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?"
"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?"
"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."