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Chapter 22 "Love Me, Love My Dog"

  • When Shrewsbury people discovered that Mrs. Dutton was backing her niece, th_lame of gossip that had swept over the town died down in an incredibly shor_ime. Mrs. Dutton gave more to the various funds of St. John's Church than an_ther member—it was a Murray tradition to support your church becomingly. Mrs.
  • Dutton had lent money to half the business men in town—she held Nat Tolliver'_ote for an amount that kept him wakeful o' nights. Mrs. Dutton had _isconcerting knowledge of family skeletons—to which she had no delicacy i_eferring. Therefore, Mrs. Dutton was a person to be kept in good humour, an_f people had made the mistake of supposing that because she was very stric_ith her niece, it was safe to snub that niece, why, the sooner they correcte_hat mistake the better for all concerned.
  • Emily sold baby jackets and blankets and bootees and bonnets in Mrs.
  • Tolliver's stall at the big bazaar and wheedled elderly gentlemen into buyin_hem, with her now famous smile; everybody was nice to her and she was happ_gain, though the experience had left a scar. Shrewsbury folks in after year_aid that Emily Starr had never really forgiven them for having talked abou_er—and added that the Murrays never did forgive, you know. But forgivenes_id not enter into the matter. Emily had suffered so horribly that hencefort_he sight of any one who had been connected with her suffering was hateful t_er. When Mrs. Tolliver asked her, a week later, to pour tea at the receptio_he was giving her cousin, Emily declined politely, without troubling hersel_o give any excuse. And something in the tilt of her chin, or in the leve_lance of her eyes, made Mrs. Tolliver feel to her marrow that she was stil_olly Riordan of Riordan Alley, and would never be anybody else in the sigh_f a Murray of New Moon.
  • But Andrew was welcomed quite sweetly when he somewhat sheepishly called th_ollowing Friday night. It may be that he felt a little doubtful of hi_eception, in spite of the fact that he was sealed of the tribe. But Emily wa_arkedly gracious to him. Perhaps she had her own reasons for it. Again, _all attention to the fact that I am Emily's biographer, not her apologist. I_he took a way to get even with Andrew which I may not approve, what can I d_ut deplore it? For my own satisfaction, however, I may remark in passing tha_ do think Emily went too far when she told Andrew—after his report of som_ompliments his manager had paid him—that he was certainly a wonder. I canno_ven excuse her by saying that she spoke in sarcastic tones. She did not: sh_aid it most sweetly with an upward glance followed by a downward one tha_ade even Andrew's well-regulated heart skip a beat. Oh, Emily, Emily!
  • Things went well with Emily that Spring. She had several acceptances an_heques, and was beginning to plume herself on being quite a literary person.
  • Her clan began to take her scribbling mania somewhat seriously. Cheques wer_nanswerable things.
  • "Emily has made fifty dollars by her pen since New Year's," Aunt Ruth tol_rs. Drury. "I begin to think the child has an easy way of making a living."
  • An easy way! Emily, overhearing this as she went through the hall, smiled an_ighed. What did Aunt Ruth—what did any one know of the disappointments an_ailures of the climbers on Alpine Paths? What did she know of the despair_nd agonies of one who  _sees_  but cannot  _reach._  What did she know of th_itterness of one who conceives a wonderful tale and writes it down, only t_ind a flat and flavourless manuscript as a reward for all her toil? What di_he know of barred doors and impregnable editorial sanctums? Of bruta_ejection slips and the awfulness of faint praise? Of hopes deferred and hour_f sickening doubt and self-distrust?
  • Aunt Ruth knew of none of these things, but she took to having fits o_ndignation when Emily's manuscripts were returned.
  • "Impudence  _I_  call it," she said. "Don't send that editor another line.
  • Remember, you're a Murray!"
  • "I'm afraid he doesn't know that," said Emily, gravely.
  • "Then why don't you tell him?" said Aunt Ruth.
  • Shrewsbury had a mild sensation in May when Janet Royal came home from Ne_ork with her wonderful dresses, her brilliant reputation, and her chow dog.
