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Chapter 10 The Madness of an Hour

  • The High School concert in aid of the school library was an annual event i_hrewsbury, coming off in early April, before it was necessary to settle dow_o hard study for spring examinations. This year it was at first intended t_ave the usual programme of music and readings with a short dialogue. Emil_as asked to take part in the latter and agreed, after securing Aunt Ruth'_ery grudging consent, which would probably never have been secured if Mis_ylmer had not come in person to plead for it. Miss Aylmer was a granddaughte_f Senator Aylmer and Aunt Ruth yielded to family what she would have yielde_o nothing else. Then Miss Aylmer suggested cutting out most of the music an_ll of the readings and having a short play instead. This found favour in th_yes of the students and the change was made forthwith. Emily was cast for _art that suited her, so she became keenly interested in the matter an_njoyed the practices, which were held in the school building two evenings o_he week under the chaperonage of Miss Aylmer.
  • The play created quite a stir in Shrewsbury. Nothing so ambitious had bee_ndertaken by the High School students before: it became known that many o_he Queen's Academy students were coming up from Charlottetown on the evenin_rain to see it. This drove the performers half wild. The Queen's student_ere old hands at putting on plays. Of course they came to criticize. I_ecame a fixed obsession with each member of the cast to make the play as goo_s any of the Queen's Academy plays had been, and every nerve was strained t_hat end. Kate Errol's sister, who was a graduate of a school of oratory, coached them and when the evening of the performance arrived there was burnin_xcitement in the various homes and boarding-houses of Shrewsbury.
  • Emily, in her small, candle-lighted room, looked at Emily-in-the-Glass wit_onsiderable satisfaction—a satisfaction that was quite justifiable. Th_carlet flush of her cheeks, the deepening darkness of her grey eyes, came ou_rilliantly above the ashes-of-roses gown, and the little wreath of silve_eaves, twisted around her black hair, made her look like a young dryad. Sh_id not, however,  _feel_  like a dryad. Aunt Ruth had made her take off he_ace stockings and put on cashmere ones—had tried, indeed, to make her put o_oollen ones, but had gone down in defeat on that point, retrieving he_osition, however, by insisting on a flannel petticoat.
  • "Horrid bunchy thing," thought Emily resentfully—meaning the petticoat, o_ourse. But the skirts of the day were full and Emily's slenderness coul_arry even a thick flannel petticoat.
  • She was just fastening her Egyptian chain around her neck when Aunt Rut_talked in.
  • One glance was sufficient to reveal that Aunt Ruth was very angry.
  • "Em'ly, Mrs. Ball has just called. She told me something that amazed me. I_his a  _play_  you're taking part in to-night?"
  • "Of course it's a play, Aunt Ruth. Surely you knew that."
  • "When you asked my permission to take part in this concert you told me it wa_  _dialogue,"_  said Aunt Ruth icily.
  • "O-o-h—but Miss Aylmer decided to have a little play in place of it. _thought_  you knew, Aunt Ruth—truly I did. I thought I mentioned it to you."
  • "You didn't think anything of the kind, Em'ly—you deliberately kept me i_gnorance because you knew I wouldn't have allowed you to take part in _play."_
  • "Indeed, no, Aunt Ruth," pleaded Emily, gravely. "I never thought of hidin_t. Of course, I didn't feel like talking much to you about it because I kne_ou didn't approve of the concert at all."
  • When Emily spoke gravely Aunt Ruth always thought she was impudent.
  • "This crowns all, Em'ly. Sly as I've always known you to be I wouldn't hav_elieved you could be as sly as this."
  • "There was nothing of the kind about it, Aunt Ruth!" said Emily impatiently.
  • "It would have been silly of me to try to hide the fact that we were gettin_p a play when all Shrewsbury is talking of it. I don't see how you coul_help_  hearing of it."
  • "You knew I wasn't going anywhere because of my bronchitis. Oh, I see throug_t all, Em'ly. You cannot deceive  _me."_
  • "I haven't tried to deceive you. I thought you knew—that is all there is t_t. I thought the reason you never spoke of it was because you were opposed t_he whole thing. That is the truth, Aunt Ruth. What difference is ther_etween a dialogue and a play?"
  • "There is  _every_  difference," said Aunt Ruth. "Plays are wicked."
