The Vow of Emilyby@lmmontgomery

The Vow of Emily

by L.M. MontgomeryJuly 29th, 2023
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IN Dean Priest Emily found, for the first time since her father had died, a companion who could fully sympathize. She was always at her best with him, with a delightful feeling of being understood. To love is easy and therefore common—but to understand—how rare it is! They roamed wonderlands of fancy together in the magic August days that followed upon Emily’s adventure on the bay shore, talked together of exquisite, immortal things, and were at home with “nature’s old felicities” of which Wordsworth so happily speaks. Emily showed him all the poetry and “descriptions” in her “Jimmy-book” and he read them gravely, and, exactly as Father had done, made little criticisms that did not hurt her because she knew they were just. As for Dean Priest, a certain secret well-spring of fancy that had long seemed dry bubbled up in him sparklingly again. “You make me believe in fairies, whether I will or no,” he told her, “and that means youth. As long as you believe in fairies you can’t grow old.” “But I can’t believe in fairies myself,” protested Emily sorrowfully. “I wish I could.”
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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. The Vow of Emily

CHAPTER XXVII. The Vow of Emily

IN Dean Priest Emily found, for the first time since her father had died, a companion who could fully sympathize. She was always at her best with him, with a delightful feeling of being understood. To love is easy and therefore common—but to understand—how rare it is! They roamed wonderlands of fancy together in the magic August days that followed upon Emily’s adventure on the bay shore, talked together of exquisite, immortal things, and were at home with “nature’s old felicities” of which Wordsworth so happily speaks.

Emily showed him all the poetry and “descriptions” in her “Jimmy-book” and he read them gravely, and, exactly as Father had done, made little criticisms that did not hurt her because she knew they were just. As for Dean Priest, a certain secret well-spring of fancy that had long seemed dry bubbled up in him sparklingly again.

“You make me believe in fairies, whether I will or no,” he told her, “and that means youth. As long as you believe in fairies you can’t grow old.”

“But I can’t believe in fairies myself,” protested Emily sorrowfully. “I wish I could.”

“But you are a fairy yourself—or you wouldn’t be able to find fairyland. You can’t buy a ticket there, you know. Either the fairies themselves give you your passport at your christening—or they don’t. That is all there is to it.”

“Isn’t ‘Fairyland’ the loveliest word?” said Emily dreamily.

“Because it means everything the human heart desires,” said Dean.

When he talked to her Emily felt as if she were looking into some enchanted mirror where her own dreams and secret hopes were reflected back to her with added charm. If Dean Priest were a cynic he showed no cynicism to Emily. But in her company he was not a cynic; he had shed his years and became a boy again with a boy’s untainted visions. She loved him for the world he opened to her view.

There was such fun in him, too,—such sly, surprising fun. He told her jokes—he made her laugh. He told her strange old tales of forgotten gods who were very beautiful—of court festivals and the bridals of kings. He seemed to have the history of the whole world at his fingers’ ends. He described things to her in unforgettable phrases as they walked by the bay shore or sat in the overgrown, shadowy old garden of Wyther Grange. When he spoke of Athens as “the City of the Violet Crown” Emily realized afresh what magic is made when the right words are wedded; and she loved to think of Rome as “the City of the Seven Hills.” Dean had been in Rome and Athens—and almost everywhere else.

“I didn’t know any one ever talked as you do except in books,” she told him.

Dean laughed—with a little note of bitterness that was so often present in his laughter—though less often with Emily than with other people. It was really his laughter that had won Dean his reputation for cynicism. People so often felt that he was laughing at them instead of with them.

“I’ve had only books for companions most of my life,” he said. “Is it any wonder I talk like them?”

“I’m sure I’ll like studying history after this,” said Emily; “except Canadian History. I’ll never like it—it’s so dull. Not just at the first, when we belonged to France and there was plenty of fighting, but after that it’s nothing but politics.”

“The happiest countries, like the happiest women, have no history,” said Dean.

“I hope I’ll have a history,” cried Emily. “I want a thrilling career.”

