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Emily's Quest

Emily's Quest

Lucy Maud Montgomery

Update: 2020-04-22

Chapter 1

  • ### I
  • "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.