Emily's Quest

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Ii

He had come to bring her a letter—a thin letter—and if Emily had not been too much absorbed in herself at fourteen she might have noticed that Cousin Jimmy's eyes were as bright as a cat's and that an air of ill-concealed excitement pervaded his whole being. Moreover that, when she had thanked him absently for the letter and gone back to her desk, he remained in the shadowy hall outside, watching her slyly through the half-open door. At first he thought she was not going to open the letter—she had flung it down indifferently and sat staring at it. Cousin Jimmy went nearly mad with impatience.

But after a few minutes more of absent musing Emily roused herself with a sigh and stretched out a hand for the letter.

"If I don't miss my guess, dear little Emily, you won't sigh when you read what's in that letter," thought Cousin Jimmy exultantly.

Emily looked at the return address in the upper corner, wondering what the Wareham Publishing Company were writing to her about. The big Warehams! The oldest and most important publishing house in America. A circular of some kind, probably. Then she found herself staring incredulously at the typewritten sheet—while Cousin Jimmy performed a noiseless dance on Aunt Elizabeth's braided rug out in the hall.

"I—don't—understand," gasped Emily.

 

DEAR MISS STARR:—

We take pleasure in advising you that our readers report favourably with regard to your story The Moral of the Rose and if mutually satisfactory arrangements can be made we shall be glad to add the book to our next season's lists. We shall also be interested in hearing of your plans with regard to future writing.

Very sincerely yours, etc.

 

"I don't understand—" said Emily again.

Cousin Jimmy could hold himself in no longer. He made a sound between a whoop and hurrah. Emily flew across the room and dragged him in.

"Cousin Jimmy, what does this mean? You must know something about it—how did the House of Wareham ever get my book?"

"Have they really accepted it?" demanded Cousin Jimmy.

"Yes. And I never sent it to them. I wouldn't have supposed it was the least use—the Warehams. Am I dreaming?"

"No. I'll tell you—don't be mad now, Emily. You mind Elizabeth asked me to tidy up the garret a month ago. I was moving that old cardboard box you keep a lot of stuff in and the bottom fell out. Everything went—so—all over the garret. I gathered 'em up—and your book manuscript was among 'em. I happened to look at a page—and then I set down—and Elizabeth came up an hour later and found me still a-sitting there on my hams reading. I'd forgot everything. My, but she was mad! The garret not half done and dinner ready. But I didn't mind what she said—I was thinking, 'If that book made me forget everything like that there's something in it. I'll send it somewhere.' And I didn't know anywhere to send it but to the Warehams. I'd always heard of them. And I didn't know how to send it—but I just stuffed it in an old cracker box and mailed it to them offhand."

"Didn't you even send stamps for its return?" gasped Emily, horrified.

"No, never thought of it. Maybe that's why they took it. Maybe the other firms sent it back because you sent stamps."

"Hardly." Emily laughed and found herself crying.

"Emily, you ain't mad at me, are you?"

"No—no—darling—I'm only so flabbergasted, as you say yourself, that I don't know what to say or do. It's all so—the Warehams!"

"I've been watching the mails ever since," chuckled Cousin Jimmy. "Elizabeth has been thinking I've gone clear daft at last. If the story had come back I was going to smuggle it back to the garret—I wasn't going to let you know. But when I saw that thin envelope—I remembered you said once the thin envelopes always had good news—dear little Emily, don't cry!"

"I can't—help it—and oh, I'm sorry for what I called you, little Fourteen. You weren't silly—you were wise—you knew."

"It's gone to her head a little," said Cousin Jimmy to himself. "No wonder—after so many set-backs. But she'll soon be quite sensible again."

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