  • "But this is such a  _little_  one," pleaded Emily despairingly—and the_aughed because it sounded so ridiculously like the nursemaid's excuse i_Midshipman Easy._  Her sense of humour was untimely; her laughter infuriate_unt Ruth.
  • "Little or big, you are not going to take part in it."
  • Emily stared again, paling a little.
  • "Aunt Ruth—I  _must_ —why, the play would be ruined."
  • "Better a play ruined than a soul ruined," retorted Aunt Ruth.
  • Emily dared not smile. The issue at stake was too serious.
  • "Don't be so—so—indignant, Aunt Ruth"—she had nearly said unjust. "I am sorr_ou don't approve of plays—I won't take part in any more—but you can see _must_  do it to-night."
  • "Oh, my dear Em'ly, I don't think you are quite as indispensable as al_that."_
  • Certainly Aunt Ruth was very maddening. How disagreeable the word "dear" coul_e! Still was Emily patient.
  • "I really am—to-night. You see, they couldn't get a substitute at the las_oment. Miss Aylmer would never forgive me."
  • "Do you care more about Miss Aylmer's forgiveness than God's?" demanded Aun_uth with the air of one stating a decisive position.
  • "Yes—than  _your_  God's," muttered Emily, unable to keep her patience unde_uch insensate questions.
  • "Have you no respect for your forefathers?" was Aunt Ruth's next relevan_uery. "Why, if they knew a descendant of theirs was play-acting they woul_urn over in their graves!"
  • Emily favoured Aunt Ruth with a sample of the Murray look.
  • "It would be excellent exercise for them. I am going to take my part in th_lay to-night, Aunt Ruth."
  • Emily spoke quietly, looking down from her young height with resolute eyes.
  • Aunt Ruth felt a nasty sense of helplessness: there was no lock to Emily'_oor—and she couldn't detain her by physical force.
  • "If you go, you needn't come back here to-night," she said, pale with rage.
  • "This house is locked at nine o'clock."
  • "If I don't come back here to-night, I won't come at all." Emily was too angr_ver Aunt Ruth's unreasonable attitude to care for consequences. "If you loc_e out I'll go back to New Moon.  _They_  know all about the play there—eve_unt Elizabeth was willing for me to take part."
  • She caught up her coat and jammed the little red-feather hat, which Uncl_liver's wife had given her at Christmas, down on her head. Aunt Addie's tast_as not approved at New Moon but the hat was very becoming and Emily loved it.
  • Aunt Ruth suddenly realized that Emily looked oddly mature and grown-up in it.
  • But the knowledge did not as yet dampen her anger. Em'ly was gone—Em'ly ha_ared to defy her and disobey her—sly, underhand Em'ly—Em'ly must be taught _esson.
  • At nine o'clock a stubborn, outraged Aunt Ruth locked all the doors and wen_o bed.
  • The play was a big success. Even the Queen's students admitted that an_pplauded generously. Emily threw herself into her part with a fire and energ_enerated by her encounter with Aunt Ruth, which swept away all hamperin_onsciousness of flannel petticoats and agreeably astonished Miss Errol, whos_ne criticism of Emily's acting had been that she was rather cold and reserve_n a part that called for more abandon. Emily was showered with compliments a_he close of the performance. Even Evelyn Blake said graciously,
  • "Really, dear, you are quite wonderful—a star actress—a poet—a buddin_ovelist—what surprise will you give us next?"
  • Thought Emily, "Condescending, insufferable creature!"
  • Said Emily,  _"Thank_  you!"
  • There was a happy, triumphant walk home with Teddy, a gay good night at th_ate, and then—the locked door.
  • Emily's anger, which had been sublimated during the evening into energy an_mbition, suddenly flared up again, sweeping everything before it. It wa_nbearable to be treated thus. She had endured enough at Aunt Ruth'_ands—this was the proverbial last straw. One could not put up wit_everything,_  even to get an education. One owed  _something_  to one'_ignity and self-respect.
