Emily's Quest

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Iii

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 father.

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.

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