Father Cassidyby@lmmontgomery

Father Cassidy

by L.M. MontgomeryJuly 20th, 2023
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CONSTERNATION reigned at New Moon. Everybody was desperately unhappy. Aunt Laura cried. Aunt Elizabeth was so cantankerous that there was no living with her. Cousin Jimmy went about as one distracted and Emily gave up worrying about Ilse’s mother and Silas Lee’s remorseful ghost after she went to bed, and worried over this new trouble. For it had all originated in her disregard of New Moon tradition in making calls on Lofty John, and Aunt Elizabeth did not mince matters in telling her so. If she, Emily Byrd Starr, had never gone to Lofty John’s she would never have eaten the Big Sweet apple, and if she had never eaten the Big Sweet apple Lofty John would not have played a joke on her and if he had not played a joke on her Aunt Elizabeth would never have gone and said bitter, Murray-like things to him; and if Aunt Elizabeth had never said bitter Murray-like things to him Lofty John would not have become offended and revengeful; and if Lofty John had not become offended and revengeful he would never have taken it into his lofty head to cut down the beautiful grove to the north of New Moon. For this was exactly where this house-that-Jack-built194 progression had landed them all. Lofty John had announced publicly in the Blair Water blacksmith shop that he was going to cut down the bush as soon as harvest was over—every last tree and sapling was to be laid low. The news was promptly carried to New Moon and upset the inhabitants thereof as they had not been upset for years. In their eyes it was nothing short of a catastrophe.
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Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery, is part of the HackerNoon Books Series. You can jump to any chapter in this book here. Father Cassidy

CHAPTER XVIII. Father Cassidy

CONSTERNATION reigned at New Moon. Everybody was desperately unhappy. Aunt Laura cried. Aunt Elizabeth was so cantankerous that there was no living with her. Cousin Jimmy went about as one distracted and Emily gave up worrying about Ilse’s mother and Silas Lee’s remorseful ghost after she went to bed, and worried over this new trouble. For it had all originated in her disregard of New Moon tradition in making calls on Lofty John, and Aunt Elizabeth did not mince matters in telling her so. If she, Emily Byrd Starr, had never gone to Lofty John’s she would never have eaten the Big Sweet apple, and if she had never eaten the Big Sweet apple Lofty John would not have played a joke on her and if he had not played a joke on her Aunt Elizabeth would never have gone and said bitter, Murray-like things to him; and if Aunt Elizabeth had never said bitter Murray-like things to him Lofty John would not have become offended and revengeful; and if Lofty John had not become offended and revengeful he would never have taken it into his lofty head to cut down the beautiful grove to the north of New Moon.

For this was exactly where this house-that-Jack-built progression had landed them all. Lofty John had announced publicly in the Blair Water blacksmith shop that he was going to cut down the bush as soon as harvest was over—every last tree and sapling was to be laid low. The news was promptly carried to New Moon and upset the inhabitants thereof as they had not been upset for years. In their eyes it was nothing short of a catastrophe.

Elizabeth and Laura could hardly bring themselves to believe it. The thing was incredible. That big, thick, protecting bush of spruce and hardwood had always been there; it belonged to New Moon morally; even Lofty John Sullivan would not dare to cut it down. But Lofty John had an uncomfortable reputation for doing what he said he would do; that was a part of his loftiness; and if he did—if he did—

“New Moon will be ruined,” wailed poor Aunt Laura. “It will look dreadfulall its beauty will go—and we will be left open to the north wind and the sea storms—we have always been so warm and sheltered here. And Jimmy’s garden will be ruined too.”

“This is what comes of bringing Emily here,” said Aunt Elizabeth.

It was a cruel thing to say, even when all allowances were made,—cruel and unjust, since her own sharp tongue and Murray sarcasm had had quite as much to do with it as Emily. But she said it and it pierced Emily to the heart with a pang that left a scar for years. Poor Emily did not feel as if she needed any additional anguish. She was already feeling so wretched that she could not eat or sleep. Elizabeth Murray, angry and unhappy as she was, slept soundly at nights; but beside her in the darkness, afraid to move or turn, lay a slender little creature whose tears, stealing silently down her cheeks, could not ease her breaking heart. For Emily thought her heart was breaking; she couldn’t go on living and suffering like this. Nobody could.

