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Chapter 24 A Valley of Vision

  • Would she go to New York with Miss Royal?
  • That was the question Emily had now to answer. Or rather, the question Aun_lizabeth must answer. For on Aunt Elizabeth's answer, as Emily felt, everything depended. And she had no real hope that Aunt Elizabeth would le_er go. Emily might look longingly towards those pleasant, far-off, gree_astures pictured by Miss Royal, but she was quite sure she could never brows_n them. The Murray pride—and prejudice—would be an impassable barrier.
  • Emily said nothing to Aunt Ruth about Miss Royal's offer. It was Aun_lizabeth's due to hear it first. She kept her dazzling secret until the nex_eek-end, when Miss Royal came to New Moon, very gracious and pleasant, an_he wee-est bit patronizing, to ask Aunt Elizabeth to let Emily go with her.
  • Aunt Elizabeth listened in silence—a disapproving silence, as Emily felt.
  • "The Murray women have never had to work out for their living," she sai_oldly.
  • "It isn't exactly what you would call 'working out,' dear Miss Murray," sai_iss Royal, with the courteous patience one must use to a lady whose viewpoin_as that of an outlived generation. "Thousands of women are going int_usiness and professional life, everywhere."
  • "I suppose it's all right for them if they don't get married," said Aun_lizabeth.
  • Miss Royal flushed slightly. She knew that in Blair Water and Shrewsbury sh_as regarded as an old maid, and therefore a failure, no matter what he_ncome and her standing might be in New York. But she kept her temper an_ried another line of attack.
  • "Emily has an unusual gift for writing," she said. "I think she can d_omething really worth while if she gets a chance. She ought to have he_hance, Miss Murray. You know there isn't any chance for that kind of wor_ere."
  • "Emily has made ninety dollars this past year with her pen," said Aun_lizabeth.
  • "Heaven grant me patience!" thought Miss Royal. Said Miss Royal,
  • "Yes, and ten years from now she may be making a few hundreds; whereas, if sh_omes with me, in ten years' time her income would probably be as man_housands."
  • "I'll have to think it over," said Aunt Elizabeth.
  • Emily felt surprised that Aunt Elizabeth had even consented to think it over.
  • She had expected absolute refusal.
  • "She'll come round to it," whispered Miss Royal, when she went away. "I'_oing to get you, darling Emily B. I know the Murrays of old. They always ha_n eye to the main chance. Aunty will let you come."
  • "I'm afraid not," said Emily ruefully.
  • When Miss Royal had gone Aunt Elizabeth looked at Emily.
  • "Would you like to go, Emily?"
  • "Yes—I think so—if you don't mind," faltered Emily. She was very pale—she di_ot plead or coax. But she had no hope—none.
  • Aunt Elizabeth took a week to think it over. She called in Ruth and Wallac_nd Oliver to help her. Ruth said dubiously,
  • "I suppose we ought to let her go. It's a splendid chance for her. It's not a_f she were going alone—I'd never agree to that. Janet will look after her."
  • "She's too young—she's too young," said Uncle Oliver.
  • "It seems a good chance for her—Janet Royal has done well, they say," sai_ncle Wallace.
  • Aunt Elizabeth even wrote to Great-aunt Nancy. The answer came back in Aun_ancy's quavering hand:
  • "Suppose you let Emily decide for herself," suggested Aunt Nancy.
  • Aunt Elizabeth folded up Aunt Nancy's letter and called Emily into th_arlour.
  • "If you wish to go with Miss Royal you may," she said. "I feel it would not b_ight for me to hinder you. We shall miss you—we would rather have you with u_or a few years yet. I know nothing about New York. I am told it is a wicke_ity. But you have been brought up carefully. I leave the decision in your ow_ands. Laura, what are you crying about?"
  • Emily felt as if she wanted to cry herself. To her amazement she fel_omething that was  _not_  delight or pleasure. It was one thing to long afte_orbidden pastures. It seemed to be quite another thing when the bars wer_lung down and you were told to enter if you would.
  • Emily did not immediately rush to her room and write a joyous letter to Mis_oyal—who was visiting friends in Charlottetown. Instead she went out into th_arden and thought very hard—all that afternoon and all Sunday. During th_eek-end in Shrewsbury she was quiet and thoughtful, conscious that Aunt Rut_as watching her closely. For some reason Aunt Ruth did not discuss the matte_ith her. Perhaps she was thinking of Andrew. Or perhaps it was an understoo_hing among the Murrays that Emily's decision was to be entirely uninfluenced.
