Emily's Quest

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Iii

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 Burnley."

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 bride—not Ilse.

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!"

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