Emily's Quest

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Chapter 13 i

Emily was reading by the window of her room when she heard it—reading Alice Meynell's strange poem, "Letter From A Girl To Her Own Old Age," and thrilling mystically to its strange prophecies. Outside dusk was falling over the old New Moon garden; and clear through the dusk came the two high notes and the long low one of Teddy's old whistle in Lofty John's bush—the old, old call by which he had so often summoned her in the twilights of long ago.

Emily's book fell unheeded to the floor. She stood up, mist-pale, her eyes dilating into darkness. Was Teddy there? He had not been expected till the next week, though Ilse was coming that night. Could she have been mistaken? Could she have fancied it? Some chance robin call—

It came again. She knew as she had known at first that it was Teddy's whistle. There was no sound like it in the world. And it had been so long since she had heard it. He was there—waiting for her—calling for her. Should she go? She laughed under her breath. Go? She had no choice. She must go. Pride could not hold her back—bitter remembrance of the night she had waited for his call and it had not come could not halt her hurrying footsteps. Fear—shame—all were forgotten in the mad ecstasy of the moment. Without giving herself time to reflect that she was a Murray—only snatching a moment to look in the glass and assure herself that her ivory crepe dress was very becoming—how lucky it was that she had happened to put on that dress!—she flew down the stairs and through the garden. He was standing under the dark glamour of the old firs where the path ran through Lofty John's bush—bareheaded, smiling.

"Teddy."

"Emily."

Her hands were in his—her eyes were shining into his. Youth had come back—all that had once made magic made it again. Together once more after all those long weary years of alienation and separation. There was no longer any shyness—any stiffness—any sense or fear of change. They might have been children together again. But childhood had never known this wild, insurgent sweetness—this unconsidered surrender. Oh, she was his. By a word—a look—an intonation, he was still her master. What matter if, in some calmer mood, she might not quite like it—to be helpless—dominated like this? What matter if to-morrow she might wish she had not run so quickly, so eagerly, so unhesitatingly to meet him? To-night nothing mattered except that Teddy had come back.

Yet, outwardly, they did not meet as lovers—only as old, dear friends. There was so much to talk of—so much to be silent over as they paced up and down the garden walks, while the stars laughed through the dark at them—hinting—hinting—

Only one thing was not spoken of between them—the thing Emily had dreaded. Teddy made no reference to the mystery of that vision in the London station. It was as if it had never been. Yet Emily felt that it had drawn them together again after long misunderstanding. It was well not to speak of it—it was one of those mystic things—one of the gods' secrets—that must not be spoken of. Best forgotten now that its work was done. And yet—so unreasonable are we mortals!—Emily felt a ridiculous disappointment that he didn't speak of it. She didn't want him to speak of it. But if it had meant anything to him must he not have spoken of it?

"It's good to be here again," Teddy was saying. "Nothing seems changed here. Time has stood still in this Garden of Eden. Look, Emily, how bright Vega of the Lyre is. Our star. Have you forgotten it?"

Forgotten? How she had wished she could forget.

"They wrote me you were going to marry Dean," said Teddy abruptly.

"I meant to—but I couldn't," said Emily.

"Why not?" asked Teddy as if he had a perfect right to ask it.

"Because I didn't love him," answered Emily, conceding his right.

Laughter—golden, delicious laughter that made you suddenly want to laugh too. Laughter was so safe—one could laugh without betraying anything. Ilse had come—Ilse was running down the walk. Ilse in a yellow silk gown the colour of her hair and a golden-brown hat the colour of her eyes, giving you the sensation that a gorgeous golden rose was at large in the garden.

Emily almost welcomed her. The moment had grown too vital. Some things were terrible if put into words. She drew away from Teddy almost primly—a Murray of New Moon once more.

"Darlings," said Ilse, throwing an arm around each of them. "Isn't it divine—all here together again? Oh, how much I love you! Let's forget we are old and grown-up and wise and unhappy and be mad, crazy, happy kids again for just one blissful summer."

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