The Murray clan had a really terrible time in the summer that followed Emily'_wenty-second birthday. Neither Teddy nor Ilse came home that summer. Ilse wa_ouring in the West and Teddy betook himself into some northern hinterlan_ith an Indian treaty party to make illustrations for a serial. But Emily ha_o many beaus that Blair Water gossip was in as bad a plight as the centiped_ho couldn't tell which foot came after which. So many beaus and not one o_hem such as the connection could approve of.
There was handsome, dashing Jack Bannister, the Derry Pond Don Juan—"_icturesque scoundrel," as Dr. Burnley called him. Certainly Jack wa_ntrammelled by any moral code. But who knew what effect his silver tongue an_ood looks might have on temperamental Emily? It worried the Murrays for thre_eeks and then it appeared that Emily had some sense, after all. Jac_annister faded out of the picture.
"Emily should never have even _spoken_ to him," said Uncle Olive_ndignantly. "Why, they say he keeps a diary and writes down all his lov_ffairs in it and what the girls said to him."
"Don't worry. He won't write down what _I_ said to him," said Emily, whe_unt Laura reported this to her anxiously.
Harold Conway was another anxiety. A Shrewsbury man in his thirties, wh_ooked like a poet gone to seed. With a shock of wavy dark auburn hair an_rilliant brown eyes. Who "fiddled for a living."
Emily went to a concert and a play with him and the New Moon aunts had som_leepless nights. But when in Blair Water parlance Rod Dunbar "cut him out"
things were even worse. The Dunbars were "nothing" when it came to religion.
Rod's mother, to be sure, was a Presbyterian, but his father was a Methodist,
his brother a Baptist and one sister a Christian Scientist. The other siste_as a Theosophist, which was worse than all the rest because they had no ide_what_ it was. In all this mixture what on earth was Rod? Certainly no matc_or an orthodox niece of New Moon.
"His great-uncle was a religious maniac," said Uncle Wallace gloomily. "He wa_ept chained in his bedroom for sixteen years. _What_ has got into tha_irl? Is she idiot or demon?"
Yet the Dunbars were at least a respectable family; but what was to be said o_arry Dix—one of the "notorious Priest Pond Dixes"—whose father had onc_astured his cows in the graveyard and whose uncle was more than suspected o_aving thrown a dead cat down a neighbour's well for spite? To be sure, Larr_imself was doing well as a dentist and was such a deadly-serious, solemn-in-
earnest young man that nothing much could be urged against him, if one coul_nly swallow the fact that he was a Dix. Nevertheless, Aunt Elizabeth was muc_elieved when Emily turned him adrift.
"Such presumption," said Aunt Laura, meaning for a Dix to aspire to a Murray.
"It wasn't because of his presumption I packed him off," said Emily. "It wa_ecause of the way he made love. He made a thing ugly that should have bee_eautiful."
"I suppose you wouldn't have him because he didn't propose romantically," sai_unt Elizabeth contemptuously.
"No. I think my real reason was that I felt sure he was the kind of man wh_ould give his wife a vacuum cleaner for a Christmas present," vowed Emily.
"She will not take anything seriously," said Aunt Elizabeth in despair.
" _I_ think she is bewitched," said Uncle Wallace. "She hasn't had one decen_eau this summer. She's so temperamental decent fellows are scared of her."
"She's getting a terrible reputation as a flirt," mourned Aunt Ruth. "It's n_onder nobody worth while will have anything to do with her.
"Always with some fantastic love-affair on hand," snapped Uncle Wallace. Th_lan felt that Uncle Wallace had, with unusual felicity, hit on the very word.
Emily's "love-affairs" were never the conventional, decorous things Murra_ove-affairs should be. They were indeed fantastic.