Your
aunts will thank whatever gods there be and my own clan will think
that I have escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowler.
Still--I rather wish that old Highland Scotch grandmother who passed
that dangerous chromosome down to you had taken her second sight to
the grave with her."
Emily put her hands against the little porch column and laid her
head against them. Dean's face changed again as he looked at her. His
voice when he spoke was very gentle--though cold and pale. All the
brilliance and colour and warmth had gone from it.
"Emily, I give your life back to you. It has been mine, remember,
since I saved you that day on Malvern rocks. It's your own again. And
we must say good-bye at last--in spite of our old compact. Say it
briefly--'all farewells should be sudden when forever.'"
Emily turned and caught at his arm.
"Oh, not good-bye, Dean--not good-bye. Can't we be friends still?
I can't live without your friendship."
Dean took her face in his hands--Emily's cold face that he had
once dreamed might flush against his kiss--and looked gravely and
tenderly into it.
"We can't be friends again, dear."
"Oh, you will forget--you will not always care--"
"A man must die to forget you, I think. No, Star, we cannot be
friends. You will not have my love and it has driven everything else
out. I am going away. When I am old--really old--I will come back and
we will be friends again, perhaps."
"I can never forgive myself."
"Again I ask what for? I do not reproach you--I even thank you for
this year. It has been a royal gift to me. Nothing can ever take it
from me. After all, I would not give that last perfect summer of mine
for a generation of other men's happiness. My Star--my Star!"
Emily looked at him, the kiss she had never given him in her eyes.
What a lonely place the world would be when Dean was gone--the world
that had all at once grown very old. And would she ever be able to
forget his eyes with that terrible expression of pain in them?
If he had gone then she would never have been quite free--always
fettered by those piteous eyes and the thought of the wrong she had
done him. Perhaps Dean realized this, for there was a hint of some
malign triumph in his parting smile as he turned away. He walked down
the path--he paused with his hand on the gate--he turned and came
"Emily, I've something to confess, too. May as well get it off my
conscience. A lie--an ugly thing. I won you by a lie, I think.
Perhaps that is why I couldn't keep you."
"You remember that book of yours? You asked me to tell you the
truth about what I thought of it? I didn't. I lied. It is a good
piece of work--very good. Oh, some faults in it of course--a bit
emotional--a bit overstrained. You still need pruning--restraint. But
it is good. It is out of the ordinary both in conception and
development. It has charm and your characters do live.
Natural, human, delightful. There, you know what I think of it
Emily stared at him, a hot flush suddenly staining the pallor of
her tortured little face.
"Good? And I burned it," she said in a whisper.
"Yes. And I can never write it again. Why--why did you lie to me?
"Because I hated the book. You were more interested in it than in
me. You would have found a publisher eventually--and it would
have been successful. You would have been lost to me. How ugly some
motives look when you put them into words. And you burned it? It
seems very idle to say I'm bitterly sorry for all this. Idle to ask
Emily pulled herself together. Something had happened--she was
really free--free from remorse, shame, regret. Her own woman once
more. The balance hung level between them.
"I must not hold a grudge against Dean for this--like old Hugh
Murray," she thought confusedly. Aloud--"But I do--I do forgive it,
"Thank you." He looked up at the little grey house behind her. "So
this is still to be the Disappointed House. Verily, there is a doom
on it. Houses, like people, can't escape their doom, it seems."
Emily averted her gaze from the little house she had loved--still
loved. It would never be hers now. It was still to be haunted by the
ghosts of things that never happened.
"Dean--here is the key."
Dean shook his head. "Keep it till I ask for it. What use would it
be to me? The house can be sold, I suppose--though that seems like
There was still something more. Emily held out her left hand with
averted face. Dean must take off the emerald he had put on. She felt
it drawn from her finger, leaving a little cold band where it had
warmed against her flesh, like a spectral circlet. It had often
seemed to her like a fetter, but she felt sick with regret when she
realized it was gone--forever. For with it went something that had
made life beautiful for years--Dean's wonderful friendship and
companionship. To miss that--forever. She had not known how bitter a
thing freedom could be.
When Dean had limped out of sight Emily went home. There was
nothing else to do. With her mocking triumph that Dean had at last
admitted she could write.
If Emily's engagement to Dean had made a commotion in the clans
the breaking of it brewed a still wilder teapot tempest. The Priests
were exultant and indignant at one and the same time, but the
inconsistent Murrays were furious. Aunt Elizabeth had steadily
disapproved of the engagement, but she disapproved still more
strongly of its breaking. What would people think? And many things
were said about "the Starr fickleness."
"Did you," demanded Uncle Wallace sarcastically, "expect that girl
to remain in the same mind from one day to another?"
All the Murrays said things, according to their separate flavour,
but for some reason Andrew's dictum rankled with the keenest venom in
Emily's bruised spirit. Andrew had picked up a word somewhere--he
said Emily was "temperamental." Half the Murrays did not know just
what it meant but they pounced on it eagerly. Emily was
"temperamental"--just that. It explained everything--henceforth it
clung to her like a burr. If she wrote a poem--if she didn't like
carrot pudding when everybody else in the clan did--if she wore her
hair low when every one else was wearing it high--if she liked a
solitary ramble over moonlit hills--if she looked some mornings as if
she had not slept--if she took a notion to study the stars through a
field-glass--if it was whispered that she had been seen dancing alone
by moonlight among the coils of a New Moon hayfield--if tears came
into her eyes at the mere glimpse of some beauty--if she loved a
twilight tryst in the "old orchard" better than a dance in
Shrewsbury--it was all because she was temperamental. Emily felt
herself alone in a hostile world. Nobody, not even Aunt Laura,
understood. Even Ilse wrote rather an odd letter, every sentence of
which contradicted some other sentence and left Emily with a nasty,
confused feeling that Ilse loved her as much as ever but thought her
"temperamental" too. Could Ilse, by any chance, have suspected the
fact that, as soon as Perry Miller heard that "everything was off"
between Dean Priest and Emily Starr, he had come out to New Moon and
again asked Emily to promise to marry him? Emily had made short work
of him, after a fashion which made Perry vow disgustedly that he was
done with the proud monkey. But then he had vowed that so many times
"MAY 4, 19--
"One o'clock is a somewhat unearthly hour to be writing in a
journal. The truth is, I've been undergoing a white night. I can't
sleep and I'm tired of lying in the dark fancying things--unpleasant
things--so I've lighted my candle and hunted up my old diary to
'write it out.'
"I've never written in this journal since the night I burned my
book and fell downstairs--and died. Coming back to life to find
everything changed and all things made new. And unfamiliar and
dreadful. It seems a lifetime ago. As I turn over the pages and
glance at those gay, light-hearted entries I wonder if they were
really written by me, Emily Byrd Starr.
"Night is beautiful when you are happy--comforting when you are in
grief--terrible when you are lonely and unhappy. And to-night I have
been horribly lonely. Misery overwhelmed me. I seem never to be able
to stop half-way in any emotion and when loneliness does seize hold
on me it takes possession of me body and soul and wrings me in its
blank pain until all strength and courage go out of me. To-night I am
lonely--lonely. Love will not come to me--friendship is lost to
me--most of all, as I verily feel, I cannot write. I have tried
repeatedly and failed. The old creative fire seems to have burned out
into ashes and I cannot rekindle it. All the evening I tried to write
a story--a wooden thing in which wooden puppets moved when I jerked
the strings. I finally tore it into a thousand pieces and felt that I
did God service.
"These past weeks have been bitter ones. Dean has gone--where I
know not. He has never written--never will, I suppose. Not to be
getting letters from Dean when he is away seems strange and
"And yet it is terribly sweet to be free once more.
"Ilse writes me that she is to be home for July and August. Also
that Teddy will be, too. Perhaps this latter fact partly accounts for
my white night. I want to run away before he comes.
"I have never answered the letter he wrote me after the sinking of
the Flavian. I could not. I could not write of that.
And if when he comes he speaks of it--I shall not be able to bear it.
Will he guess that it is because I love him that I was able to set at
naught the limitations of time and space to save him? I am ready to
die of shame at thought of it. And at thought of what I said to Mrs.
Kent. Yet somehow I have never been able to wish that unsaid.
There was a strange relief in the stark honesty of it. I am not
afraid she will ever tell him what I said. She would never have him
know I cared if she could prevent it
"But I'd like to know how I am to get through the summer.
"There are times when I hate life. Other times again when I love
it fiercely with an agonized realization of how beautiful it is--or
"Before Dean went away he boarded up all the windows of the
Disappointed House. I never go where I can see it. But I do
see it for all that. Waiting there on its hill--waiting--dumb--blind.
I have never taken my things out of it--which Aunt Elizabeth thinks a
sure indication of insanity. And I don't think Dean did either.
Nothing has been touched. Mona Lisa is still mocking in the gloom and
Elizabeth Bas is tolerantly contemptuous of temperamental idiots and
the Lady Giovanna understands it all. My dear little house! And it is
never to be a home. I feel as I felt that evening years ago when I
followed the rainbow--and lost it. 'There will be other rainbows' I
said then. But will there be?"
"MAY 15, 19--
"This has been a lyric spring day--and a miracle has happened. It
happened at dawn--when I was leaning out of my window, listening to a
little, whispering, tricksy wind o' morning blowing out of Lofty
John's bush. Suddenly--the flash came--again--after these long months
of absence--my old, inexpressible glimpse of eternity. And all at
once I knew I could write. I rushed to my desk and seized my pen. All
the hours of early morning I wrote; and when I heard Cousin Jimmy
going downstairs I flung down my pen and bowed my head over my desk
in utter thankfulness that I could work again.
Get leave to work--
In this world 'tis the best you get at all,
For God in cursing gives us better gifts
Than men in benediction.
"So wrote Elizabeth Barrett Browning--and truly. It is hard to
understand why work should be called a curse--until one remembers
what bitterness forced or uncongenial labour is. But the work for
which we are fitted--which we feel we are sent into the world to
do--what a blessing it is and what fulness of joy it holds. I felt
this to-day as the old fever burned in my finger-tips and my pen once
more seemed a friend.
"'Leave to work'--one would think any one could obtain so much.
But sometimes anguish and heartbreak forbid us the leave. And then we
realize what we have lost and know that it is better to be cursed by
God than forgotten by Him. If He had punished Adam and Eve by sending
them out to idleness, then indeed they would have been outcast
and accursed. Not all the dreams of Eden 'whence the four great
rivers flow' could have been as sweet as those I am dreaming
to-night, because the power to work has come back to me.
"Oh, God, as long as I live give me 'leave to work.' Thus pray I.
Leave and courage."
"MAY 25, 19--
"Dear sunshine, what a potent medicine you are. All day I revelled
in the loveliness of the wonderful white bridal world. And to-night I
washed my soul free from dust in the aerial bath of a spring
twilight. I chose the old hill road over the Delectable Mountain for
its solitude and wandered happily along, pausing every few moments to
think out fully some thought or fancy that came to me like a winged
spirit. Then I prowled about the hill fields till long after dark,
studying the stars with my field-glass. When I came in I felt as if I
had been millions of miles away in the blue ether and all my old
familiar surroundings seemed momentarily forgotten and strange.
"But there was one star at which I did not look. Vega of the
"MAY 30, 19--
"This evening, just when I was in the middle of a story Aunt
Elizabeth said she wanted me to weed the onion-bed. So I had to lay
down my pen and go out to the kitchen garden. But one can weed onions
and think wonderful things at the same time, glory be. It is one of
the blessings that we don't always have to put our souls into what
our hands may be doing, praise the gods--for otherwise who would have
any soul left? So I weeded the onion-bed and roamed the Milky Way in
"JUNE 10, 19--
"Cousin Jimmy and I felt like murderers last night. We were.
Baby-killers at that!
"It is one of the springs when there is a crop of maple-trees.
Every key that fell from a maple this year seems to have grown. All
over the lawn and garden and old orchard tiny maple-trees have sprung
up by the hundreds. And of course they have to be rooted out. It
would never do to let them grow. So we pulled them up all day
yesterday and felt so mean and guilty over it. The dear, tiny, baby
things. They have a right to grow--a right to keep on growing into
great, majestic, splendid trees. Who are we to deny it to them? I
caught Cousin Jimmy in tears over the brutal necessity.
"'I sometimes think,' he whispered, 'that it's wrong to prevent
anything from growing. I never grew up--not in my head.'
"And last night I had a horrible dream of being pursued by
thousands of indignant young maple-tree ghosts. They crowded around
me--tripped me up--thrashed me with their boughs--smothered me with
their leaves. And I woke gasping for breath and nearly frightened to
death, but with a splendid idea for a story in my head--The
Vengeance of the Tree."
"JUNE 15, 19--
"I picked strawberries on the banks of Blair Water this afternoon
among the windy, sweet-smelling grasses. I love picking strawberries.
The occupation has in it something of perpetual youth. The gods might
have picked strawberries on high Olympus without injuring their
dignity. A queen--or a poet--might stoop to it; a beggar has the
"And to-night I've been sitting here in my dear old room, with my
dear books and dear pictures and dear little window of the kinky
panes, dreaming in the soft, odorous summer twilight, while the
robins are calling to each other in Lofty John's bush and the poplars
are talking eerily of old, forgotten things.
"After all, it's not a bad old world--and the folks in it are not
half bad either. Even Emily Byrd Star is decent in spots. Not
altogether the false, fickle, ungrateful perversity she thinks she is
in the wee sma's--not altogether the friendless, forgotten maiden she
imagines she is on white nights--not altogether the failure she
supposes bitterly when three MSS. are rejected in succession. And
not altogether the coward she feels herself to be when she
thinks of Frederick Kent's coming to Blair Water in July."
Emily was reading by the window of her room when she heard
it--reading Alice Meynell's strange poem, "Letter From A Girl To Her
Own Old Age," and thrilling mystically to its strange prophecies.
Outside dusk was falling over the old New Moon garden; and clear
through the dusk came the two high notes and the long low one of
Teddy's old whistle in Lofty John's bush--the old, old call by which
he had so often summoned her in the twilights of long ago.
Emily's book fell unheeded to the floor. She stood up, mist-pale,
her eyes dilating into darkness. Was Teddy there? He had not been
expected till the next week, though Ilse was coming that night. Could
she have been mistaken? Could she have fancied it? Some chance robin
It came again. She knew as she had known at first that it was
Teddy's whistle. There was no sound like it in the world. And it had
been so long since she had heard it. He was there--waiting for
her--calling for her. Should she go? She laughed under her breath.
Go? She had no choice. She must go. Pride could not hold her
back--bitter remembrance of the night she had waited for his call and
it had not come could not halt her hurrying footsteps.
Fear--shame--all were forgotten in the mad ecstasy of the moment.
Without giving herself time to reflect that she was a Murray--only
snatching a moment to look in the glass and assure herself that her
ivory crepe dress was very becoming--how lucky it was that she had
happened to put on that dress!--she flew down the stairs and through
the garden. He was standing under the dark glamour of the old firs
where the path ran through Lofty John's bush--bareheaded,
Her hands were in his--her eyes were shining into his. Youth had
come back--all that had once made magic made it again. Together once
more after all those long weary years of alienation and separation.
There was no longer any shyness--any stiffness--any sense or fear of
change. They might have been children together again. But childhood
had never known this wild, insurgent sweetness--this unconsidered
surrender. Oh, she was his. By a word--a look--an intonation, he was
still her master. What matter if, in some calmer mood, she might not
quite like it--to be helpless--dominated like this? What matter if
to-morrow she might wish she had not run so quickly, so eagerly, so
unhesitatingly to meet him? To-night nothing mattered except that
Teddy had come back.
Yet, outwardly, they did not meet as lovers--only as old, dear
friends. There was so much to talk of--so much to be silent over as
they paced up and down the garden walks, while the stars laughed
through the dark at them--hinting--hinting--
Only one thing was not spoken of between them--the thing Emily had
dreaded. Teddy made no reference to the mystery of that vision in the
London station. It was as if it had never been. Yet Emily felt that
it had drawn them together again after long misunderstanding. It was
well not to speak of it--it was one of those mystic things--one of
the gods' secrets--that must not be spoken of. Best forgotten now
that its work was done. And yet--so unreasonable are we
mortals!--Emily felt a ridiculous disappointment that he didn't speak
of it. She didn't want him to speak of it. But if it had meant
anything to him must he not have spoken of it?
"It's good to be here again," Teddy was saying. "Nothing seems
changed here. Time has stood still in this Garden of Eden. Look,
Emily, how bright Vega of the Lyre is. Our star. Have you forgotten
Forgotten? How she had wished she could forget.
"They wrote me you were going to marry Dean," said Teddy
"I meant to--but I couldn't," said Emily.
"Why not?" asked Teddy as if he had a perfect right to ask it.
"Because I didn't love him," answered Emily, conceding his
Laughter--golden, delicious laughter that made you suddenly want
to laugh too. Laughter was so safe--one could laugh without
betraying anything. Ilse had come--Ilse was running down the walk.
Ilse in a yellow silk gown the colour of her hair and a golden-brown
hat the colour of her eyes, giving you the sensation that a gorgeous
golden rose was at large in the garden.
Emily almost welcomed her. The moment had grown too vital. Some
things were terrible if put into words. She drew away from Teddy
almost primly--a Murray of New Moon once more.
"Darlings," said Ilse, throwing an arm around each of them. "Isn't
it divine--all here together again? Oh, how much I love you! Let's
forget we are old and grown-up and wise and unhappy and be mad,
crazy, happy kids again for just one blissful summer."
A wonderful month followed. A month of indescribable roses,
exquisite hazes, silver perfection of moonlight, unforgettable
amethystine dusks, march of rains, bugle-call of winds, blossoms of
purple and star-dust, mystery, music, magic. A month of laughter and
dance and joy, of enchantment infinite. Yet a month of restrained,
hidden realization. Nothing was ever said. She and Teddy were seldom
ever alone together. But one felt--knew. Emily fairly sparkled with
happiness. All the old restlessness that had worried Aunt Laura had
gone from her eyes. Life was good. Friendship--love--joy of sense and
joy of spirit--sorrow--loveliness--achievement--failure--longing--all
were part of life and therefore interesting and desirable.
Every morning when she awakened the new day seemed to her like
some good fairy who would bring her some beautiful gift of joy.
Ambition was, for the time at least, forgotten. Success--power--fame.
Let those who cared for them pay the price and take them. But love is
not bought and sold. It is a gift.
Even the memory of her burned book ceased to ache. What did one
book more or less matter in this great universe of life and passion?
How pale and shadowy was any pictured life beside this throbbing,
scintillant existence! Who cared for laurel, after all? Orange
blossoms would make a sweeter coronet. And what star of destiny was
ever brighter and more alluring than Vega of the Lyre. Which, being
interpreted, simply meant that nothing mattered any more in this
world or any other except Teddy Kent.
"If I had a tail I'd lash it," groaned Ilse, casting herself on
Emily's bed and hurling one of Emily's treasured volumes--a little
old copy of the Rubaiyat Teddy had given her in high school
days--across the room. The back came off and the leaves flew every
which way for a Sunday. Emily was annoyed.
"Were you ever in such a state that you could neither cry nor pray
nor swear?" demanded Ilse.
"Sometimes," agreed Emily dryly. "But I don't take it out on books
that never harmed me. I just go and bite off somebody's head."
"There wasn't anybody's head handy to bite off, but I did
something that was just as effective," said Ilse, casting a
malevolent glance at Perry Miller's photograph which was propped up
on Emily's desk.
Emily glanced at it, too, and her face Murrayfied, as Ilse
expressed it. The photograph was still there but where Perry's intent
and unabashed eyes had gazed out at her were now only jagged,
Emily was furious. Perry had been so proud of those photographs.
They were the first he had had taken in his life. "Never could afford
any before," he had said frankly. He looked very handsome in them,
though his pose was a bit truculent and aggressive with his wavy hair
brushed back sleekly, and his firm mouth and chin showing to
excellent advantage. Aunt Elizabeth had gazed at it, secretly
wondering how she had ever dared make such a fine-looking young man
as that eat in the kitchen. And Aunt Laura had wiped her eyes
sentimentally and thought that perhaps--after all--Emily and Perry--a
lawyer would be quite a thing to have in the family, coming in a good
third to minister and doctor. Though, to be sure, Stovepipe
Perry had rather spoiled the gift for Emily by proposing to her
again. It was very hard for Perry Miller to get it into his head that
anything he wanted he couldn't get. And he had always wanted
"I've got the world by the tail now," he said proudly. "Every
year'll find me higher up. Why can't you make up your mind to have
"Is it just a question of making up one's mind?" asked Emily
"Of course. What else?"
"Listen, Perry," said Emily decidedly. "You're a good old pal. I
like you--I'll always like you. But I'm tired of this nonsense and
I'm going to put a stop to it. If you ever again ask me to marry you
I'll never never speak to you as long as I live. Since you are good
at making up your mind make up yours which you want--my friendship or
"Oh, well." Perry shrugged his shoulders philosophically. He had
about come to the conclusion anyhow that he might as well give up
dangling after Emily Starr and getting nothing but snubs for his
pains. Ten years was long enough to be a rejected but faithful swain.
There were other girls, after all. Perhaps he had made a mistake.
Too faithful and persistent. If he had wooed by fits and
starts, blowing hot and cold like Teddy Kent, he might have had
better luck. Girls were like that. But Perry did not say this.
Stovepipe Town had learned a few things. All he said was:
"If you'd only stop looking at me in a certain way I might get
over hankering for you. Anyhow, I'd never have got this far along if
I hadn't been in love with you. I'd just have been a hired boy
somewhere or a fisherman at the harbour. So I'm sorry. I haven't
forgotten how you believed in me and helped me and stood up for me to
your Aunt Elizabeth. It's been--been"--Perry's handsome face flushed
suddenly and his voice shook a little--"it's been--sweet--to dream
about you all these years. I guess I'll have to give it up now. No
use, I see. But don't take your friendship from me too, Emily."
"Never," said Emily impulsively putting out her hands. "You're a
brick, Perry dear. You've done wonders and I'm proud of you."
And now to find the picture he had given her ruined. She flashed
on Ilse eyes like a stormy sea.
"Ilse Burnley, how dare you do such a thing!"
"No use squizzling your eyebrows up at me like that, beloved
demon," retorted Ilse. "Hasn't no effect on me a-tall. Couldn't
endure that picture no-how. And Stovepipe Town in the
"What you've done is on a level with Stovepipe Town."
"Well, he asked for it. Smirking there. 'Behold ME. I am a Person
In The Public Eye.' Never had such satisfaction as boring your
scissors through those conceited orbs gave me. Two seconds more of
looking at them and I'd have flung up my head and howled. Oh, how I
hate Perry Miller. Puffed up like a poisoned pup!"
"I thought you told me you loved him," said Emily rather
"It's the same thing," said Ilse morosely. "Emily, why can't I get
that creature out of my mind! It's too Victorian to say heart. I
haven't any heart. I don't love him--I do hate him. But I
can't keep from thinking about him. That's just a state of
mind. Oh, I could yell at the moon. But the real reason I dug his
eyes out was his turning Grit after having been born and raised
"You are Conservative yourself."
"True but unimportant. I hate turncoats. I've never forgiven Henry
IV for turning Catholic. Not because he was a Protestant but just
because he was a turncoat I would have been just as implacable if he
had been Catholic and turned Protestant. Perry has changed his
politics just for the sake of getting into partnership with Leonard
Abel. There's Stovepipe Town for you. Oh, he'll be Judge Miller and
rich as wedding-cake--but--! I wish he had had a hundred eyes so that
I could have bored them all out! This is one of the times I feel it
would be handy to have been a bosom friend of Lucrezia Borgia."
"Who was an excellent and rather stupid woman beloved for her good
"Oh, I know the modern whitewashers are determined to rob history
of anything that is picturesque. No matter, I shall cling to my faith
in Lucrezia and William Tell. Put that picture out of my sight.