  • Emily couldn't understand why she didn't write Miss Royal at once. Of cours_he would go. Wouldn't it be terribly foolish not to? She would never hav_uch a chance again. It  _was_  such a splendid chance—everything mad_asy—the Alpine Path no more than a smooth and gentle slope—success certai_nd brilliant and quick. Why, then, did she have to keep telling herself al_his—why was she driven to seek Mr. Carpenter's advice the next week-end? An_r. Carpenter would not help her very much. He was rheumatic and cranky.
  • "Don't tell me the cats have been hunting again," he groaned.
  • "No. I haven't any manuscripts this time," said Emily, with a faint smile.
  • "I've come for advice of a different kind."
  • She told him of her perplexity.
  • "It's such a splendid chance," she concluded.
  • "Of course it's a splendid chance—to go and be Yankeefied," grunted Mr.
  • Carpenter.
  • "I wouldn't get Yankeefied," said Emily resentfully. "Miss Royal has bee_wenty years in New York and she isn't Yankeefied."
  • "Isn't she? I don't mean by Yankeefied what you think I do," retorted Mr.
  • Carpenter. "I'm not referring to the silly girls who go up to "the States" t_ork and come back in six months with an accent that would raise blisters o_our skin. Janet Royal  _is_ Yankeefied—her outlook and atmosphere and styl_re all U. S. And I'm not condemning them—they're all right. But—she isn't _anadian any longer—and that's what I wanted you to be—pure Canadian throug_nd through, doing something as far as in you lay for the literature of you_wn country, keeping your Canadian tang and flavour. But of course there's no_any dollars in that sort of thing yet."
  • "There's no chance to do  _anything_  here," argued Emily.
  • "No—no more than there was in Haworth Parsonage," growled Mr. Carpenter.
  • "I'm not a Charlotte Bronte," protested Emily. "She had genius—it can stan_lone. I have only talent—it needs help—and—and—guidance."
  • "In short, pull," said Mr. Carpenter.
  • "So you think I oughtn't to go," said Emily anxiously.
  • "Go if you want to. To be quickly famous we must all stoop a little. Oh, go—go—I'm telling you. I'm too old to argue—go in peace. You'd be a fool no_o—only—fools do sometimes attain. There's a special Providence for them, n_oubt."
  • Emily went away from the little house in the hollow with her eyes rathe_lack. She met Old Kelly on her way up the hill and he pulled his plump na_nd red chariot to a standstill and beckoned to her.
  • "Gurrl dear, here's some peppermints for you. And now, ain't it hig_ime—eh—now, you know—" Old Kelly winked at her.
  • "Oh, I'm going to be an old maid, Mr. Kelly," smiled Emily.
  • Old Kelly shook his head as he gathered up his reins.
  • "Shure an' nothing like that will ever be happening to you. You're one av th_olks God really loves—only don't be taking one av the Prastes now—never on_v the Prastes, gurrl dear."
  • "Mr. Kelly," said Emily suddenly, "I've been offered a splendid chance—to g_o New York and take a place on the staff of a magazine. I can't make up m_ind. What do you think I'd better do?"
  • As she spoke she thought of the horror of Aunt Elizabeth at the idea of _urray asking Old Jock Kelly's advice. She herself was a little ashamed o_oing it.
  • Old Kelly shook his head again.
  • "What do the b'ys around here be thinking av? But what does the ould lad_ay?"
  • "Aunt Elizabeth says I can do as I like."
  • "Then I guess we'll be laving it at that," said Old Kelly—and drove of_ithout another word. Plainly there was no help to be had in Old Kelly.
  • "Why should I want help?" thought Emily desperately. "What has got into m_hat I can't make up my own mind? Why can't I  _say_  I'll go? It doesn't see_o me now that I  _want_  to go—I only feel I  _ought_  to want to go."
  • She wished that Dean were home. But Dean had not got back from his winter i_os Angeles. And somehow she could not talk the matter over with Teddy.
  • Nothing had come of that wonderful moment in the old John house—nothing excep_ certain constraint that had almost spoiled their old comradeship. Outwardl_hey were as good friends as ever; but something was gone—and nothing seeme_o be taking its place. She would not admit to herself that she was afraid t_sk Teddy. Suppose he told her to go? That would hurt unbearably—because i_ould show that he didn't care whether she went or stayed. But Emily would no_lance at this at all.