  • There were three things she could do. She could thump the old-fashioned bras_nocker on the door until Aunt Ruth came down and let her in, as she had don_nce before—and then endure weeks of slurs because of it. She could fly up- street and down-street to Ilse's boarding-house—the girls wouldn't be in be_et—as she had likewise done once before, and as no doubt Aunt Ruth woul_xpect her to do now; and then Mary Carswell would tell Evelyn Blake an_velyn Blake would laugh maliciously and tell it all through the school. Emil_ad no intention of doing either of these things; she knew from the moment sh_ound the door locked just what she would do. She would walk to New Moon—an_tay there! Months of suppressed chafing under Aunt Ruth's perpetual sting_urst into a conflagration of revolt. Emily marched out of the gate, slamme_t shut behind her with no Murray dignity but plenty of Starr passion, an_tarted on her seven-mile walk through the midnight. Had it been three time_even she would have started just the same.
  • So angry was she, and so angry she continued to be, that the walk did not see_ong, nor, though she had no wrap save her cloth coat, did she feel the col_f the sharp April night.
  • The winter's snow had gone but the bare road was hard-frozen and rough—n_ainty footing for the thin kid slippers of Cousin Jimmy's Christmas box.
  • Emily reflected with what she considered a grim, sarcastic laugh that it wa_ell, after all, that Aunt Ruth had insisted on cashmere stockings and flanne_etticoat.
  • There was a moon that night, but the sky was covered with curdled grey clouds, and the harsh, bleak landscape lay dourly in the pallid grey light. The win_ame across it in sudden, moaning gusts. Emily felt with considerable dramati_atisfaction that the night harmonized with her stormy, tragic mood.
  • She would  _never_  go back to Aunt Ruth's that was certain. No matter wha_unt Elizabeth might say—and she  _would_  say aplenty, no doubt of that—n_atter what anyone would say. If Aunt Elizabeth would not let her go anywher_lse to board she would give up school altogether. She knew it would cause _remendous upheaval at New Moon. Never mind. In her very reckless moo_pheavals seemed welcome things. It was time somebody upheaved. She would no_umiliate herself another day—that she would not! Aunt Ruth had gone too fa_t last. You could not safely drive a Starr to desperation.
  • "I have done with Ruth Dutton for ever," vowed Emily, feeling a tremendou_atisfaction in leaving off the "Aunt."
  • As she drew near home the clouds cleared away suddenly, and when she turne_nto the New Moon lane the austere beauty of the three tall Lombardies agains_he moonlit sky made her catch her breath. Oh, how wonderful! For a moment sh_lmost forgot her wrongs and Aunt Ruth. Then bitterness rushed over her sou_gain—not even the magic of the Three Princesses could charm it away.
  • There was a light shining out of the New Moon kitchen window, falling on th_all, white birches in Lofty John's bush with spectral effect. Emily wondere_ho could be up at New Moon: she had expected to find it in darkness and ha_eant to slip in by the front door and up to her own dear room, leavin_xplanations to the morning. Aunt Elizabeth always locked and barred th_itchen door every night with great ceremony before retiring, but the fron_oor was never locked. Tramps and burglars would surely never be so ill- mannered as to come to the front door of New Moon.
  • Emily crossed the garden and peeped through the kitchen window. Cousin Jimm_as there alone, sitting by the table, with two candles for company. On th_able was a stoneware crock and just as Emily looked in he absently put hi_and into it and drew out a chubby doughnut. Cousin Jimmy's eyes were fixed o_ big beef ham hanging from the ceiling and Cousin Jimmy's lips move_oundlessly. There was no reasonable doubt that Cousin Jimmy was composin_oetry, though why he was doing it at that hour o' night was a puzzle.
  • Emily slipped around the house, opened the kitchen door gently, and walked in.
  • Poor Cousin Jimmy in his amazement tried to swallow half a doughnut whole an_hen couldn't speak for several seconds. Was  _this_  Emily—or an apparition?
  • Emily in a dark-blue coat, an enchanting little red-feather hat—Emily wit_indblown night-black hair and tragic eyes—Emily with tattered kid slippers o_er feet—Emily in this plight at New Moon when she should have been soun_sleep on her maiden couch in Shrewsbury?
  • Cousin Jimmy seized the cold hands Emily held out to him.
  • "Emily, dear child, what has happened?"
  • "Well, just to jump into the middle of things—I've left Aunt Ruth's and I'_ot going back."
  • Cousin Jimmy didn't say anything for a few moments. But he did a few things.
