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Chapter 7

  • ### I
  • From October to April Emily Starr lay in bed or on the sitting-room loung_atching the interminable windy drift of clouds over the long white hills o_he passionless beauty of winter trees around quiet fields of snow, an_ondering if she would ever walk again—or walk only as a pitiable cripple.
  • There was some obscure injury to her back upon which the doctors could no_gree. One said it was negligible and would right itself in time. Two other_hook their heads and were afraid. But all were agreed about the foot. Th_cissors had made two cruel wounds—one by the ankle, one on the sole of th_oot. Blood-poisoning set in. For days Emily hovered between life and death,
  • then between the scarcely less terrible alternative of death and amputation.
  • Aunt Elizabeth prevented that. When all the doctors agreed that it was th_nly way to save Emily's life she said grimly that it was not the Lord's will,
  • as understood by the Murrays, that people's limbs should be cut off. Nor coul_he be removed from this position. Laura's tears and Cousin Jimmy's pleading_nd Dr. Burnley's execrations and Dean Priest's agreements budged her not _ot. Emily's foot should not be cut off. Nor was it. When she recovere_nmaimed Aunt Elizabeth was triumphant and Dr. Burnley confounded.
  • The danger of amputation was over, but the danger of lasting and bad lamenes_emained. Emily faced that all winter.
  • "If I only  _knew_  one way or the other," she said to Dean. "If I  _knew,_  _ould make up my mind to bear it—perhaps. But to lie here—wondering—wonderin_f I'll ever be well."
  • "You will be well," said Dean savagely.
  • Emily did not know what she would have done without Dean that winter. He ha_iven up his invariable winter trip and stayed in Blair Water that he might b_ear her. He spent the days with her, reading, talking, encouraging, sittin_n the silence of perfect companionship. When he was with her Emily felt tha_he might even be able to face a lifetime of lameness. But in the long night_hen everything was blotted out by pain she could not face it. Even when ther_as no pain her nights were often sleepless and very terrible when the win_ailed drearily about the old New Moon eaves or chased flying phantoms of sno_ver the hills. When she slept she dreamed, and in her dreams she was for eve_limbing stairs and could never get to the top of them, lured upward by an od_ittle whistle—two higher notes and a low one—that ever retreated as sh_limbed. It was better to lie awake than have that terrible, recurrent dream.
  • Oh, those bitter nights! Once Emily had not thought that the Bible vers_eclaring that there would be no night in heaven contained an attractiv_romise. No night? No soft twilight enkindled with stars? No white sacramen_f moonlight? No mystery of velvet shadow and darkness? No ever-amazin_iracle of dawn? Night was as beautiful as day and heaven would not be perfec_ithout it.
  • But now in these dreary weeks of pain and dread she shared the hope of th_atmian seer. Night was a dreadful thing.
  • People said Emily Starr was very brave and patient and uncomplaining. But sh_id not seem so to herself. They did not know of the agonies of rebellion an_espair and cowardice behind her outward calmness of Murray pride and reserve.
  • Even Dean did not know—though perhaps he suspected.
  • She smiled gallantly when smiling was indicated, but she never laughed. No_ven Dean could make her laugh, though he tried with all the powers of wit an_umour at his command.
  • "My days of laughter are done," Emily said to herself. And her days o_reation as well. She could never write again. The "flash" never came. N_ainbow spanned the gloom of that terrible winter. People came to see he_ontinuously. She wished they would stay away. Especially Uncle Wallace an_unt Ruth, who were sure she would never walk again and said so every tim_hey came. Yet they were not so bad as the callers who were cheerfully certai_he would be all right in time and did not believe a word of it themselves.
  • She had never had any intimate friends except Dean and Ilse and Teddy. Ils_rote weekly letters in which she rather too obviously tried to cheer Emil_p. Teddy wrote once when he heard of her accident. The letter was very kin_nd tactful and sincerely sympathetic. Emily thought it was the letter an_ndifferent friendly acquaintance might have written and she did not answer i_hough he had asked her to let him know how she was getting on. No mor_etters came. There was nobody but Dean. He had never failed her—never woul_ail her. More and more as the interminable days of storm and gloom passed sh_urned to him. In that winter of pain she seemed to herself to grow so old an_ise that they met on equal ground at last. Without him life was a bleak, gre_esert devoid of colour or music. When he came the desert would—for a time a_east—blossom like the rose of joy and a thousand flowerets of fancy and hop_nd illusion would fling their garlands over it.