“We all do, foolish one. Do you know what makes history? Pain—and shame—and rebellion—and bloodshed and heartache. Star, ask yourself how many hearts ached—and broke—to make those crimson and purple pages in history that you find so enthralling. I told you the story of Leonidas and his Spartans the other day. They had mothers, sisters and sweethearts. If they could have fought a bloodless battle at the polls wouldn’t it have been better—if not so dramatic.”

“I—can’t—feel—that way,” said Emily confusedly. She was not old enough to think or say, as she would say ten years later, “The heroes of Thermopylæ have been an inspiration to humanity for centuries. What squabble around a ballot-box will ever be that?”

“And, like all female creatures, you form your opinions by your feelings. Well, hope for your thrilling career—but remember that if there is to be drama in your life somebody must pay the piper in the coin of suffering. If not you—then some one else.”

“Oh, no, I wouldn’t like that.”

“Then be content with fewer thrills. What about your tumble over the bank down there? That came near being a tragedy. What if I hadn’t found you?”

“But you did find me,” cried Emily. “I like near escapes—after they’re over,” she added. “If everybody had always been happy there’d be nothing to read about.”

Tweed made a third in their rambles and Emily grew very fond of him, without losing any of her loyalty to the pussy folk.

“I like cats with one part of my mind and dogs with another part,” she said.

“I like cats but I never keep one,” Dean said. “They’re too exacting—they ask too much. Dogs want only love but cats demand worship. They have never got over the Bubastis habit of godship.”

Emily understood this—he had told her all about old Egypt and the goddess Pasht—but she did not quite agree with him.

“Kittens don’t want to be worshipped,” she said. “They just want to be cuddled.”

“By their priestesses—yes. If you had been born on the banks of the Nile five thousand years ago, Emily, you would have been a priestess of Pasht—an adorable, slim, brown creature with a fillet of gold around your black hair and bands of silver on those ankles Aunt Nancy admires, with dozens of sacred little godlings frisking around you under the palms of the temple courts.”

“Oh,” gasped Emily rapturously, “that gave me the flash. And,” she added wonderingly, “just for a moment it made me homesick, too. Why?”

“Why? Because I haven’t a doubt you were just such a priestess in a former incarnation and my words reminded your soul of it. Do you believe in the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, Star? But of course not—brought up by the true-blue Calvinists of New Moon.”

“What does it mean?” asked Emily, and when Dean explained it to her she thought it a very delightful belief but was quite sure Aunt Elizabeth would not approve of it.

“So I won’t believe it—yet,” she said gravely.

Then it all came to an end quite suddenly. It had been taken for granted by all concerned that Emily was to stay at Wyther Grange until the end of August. But in mid-August Aunt Nancy said suddenly to her one day,

“Go home, Emily. I’m tired of you. I like you very well—you’re not stupid and you’re passably pretty and you’ve behaved exceedingly well—tell Elizabeth you do the Murrays credit—but I’m tired of you. Go home.”

Emily’s feelings were mixed. It hurt her to be told Aunt Nancy was tired of her—it would hurt any one. It rankled in her for several days until she thought of a sharp answer she might have made Aunt Nancy and wrote it down in her Jimmy-book. She felt quite as relieved then as if she had really said it.

And she was sorry to leave Wyther Grange; she had grown to love the old beautiful house, with its flavour of hidden secrets—a flavour that was wholly a trick of its architecture, for there had never been anything in it but the simple tale of births and deaths and marriages and everyday living that most houses have. She was sorry to leave the bay shore and the quaint garden and the gazing-ball and the chessy-cat and the Pink Room bed of freedom; and most of all she was sorry to leave Dean Priest. But on the other hand it was delightful to think of going back to New Moon and all the loved ones there—Teddy and his dear whistle, Ilse and her stimulating comradeship, Perry with his determined reaching up for higher things, Saucy Sal and the new kitten that must be needing proper training now, and the fairy world of the Midsummer Night’s Dream. Cousin Jimmy’s garden would be in its prime of splendour, the August apples would be ripe. Suddenly, Emily was very ready to go. She packed her little black box jubilantly and found it an excellent chance to work in neatly a certain line from a poem Dean had recently read to her which had captured her fancy.