Emily had lived long enough at New Moon for it to get pretty thoroughly into her blood. Perhaps it had even been born there. At any rate, when she came to it she fitted into its atmosphere as a hand into a glove. She loved it as well as if she had lived there all her short life—loved every stick and stone and tree and blade of grass about it—every nail in the old kitchen floor, every cushion of green moss on the dairy roof, every pink and white columbine that grew in the old orchard, every “tradition” of its history. To think of its beauty being in a large measure reft from it was agony to her. And to think of Cousin Jimmy’s garden being ruined! Emily loved that garden almost as much as he did; why, it was the pride of Cousin Jimmy’s life that he could grow there plants and shrubs that would winter nowhere else in P. E. Island; if the northern shelter were removed they would die. And to think of that beautiful bush itself being cut down—the Today Road and the Yesterday Road and the Tomorrow Road being swept out of existence—the stately Monarch of the Forest discrowned—the little playhouse where she and Ilse had such glorious hours destroyed—the whole lovely, ferny, intimate place torn out of her life at one fell swoop.

Oh, Lofty John had chosen and timed his vengeance well!

When would the blow fall? Every morning Emily listened miserably as she stood on the sandstone doorstep of the kitchen, for the sound of axe blows on the clear September air. Every evening when she returned from school she dreaded to see that the work of destruction had begun. She pined and fretted. There were times when it seemed to her she couldn’t bear her life any longer. Every day Aunt Elizabeth said something imputing the whole blame to her and the child grew morbidly sensitive about it. Almost she wished Lofty John would begin and be done with it. If Emily had ever heard the classic story of Damocles she would have heartily sympathized with him. If she had had any hope that it would do any good she would have swallowed Murray pride and Starr pride and every other kind of pride and gone on her knees to Lofty John to entreat him to hold his revengeful hand. But she believed it would not. Lofty John had left no doubt in anybody’s mind as to his bitter determination in the matter. There was much talk about it in Blair Water and some were very well pleased at this blow to New Moon pride and prestige, and some held that it was low and unclean behaviour on Lofty John’s part, and all agreed that this was what they had prophesied all along as bound to happen some day when the old Murray-Sullivan feud of three generations should have come to its inevitable head. The only surprising thing was that Lofty John hadn’t done it long ago. He had always hated Elizabeth Murray since their schooldays, when her tongue had not spared him.

One day by the banks of Blair Water Emily sat down and wept. She had been sent to trim the dead blossoms off the rosebushes on Grandmother Murray’s grave; having finished her task she had not the heart to go back to the house where Aunt Elizabeth was making everybody miserable because she was herself so unhappy. Perry had reported that Lofty John had stated the day before at the blacksmith’s that he was going to begin cutting down the big bush on Monday morning.

“I can’t bear it,” sobbed Emily to the rosebushes.

A few late roses nodded at her; the Wind Woman combed and waved and stirred the long green grasses on the graves where proud Murrays, men and women, slept calmly, unstirred by old feuds and passions; the September sunlight shone beyond on old harvest fields mellowly bright and serene, and very softly against its green, shrub-hung bank, purred and lapped the blue Blair Water.

“I don’t see why God doesn’t stop Lofty John,” said Emily passionately. Surely the New Moon Murrays had a right to expect that much from Providence.

Teddy came whistling down the pasture, the notes of his tune blowing across the Blair Water like elfin drops of sound, vaulted the graveyard fence and perched his lean, graceful body irreverently on the “Here I stay” of Great-Grandmother Murray’s flat tombstone.

“What’s the matter?” he said.

“Everything’s the matter,” said Emily, a little crossly. Teddy had no business to be looking so cheerful. She was used to more sympathy from Teddy and it aggravated her not to find it. “Don’t you know Lofty John is going to begin cutting down the bush Monday?”

Teddy nodded.

“Yep. Ilse told me. But look here, Emily, I’ve thought of something. Lofty John wouldn’t dare cut down that bush if the priest told him not to, would he?”


“Because the Catholics have to do just what their priests tell them to, haven’t they?”

“I don’t know—I don’t know anything about them. We are Presbyterians.”

Emily gave her head a little toss. Mrs. Kent was known to be an “English Church” woman and though Teddy went to the Presbyterian Sunday School, that fact gave him scanty standing among bred-in-the-bone Presbyterian circles.

