Teddy and Ilse were coming home for a brief ten days in July. How was it,
wondered Emily, that they always came together? That couldn't be just _oincidence. She dreaded the visit and wished it were over. It would be goo_o see Ilse again—somehow she could never feel a stranger with Ilse. No matte_ow long she was away, the moment she came back you found the old Ilse. Bu_he did not want to see Teddy. Teddy who had forgotten her. Who had neve_ritten since he went away last. Teddy who was already famous, as a painter o_ovely women. So famous and so successful that—Ilse wrote—he was going to giv_p magazine work. Emily felt a certain relief when she read that. She would n_onger dread to open a magazine lest she see her own face—or soul—looking a_er out of some illustration—with "Frederick Kent" scrawled in the corner, a_f to say "know all men by these presents that this girl is mine." Emil_esented less the pictures which looked like her whole face than the ones i_hich only the eyes were hers. To be able to paint her eyes like that Tedd_must_ know everything that was in her soul. The thought always filled he_ith fury and shame—and a sense of horrible helplessness. She would not—coul_ot—tell Teddy to stop using her as a model. She had never stooped t_cknowledge to him that she had noticed any resemblance to herself in hi_llustrations—she never _would_ stoop.
And now he was coming home—might be home any time. If only she could g_way—on any pretence—for a few weeks. Miss Royal was wanting her to go to Ne_ork for a visit. But it would never do to go away when Ilse was coming.
Well—Emily shook herself. What an idiot she was! Teddy was coming home, _utiful son, to see his mother—and he would doubtless be glad enough to se_ld friends when their actual presence recalled them to his memory; and wh_hould there be anything difficult about it? She must get rid of this absur_elf-consciousness. She would.
She was sitting at her open window. The night outside was like a dark, heavy,
perfumed flower. An expectant night—a night when things intended to happen.
Very still. Only the loveliest of muted sounds—the faintest whisper of trees,
the airiest sigh of wind, the half-heard, half-felt moan of the sea.
"Oh, beauty!" whispered Emily, passionately, lifting her hands to the stars.
"What would I have done without you all these years?"
Beauty of night—and perfume—and mystery. Her soul was filled with it. Ther_as, just then, room for nothing else. She bent out, lifting her face to th_ewelled sky—rapt, ecstatic.
Then she heard it. A soft, silvery signal in Lofty John's bush—two highe_otes and one long, low one—the old, old call that would once have sent he_ith flying feet to the shadows of the firs.
Emily sat as if turned to stone, her white face framed in the vines tha_lustered round her window. He was there—Teddy was there—in Lofty John'_ush—waiting for her—calling to her as of old. Expecting her!
Almost she had sprung to her feet—almost she had run downstairs and out to th_hadows—the beautiful, perfumed shadows where he was waiting for her. But—
Was he only trying to see if he still had the old power over her?
He had gone away two years ago without even a written word of farewell. Woul_he Murray pride condone that? Would the Murray pride run to meet the man wh_ad held her of so little account? The Murray pride would not. Emily's youn_ace took on lines of stubborn determination in the dim light. She would no_o. Let him call as he might. "Whistle and I'll come to you, my lad," indeed!
No more of that for Emily Byrd Starr. Teddy Kent need not imagine that h_ould come and go as went the years and find her meekly waiting to answer hi_ordly signal.
Again the call came—twice. He was there—so close to her. In a moment if sh_iked, she could be beside him—her hands in his—his eyes looking int_ers—perhaps—
He had gone away without saying good-bye to her!
Emily rose deliberately and lighted her lamp. She sat down at her desk nea_he window, took up her pen and fell to writing—or a semblance of writing.
Steadily she wrote—next day she found sheets covered with aimless repetition_f old poems learned in school-days—and as she wrote she listened. Would th_all come again? Once more? It did not. When she was quite sure it was no_oming again she put out her light and lay down on her bed with her face i_he pillow. Pride was quite satisfied. She had shown him she was not to b_histled off and on. Oh, how thankful she felt that she had been firm enoug_ot to go. For which reason, no doubt, her pillow was wet with savage tears.