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Chapter 23 An Open Door

  • Miss Royal looked at Emily for a moment. Then she seized her wrist, shut th_oor, drew her back to the parlour, and firmly pushed her down into the morri_hair. This done, Miss Royal threw herself on the muddy davenport and began t_augh—long and helplessly. Once or twice she rocked herself forward, gav_mily's knee two wild whacks, then rocked back and continued to laugh. Emil_at, smiling faintly. Her feelings had been too deeply harrowed to permit o_iss Royal's convulsions of mirth, but already there was glimmering in he_ind a sketch for her Jimmy-book. Meanwhile, the white dog, having chewed th_idy to tatters, spied the cat again, and again rushed after her.
  • Finally Miss Royal sat erect and wiped her eyes.
  • "Oh, this is priceless, Emily Byrd Starr—priceless! When I'm eighty I'l_ecall this and howl over it. Who will write it up, you or I? But  _who_  doe_wn that brute?"
  • "I'm sure I don't know," said Emily demurely. "I never saw him in my lif_efore."
  • "Well, let's shut the door before he can return. And now, dear thing, sit her_eside me—there's one clean spot here under the cushion. We're going to hav_ur real talk now. Oh, I was so beastly to you when you were trying to ask m_uestions. I was _trying_  to be beastly. Why didn't you throw something a_e, you poor insulted darling?"
  • "I wanted to. But now I think you let me off very easily, considering th_ehaviour of my supposed dog."
  • Miss Royal went off in another convulsion.
  • "I don't know if I can forgive you for thinking that horrid curly whit_reature was my glorious red-gold chow. I'll take you up to my room before yo_o and you shall apologize to him. He's asleep on my bed. I locked him ther_o relieve dear Aunt Angela's mind about her cat. Chu-Chin wouldn't hurt th_at—he merely wants to play with her, and the foolish old thing runs. Now, yo_now, when a cat runs, a dog simply can't help chasing her. As Kipling tell_s, he wouldn't be a proper dog if he didn't. If only that white fiend ha_onfined himself to chasing the cat!"
  • "It is too bad about Mrs. Royal's begonia," said Emily, regretfully.
  • "Yes, that  _is_  a pity. Aunt Angela's had it for years. But I'll get her _ew one. When I saw you coming up the walk with that dog frisking around you, of course I concluded he was yours. I had put on my favourite dress because i_eally makes me look almost beautiful—and I wanted you to love me; and whe_he beast muddied it all over and you never said a word of rebuke or apology, I simply went into one of my cold rages. I  _do_  go into them—I can't hel_t. It's one of my little faults. But I soon thaw out if no fresh aggravatio_ccurs. In this case fresh aggravation occurred every minute. I vowed t_yself that if you did not even try to make your dog behave I would no_uggest that you should. And I suppose  _you_  were indignant because I calml_et _my_  dog spoil your violets and eat your manuscripts?"
  • "I was."
  • "It's too bad about the manuscripts. Perhaps we can find them—he can't reall_ave swallowed them, but I suppose he has chewed them to bits."
  • "It doesn't matter. I have other copies at home."
  • "And your questions! Emily, you were too delicious. Did you really write dow_y answers?"
  • "Word for word. I meant to print them just so, too. Mr. Towers had given me _ist of questions for you, but of course I didn't mean to fire them off point- blank like that. I meant to weave them artfully into our conversation as w_ent along. But here comes Mrs. Royal."
  • Mrs. Royal came in, smiling. Her face changed as she saw the begonia. But Mis_oyal interposed quickly.
  • "Dearest Aunty, don't weep or faint—at least not before you've told me wh_round here owns a white, curly, utterly mannerless, devilish dog?"
  • "Lily Bates," said Mrs. Royal in a tone of despair. "Oh, has she let tha_reature out again? I had a most terrible time with him before you came. He'_eally just a big puppy and he  _can't_  behave. I told her finally if _aught him over here again I'd poison him. She's kept him shut up since then.
  • But now—oh, my lovely rex.
  • "Well, this dog came in with Emily. I supposed he was her dog. Courtesy to _uest implies courtesy to her dog—isn't there an old proverb that expresses i_ore concisely? He embraced me fervently upon his entrance, as my deares_ress testifies. He marked up your davenport—he tore off Emily's violets—h_hased your cat—he overturned your begonia—he broke your vase—he ran off wit_ur chicken—ay, groan, Aunt Angela, he did!—and yet I, determinedly compose_nd courteous, said not a word of protest. I vow my behaviour was worthy o_ew Moon itself—wasn't it, Emily?"
  • "You were just too mad to speak," said Mrs. Royal ruefully, fingering he_recked begonia.
  • Miss Royal stole a sly glance at Emily.
  • "You see, I can't put anything over on Aunt Angela. She knows me too well. _dmit I was not my usual charming self. But, Aunty darling, I'll get you a ne_ase and a new begonia—think of all the fun you'll have coaxing it along.
  • Anticipation is always so much more interesting than realization."
  • _"I_ 'll settle Lily Bates," said Mrs. Royal, going out of the room to loo_or a dustpan.
  • "Now, dear thing. Let's gab," said Miss Royal, snuggling down beside Emily.
  • _This_  was the Miss Royal of the letter. Emily found no difficulty in talkin_o  _her._  They had a jolly hour and at the end of it Miss Royal made _roposition that took away Emily's breath.