“‘Good-bye, proud world, I’m going home,’” she declaimed feelingly, standing at the top of the long, dark, shining staircase and apostrophizing the row of grim Priest photographs hanging on the wall.

But she was much annoyed over one thing. Aunt Nancy would not give her back the picture Teddy had painted.

“I’m going to keep it,” Aunt Nancy said, grinning and shaking her gold tassels. “Some day that picture will be worth something as the early effort of a famous artist.”

“I only lent it to you—I told you I only lent it to you,” said Emily indignantly.

“I’m an unscrupulous old demon,” said Aunt Nancy coolly. “That is what the Priests all call me behind my back. Don’t they, Caroline? May as well have the game as the name. I happen to have a fancy for that picture, that’s all. I’m going to frame it and hang it here in my parlour. But I’ll leave it to you in my will—that and the chessy-cat and the gazing-ball and my gold earrings. Nothing else—I’m not going to leave you a cent of my money—never count on that.”

“I don’t want it,” said Emily loftily. “I’m going to earn heaps of money for myself. But it isn’t fair of you to keep my picture. It was given to me.”

“I never was fair,” said Aunt Nancy. “Was I, Caroline?”

“No,” said Caroline shrewishly.

“You see. Now don’t make a fuss, Emily. You’ve been a very good child but I feel that I’ve done my duty by you for this year. Go back to New Moon and when Elizabeth won’t let you do things tell her I always let you. I don’t know if it will do any good but try it. Elizabeth, like every one else related to me, is always wondering what I’m going to do with my money.”

Cousin Jimmy came over for Emily. How glad she was to see his kind face with its gentle, elfish eyes and forked beard again! But she felt very badly when she turned to Dean.

“If you like I’ll kiss you good-bye,” she said chokily.

Emily did not like kissing people. She did not really want to kiss Dean but she liked him so much she thought she ought to extend all the courtesies to him.

Dean looked down smiling into her face, so young, so pure, so softly curved.

“No, I don’t want you to kiss me—yet. And our first kiss mustn’t have the flavour of good-bye. It would be a bad omen. Star O’ Morning, I’m sorry you’re going. But I’ll see you again before long. My oldest sister lives in Blair Water, you know, and I feel a sudden access of brotherly affection towards her. I seem to see myself visiting her very often henceforth. In the meantime remember you have promised to write me every week. And I’ll write you.”

“Nice fat letters,” coaxed Emily. “I love fat letters.”

“Fat! They’ll be positively corpulent, Star. Now, I’m not even going to say good-bye. Let’s make a pact, Star. We’ll never say good-bye to each other. We’ll just smile and go.”

Emily made a gallant effort—smiled—and went. Aunt Nancy and Caroline returned to the back parlour and their cribbage. Dean Priest whistled for Tweed and went to the bay shore. He was so lonely that he laughed at himself.

Emily and Cousin Jimmy had so much to talk of that the drive home seemed very short.

New Moon was white in the evening sunshine which also lay with exceeding mellowness on the grey old barns. The Three Princesses, shooting up against the silvery sky, were as remote and princessly as ever. The old gulf was singing away down over the fields.

Aunt Laura came running out to meet them, her lovely blue eyes shining with pleasure. Aunt Elizabeth was in the cook-house preparing supper and only shook hands with Emily, but looked a trifle less grim and stately than usual, and she had made Emily’s favourite cream-puffs for supper. Perry was hanging about, barefooted and sunburned, to tell her all the gossip of kittens and calves and little pigs and the new foal. Ilse came swooping over, and Emily discovered she had forgotten how vivid Ilse was—how brilliant her amber eyes, how golden her mane of spun-silk hair, looking more golden than ever under the bright blue silk tam Mrs. Simms had bought her in Shrewsbury. As an article of dress, that loud tam made Laura Murray’s eyes and sensibilities ache, but its colour certainly did set off Ilse’s wonderful hair. She engulfed Emily in a rapturous embrace and quarrelled bitterly with her ten minutes later over the fact that Emily refused to give her Saucy Sal’s sole surviving kitten.

“I ought to have it, you doddering hyena,” stormed Ilse. “It’s as much mine as yours, pig! Our old barn cat is its father.”

