Emily's Quest

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Iv

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 it.

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 there.

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!"

 

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