When spring came Emily got well—got well so suddenly and quickly that even the most optimistic of the three doctors was amazed. True, for a few weeks she had to limp about on a crutch, but the time came when she could do without it—could walk alone in the garden and look out on the beautiful world with eyes that could not be satisfied with seeing. Oh, how good life was again! How good the green sod felt beneath her feet! She had left pain and fear behind her like a cast-off garment and felt gladness—no, not gladness exactly, but the possibility of being glad once more sometime.
It was worth while to have been ill to realize the savour of returning health and well-being on a morning like this, when a sea-wind was blowing up over the long, green fields. There was nothing on earth like a sea-wind. Life might, in some ways, be a thing of shreds and tatters, everything might be changed or gone; but pansies and sunset clouds were still fair. She felt again her old joy in mere existence.
"'Truly the light is sweet and a pleasant thing it is for the eye to behold the sun,'" she quoted dreamily.
Old laughter came back. On the first day that Emily's laughter was heard again in New Moon Laura Murray, whose hair had turned from ash to snow that winter, went to her room and knelt down by her bed to thank God. And while she knelt there Emily was talking about God to Dean in the garden on one of the most beautiful spring twilights imaginable, with a little, growing moon in the midst of it.
"There have been times this past winter when I felt God hated me. But now again I feel sure He loves me," she said softly.
"So sure?" questioned Dean dryly. "I think God is interested in us but He doesn't love us. He likes to watch us to see what we'll do. Perhaps it amuses Him to see us squirm."
"What a horrible conception of God!" said Emily with a shudder. "You don't really believe that about Him, Dean."
"Because He would be worse than a devil then—a God who thought only about his own amusement, without even the devil's justification of hating us."
"Who tortured you all winter with bodily pain and mental anguish?" asked Dean.
"Not God. And He—sent me you," said Emily steadily. She did not look at him; she lifted her face to the Three Princesses in their Maytime beauty—a white-rose face now, pale from its winter's pain. Beside her the big spirea, which was the pride of Cousin Jimmy's heart, banked up in its June-time snow, making a beautiful background for her. "Dean, how can I ever thank you for what you've done for me—been to me—since last October? I can never put it in words. But I want you to know how I feel about it."
"I've done nothing except snatch at happiness. Do you know what happiness it was to me to do something for you Star—help you in some way—to see you turning to me in your pain for something that only I could give—something I had learned in my own years of loneliness? And to let myself dream something that couldn't come true—that I knew ought not to come true—"
Emily trembled and shivered slightly. Yet why hesitate—why put off that which she had fully made up her mind to do?
"Are you so sure, Dean," she said in a low tone, "that your dream—can't come true?"