Emily put the maltreated picture away in a drawer of her desk. Her
brief anger had gone. She understood. At least she understood why the
eyes had been cut out. It was harder to understand just why Ilse
could care so much and so incurably for Perry Miller. And there was
just a hint of pity in her heart as well--condescending pity for Ilse
who cared so much for a man who didn't care for her.
"I think this will cure me," said Ilse savagely. "I can't--I won't
love a turncoat. Blind bat--congenital idiot that he is! Pah, I'm
through with him. Emily, I wonder I don't hate you. Rejecting with
scorn what I want so much. Ice-cold thing, did you ever really care
for anything or any creature except that pen of yours?"
"Perry has never really loved me," evaded Emily. "He only imagines
"Well, I'd be content if he would only just imagine he loved me.
How brazen I am about it. You're the one person in the world I can
have the relief of saying such things to. That's why I can't let
myself hate you, after all. I daresay I'm not half as unhappy as I
think myself. One never knows what may be around the next corner.
After this I mean to bore Perry Miller out of my life and thoughts
just as I bored his eyes out. Emily," with an abrupt change of tone
and posture, "do you know I like Teddy Kent better this summer than I
ever did before."
"Oh." The monosyllable was eloquent, but Ilse was deaf to all its
"Yes. He's really charming. Those years in Europe have done
something to him. Perhaps it's just that they've taught him to hide
his selfishness better."
"Teddy Kent isn't selfish. Why do you call him selfish? Look at
his devotion to his mother."
"Because she adores him. Teddy likes to be adored. That's why he's
never fallen in love with any one, you know. That--and because the
girls chased him so, perhaps. It was sickening in Montreal. They made
such asses of themselves--waiting on him with their tongues hanging
out--that I wanted to dress in male attire and swear I wasn't of
their sex. No doubt it was the same in Europe. No man alive can stand
six years of that without being spoiled--and contemptuous. Teddy is
all right with us--he knows we're old pals who can see through
him and will stand no nonsense. But I've see him accepting
tribute--graciously bestowing a smile--a look--a touch as a reward.
Saying to every one just what he thought she'd like to hear. When I
saw it I always felt I'd love to say something to him that he'd think
of for years whenever he woke up at three o'clock o'night."
The sun had dropped into a bank of purple cloud behind the
Delectable Mountain and a chill and shadow swept down the hill and
across the dewy clover-fields to New Moon. The little room darkened
and the glimpse of Blair Water through the gap in Lofty John's bush
changed all at once to livid grey.
Emily's evening was spoiled. But she felt--knew--that Ilse
was mistaken about many things. There was one comfort, too--evidently
she had kept her secret well. Not even Ilse suspected it. Which was
agreeable to both the Murray and the Starr.
But Emily sat long at her window looking into the black night that
turned slowly to pale silver as the moon rose. So the girls had
She wished she had not run quite so quickly when he had called
from Lofty John's bush. "Oh, whistle, and I'll come to you, my lad"
was all very well in song. But one was not living in a Scotch ballad.
And that change in Ilse's voice--that almost confidential note. Did
Ilse mean--? How pretty Ilse had looked to-night. In that smart,
sleeveless dress of green sprinkled with tiny golden
butterflies--with the green necklace that circled her throat and fell
to her hips like a long green snake--with her green, gold-buckled
shoes--Ilse always wore such ravishing shoes. Did Ilse mean--?
And if she did--?
After breakfast Aunt Laura remarked to Cousin Jimmy that she felt
sure something was on the dear child's mind.
"The early bird catches--the desire of his heart," said Teddy,
slipping down beside Emily on the long, silken, pale-green grasses on
the bank of Blair Water.
He had come so silently that Emily had not heard him until she saw
him and she could not repress a start and blush--which she hoped
wildly he did not see. She had wakened early and been seized with
what her clan would doubtless have considered a temperamental desire
to see the sun rise and make new acquaintances with Eden. So she had
stolen down New Moon stairs and through the expectant garden and
Lofty John's bush to the Blair Water to meet the mystery of the dawn.
It had never occurred to her that Teddy would be prowling, too.
"I like to come down here at sunrise, now and then," he said.
"It's about the only chance I have of being alone for a few minutes.
Our evenings and afternoons are all given over the mad revelry--and
Mother likes me to be with her every moment of the forenoons. She's
had six such horribly lonely years."
"I'm sorry I've intruded on your precious solitude," said Emily
stiffly, possessed of a horrible fear that he might think she knew of
his habits and had come purposely to meet him.
"Don't put on New Moon airs with me, Emily Byrd Starr. You know
perfectly well that finding you here is the crown of the morning for
me. I've always had a wild hope that it might happen. And now it has.
Let's just sit here and dream together. God made this morning for
us--just us two. Even talking would spoil it."
Emily agreed silently. How dear it was to sit here with Teddy on
the banks of Blair Water, under the coral of the morning sky, and
dream--just dream--wild, sweet, secret, unforgettable, foolish
dreams. Alone with Teddy while all their world was sleeping. Oh, if
this exquisite stolen moment could last! A line from some poem of
Marjorie Pickthall quivered in her thought like a bar of music--
Oh, keep the world forever at the dawn.
She said it like a prayer under her breath.
Everything was so beautiful in this magical moment before sunrise.
The wild blue irises around the pond, the violet shadows in the
curves of the dunes, the white filmy mist hanging over the buttercup
valley across the pond, the cloth of gold and silver that was called
a field of daisies, the cool, delicious gulf breeze, the blue of far
lands beyond the harbour, plumes of purple and mauve smoke going up
on the still, golden air from the chimneys of Stovepipe Town where
the fishermen rose early. And Teddy lying at her feet, his slim brown
hands clasped behind his head. Again she felt inescapably the
magnetic attraction of his personality. Felt it so strongly that she
dared not meet his eyes. Yet she was admitting to herself with a
secret candour which would have horrified Aunt Elizabeth that she
wanted to run her fingers through his sleek black hair--feel his arms
about her--press her face against his dark tender one--feel his lips
on her lips--
Teddy took one of his hands from under his head and put it over
For a moment of surrender she left it there. Then Ilse's words
flashed into memory, searing her consciousness like a dagger of
flame. "I've seen him accepting tribute"--"graciously bestowing a
touch as a reward"--"saying to each one just what he thought she
wanted to hear." Had Teddy guessed what she had been thinking? Her
thoughts had seemed so vivid to her that she felt as if any one must
see her thinking. Intolerable. She sprang up abruptly, shaking
off his fingers.
"I must be going home."
So blunt. Somehow, she could not make it smoother. He must
not--should not think--Teddy rose, too. A change in his voice and
look. Their marvellous moment was over.
"So must I. Mother will be missing me. She's always up early. Poor
little Mother. She hasn't changed. She isn't proud of my success--she
hates it. She thinks it has taken me from her. The years have not
made it any easier for her. I want her to come away with me, but she
will not. I think that is partly because she cannot bear to leave the
old Tansy Patch and partly because she can't endure seeing me shut up
in my studio working--something that would bar her out. I wonder what
made her so. I've never known her any other way, but I think she must
have been different once. It's odd for a son to know as little of his
mother's life as I do. I don't even know what made that scar on her
face. I know next to nothing of my father--absolutely nothing of his
people. She will never talk of anything in the years before we came
to Blair Water."
"Something hurt her once--hurt her so terribly she has never got
over it," said Emily.
"My father's death, perhaps?"
"No. At least, not if it were just death. There was something
else--something poisonous. Well--bye-bye."
"Going to Mrs. Chidlaw's dinner-dance tomorrow night?"
"Yes. She is sending her car for me."
"Whew! No use after that asking you to go with me in a one-hoss
buggy--borrowed at that. Well, I must take Ilse then. Perry to be
"No. He wrote me he couldn't come--had to prepare for his first
case. It's coming up next day."
"Perry is forging ahead, isn't he? That bulldog tenacity of his
never lets go of an objective once he gets his teeth into it. He'll
be rich when we're still as poor as church mice. But then, we're
chasing rainbow gold, aren't we?"
She would not linger--he might think she wanted to
linger--"waiting with her tongue hanging out"--she turned away almost
ungraciously. He had been so unregretfully ready to "take Ilse then."
As if it really didn't matter much. Yet she was still conscious of
his touch on her hand--it burned there yet. In that fleeting moment,
in that brief caress, he had made her wholly his, as years of
wifehood could never have made her Dean's. She could think of nothing
else all day. She lived over and over again that moment of surrender.
It seemed to her so inadequate that everything should be the same at
New Moon and that Cousin Jimmy should be worrying over red spiders on
A tack on the Shrewsbury road made Emily fifteen minutes late for
Mrs. Chidlaw's dinner. She flung a hasty glance into the mirror
before she went down and turned away satisfied. An arrow of
rhinestones in her dark hair--she had hair that wore jewels
well--lent the necessary note of brilliance to the new dress of
silvery-green lace over a pale-blue slip that became her so well.
Miss Royal had picked it for her in New York--and Aunts Elizabeth and
Laura had looked askance at it. Green and blue was such an odd
combination. And there was so little of it. But it did something to
Emily when she put it on. Cousin Jimmy looked at the exquisite,
shimmering young thing with stars in her eyes, in the old
candle-lighted kitchen and said ruefully to Aunt Laura after she had
gone, "She doesn't belong to us in that dress."
"It made her look like an actress," said Aunt Elizabeth
Emily did not feel like an actress as she ran down Mrs. Chidlaw's
stairs and across the sun-room to the wide verandah where Mrs.
Chidlaw had elected to hold her dinner party. She felt real, vital,
happy, expectant. Teddy would be there--their eyes would meet
significantly across the table--there would be the furtive sweetness
of watching him secretly when he talked to some one else--and thought
of her--they would dance together afterwards. Perhaps he would
tell her--what she was longing to hear--
She paused for a second in the open doorway, her eyes soft and
dreamy as a purple mist, looking out on the scene before her--one of
those scenes which are always remembered from some subtle charm of
The table was spread in the big rounded alcove at the corner of
the vine-hung verandah. Beyond it tall, dark firs and Lombardies
stood out against the after-sunset sky of dull rose and fading
yellow. Through their stems she caught glimpses of the bay, dark and
sapphire. Great masses of shadow beyond the little island of
light--the gleam of pearls on Ilse's white neck. There were other
guests--Professor Robins of McGill with his long, melancholy face
made still longer by his odd spade-shaped beard; Lisette Chidlaw's
round, cream-coloured, kissable face with its dark hair heaped high
over it and her round, dark eyes; Jack Glenlake, dreamy and handsome;
Annette Shaw, a sleepy, gold-and-white thing, always affecting a Mona
Lisa smile; stocky little Tom Hallam with his humorous Irish face;
Aylmer Vincent. Quite fat. Beginning to be bald. Still making pretty
speeches to the ladies. How absurd to recall that she had once
thought him Prince Charming! Solemn-looking Gus Rankin, with a vacant
chair beside him, evidently for her. Elsie Borland, young and chubby,
showing off her lovely hands a little in the candlelight. But of all
the party Emily only saw Teddy and Ilse. The rest were puppets.
They were sitting together just opposite her. Teddy sleek and
well-groomed as usual, his black head close to Ilse's golden one.
Ilse, a glorified shining creature in torquoise-blue taffeta, looking
the queen with a foam of laces on her full bosom and rose-and-silver
nosegays at her shoulder. Just as Emily looked at them Ilse lifted
her eyes to Teddy's face and asked some question--some intimate,
vital question, Emily felt sure, from the expression of her face. She
did not recall ever having seen just that look on Ilse's face before.
There was some sort of definite challenge in it. Teddy looked down
and answered her. Emily knew or felt that the word "love" was in his
answer. Those two looked long into each other's eyes--at least it
seemed long to Emily, beholding that interchange of rapt glances.
Then Ilse blushed and looked away. When had Ilse ever blushed before?
And Teddy threw up his head and swept the table with eyes that seemed
exultant and victorious.
Emily went out into the circle of radiance from that terrible
moment of disillusion. Her heart, so gay and light a moment before,
seemed cold and dead. In spite of the lights and laughter a dark,
chill night seemed to be coming towards her. Everything in life
seemed suddenly ugly. It was for her a dinner of bitter herbs and she
never remembered anything Gus Rankin said to her. She never looked at
Teddy, who seemed in wonderful spirits and was keeping up a stream of
banter with Ilse, and she was chilly and unresponsive through the
whole meal. Gus Rankin told all his favourite stories but like Queen
Victoria of blessed memory, Emily was not amused. Mrs. Chidlaw was
provoked and repented of having sent her car for so temperamental a
guest. Annoyed probably over being paired with Gus Rankin, who had
been asked at the last minute to fill Perry Miller's place. And
looking like an outraged duchess over it. Yet you had to be civil to
her. She might put you in a book if you weren't. Remember that time
she wrote the review of our play! In reality, poor Emily was thanking
whatever gods there be that she was beside Gus Rankin, who never
wanted or expected any one to talk.
The dance was a ghastly affair for Emily. She felt like a ghost
moving among revellers she had suddenly outgrown. She danced once
with Teddy and Teddy, realizing that it was only her slim,
silvery-green form he held, while her soul had retreated into some
aloof impregnable citadel, did not ask her again. He danced several
dances with Ilse and then sat out several more with her in the
garden. His devotion to her was noticed and commented upon. Millicent
Chidlaw asked Emily if the report that Ilse Burnley and Frederick
Kent were engaged were true.
"He was always crazy about her, wasn't he?" Millicent wanted to
Emily, in a cool and impertinent voice, supposed so. Was Millicent
watching her to see if she would flinch?
Of course he was in love with Ilse. What wonder? Ilse was so
beautiful. What chance could her own moonlit charm of dark and silver
have against that gold and ivory loveliness? Teddy liked her
as a dear old pal and chum. That was all. She had been a fool
again. Always deceiving herself. That morning by Blair
Water--when she had almost let him see--perhaps he had
seen--the thought was unbearable. Would she ever learn wisdom? Oh,
yes, she had learned it to-night. No more folly. How wise and
dignified and unapproachable she would be henceforth.
Wasn't there some wretched, vulgar old proverb anent locking a
stable door after the horse was stolen?
And just how was she to get through the rest of the night?
Emily, just home from an interminable week's visit at Uncle
Oliver's, where a cousin had been getting married, heard at the
post-office that Teddy Kent had gone.
"Left at an hour's notice," Mrs. Crosby told her. '"Got a wire
asking if he would take the vice-principal-ship of the College of Art
in Montreal and had to go at once to see about it. Isn't that
splendid? Hasn't he got on? It's really quite wonderful. Blair Water
should be very proud of him, shouldn't it? Isn't it a pity his mother
is so odd?"
Fortunately Mrs. Crosby never took time to await any answer to her
questions. Emily knew she was turning pale and hated herself for it.
She clutched her mail and hastened out of the post-office. She passed
several people on the way home and never realized it. As a
consequence her reputation for pride went up dangerously. But when
she reached New Moon Aunt Laura handed her a letter.
"Teddy left it. He was here last night to say good-bye."
The proud Miss Starr had a narrow escape from bursting into
hysterical tears on the spot. A Murray in hysterics! Never had such a
thing been heard of--never must be heard of. Emily gritted her teeth,
took the letter silently and went to her room. The ice around her
heart was melting rapidly. Oh, why had she been so cool and dignified
with Teddy all that week after Mrs. Chidlaw's dance? But she had
never dreamed he would be going away so soon. And now--
She opened her letter. There was nothing in it but a clipping of
some ridiculous poetry Perry had written and published in a
Charlottetown paper--a paper that was not taken at New Moon. She and
Teddy had laughed over it--Ilse had been too angry to laugh--and
Teddy had promised to get a copy for her.
Well, he had got it.
She was sitting there, looking whitely out into the soft, black,
velvety night with its goblin-market of wind-tossed trees, when Ilse,
who had also been away in Charlottetown, came in.
"So Teddy has gone. I see you have a letter from him, too."
"Yes," said Emily, wondering if it were a lie. Then concluded
desperately she did not care whether it was a lie or not.
"He was terribly sorry to have to go so suddenly, but he had to
decide at once and he couldn't decide without getting some more
information about it. Teddy won't tie himself down too irrevocably to
any position, no matter how tempting it is. And to be vice-principal
of that college at his age is some little bouquet. Well, I'll soon
have to go myself. It's been a gorgeous vacation but--Going to the
dance at Derry Pond to-morrow night, Emily?"
Emily shook her head. Of what use was dancing now that Teddy was
"Do you know," said Ilse pensively, "I think this summer has been
rather a failure, in spite of our fun. We thought we could be
children again, but we haven't been. We've only been pretending."
Pretending? Oh, if this heartache were only a pretence! And this
burning shame and deep, mute hurt. Teddy had not even cared enough to
write her a line of farewell. She knew--she had known ever since the
Chidlaw dance--he did not love her; but surely friendship demanded
something. Even her friendship meant nothing to him. This summer had
been only an interlude to him. Now he had gone back to his real life
and the things that mattered. And he had written Ilse. Pretend? Oh,
well, she would pretend with a vengeance. There were times when the
Murray pride was certainly an asset.
"I think it's as well the summer is over," she said carelessly. "I
simply must get down to work again. I have neglected my
writing shamefully the past two months."
"After all, that's all you really care about, isn't it?" said Ilse
curiously. "I love my work but it doesn't possess me as yours
possesses you. I'd give it up in a twinkling for--well, we're all as
we're made. But is it really comfortable, Emily, to care for only one
thing in life?"
"Much more comfortable than caring for too many things."
"I suppose so. Well, you ought to succeed when you lay everything
on the altar of your goddess. That's the difference between us. I'm
of weaker clay. There are some things I couldn't give up--some things
I won't. And as Old Kelly advises, if I can't get what I
want--well, I'll want what I can get. Isn't that common sense?"
Emily, wishing she could fool herself as easily as she could other
people, went over to the window and kissed Ilse's forehead.
"We aren't children any longer--and we can't go back to childhood,
Ilse. We're women--and must make the best of it. I think you'll be
happy yet. I want you to be."
Ilse squeezed Emily's hand. "Darn common-sense!" she said
If she had not been in New Moon she would probably have used the
"NOV. 17, 19--
"There are two adjectives that are never separated in regard to a
November day--'dull' and 'gloomy.' They were wedded together in the
dawn of language and it is not for me to divorce them now.
Accordingly, then, this day has been dull and gloomy, inside and
outside, materially and spiritually.
"Yesterday wasn't so bad. There was a warm autumnal sun and Cousin
Jimmy's big heap of pumpkins made a lovely pool of colour against the
old grey barns, and the valley down by the brook was mellow with the
late, leafless gold of juniper-trees. I walked in the afternoon
through the uncanny enchantment of November woods, still haunted by
loveliness, and again in the evening in the afterglow of an autumnal
sunset. The evening was mild and wrapped in a great, grey, brooding
stillness of windless fields and waiting hill--a stillness which was
yet threaded through with many little eerie, beautiful sounds which I
could hear if I listened as much with my soul as my ears. Later on
there was a procession of stars and I got a message from them.
"But to-day was dreary. And to-night virtue has gone out of
me. I wrote all day but I could not write this evening. I shut myself
into my room and paced it like a caged creature. ''Tis the middle of
the night by the castle clock,' but there is no use in thinking of
sleep. I can't sleep. The rain against the window is very dismal and
the winds are marching by like armies of the dead. All the little
ghostly joys of the past are haunting me--all the ghostly fears of
"I keep thinking--foolishly--of the Disappointed House
to-night--up there on the hill with the roar of the rainy wind about
it. Somehow this is what hurts me worst to-night. Other nights it is
the fact that I don't even know where Dean is this winter--or that
Teddy never writes a line to me--or just that there are hours when
sheer loneliness wrings the stamina out of me. In such moments I come
to this old journal for comforting. It's like talking it out to a
"NOV. 30, 19--
"I have two chrysanthemums and a rose out. The rose is a song and
a dream and an enchantment all in one. The 'mums are very pretty,
too, but it does not do to have them and the rose too near together.
Seen by themselves they are handsome, bright blossoms, pink and
yellow, and cheery, looking very well satisfied with themselves. But
set the rose behind them and the change is actually amusing. They
then seem like vulgar, frowsy kitchen maids beside a stately, white
queen. It's not the fault of the poor 'mums that they weren't born
roses, so to be fair to them I keep them by themselves and enjoy them
"I wrote a good story to-day. I think even Mr. Carpenter
would have been satisfied with it. I was happy while I was writing
it. But when I finished it and came back to reality--
"Well, I'm not going to growl. Life has at least grown
livable again. It was not livable through the autumn. I
know Aunt Laura thought I was going into consumption. Not I. That
would be too Victorian. I fought things out and conquered them and
I'm a sane, free woman once more. Though the taste of my folly
is still in my mouth at times and very bitter it is.
"Oh, I'm really getting on very well. I'm beginning to make a
livable income for myself and Aunt Elizabeth reads my stories aloud
o' evenings to Aunt Laura and Cousin Jimmy. I can always get through
to-day very nicely. It's to-morrow I can't live through."
"JANUARY 15, 19--
"I've been out for a moonlit snowshoe tramp. There was a nice bite
of frost in the air and the night was exquisite--a frosty, starry
lyric of light. Some nights are like honey--and some like wine--and
some like wormwood. To-night is like wine--white wine--some clear,
sparkling, fairy brew that rather goes to one's head. I am tingling
all over with hope and expectation and victory over certain
principalities and powers that got a grip on me last night about
"I have just drawn aside the curtain of my window and looked out.
The garden is white and still under the moon, all ebony of shadow and
silver of frosted snow. Over it all the delicate traceries where
trees stand up leafless in seeming death and sorrow. But only
seeming. The life-blood is at their hearts and by and by it will stir
and they will clothe themselves in bridal garments of young green
leaves and pink blossoms. And over there where the biggest drift of
all lies deep the Golden Ones will uplift their trumpets of the
"And far beyond our garden field after field lies white and lonely
in the moonlight. Lonely? I hadn't meant to write that word. It
slipped in. I'm not lonely--I have my work and my books and
the hope of spring--and I know that this calm, simple existence is a
much better and happier one than the hectic life I led last
"I believed that before I wrote it down. And now I don't believe
it. It isn't true. This is stagnation!!
"Oh, I am--I am lonely--with the loneliness of unshared
thought. What is the use of denying it? When I came in I was
the victor--but now my banner is in the dust again."
"FEB. 20, 19--
"Something has happened to sour February's temper. Such a peevish
month. The weather for the past few weeks has certainly been living
up to the Murray traditions.
"A dreary snowstorm is raging and the wind is pursuing tormented
wraiths over the hills. I know that out beyond the trees Blair Water
is a sad, black thing in a desert of whiteness. But the great, dark,
wintry night outside makes my cosy little room with its crackling
fire seem cosier, and I feel much more contented with the world than
I did that beautiful night in January. To-night isn't so--so
"To-day in Glassford's Magazine there was a story
illustration by Teddy. I saw my own face looking out at me in the
heroine. It always gives me a very ghostly sensation. And to-day it
angered me as well. My face has no right to mean anything to
him when I don't.
"But for all that, I cut out his picture, which was in the 'Who's
Who' column, and put it in a frame and set it on my desk. I have no
picture of Teddy. And to-night I took it out of the frame and laid it
on the coals in the fireplace and watched it shrivel up. Just before
the fire went out of it a queer little shudder went over it and Teddy
seemed to wink at me--an impish, derisive wink--as if he said:
"'You think you've forgotten--but if you had you wouldn't
have burned me. You are mine--you will always be mine--and I don't
"If a good fairy were suddenly to appear before me and offer me a
wish it would be this: to have Teddy Kent come and whistle again and
again in Lofty John's bush. And I would not go--not one step.