  • Janet was a Shrewsbury girl, but she had never been home since she had "gon_o the States" twenty years ago. She was clever and ambitious and she ha_ucceeded. She was the literary editor of a big metropolitan woman's magazin_nd one of the readers for a noted publishing house. Emily held her breat_hen she heard of Miss Royal's arrival. Oh, if she could only see her—have _alk with her—ask her about a hundred things she wanted to know! When Mr.
  • Towers told her in an off-hand manner to go and interview Miss Royal and writ_t up for the  _Times,_  Emily trembled between terror and delight. Here wa_er excuse. But  _could_  she—had she assurance enough? Wouldn't Miss Roya_hink her unbearably presumptuous? How could  _she_  ask Miss Royal question_bout her career and her opinion of the United States' foreign policy an_eciprocity? She could never have the courage.
  • "We both worship at the same altar—but she is high priestess and I am only th_umblest acolyte," wrote Emily in her journal.
  • Then she indited a very worshipful letter to Miss Royal, and rewrote it _ozen times, asking permission to interview her. After she had mailed it sh_ould not sleep all night because it occurred to her that she should hav_igned herself "yours truly" instead of "yours sincerely." "Yours sincerely"
  • smacked of an acquaintanceship that did not exist. Miss Royal would surel_hink her presuming.
  • But Miss Royal sent back a charming letter—Emily has it to this day.
  • > "Ashburn, Monday.
  • >
  • > "DEAR MISS STARR:—
  • >
  • > "Of course you may come and see me and I'll tell you everything you want t_now for Jimmy Towers (God rest his soul, an' wasn't he my first beau!) an_verything you want to know for yourself. I think half my reason for comin_ack to P. E. I. this spring was because I wanted to see the writer of  _Th_oman Who Spanked the King._  I read it last winter when it came out i_Roche's_  and I thought it charming. Come and tell me all about yourself an_our ambitions. You  _are_ ambitious, aren't you? And I think you're going t_e able to realize your ambitions, too, and I want to help you if I can.
  • You've got something I never had—real creative ability—but I've heaps o_xperience and what I've learned from it is yours for the asking. I  _can_elp you to avoid some snares and pitfalls, and I'm not without a bit of
  • 'pull' in certain quarters. Come to Ashburn next Friday afternoon when
  • 'school's out' and we'll have a heart-to-heart pow-wow.
  • >
  • > "Yours fraternally,
  • >
  • > "JANET ROYAL."
  • Emily thrilled to the ends of her toes when she read this letter. "Your_raternally"—oh, heavenly! She knelt at her window and looked out wit_nraptured eyes into the slender firs of the Land of Uprightness and the dew_oung clover-fields beyond. Oh, was it possible that some day she would be _rilliant, successful woman like Miss Royal? That letter made it see_ossible—made every wonderful dream seem possible. And on Friday—four mor_ays—she was going to see and talk intimately with her high priestess.
  • Mrs. Angela Royal, who called to see Aunt Ruth that evening, didn't exactl_eem to think Janet Royal a high priestess or a wonder. But then, of course, _rophetess is apt to have scant honour in her own country and Mrs. Royal ha_rought Janet up.
  • "I don't say but what she's got on well," she confided to Aunt Ruth. "She get_ big salary. But she's an old maid for all that. And as odd in some ways a_ick's hat-band."
  • Emily, studying Latin in the bay window, went on fire with indignation. Thi_as nothing short of  _lese-majeste._
  • "She is very fine looking yet," said Aunt Ruth. "Janet was always a nic_irl."
  • "Oh, yes, she's nice enough. But I was always afraid she was too clever to ge_arried, and I was right. And she's full of foreign notions. She's never o_ime for her meals—and it really makes me sick the fuss she makes over tha_og of hers—Chu-Chin, she calls it.  _He_  rules the house. He does  _exactly_s he likes and nobody dare say a word. My poor cat can't call her soul he_wn. Janet is so touchy about him. When I complained about him sleeping on th_lush davenport she was so vexed she wouldn't speak for a day. That's a thin_ don't like about Janet. She gets so high and mighty when she's offended. An_he gets offended at things nobody else would dream of minding. And when she'_ffended with one she's offended with everybody. I hope nothing will upset he_efore you come on Friday, Emily. If she's out of humour she'll visit it o_ou. But I will say for her that she doesn't often get vexed and there'_othing mean or grudging about her. She'd work her fingers to the bone t_erve a friend."
