Emily's Quest

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Ii

"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 youknew 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 always cared—"

"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. But this—Emily—"

"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.

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