Emily's Quest

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Iii

One late, lovely autumn day in November Emily walked home from the Blair Water post-office with a letter from Ilse and a parcel. She was athrill with an intoxication of excitement that easily passed for happiness. The whole day had been a strangely, unreasonably delightful one of ripe sunshine on the sere hills, faint, grape-like bloom on the faraway woods and a soft, blue sky with little wisps of grey cloud like cast-off veils. Emily had wakened in the morning from a dream of Teddy—the dear, friendly Teddy of the old days—and all day she had been haunted by an odd sense of his nearness. It seemed as if his footstep sounded at her side and as if she might come upon him suddenly when she rounded a spruce-fringed curve in the red road or went down into some sunny hollow where the ferns were thick and golden—find him smiling at her with no shadow of change between them, the years of exile and alienation forgotten. She had not really thought much about him for a long while. The summer and autumn had been busy—she was hard at work on a new story—Ilse's letters had been few and scrappy. Why this sudden, irrational sense of his nearness? When she got Ilse's fat letter she was quite sure there was some news of Teddy in it.

But it was the little parcel that was responsible for her excitement. It was stamped with the sign manual of the House of Wareham and Emily knew what it must hold. Her book—her Moral of the Rose.

She hurried home by the cross-lots road—the little old road over which the vagabond wandered and the lover went to his lady and children to joy and tired men home—the road that linked up eventually with the pasture field by the Blair Water and the Yesterday Road. Once in the grey-boughed solitude of the Yesterday Road Emily sat down in a bay of brown bracken and opened her parcel.

There lay her book. Her book, spleet-new from the publishers. It was a proud, wonderful, thrilling moment. The crest of the Alpine Path at last? Emily lifted her shining eyes to the deep blue November sky and saw peak after peak of sunlit azure still towering beyond. Always new heights of aspiration. One could never reach the top really. But what a moment when one reached a plateau and outlook like this! What a reward for the long years of toil and endeavour and disappointment and discouragement.

But oh, for her unborn Seller of Dreams!

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