  • When Aunt Ruth had gone out to interview the grocer's boy, Mrs. Royal adde_urriedly,
  • "She's greatly interested in you, Emily. She's always fond of having pretty, fresh girls about her—says it keeps her feeling young. She thinks your wor_hows real talent. If she takes a fancy to you it would be a great thing fo_ou. But, for pity's sake, keep on good terms with that chow! If you offen_him,_  Janet wouldn't have anything to do with you supposing you wer_hakespeare himself."
  • Emily awoke Friday morning with the conviction that this was to be one of th_rucial days of her life—a day of dazzling possibilities. She had had _errible dream of sitting spellbound before Miss Royal, unable to utter on_ord except "Chu-Chin," which she repeated parrot-like whenever Miss Roya_sked her a question.
  • It poured rain all the forenoon, much to her dismay, but at noon it cleared u_rilliantly and the hills across the harbour scarfed themselves in fairy blue.
  • Emily hurried home from school, pale with the solemnity of the occasion. He_oilet was an important rite. She must wear her new navy-blue silk—no questio_bout that. It was positively long and made her look fully grown up. But ho_hould she do her hair? The Psyche knot had more distinction, suited he_rofile, and showed to better advantage under her hat. Besides, perhaps a bar_orehead made her look more intellectual. But Mrs. Royal had said that Mis_oyal liked pretty girls. Pretty, therefore, she must be at all costs. Th_ich black hair was dressed low on her forehead and crowned by the new sprin_at which Emily had dared to buy with her latest cheque, in spite of Aun_lizabeth's disapproval and Aunt Ruth's unvarnished statement that a fool an_er money were soon parted. But Emily was glad now that she had bought th_at. She _couldn't_  have gone to interview Miss Royal in her plain blac_ailor. This hat was very becoming with its cascade of purple violets tha_ell from it over the lovely, unbroken waves of hair, just touching the milk- whiteness of her neck. Everything about her was exquisitely neat and dainty: she looked—I like the old phrase—as if she had just stepped from a band-box.
  • Aunt Ruth, prowling about the hall, saw her coming downstairs and realized, with something of a shock, that Emily was a young woman.
  • "She carries herself like a Murray," thought Aunt Ruth.
  • The force of commendation could no further go, though it was really from th_tarrs that Emily had inherited her slim elegance. The Murrays were statel_nd dignified, but stiff.
  • It was quite a little walk to Ashburn, which was a fine old white house se_ar back from the street amid great trees. Emily went up the gravel walk, edged with its fine-fringed shadows of spring, as a worshipper approaching _acred fane. A fairly large, fluffy white dog was sitting half-way up th_ravel walk. Emily looked at him curiously. She had never seen a chow dog. Sh_ecided that Chu-Chin was handsome, but not clean. He had evidently bee_aving a glorious time in some mud puddle, for his paws and breast wer_eeking. Emily hoped he would approve of her, but keep his distance.
  • Evidently he approved of her, for he turned and trotted up the walk with her, amiably waving a plumy tail—or rather a tail that would have been plumy had i_ot been wet and muddy. He stood expectantly beside her while she rang th_ell, and as soon as the door was opened he made a joyous bound on the lad_ho stood within, almost knocking her over.
  • Miss Royal herself had opened the door. She had, as Emily saw at once, n_eauty, but unmistakable distinction, from the crown of her gold-bronze hai_o the toes of her satin slippers. She was arrayed in some marvellous dress o_auve velvet and she wore pince-nez with tortoise-shell rims, the first o_heir kind to be seen in Shrewsbury.
  • Chu-Chin gave one rapturous, slobbery wipe at her face with his tongue, the_ushed on into Mrs. Royal's parlour. The beautiful mauve dress was spotte_rom collar to hem with muddy paw-marks. Emily thought that Chu-Chin full_eserved Mrs. Royal's bad opinion and mentally remarked that if he were  _her_og he should behave better. But Miss Royal did not reprove him in any way, and perhaps Emily's secret criticism was subconsciously prompted by he_nstant perception that Miss Royal's greeting, while perfectly courteous, wa_ery cold. From her letter Emily had somehow expected a warmer reception.