"I can't endure this. I must put him out of my
The Murray clan had a really terrible time in the summer that
followed Emily's twenty-second birthday. Neither Teddy nor Ilse came
home that summer. Ilse was touring in the West and Teddy betook
himself into some northern hinterland with an Indian treaty party to
make illustrations for a serial. But Emily had so many beaus that
Blair Water gossip was in as bad a plight as the centipede who
couldn't tell which foot came after which. So many beaus and not one
of them such as the connection could approve of.
There was handsome, dashing Jack Bannister, the Derry Pond Don
Juan--"a picturesque scoundrel," as Dr. Burnley called him. Certainly
Jack was untrammelled by any moral code. But who knew what effect his
silver tongue and good looks might have on temperamental Emily? It
worried the Murrays for three weeks and then it appeared that Emily
had some sense, after all. Jack Bannister faded out of the
"Emily should never have even spoken to him," said Uncle
Oliver indignantly. "Why, they say he keeps a diary and writes down
all his love affairs in it and what the girls said to him."
"Don't worry. He won't write down what I said to him," said
Emily, when Aunt Laura reported this to her anxiously.
Harold Conway was another anxiety. A Shrewsbury man in his
thirties, who looked like a poet gone to seed. With a shock of wavy
dark auburn hair and brilliant brown eyes. Who "fiddled for a
Emily went to a concert and a play with him and the New Moon aunts
had some sleepless nights. But when in Blair Water parlance Rod
Dunbar "cut him out" things were even worse. The Dunbars were
"nothing" when it came to religion. Rod's mother, to be sure, was a
Presbyterian, but his father was a Methodist, his brother a Baptist
and one sister a Christian Scientist. The other sister was a
Theosophist, which was worse than all the rest because they had no
idea what it was. In all this mixture what on earth was Rod?
Certainly no match for an orthodox niece of New Moon.
"His great-uncle was a religious maniac," said Uncle Wallace
gloomily. "He was kept chained in his bedroom for sixteen years.
What has got into that girl? Is she idiot or demon?"
Yet the Dunbars were at least a respectable family; but what was
to be said of Larry Dix--one of the "notorious Priest Pond
Dixes"--whose father had once pastured his cows in the graveyard and
whose uncle was more than suspected of having thrown a dead cat down
a neighbour's well for spite? To be sure, Larry himself was doing
well as a dentist and was such a deadly-serious, solemn-in-earnest
young man that nothing much could be urged against him, if one could
only swallow the fact that he was a Dix. Nevertheless, Aunt Elizabeth
was much relieved when Emily turned him adrift.
"Such presumption," said Aunt Laura, meaning for a Dix to aspire
to a Murray.
"It wasn't because of his presumption I packed him off," said
Emily. "It was because of the way he made love. He made a thing ugly
that should have been beautiful."
"I suppose you wouldn't have him because he didn't propose
romantically," said Aunt Elizabeth contemptuously.
"No. I think my real reason was that I felt sure he was the kind
of man who would give his wife a vacuum cleaner for a Christmas
present," vowed Emily.
"She will not take anything seriously," said Aunt Elizabeth in
"I think she is bewitched," said Uncle Wallace. "She hasn't
had one decent beau this summer. She's so temperamental decent
fellows are scared of her."
"She's getting a terrible reputation as a flirt," mourned Aunt
Ruth. "It's no wonder nobody worth while will have anything to do
"Always with some fantastic love-affair on hand," snapped Uncle
Wallace. The clan felt that Uncle Wallace had, with unusual felicity,
hit on the very word. Emily's "love-affairs" were never the
conventional, decorous things Murray love-affairs should be. They
were indeed fantastic.
But Emily always blessed her stars that none of the clan except
Aunt Elizabeth ever knew anything about the most fantastic of them
all. If they had they would have thought her temperamental with a
It all came about in a simple, silly way. The editor of the
Charlottetown Argus, a daily paper with some pretensions to
literature, had selected from an old U. S. newspaper a certain
uncopyrighted story of several chapters--A Royal Betrothal, by
some unknown author, Mark Greaves, for reprinting in the
special edition of The Argus, devoted to "boosting" the claims
of Prince Edward Island as a summer resort. His staff was small and
the compositors had been setting up the type for the special edition
at odd moments for a month and had it all ready except the concluding
chapter of A Royal Betrothal. This chapter had disappeared and
could not be found. The editor was furious, but that did not help
matters any. He could not at that late hour find another story which
would exactly fill the space, nor was there time to set it up if he
could. The special edition must go to press in an hour. What was to
At this moment Emily wandered in. She and Mr. Wilson were good
friends and she always called when in town.
"You're a godsend," said Mr. Wilson. "Will you do me a favour?" He
tossed the torn and dirty chapters of A Royal Betrothal over
to her. "For heaven's sake, get to work and write a concluding
chapter to that yarn. I'll give you half an hour. They can set it up
in another half-hour. And we'll have the darn thing out on time."
Emily glanced hastily over the story. As far as it went there was
no hint of what "Mark Greaves" intended as a denouement.
"Have you any idea how it ended?" she asked.
"No, never read it," groaned Mr. Wilson. "Just picked it for its
"Well, I'll do my best, though I'm not accustomed to write with
flippant levity of kings and queens," agreed Emily. "This Mark
Greaves, whoever he is, seems to be very much at home with
"I'll bet he never even saw one," snorted Mr. Wilson.
In the half-hour allotted to her Emily produced a quite
respectable concluding chapter with a solution of the mystery which
was really ingenious. Mr. Wilson snatched it with an air of relief
handed it to a compositor, and bowed Emily out with thanks.
"I wonder if any of the readers will notice where the seam comes
in," reflected Emily amusedly. "And I wonder if Mark Greaves will
ever see it and if so what he will think."
It did not seem in the least likely she would ever know and she
dismissed the matter from her mind. Consequently when, one afternoon
two weeks later, Cousin Jimmy ushered a stranger into the
sitting-room where Emily was arranging roses in Aunt Elizabeth's
rock-crystal goblet with its ruby base--a treasured heirloom of New
Moon--Emily did not connect him with A Royal Betrothal, though
she had a distinct impression that the caller was an exceedingly
Cousin Jimmy discreetly withdrew and Aunt Laura, who had come in
to place a glass dish full of strawberry preserves on the table to
cool, withdrew also, wondering a little who Emily's odd-looking
caller could be. Emily herself wondered. She remained standing by the
table, a slim, gracious thing in her pale-green gown, shining like a
star in the shadowy, old-fashioned room.
"Won't you sit down?" she questioned with all the aloof courtesy
of New Moon. But the newcomer did not move. He simply stood before
her staring at her. And again Emily felt that, while he had been
quite furious when he came in, he was not in the least angry now.
He must have been born, of course, because he was there--but it
was incredible, she thought, he could ever have been a baby. He wore
audacious clothes and a monocle, screwed into one of his eyes--eyes
that seemed absurdly like little black currants with black eyebrows
that made right-angled triangles above them. He had a mane of black
hair reaching to his shoulders, an immensely long chin and a
marble-white face. In a picture Emily thought he would have looked
rather handsome and romantic. But here in the New Moon sitting-room
he looked merely weird.
"Lyrical creature," he said, gazing at her.
Emily wondered if he were by any chance an escaped lunatic.
"You do not commit the crime of ugliness," he continued fervently.
"This is a wonderful moment--very wonderful. 'Tis a pity we must
spoil it by talking. Eyes of purple-grey, sprinkled with gold. Eyes
that I have looked for all my life. Sweet eyes, in which I drowned
myself eons ago."
"Who are you?" said Emily crisply, now entirely convinced that he
was quite mad. He laid his hand on his heart and bowed.
"Mark Greaves--Mark D. Greaves--Mark Delage Greaves."
Mark Greaves! Emily had a confused idea that she ought to know the
name. It sounded curiously familiar.
"Is it possible you do not recognize my name! Verily this is fame.
Even in this remote corner of the world I should have supposed--"
"Oh," cried Emily, light suddenly breaking on her. "I--I remember
now. You wrote A Royal Betrothal."
"The story you so unfeelingly murdered--yes."
"Oh, I'm so sorry," Emily interrupted. "Of course you would think
it unpardonable. It was this way--you see--"
He stopped her by a wave of a very long, very white hand.
"No matter. No matter. It does not interest me at all now. I admit
I was very angry when I came here. I am stopping at the Derry Pond
Hotel of The Dunes--ah, what a name--poetry--mystery--romance--and I
saw the special edition of The Argus this morning. I was
angry--had I not a right to be?--and yet more sad than angry. My
story was barbarously mutilated. A happy ending. Horrible. My
ending was sorrowful and artistic. A happy ending can never be
artistic. I hastened to the den of The Argus. I dissembled my
anger--I discovered who was responsible. I came here--to denounce--to
upbraid. I remain to worship."
Emily simply did not know what to say. New Moon traditions held no
precedent for this.
"You do not understand me. You are puzzled--your bewilderment
becomes you. Again I say a wonderful moment. To come enraged--and
behold divinity. To realize as soon as I saw you that you were meant
for me and me alone."
Emily wished somebody would come in. This was getting
"It is absurd to talk so," she said shortly. "We are
"We are not strangers," he interrupted. "We have loved in
some other life, of course. And our love was a violent, gorgeous
thing--a love of eternity. I recognized you as soon as I entered. As
soon as you have recovered from your sweet surprise you will realize
this, too. When can you marry me?"
To be asked by a man to marry him five minutes after the first
moment you have laid eyes on him is an experience more stimulating
than pleasant. Emily was annoyed.
"Don't talk nonsense, please," she said curtly. "I am not going to
marry you at any time."
"Not marry me? But you must! I have never before asked a woman to
marry me. I am the famous Mark Greaves. I am rich. I have the charm
and romance of my French mother and the common-sense of my Scotch
father. With the French side of me I feel and acknowledge your beauty
and mystery. With the Scotch side of me I bow in homage to your
reserve and dignity. You are ideal--adorable. Many women have loved
me but I loved them not. I enter this room a free man. I go out a
captive. Enchanting captivity! Adorable captor! I kneel before you in
Emily was horribly afraid he would kneel before her in the flesh.
He looked quite capable of it. And suppose Aunt Elizabeth should come
"Please go away," she said desperately. "I'm--I'm very busy and I
can't stop talking to you any longer. I'm sorry about the story--if
you would let me explain--"
"I have said it does not matter about the story. Though you must
learn never to write happy endings--never. I will teach you. I will
teach you the beauty and artistry of sorrow and incompleteness. Ah,
what a pupil you will be! What bliss to teach such a pupil! I kiss
He made a step nearer as if to seize upon it. Emily stepped
backward in alarm.
"You must be crazy," she exclaimed.
"Do I look crazy?" demanded Mr. Greaves.
"You do," retorted Emily flatly and cruelly.
"Perhaps I do--probably I do. Crazy--intoxicated with wine
of the rose. All lovers are mad. Divine madness! Oh, beautiful,
Emily drew herself up. This absurd interview must end. She was by
now thoroughly angry.
"Mr. Greaves," she said--and such was the power of the Murray look
that Mr. Greaves realized she meant exactly what she said. "I shan't
listen to any more of this nonsense. Since you won't let me explain
about the matter of the story I bid you good-afternoon."
Mr. Greaves looked gravely at her for a moment. Then he said
"A kiss? Or a kick? Which?"
Was he speaking metaphorically? But whether or no--
"A kick," said Emily disdainfully.
Mr. Greaves suddenly seized the crystal goblet and dashed it
violently against the stove.
Emily uttered a faint shriek--partly of real terror--partly of
dismay. Aunt Elizabeth's treasured goblet.
"That was merely a defence reaction," said Mr. Greaves, glaring at
her. "I had to do that--or kill you. Ice-maiden! Chill vestal! Cold
as your northern snows! Farewell."
He did not slam the door as he went out. He merely shut it gently
and irrevocably, so that Emily might realize what she had lost. When
she saw that he was really out of the garden and marching indignantly
down the lane as if he were crushing something beneath his feet, she
permitted herself the relief of a long breath--the first she had
dared to draw since his entrance.
"I suppose," she said, half hysterically, "that I ought to be
thankful he did not throw the dish of strawberry preserves at
Aunt Elizabeth came in.
"Emily, the rock-crystal goblet! Your Grandmother Murray's goblet!
And you have broken it!"
"No, really. Aunty dear, I didn't. Mr. Greaves--Mr. Mark Delage
Greaves did it. He threw it at the stove."
"Threw it at the stove!" Aunt Elizabeth was staggered. "Why did he
throw it at the stove?"
"Because I wouldn't marry him," said Emily.
"Marry him! Did you ever see him before?"
Aunt Elizabeth gathered up the fragments of the crystal goblet and
went out quite speechless. There was--there must be--something wrong
with a girl when a man proposed marriage to her at first meeting. And
hurled heirloom goblets at inoffensive stoves.
But it was the affair of the Japanese prince which really gave the
Murrays their bad summer.
Second-cousin Louise Murray, who had lived in Japan for twenty
years, came home to Derry Pond for a visit and brought with her a
young Japanese prince, the son of a friend of her husband's, who had
been converted to Christianity by her efforts and wished to see
something of Canada. His mere coming made a tremendous sensation in
the clan and the community. But that was nothing to the next
sensation when they realized that the prince had evidently and
unmistakably fallen terrifically in love with Emily Byrd Starr of New
Emily liked him--was interested in him--was sorry for him in his
bewildered reactions to the Presbyterian atmosphere of Derry Pond and
Blair Water. Naturally a Japanese prince, even a converted one,
couldn't feel exactly at home. So she talked a great deal to him--he
could talk English excellently--and walked with him at moonrise in
the garden--and almost every evening that slant-eyed, inscrutable
face, with the black hair brushed straight back from it as smooth as
satin, might be seen in the parlour of New Moon.
But it was not until he gave Emily a little frog beautifully cut
out of moss agate that the Murrays took alarm. Cousin Louise sounded
it first. Tearfully. She knew what that frog meant. Those
agate frogs were heirlooms in the family of the prince. Never were
they given away save as marriage and betrothal gifts. Was Emily
engaged--to him? Aunt Ruth, looking as usual as if she thought
everyone had gone mad, came over to New Moon and made quite a scene.
It annoyed Emily so much that she refused to answer any questions.
She was a bit edgy to begin with over the unnecessary way her clan
had heckled her all summer over suitors that were not of her choosing
and whom there was not the slightest danger of her taking
"There are some things not good for you to know," she told Aunt
And the distracted Murrays despairingly concluded that she had
decided to be a Japanese princess. And if she had--well, they knew
what happened when Emily made up her mind. It was something
inevitable--like a visitation of God; but it was a dreadful thing.
His Princeship cast no halo about him in the Murray eyes. No Murray
before her would ever have dreamed of marrying any foreigner, much
less a Japanese. But then of course she was temperamental.
"Always with some disreputable creature in tow," said Aunt Ruth.
"But this beats everything I ever feared. A pagan--a--"
"Oh, he isn't that, Ruth," mourned Aunt Laura. "He is
converted--Cousin Louise says she is sure he is sincere, but--"
"I tell you he's a pagan!" reiterated Aunt Ruth. "Cousin Louise
could never convert anybody. Why, she's none too sound herself. And
her husband is a modernist if he's anything. Don't tell me! A
yellow pagan! Him and his agate frogs!"
"She seems to have such an attraction for extraordinary men," said
Aunt Elizabeth, thinking of the rock-crystal goblet.
Uncle Wallace said it was preposterous. Andrew said she might at
least have picked on a white man. Cousin Louise, who felt that the
clan blamed her for it all, pleaded tearfully that he had
beautiful manners when you really knew him.
"And she might have had the Reverend James Wallace," said Aunt
They lived through five weeks of this and then the prince went
back to Japan. He had been summoned home by his family, Cousin Louise
said--a marriage had been arranged for him with a princess of an old
Samurai family. Of course he had obeyed; but he left the agate frog
in Emily's possession and nobody ever knew just what he said to her
one night at moonrise in the garden. Emily was a little white and
strange and remote when she came in, but she smiled impishly at her
aunts and Cousin Louise.
"So I'm not to be a Japanese princess after all," she said, wiping
away some imaginary tears.
"Emily, I fear you've only been flirting with that poor boy,"
rebuked Cousin Louise. "You have made him very unhappy."
"I wasn't flirting. Our conversations were about literature and
history--mostly. He will never think of me again."
"I know what he looked like when he read that letter,"
retorted Cousin Louise. "And I know the significance of agate
New Moon drew a breath of relief and thankfully settled down to
routine again. Aunt Laura's old, tender eyes lost their troubled
look, but Aunt Elizabeth thought sadly of the Rev. James Wallace. It
had been a nerve-racking summer. Blair Water whispered about, that
Emily Starr had been "disappointed," but predicted she would live to
be thankful for it. You couldn't trust them foreigners. Not likely he
was a prince at all.
One day in the last week of October Cousin Jimmy began to plough
the hill field, Emily found the lost legendary diamond of the
Murrays,* and Aunt Elizabeth fell down the cellar steps and broke her
*See Emily of New Moon.
Emily, in the warm amber of the afternoon, stood on the sandstone
front steps of New Moon and looked about her with eyes avid for the
mellow loveliness of the fading year. Most of the trees were
leafless, but a little birch, still in golden array, peeped out of
the young spruces--a birch Danae in their shadows--and the
Lombardies down the lane were like a row of great golden candles.
Beyond was the sere hill field scarfed with three bright red
ribbons--the "ridges" Cousin Jimmy had ploughed. Emily had been
writing all day and she was tired. She went down the garden to the
little vine-hung summer house--she poked dreamily about; deciding
where the new tulip bulbs should be planted. Here--in this moist rich
soil where Cousin Jimmy had recently pried out the mouldering old
side-steps. Next spring it should be a banquet board laden with
stately chalices. Emily's heel sank deeply into the moist earth and
came out laden. She sauntered over to the stone bench and daintily
scraped off the earth with a twig. Something fell and glittered on
the grass like a dewdrop. Emily picked it up with a little cry. There
in her hand was the Lost Diamond--lost over sixty years before, when
Great-aunt Miriam Murray had gone into the summer house.
It had been one of her childish dreams to find the Lost
Diamond--she and Ilse and Teddy had hunted for it scores of times.
But of late years she had not thought about it. And here it was--as
bright, as beautiful, as ever. It must have been hidden in some
crevice of the old side-steps and fallen to the earth when they had
been torn away. It made quite a sensation at New Moon. A few days
later the Murrays had a conclave about Aunt Elizabeth's bed to decide
what should be done with it. Cousin Jimmy said stoutly that finding
was keeping in this case. Edward and Miriam Murray were long since
dead. They had left no family. The diamond by rights was Emily's.
"We are all heirs to it," said Uncle Wallace judicially. "It cost,
I've heard, a thousand dollars sixty years ago. It's a beautiful
stone. The fair thing is to sell it and give Emily her mother's
"One shouldn't sell a family diamond," said Aunt Elizabeth
This seemed to be the general opinion at bottom. Even Uncle
Wallace acknowledged the sway of noblesse oblige. Eventually
they all agreed that the diamond should be Emily's.
"She can have it set as a little pendant for her neck," said Aunt
"It was meant for a ring," said Aunt Ruth, just for the sake of
disagreeing. "And she shouldn't wear it, in any case, until she is
married. A diamond as big as that is in bad taste for a young
"Oh, married!" Aunt Addie gave a rather nasty little laugh. It
conveyed her opinion that if Emily waited for that to wear the
diamond it was just possible she might never wear it. Aunt Addie had
never forgiven Emily for refusing Andrew. And here she was at
twenty-three--well, nearly--with no eligible beau in sight.
"The Lost Diamond will bring you luck, Emily," said Cousin Jimmy.
"I'm glad they've left it with you. It's rightly yours. But will you
let me hold it sometimes, Emily,--just hold it and look into it. When
I look into anything like that I--I--find myself. I'm not simple
Jimmy Murray then--I'm what I would have been if I hadn't been pushed
into a well. Don't say anything about it to Elizabeth, Emily, but
just let me hold it and look at it once in awhile."
"My favourite gem is the diamond, when all is said and done,"
Emily wrote to Ilse that night. "But I love gems of all kinds--except
turquoise. Them I loathe--the shallow, insipid, soulless things. The
gloss of pearl, glow of ruby, tenderness of sapphire, melting violet
of amethyst, moonlit glimmer of acquamarine, milk and fire of opal--I
love them all."
"What about emeralds?" Ilse wrote back--a bit nastily, Emily
thought, not knowing that a Shrewsbury correspondent of Ilse's wrote
her now and then some unreliable gossip about Perry Miller's visits
to New Moon. Perry did come to New Moon occasionally. But he had
given up asking Emily to marry him and seemed wholly absorbed in his
profession. Already he was regarded as a coming man and shrewd
politicians were said to be biding their time until he should be old
enough to "bring out" as a candidate for the Provincial House.
"Who knows? You may be 'my lady' yet," wrote Ilse, "Perry will be
Sir Perry some day."
Which Emily thought was even nastier than the scratch about the
At first it did not seem that the Lost Diamond had brought luck to
any one at New Moon. The very evening of its finding Aunt Elizabeth
broke her leg. Shawled and bonnetted for a call on a sick
neighbour--bonnets had long gone out of fashion even for elderly
ladies, but Aunt Elizabeth wore them still--she had started down
cellar to get a jar of black currant jam for the invalid, had tripped
in some way and fallen. When she was taken up it was found that her
leg was broken and Aunt Elizabeth faced the fact that for the first
time in her life she was to spend weeks in bed.
Of course New Moon got on without her, though she believed it
couldn't. But the problem of amusing her was a more serious one than
the running of New Moon. Aunt Elizabeth fretted and pined over her
enforced inactivity--could not read much herself--didn't like to be
read to--was sure everything was going to the dogs--was sure she was
going to be lame and useless all the rest of her life--was sure Dr.
Burnley was an old fool--was sure Laura would never get the apples
packed properly--was sure the hired boy would cheat Cousin Jimmy.
"Would you like to hear the little story I finished to-day, Aunt
Elizabeth?" asked Emily one evening. "It might amuse you."
"Is there any silly love-making in it?" demanded Aunt Elizabeth
"No love-making of any kind. It's pure comedy."
"Well, let me hear it. It may pass the time."
Emily read the story. Aunt Elizabeth made no comment whatever. But
the next afternoon she said, hesitatingly, "Is there--any more--of
that story you read last night?"
"Well, if there was--I wouldn't mind hearing it. It kind of took
my thoughts away from myself. The folks seemed--sort of--real to me.
I suppose that is why I feel as if I want to know what happens to
them," concluded Aunt Elizabeth as if apologizing for her
"I'll write another story about them for you," promised Emily.
When this was read Aunt Elizabeth remarked that she didn't care if
she heard a third one.
"Those Applegaths are amusing," she said. "I've known
people like them. And that little chap, Jerry Stowe. What
happens to him when he grows up, poor child?"
Emily's idea came to her that evening as she sat idly by her
window looking rather drearily out on cold meadows and hills of grey,
over which a chilly, lonesome wind blew. She could hear the dry
leaves blowing over the garden wall. A few great white flakes were
beginning to come down.
She had had a letter from Ilse that day. Teddy's picture, The
Smiling Girl, which had been exhibited in Montreal and had made a
tremendous sensation, had been accepted by the Paris
"I just got back from the coast in time to see the last day of its
exhibition here," wrote Ilse. "And it's you--Emily--it's you. Just
that old sketch he made of you years ago completed and glorified--the
one your Aunt Nancy made you so mad by keeping--remember? There you
were smiling down from Teddy's canvas. The critics had a great deal
to say about his colouring and technique and 'feeling' and all that
sort of jargon. But one said, 'The smile on the girl's face will
become as famous as Mona Lisa's.' I've seen that very smile on your
face a hundred times, Emily--especially when you were seeing that
unseeable thing you used to call your flash. Teddy has caught the
very soul of it--not a mocking, challenging smile like Mona
Lisa's--but a smile that seems to hint at some exquisitely wonderful
secret you could tell if you liked--some whisper eternal--a secret
that would make every one happy if they could only get you to tell
it. It's only a trick, I suppose--you don't know that secret
any more than the rest of us. But the smile suggests that you
do--suggests it marvellously. Yes, your Teddy has genius--that smile
proves it. What does it feel like, Emily, to realize yourself the
inspiration of a genius? I'd give years of my life for such a
Emily didn't quite know what it felt like. But she did feel a
certain small, futile anger with Teddy. What right had he who scorned
her love and was indifferent to her friendship to paint her face--her
soul--her secret vision--and hang it up for the world to gaze at? To
be sure, he had told her in childhood that he meant to do it--and she
had agreed then. But everything had changed since then.