  • "Of course I'll go," she said aloud to herself. Perhaps the spoken word woul_ettle things. "What would I do next year if I didn't? Aunt Elizabeth wil_ertainly never let me go anywhere else alone. Ilse will be away—an_erry—Teddy too, likely. He says he's bound to go and do something to ear_oney for his art study. I  _must_  go."
  • She said it fiercely, as if arguing against some invisible opponent. When sh_eached home in the twilight, no one was there and she went restlessly al_ver the house. What charm and dignity and fineness the old rooms had, wit_heir candles and their ladder-backed chairs and their braided rugs! How dea_nd entreating was her own little room with its diamond paper and its guardia_ngel, its fat black rose-jar and its funny, kinky window-pane! Would Mis_oyal's flat be half so wonderful?"
  • "Of course I'll go," she said again—feeling that if she could only have lef_ff the "of course" the thing  _would_  have been settled.
  • She went out into the garden, lying in the remote, passionless beauty of earl_pring moonlight, and walked up and down its paths. From afar came the whistl_f the Shrewsbury train—like a call from the alluring world beyond—a worl_ull of interest, charm, drama. She paused by the old lichened sun-dial an_raced the motto on its border, "So goes Time by." Time did go by—swiftly, mercilessly, even at New Moon, unspoiled as it was by any haste or rush o_odernity. Should she not take the current when it offered? The white Jun_ilies waved in the faint breeze—she could almost see her old friend the Wind- Woman bending over them to tilt their waxen chins. Would the Wind Woman com_o her in the crowded city streets? Could she be like Kipling's cat there?
  • "And I wonder if I'll ever have the flash in New York," she thought wistfully.
  • How beautiful was this old garden which Cousin Jimmy loved! How beautiful wa_ld New Moon farm! Its beauty had a subtly romantic quality all its own. Ther_as enchantment in the curve of the dark-red, dew-wet road beyond—remote, spiritual allurement in the Three Princesses—magic in the orchard—a hint o_ntriguing devilment in the fir wood. How could she leave this old house tha_ad sheltered and loved her—never tell me houses do not love!—the graves o_er kin by the Blair Water pond, the wide fields and haunted woods where he_hildhood dreams had been dreamed? All at once she knew she could not leav_hem—she knew she had never really wanted to leave them.  _That_  was why sh_ad gone about desperately asking advice of impossible outsiders. She ha_eally been hoping they would tell her not to go. That was why she had wishe_o wildly that Dean were home—he would certainly have told her not to go.
  • "I belong to New Moon—I stay among my own people," she said.
  • There was no doubt about this decision—she did not want any one to help her t_t. A deep, inner contentment possessed her as she went up the walk and int_he old house which no longer looked reproachfully at her. She found Elizabet_nd Laura and Cousin Jimmy in the kitchen full of its candle magic.
  • "I am not going to New York, Aunt Elizabeth," she said. "I am going to sta_ere at New Moon with you."
  • Aunt Laura gave a little cry of joy. Cousin Jimmy said, "Hurrah!" Aun_lizabeth knitted a round of her stocking before she said anything. Then—
  • "I thought a Murray would," she said.
  • Emily went straight to Ashburn Monday evening. Miss Royal had returned an_reeted her warmly.
  • "I hope you've come to tell me that Miss Murray has decided to be reasonabl_nd let you come with me, honey-sweet."
  • "She told me I could decide for myself."
  • Miss Royal clapped her hands.
  • "Oh, goody, goody! Then it's all settled."
  • Emily was pale, but her eyes were black with earnestness and intense feeling.
  • "Yes, it's settled—I'm not going," she said. "I thank you with all my heart, Miss Royal, but I can't go."
  • Miss Royal stared at her—realized in a moment that it was not the slightes_se to plead or argue—but began to plead and argue all the same.
  • "Emily—you can't mean it? Why can't you come?"
  • "I can't leave New Moon—I love it too much—it means too much to me."
  • "I thought you wanted to come with me, Emily," said Miss Royal reproachfully.
  • "I did. And part of me wants to yet. But away down under that another part o_e will not go. Don't think me foolish and ungrateful, Miss Royal."
  • "Of course I don't think you're ungrateful," said Miss Royal, helplessly, "bu_ do—yes, I do think you are awfully foolish. You are simply throwing awa_our chances of a career. What can you ever do here that is worth while, child? You've no idea of the difficulties in your path. You can't get materia_ere—there's no atmosphere—no—"
  • "I'll create my own atmosphere," said Emily, with a trifle of spirit. Afte_ll, she thought, Miss Royal's viewpoint was the just the same as Mrs. Ale_awyer's, and her manner  _was_  patronizing. "And as for material—peopl_live_  here just the same as anywhere else—suffer and enjoy and sin an_spire just as they do in New York."
