They locked the door of the Disappointed House one November evening and Dea_ave the key to Emily.
"Keep it till spring," he said, looking out over the quiet, cold, grey field_cross which a chilly wind was blowing. "We won't come back here till then."
In the stormy winter that followed, the cross-lots path to the little hous_as so heaped with drifts that Emily never went near it. But she thought abou_t often and happily, waiting amid its snows for spring and life an_ulfilment. That winter was, on the whole, a happy time. Dean did not go awa_nd made himself so charming to the older ladies of New Moon that they almos_orgave him for being Jarback Priest. To be sure, Aunt Elizabeth never coul_nderstand more than half of his remarks and Aunt Laura put down to his debi_ccount the change in Emily. For she was changed. Cousin Jimmy and Aunt Laur_new that, though no one else seemed to notice it. Often there was an od_estlessness in her eyes. And something was missing from her laughter. It wa_ot so quick—so spontaneous as of old. She was a woman before her time,
thought Aunt Laura with a sigh. Was that dreadful fall down the New Moo_tairs the only cause? _Was_ Emily happy? Laura dared not ask. _Did_ sh_ove Dean Priest whom she was going to marry in June? Laura did not know; bu_he _did_ know that love is something that cannot be generated by an_ntellectual rule o' thumb. Also that a girl who is as happy as an engage_irl should be does not spend so many hours when she should be sleeping,
pacing up and down her room. This was not to be explained away on the groun_hat Emily was thinking out stories, Emily had given up writing. In vain Mis_oyal wrote pleading and scolding letters from New York. In vain Cousin Jimm_lyly laid a new Jimmy-book at intervals on her desk. In vain Laura timidl_inted that it was a pity not to keep on when you had made such a good start.
Even Aunt Elizabeth's contemptuous assertion that she had always known Emil_ould get tired of it—"the Starr fickleness, you see"—failed to sting Emil_ack to her pen. She could not write—she would never try to write again.
"I've paid my debts and I've enough in the bank to get what Dean calls m_edding doo-dabs. And you've crocheted two filet spreads for me," she tol_unt Laura a little wearily and bitterly. "So what does it matter?"
"Was it—your fall that took away your—your ambition?" faltered poor Aun_aura, voicing what had been her haunting dread all winter.
Emily smiled and kissed her.
"No, darling. That had nothing to do with it. Why worry over a simple, natura_hing? Here I am, going to be married, with a prospective house and husband t_hink about. Doesn't that explain why I've ceased to care about—other things?"
It should have, but that evening Emily went out of the house after sunset. He_oul was pining for freedom and she went out to slip its leash for a littl_hile. It had been an April day, warm in the sun, cold in the shadow. You fel_he coldness even amid the sunlight warmth. The evening was chill. The sky wa_vercast with wrinkled, grey clouds, save along the west where a strip o_ellow sky gleamed palely and in it, sad and fair, a new moon setting behind _ark hill. No living creature but herself seemed abroad and the cold shadow_ettling down over the withered fields lent to the landscape of too-earl_pring an aspect inexpressibly dreary and mournful. It made Emily fee_opeless, as if the best of life already lay in the past. Externals always ha_ great influence upon her—too great perhaps. Yet she was glad it was a dou_vening. Anything else would have insulted her mood. She heard the se_huddering beyond the dunes. An old verse from one of Roberts' poems came int_er head:
> Grey rocks and greyer sea.
> And surf along the shore,
> And in my heart a name
> My lips shall speak no more.
Nonsense! Weak, silly, sentimental nonsense. No more of it!