Well, about this story, regarding which Aunt Elizabeth had such an
Oliver Twist complex. Suppose she were to write another one--suddenly
the idea came. Suppose she were to expand it into a book. Not like
A Seller of Dreams, of course. That old glory could come back
no more. But Emily had an instantaneous vision of the new book, as a
whole--a witty, sparkling rill of human comedy. She ran down to Aunt
"Aunty, how would you like me to write a book for you about those
people in my story? Just for you--a chapter every day."
Aunt Elizabeth carefully hid the fact that she was interested.
"Oh, you can if you want to. I wouldn't mind hearing about them.
But mind, you are not to put any of the neighbours in."
Emily didn't put any of the neighbours in--she didn't need to.
Characters galore trooped into her consciousness, demanding a local
habitation and a name. They laughed and scowled and wept and
danced--and even made a little love. Aunt Elizabeth tolerated this,
supposing you couldn't have a novel without some of it. Emily read a
chapter every evening, and Aunt Laura and Cousin Jimmy were allowed
to hear it along with Aunt Elizabeth. Cousin Jimmy was in raptures.
He was sure it was the most wonderful story ever written.
"I feel young again when I'm listening to you," he said.
"Sometimes I want to laugh and sometimes I want to cry," confessed
Aunt Laura. "I can't sleep for wondering what is going to happen to
the Applegaths in the next chapter."
"It might be worse," conceded Aunt Elizabeth. "But I wish you'd
cut out what you said about Gloria Applegath's greasy
dish-towels. Mrs. Charlie Frost of Derry Pond, will think you mean
her. Her towels are always greasy."
"Chips are bound to light somewhere," said Cousin Jimmy.
"Gloria is funny in a book, but she'd be awful to live with.
Too busy saving the world. Somebody ought to tell her to read her
"I don't like Cissy Applegath, though," said Aunt Laura
apologetically. "She has such a supercilious way of speaking."
"A shallow-pated creature," said Aunt Elizabeth.
"It's old Jesse Applegath I can't tolerate," said Cousin
Jimmy fiercely. "A man who would kick a cat just to relieve his
feelings! I'd go twenty miles to slap the old he-devil's face.
But"--hopefully--"maybe he'll die before long."
"Or reform," suggested Aunt Laura mercifully.
"No, no, don't let him reform," said Cousin Jimmy anxiously. "Kill
him off, if necessary, but don't reform him. I wish, though, you'd
change the colour of Peg Applegath's eyes. I don't like green
"But I can't change them. They are green," protested
"Well, then, Abraham Applegath's whiskers," pleaded Cousin
Jimmy. "I like Abraham. He's a gay dog. Can't he help his
Why couldn't they understand? Abraham had
whiskers--wanted whiskers--was determined to have whiskers.
She couldn't change him.
"It's time we remembered that these people have no real
existence," rebuked Aunt Elizabeth.
But once--Emily counted it her greatest triumph--Aunt Elizabeth
laughed. She was so ashamed of it she would not even smile all the
rest of the reading.
"Elizabeth thinks God doesn't like to hear us laugh," Cousin Jimmy
whispered behind his hand to Laura. If Elizabeth had not been lying
there with a broken leg Laura would have smiled. But to smile under
the circumstances seemed like taking an unfair advantage of her.
Cousin Jimmy went downstairs shaking his head and murmuring,
"How does she do it? How does she do it! I can write
poetry--but this. Those folks are alive!"
One of them was too much alive in Aunt Elizabeth's opinion.
"That Nicholas Applegath is too much like old Douglas
Courcy, of Shrewsbury," she said. "I told you not to put any people
we knew in it."
"Why, I never saw Douglas Courcy."
"It's him to the life. Even Jimmy noticed it. You must cut him
But Emily obstinately refused to "cut him out." Old
Nicholas was one of the best characters in her book. She was
very much absorbed in it by this time. The composition of it was
never the ecstatic rite the creation of A Seller of Dreams had
been, but it was very fascinating. She forgot all vexing and haunting
things while she was writing it. The last chapter was finished the
very day the splints were taken off Aunt Elizabeth's leg and she was
carried down to the kitchen lounge.
"Well, your story has helped," she admitted. "But I'm thankful to
be where I can keep my eye on things once more. What are you going to
do with your book? What are you going to call it?"
"The Moral of the Rose."
"I don't think that is a good title at all. I don't know what it
means--nobody will know."
"No matter. That is the book's name."
Aunt Elizabeth sighed.
"I don't know where you get your stubbornness from, Emily. I'm
sure I don't. You never would take advice. And I know the Courcys
will never speak to us again, after the book is published."
"The book hasn't any chance of being published," said Emily
gloomily. "They'll send it back, 'damned with faint praise.'"
Aunt Elizabeth had never heard this expression before and she
thought Emily had originated it and was being profane.
"Emily," she said sternly, "don't let me ever hear such a word
from your lips again. I've more than suspected Ilse of such
language--that poor girl never got over her early bringing up--she's
not to be judged by our standards. But Murrays of New Moon do
"It was only a quotation, Aunt Elizabeth," said Emily wearily.
She was tired--a little tired of everything. It was Christmas now
and a long, dreary winter stretched before her--an empty, aimless
winter. Nothing seemed worth while--not even finding a publisher for
The Moral of the Rose.
However, she typewrote it faithfully and sent it out. It came
back. She sent it out again, three times. It came back. She retyped
it--the MS. was getting dog-eared--and sent it out again. At
intervals all that winter and summer she sent it out, working
doggedly through a list of possible publishers. I forget how many
times she retyped it. It became a sort of a joke--a bitter joke.
The worst of it was that the New Moon folk knew of all these
rejections and their sympathy and indignation were hard to bear.
Cousin Jimmy was so angry over every rejection of this masterpiece
that he could not eat for a day afterwards and she gave up telling
him of the journeys. Once she thought of sending it to Miss Royal and
asking her if she had any influence to use. But the Murray pride
would not brook the idea. Finally in the autumn when it returned from
the last publisher on her list Emily did not even open the parcel.
She cast it contemptuously into a compartment of her desk.
Too sick at heart to war
With failure any more.
"That's the end of it--and of all my dreams. I'll use it up for
scribbling paper. And now I'll settle down to a tepid existence of
As least magazine editors were more appreciative than book
publishers--as Cousin Jimmy indignantly said, they appeared to have
more sense. While her book was seeking vainly for its chance her
magazine clientele grew daily. She spent long hours at her desk and
enjoyed her work after a fashion. But there was a little
consciousness of failure under it all. She could never get much
higher on the Alpine path. The glorious city of fulfilment on its
summit was not for her. Pot-boiling! That was all. Making a living in
what Aunt Elizabeth thought was a shamefully easy way.
Miss Royal wrote her frankly that she was falling off.
"You're getting into a rut, Emily," she warned, "A self-satisfied
rut. The admiration of Aunt Laura and Cousin Jimmy is a bad thing for
you. You should be here--we would keep you up to the
Suppose she had gone to New York with Miss Royal when she had the
chance six years ago. Would she not have been able to get her book
published? Was it not the fatal Prince Edward Island postmark that
condemned it--the little out-of-the-world province from which no good
thing could ever come?
Perhaps! Perhaps Miss Royal had been right. But what did it
No one came to Blair Water that summer. That is--Teddy Kent did
not come. Ilse was in Europe again. Dean Priest seemed to have taken
up his residence permanently at the Pacific Coast. Life at New Moon
went on unchanged. Except that Aunt Elizabeth limped a little and
Cousin Jimmy's hair turned white quite suddenly, overnight as it
seemed. Now and then Emily had a quick, terrible vision that Cousin
Jimmy was growing old. They were all growing old. Aunt Elizabeth was
nearly seventy. And when she died New Moon went to Andrew. Already
there were times when Andrew seemed to be putting on proprietary airs
in his visits to New Moon. Not that he would ever live there himself,
of course. But it ought to be kept in good shape against the day when
it would be necessary to sell it.
"It's time those old Lombardies were cut down," said Andrew to
Uncle Oliver one day. "They're getting frightfully ragged at the
tops. Lombardies are so out of date now. And that field with the
young spruces should be drained and ploughed."
"That old orchard should be cleared out," said Uncle Oliver. "It's
more like a jungle than an orchard. The trees are too old for any
good anyhow. They should all be chopped down. Jimmy and Elizabeth are
too old-fashioned. They don't make half the money out of this farm
Emily, overhearing this, clenched her fists. To see New Moon
desecrated--her old, intimate, beloved trees cut down--the spruce
field where wild strawberries grew improved out of existence--dreamy
beauty of the old orchard destroyed--the little dells and slopes that
kept all the ghostly joys of her past changed--altered. It was
"If you had married Andrew New Moon would have been yours," said
Aunt Elizabeth bitterly, when she found Emily crying over what they
"But the changes would have come just the same," said Emily.
"Andrew wouldn't have listened to me. He believes that the husband is
the head of the wife."
"You will be twenty-four your next birthday," said Aunt Elizabeth.
Apropos of what?
"OCT. 1, 19--
"This afternoon I sat at my window and alternately wrote at my new
serial and watched a couple of dear, amusing, youngish maple-trees at
the foot of the garden. They whispered secrets to each other all the
afternoon. They would bend together and talk earnestly for a few
moments, then spring back and look at each other, throwing up their
hands comically in horror and amazement over their mutual
revelations. I wonder what new scandal is afoot in Treeland."
"OCT. 10, 19--
"This evening was lovely. I went up on the hill and walked about
until twilight had deepened into an autumn night with a benediction
of starry quietude over it. I was alone but not lonely. I was a queen
in halls of fancy. I held a series of conversations with imaginary
comrades and thought out so many epigrams that I was agreeably
surprised at myself."
"OCT. 28, 19--
"To-night I was out for one of my long walks. In a weird, purple,
shadowy world, with great, cold clouds piling up above a yellow sky,
hills brooding in the silence of forsaken woods, ocean tumbling on a
rocky shore. The whole landscape seemed
As those who wait
Till judgment speak the doom of fate.
"It made me feel--horribly alone.
"What a creature of moods I am!
"'Fickle,' as Aunt Elizabeth says? Temperamental,' as Andrew
"NOV. 5, 19--
"What a fit of bad temper the world has indulged in! Day before
yesterday she was not unbeautiful--a dignified old dame in fitting
garb of brown and ermine. Yesterday she tried to ape juvenility,
putting on all the airs and graces of spring, with scarfs of blue
hazes. And what a bedraggled and uncomely old hag she was, all
tatters and wrinkles. She grew peevish then over her own ugliness and
has raged all night and day. I awakened up in the wee sma's and heard
the wind shrieking in the trees and tears of rage and spite sleeting
against the pane."
"NOV. 23, 19--
"This is the second day of a heavy, ceaseless autumn rain. Really,
it has rained almost every day this November. We had no mail to-day.
The outside world is a dismal one, with drenched and dripping trees
and sodden fields. And the damp and gloom have crept into my soul and
spirit and sapped out all life and energy.
"I could not read, eat, sleep, write or do anything, unless I
drove myself to do it and then I felt as if I were trying to do it
with somebody else's hands or brain and couldn't work very well with
them. I feel lustreless, dowdy and uninviting--I even bore
"I shall grow mossy in this existence!
"There! I feel better for that little outburst of discontent. It
has ejected something from my system. I know that into everybody's
life must come some days of depression and discouragement when all
things in life seem to lose savour. The sunniest day has its clouds;
but one must not forget that the sun is there all the time.
"How easy it is to be a philosopher--on paper!
"(Item:--If you are out in a cold, pouring rain, does it keep you
dry to remember that the sun is there just the same?)
"Well, thank heaven no two days are ever exactly
"DEC. 3, 19--
"There was a stormy, unrestful sunset to-night, behind the pale,
blanched hills, gleaming angrily through the Lombardies and the dark
fir-boughs in Lofty John's bush, that were now and again tossed
suddenly and distressfully in a fitful gust of wind. I sat at my
window and watched it. Below in the garden it was quite dark and I
could only see dimly the dead leaves that were whirling and dancing
uncannily over the flowerless paths. The poor dead leaves--yet not
quite dead, it seemed. There was still enough unquiet life left in
them to make them restless and forlorn. They harkened yet to every
call of the wind, which cared for them no longer but only played
freakishly with them and broke their rest. I felt sorry for the
leaves as I watched them in the dull, weird twilight, and angry--in a
petulant fashion that almost made me laugh--with the wind that would
not leave them in peace. Why should they--and I--be vexed with these
transient, passionate breaths of desire for a life which has passed
"I have not heard even from Ilse for a long time. She has
forgotten me, too."
"JAN. 10, 19--
"As I came home from the post-office this evening--with three
acceptances--I revelled in the winter loveliness around me. It was so
very calm and still; the low sun cast such pure, pale tints of pink
and heliotrope over the snow; and the great, pale-silver moon peeping
over the Delectable Mountain was such a friend of mine.
"How much difference in one's outlook three acceptances make!"
"JAN. 20, 19--
"The nights are so dreary now and there is such a brief space of
grey, sunless day. I work and think all day and, when night comes
down early, gloom settles on my soul. I can't describe the feeling.
It is dreadful--worse than any actual pain. In so far as I can
express it in words I feel a great and awful weariness--not of body
or brain but of feeling, coupled with a haunting dread of the
future--any future--even a happy one--nay, a happy one most of
all, for in this strange mood it seems to me that to be happy would
require more effort--more buoyancy than I shall possess. The
fantastic shape my fear assumes is that it would be too much
trouble to be happy--require too much energy.
"Let me be honest--in this journal if nowhere else. I know quite
well what is the matter with me. This afternoon I was rummaging in my
old trunk in the garret and found a packet of the letters Teddy wrote
the first year he was in Montreal. I was foolish enough to sit down
and read them all. It was a mad thing to do. I am paying for it now.
Such letters have a terrible resurrective power. I am surrounded by
bitter fancies and unbidden ghosts--the little spectral joys of the
"FEB. 5, 19--
"Life never seems the same to me as it used to. Something is
gone. I am not unhappy. But life seems a sort of negative
affair. I enjoy it on the whole and have many beautiful moments. I
have success--at least a sort of success--in growing measure and a
keen appreciation of all the world and the times offer for delight
and interest. But underneath it all is the haunting sense of
emptiness. This is all because 'full knee-deep lies the winter snow'
and I can't go a-prowling. Wait till a thaw comes, when I can get out
to the balm of the fir-trees and the peace of the white places and
the 'strength of the hills'--what a beautiful old Biblical phrase
that is!--and I shall be made whole once more."
"FEB. 6, 19--
"Last night I simply could not endure any longer the vaseful of
dyed grasses on my mantelpiece. What if they had been there for forty
years! I seized them, opened the window and strewed them over the
lawn. This soothed me so that I slept like an infant. But this
morning Cousin Jimmy had gathered them all up and handed them
secretly back to me with a gentle warning not to let them 'blow out'
again. Elizabeth would be horrified.
"I put them back in the vase. One cannot escape one's kismet."
"FEB. 22, 19--
"There was a creamy, misty sunset this evening and then moonlight.
Such moonlight. It is such a night as one might fall asleep in and
dream happy dreams of gardens and songs and companionship, feeling
all the while through one's sleep the splendour and radiance of the
white moon-world outside as one hears soft, far-away music sounding
through the thoughts and words that are born of it.
"I slipped away for a solitary walk through that fairy world of
glamour. I went through the orchard where the black shadows of the
trees fell over the snow--I went up to the gleaming white hill with
the stars over it, I lurked along fir copses dim with mystery and
along still, wood aisles where the night hid from the moonshine, I
loitered across a dreamland field of ebon and ivory. I had a tryst
with my friend of old days, the Wind Woman. And every breath was a
lyric and every thought an ecstasy and I've come back with a soul
washed white and clean in the great crystal bath of the night.
"But Aunt Elizabeth said people would think me crazy if they saw
me roaming around alone at this hour of the night. And Aunt Laura
made me take a drink of hot black currant decoction lest I might have
taken cold. Only Cousin Jimmy partly understood.
"'You went out to escape. I know,' he whispered.
'My soul has pastured with the stars
Upon the meadowlands of space.'
I whispered in return."
"FEB. 26, 19--
"Jasper Frost has been coming out here from Shrewsbury of late. I
don't think he will come any more--after our conversation of last
night. He told me he loved me with a love 'that would last through
eternity.' But I thought an eternity with Jasper would be rather
long. Aunt Elizabeth will be a little disappointed, poor dear. She
likes Jasper and the Frosts are 'a good family.' I like him, too, but
he is too prim and bandboxy.
"'Would you like a slovenly beau?' demanded Aunt Elizabeth.
"This posed me. Because I wouldn't.
"'Surely there's a happy medium,' I protested.
"'A girl shouldn't be too particular when she is'--I feel sure
Aunt Elizabeth was going to say 'nearly twenty-four.' But she changed
it to 'not entirely perfect herself.'
"I wish Mr. Carpenter had been alive to hear Aunt Elizabeth's
italics. They were killing."
"MARCH 1, 19--
"A wonderful music of night is coming to my window from Lofty
John's bush. No, not Lofty John's bush any more.
"Emily Byrd Starr's bush!
"I bought it to-day, with the proceeds of my latest serial. And it
is mine--mine--mine. All the lovely things in it are mine--its
moonlit vistas--the grace of its one big elm against the
starlight--its shadowy little dells--its June-bells and ferns--its
crystalline spring--its wind music sweeter than an old Cremona. No
one can ever cut it down or desecrate it in any way.
"I am so happy. The wind is my comrade and the evening star my
"MARCH 23, 19--
"Is there any sound in the world sadder and weirder than the wail
of the wind around the eaves and past the windows on a stormy night?
It sounds as if the broken-hearted cries of fair, unhappy women who
died and were forgotten ages ago were being re-echoed in the moaning
wind of to-night. All my own past pain finds a voice in it as if it
were moaning a plea for re-entrance into the soul that has cast it
out. There are strange sounds in that night wind clamouring there at
my little window. I hear the cries of old sorrows in it--and the
moans of old despairs--and the phantom songs of dead hopes. The night
wind is the wandering soul of the past. It has no share in the
future--and so it is mournful."
"APRIL 10, 19--
"This morning I felt more like myself than I have for a long time.
I was out for a walk over the Delectable Mountain. It was a very
mild, still, misty morning with lovely pearl-grey skies and smell of
spring in the air. Every turn and twist on that hill-road was an old
friend to me. And everything was so young. April couldn't be old. The
young spruces were so green and companionable with pearl-like beads
of moisture fringing their needles.
"'You are mine,' called the sea beyond Blair Water.
"'We have a share in her,' said the hills.
"'She is my sister,' said a jolly little fir-tree.
"Looking at them the flash came--my old supernal moment that has
come so sadly seldom these past dreary months. Will I lose it
altogether as I grow old? Will nothing but 'the light of common day'
be mine then?
"But at least it came to me this morning and I felt my
immortality. After all, freedom is a matter of the soul.
'Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.'
"She has always a gift of healing for us if we come humbly to her.
Corroding memories and discontents vanished. I felt suddenly that
some old gladness was yet waiting for me, just around the curve of
"The frogs are singing to-night. Why is frog such a funny,
dear, charming, absurd word?"
"MAY 15, 19--
"I know that when I am dead I shall sleep peaceably enough under
the grasses through the summer and autumn and winter but when spring
comes my heart will throb and stir in my sleep and call wistfully to
all the voices calling far and wide in the world above me. Spring and
morning were laughing to each other to-day and I went out to them and
made a third.
"Ilse wrote to-day--a stingy little letter as far as news
went--and spoke of coming home.
"'I'm homesick,' she wrote. 'Are the wild birds still singing in
the Blair Water woods and are the waves still calling beyond the
dunes? I want them. And oh, to see the moon rise over the harbour as
we watched it do scores of times when we were children. And I want to
see you. Letters are so unsatisfactory. There are so many things I'd
like to talk over with you. Do you know I felt a little old
to-day. It was a curious sensation.'
"She never mentioned Teddy's name. But she asked 'Is it true that
Perry Miller is engaged to Judge Elmsley's daughter?'
"I don't think it is. But the mere report shows where Perry has
climbed to already."
On her twenty-fourth birthday Emily opened and read the letter she
had written "from herself at fourteen to herself at twenty-four." It
was not the amusing performance she had once expected it to be. She
sat long at her window with the letter in her hand, watching the
light of yellow, sinking stars over the bush that was still called
Lofty John's oftener than not, from old habit. What would pop out
when she opened that letter? A ghost of first youth? Of ambition? Of
vanished love? Of lost friendship? Emily felt she would rather burn
the letter than read it. But that would be cowardly. One must face
things--even ghosts. With a sudden quick movement she cut open the
envelope and took out the letter.
A whiff of old fragrance came with it. Folded in it were some
dried rose-leaves--crisp brown things that crumbled to dust under her
touch. Yes, she remembered that rose--Teddy had brought it to her one
evening when they had been children together and he had been so proud
of that first red rose that bloomed on a little house rose-bush Dr.
Burnley had given him--the only rose that ever did bloom on it, for
that matter. His mother had resented his love for the little plant.
One night it was accidentally knocked off the window-sill and broken.
If Teddy thought or knew there was any connection between the two
facts he never said so. Emily had kept the rose as long as possible
in a little vase on her study table; but the night she had written
her letter she had taken the limp, faded thing and folded it--with a
kiss--between the sheets of paper. She had forgotten that it was
there; and now it fell in her hand, faded, unbeautiful, like the
rose-hopes of long ago, yet with some faint bitter-sweetness still
about it. The whole letter seemed full of it--whether of sense or
spirit she could hardly tell.
This letter was, she sternly told herself, a foolish, romantic
affair. Something to be laughed at. Emily carefully laughed at some
parts of it. How crude--how silly--how sentimental--how amusing! Had
she really ever been young and callow enough to write such flowery
exultant nonsense? And one would have thought, too, that fourteen
regarded twenty-four as verging on venerable.
"Have you written your great book?" airily asked Fourteen in
conclusion. "Have you climbed to the very top of the Alpine Path? Oh,
Twenty-four, I'm envying you. It must be splendid to be you.
Are you looking back patronizingly and pityingly to me? You
wouldn't swing on a gate now, would you? Are you a staid old married
woman with several children, living in the Disappointed House with
One-You-Know-Of? Only don't be stodgy, I implore you, dear
Twenty-four. And do be dramatic. I love dramatic things and people.
Are you Mrs. ------ ------? What name will fill those blanks? Oh,
dear Twenty-four, I put into this letter for you a kiss--and a
handful of moonshine--and the soul of a rose--and some of the green
sweetness of the old hill field--and a whiff of wild violets. I hope
you are happy and famous and lovely; and I hope you haven't quite
Emily locked the letter away.
"So much for that nonsense," she said scoffingly.
Then she sat down in her chair, and dropped her head on her desk.
Little silly, dreamy, happy, ignorant Fourteen! Always thinking that
something great and wonderful and beautiful lay in the years ahead.
Quite sure that the "mountain purple" could be reached. Quite sure
that dreams always came true. Foolish Fourteen, who yet had known how
to be happy.
"I'm envying you," said Emily. "I wish I had never opened
your letter, foolish little Fourteen. Go back to your shadowy past
and don't come again--mocking me. I'm going to have a white night
because of you. I'm going to lie awake all night and pity
Yet already the footsteps of destiny were sound-on the
stairs--though Emily thought they were only Cousin Jimmy's.