  • First he tiptoed across the kitchen and carefully shut the sitting-room door; then he gently filled the stove up with wood, drew a chair up to it, pushe_mily into it and lifted her cold, ragged feet to the hearth. Then he lighte_wo more candles and put them on the chimney-piece. Finally he sat down in hi_hair again and put his hands on his knees.
  • "Now, tell me all about it."
  • Emily, still in the throes of rebellion and indignation, told it pretty fully.
  • As soon as Cousin Jimmy got an inkling of what had really happened he began t_hake his head slowly—continued to shake it—shook it so long and gravely tha_mily began to feel an uncomfortable conviction that instead of being _ronged, dramatic figure she was by way of being a bit of a little fool. Th_onger Cousin Jimmy shook his head the smaller grew her heroics. When she ha_inished her story with a defiant, conclusive "I'm  _not_  going back to Aun_uth's, anyhow," Cousin Jimmy gave a final wag to his head and pushed th_rock across the table.
  • "Have a doughnut, pussy."
  • Emily hesitated. She was very fond of doughnuts—and it had been a long tim_ince she had her supper. But doughnuts seemed out of keeping with rebellio_nd tumult. They were decidedly reactionary in their tendencies. Some vagu_limmering of this made Emily refuse the doughnut.
  • Cousin Jimmy took one himself.
  • "So you're not going back to Shrewsbury?"
  • "Not to Aunt Ruth's," said Emily.
  • "It's the same thing," said Cousin Jimmy.
  • Emily knew it was. She knew it was of no use to hope that Aunt Elizabeth woul_et her board elsewhere.
  • "And you walked all the way home over those roads." Cousin Jimmy shook hi_ead. "Well, you  _have_  spunk. Heaps of it," he added meditatively betwee_ites.
  • "Do you blame me?" demanded Emily passionately—all the more passionatel_ecause she felt some inward support had been shaken away by Cousin Jimmy'_ead.
  • "No-o-o, it was a durn mean shame to lock you out—just like Ruth Dutton."
  • "And you see—don't you—that I can't go back after such an insult?"
  • Cousin Jimmy nibbled at the doughnut cautiously, as if bent on trying to se_ow near he could nibble to the hole without actually breaking through.
  • "I don't think any of your grandmothers would have given up a chance for a_ducation so easily," he said. "Not on the Murray side, anyhow," he adde_fter a moment's reflection, which apparently reminded him that he knew to_ittle about the Starrs to dogmatize concerning them.
  • Emily sat very still. As Teddy would have said in cricket parlance, Cousi_immy had got her middle wicket with the first ball. She felt at once tha_hen Cousin Jimmy, in that diabolical fit of inspiration, dragged he_randmothers in, everything was over but the precise terms of surrender. Sh_ould see them all around her—the dear, dead ladies of New Moon—Mary Shiple_nd Elizabeth Burnley, and all the rest—mild, determined, restrained, lookin_own with something of contemptuous pity on her, their foolish, impulsiv_escendant. Cousin Jimmy appeared to think there might be some weakness on th_tarr side. Well, there wasn't—she would show him!
  • She  _had_  expected more sympathy from Cousin Jimmy. She had known Aun_lizabeth would condemn her and even Aunt Laura would look disappointe_uestion. But she had counted on Cousin Jimmy taking her part. He always ha_efore.
  • "My grandmothers never had to put up with Aunt Ruth," she flung at him.
  • "They had to put up with your grandfathers." Cousin Jimmy appeared to thin_hat this was conclusive—as anyone who had known Archibald and Hugh Murra_ight have very well thought.
  • "Cousin Jimmy, do you think I ought to go back and accept Aunt Ruth's scoldin_nd go on as if this had never happened?"
  • "What do  _you_  think about it?" asked Cousin Jimmy.  _"Do_  take a doughnut, pussy."
  • This time Emily took the doughnut. She might as well have some comfort. Now, you can't eat doughnuts and remain dramatic. Try it.
  • Emily slipped from her peak of tragedy to the valley of petulance.
  • "Aunt Ruth has been  _abominable_  these past two months—ever since he_ronchitis has prevented her from going out. You don't know  _what_  it's bee_ike."
  • "Oh, I do—I do. Ruth Dutton never made anyone feel better pleased wit_erself. Feet getting warm, Emily?"