“If your Aunt Elizabeth went to Father Cassidy at White Cross and asked him to stop Lofty John, maybe he’d do it,” persisted Teddy.

“Aunt Elizabeth would never do that,” said Emily positively. “I’m sure of it. She’s too proud.”

“Not even to save the bush?”

“Not even for that.”

“Then I guess nothing can be done,” said Teddy rather crest-fallen. “Look here—see what I’ve made. This is a picture of Lofty John in purgatory, with three little devils sticking red-hot pitch forks into him. I copied some of it out of one of mother’s books—Dante’s Infernal, I think it was—but I put Lofty John in place of the man in the book. You can have it.”

“I don’t want it.” Emily uncoiled her legs and got up. She was past the stage when inflicting imaginary torments on Lofty John could comfort her. She had already slain him in several agonizing ways during her night vigils. But an idea had come to her—a daring, breathless idea. “I must go home now, Teddy—it’s supper time.”

Teddy pocketed his despised sketch—which was really a wonderful bit of work if either of them had had the sense to know it; the expression of anguish in Lofty John’s face as a merry little devil touched him up with a pitchfork would have been the despair of many a trained artist. He went home wishing he could help Emily; it was all wrong that a creature like Emily—with soft purple-gray eyes and a smile that made you think of all sorts of wonderful things you couldn’t put into words—should be unhappy. Teddy felt so worried about it that he added a few more devils to his sketch of Lofty John in purgatory and lengthened the prongs of their pitchforks quite considerably.

Emily went home with a determined twist to her mouth. She ate as much supper as she could—which wasn’t much, for Aunt Elizabeth’s face would have destroyed her appetite if she had had any—and then sneaked out of the house by the front door. Cousin Jimmy was working in his garden but he did not call her. Cousin Jimmy was always very sorrowful now. Emily stood a moment on the Grecian porch and looked at Lofty John’s bush—green-bosomed, waving, all lovely. Would it be a desecrated waste of stumps by Monday night? Goaded by the thought Emily cast fear and hesitation to the winds and started briskly off down the lane. When she reached the gate she turned to the left on the long red road of mystery that ran up the Delectable Mountain. She had never been on that road before; it ran straight to White Cross; Emily was going to the parish house there to interview Father Cassidy. It was two miles to White Cross and Emily walked it all too soon—not because it was a beautiful road of wind and wild fern, haunted by little rabbits—but because she dreaded what awaited her at the end. She had been trying to think what she should say—how she should say it; but her invention failed her. She had no acquaintance with Catholic priests, and couldn’t imagine how you should talk to them at all. They were even more mysterious and unknowable than ministers. Suppose Father Cassidy should be dreadfully angry at her daring to come there and ask a favour. Perhaps it was a dreadful thing to do from every point of view. And very likely it would do no good. Very likely Father Cassidy would refuse to interfere with Lofty John, who was a good Catholic, while she was, in his opinion, a heretic. But for any chance, even the faintest, of averting the calamity impending over New Moon, Emily would have faced the entire Sacred College. Horribly frightened, miserably nervous as she was, the idea of turning back never occurred to her. She was only sorry that she hadn’t put on her Venetian beads. They might have impressed Father Cassidy.

Although Emily had never been to White Cross she knew the parish house when she saw it—a fine, tree-embowered residence near the big white chapel with the flashing gilt cross on its spire and the four gilt angels, one on each of the little spires at the corners. Emily thought them very beautiful as they gleamed in the light of the lowering sun, and wished they could have some on the plain white church at Blair Water. She couldn’t understand why Catholics should have all the angels. But there was not time to puzzle over this, for the door was opening and the trim little maid was looking a question.

“Is—Father Cassidy—at—home?” asked Emily, rather jerkily.



“Come in,” said the little maid. Evidently there was no difficulty about seeing Father Cassidy—no mysterious ceremonies such as Emily had half expected, even if she were allowed to see him at all. She was shown into a book-lined room and left there, while the maid went to call Father Cassidy, who, she said, was working in the garden. That sounded quite natural and encouraging. If Father Cassidy worked in a garden, he could not be so very terrible.

