Emily's Quest

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Ii

She was sitting there, looking whitely out into the soft, black, velvety night with its goblin-market of wind-tossed trees, when Ilse, who had also been away in Charlottetown, came in.

"So Teddy has gone. I see you have a letter from him, too."

Too!

"Yes," said Emily, wondering if it were a lie. Then concluded desperately she did not care whether it was a lie or not.

"He was terribly sorry to have to go so suddenly, but he had to decide at once and he couldn't decide without getting some more information about it. Teddy won't tie himself down too irrevocably to any position, no matter how tempting it is. And to be vice-principal of that college at his age is some little bouquet. Well, I'll soon have to go myself. It's been a gorgeous vacation but—Going to the dance at Derry Pond to-morrow night, Emily?"

Emily shook her head. Of what use was dancing now that Teddy was gone?

"Do you know," said Ilse pensively, "I think this summer has been rather a failure, in spite of our fun. We thought we could be children again, but we haven't been. We've only been pretending."

Pretending? Oh, if this heartache were only a pretence! And this burning shame and deep, mute hurt. Teddy had not even cared enough to write her a line of farewell. She knew—she had known ever since the Chidlaw dance—he did not love her; but surely friendship demanded something. Even her friendship meant nothing to him. This summer had been only an interlude to him. Now he had gone back to his real life and the things that mattered. And he had written Ilse. Pretend? Oh, well, she would pretend with a vengeance. There were times when the Murray pride was certainly an asset.

"I think it's as well the summer is over," she said carelessly. "I simply must get down to work again. I have neglected my writing shamefully the past two months."

"After all, that's all you really care about, isn't it?" said Ilse curiously. "I love my work but it doesn't possess me as yours possesses you. I'd give it up in a twinkling for—well, we're all as we're made. But is it really comfortable, Emily, to care for only one thing in life?"

"Much more comfortable than caring for too many things."

"I suppose so. Well, you ought to succeed when you lay everything on the altar of your goddess. That's the difference between us. I'm of weaker clay. There are some things I couldn't give up—some things I won't. And as Old Kelly advises, if I can't get what I want—well, I'll want what I can get. Isn't that common sense?"

Emily, wishing she could fool herself as easily as she could other people, went over to the window and kissed Ilse's forehead.

"We aren't children any longer—and we can't go back to childhood, Ilse. We're women—and must make the best of it. I think you'll be happy yet. I want you to be."

Ilse squeezed Emily's hand. "Darn common-sense!" she said drearily.

If she had not been in New Moon she would probably have used the unexpurgated edition.

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