  • "I  _hate_  her," cried Emily, still grasping after self-justification. "It'_orrible to live in the same house with anyone you hate—"
  • "Poisonous," agreed Cousin Jimmy.
  • "And it  _isn't_  my fault. I  _have_  tried to like her—tried to pleas_er—she's always twitting me—she attributes mean motives to everything I do o_ay—or  _don't_  do or say. I've never heard the last of sitting in the corne_f the pew—and failing to get a star pin. She's always  _hinting_  insults t_y father and mother. And she's always  _forgiving_  me for things I haven'_one—or that don't need forgiveness."
  • "Aggravating—very," conceded Cousin Jimmy.
  • "Aggravating—you're right. I know if I go back she'll say 'I'll forgive yo_his time, but don't let it happen again.' And she will  _sniff_ —oh, Aun_uth's sniff is the hatefulest sound in the world!"
  • "Ever hear a dull knife sawing through thick cardboard?" murmured Cousi_immy.
  • Emily ignored him and swept on.
  • "I can't be  _always_  in the wrong—but Aunt Ruth thinks I am—and says she has
  • 'to make allowances' for me. She doses me with cod-liver oil—she never lets m_o out in the evening if she can help it—'consumptives should never be ou_fter eight o clock.' If  _she_  is cold,  _I_  must put on an extr_etticoat. She is always asking disagreeable questions and refusing to believ_y answers. She believes and always will believe that I kept this play _ecret from her because of slyness. I never thought of such a thing. Why, th_hrewsbury  _Times_  referred to it last week. Aunt Ruth doesn't often mis_nything in the  _Times._  She twitted me for days because she found _omposition of mine that I had signed 'Emilie.' 'Better try to spell your nam_fter some unheard-of-twist,' she sneered!"
  • "Well, wasn't it a bit silly, pussy?"
  • "Oh, I suppose my grandmothers wouldn't have done it! But Aunt Ruth needn'_ave kept it up as she did.  _That_  is what is so dreadful—if she'd speak he_ind on a thing and have done with it. Why, I got a little spot of iron-rus_n my white petticoat and Aunt Ruth harped on it for weeks. She was determine_o find out  _when_  it was rusted and  _how_ —and I hadn't the least idea.
  • Really, Cousin Jimmy, when this had gone on for three weeks I thought I'd hav_o scream if she mentioned it again."
  • _"Any_  proper person would feel the same," said Cousin Jimmy to the beef ham.
  • "Oh, any  _one_  of these things is only a pin-prick, I know—and you think I'_illy to mind it—but—"
  • "No, no. A hundred pin-pricks would be harder to put up with than a broke_eg.  _I'd_  sooner be knocked on the head and be done with it."
  • "Yes, that's it—nothing but pin-pricks all the time. She won't let Ilse com_o the house—or Teddy, or Perry—nobody but that stupid Andrew. I'm so tired o_im. She wouldn't let me go to the Prep dance. They had a sleigh drive an_upper at the Brown Teapot Inn and a little dance—everybody went but me—it wa_he event of the winter. If I go for a walk in the Land of Uprightness a_unset she is sure there is something sinister in it— _she_  never wants t_alk in the Land of Uprightness, so why should  _I_? She says I have got to_igh an opinion of myself. I  _haven't_ — _have_  I, Cousin Jimmy?"
  • "No," said Cousin Jimmy thoughtfully. "High—but not  _too_  high."
  • "She says I'm always displacing things—if I look out of a window she'll tro_cross the room and mathematically match the corners of the curtains again.
  • And it's 'Why—why—why'—all the time,  _all_  the time, Cousin Jimmy."
  • "I know you feel a lot better now that you've got all that out of you_ystem," said Cousin Jimmy. "'Nother doughnut?"
  • Emily, with a sigh of surrender, took her feet off the stove and moved over t_he table. The crock of doughnuts was between her and Cousin Jimmy. She  _was_ery hungry.
  • "Ruth give you enough to eat?" queried Cousin Jimmy anxiously.
  • "Oh, yes. Aunt Ruth keeps up one New Moon tradish at least. She has a goo_able. But there are no snacks."
  • "And you always liked a tasty bite at bed-time, didn't you? But you took a bo_ack last time you were home?"
