"No more cambric-tea" had Emily Byrd Starr written in her diary when she cam_ome to New Moon from Shrewsbury, with high school days behind her an_mmortality before her.
Which was a symbol. When Aunt Elizabeth Murray permitted Emily to drink rea_ea—as a matter of course and not as an occasional concession—she thereb_acitly consented to let Emily grow up. Emily had been considered grownup b_ther people for some time, especially by Cousin Andrew Murray and Frien_erry Miller, each of whom had asked her to marry him and been disdainfull_efused for his pains. When Aunt Elizabeth found this out she knew it was n_se to go on making Emily drink cambric-tea. Though, even then, Emily had n_eal hope that she would ever be permitted to wear silk stockings. A sil_etticoat might be tolerated, being a hidden thing, in spite of its seductiv_ustle, but silk stockings were immoral.
So Emily, of whom it was whispered somewhat mysteriously by people who kne_er to people who didn't know her, "she _writes_ ," was accepted as one o_he ladies of New Moon, where nothing had ever changed since her coming ther_even years before and where the carved ornament on the sideboard still cas_he same queer shadow of an Ethiopian silhouette on exactly the same place o_he wall where she had noticed it delightedly on her first evening there. A_ld house that had lived its life long ago and so was very quiet and wise an_ little mysterious. Also a little austere, but very kind. Some of the Blai_ater and Shrewsbury people thought it was a dull place and outlook for _oung girl and said she had been very foolish to refuse Miss Royal's offer of
"a position on a magazine" in New York. Throwing away such a good chance t_ake something of herself! But Emily, who had very clear-cut ideas of what sh_as going to make of herself, did not think life would be dull at New Moon o_hat she had lost her chance of Alpine climbing because she had elected t_tay there.
She belonged by right divine to the Ancient and Noble Order of Story-tellers.
Born thousands of years earlier she would have sat in the circle around th_ires of the tribe and enchanted her listeners. Born in the foremost files o_ime she must reach her audience through many artificial mediums.
But the materials of story weaving are the same in all ages and all places.
Births, deaths, marriages, scandals—these are the only really interestin_hings in the world. So she settled down very determinedly and happily to he_ursuit of fame and fortune—and of something that was neither. For writing, t_mily Byrd Starr, was not primarily a matter of worldly lucre or laurel crown.
It was something she _had_ to do. A thing—an idea—whether of beauty o_gliness, tortured her until it was "written out." Humorous and dramatic b_nstinct, the comedy and tragedy of life enthralled her and demande_xpression through her pen. A world of lost but immortal dreams, lying jus_eyond the drop-curtain of the real, called to her for embodiment an_nterpretation—called with a voice she could not—dared not—disobey.
She was filled with youth's joy in mere existence. Life was for ever lurin_nd beckoning her onward. She knew that a hard struggle was before her; sh_new that she must constantly offend Blair Water neighbours who would want he_o write obituaries for them and who, if she used an unfamiliar word would sa_ontemptuously that she was "talking big;" she knew there would be rejectio_lips galore; she knew there would be days when she would feel despairingl_hat she could not write and that it was of no use to try; days when th_ditorial phrase, "not necessarily a reflection on its merits," would get o_er nerves to such an extent that she would feel like imitating Mari_ashkirtseff and hurling the taunting, ticking, remorseless sitting-room cloc_ut of the window; days when everything she had done or tried to do woul_lump—become mediocre and despicable; days when she would be tempted to bitte_isbelief in her fundamental conviction that there was as much truth in th_oetry of life as in the prose; days when the echo of that "random word" o_he gods, for which she so avidly listened, would only seem to taunt her wit_ts suggestions of unattainable perfection and loveliness beyond the reach o_ortal ear or pen.
She knew that Aunt Elizabeth tolerated but never approved her mania fo_cribbling. In her last two years in Shrewsbury High School Emily, to Aun_lizabeth's almost incredulous amazement, had actually earned some money b_er verses and stories. Hence the toleration. But no Murray had ever done suc_ thing before. And there was always that sense, which Dame Elizabeth Murra_id not like, of being shut out of something. Aunt Elizabeth really resente_he fact that Emily had another world, apart from the world of New Moon an_lair Water, a kingdom starry and illimitable, into which she could enter a_ill and into which not even the most determined and suspicious of aunts coul_ollow her. I really think that if Emily's eyes had not so often seemed to b_ooking at something dreamy and lovely and secretive Aunt Elizabeth might hav_ad more sympathy with her ambitions. None of us, not even self-sufficin_urrays of New Moon, like to be barred out.