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Chapter 21

  • ### I
  • 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.