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II

  • Those of you who have already followed Emily through her years of New Moon and
  • Shrewsbury* must have a tolerable notion what she looked like. For those of
  • you to whom she comes as a stranger let me draw a portrait of her as she
  • seemed to the outward eye at the enchanted portal of seventeen, walking where
  • the golden chrysanthemums lighted up an old autumnal, maritime garden. A place
  • of peace, that garden of New Moon. An enchanted pleasaunce, full of rich,
  • sensuous colours and wonderful spiritual shadows. Scents of pine and rose were
  • in it; boom of bees, threnody of wind, murmurs of the blue Atlantic gulf; and
  • always the soft sighing of the firs in Lofty John Sullivan's "bush" to the
  • north of it. Emily loved every flower and shadow and sound in it, every
  • beautiful old tree in and around it, especially her own intimate, beloved
  • trees—a cluster of wild cherries in the south-west corner, Three Princesses of
  • Lombardy, a certain maiden-like wild plum on the brook path, the big spruce in
  • the centre of the garden, a silver maple and a pine farther on, an aspen in
  • another corner always coquetting with gay little winds, and a whole row of
  • stately white birches in Lofty John's bush.
  • * See  _Emily of New Moon_  and  _Emily Climbs._
  • Emily was always glad that she lived where there were many trees—old ancestral
  • trees, planted and tended by hands long dead, bound up with everything of joy
  • and sorrow that visited the lives in their shadows.
  • A slender, virginal young thing. Hair like black silk. Purplish-grey eyes,
  • with violet shadows under them that always seemed darker and more alluring
  • after Emily had sat up to some unholy and un-Elizabethan hour completing a
  • story or working out the skeleton of a plot; scarlet lips with a Murray-like
  • crease at the corners; ears with Puckish, slightly pointed tips. Perhaps it
  • was the crease and the ears that made certain people think her something of a
  • puss. An exquisite line of chin and neck; a smile with a trick in it; such a
  • slow-blossoming thing with a sudden radiance of fulfilment. And ankles that
  • scandalous old Aunt Nancy Priest of Priest Pond commended. Faint stains of
  • rose in her rounded cheeks that sometimes suddenly deepened to crimson. Very
  • little could bring that transforming flush—a wind off the sea, a sudden
  • glimpse of blue upland, a flame-red poppy, white sails going out of the
  • harbour in the magic of morning, gulf-waters silver under the moon, a
  • Wedgwood-blue columbine in the old orchard. Or a certain whistle in Lofty
  • John's bush.
  • With all this—pretty? I cannot tell you. Emily was never mentioned when Blair
  • Water beauties were being tabulated. But no one who looked upon her face ever
  • forgot it. No one, meeting Emily the second time ever had to say "Er—your face
  • seems familiar but—" Generations of lovely women were behind her. They had all
  • given her something of personality. She had the grace of running water.
  • Something, too, of its sparkle and limpidity. A thought swayed her like a
  • strong wind. An emotion shook her as a tempest shakes a rose. She was one of
  • those vital creatures of whom, when they do die, we say it seems impossible
  • that they can be dead. Against the background of her practical, sensible clan
  • she shone like a diamond flame. Many people liked her, many disliked her. No
  • one was ever wholly indifferent to her.
  • Once, when Emily had been very small, living with her father down in the
  • little old house at Maywood, where he had died, she had started out to seek
  • the rainbow's end. Over long wet fields and hills she ran, hopeful, expectant.
  • But as she ran the wonderful arch was faded—was dim—was gone. Emily was alone
  • in an alien valley, not too sure in which direction lay home. For a moment her
  • lips quivered, her eyes filled. Then she lifted her face and smiled gallantly
  • at the empty sky.
  • "There will be other rainbows," she said.
  • Emily was a chaser of rainbows.