Emily looked about her curiously. She was in a very pretty room—with cosy chairs, and pictures and flowers. Nothing alarming or uncanny about it—except a huge black cat who was sitting on the top of one of the bookcases. It was really an enormous creature. Emily adored cats and had always felt at home with any of them. But she had never seen such a cat as this. What with its size and its insolent, gold-hued eyes, set like living jewels in its black velvet face, it did not seem to belong to the same species as nice, cuddly, respectable kittens at all. Mr. Dare would never have had such a beast about his manse. All Emily’s dread of Father Cassidy returned.

And then in came Father Cassidy, with the friendliest smile in the world. Emily took him in with her level glance as was her habit—or gift—and never again in the world was she the least bit afraid of Father Cassidy. He was big and broad-shouldered, with brown eyes and brown hair; and his very face was so deeply tanned from his inveterate habit of going about bareheaded in merciless sunshine, that it was brown, too. Emily thought he looked just like a big nut—a big, brown, wholesome nut.

Father Cassidy looked at her as he shook hands; Emily had one of her visitations of beauty just then. Excitement had brought a wildrose hue to her face, the sunlight brought out the watered-silk gloss of her black hair; her eyes were softly dark and limpid; but it was at her ears Father Cassidy suddenly bent to look. Emily had a moment of agonized wonder if they were clean.

“She’s got pointed ears,” said Father Cassidy, in a thrilling whisper. “Pointed ears! I knew she came straight from fairyland the minute I saw her. Sit down, Elf—if elves do sit—sit down and give me the latest news av Titania’s court.”

Emily’s foot was now on her native heath. Father Cassidy talked her language, and he talked it in such a mellow, throaty voice, slurring his “ofs” ever so softly as became a proper Irishman. But she shook her head a little sadly. With the burden of her errand on her soul she could not play the part of ambassadress from Elfland.

“I’m only Emily Starr of New Moon,” she said; and then gasped hurriedly, because there must be no deception—no sailing under false colours, “and I’m a Protestant.”

“And a very nice little Protestant you are,” said Father Cassidy. “But for sure I’m a bit disappointed. I’m used to Protestants—the woods hereabouts being full av them—but it’s a hundred years since the last elf called on me.”

Emily stared. Surely Father Cassidy wasn’t a hundred years old. He didn’t look more than fifty. Perhaps, though, Catholic priests did live longer than other people. She didn’t know exactly what to say so she said, a bit lamely,

“I see you have a cat.”

“Wrong.” Father Cassidy shook his head and groaned dismally. “A cat has me.”

Emily gave up trying to understand Father Cassidy. He was nice but ununderstandable. She let it go at that. And she must get on with her errand.

“You are a kind of minister, aren’t you?” she asked timidly. She didn’t know whether Father Cassidy would like being called a minister.

“Kind av,” he agreed amiably. “And you see ministers and priests can’t do their own swearing. They have to keep cats to do it for them. I never knew any cat that could sware as genteelly and effectively as the B’y.”

“Is that what you call him?” asked Emily, looking at the black cat in some awe. It seemed hardly safe to discuss him right before his face.

“That’s what he calls himself. My mother doesn’t like him because he steals the cream. Now, I don’t mind his doing that; no, it’s his way av licking his jaws after it that I can’t stand. Oh, B’y, we’ve a fairy calling on us. Be excited for once, I implore you—there’s a duck av a cat.”

The B’y refused to be excited. He winked an insolent eye at Emily.

“Have you any idea what goes on in the head av a cat, elf?”

What queer questions Father Cassidy asked. Yet Emily thought she would like his questions if she were not so worried. Suddenly Father Cassidy leaned across the table and said,

“Now, just what’s bothering you?”

“I’m so unhappy,” said Emily piteously.

“So are lots av other people. Everybody is unhappy by spells. But creatures who have pointed ears shouldn’t be unhappy. It’s only mortals who should be that.”

“Oh, please—please—” Emily wondered what she should call him. Would it offend him if a Protestant called him “Father”? But she had to risk it—“please, Father Cassidy, I’m in such trouble and I’ve come to ask a great favour of you.”

Emily told him the whole tale from beginning to end—the old Murray-Sullivan feud, her erstwhile friendship with Lofty John, the Big Sweet apple, the unhappy consequence, and Lofty John’s threatened revenge. The B’y and Father Cassidy listened with equal gravity until she had finished. Then the B’y winked at her, but Father Cassidy put his long brown fingers together.

“Humph,” he said.