He had come to bring her a letter--a thin letter--and if Emily had
not been too much absorbed in herself at fourteen she might have
noticed that Cousin Jimmy's eyes were as bright as a cat's and that
an air of ill-concealed excitement pervaded his whole being. Moreover
that, when she had thanked him absently for the letter and gone back
to her desk, he remained in the shadowy hall outside, watching her
slyly through the half-open door. At first he thought she was not
going to open the letter--she had flung it down indifferently and sat
staring at it. Cousin Jimmy went nearly mad with impatience.
But after a few minutes more of absent musing Emily roused herself
with a sigh and stretched out a hand for the letter.
"If I don't miss my guess, dear little Emily, you won't sigh when
you read what's in that letter," thought Cousin Jimmy exultantly.
Emily looked at the return address in the upper corner, wondering
what the Wareham Publishing Company were writing to her about. The
big Warehams! The oldest and most important publishing house in
America. A circular of some kind, probably. Then she found herself
staring incredulously at the typewritten sheet--while Cousin Jimmy
performed a noiseless dance on Aunt Elizabeth's braided rug out in
"I--don't--understand," gasped Emily.
DEAR MISS STARR:--
We take pleasure in advising you that our readers report
favourably with regard to your story The Moral of the Rose and
if mutually satisfactory arrangements can be made we shall be glad to
add the book to our next season's lists. We shall also be interested
in hearing of your plans with regard to future writing.
Very sincerely yours, etc.
"I don't understand--" said Emily again.
Cousin Jimmy could hold himself in no longer. He made a sound
between a whoop and hurrah. Emily flew across the room and dragged
"Cousin Jimmy, what does this mean? You must know something
about it--how did the House of Wareham ever get my book?"
"Have they really accepted it?" demanded Cousin Jimmy.
"Yes. And I never sent it to them. I wouldn't have supposed
it was the least use--the Warehams. Am I dreaming?"
"No. I'll tell you--don't be mad now, Emily. You mind Elizabeth
asked me to tidy up the garret a month ago. I was moving that old
cardboard box you keep a lot of stuff in and the bottom fell out.
Everything went--so--all over the garret. I gathered 'em up--and your
book manuscript was among 'em. I happened to look at a page--and then
I set down--and Elizabeth came up an hour later and found me still
a-sitting there on my hams reading. I'd forgot everything. My, but
she was mad! The garret not half done and dinner ready. But I didn't
mind what she said--I was thinking, 'If that book made me forget
everything like that there's something in it. I'll send
it somewhere.' And I didn't know anywhere to send it but to the
Warehams. I'd always heard of them. And I didn't know how to
send it--but I just stuffed it in an old cracker box and mailed it to
"Didn't you even send stamps for its return?" gasped Emily,
"No, never thought of it. Maybe that's why they took it. Maybe the
other firms sent it back because you sent stamps."
"Hardly." Emily laughed and found herself crying.
"Emily, you ain't mad at me, are you?"
"No--no--darling--I'm only so flabbergasted, as you say yourself,
that I don't know what to say or do. It's all so--the
"I've been watching the mails ever since," chuckled Cousin Jimmy.
"Elizabeth has been thinking I've gone clear daft at last. If the
story had come back I was going to smuggle it back to the garret--I
wasn't going to let you know. But when I saw that thin envelope--I
remembered you said once the thin envelopes always had good
news--dear little Emily, don't cry!"
"I can't--help it--and oh, I'm sorry for what I called you, little
Fourteen. You weren't silly--you were wise--you knew."
"It's gone to her head a little," said Cousin Jimmy to himself.
"No wonder--after so many set-backs. But she'll soon be quite
Teddy and Ilse were coming home for a brief ten days in July. How
was it, wondered Emily, that they always came together? That couldn't
be just a coincidence. She dreaded the visit and wished it were over.
It would be good to see Ilse again--somehow she could never feel a
stranger with Ilse. No matter how long she was away, the moment she
came back you found the old Ilse. But she did not want to see Teddy.
Teddy who had forgotten her. Who had never written since he went away
last. Teddy who was already famous, as a painter of lovely women. So
famous and so successful that--Ilse wrote--he was going to give up
magazine work. Emily felt a certain relief when she read that. She
would no longer dread to open a magazine lest she see her own
face--or soul--looking at her out of some illustration--with
"Frederick Kent" scrawled in the corner, as if to say "know all men
by these presents that this girl is mine." Emily resented less the
pictures which looked like her whole face than the ones in which only
the eyes were hers. To be able to paint her eyes like that Teddy
must know everything that was in her soul. The thought always
filled her with fury and shame--and a sense of horrible helplessness.
She would not--could not--tell Teddy to stop using her as a model.
She had never stooped to acknowledge to him that she had noticed any
resemblance to herself in his illustrations--she never would
And now he was coming home--might be home any time. If only she
could go away--on any pretence--for a few weeks. Miss Royal was
wanting her to go to New York for a visit. But it would never do to
go away when Ilse was coming.
Well--Emily shook herself. What an idiot she was! Teddy was coming
home, a dutiful son, to see his mother--and he would doubtless be
glad enough to see old friends when their actual presence recalled
them to his memory; and why should there be anything difficult about
it? She must get rid of this absurd self-consciousness. She
She was sitting at her open window. The night outside was like a
dark, heavy, perfumed flower. An expectant night--a night when things
intended to happen. Very still. Only the loveliest of muted
sounds--the faintest whisper of trees, the airiest sigh of wind, the
half-heard, half-felt moan of the sea.
"Oh, beauty!" whispered Emily, passionately, lifting her hands to
the stars. "What would I have done without you all these years?"
Beauty of night--and perfume--and mystery. Her soul was filled
with it. There was, just then, room for nothing else. She bent out,
lifting her face to the jewelled sky--rapt, ecstatic.
Then she heard it. A soft, silvery signal in Lofty John's
bush--two higher notes and one long, low one--the old, old call that
would once have sent her with flying feet to the shadows of the
Emily sat as if turned to stone, her white face framed in the
vines that clustered round her window. He was there--Teddy was
there--in Lofty John's bush--waiting for her--calling to her as of
old. Expecting her!
Almost she had sprung to her feet--almost she had run downstairs
and out to the shadows--the beautiful, perfumed shadows where he was
waiting for her. But--
Was he only trying to see if he still had the old power over
He had gone away two years ago without even a written word of
farewell. Would the Murray pride condone that? Would the Murray pride
run to meet the man who had held her of so little account? The Murray
pride would not. Emily's young face took on lines of stubborn
determination in the dim light. She would not go. Let him call as he
might. "Whistle and I'll come to you, my lad," indeed! No more of
that for Emily Byrd Starr. Teddy Kent need not imagine that he could
come and go as went the years and find her meekly waiting to answer
his lordly signal.
Again the call came--twice. He was there--so close to her. In a
moment if she liked, she could be beside him--her hands in his--his
eyes looking into hers--perhaps--
He had gone away without saying good-bye to her!
Emily rose deliberately and lighted her lamp. She sat down at her
desk near the window, took up her pen and fell to writing--or a
semblance of writing. Steadily she wrote--next day she found sheets
covered with aimless repetitions of old poems learned in
school-days--and as she wrote she listened. Would the call come
again? Once more? It did not. When she was quite sure it was not
coming again she put out her light and lay down on her bed with her
face in the pillow. Pride was quite satisfied. She had shown him she
was not to be whistled off and on. Oh, how thankful she felt that she
had been firm enough not to go. For which reason, no doubt, her
pillow was wet with savage tears.
He came next night--with Ilse--in his new car. And there was
handshaking and gaiety and laughter--oh, a great deal of laughter.
Ilse was looking radiant in a big yellow hat trimmed with crimson
roses. One of those preposterous hats only Ilse could get away with.
How unlike the neglected, almost ragged Ilse of olden days. Yet just
as lovable as ever. Nobody could help loving Ilse. Teddy was
charming, too--with just the right amount of mingled interest and
detachment an old resident coming back to childhood's home would
naturally feel. Interested in everything and everybody. Oh, yes,
indeed, hugely! Ilse tells me you're bringing out a book. Capital.
What's it about? Must get a copy. Blair Water quite unchanged.
Delightful to come back to a place where time seems to stand
Emily almost thought she must have dreamed the whistle in Lofty
But she went for a drive to Priest Pond with him and Ilse--and
made quite a sensation, for cars were still great novelties
thereabouts. And they had a merry, delightful time--then and for the
few remaining days of their visit. Ilse had meant to stay three weeks
but found she could stay only five days. And Teddy, who seemed to be
master of his own time, decided to stay no longer, too. And they both
came over to say good-bye to Emily and all went for a farewell
moonlit spin--and laughed a great deal--and Ilse, with a hug,
declared it was just like old times and Teddy agreed.
"If only Perry had been round," he amended. "I'm sorry not to have
seen old Perry. They tell me he is getting on like a house
Perry had gone to the Coast on business for his firm. Emily
bragged a little about him and his success. Teddy Kent need not
suppose he was the only one who was arriving.
"Are his manners any better than they used to be?" asked Ilse.
"His manners are good enough for us simple Prince Edward
Islanders," said Emily, nastily.
"Oh, well, I admit I never saw him pick his teeth in public,"
conceded Ilse. "Do you know"--with a sly, sidelong glance at Teddy
which Emily instantly noticed--"once I fancied myself quite in love
with Perry Miller."
"Lucky Perry!" said Teddy with what seemed a quiet smile of
Ilse did not kiss Emily good-bye, but she shook hands very
cordially as did Teddy. Emily was thanking her stars, in genuine
earnest this time, that she had not gone to Teddy when he
whistled--if he ever had whistled. They drove gaily off down the
lane. But when a few moments later Emily turned into New Moon there
were flying footsteps behind her and she was enveloped in a silken
"Emily darling, good-bye. I love you as much as ever--but
everything is so horribly changed--and we can never find the Islands
of Enchantment again. I wish I hadn't come home at all--but say you
love me and always will. I couldn't bear it if you didn't."
"Of course I'll always love you, Ilse."
They kissed lingeringly--almost sadly--among the faint, cold,
sweet perfumes of night. Ilse went down the lane to where Teddy was
purring and scintillating for her--or his car was--and Emily went
into New Moon where her two old aunts and Cousin Jimmy were waiting
"I wonder if Ilse and Teddy will ever be married," said Aunt
"It's time Ilse was settling down," said Aunt Elizabeth.
"Poor Ilse," said Cousin Jimmy inexplainably.
One late, lovely autumn day in November Emily walked home from the
Blair Water post-office with a letter from Ilse and a parcel. She was
athrill with an intoxication of excitement that easily passed for
happiness. The whole day had been a strangely, unreasonably
delightful one of ripe sunshine on the sere hills, faint, grape-like
bloom on the faraway woods and a soft, blue sky with little wisps of
grey cloud like cast-off veils. Emily had wakened in the morning from
a dream of Teddy--the dear, friendly Teddy of the old days--and all
day she had been haunted by an odd sense of his nearness. It seemed
as if his footstep sounded at her side and as if she might come upon
him suddenly when she rounded a spruce-fringed curve in the red road
or went down into some sunny hollow where the ferns were thick and
golden--find him smiling at her with no shadow of change between
them, the years of exile and alienation forgotten. She had not really
thought much about him for a long while. The summer and autumn had
been busy--she was hard at work on a new story--Ilse's letters had
been few and scrappy. Why this sudden, irrational sense of his
nearness? When she got Ilse's fat letter she was quite sure there was
some news of Teddy in it.
But it was the little parcel that was responsible for her
excitement. It was stamped with the sign manual of the House of
Wareham and Emily knew what it must hold. Her book--her
She hurried home by the cross-lots road--the little old road over
which the vagabond wandered and the lover went to his lady and
children to joy and tired men home--the road that linked up
eventually with the pasture field by the Blair Water and the
Yesterday Road. Once in the grey-boughed solitude of the Yesterday
Road Emily sat down in a bay of brown bracken and opened her
There lay her book. Her book, spleet-new from the
publishers. It was a proud, wonderful, thrilling moment. The crest of
the Alpine Path at last? Emily lifted her shining eyes to the deep
blue November sky and saw peak after peak of sunlit azure still
towering beyond. Always new heights of aspiration. One could never
reach the top really. But what a moment when one reached a plateau
and outlook like this! What a reward for the long years of toil and
endeavour and disappointment and discouragement.
But oh, for her unborn Seller of Dreams!
The excitement at New Moon that afternoon almost equalled Emily's
own. Cousin Jimmy gave up unblushingly his plan of finishing the
ploughing of the hill field to sit at home and gloat over the book.
Aunt Laura cried--of course--and Aunt Elizabeth looked indifferent,
merely remarking in a tone of surprise that it was bound like a real
book. Evidently Aunt Elizabeth had been expecting paper covers. But
she made some rather foolish mistakes in her quilt patches that
afternoon and she did not once ask Jimmy why he wasn't ploughing. And
when some callers dropped in later on The Moral of the Rose
was mysteriously on the parlour table, though it had been up on
Emily's desk when Aunt Elizabeth saw the automobile drive into the
yard. Aunt Elizabeth never mentioned it and neither of the callers
noticed it. When they went away Aunt Elizabeth said witheringly that
John Angus had less sense than ever he had and that for her part, if
she were Cousin Margaret, she would not wear clothes
twenty years too young for her.
"An old ewe tricked out like a lamb," said Aunt Elizabeth
If they had done what was expected of them in regard to The
Moral of the Rose Aunt Elizabeth would probably have said that
John Angus had always been a jovial, good-natured sort of creature
and that it was really wonderful how Cousin Margaret had held her
In all the excitement Emily had--not exactly forgotten Ilse's
letter, but wanted to wait until things had settled down a little
before reading it. At twilight she went to her room and sat down in
the fading light. The wind had changed at sunset and the evening was
cold and edged. What Jimmy called a "skiff" of snow had fallen
suddenly whitening the world and the withered, unlovely garden. But
the storm-cloud had passed and the sky was clear and yellow over the
white hills and dark firs. The odd perfume that Ilse always affected
floated out of her letter when it was opened. Emily had always
vaguely disliked it. But then her taste differed from Ilse's in the
matter of perfumes as in so many others. Ilse liked the exotic,
oriental, provocative odors. To the day of her death Emily will never
catch a whiff of that perfume without turning cold and sick.
"Exactly one thousand times have I planned to write to you," wrote
Ilse, "but when one is revolving rapidly on the wheel of things there
doesn't seem to be an opportunity for anything one really wants to
do. All these months I've been so rushed that I've felt precisely
like a cat just one jump ahead of a dog. If I stopped for a breath it
would catch me.
"But the spirit moves me to utter a few yowls to-night. I've
something to tell you. And your darling letter came to-day--so I will
write to-night, and let the dog eat me if he will.
"I'm glad you're keeping well and good-humoured. There are times I
envy you fiercely, Emily--your New Moon quiet and peace and
leisure--your intense absorption and satisfaction in your work--your
singleness of purpose. 'If thine eye be single thy whole body shall
be full of light.' That's either in the Bible or Shakespeare, but
wherever it is, it is true. I remember you told me once you envied me
my opportunities of travel. Emily, old dear, rushing about from one
place to another isn't travelling. If you were like your foolish
Ilse, chasing a score of butterfly projects and ambitions you
wouldn't be so happy. You always remind me--always did remind me,
even in our old chummy days--of somebody's line--'her soul was like a
star and dwelt apart.'
"Well, when one can't get the thing one really wants, one can't
help chasing after anything that might made a decent
substitute. I know you've always thought me an unmitigated donkey
because I cared so much about Perry Miller. I knew you never quite
understood. You couldn't. You never really cared a hoot about any
he-creature, did you, Emily? So you thought me an idiot. I daresay I
was. But I'm going to be sensible in future, I'm going to marry Teddy
Emily laid down--or dropped--the letter for a moment. She did not
feel either pain or surprise--one does not feel either, I am told,
when a bullet strikes the heart. It seemed to her that she had always
known this was coming--always. At least, since the night of Mrs.
Chidlaw's dinner-dance. And yet, now that it had really happened, it
seemed to her that she was suffering everything of death but its
merciful dying. In the dim, twilit mirror before her she saw her own
face. Had Emily-in-the-glass ever looked like that before? But her
room was just the same. It seemed indecent that it should be the
same. After a few moments--or years--Emily picked up the letter and
"I'm not in love with Teddy, of course. But he's just got to be a
habit with me. I can't do without him--and I either have to do
without him or marry him. He won't stand my hesitation any longer.
Besides, he's going to be very famous. I shall enjoy being the wife
of a famous man. Also, he will have the simoleons, too. Not that I'm
altogether mercenary, Emily. I said 'No' to a millionaire last week.
A nice fellow, too--but with a face like a good-natured weasel's, if
there can be such a thing. And he cried when I told him I
wouldn't marry him. Oh, it was ghastly.
"Yes, it's mostly ambition, I grant you. And a certain odd kind of
weariness and impatience with my life as it has been these last few
years. Everything seems squeezed dry. But I'm really very fond of
Teddy--always was. He's nice and companionable--and our taste in
jokes is exactly the same. And he never bores me. I have no use for
people who bore me. Of course he's too good-looking for a man--he'll
always be a target for the head-hunters. But since I don't care
too much for him I shan't be tortured by jealousy. In life's
morning march when my bosom was young I could have fried in boiling
oil anyone--except you--at whom Perry Miller cast a sheep's eye.
"I've thought for years and known for weeks that this was coming
some day. But I've been staving Teddy off--I wouldn't let him say the
words that would really bind us. I don't know whether I'd ever have
scraped up the courage to let him say them, but destiny took a hand.
We were out for a spin two weeks ago one evening and a most
unseasonable and malignant thunder-storm came up. We had a dreadful
time getting back--there was no place on that bare, lonely hill-road
we could stop--the rain fell in torrents, the thunder crashed, the
lightning flashed. It was unendurable and we didn't endure it. We
just tore through it and cussed. Then it cleared off as suddenly as
it had began--and my nerves went to pieces--fancy! I have
nerves now--and I began to cry like a frightened, foolish baby. And
Teddy's arms were about me and he was saying I must marry
him--and let him take care of me. I suppose I said I would because
it's quite clear he thinks we are engaged. He has given me a blue
Chow pup and a sapphire ring--a sapphire he picked up in Europe
somewhere--an historic jewel for which a murder was once committed, I
"I think it will be rather nice to be taken care of. Properly. I
never was, you know. Dad had no use for me until you found out the
truth about Mother--what a witch you were! And after that he adored
and spoiled me. But he didn't take any more real care of me than
"We are to be married next June. Dad will be pleased, I fancy.
Teddy was always the white-haired boy with him. Besides, I think he
was beginning to be a little scared I was never going to hook a
husband. Dad plumes himself on being a radical but at heart he
out-Victorians the Victorians.
"And of course you must be my bridesmaid. Oh, Emily dear, how I
wish I could see you to-night--talk with you--one of our old-time
spiels--walk with you over the Delectable Mountain and along the
ferny, frosted woodside, hang about that old garden by the sea where
red poppies blow--all our old familiar places. I wish--I think I
really do wish--I was ragged, barefooted, wild Ilse Burnley again.
Life is pleasant still--oh, I don't say it isn't. Very pleasant--in
spots--like the curate's immortal egg. But the 'first fine careless
rapture'--the thrush may recapture it but we never. Emily, old pal,
would you turn the clock back if you could?"
Emily read the letter over three times. Then she sat for a very
long time at her window, looking blindly out on the blanched, dim
world lying under the terrible mockery of a sky full of stars. The
wind around the eaves was full of ghostly voices. Bits here and there
in Ilse's letter turned and twisted and vanished in her consciousness
like little venomous snakes, each with a mortal sting.
"Your singleness of purpose"--"you never cared for anyone"--"of
course you must be my bridesmaid"--"I'm really very fond of
Could any girl really "hesitate" over accepting Teddy Kent?
Emily heard a little note of bitter laughter. Was it something in
herself that laughed--or that vanishing spectre of Teddy that had
haunted her all day--or an old smothered persistent hope that laughed
before it died at last?
And at that very moment probably Ilse and Teddy were together.
"If I had gone--that night--last summer--when he called--would it
have made any difference?" was the question that asked itself over
and over again maddeningly.
"I wish I could hate Ilse. It would make it easier," she thought
drearily. "If she loved Teddy I think I could hate her.
Somehow, it isn't so dreadful when she doesn't. It ought to be
more dreadful. It's very strange that I can bear the thought
of his loving her when I couldn't bear the thought of her loving
A great weariness suddenly possessed her. For the first time in
her life death seemed a friend. It was very late when she finally
went to bed. Towards morning she slept a little. But wakened stupidly
at dawn. What was it she had heard?
She got up and dressed--as she must get up and dress every morning
to come for endless years.
"Well," she said aloud to Emily-in-the-glass. "I've spilled my cup
of life's wine on the ground--somehow. And she will give me no more.
So I must go thirsty. Would--would it have been different if I
had gone to him that night he called. If I only knew!" She thought
she could see Dean's ironical, compassionate eyes.
Suddenly she laughed.
"In plain English--as Ilse would say--what a devilish mess I've
made of things!"
Life, of course, went on in spite of its dreadfulness. The routine
of existence doesn't stop because one is miserable. There were even
some moments that were not altogether bad. Emily again measured her
strength with pain and again conquered. With the Murray pride and the
Starr reserve at her elbow she wrote Ilse a letter of good wishes
with which nobody could have found fault. If that were only all she
had to do! If only people wouldn't keep on talking to her about Ilse
The engagement was announced in the Montreal papers and then in
the Island ones.
"Yes, they're engaged and heaven help every one concerned," said
Dr. Burnley. But he could not hide his satisfaction in it.
"Thought at one time you and Teddy were going to make a
match of it," he said jovially to Emily--who smiled gallantly and
said something about the unexpected always happening.
"Anyhow we'll have a wedding that is a wedding," declared
the doctor. "We haven't had a wedding in the clan for God knows how
long. I thought they'd forgotten how. I'll show 'em. Ilse writes me
you're to be bridesmaid. And I'll be wanting you to oversee things
generally. Can't trust a wedding to a housekeeper."
"Anything I can do, of course," said Emily automatically. Nobody
should suspect what she felt not if she died for it. She would even
If it had not been for that prospect ahead she thought she could
have got through the winter not unhappily. For The Moral of the
Rose was a success from the start. The first edition exhausted in
ten days--three large editions in two weeks--five in eight weeks.
Exaggerated reports of the pecuniary returns were circulated
everywhere. For the first time Uncle Wallace looked at her with
respect and Aunt Addie wished secretly that Andrew hadn't been
consoled quite so soon. Old Cousin Charlotte, of Derry Pond, heard of
the many editions and opined that Emily must be very busy if she had
to put all the books together and sew them herself. The Shrewsbury
people were furious because they imagined they were in the book.
Every family believed they were the Applegaths.
"You were right not to come to New York," wrote Miss Royal. "You
could never have written The Moral of the Rose here. Wild
roses won't grow in city streets. And your story is like a wild rose,
dear, all sweetness and unexpectedness with sly little thorns of wit
and satire. It has power, delicacy, understanding. It's not just
story-telling. There's some magicry in it. Emily Byrd Starr, where do
you get your uncanny understanding of human nature--you infant?"
Dean wrote too--"good creative work, Emily. Your characters are
natural and human and delightful. And I like the glowing spirit of
youth that pervades the book."
"I had hoped to learn something from the reviews, but they are all
too contradictory," said Emily. "What one reviewer pronounces the
book's greatest merit another condemns as its worst fault. Listen to
these--'Miss Starr never succeeds in making her characters
convincing' and 'One fancies that some of the author's characters
must have been copied from real life. They are so absolutely true to
nature that they could hardly be the work of imagination.'"