  • "Aunt Ruth confiscated it. That is, she put it in the pantry and served it_ontents up at meal times. These doughnuts  _are_  good. And there is alway_omething exciting and lawless about eating at unearthly hours like this, isn't there? How did you happen to be up, Cousin Jimmy?"
  • "A sick cow. Thought I'd better sit up and look after her."
  • "It was lucky for me you were. Oh, I'm in my proper senses again, Cousi_immy. Of course, I know you think I've been a little fool."
  • "Everybody's a fool in some particular," said Cousin Jimmy.
  • "Well, I'll go back and bite the sour apple without a grimace."
  • "Lie down on the sofa and have a nap. I'll hitch up the grey mare and driv_ou back as soon as it begins to be daylight."
  • "No, that won't do at all. Several reasons. In the first place, the road_ren't fit for wheels or runners. In the second place we couldn't drive awa_rom here without Aunt Elizabeth hearing us, and then she'd find out all abou_t and I don't want her to. We'll keep my foolishness a dark and deadly secre_etween you and me, Cousin Jimmy."
  • "Then how are you going to get back to Shrewsbury?"
  • "Walk."
  • "Walk? To Shrewsbury? At this hour of the night?"
  • "Haven't I just walked from Shrewsbury at this hour? I can do it again and i_on't be any harder than bumping over those awful roads behind the grey mare.
  • Of course, I'll put something on my feet that will be a little more protectio_han kid slippers. I've ruined your Christmas present in my brain-storm. Ther_s a pair of my old boots in the closet there. I'll put them on—and my ol_lster. I'll be back in Shrewsbury by daylight. I'll start as soon as w_inish the doughnuts. Let's lick the platter clean, Cousin Jimmy."
  • Cousin Jimmy yielded. After all, Emily was young and wiry, the night was fine, and the less Elizabeth knew about some things the better for all concerned.
  • With a sigh of relief that the affair had turned out so well—he had reall_een afraid at first that Emily's underlying "stubbornness" had been reache_nd then, whew!—Cousin Jimmy settled down to doughnuts.
  • "How's the writing coming on?" he asked.
  • "I've written a good deal lately—though it's pretty cold in my room mornings, but I love it so—it's my dearest dream to do something worth while some day."
  • "So you will.  _You_  haven't been pushed down a well," said Cousin Jimmy.
  • Emily patted his hand. None realized better than she what Cousin Jimmy migh_ave done if  _he_  had not been pushed down a well.
  • When the doughnuts were finished Emily donned her old boots and ulster. It wa_ very shabby garment but her young-moon beauty shone over it like a star i_he old, dim, candle-lighted room.
  • Cousin Jimmy looked up at her. He thought that she was a gifted, beautiful, joyous creature and that some things were a shame.
  • "Tall and stately—tall and stately like all our women," he murmured dreamily.
  • "Except Aunt Ruth," he added.
  • Emily laughed—and "made a face."
  • "Aunt Ruth will make the most of her inches in our forthcoming interview. Thi_ill last her the rest of the year. But don't worry, Cousin darling, I won'_o any more foolish things for quite a long time now. This has cleared th_ir. Aunt Elizabeth will think it was dreadful of you to eat a whole crockfu_f doughnuts yourself, you greedy Cousin Jimmy."
  • "Do you want another blank-book?"
  • "Not yet. The last one you gave me is only half-full yet. A blank-book last_e quite a while when I can't write stories. Oh, I wish I could, Cousi_immy."
  • "The time will come—the time will come," said Cousin Jimmy encouragingly.
  • "Wait a while—just wait a while. If we don't chase things—sometimes the thing_ollowing us can catch up. 'Through wisdom is an house builded, and b_nderstanding is it established. And by knowledge shall the chambers be fille_ith all precious and pleasant riches'—all precious and pleasant riches, Emily. Proverbs twenty-fourth, third and fifth."
  • He let Emily out and bolted the door. He put out all the candles but one. H_lared at it for a few moments, then, satisfied that Elizabeth could not hea_im, Cousin Jimmy said fervently,
  • "Ruth Dutton can go to—to—to—" Cousin Jimmy's courage failed him, "—t_eaven!"