“Such talk is not decent,” said Aunt Elizabeth, pale with horror. “And if you two children are going to quarrel over that kitten I’ll have it drowned—remember that.”

Ilse was finally appeased by Emily’s offering to let her name the kitten and have a half interest in it. Ilse named it Daffodil. Emily did not think this suitable, since, from the fact of Cousin Jimmy referring to it as Little Tommy, she suspected it was of the sterner sex. But rather than again provoke Aunt Elizabeth’s wrath by discussing tabooed subjects, she agreed.

“I can call it Daff,” she thought. “That sounds more masculine.”

The kitten was a delicate bit of striped greyness that reminded Emily of her dear lost Mikes. And it smelled so nice—of warmth and clean furriness, with whiffs of the clover hay where Saucy Sal had made her mother-nest.

After supper she heard Teddy’s whistle in the old orchard—the same enchanting call. Emily flew out to greet him—after all, there was nobody just like Teddy in the world. They had an ecstatic scamper up to the Tansy Patch to see a new puppy that Dr. Burnley had given Teddy. Mrs. Kent did not seem very glad to see Emily—she was colder and more remote than ever, and she sat and watched the two children playing with the chubby little pup with a smouldering fire in her dark eyes that made Emily vaguely uncomfortable whenever she happened to glance up and encounter it. Never before had she sensed Mrs. Kent’s dislike for her so keenly as that night.

“Why doesn’t your mother like me?” she asked Teddy bluntly, when they carried little Leo to the barn for the night.

“Because I do,” said Teddy briefly. “She doesn’t like anything I like. I’m afraid she’ll poison Leo very soon. I—I wish she wasn’t so fond of me,” he burst out, in the beginning of a revolt against this abnormal jealousy of love, which he felt rather than understood to be a fetter that was becoming galling. “She says she won’t let me take up Latin and Algebra this year—you know Miss Brownell said I might—because I’m not to go to college. She says she can’t bear to part from me—ever. I don’t care about the Latin and stuff—but I want to learn to be an artist—I want to go away some day to the schools where they teach that. She won’t let me—she hates my pictures now because she thinks I like them better than her. I don’t—I love Mother—she’s awful sweet and good to me every other way. But she thinks I do—and she’s burned some of them. I know she has. They’re missing from the barn wall and I can’t find them anywhere. If she does anything to Leo—I’ll—I’ll hate her.”

“Tell her that,” said Emily coolly, with some of the Murray shrewdness coming uppermost in her. “She doesn’t know that you know she poisoned Smoke and Buttercup. Tell her you do know it and that if she does anything to Leo you won’t love her any more. She’ll be so frightened of your not loving her that she won’t meddle with Leo—I know. Tell her gently—don’t hurt her feelings—but tell her. It will,” concluded Emily, with a killing imitation of Aunt Elizabeth delivering an ultimatum, “be better for all concerned.”

“I believe I will,” said Teddy, much impressed. “I can’t have Leo disappear like my cats did—he’s the only dog I’ve ever had and I’ve always wanted a dog. Oh, Emily, I’m glad you’re back!”

It was very nice to be told this—especially by Teddy. Emily went home to New Moon happily. In the old kitchen the candles were lighted and their flames were dancing in the winds of the August night blowing through door and window.

“I suppose you’ll not like candles very well, Emily, after being used to lamps at Wyther Grange,” said Aunt Laura with a little sigh. It was one of the bitter, small things in Laura Murray’s life that Elizabeth’s tyranny extended to candles.

Emily looked around her thoughtfully. One candle sputtered and bobbed at her as if greeting her. One, with a long wick, glowed and smouldered like a sulky little demon. One had a tiny flame—a sly, meditative candle. One swayed with a queer fiery grace in the draught from the door. One burned with a steady upright flame like a faithful soul.

“I—don’t know—Aunt Laura,” she answered slowly. “You can be—friends—with candles. I believe I like the candles best after all.”

Aunt Elizabeth, coming in from the cook-house, heard her. Something like pleasure gleamed in her gulf-blue eyes.