"I told you people would recognize old Douglas Courcy,"
interjected Aunt Elizabeth.
"'A very tiresome book'--'a very delightful book'--'very
undistinguished fiction' and 'on every page the work of the finished
artist is apparent'--'a book of cheap and weak romanticism' and 'a
classic quality in the book'--'a unique story of a rare order of
literary workmanship' and 'a silly, worthless, colourless and
desultory story'--'an ephemeral sort of affair' and a book destined
to live.' What is one to believe?"
"I would just believe only the favourable ones," said Aunt
"My tendency is just the other way. I can't help believing the
unfavourable ones are true and that the favourable ones were written
by morons. But I don't really mind much what they say about the
book. It's only when they criticize my heroine that I'm hurt
and furious, I saw red over these reviews of darling Peggy. 'A
girl of extraordinary stupidity'--'the heroine has too marked a
self-consciousness of her mission.'"
"I did think she was a bit of a flirt," conceded Cousin
"'A thin, sweetish heroine'--'the heroine is something of a
bore'--'queer but altogether too queer.'"
"I told you she shouldn't have had green eyes," groaned Cousin
Jimmy. "A heroine should always have blue eyes.'
"Oh, but listen to this," cried Emily gaily--"'Peg
Applegath is simply irresistible'--'Peg is a remarkably
vivid personality'--'a fascinating heroine'--'Peg is too
delightful not to be credited while we are under her spell'--'one of
the immortal girls of literature.' What about green eyes now, Cousin
Cousin Jimmy shook his head. He was not convinced.
"Here's a review for you," twinkled Emily. "'A psychological
problem with roots that stretch far into subliminal depths which
would give the book weight and value if it were grappled with
"I know the meaning of all those words by themselves except two,
but put together they don't make any sense," protested Cousin Jimmy
"'Beneath the elusiveness and atmospheric charm is a wonderful
firmness of character delineation.'"
"I don't quite get that either," confessed Cousin Jimmy, "But it
sounds kind of favourable."
"'A conventional and commonplace book.'"
"What does 'conventional' mean!" asked Aunt Elizabeth, who would
not have been posed by transubstantiation or Gnosticism.
"'Beautifully written and full of sparkling humour. Miss Starr is
a real artist in literature.'"
"Oh, now, there's a reviewer with some sense," purred
"'The general impression left by the book is that it might be much
"That reviewer was trying to be smart, I suppose," said
Aunt Elizabeth, apparently quite oblivious of the fact that she had
said the very same thing herself.
"'This book lacks spontaneity. It is saccharine and melodramatic,
mawkish and naive.'"
"I know I fell into the well," said Cousin Jimmy pitifully. "Is
that why I can't make head or tail out of that?"
"Here's one you can understand--perhaps. 'Miss Starr must have
invented the Applegath orchard as well as her green-eyed
heroine. There are no orchards in Prince Edward Island. They are
killed by the harsh, salt winds that blow across that narrow sandy
"Read that again please, Emily."
Emily complied. Cousin Jimmy scratched his head, then shook it.
"Do they let that kind run loose over there?"
"'The story is a charming one, charmingly told. The characters are
skilfully depicted, the dialogue deftly handled, the descriptive
passages surprisingly effective. The quiet humour is simply
"I hope this will not make you vain, Emily," said Aunt Elizabeth
"If it does, here's the antidote. 'This feeble, pretentious and
sentimental story--if story it can be called--is full of banalities
and trivialities. A mass of disconnected episodes and scraps of
conversation, intermingled with long periods of reflection and
"I wonder if the creature who wrote that knew the meaning of the
words himself," said Aunt Laura.
"'The scene of this story is laid in Prince Edward Island, a
detached portion of land off the coast of Newfoundland.'"
"Don't Yankees ever study geography?" snorted exasperated
"'A story that will not corrupt its readers.'"
"There's a real compliment now," said Aunt Elizabeth.
Cousin Jimmy looked doubtful. It sounded all right but--of course
dear little Emily's book couldn't corrupt anyone but--
"'To review a book of this kind is like attempting to dissect a
butterfly's wing or strip a rose of its petals to discover the secret
of its fragrance.'"
"Too highfalutin," sniffed Aunt Elizabeth.
"'Honeyed sentimentality which the author evidently supposes is
"Wouldn't I like to smack his gob," said Cousin Jimmy
"'Harmless and easy reading.'"
"I don't know why, but I don't quite like the sound of that,"
commented Aunt Laura.
"'This story will keep a kindly smile upon your lips and in your
heart as well.'"
"Come now, that's English. I can understand that," beamed
"'We began but found it impossible to finish this crude and
"Well, all I can say," said Cousin Jimmy indignantly, "is
that the oftener I read The Moral of the Rose the better I
like it. Why, I was reading it for the fourth time yesterday and I
was so interested I clean forgot all about dinner."
Emily smiled. It was better to have won her standing with the New
Moon folks than with the world. What mattered it what any reviewer
said when Aunt Elizabeth remarked with an air of uttering the final
"Well, I never could have believed that a pack of lies could sound
as much like the real truth as that book does."
Emily, coming home one January night from an evening call, decided
to use the cross-lots road that skirted the Tansy Patch. It had been
a winter almost without snow and the ground under her feet was bare
and hard. She seemed the only living creature abroad in the night and
she walked slowly, savouring the fine, grim, eerie charm of
flowerless meadows and silent woods, of the moon breaking suddenly
out of black clouds over the lowlands of pointed firs; and trying,
more or less successfully, not to think of the letter that had come
from Ilse that day--one of Ilse's gay, incoherent letters, where one
fact stood out barely. The wedding-day was set--the fifteenth of
"I want you to wear harebell blue gauze over ivory taffeta for
your bridesmaid dress, darling. How your black silk hair will shine
"My 'bridal robe' is going to be of ivory velvet and old
Great-aunt Edith in Scotland is sending me out her veil of rose-point
and Great-aunt Theresa in the same historic land is sending me a
train of silver oriental embroidery that her husband once brought
home from Constantinople. I'll veil it with tulle. Won't I be a
dazzling creature? I don't think the dear old souls knew I existed
till Dad wrote them about my 'forthcoming nuptials.' Dad is far more
excited over everything than I am.
"Teddy and I are going to spend our honeymoon in old inns in
out-of-the-way European corners--places where nobody else wants to
go--Vallambroso and so on. That line of Milton's always intrigued
me--'thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks in Vallambroso.'
When you take it away from its horrible context it is a picture of
"I'll be home in May for my last preparations and Teddy will come
the first of June to spend a little while with his mother. How
is she taking it, Emily? Have you any idea? I can't get
anything out of Teddy, so I suppose she doesn't like it. She always
hated me, I know. But then she seemed to hate everyone--with a
special venom for you. I won't be particularly fortunate in my
mother-in-law. I'll always have an eerie feeling that she's secretly
heaping maledictions on my head. However, Teddy is nice enough to
make up for her. He really is. I'd no idea how nice he could be and
I'm growing fonder of him every day. Honestly. When I look at him and
realize how handsome and charming he is I can't understand why I'm
not madly in love with him. But it's really much more comfortable not
to be. If I were I'd be heartbroken every time we quarrelled. We're
always quarrelling--you know me of old. We always will. We'll spoil
every wonderful moment with a quarrel. But life won't be dull."
Emily shivered. Her own life was looking very bleak and starved
just then. Oh, how--nice--it would be when the wedding was over--the
wedding where she should be bride--yes, should--and was
to be bridesmaid--and people done talking of it. "Harebell blue over
ivory taffeta!" Sackcloth and ashes, rather.
"Emily. Emily Starr."
Emily almost jumped. She had not seen Mrs. Kent in the gloom until
they were face to face--at the little side path that led up to the
Tansy Patch. She was standing there, bareheaded in the chill night,
with outstretched hand.
"Emily, I want to have a talk with you. I saw you go past here at
sunset and I've been watching for you ever since. Come up to the
Emily would much rather have refused. Yet she turned and silently
climbed the steep, root-ribbed path, with Mrs. Kent flitting before
her like a little dead leaf borne along by the wind. Through the
ragged old garden where nothing ever grew but tansy, and into the
little house that was as shabby as it had always been. People said
Teddy Kent might fix up his mother's house a bit if he were making
all the money folks said he was. But Emily knew that Mrs. Kent would
not let him--would not have anything changed.
She looked around the little place curiously. She had not been in
it for many years--not since the long-ago days when she and Ilse and
Teddy had been children there. It seemed quite unchanged. As of yore,
the house seemed to be afraid of laughter. Someone always seemed to
be praying in it. It had an atmosphere of prayer. And the old willow
to the west was still tap-tapping on the window with ghostly
finger-tips. On the mantel was a recent photograph of Teddy--a good
one. He seemed on the point of speaking--of saying something
"Emily, I've found the rainbow gold. Fame--and love."
She turned her back on it and sat down. Mrs. Kent sat opposite--a
faded, shrinking little figure with the long scar slanting palely
across her bitter mouth and lined face--the face that must have been
very pretty once. She was looking intently, searchingly at Emily;
but, as Emily instantly realized, the old smouldering hatred had gone
out of her eyes--her tired eyes that must once have been young and
eager and laughter-lit. She leaned forward and touched Emily's arm
with her slim, claw-like fingers.
"You know that Teddy is going to marry Ilse Burnley," she
"What do you feel about it?"
Emily moved impatiently.
"What do my feelings matter, Mrs. Kent? Teddy loves Ilse. She is a
beautiful, brilliant, warmhearted girl. I am sure they will be very
"Do you still love him?"
Emily wondered why she did not feel resentment. But Mrs. Kent was
not to be judged by ordinary rules. And here was a fine chance to
save her face by a cool little lie--just a few indifferent words.
"Not any longer, Mrs. Kent. Oh, I know I once imagined I
did--imagining things like that is one of my weaknesses
unfortunately. But I find I don't care at all."
Why couldn't she say them? Well, she couldn't, that was all. She
could never, in any words, deny her love for Teddy. It was so much a
part of herself that it had a divine right to truth. And was there
not, too, a secret relief in feeling that here at least was one
person with whom she could be herself--before whom she need not
pretend or hide?
"I don't think you have any right to ask that question, Mrs. Kent.
Mrs. Kent laughed silently.
"I used to hate you. I don't hate you any longer. We are one now,
you and I. We love him. And he has forgotten us--he cares nothing for
us--he has gone to her."
"He does care for you, Mrs. Kent. He always did. Surely you can
understand that there is more than one kind of love. And I hope--you
are not going to hate Ilse because Teddy loves her."
"No, I don't hate her. She is more beautiful than you, but there
is no mystery about her. She will never possess him wholly as you
would have. It's quite different. But I want to know this--are you
unhappy because of this?"
"No. Only for a few minutes now and then. Generally I am too much
interested in my work to brood morbidly on what can't be mine."
Mrs. Kent had listened thirstily. "Yes--yes--exactly. I thought
so. The Murrays are so sensible. Some day--some day--you'll be glad
this has happened--glad that Teddy didn't care for you. Don't you
think you will?"
"Oh, I am sure of it. It's so much better for you. Oh, you don't
know the suffering and wretchedness you will be spared. It's madness
to love anything too much. God is jealous. If you married
Teddy he would break your heart--they always do. It is best--you will
live to feel it was best."
Tap--tap--tap went the old willow.
"Need we talk of this any more, Mrs. Kent?"
"Do you remember that night I found you and Teddy in the
graveyard?" asked Mrs. Kent, apparently deaf to Emily's question.
"Yes." Emily found herself remembering it very vividly--that
strange wonderful night when Teddy had saved her from mad Mr.
Morrison and said such sweet, unforgettable things to her.
"Oh, how I hated you that night!" exclaimed Mrs. Kent. "But I
shouldn't have said those things to you. All my life I've been saying
things I shouldn't. Once I said a terrible thing--such a terrible
thing. I've never been able to get the echo of it out of my ears. And
do you remember what you said to me? That was why I let
Teddy go away from me. It was your doing. If he hadn't gone
you mightn't have lost him. Are you sorry you spoke so?"
"No. If anything I said helped to clear the way for him I'm
"You would do it over again?"
"And don't you hate Ilse bitterly? She has taken what you wanted.
You must hate her."
"I do not. I love Ilse dearly as I always did. She has taken
nothing from me that was ever mine."
"I don't understand it--I don't understand it," half whispered
Mrs. Kent. "My love isn't like that. Perhaps that is why it
has always made me so unhappy. No, I don't hate you any longer. But
oh, I did hate you. I knew Teddy cared more for you than he did for
me. Didn't you and he talk about me--criticize me?"
"I thought you did. People were always doing that--always."
Suddenly Mrs. Kent struck her tiny hands together violently.
"Why didn't you tell me you didn't love him any longer? Why didn't
you--even if it was a lie? That was what I wanted to hear. I could
have believed you. The Murrays never lie."
"Oh, what does it matter?" cried tortured Emily again. "My love
means nothing to him now. He is Ilse's. You need not be jealous of me
any longer, Mrs. Kent."
"I'm not--I'm not--it isn't that." Mrs. Kent looked at her oddly.
"Oh, if I only dared--but no--but no, it's too late. It would be no
use now. I don't think I know what I'm saying. Only--Emily--will you
come to see me sometimes? It's lonely here--very lonely--so much
worse now when he belongs to Ilse. His picture came last
Wednesday--no, Thursday. There is so little to distinguish the days
here. I put it up there, but it makes things worse. He was thinking
of her in it--can't you tell by his eyes he was thinking of the woman
he loves? I am of no importance to him now. I am of no importance to
"If I come to see you--you mustn't talk of him--or of them," said
"I won't. Oh, I won't. Though that won't prevent us from thinking
of them, will it? You'll sit there--and I'll sit here--and we'll talk
of the weather and think of him. How amusing! But--when you've
really forgotten him--when you really don't care any more--you'll
tell me, won't you?"
Emily nodded and rose to go. She could not endure this any longer.
"And if there is ever anything I can do for you, Mrs. Kent--"
"I want rest--rest," said Mrs. Kent, laughing wildly. "Can you
find that for me? Don't you know I'm a ghost, Emily? I died years
ago. I walk in the dark."
As the door closed behind her Emily heard Mrs. Kent beginning to
cry terribly. With a sigh of relief she turned to the crisp open
spaces of the wind and the night, the shadows and the frosty moon.
Ah, one could breathe here.
Ilse came in May--a gay, laughing Ilse. Almost too gay and
laughing, Emily thought. Ilse had always been a merry, irresponsible
creature; but not quite so unceasingly so as now. She never had a
serious mood, apparently. She made a jest of everything, even her
marriage. Aunt Elizabeth and Aunt Laura were quite shocked at her. A
girl who was so soon to assume the responsibilities of wedded life
should be more thoughtful and sober. Ilse told Emily they were
mid-Victorian screams. She chatted ceaselessly when she and Emily
were together, but never talked to her, despite the desire
expressed in her letters for old-time spiels. Perhaps she was not
quite all to blame for this. Emily, in spite of her determination to
be exactly the same as of yore, could not help a certain restraint
and reserve, born of her secret pain and her fierce determination to
hide it. Ilse felt the restraint, though wholly unsuspicious of the
cause. Emily was just naturally growing a little bit New Moonish,
that was all, living there alone with those dear old
"When Teddy and I come back and set up house in Montreal you must
spend every winter with us, darling. New Moon is a dear place in
summer, but in winter you must be absolutely buried alive."
Emily made no promises. She did not see herself as a guest in
Teddy's home. Every night she told herself she could not possibly
endure tomorrow. But when to-morrow came it was livable. It was even
possible to talk dress and details calmly with Ilse. The harebell
blue dress became a reality and Emily tried it on two nights before
Teddy was expected home. The wedding was only two weeks away now.
"You look like a dream in it, Emily," said Ilse, stretched out on
Emily's bed with the grace and abandon of a cat--Teddy's sapphire
blotting her finger darkly. "You'll make all my velvet and lace
gorgeousness look obvious and crude. Did I tell you Teddy is bringing
Lorne Halsey with him for best man? I'm positively thrilled--the
great Halsey. His mother has been so ill he didn't think he could
come. But the obliging old lady has suddenly recovered and he's
actually coming. His new book is a wow. Everybody in Montreal was
raving over it and he's the most interesting and improbable creature.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if you and he were to fall in love with each
"Don't go matchmaking for me, Ilse," said Emily with a faint
smile, as she took off the harebell dress. "I feel in my bones that I
shall achieve old-maidenhood, which is an entirely different thing
from having old-maidenhood thrust upon you."
"To be sure, he looks like a gargoyle," said Ilse meditatively.
"If it hadn't been for that I think I might have married him myself.
I'm almost sure I could have. His way of making love was to ask me my
opinion about things. That was agreeable. But I had a hunch that if
we were married he would stop asking for my opinion. That would
not be agreeable. Besides, nobody could ever tell what he
really thought. He might be looking as though he adored you and
thinking he saw crow's-feet around your eyes. By the way, isn't Teddy
the most beautiful thing?"
"He was always a nice-looking boy."
"'A nice-looking boy,'" mimicked Ilse. "Emily Starr, if you ever
do marry I hope your husband will chain you in the dog-kennel. I'll
be calling you Aunt Emily in a minute. Why, there's nobody in
Montreal who can hold a candle to him. It's his looks I love
really--not him. Sometimes he bores me--really. Although I was so
sure he wouldn't. He never did before we were engaged. I have a
premonition that some day I'll throw the teapot at him. Isn't it a
pity we can't have two husbands? One to look at and one to talk to.
But Teddy and I will be by way of being a stunning couple, won't we,
honey? He so dark--I so fair. Ideal. I've always wished I was 'a dark
ladye'--like you--but when I said so to Teddy he just laughed and
quoted the old verse,
'If the bards of old the truth have told
The sirens have raven hair.
But over the earth since art had birth,
They paint the angels fair.'
That's the nearest Teddy will ever get to calling me an
angel. Luckily. For when all's said and done, Emily, I'd rather--are
you sure the door is shut so that Aunt Laura won't drop dead?--I'd
much rather be a siren than an angel. Wouldn't you?"
"Let's check up the invitations now and make sure we haven't left
anybody out," was Emily's response to this riot of words.
"Isn't it terrible to belong to a clan like ours?" said Ilse
peevishly. "There's such a ghastly lot of old frumps and bores that
have to be among those present. I hope some day I'll get where there
are no relations. I wish the whole damn affair was over. You're sure
you addressed a bid to Perry, aren't you?"
"I wonder if he'll come? I hope he will. What a goose I was ever
to fancy I cared so much for him! I used to hope--all sorts of
things, in spite of the fact I knew he was crazy about you. But I
never hoped after Mrs. Chidlaw's dinner-dance. Do you remember it,
Yes, Emily remembered that.
"Till then I'd always hoped a little--that some day when he
realized he couldn't have you--I'd catch his heart on the
rebound--wasn't that the Victorian phrase? I thought he'd be at the
Chidlaws'--I knew he had been invited. And I asked Teddy if Perry
were coming. Teddy looked right into my eyes meaningly and said,
'Perry will not be here. He's working on the case he has to appear in
to-morrow. Perry's goal is ambition. He has no time for love.'
"I knew he was trying to warn me--and I knew it was no use to go
on hoping--anything. So I gave up definitely. Well, it's turned out
all right. Isn't it charming how things do turn out so beautifully?
Makes one quite believe in an overruling Providence. Isn't it nice to
be able to blame everything on God?"
Emily hardly heard Ilse as she mechanically hung up the blue dress
in her closet and slipped into a little green sport suit. So
that was what Teddy had said to Ilse that night years ago when
she knew he had uttered the word "love." And she had been so chilly
to him because of it. Well, not likely it mattered. No doubt he had
only been warning Ilse because he wanted her to turn her maiden
thoughts from Perry and concentrate them on himself. She felt
relieved when Ilse finally went home. Ilse's light, continual chatter
rather got on her nerves--though she was ashamed to admit it. But
then her nerves were on edge under this long-drawn-out torture. Two
weeks more of it--and then, thank God, at least peace.
She went up to the Tansy Patch in the dusk to take back a book
Mrs. Kent had lent her the night before. The visit must be made
before Teddy came home. She had been up to the Tansy Patch several
times since that first evening and an odd sort of friendship had
sprung up between her and Mrs. Kent. They lent each other books and
talked of everything except the one thing that mattered most to them.
The book Emily was returning was an old copy of The South African
Farm. Emily had expressed a wish to read it and Mrs. Kent had
gone upstairs and presently came down with it--her white face a
little whiter and the scar burning redly across it as always when she
was deeply moved.
"Here is the book you want," she said. "I had it in a box
Emily finished reading the book before she went to sleep. She was
not sleeping well now and the nights were long. The book had a musty,
unaired odour--evidently the box Mrs. Kent spoke of had not been
opened for a long time. And in it Emily found a thin letter,
unstamped, addressed to Mrs. David Kent.
The curious thing about the letter was that it was, apparently,
unopened. Well, letters often re-sealed themselves like that, if
placed under pressure, when the flap had pulled open untorn in the
first opening. Not likely it was of much significance. But of course
she would mention it when she took the book back.
"Did you know there was a letter in this book, Mrs. Kent?"
"A letter. Did you say a letter?"
"Yes. Addressed to you."
Emily held the letter out to Mrs. Kent, whose face became ghastly
as she looked at the handwriting.
"You found that--in that book?" she whispered. "In that book that
hasn't been opened for over twenty-five years? Do you know--who wrote
this letter? My--husband wrote it--and I have never read it--never
known of it."
Emily felt herself in the presence of some tragedy--the secret
torture of Mrs. Kent's life, perhaps.
"I will go away--so that you can read it alone," she said gently
and went out, leaving Mrs. Kent standing in the shadowy little room,
holding the letter in her hand--as one might hold a snake.
"I sent for you to-night because there is something I must tell
you," said Mrs. Kent.
She was sitting, a tiny, erect, determined creature in the
armchair by the window in the harsh light of a cold sunset. It was
June but it was cold. The sky was hard and autumnal. Emily, walking
up the cross-lots path had shivered and wished herself at home. But
Mrs. Kent's note had been urgent--almost peremptory. Why in the world
did she want her! Surely, it could not be anything in connection with
Teddy. And yet what else could make Mrs. Kent send for her in this
The moment she saw Mrs. Kent she was conscious of a curious change
in her--a change hard to define. She was as frail, as pitiful as
ever. There seemed even a certain defiant light in her eyes. But for
the first time since she had known Mrs. Kent Emily did not feel that
she was in the presence of an unhappy woman. There was peace here--a
strange, sorrowful, long-unknown peace. The tortured soul was--at
last--off the rack.
"I have been dead--and in hell--but now I am alive again," said
Mrs. Kent. "It's you who have done this--you found that letter. And
so there is something I must tell you. It will make you hate me. And
I shall be sorry for that now. But it must be told."
Emily felt a sudden distaste for hearing whatever it was Mrs. Kent
had to tell. It had--must have--something to do with Teddy. And she
did not want to hear anything--anything--about Teddy
now--Teddy who would be Ilse's husband in two weeks.
"Don't you think--perhaps--it would be better not to tell me?"
"It must be told. I have committed a wrong and I must confess it.
I cannot undo it--I suppose it is too late to undo it--but it must be
told. But there are other things that must be told first. Things I've
never spoken of--things that have been torturing me until I've
screamed out loud at night sometimes with the anguish of them. Oh,
you will never forgive me--but I think you will be a little sorry for
"I've always felt sorry for you, Mrs. Kent."
"I think you did--yes, I think you did. But you couldn't realize
it all. Emily, I wasn't like this when I was a girl. I was--like
other people then. And I was pretty--indeed I was. When David Kent
came and made me love him I was pretty. And he loved
me--then--and he always loved me. He says so in this
She plucked it from the bosom of her dress and kissed it almost
"I can't let you see it, Emily. No eyes but mine must ever see it.