  • Emily went back to Shrewsbury through the clear moonlight. She had expecte_he walk to be dreary and weary, robbed of the impetus anger and rebellion ha_iven. But she found that it had become transmuted into a thing of beauty—an_mily was one of "the eternal slaves of beauty," of whom Carman sings, who ar_et "masters of the world." She was tired, but her tiredness showed itself i_ certain exaltation of feeling and imagination such as she often experience_hen over-fatigued. Thought was quick and active. She had a series o_rilliant imaginary conversations and thought out so many epigrams that sh_as agreeably surprised at herself. It was good to feel vivid and interestin_nd all-alive once more. She was alone but not lonely.
  • As she walked along she dramatized the night. There was about it a wild, lawless charm that appealed to a certain wild, lawless strain hidden deep i_mily's nature—a strain that wished to walk where it would with no guidanc_ut its own—the strain of the gypsy and the poet, the genius and the fool.
  • The big fir-trees, released from their burden of snow, were tossing their arm_reely and wildly and gladly across the moonlit fields. Was ever anything s_eautiful as the shadows of those grey, clean-limbed maples on the road at he_eet? The houses she passed were full of intriguing mystery. She liked t_hink of the people who lay there dreaming and saw in sleep what waking lif_enied them—of little children's dear hands folded in exquisite slumber—o_earts that, perhaps, kept sorrowful, wakeful vigils—of lonely arms tha_eached out in the emptiness of the night—all while she, Emily, flitted b_ike a shadowy wraith of the small hours.
  • And it was easy to think, too, that other things were abroad—things that wer_ot mortal or human. She always lived on the edge of fairyland and now sh_tepped right over it. The Wind Woman was really whistling eerily in the reed_f the swamp—she was sure she heard the dear, diabolical chuckles of owls i_he spruce copses—something frisked across her path—it might be a rabbit or i_ight be a Little Grey Person; the trees put on half-pleasing, half-terrifyin_hapes they never wore by day. The dead thistles of last year were gobli_roups along the fences: that shaggy, old yellow birch was some satyr of th_oodland: the footsteps of the old gods echoed around her: those gnarle_tumps on the hill field were surely Pan piping through moonlight and shado_ith his troop of laughing fauns. It was delightful to believe they were.
  • "One loses so much when one becomes incredulous," said Emily—and then though_hat was a rather clever remark and wished she had a Jimmy-book to write i_own.
  • So, having washed her soul free from bitterness in the aerial bath of th_pring night and tingling from head to foot with the wild, strange, sweet lif_f the spirit, she came to Aunt Ruth's when the faint, purplish hills east o_he harbour were growing clear under a whitening sky. She had expected to fin_he door still locked; but the knob turned as she tried it and she went in.
  • Aunt Ruth was up and was lighting the kitchen fire.
  • On the way from New Moon Emily had thought over a dozen different ways o_aying what she meant to say—and now she used not one of them. At the las_oment an impish inspiration came to her. Before Aunt Ruth could—o_ould—speak Emily said,
  • "Aunt Ruth, I've come back to tell you that I forgive you, but that this mus_ot happen again."
  • To tell the truth, Mistress Ruth Dutton was considerably relieved that Emil_had_  come back. She had been afraid of Elizabeth and Laura—Murray famil_ows were bitter things—and truly a little afraid of the results to Emil_erself if she had really gone to New Moon in those thin shoes and tha_nsufficient coat. For Ruth Dutton was not a fiend—only a rather stupid, stubborn little barnyard fowl trying to train up a skylark. She was honestl_fraid that Emily might catch a cold and go into consumption. And if Emil_ook it into her head  _not_  to come back to Shrewsbury—well, that would
  • "make talk" and Ruth Dutton hated "talk" when she or her doings was th_ubject. So, all things considered, she decided to ignore the impertinence o_mily's greeting.
  • "Did you spend the night on the streets?" she asked grimly.
  • "Oh, dear no—I went out to New Moon—had a chat with Cousin Jimmy and som_unch—then walked back."
  • "Did Elizabeth see you? Or Laura?"
  • "No. They were asleep."
  • Mrs. Dutton reflected that this was just as well.
  • "Well," she said coldly, "you have been guilty of great ingratitude, Em'ly, but I'll forgive you this time"—then stopped abruptly. Hadn't that been sai_lready this morning? Before she could think of a substitute remark Emily ha_anished upstairs. Mistress Ruth Dutton was left with the unpleasant sensatio_hat, somehow or other, she had not come out of the affair quite a_riumphantly as she should have.