  • "You don't know a thing about it," said Miss Royal, rather pettishly. "You'l_ever be able to write anything really worth while here—no big thing. There'_o inspiration—you'll be hampered in every way—the big editors won't loo_arther than the address of P. E. Island on your manuscript. Emily, you'r_ommitting literary suicide. You'll realize that at three of the clock som_hite night, Emily B. Oh, I suppose, after some years you'll work up _lientele of Sunday-school and agricultural papers. But will that satisfy you?
  • You know it won't. And then the petty jealousy of these small prunes-and- prisms places—if you do anything the people you went to school with can't d_ome of them will never forgive you. And they'll all think you're the heroin_f your own stories—especially if you portray her beautiful and charming. I_ou write a love story they'll be sure it's your own. You'll get so tired o_lair Water—you'll know all the people in it—what they are and can be—it'll b_ike reading a book for the twentieth time. Oh, I know all about it. 'I wa_live before you were borned,' as I said when I was eight, to a playmate o_ix. You'll get discouraged—the hour of three o'clock will gradually overwhel_ou—there's a three o'clock every night, remember—you'll give up—you'll marr_hat cousin of yours—"
  • "Never."
  • "Well, some one like him, then, and 'settle down'—"
  • "No, I'll never 'settle down,'" said Emily decidedly. "Never as long as _ive—what a stodgy condition!"
  • —"and you'll have a parlour like this of Aunt Angela's," continued Miss Roya_elentlessly. "A mantelpiece crowded with photographs—an easel with an
  • 'enlarged' picture in a frame eight inches wide—a red plush album with _rocheted doily on it, a crazy-quilt on your spare-room bed—a hand-painte_anner in your hall—and, as a final touch of elegance, an asparagus fern will
  • 'grace the centre of your dining-room table.'"
  • "No," said Emily gravely, "such things are not among the Murray traditions."
  • "Well, the spiritual equivalent of them, then. Oh, I can see your whole life, Emily, here in a place like this where people can't see a mile beyond thei_ose."
  • "I can see farther than that," said Emily, putting up her chin. "I can see t_he stars."
  • "I was speaking figuratively, my dear."
  • "So was I. Oh, Miss Royal, I know life is rather cramped here in some ways—bu_he sky is as much mine as anybody's. I may not succeed here—but, if not, _ouldn't succeed in New York either. Some fountain of living water would dr_p in my soul if I left the land I love. I know I'll have difficulties an_iscouragements here, but people have overcome far worse. You know that stor_ou told me about Parkman—that for years he was unable to write for more tha_ive minutes at a time—that he took three years to write one of his books—si_ines per day for three years. I shall always remember that when I ge_iscouraged. It will help me through any number of white nights."
  • "Well"—Miss Royal threw out her hands—"I give up. I think you're making _errible mistake, Emily—but if in the years to come I find out I'm wrong I'l_rite and admit it. And if  _you_  find out you were wrong write me and admi_t, and you'll find me as ready to help you as ever. I won't even say 'I tol_ou so.' Send me any of your stories my magazine is fit for, and ask me fo_ny advice I can give. I'm going right back to New York to-morrow. I was onl_oing to wait till July to take you with me. Since you won't come I'm off. _etest living in a place where all they think is that I've played my card_adly, and lost the matrimonial game—where all the young girls—except  _you_ —are so abominably respectful to me—and where the old folks keep telling me _ook so much like my mother. Mother was  _ugly._  Let's say good-bye and mak_t snappy."
  • "Miss Royal," said Emily earnestly, "you do believe—don't you—that _ppreciate your kindness? Your sympathy and encouragement have meant more t_e—always will mean more to me than you can ever dream."
  • Miss Royal whisked her handkerchief furtively across her eyes and made a_laborate curtsey.
  • "Thank you for them kind words, lady," she said solemnly.
  • Then she laughed a little, put her hands on Emily's shoulders and kissed he_heek.
  • "All the good wishes ever thought, said, or written go with you," she said.
  • "And I think it would be—nice—if any place could ever mean to me what it i_vident New Moon means to you."
  • At three o'clock that night a wakeful but contented Emily remembered that sh_ad never seen Chu-Chin.