But I'll tell you what is in it. Oh, you can't know--you can't
understand how much I loved him, Emily. You think you love Teddy. But
you don't--you can't love him as I loved his father."
Emily had a different opinion on this point, but she did not say
"He married me and took me home to Malton where his people lived.
We were so happy at first--too happy. I told you God was jealous. And
his people did not like me--not from the first. They thought David
had married beneath him--that I wasn't good enough for him. They were
always trying to come between us. Oh, I knew; I knew what they were
after. His mother hated me. She never called me Aileen--only 'you'
and 'David's wife.' I hated her because she was always watching
me--never said anything--never did anything. Just watched me.
I was never one of them. I never seemed able to understand their
jokes. They were always laughing over something--me, half the time, I
thought. They would write letters to David and never mention me. Some
of them were always freezingly polite to me and some of them were
always giving me digs. Once one of his sisters sent me a book on
etiquette. Something was always hurting me--and I couldn't strike
back--I couldn't hurt what was hurting me. David took their part--he
had secrets with them he kept from me. But in spite of it all I was
happy--till I dropped the lamp and my dress caught fire and scarred
my face like this. After that I couldn't believe David could keep on
loving me. I was so ugly. My nerves got raw and I couldn't help
quarrelling with him over every trifle. But he was patient. He
forgave me again and again. Only I was so afraid he couldn't love me
with that scar. I knew I was going to have a baby, but I kept putting
off telling him. I was afraid he would love it more than he did me.
And then--I did a terrible thing. I hate to tell you of it. David had
a dog--he loved it so much that I hated it I--I poisoned it. I don't
know what possessed me. I never used to be like that--not till I was
burned. Perhaps it was because the baby was coming."
Mrs. Kent stopped and changed suddenly from a woman quivering with
unveiled feeling to a prim Victorian.
"I shouldn't talk about such matters to a young girl," she said
"I have known for some years that babies do not come in Dr.
Burnley's black bag," assured Emily gravely.
"Well"--Mrs. Kent underwent another transformation into passionate
Aileen Kent again--"David found out what I had done. Oh--oh, his
face! We had a dreadful quarrel. It was just before he went out to
Winnipeg on a business trip. I--I was so furious over what he said
that I screamed out--oh, Emily--that I hoped I would never see his
face again. I never did. God took me at my word. He died of pneumonia
in Winnipeg. I never knew he was ill till the word of his death came.
And the nurse was a girl he had once thought something of and who
loved him. She waited on him and tended him while I was at
home hating him. That is what I have thought I could never forgive
God for. She packed up his things and sent them home--that book among
them. He must have bought it in Winnipeg. I never opened it--I never
could bear to touch it. He must have written that letter when he was
near death and put it in the book for me--and perhaps died before he
could tell her it was there. Maybe she knew and wouldn't tell me. And
it has been there all these years, Emily--all these years when I've
been believing David died angry with me--unforgiving me. I've dreamed
of him night after night--always with his face turned away from me.
Oh, twenty-seven years of that, Emily--twenty-seven years. Think of
it. Haven't I atoned! And last night I opened and read his letter,
Emily--just a few lines scribbled with a pencil--his poor hand could
hardly hold it. He called me Dear Little Wife and said I must forgive
him--I forgive him--for being so harsh and angry that
last day--and he forgave me for what I had done--and said I mustn't
worry over it nor over what I had said about not seeing his face
again--he knew I didn't mean it--that he understood things better at
the last--and he had always loved me dearly and always
would--and--and--something more I can't tell anybody--too dear, too
wonderful. Oh, Emily, can you imagine what this means to me--to know
he didn't die angry with me--that he died loving me and thinking
tenderly of me? But I didn't know it then. And I--I--don't think I've
ever been quite right since. I know all his people thought me crazy.
When Teddy was born I came up here away from them all. So that they
couldn't lure him away from me. I wouldn't take a cent from them. I
had David's insurance--we could just live on that. Teddy was all I
had--and you came--and I knew you would take him from me. I
knew he loved you--always. Oh, yes he did. When he went away I used
to write him of all your flirtations. And two years ago--you remember
he had to go to Montreal so suddenly--and you were away--he couldn't
wait to say good-bye. But he wrote you a letter."
Emily gave a little choked cry of denial.
"Oh, he did. I saw it lying on his table when he had gone out. I
steamed the flap open and read it. I burned the letter, Emily--but I
can tell you what was in it. Could I ever forget! He told you he had
meant to tell you how much he loved you before he went--and if you
could care a little for him to write and tell him so. But if you
couldn't not to write at all. Oh, how I hated you. I burned the
letter and sealed up a copy of some poetry verses that were in it.
And he mailed it never knowing the difference. I was never
sorry--never, not even when he wrote me he was going to marry Ilse.
But last night--when you brought me that letter--and forgiveness--and
peace--oh, I felt I had done an awful thing. I've ruined your
life--and perhaps Teddy's. Can you ever forgive me, Emily?"
Emily, amid all the whirl of emotions roused by Mrs. Kent's tale,
was keenly conscious of only one thing.
Bitterness--humiliation--shame had vanished from her being. Teddy
had loved her. The sweetness of the revelation blotted out,
for the time at least, all other feelings. Anger--resentment--could
find no place in her soul. She felt like a new creature. And there
was sincerity in heart and tone as she said slowly:
"I do--I do. I understand."
Mrs. Kent suddenly wrung her hands.
"Emily--is it too late? Is it too late? They're not married yet--I
know he doesn't love her as he loved you. If you told him--if I told
"No, no, no," cried Emily passionately. "It is too late. He
must never know--you must never tell him. He loves Ilse now. I am
sure of that--and telling him this would do no good and much evil.
Promise me--dear Mrs. Kent, if you feel you owe me anything promise
me, you'll never tell him."
"But you--you will be unhappy--"
"I will not be unhappy--not now. You don't know what a difference
this has made. The sting has gone out of everything. I am going to
have a happy, busy, useful life and regret for old dreams will have
no place in it. The wound will heal now."
"It was--a terrible thing for me to do," whispered Mrs. Kent. "I
see that--at last."
"I suppose it was. But I'm not thinking of that. Only that I've
got my self-respect back."
"The Murray pride," whispered Mrs. Kent, staring at her. "After
all, Emily Starr, I believe pride is a stronger passion with you than
"Perhaps," said Emily smiling.
She was in such a tumult of feeling when she reached home that she
did a thing she was always ashamed of. Perry Miller was waiting in
the New Moon garden for her. She had not seen him for a long time and
at any other hour would have been glad to see him. Perry's
friendship, now that he had finally given up all hope of anything
else, was a very pleasant part of her life. He had developed in the
last few years--he was manly, humorous, much less boastful. He had
even acquired certain fundamental rules of social etiquette and
learned not to have too many hands and feet. He was too busy to come
often to New Moon, but Emily always enjoyed his visits when he did
come--except tonight. She wanted to be alone--to think things
over--classify her emotions--revel in her restored sense of
self-respect. To pace up and down among the silken poppy-ladies of
the garden and talk with Perry was an almost impossible thing. She
was in a frenzy of impatience to be rid of him. And Perry did not
sense this at all. He had not seen her for a long while--and there
were many things to talk over--Ilse's wedding in especial. He kept on
asking questions about it until Emily really didn't know what she was
saying. Perry was a bit squiffy over the fact that he had not
been asked to be groomsman. He thought he had a right to be--the old
chum of both.
"I never thought Teddy would turn me down cold like that," he
growled. "I suppose he feels himself too big to have Stovepipe Town
Then Emily did her dreadful thing--before she realized what she
was saying, in her impatient annoyance with Perry for casting such
aspersions on Teddy the words leaped out quite involuntarily.
"You goose. It wasn't Teddy at all. Do you think Ilse would have
you as groomsman--when she hoped for years you would be the
The moment she had spoken she stood aghast, sick with shame and
remorse. What had she done? Betrayed friendship--violated
confidence--a shameful, unpardonable thing. Could she, Emily
Byrd Starr of New Moon, have done this?
Perry was standing by the dial staring at her dumbfounded.
"Emily, you don't mean that. Ilse never thought of me that way,
Emily miserably realized that the spoken word could not be
recalled and that the mess she had made of things couldn't be mended
by any fibs.
"She did--at one time. Of course she got over it long ago."
"Me! Why, Emily, she always seemed to despise me--always
ragging me about something--I never could please her--you
"Oh, I remember," said Emily wearily. "She thought so much of you,
she hated to see you fall below her standard. If she hadn't--liked
you--do you suppose she would have cared what grammar you used or
what etiquette you smashed? I should never have told you this, Perry.
I shall be ashamed of it all my life. You must never let her suspect
"Of course not. Anyhow, she's forgotten it long ago."
"Oh--yes. But you can understand why it wouldn't be especially
agreeable for her to have you as best man at her wedding. I hated to
have you think Teddy such a snob. And now, you won't mind, will you,
Perry, if I ask you to go? I'm very tired--and I've so much to do the
next two weeks."
"You ought to be in bed, that's a fact," agreed Perry. "I'm a
beast to be keeping you up. But when I come here it seems so much
like old times I never want to go. What a set of shavers we were! And
now Ilse and Teddy are going to be married. We're getting on a
"Next thing you'll be a staid old married man yourself, Perry,"
said Emily, trying to smile. "I've been hearing things."
"Not on your life! I've given up that idea for good. Not that I'm
pining after you yet in particular--only nobody has any flavour after
you. I've tried. I'm doomed to die a bachelor. They tell me it's an
easy death. But I've got a few ambitions by the tail and I'm not
kicking about life. Bye-bye, dear. I'll see you at the wedding. It's
in the afternoon, isn't it?"
"Yes." Emily wondered she could speak so calmly of it. "Three
o'clock--then supper--and a motor drive to Shrewsbury to catch the
evening boat. Perry, Perry, I wish I hadn't told you that about Ilse.
It was mean--mean--as we used to say at school--I never thought I
could do such a thing."
"Now, don't go worrying over that. I'm as tickled as a dog with
two tails to think Ilse ever thought that much of me, at any time.
Don't you think I've sense enough to know what a compliment it was?
And don't you think I understand what bricks you two girls always
were to me and how much I owe you for letting me be your friend? I've
never had any illusions about Stovepipe Town or the real difference
between us. I wasn't such a fool as not to understand that.
I've climbed a bit--I mean to climb higher--but you and Ilse were
born to it. And you never let me feel the difference as some
girls did. I shan't forget Rhoda Stuart's dirty little slurs. So you
don't think I'd be such a cur now as to go strutting because I've
found out Ilse once had a bit of a fancy for me--or that I'd ever let
her think I knew? I've left that much of Stovepipe Town behind,
anyhow--even if I still have to think what fork I'll pick up first.
Emily--do you remember the night your Aunt Ruth caught me
*See Emily Climbs.
"I should think I do."
"The only time I ever did kiss you," said Perry non-sentimentally.
"And it wasn't much of a shot, was it? When I think of the old
lady standing there in her nightgown with the candle!"
Perry went off laughing and Emily went to her room.
"Emily-in-the-glass," she said almost gaily, "I can look you
squarely in the eyes again. I'm not ashamed any longer. He did
She stood there smiling for a little space. And then the smile
"Oh, if I had only got that letter!" she whispered piteously.
Only two weeks till the wedding. Emily found out how long two
weeks can be, in spite of the fact that every waking moment was
crowded with doings, domestic and social. The affair was much talked
of everywhere. Emily set her teeth and went through with it. Ilse was
here--there--everywhere. Doing nothing--saying much.
"About as composed as a flea," growled Dr. Burnley.
"Ilse has got to be such a restless creature," complained Aunt
Elizabeth. "She seems to be frightened people wouldn't know she was
alive if she sat still a moment."
"I've got forty-nine remedies for seasickness," said Ilse. "If
Aunt Kate Mitchell gets here I'll have fifty. Isn't it delightful to
have thoughtful relatives, Emily?"
They were alone in Ilse's room. It was the evening Teddy was
expected. Ilse had tried on half a dozen different dresses and tossed
them aside scornfully.
"Emily, what will I wear? Decide for me."
"Not I. Besides--what difference does it make what you put
"True--too true. Teddy never notices what I have on. I like a man
who does notice and tells me of it. I like a man who likes me
better in silk than in gingham."
Emily looked out of the window into a tangled garden where the
moonlight was an untroubled silver sea bearing softly on its breast a
fleet of poppies. "I meant that Teddy--won't think of your
dress--only of you."
"Emily, why do you persist in talking as if you thought Teddy and
I were madly in love with each other? Is it that Victorian complex of
"For heaven's sake, shut up about things Victorian!" Emily
exclaimed with unusual, un-Murray-like violence. "I'm tired of it.
You call every nice, simple, natural emotion Victorian. The whole
world to-day seems to be steeped in a scorn for things Victorian. Do
they know what they're talking of? But I like sane, decent things--if
that is Victorian."
"Emily, Emily, do you suppose Aunt Elizabeth would think it either
a sane or decent thing to be madly in love?"
Both girls laughed and the sudden tension relaxed.
"You're not off, Emily?"
"Of course I am. Do you think I'd play gooseberry at such a time
"There you go again. Do you think I want to be shut up
alone a whole evening with undiluted Teddy. We'll have a scene every
few minutes over something. Of course scenes are lovely. They
brighten up life so. I've just got to have a scene once a week. You
know I always did enjoy a good fight. Remember how you and I used to
scrap? You haven't been a bit of good at a row lately. Even Teddy is
only half-hearted in a set-to. Perry, now--he could fight.
Think what gorgeous rows Perry and I would have had. Our quarrels
would have been splendid. Nothing petty--or quarrelsome--about
them. And how we would have loved each other between them!
"Are you hankering after Perry Miller yet?" demanded Emily
"No, dear infant. And neither am I crazy about Teddy. After all,
ours is only second-hand love on both sides, you know. Cold soup
warmed over. Don't worry. I'll be good for him. I'll keep him up to
the notch in everything much better than if I thought him a little
lower than the angels. It doesn't do to think a man is perfection
because he naturally thinks so, too, and when he finds some
one who agrees with him he is inclined to rest on his oars. It riles
me up a bit when every one seems to think I'm so amazingly lucky to
'get' Teddy for a husband. Comes Aunt Ida Mitchell--'You are getting
a perfectly wonderful husband, Ilse'--comes Bridget Mooney from
Stovepipe Town scrubbing the floor--'Gosh but you're gettin' a swell
man, Miss'--'Sisters under their skins,' you perceive. Teddy is well
enough--especially since he found out he isn't the only man in the
world. He has learned sense somewhere. I'd like to know what girl
taught it to him. Oh, there was one. He told me something about the
affair--not much but enough. She used to snub him terribly--and then
after she had led him on to think she cared she turned him down cold.
Never even answered the letter in which he told her he loved her. I
hate that girl, Emily--isn't it odd?"
"Don't hate her," said Emily, wearily. "Perhaps she didn't know
what she was doing."
"I hate her for using Teddy like that. Though it did him heaps of
good. Why do I hate her, Emily? Employ your renowned skill in
psychological analysis and expound to me that mystery."
"You hate her--because--to borrow a certain crude expression we've
often heard--you're 'taking her leavings.'"
"You demon! I suppose it's so. How ugly some things are when you
ferret them out! I've been flattering myself that it was a noble
hatred because she made Teddy suffer. After all, the Victorians were
right in covering lots of things up. Ugly things should be hidden.
Now, go home if go you must and I'll try to look like some one about
to receive a blessing."
Lorne Halsey came with Teddy--the great Halsey whom Emily liked
very much in spite of his gargoyleishness. A comical looking fellow
with vital, mocking eyes, who seemed to look upon everything in
general and Frederick Kent's wedding in particular as a huge joke.
Somehow, this attitude made things a little easier for Emily. She was
very brilliant and gay in the evenings they all spent together. She
was terribly afraid of silence in Teddy's presence. "Never be silent
with the person you love and distrust," Mr. Carpenter had said once.
Teddy was very friendly, but his gaze always omitted Emily. Once,
when they all walked in the old, overgrown, willow-bordered lawn of
the Burnley place, Ilse stumbled on the happy idea of pick-out your
"Mine is Sirius. Lorne?"
"Antares of the Scorpion--the red star of the south," said
"Bellatrix of Orion," said Emily quickly. She had never thought
about Bellatrix before, but she dared not hesitate a moment before
"I have no especial favourite--there is only one star I hate. Vega
of the Lyre," said Teddy quietly. His voice was charged with a
significance which instantly made every one uncomfortable though
neither Halsey nor Ilse knew why. No more was said about stars. But
Emily watched alone till they faded out one by one in the dawn.
Three nights before the wedding-day Blair Water and Derry Pond
were much scandalized because Ilse Burnley had been seen driving with
Perry Miller in his new run-about at some ungodly hour. Ilse coolly
admitted it when Emily reproached her.
"Of course I did. I had had such a dull, bored evening with Teddy.
We began it well with a quarrel over my blue Chow. Teddy said I cared
more for it than I did for him. I said of course I did. It infuriated
him, though he didn't believe it. Teddy, manlike, really believes I'm
dying about him.
"'A dog that never chased a cat in its life,' he sneered.
"Then we both sulked the rest of the evening. He went home at
eleven without kissing me. I resolved I'd do something foolish and
beautiful for the last time, so I sneaked down the lane for a lovely,
lonely walk down to the dunes. Perry came along in his car and I just
changed my mind and went for a little moonlit spin with him. I wasn't
married yet. Don't be after looking at me so. We only stayed
out till one and we were really very good and proper. I only wondered
once--just what would happen if I suddenly said, 'Perry, darling,
you're the only man I've ever really cared a hang for. Why
can't we get married?' I wonder if when I'm eighty I'll wish
I'd said it."
"You told me you had quite got over caring for Perry.'
"But did you believe me? Emily, thank God you're not a
Emily reflected bitterly that it was not much better being a
Murray. If it had not been for her Murray pride she would have gone
to Teddy the night he called her--and she would have been tomorrow's
To-morrow. It was to-morrow--the morrow when she would have to
stand near Teddy and hear him vowing lifelong devotion to another
woman. All was in readiness. A wedding-supper that pleased even Dr.
Burnley, who had decreed that there should be "a good, old-fashioned
wedding-supper--none of your modern dabs of this and that. The bride
and groom mayn't want much maybe, but the rest of us still have
stomachs. And this is the first wedding for years. We've been getting
pretty much like heaven in one respect anyhow--neither marrying nor
giving in marriage. I want a spread. And tell Laura for heaven's sake
not to yowl at the wedding."
So Aunts Elizabeth and Laura saw to it that for the first time in
twenty years the Burnley house had a thorough cleaning from top to
bottom. Dr. Burnley thanked God forcibly several times that he would
only have to go through this once, but nobody paid any attention to
him. Elizabeth and Laura had new satin dresses made. It was such a
long time since they had had any excuse for new satin dresses.
Aunt Elizabeth made the wedding-cakes and saw to the hams and
chickens. Laura made creams and jellies and salads and Emily carried
them over to the Burnley Place, wondering at times if she wouldn't
soon wake up--before--before--
"I'll be glad when all this fuss is over," growled Cousin Jimmy.
"Emily's working herself to death--look at the eyes of her!"
"Stay with me to-night, Emily," entreated Ilse. "I swear I won't
talk you to death and I won't cry either. Though I admit if I could
just be snuffed out to-night like a candle I wouldn't mind. Jean
Askew was Milly Hyslop's bridesmaid and she spent the night before
her wedding with her and they both cried all night. Fancy such an
orgy of tears. Milly cried because she was going to be married--and I
suppose Jean must have been crying because she wasn't. Thank heaven,
Emily, you and I were never the miauling kind. We'll be more likely
to fight than cry, won't we? I wonder if Mrs. Kent will come
to-morrow? I don't suppose so. Teddy says she never mentions his
marriage. Though he says she seem oddly
changed--gentler--calmer--more like other women. Emily, do you
realize that by this time to-morrow I'll be Ilse Kent?"
Yes, Emily realized that.
They said nothing more. But two hours later when wakeful Emily had
supposed the motionless Ilse was sound asleep Ilse suddenly sat up in
bed and grabbed Emily's hand in the darkness.
"Emily--if one could only go to sleep unmarried--and wake up
married--how nice it would be."
It was dawn--the dawn of Ilse's wedding-day. Ilse was sleeping
when Emily slipped out of bed and went to the window. Dawn. A cluster
of dark pines in a trance of calm down by the Blair Water. The air
tremulous with elfin music; the wind winnowing the dunes; dancing
amber waves on the harbour; the eastern sky abloom; the lighthouse at
the harbour pearl-white against the ethereal sky; beyond all the blue
field of the sea with its foam blossoms and behind that golden haze
that swathed the hill of the Tansy Patch,
Teddy--wakeful--waiting--welcoming the day that gave him his heart's
desire. Emily's soul was washed empty of every wish or hope or desire
except that the day were over.
"It is," she thought, "comforting when a thing becomes
Emily turned from the window.
"It's a lovely day, Ilse. The sun will shine on you. Ilse--what is
the matter? Ilse--you're crying!"
"I can't--help it," sniffed Ilse. "It seems to be the proper,
inescapable caper after all. I beg Milly's pardon. But--I'm so
beastly afraid. It's an infernal sensation. Do you think it would do
any good if I threw myself on the floor and screamed?"
"What are you afraid of?" said Emily, a little impatiently.
"Oh,"--Ilse sprang defiantly out of bed--"afraid I'll stick my
tongue out at the minister. What else?"
What a morning! It always seemed a sort of nightmare recollection
to Emily. Guests of the clan came early--Emily welcomed them until
she felt that the smile must be frozen on her face. There were
endless wedding-gifts to unwrap and arrange. Ilse, before she
dressed, came to look them over indifferently.
"Who sent in that afternoon tea-set?" she asked.
"Perry," said Emily. She had helped him choose it. A dainty
service in a quaint old-fashioned rose design. A card with Perry's
black forcible handwriting. "To Ilse with the best wishes of her old
Ilse deliberately picked up piece after piece and dashed it in
fragments on the floor before the transfixed Emily could stop
"Ilse! Have you gone crazy?"
"There! What a glorious smash! Sweep up the fragments, Emily. That
was just as good as screaming on the floor. Better. I can go through
with it now."
Emily disposed of the fragments just in time--Mrs. Clarinda
Mitchell came billowing in, in pale-blue muslin and cherry-hued
scarf. A sonsy, smiling, good-hearted cousin-by-marriage. Interested
in everything. Who gave this?--Who had sent that?
"She'll be such a sweet bride, I'm sure," gushed Mrs.
Clarinda. "And Teddy Kent is such a splendid fellow. It's
really an ideal marriage, isn't it? One of those you read about! I
love weddings like this. I thank my stars I didn't lose my interest
in youthful things when I lost my youth. I've lots of sentiment in me
yet--and I'm not afraid to show it. And did Ilse's wedding
stockings really cost fourteen dollars?"
Aunt Isabella Hyslop, nee Mitchell, was gloomy. Offended
because her costly present of cut sherbet glasses had been placed
beside Cousin Annabel's funny set of old-fashioned crocheted doilies.
Inclined to take a dark view of things.
"I hope everything will go off well. But I've got an uneasy
feeling that trouble is coming--a presentiment, so to speak. Do you
believe in signs? A big black cat ran right across the road in front
of us down in the hollow. And right on that tree as we turned in at
the lane was the fragment of an old election poster, 'Blue Ruin,' in
black letters three inches long staring us in the face."
"That might mean bad luck for you, but hardly for Ilse."
Aunt Isabella shook her head. She would not be
"They say the wedding dress is like nothing ever seen on Prince
Edward Island. Do you think such extravagance proper, Miss
"The expensive part of it was a present from Ilse's old
great-aunts in Scotland, Mrs. Mitchell. And most of us are married
Whereupon Emily remembered that Aunt Isabella had been married
three times and wondered if there wasn't something in black cat
Aunt Isabella swept coldly off, and later on was heard to say that
"that Starr girl is really intolerable since she got a book
published. Thinks herself at liberty to insult any one."