  • "Won't you come in and sit down?" said Miss Royal. She ushered Emily in, wave_o a comfortable chair, and sat down on a stiff and uncompromising Chippendal_ne. Somehow, Emily, sensitive at all times and abnormally so just now, fel_hat Miss Royal's selection of a chair was ominous. Why hadn't she sun_hummily into the depths of the big velvet morris? But there she sat, _tately, aloof figure, having apparently paid not the slightest attention t_he appalling mud-stains on her beautiful dress. Chu-Chin had jumped on th_ig plush davenport, where he sat, cockily looking from one to the other as i_njoying the situation. It was all too evident that, as Mrs. Royal ha_oreboded, something had "upset" Miss Royal, and Emily's heart suddenly san_ike lead.
  • "It's—a lovely day," she faltered. She knew it was an incredibly stupid thin_o say, but she had to say something when Miss Royal wouldn't say anything.
  • The silence was too awful.
  • "Very lovely," agreed Miss Royal, not looking at Emily at all but at Chu-Chin, who was thumping a beautiful silk and lace cushion of Mrs. Royal's with hi_et tail. Emily hated Chu-Chin. It was a relief to hate him, since as yet sh_id not dare to hate Miss Royal. But she wished herself a thousand miles away.
  • Oh, if she only hadn't that little bundle of manuscripts on her lap! It was s_vident what it was. She would never dare to show one of them to Miss Royal.
  • Was this outraged empress the writer of that kind, friendly letter? It wa_mpossible to believe it. This must be a nightmare. Her dream was "out" with _engeance. She felt crude and bread-and-buttery and ignorant and dowdy—an_oung! Oh, so horribly young!
  • The moments passed—not so very many, perhaps, but seeming like hours to Emily.
  • Her mouth was dry and parched, her brain paralysed. She couldn't think of _olitary thing to say. A horrible suspicion flashed across her mind that, since writing her letter, Miss Royal had heard the gossip about the night i_he old John house and that her altered attitude was the result.
  • In her misery Emily squirmed in her chair and her little packet of manuscript_lipped to the floor. Emily stooped to retrieve it. At the same moment Chu- Chin made a flying leap from the davenport at it. His muddy paws caught th_pray of violets hanging from Emily's hat and tore it loose. Emily let go o_er packet and clutched her hat. Chu-Chin let go of the violets and pounced o_he packet. Then, holding that in his mouth, he bolted out of the open glas_oor leading to the garden.
  • "Oh, what a relief it would be to tear my hair," thought Emily violently.
  • That diabolical chow had carried off her latest and best story and a number o_hoice poems. Heaven knew what he would do with them. She supposed she woul_ever see them again. But, at least, there was fortunately now no question o_howing them to Miss Royal.
  • Emily no longer cared whether Miss Royal was in a bad humour or not. She wa_o longer desirous of pleasing her—a woman who would let her dog behave lik_hat to an invited guest and never reprove him! Nay, she even seemed to b_mused at his antics. Emily was sure she had detected a fleeting smile on Mis_oyal's arrogant face as she looked at the ruined violets scattered over th_loor.
  • There suddenly popped into Emily's mind a story she had heard of Lofty John'_ather, who was in the habit of telling his wife,
  • "When people do be after snubbing you, Bridget, pull up your lip, Bridget, pull up your lip."
  • Emily pulled up her lip.
  • "A very playful dog," she said sarcastically.
  • "Very," agreed Miss Royal composedly.
  • "Don't you think a little discipline would improve him?" asked Emily.
  • "No, I do not think so," said Miss Royal meditatively.
  • Chu-Chin returned at this moment, capered about the room, knocked a smal_lass vase off a taboret with a whisk of his tail, sniffed at the ensuin_ragments, then bounded up on the davenport again, where he sat panting. "Oh, what a good dog am I!"
  • Emily picked up her note-book and pencil.
  • "Mr. Towers sent me to interview you," she said.
  • "So I understand," said Miss Royal, never taking her eyes off her worshippe_how.
  • _Emily:_  "May I trouble you to answer a few questions?"
  • _Miss Royal, with exaggerated amiability:_  "Charmed."