  • "Emily, I want you to come back to New York with me in July. There's a vacanc_n the staff of  _The Ladies' Own_ —no great thing in itself. You'll be sor_f general handy-man, and all odd jobs will be turned over to you—but you'l_ave a chance to work up. And you'll be in the centre of things. You ca_rite—I, realized that the moment I read  _The Woman Who Spanked the King._  _now the editor of  _Roche's_  and I found out who you were and where yo_ived. That's really why I came down this spring—I wanted to get hold of you.
  • You mustn't waste your life here—it would be a crime. Oh, of course, I kno_ew Moon is a dear, quaint, lovely spot—full of poetry and steeped in romance, it was just the place for you to spend your childhood in. But you must have _hance to grow and develop and be yourself. You must have the stimulus o_ssociation with great minds—the training that only a great city can give.
  • Come with me. If you do, I promise you that in ten years' time Emily Byr_tarr will be a name to conjure with among the magazines of America."
  • Emily sat in a maze of bewilderment, too confused and dazzled to thin_learly. She had never dreamed of this. It was as if Miss Royal had suddenl_ut into her hand a key to unlock the door into the world of all her dreams, and hopes, and imaginings. Beyond that door was all she had ever hoped for o_uccess and fame. And yet—and yet—what faint, odd, resentment stirred at th_ack of all her whirling sensations? Was there a sting in Miss Royal's cal_ssumption that if Emily did  _not_  go with her her name would forever remai_nknown? Did the old dead-and-gone Murrays turn over in their graves at th_hisper that one of their descendants could never succeed without the help and
  • "pull" of a stranger? Or  _had_  Miss Royal's manner been a shade to_atronizing? Whatever it was it kept Emily from figuratively flinging hersel_t Miss Royal's feet.
  • "Oh, Miss Royal, that would be wonderful," she faltered. "I'd love to go—bu_'m afraid Aunt Elizabeth will never consent. She'll say I'm too young."
  • "How old  _are_  you?"
  • "Seventeen."
  • "I was eighteen when I went. I didn't know a soul in New York—I had jus_nough money to keep me for three months. I was a crude, callow littl_hing—yet I won out.  _You_  shall live with me. I'll look after you as wel_s Aunt Elizabeth herself could do. Tell her I'll guard you like the apple o_y eye. I have a dear, cozy, little flat where we'll be as happy as queens, with my adored and adorable Chu-Chin. You'll love Chu-Chin, Emily."
  • "I think I'd like a cat better," said Emily firmly.
  • "Cats! Oh, we couldn't have a cat in a flat. It wouldn't be amenable enough t_iscipline. You must sacrifice your pussies on the altar of your art. I'm sur_ou'll like living with me. I'm  _very_  kind and amiable, dearest, when _eel like it—and I generally do feel like it—and I  _never_  lose my temper.
  • It freezes up occasionally, but, as I told you, it thaws quickly. I bear othe_eople's misfortunes with equanimity. And I  _never_  tell any one she has _old or that she looks tired. Oh, I'd really make an adorable housemate."
  • "I'm sure you would," said Emily, smiling.
  • "I never saw a young girl before that I wanted to live with," said Miss Royal.
  • "You have a sort of luminous personality, Emily. You'll give off light in dul_laces and empurple drab spots. Now,  _do_  make up your mind to come wit_e."
  • "It is Aunt Elizabeth's mind that must be made up," said Emily ruefully. "I_he says I can go I'll—"
  • Emily found herself stopping suddenly.
  • "Go," finished Miss Royal joyfully. "Aunt Elizabeth will come around. I'll g_nd have a talk with her. I'll go out to New Moon with you next Friday night.
  • You  _must_  have your chance."
  • "I can't thank you enough, Miss Royal, so I won't try. But I must go now. I'l_hink this all over—I'm too dazzled just now to think at all. You don't kno_hat this means to me."
  • "I think I do," said Miss Royal gently. "I was once a young girl i_hrewsbury, eating my heart out because I had no chance."
  • "But you made your own chance—and won out," said Emily wistfully.
  • "Yes—but I had to go away to do it. I could never have got anywhere here. An_t was a horribly hard climb at first. It took my youth. I want to save yo_ome of the hardships and discouragements. You will go far beyond what I hav_one—you can create—I can only build with the materials others have made. Bu_e builders have our place—we can make temples for our gods and goddesses i_othing else. Come with me, dear Girl Emily, and I will do all I can to hel_ou in every way."
  • "Thank you—thank you," was all Emily could say. Tears of gratitude for thi_ffer of ungrudging help and sympathy were in her eyes. She had not receive_oo much of sympathy or encouragement in her life. It touched her deeply. Sh_ent away feeling that she  _must_  turn the key and open the magic doo_eyond which now seemed to lie all the beauty and allurement of life—if onl_unt Elizabeth would let her.
  • "I can't do it if she doesn't approve," decided Emily.
  • Half-way home she suddenly stopped and laughed. After all, Miss Royal ha_orgotten to show her Chu-Chin.
  • "But it doesn't matter," she thought, "because in the first place I can'_elieve that, after this, I'll ever feel any real interest in chow dogs. An_n the second place I'll see him often enough if I go to New York with Mis_oyal."