Emily's Quest

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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 world.

She liked to prowl about a good deal by herself, especially in twilight or moonlight alone with the stars and the trees, rarest of companions.

"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 Teddy.

"Emily Byrd Starr, if I catch you crying again over a dream!" she said passionately.

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