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VII

  • Emily read the letter over three times. Then she sat for a very long time at
  • her window, looking blindly out on the blanched, dim world lying under the
  • terrible mockery of a sky full of stars. The wind around the eaves was full of
  • ghostly voices. Bits here and there in Ilse's letter turned and twisted and
  • vanished in her consciousness like little venomous snakes, each with a mortal
  • sting.
  • "Your singleness of purpose"—"you never cared for anyone"—"of course you must
  • be my bridesmaid"—"I'm really very fond of Teddy"—"my hesitation."
  • _Could_  any girl really "hesitate" over accepting Teddy Kent? Emily heard a
  • little note of bitter laughter. Was it something in herself that laughed—or
  • that vanishing spectre of Teddy that had haunted her all day—or an old
  • smothered persistent hope that laughed before it died at last?
  • And at that very moment probably Ilse and Teddy were together.
  • "If I had gone—that night—last summer—when he called—would it have made any
  • difference?" was the question that asked itself over and over again
  • maddeningly.
  • "I wish I could hate Ilse. It would make it easier," she thought drearily. "If
  • she loved Teddy I think I  _could_  hate her. Somehow, it isn't so dreadful
  • when she doesn't. It ought to be  _more_  dreadful. It's very strange that I
  • can bear the thought of his loving her when I couldn't bear the thought of her
  • loving him."
  • A great weariness suddenly possessed her. For the first time in her life death
  • seemed a friend. It was very late when she finally went to bed. Towards
  • morning she slept a little. But wakened stupidly at dawn. What was it she had
  • heard?
  • She remembered.
  • She got up and dressed—as she must get up and dress every morning to come for
  • endless years.
  • "Well," she said aloud to Emily-in-the-glass. "I've spilled my cup of life's
  • wine on the ground—somehow. And she will give me no more. So I must go
  • thirsty. Would— _would_  it have been different if I had gone to him that
  • night he called. If I only knew!" She thought she could see Dean's ironical,
  • compassionate eyes.
  • Suddenly she laughed.
  • "In plain English—as Ilse would say—what a devilish mess I've made of things!"