  • (Chu-Chin, having saved enough breath, springs from the davenport and rushe_hrough the half-opened folding doors of the dining-room.)
  • _Emily, consulting note-book and recklessly asking the first question jotte_own therein:_  "What do you think will be the result of the Presidentia_lection this fall?"
  • (Emily, with compressed lips, writes down in her note-book: "She never think_bout it." Chu-Chin reappears, darts through parlour and out into the garden, carrying a roast chicken in his mouth.)
  • _Miss Royal:_  "There goes my supper."
  • _Emily, checking off first questions:_  "Is there any likelihood that th_nited States Congress will look favourably on the recent reciprocit_roposals of the Canadian Government?"
  • _Miss Royal: "Is_  the Canadian Government making reciprocity proposals? _ever heard of them."
  • (Emily writes, "She never heard of them." Miss Royal refits her pince-nez.)
  • _Emily, thinks:_  "With a chin and a nose like that you'll look very witch- like when you grow old."  _Says_ : "Is it your opinion that the historica_ovel has had its day?"
  • _Miss Royal, languidly:_  "I always leave my opinions at home when I take _oliday."
  • (Emily writes, "She always leaves her opinions home when she takes a holiday,"
  • and wishes savagely she could write her own description of this interview, bu_nows Mr. Towers wouldn't print it. Then consoles herself by remembering tha_he has a virgin Jimmy-book at home and takes a wicked delight in thinking o_he account that will be written in it that night. Chu-Chin enters. Emil_onders if he could have eaten the chicken in that short time. Chu-Chin, evidently feeling the need of some desert, helps himself to one of Mrs.
  • Royal's crocheted tidies, crawls under the piano with it and falls to chewin_apturously.)
  • _Miss Royal, fervently: "Dear_  dog!"
  • _Emily, suddenly inspired:_  "What do you think of chow dogs?"
  • _Miss Royal:_  "The most adorable creatures in the world."
  • _Emily to herself:_  "So you've brought  _one_  opinion with you."  _To Mis_oyal: "I_  do not admire them."
  • _Miss Royal, with an icy smile:_  "It is evident that your taste in dogs mus_e quite different from mine."
  • _Emily, to herself:_  "I wish Ilse were here to call you names for me."
  • (A large, motherly grey cat passes across the doorstep outside. Chu-Chin bolt_ut from under the piano, shoots between the legs of a tall plant stand, an_ursues the flying cat. The plant stand has gone over with a crash and Mrs.
  • Royal's beautiful rex begonia lies in ruins on the floor, amid a heap of eart_nd broken pottery.)
  • _Miss Royal, unsympathetically:_  "Poor Aunt Angela! Her heart will b_roken."
  • _Emily:_  "But that doesn't matter, does it?"
  • _Miss Royal, gently:_  "Oh, no; not at all."
  • _Emily, consulting note-book:_  "Do you find many changes in Shrewsbury?"
  • _Miss Royal:_  "I find a good many changes in the people. The younge_eneration does not impress me favourably."
  • (Emily writes this down. Chu-Chin again reappears, evidently having chased th_at through a fresh mud puddle, and resumes his repast of the tidy, under th_iano.)
  • Emily shut her note-book and rose. Not for any number of Mr. Towers would sh_rolong this interview. She looked like a young angel, but she was thinkin_errible things. And she hated Miss Royal—oh, how she hated her!
  • "Thank you, that will be all," she said, with a haughtiness quite equal t_iss Royal's. "I'm sorry to have taken so much of your time. Good-afternoon."
  • She bowed slightly and went out to the hall. Miss Royal followed her to th_arlour door.
  • "Hadn't you better take your dog, Miss Starr?" she asked sweetly.
  • Emily paused in the act of shutting the outer door and looked at Miss Royal.
  • "Pardon me."
  • "I said, hadn't you better take your dog?"
  • "My  _dog?"_
  • "Yes. He hasn't quite finished the tidy, to be sure, but you might take i_long. It won't be much good to Aunt Angela now."
  • "He—he—isn't  _my_  dog," gasped Emily.
  • "Not your dog? Whose dog is he then?" said Miss Royal.
  • "I—I thought he was yours—your chow," said Emily.