(“That’s the first time,” reflected Emily, “that I’ve ever heard anyone outside of a book say ‘Humph.’”)

“Humph,” said Father Cassidy again. “And you want me to put a stop to this nefarious deed?”

“If you can,” said Emily. “Oh, it would be so splendid if you could. Will you—will you?”

Father Cassidy fitted his fingers still more carefully together.

“I’m afraid I can hardly invoke the power av the keys to prevent Lofty John from disposing as he wishes av his own lawful property, you know, elf.”

Emily didn’t understand the allusion to the keys but she did understand that Father Cassidy was declining to bring the lever of the Church to bear on Lofty John. There was no hope, then. She could not keep the tears of disappointment out of her eyes.

“Oh, come now, darling, don’t cry,” implored Father Cassidy. “Elves never cry—they can’t. It would break my heart to discover you weren’t av the Green Folk. You may call yourself av New Moon and av any religion you like, but the fact remains that you belong to the Golden Age and the old gods. That’s why I must save your precious bit av greenwood for you.”

Emily stared.

“I think it can be done,” Father Cassidy went on. “I think if I go to Lofty John and have a heart-to-heart talk with him I can make him see reason. Lofty John and I are very good friends. He’s a reasonable creature, if you know how to take him—which means to flatter his vanity judiciously. I’ll put it to him, not as priest to parishoner, but as man to man, that no decent Irishman carries on a feud with women and that no sensible person is going to destroy for nothing but a grudge those fine old trees that have taken half a century to grow and can never be replaced. Why, the man who cuts down such a tree except when it is really necessary should be hanged as high as Haman on a gallows made from the wood av it.”

(Emily thought she would write that last sentence of Father Cassidy’s down in Cousin Jimmy’s blank book when she got home.)

“But I won’t say that to Lofty John,” concluded Father Cassidy. “Yes, Emily av New Moon, I think we can consider it a settled thing that your bush will not be cut down.”

Suddenly Emily felt very happy. Somehow she had entire confidence in Father Cassidy. She was sure he would twist Lofty John around his little finger.

“Oh, I can never thank you enough!” she said earnestly.

“That’s true, so don’t waste breath trying. And now tell me things. Are there any more av you? And how long have you been yourself?”

“I’m twelve years old—I haven’t any brothers or sisters. And I think I’d better be going home.”

“Not till you’ve had a bite av lunch.”

“Oh, thank you, I’ve had my supper.”

“Two hours ago and a two-mile walk since. Don’t tell me. I’m sorry I haven’t any nectar and ambrosia on hand—such food as elves eat—and not even a saucer av moonshine—but my mother makes the best plum cake av any woman in P. E. Island. And we keep a cream cow. Wait here a bit. Don’t be afraid av the B’y. He eats tender little Protestants sometimes, but he never meddles with leprechauns.”

When Father Cassidy came back his mother came with him, carrying a tray. Emily had expected to see her big and brown too, but she was the tiniest woman imaginable, with snow-white, silky hair, mild blue eyes, and pink cheeks.

“Isn’t she the sweetest thing in the way av mothers?” asked Father Cassidy. “I keep her to look at. Av course—” Father Cassidy dropped his voice to a pig’s whisper—“there’s something odd about her. I’ve known that woman to stop right in the middle av housecleaning, and go off and spend an afternoon in the woods. Like yourself, I’m thinking she has some truck with fairies.”

Mrs. Cassidy smiled, kissed Emily, said she must go out and finish her preserving, and trotted off.

“Now you sit right down here, Elf, and be human for ten minutes and we’ll have a friendly snack.”

Emily was hungry—a nice comfortable feeling she hadn’t experienced for a fortnight. Mrs. Cassidy’s plum cake was all her reverend son claimed, and the cream cow seemed to be no myth.

“What do you think av me now?” asked Father Cassidy suddenly, finding Emily’s eyes fixed on him speculatively.

Emily blushed. She had been wondering if she dared ask another favour of Father Cassidy.

“I think you are awfully good,” she said.

“I am awfully good,” agreed Father Cassidy. “I’m so good that I’ll do what you want me to do—for I feel there’s something else you want me to do.”

“I’m in a scrape and I’ve been in it all summer. You see”—Emily was very sober—“I am a poetess.”

“Holy Mike! That is serious. I don’t know if I can do much for you. How long have you been that way?”