Emily, before she had time to thank the Fates for her freedom,
fell into the clutches of more Mitchell relatives. This aunt did not
approve of another aunt's gift of a pair of ornate Bohemian glass
"Bessie Jane never had much sense. A foolish choice. The children
will be sure to unhook the prisms and lose them."
"Why, the children they will have, of course."
"Miss Starr will put that in a book, Matilda," warned her husband,
chuckling. Then he chuckled again and whispered to Emily:
"Why aren't you the bride to-day? How come Ilse to cut you
Emily was thankful when she was summoned upstairs to help Ilse
dress. Though even here aunts and cousins kept bobbing in and out,
saying distracting things.
"Emily, do you remember the day of our first summer together when
we fought over the honour of playing bride in one of our dramatic
stunts? Well, I feel as if I were just playing bride. This isn't
Emily felt, too, as if it were not real. But soon--soon now--it
would be all over and she could be blessedly alone. And Ilse when
dressed was such an exquisite bride that she justified all the fuss
of the wedding. How Teddy must love her!
"Doesn't she look just like a queen?" whispered Aunt Laura
Emily having slipped into her own harebell blue kissed the flushed
maiden face under the rose-point cap and pearls of its bridal
"Ilse dear, don't think me hopelessly Victorian if I say I hope
you'll be happy 'ever after.'"
Ilse squeezed her hand, but laughed a little too loudly.
"I hope it isn't Queen Victoria Aunt Laura thinks I resemble," she
whispered. "And I have the most horrible suspicion that Aunt Janie
Milburn is praying for me. Her face betrayed her when she came in to
kiss me. It always makes me furious to suspect that people are
praying for me. Now, Emily, do me one last favour. Herd everybody out
of this room--everybody. I want to be alone, absolutely alone, for a
Somehow Emily managed it. The aunts and cousins fluttered
downstairs. Dr. Burnley was waiting impatiently in the hall.
"Won't you soon be ready? Teddy and Halsey are waiting for the
signal to go into the drawing-room."
"Ilse wants a few minutes alone. Oh, Aunt Ida, I'm so glad you got
here"--to a stout lady who was coming pantingly up the stairs. "We
were afraid something had happened to prevent you."
"Something did," gasped Aunt Ida--who was really a second-cousin.
In spite of her breathlessness Aunt Ida was happy. She always liked
to be the first to tell a piece of news--especially unpleasant news.
"And the doctor couldn't come at all--I had to get a taxi. That poor
Perry Miller--you know him, don't you? Such a clever young chap--was
killed in a motor collision about an hour ago."
Emily stifled a shriek, with a frantic glance at Ilse's door. It
was slightly ajar. Dr. Burnley was saying:
"Perry Miller killed. Good God, how horrible!"
"Well, as good as killed. He must be dead by this time--he was
unconscious when they dragged him out of the wreck. They took him to
the Charlottetown hospital and 'phoned for Bill, who dashed right
off, of course. It's a mercy Ilse isn't marrying a doctor. Have I
time to take off my things before the ceremony?"
Emily, crushing her anguish over Perry, showed Aunt Ida to the
spare room and returned to Dr. Burnley.
"Don't let Ilse know about this," he cautioned needlessly. "It
would spoil her wedding--she and Perry were old cronies. And hadn't
you better hurry her up a little? It's past the time."
Emily, with more of a nightmare feeling than ever, went down the
hall and knocked on Ilse's door. There was no answer. She opened the
door. On the floor in a forlorn heap lay the bridal veil and the
priceless bouquet of orchids which must have cost Teddy more than any
Murray or Burnley bride had ever paid before for her whole trousseau,
but Ilse was nowhere to be seen. A window was open, the one over the
"What's the matter?" exclaimed Dr. Burnley impatiently, coming up
behind Emily. "Where's Ilse?"
"She's--gone," said Emily stupidly
"To Perry Miller." Emily knew it quite well. Ilse had heard Aunt
"Damn!" said Dr. Burnley.
In a few moments the house was a scene of consternation and
flabbergasted wedding guests, all exclaiming and asking questions.
Dr. Burnley lost his head and turned himself loose, running through
his whole repertoire of profanity, regardless of women-folks.
Even Aunt Elizabeth was paralysed. There was no precedent to go
by. Juliet Murray, to be sure, had eloped. But she had got married.
No clan bride had ever done anything like this. Emily alone
retained some power of rational thought and action. It was she who
found out from young Rob Mitchell how Ilse had gone. He had been
parking his car in the barnyard when--
"I saw her spring out of that window with her train wrapped around
her shoulders. She slid down the roof and jumped to the ground like a
cat--tore out to the lane, jumped in Ken Mitchell's runabout and was
off like the devil was after her. I thought she must have gone
"She has--in a way. Rob, you must go after her. Wait--I'll get Dr.
Burnley to go with you. I must stay here to see to things. Oh, be as
quick as you can. It's only fourteen miles to Charlottetown. You can
go and come in an hour. You must bring her back--I'll tell the
guests to wait--"
"You'll not make much out of this mess, Emily," prophesied
Even an hour like that passed. But Dr. Burnley and Rob returned
alone. Ilse would not come--that was all there was to it. Perry
Miller was not killed--was not even seriously injured--but Ilse would
not come. She told her father that she was going to marry Perry
Miller and nobody else.
The doctor was the centre of a little group of dismayed and
tearful women in the upper hall. Aunt Elizabeth, Aunt Laura, Aunt
"I suppose if her mother had lived this wouldn't have happened,"
said the doctor dazedly. "I never dreamed she cared for Miller. I
wish somebody had wrung Ida Mitchell's neck in time. Oh,
cry--cry--yes, cry"--fiercely to poor Aunt Laura. "What good will
yelping do? What a devil of a mess! Somebody's got to tell Kent--I
suppose I must. And those distracted fools down there have to be fed.
That's what half of them came for, anyway. Emily, you seem to be the
only creature left in the world with a grain of sense. See to things,
there's a good girl."
Emily was not of an hysterical temperament, but for the second
time in her life she was feeling that the only thing she could do
would be to scream as loud and long as possible. Things had got to
the point where only screaming would clear the air. But she got the
guests marshalled to the tables. Excitement calmed down somewhat when
they found they were not to be cheated out of everything. But the
wedding-feast was hardly a success.
Even those who were hungry had an uneasy feeling that it wasn't
the thing to eat heartily under such circumstances. Nobody enjoyed it
except old Uncle Tom Mitchell, who frankly went to weddings for the
spread and didn't care whether there was a ceremony or not. Brides
might come and brides might go but a square meal was a feed. So he
ate steadily away, only pausing now and then to shake his head
solemnly and ask, "What air the women coming to?"
Cousin Isabella was set up on presentiments for life, but nobody
listened to her. Most of the guests were afraid to speak, for fear of
saying the wrong thing. Uncle Oliver reflected that he had seen many
funeral repasts that were more cheerful. The waitresses were hurried
and flurried and made ludicrous mistakes. Mrs. Derwent, the young and
pretty wife of the new minister, looked to be on the point of
tears--nay, actually had tears in her eyes. Perhaps she had been
building on the prospective wedding fee. Perhaps its loss meant no
new hat for her. Emily, glancing at her as she passed a jelly, wanted
to laugh--a desire as hysterical as her wish to scream. But no desire
at all showed itself on her cold white face. Shrewsbury people said
she was as disdainful and indifferent as always. Could
anything really make that girl feel?
And under it all she was keenly conscious of only one question.
"Where was Teddy? What was he feeling--thinking--doing?" She hated
Ilse for hurting him--shaming him. She did not see how
anything could go on after this. It was one of those
events which must stop time.
"What a day!" sobbed Aunt Laura as they walked home in the dusk.
"What a disgrace! What a scandal!"
"Allan Burnley has only himself to blame," said Aunt Elizabeth.
"He has let Ilse do absolutely as she pleases all her life. She was
never taught any self-control. All her life she had done exactly as
she wanted to do whenever the whim took her. No sense of
"But if she loved Perry Miller," pleaded Laura.
"Why did she promise to marry Teddy Kent then? And treat him like
this? No, you need make no excuses for Ilse. Fancy a Burnley going to
Stovepipe Town for a husband.
"Some one will have to see about sending the presents back,"
moaned Laura. "I locked the door of the room where they were. One
never knows--at such a time--"
Emily found herself alone in her room at last--too dazed,
stricken, exhausted, to feel much of anything. A huge, round, striped
ball unrolled itself on her bed and opened wide pink jaws.
"Daff," said Emily wearily, "you're the only thing in the world
that stays put."
She had a nasty sleepless night with a brief dawn slumber. From
which she wakened to a new world where everything had to be
readjusted. And she felt too tired to care for readjustment.
Ilse did not look as if she wanted excuses made for her when, two
days later, she walked unannounced into Emily's room. She looked
rosy, audacious, triumphant.
Emily stared at her.
"Well, I suppose the earthquake is over. What is left
"Ilse! How could you!"
Ilse pulled a notebook out of her handbag and pretended to consult
"I wrote down a list of the things you'd say. That was the first
one. You've said it. The next is, 'Aren't you ashamed of yourself?'
I'm not, you know,' added Ilse impudently.
"I know you're not. That's why I don't ask it."
"I'm not ashamed--and I'm not sorry. I'm only a little bit sorry
that I'm not sorry. And I'm shamelessly happy. But I suppose I
spoiled the party. No doubt the old meows are having the time of
their lives. They've got their craws full for once."
"How do you suppose Teddy is feeling?" asked Emily sternly.
"Is he feeling any worse than Dean did? There's an old proverb
about glass houses."
"I know--I used Dean badly--but I didn't--
"Jilt him at the altar! True. But I didn't think about Teddy at
all when I heard Aunt Ida say Perry was killed. I was quite mad. My
one thought was to see Perry once before he died. I had to.
And I found when I got there that, as Mark Twain said, the report of
his death was greatly exaggerated. He wasn't even badly hurt--was
sitting up in bed, his face all bruised and bandaged--looking like
the devil. Want to hear what happened, Emily?"
Ilse dropped on the floor at Emily's feet--and looked coaxingly up
into Emily's face.
"Honey, what's the use of disapproving a thing that was
foreordained? That won't alter anything. I got a glimpse of Aunt
Laura in the sitting-room as I sneaked upstairs. She was looking like
something that had been left out overnight. But you have a streak in
you that isn't Murray. You should understand. Don't waste your
sympathy on Teddy. He doesn't love me--I've always known it. It's
only his conceit that will suffer. Here--give him his sapphire for
me, will you?" Ilse saw something in Emily's face she didn't like.
"It can go to join Dean's emerald."
"Teddy left for Montreal the day after--after--"
"After the wedding that wasn't," finished Ilse. "Did you see him,
"Well, if he'd go and shoot big game in Africa for awhile he'd get
over it very quickly. Emily, I'm going to marry Perry--next year.
It's all settled. I fell on his neck and kissed him as soon as I saw
him. I let go my train and it streamed magnificently over the floor.
I knew the nurse thought I had just got out of Dr. Percy's private
asylum. But I turned her out of the room. And I told Perry I loved
him and that I would never, never marry Teddy Kent no matter what
happened--and then he asked me if I'd marry him--or I told him
he must marry me--or neither of us asked--we just understood. I
honestly don't remember which--and I don't care. Emily, if I were
dead and Perry came and looked at me I'd live again. Of course I know
he's always been after you--but he's going to love me as he never
loved you. We were made for each other."
"Perry was never really in love with me," said Emily. "He liked me
tremendously, that was all. He didn't know the difference--then." She
looked down into Ilse's radiant face--and all her old, old love for
this perverse, adorable friend rushed to eyes and lips.
"Dearest, I hope you'll be happy--always."
"How blessedly Victorian that sounds!" said Ilse contentedly. "Oh,
I can be quiet now, Emily. For weeks I've been afraid that if I let
myself be quiet for a moment I'd bolt. And I don't even mind
if Aunt Janie is praying for me. I believe I rather hope she is."
"What does your father say?"
"Oh, Dad." Ilse shrugged her shoulders. "He's still in the
clutches of his old ancestral temper. Won't speak to me. But he'll
come round. He's really as much to blame as I am for what I've done.
You know I've never asked anyone in my life if I could do a thing. I
just did it. Father never prevented me. At first because he hated
me--then because he wanted to make up for hating me."
"I think you'll have to ask Perry sometimes if you can do
"I won't mind that. You'll be surprised to see what a
dutiful wife I'll make. Of course I'm going right away--back to work.
And in a year's time people will have forgotten--and Perry and I will
be married quietly somewhere. No more rose-point veils and Oriental
trains and clan weddings for me. Lord, what an escape! Then minutes
later I'd have been married to Teddy. Think what a scandal there'd
have been then when Aunt Ida arrived. Because I'd have gone just the
same, you know."
That summer was a hard time for Emily. The very anguish of her
suffering had filled life and now that it was over she realized its
emptiness. Then, too, to go anywhere meant martyrdom. Everyone
talking about the wedding, asking, wondering, surmising. But at last
the wild gossip and clatter over Ilse's kididoes had finally died
away and people found something else to talk about. Emily was left
Alone? Ay, that was it. Always alone. Love--friendship gone
forever. Nothing left but ambition. Emily settled herself resolutely
down to work. Life ran again in its old accustomed grooves. Year
after year the seasons walked by her door. Violet-sprinkled valleys
of spring--blossom-script of summer--minstrel-firs of autumn--pale
fires of the Milky Way on winter nights--soft, new-mooned skies of
April--gnomish beauty of dark Lombardies against a moonrise--deep of
sea calling to deep of wind--lonely yellow leaves falling in October
dusks--woven moonlight in the orchard. Oh, there was beauty in life
still--always would be. Immortal, indestructible beauty beyond all
the stain and blur of mortal passion. She had some very glorious
hours of inspiration and achievement. But mere beauty which had once
satisfied her soul could not wholly satisfy it now. New Moon was
unchanged, undisturbed by the changes that came elsewhere. Mrs. Kent
had gone to live with Teddy. The old Tansy Patch was sold to some
Halifax man for a summer home. Perry went to Montreal one autumn and
brought Ilse back with him. They were living happily in
Charlottetown, where Emily often visited them, astutely evading the
matrimonial traps Ilse was always setting for her. It was becoming an
accepted thing in the clan that Emily would not marry.
"Another old maid at New Moon," as Uncle Wallace said
"And to think of all the men she might have had," said Aunt
Elizabeth bitterly. "Mr. Wallace--Aylmer Vincent--Andrew--"
"But if she didn't--love--them," faltered Aunt Laura.
"Laura, you need not be indelicate."
Old Kelly, who still went his rounds--"and will till the crack of
doom," declared Ilse--had quite given up teasing Emily about getting
married, though he occasionally made regretful, cryptic allusions to
"toad ointment." There was none of his significant nods and winks.
Instead, he always gravely asked her what book she did be working on
now, and drove off shaking his spiky gray head. "What do the men be
thinking of, anyway? Get up, my nag, get up."
Some men were still thinking of Emily, it appeared. Andrew, now a
brisk young widower, would have come at the beck of a finger Emily
never lifted. Graham Mitchell, of Shrewsbury, unmistakably had
intentions. Emily wouldn't have him because he had a slight cast in
one eye. At least, that was what the Murrays supposed. They could
think of no other reason for her refusal of so good a match.
Shrewsbury people declared that he figured in her next novel and that
she had only been "leading him on" to "get material." A reputed
Klondike "millionaire" pursued her for a winter, but disappeared as
briefly in the spring.
"Since she has published those books she thinks no one good enough
for her," said Blair Water folks.
Aunt Elizabeth did not regret the Klondike man--he was only a
Derry Pond Butterworth, to begin with, and what were the
Butterworths? Aunt Elizabeth always contrived to give the impression
that Butterworths did not exist. They might imagine they did, but the
Murrays knew better. But she did not see why Emily could not take
Mooresby, of the firm of Mooresby and Parker, Charlottetown. Emily's
explanation that Mr. Mooresby could never live down the fact that he
had once had his picture in the papers as a Perkins' Food Baby struck
Aunt Elizabeth as very inadequate. But Aunt Elizabeth at last
admitted that she could not understand the younger generation.
Of Teddy Emily never heard, save from occasional items in
newspapers which represented him as advancing steadily in his career.
He was beginning to have an international reputation as a portrait
painter. The old days of magazine illustrations were gone and Emily
was never now confronted with her own face--or her own smile--or her
own eyes--looking out at her from some casual page.
One winter Mrs. Kent died. Before her death she sent Emily a brief
note--the only word Emily had ever had from her.
"I am dying. When I am dead, Emily, tell Teddy about the letter.
I've tried to tell him, but I couldn't. I couldn't tell my son I had
done that. Tell him for me."
Emily smiled sadly as she put the letter away. It was too late to
tell Teddy. He had long since ceased to care for her. And she--she
would love him for ever. And even though he knew it not, surely such
love would hover around him all his life like an invisible
benediction, not understood but dimly felt, guarding him from ill and
keeping from him all things of harm and evil.
That same winter it was bruited abroad that Jim Butterworth, of
Derry Pond, had bought or was about to buy the Disappointed House. He
meant, so rumour said, to haul it away, rebuild and enlarge it; and
doubtless when this was done he would install therein as mistress a
certain buxom, thrifty damsel of Derry Pond known as "Geordie
Bridge's Mabel." Emily heard the report with anguish. She slipped out
that evening in the chill spring dusk and went up the dim overgrown
path over the spruce hill to the front gate of the little house like
an unquiet ghost. Surely it couldn't be true that Dean had sold it.
The house belonged to the hill. One couldn't imagine the hill without
Once Emily had got Aunt Laura to see about bringing her own
belongings from it--all but the gazing-ball. She could not bear to
see that. It must be still hanging there, reflecting in its silver
gloom by the dim light that fell through the slits of the shutters,
the living-room just as it was when she and Dean had parted. Rumour
said Dean had taken nothing from it. All he had put in it was still
The little house must be very cold. It was so long since there was
a fire in it. How neglected--how lonely--how heartbroken it looked.
No light in the window--grass growing thickly over the paths--rank
weeds crowding around the long-unopened door.
Emily stretched out her arms as if she wanted to put them around
the house. Daff rubbed against her ankles and purred pleadingly. He
did not like damp, chilly prowls--the fireside at New Moon was better
for a pussy not so young as he once was. Emily lifted the old cat and
set him on the crumbling gatepost.
"Daff," she said, "there is an old fireplace in that house--with
the ashes of a dead fire in it--a fireplace where pussies should bask
and children dream. And that will never happen now, Daff, for Mabel
Geordie doesn't like open fireplaces--dirty, dusty things--a Quebec
heater is so much warmer and more economical. Don't you wish--or
do you!--Daff, that you and I had been born sensible
creatures, alive to the superior advantages of Quebec heaters!"
It came clearly and suddenly on the air of a June evening. An old,
old call--two higher notes and one long and soft and low. Emily
Starr, dreaming at her window, heard it and stood up, her face
suddenly gone white. Dreaming still--she must be! Teddy Kent was
thousands of miles away, in the Orient--so much she knew from an item
in a Montreal paper. Yes, she had dreamed it--imagined it.
It came again. And Emily knew that Teddy was there, waiting
for her in Lofty John's bush--calling to her across the years. She
went down slowly--out--across the garden. Of course Teddy was
there--under the firs. It seemed the most natural thing in the world
that he should come to her there, in that old-world garden where the
three Lombardies still kept guard. Nothing was wanting to bridge the
years. There was no gulf. He put out his hands and drew her to him,
with no conventional greeting. And spoke as if there were no
years--no memories--between them.
"Don't tell me you can't love me--you can--you must--why,
Emily"--his eyes had met the moonlit brilliance of hers for a
"It's dreadful what little things lead people to misunderstand
each other," said Emily some minutes--or hours--later.
"I've been trying all my life to tell you I loved you," said
Teddy. "Do you remember that evening long ago in the To-morrow Road
after we left high school? Just as I was trying to screw up my
courage to ask you if you'd wait for me you said night air was bad
for you and went in. I thought it was a poor excuse for getting rid
of me--I knew you didn't care a hoot about night air. That set me
back for years. When I heard about you and Aylmer Vincent--Mother
wrote you were engaged--it was a nasty shock. For the first time it
occurred to me that you really didn't belong to me, after all. And
that winter when you were ill--I was nearly wild. Away there in
France where I couldn't see you. And people writing that Dean Priest
was always with you and would probably marry you if you recovered.
Then came the word that you were going to marry him. I won't
talk of that. But when you--you--saved me from going to my
death on the Flavian I knew you did belong to me, once
and for all, whether you knew it or not. Then I tried again
that morning by Blair Water--and again you snubbed me mercilessly.
Shaking off my touch as if my hand were a snake. And you never
answered my letter. Emily, why didn't you? You say you've
"I never got the letter."
"Never got it? But I mailed it--"
"Yes, I know. I must tell you--she said I was to tell you--" She
told him briefly.
"My mother? Did that?"
"You mustn't judge her harshly, Teddy. You know she wasn't like
other women. Her quarrel with your father--did you know--"
"Yes, she told me all about that--when she came to me in Montreal.
"Let us just forget it--and forgive. She was so warped and unhappy
she didn't know what she was doing. And I--I--was too proud--too
proud to go when you called me that last time. I wanted to
go--but I thought you were only amusing yourself--"
"I gave up hope then--finally. It had fooled me too often. I saw
you at your window, shining, as it seemed to me, with an icy radiance
like some cold wintry star--I knew you heard me--it was the first
time you had failed to answer our old call. There seemed nothing to
do but forget you--if I could. I never succeeded, but I thought I
did--except when I looked at Vega of the Lyre. And I was lonely. Ilse
was a good pal. Besides, I think I thought I could talk to her about
you--keep a little corner in your life as the husband of some one you
loved. I knew Ilse didn't care much for me--I was only the
consolation prize. But I thought we could jog along very well
together and help each other keep away the fearful lonesomeness of
the world. And then"--Teddy laughed at himself--"when she 'left me at
the altar' according to the very formula of Bertha M. Clay I was
furious. She had made such a fool of me--me, who fancied I was
beginning to cut quite a figure in the world. My word, how I hated
women for awhile! And I was hurt, too. I had got very fond of Ilse--I
really did love her--in a way."
"In a way." Emily felt no jealousy of that.
"I don't know as I'd take Ilse's leavings," remarked Aunt
Emily flashed on Aunt Elizabeth one of her old starry looks.
"Ilse's leavings. Why, Teddy has always belonged to me and I to
him. Heart, soul and body," said Emily.
Aunt Elizabeth shuddered. One ought to feel these
things--perhaps--but it was indecent to say them.
"Always sly," was Aunt Ruth's comment.
"She'd better marry him right off before she changes her mind
again," said Aunt Addie.
"I suppose she won't wipe his kisses off," said Uncle
Yet, on the whole, the clan were pleased. Much pleased. After all
their anxieties over Emily's love affairs, to see her "settled" so
respectably with a "boy" well known to them, who had, so far as they
knew at least, no bad habits and no disgraceful antecedents. And who
was doing pretty well in the business of picture-painting. They would
not exactly say so, but Old Kelly said it for them.
"Ah, now, that's something like," said Old Kelly approvingly.
Dean wrote a little while before the quiet bridal at New Moon. A
fat letter with an enclosure--a deed to the Disappointed House and
all it contained.
"I want you to take this, Star, as my wedding-gift. That house
must not be disappointed again. I want it to live at last. You and
Teddy can make use of it as a summer home. And some day I will come
to see you in it. I claim my old corner in your house of friendship
now and then."
"How very--dear--of Dean. And I am so glad--he is not hurt any
She was standing where the To-morrow Road opened out on the Blair
Water valley. Behind her she heard Teddy's eager footsteps coming to
her. Before her on the dark hill, against the sunset, was the
little beloved grey house that was to be disappointed no longer.