“Are you making fun of me?” asked Emily gravely.

Father Cassidy swallowed something besides plum cake.

“The saints forbid! It’s only that I’m rather overcome. To be after entertaining a lady av New Moon—and an elf—and a poetess all in one is a bit too much for a humble praste like meself. Have another slice av cake and tell me all about it.”

“It’s like this—I’m writing an epic.”

Father Cassidy suddenly leaned over and gave Emily’s wrist a little pinch.

“I just wanted to see if you were real,” he explained. “Yes—yes, you’re writing an epic—go on. I think I’ve got my second wind now.”

“I began it last spring. I called it The White Lady first but now I’ve changed it to The Child of the Sea. Don’t you think that’s a better title?”

“Much better.”

“I’ve got three cantos done, and I can’t get any further because there’s something I don’t know and can’t find out. I’ve been so worried about it.”

“What is it?”

“My epic,” said Emily, diligently devouring plum cake, “is about a very beautiful high-born girl who was stolen away from her real parents when she was a baby and brought up in a woodcutter’s hut.”

“One av of the seven original plots in the world,” murmured Father Cassidy.


“Nothing. Just a bad habit av thinking aloud. Go on.”

“She had a lover of high degree but his family did not want him to marry her because she was only a woodcutter’s daughter—”

“Another of the seven plots—excuse me.”

“—so they sent him away to the Holy land on a crusade and word came back that he was killed and then Editha—her name was Editha—went into a convent—”

Emily paused for a bite of plum cake and Father Cassidy took up the strain.

“And now her lover comes back very much alive, though covered with Paynim scars, and the secret av her birth is discovered through the dying confession av the old nurse and the birthmark on her arm.”

“How did you know?” gasped Emily in amazement.

“Oh, I guessed it—I’m a good guesser. But where’s your bother in all this?”

“I don’t know how to get her out of the convent,” confessed Emily. “I thought perhaps you would know how it could be done.”

Again Father Cassidy fitted his fingers.

“Let us see, now. It’s no light matter you’ve undertaken, young lady. How stands the case? Editha has taken the veil, not because she has a religious vocation but because she imagines her heart is broken. The Catholic Church does not release its nuns from their vows because they happen to think they’ve made a little mistake av that sort. No, no,—we must have a better reason. Is this Editha the sole child av her real parents?”


“Oh, then the way is clear. If she had had any brothers or sisters you would have had to kill them off, which is a messy thing to do. Well, then, she is the sole daughter and heiress av a noble family who have for years been at deadly feud with another noble family—the family av the lover. Do you know what a feud is?”

“Of course,” said Emily disdainfully. “And I’ve got all that in the poem already.”

“So much the better. This feud has rent the kingdom in twain and can only be healed by an alliance between Capulet and Montague.”

“Those aren’t their names.”

“No matter. This, then, is a national affair, with far-reaching issues, therefore an appeal to the Supreme Pontiff is quite in order. What you want,” Father Cassidy nodded solemnly, “is a dispensation from Rome.”

“Dispensation is a hard word to work into a poem,” said Emily.

“Undoubtedly. But young ladies who will write epic poems and who will lay the scenes thereof amid times and manners av hundreds av years ago, and will choose heroines av a religion quite unknown to them, must expect to run up against a few snags.”

“Oh, I think I’ll be able to work it in,” said Emily cheerfully. “And I’m so much obliged to you. You don’t know what a relief it is to my mind. I’ll finish the poem right up now in a few weeks. I haven’t done a thing at it all summer. But then of course I’ve been busy. Ilse Burnley and I have been making a new language.”

“Making a—new—excuse me. Did you say language?”


“What’s the matter with English? Isn’t it good enough for you, you incomprehensible little being?”

“Oh, yes. That isn’t why we’re making a new one. You see in the spring, Cousin Jimmy got a lot of French boys to help plant the potatoes. I had to help too, and Ilse came to keep me company. And it was so annoying to hear those boys talking French when we couldn’t understand a word of it. They did it just to make us mad. Such jabbering! So Ilse and I just made up our minds we’d invent a new language that they couldn’t understand. We’re getting on fine and when the potato picking time comes we’ll be able to talk to each other and those boys won’t be able to understand a word we’re saying. Oh, it will be great fun!”

“I haven’t a doubt. But two girls who will go to all the trouble av inventing a new language just to get square with some poor little French boys—you’re beyond me,” said Father Cassidy, helplessly. “Goodness knows what you’ll be doing when you grow up. You’ll be Red Revolutionists. I tremble for Canada.”

“Oh, it isn’t a trouble—it’s fun. And all the girls in school are just wild because they hear us talking in it and can’t make it out. We can talk secrets right before them.”

“Human nature being what it is, I can see where the fun comes in all right. Let’s hear a sample av your language.”

“Nat millan O ste dolman bote ta Shrewsbury fernas ta poo litanos,” said Emily glibly. “That means, ‘Next summer I am going to Shrewsbury woods to pick strawberries.’ I yelled that across the playground to Ilse the other day at recess and oh, how everybody stared.”

“Staring, is it? I should say so. My own poor old eyes are all but dropping out av me head. Let’s hear a bit more av it.”

“Mo tral li dead seb ad li mo trene. Mo bertral seb mo bertrene das sten dead e ting setra. That means ‘My father is dead and so is my mother. My grandfather and grandmother have been dead a long time.’ We haven’t invented a word for ‘dead’ yet. I think I will soon be able to write my poems in our language and then Aunt Elizabeth will not be able to read them if she finds them.”

“Have you written any other poetry besides your epic?”

“Oh, yes—but just short pieces—dozens of them.”

“H’m. Would you be so kind as to let me hear one av them?”

Emily was greatly flattered. And she did not mind letting Father Cassidy hear her precious stuff.

“I’ll recite my last poem,” she said, clearing her throat importantly. “It’s called Evening Dreams.”

Father Cassidy listened attentively. After the first verse a change came over his big brown face, and he began patting his fingertips together. When Emily finished she hung down her lashes and waited tremblingly. What if Father Cassidy said it was no good? No, he wouldn’t be so impolite—but if he bantered her as he had done about her epic—she would know what that meant.

Father Cassidy did not speak all at once. The prolonged suspense was terrible to Emily. She was afraid he could not praise and did not want to hurt her feelings by dispraise. All at once her “Evening Dreams” seemed trash and she wondered how she could ever have been silly enough to repeat it to Father Cassidy.

Of course, it was trash. Father Cassidy knew that well enough. All the same, for a child like this—and rhyme and rhythm were flawless—and there was one line—just one line—“the light of faintly golden stars”—for the sake of that line Father Cassidy suddenly said,

“Keep on,—keep on writing poetry.”

“You mean?”—Emily was breathless.

“I mean you’ll be able to do something by and by. Something—I don’t know how much—but keep on—keep on.”

Emily was so happy she wanted to cry. It was the first word of commendation she had ever received except from her father—and a father might have too high an opinion of one. This was different. To the end of her struggle for recognition Emily never forgot Father Cassidy’s “Keep on” and the tone in which he said it.

“Aunt Elizabeth scolds me for writing poetry,” she said wistfully. “She says people will think I’m as simple as Cousin Jimmy.”

“The path of genius never did run smooth. But have another piece av cake—do, just to show there’s something human about you.”

“Ve, merry ti. O del re dolman cosey aman ri sen ritter. That means, ‘No, thank you. I must be going home before it gets dark.’”

“I’ll drive you home.”

“Oh, no, no. It’s very kind of you”—the English language was quite good enough for Emily now. “But I’d rather walk. It’s—it’s—such good exercise.”

“Meaning,” said Father Cassidy with a twinkle in his eye, “that we must keep it from the old lady. Good-bye, and may you always see a happy face in your looking-glass!”

Emily was too happy to be tired on the way home. There seemed to be a bubble of joy in her heart—a shimmering, prismatic bubble. When she came to the top of the big hill and looked across to New Moon, her eyes were satisfied and loving. How beautiful it was, lying embowered in the twilight of the old trees; the tips of the loftiest spruces came out in purple silhouette against the northwestern sky of rose and amber; down behind it the Blair Water dreamed in silver; the Wind Woman had folded her misty bat-wings in a valley of sunset and stillness lay over the world like a blessing. Emily felt sure everything would be all right. Father Cassidy would manage it in some way.

And he had told her to “keep on.”

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This book is part of the public domain. L. M. Montgomery (2020). Emily of New Moon. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved

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