“You have some sense in you,” she said.

“That’s the second compliment she has paid me,” thought Emily.

“I think Emily has grown taller since she went to Wyther Grange,” Aunt Laura said, looking at her rather wistfully.

Aunt Elizabeth, snuffing the candles, glanced sharply over her glasses.

“I can’t see it,” she said. “Her dress is just the same length on her.”

“I’m sure she has,” persisted Laura.

Cousin Jimmy, to settle the dispute, measured Emily by the sitting-room door. She just touched the former mark.

“You see,” said Aunt Elizabeth triumphantly, liking to be right even in this small matter.

“She looks—different,” said Laura with a sigh.

Laura, after all, was right. Emily had grown, taller and older, in soul, if not in body. It was this change which Laura felt, as close and tender affection swiftly feels. The Emily who returned from Wyther Grange was not the Emily who had gone there. She was no longer wholly the child. Aunt Nancy’s family histories over which she had pondered, her enduring anguish over the story of Ilse’s mother, that terrible hour when she had lain cheek by jowl with death on the cliffs of the bay shore, her association with Dean Priest, all had combined to mature her intelligence and her emotions. When she went to the garret next morning and pulled out her precious little bundle of manuscripts to read them lovingly over she was amazed and rather grieved to find that they were not half so good as she had believed they were. Some of them were positively silly, she thought; she was ashamed of them—so ashamed that she smuggled them down to the cook-house stove and burned them, much to Aunt Elizabeth’s annoyance when she came to prepare dinner and found the fire-box all choked up with charred paper.

Emily no longer wondered that Miss Brownell had made fun of them—though this did not mellow her bitterness of remembrance in regard to that lady in any degree. The rest she put back on the sofa shelf, including “The Child of the Sea,” which still impressed her as fairly good, though not just the wonderful composition she had once deemed it. She felt that many passages could be re-written to their advantage. Then she immediately began writing a new poem, “On Returning Home After Weeks’ Absence.” As everything and everybody connected with New Moon had to be mentioned in this poem it promised to be quite long and to furnish agreeable occupation for spare minutes in many weeks to come. It was very good to be home again.

“There is no place just like dear New Moon,” thought Emily.

One thing that marked her return—one of those little household “epochs” that make a keener impression on the memory and imagination than perhaps their real importance warrants—was the fact that she was given a room of her own. Aunt Elizabeth had found her unshared slumber too sweet a thing to be again surrendered. She decided that she could not put up any longer with a squirming bedfellow who asked unearthly questions at any hour of the night she took it into her head to do so.

So, after a long conference with Laura, it was settled that Emily was to have her mother’s room—the “lookout” as it was called, though it was not really a lookout. But it occupied the place in New Moon, looking over the front door to the garden, that the real lookouts did in other Blair Water houses, so it went by that name. It had been prepared for Emily’s occupancy in her absence and when bedtime came on the first evening of her return Aunt Elizabeth curtly told her that henceforth she was to have her mother’s room.

“All to myself?” exclaimed Emily.

“Yes. We will expect you to take care of it yourself and keep it very tidy.”

“It has never been slept in since the night before your mother—went away,” said Aunt Laura, with a queer sound in her voice—a sound of which Aunt Elizabeth disapproved.

“Your mother,” she said, looking coldly at Emily over the flame of the candle—an attitude that gave a rather gruesome effect to her acquiline features—“ran away—flouted her family and broke her father’s heart. She was a silly, ungrateful, disobedient girl. I hope you will never disgrace your family by such conduct.”

“Oh, Aunt Elizabeth,” said Emily breathlessly, “when you hold the candle down like that it makes your face look just like a corpse! Oh, it’s so interesting.”

Aunt Elizabeth turned and led the way upstairs in grim silence. There was no use in wasting perfectly good admonitions on a child like this.

Left alone in her lookout, lighted dimly by the one small candle, Emily gazed about her with keen and thrilling interest. She could not get into bed until she had explored every bit of it. The room was very old-fashioned, like all the New Moon rooms. The walls were papered with a design of slender gilt diamonds enclosing golden stars and hung with worked woollen mottoes and pictures that had been “supplements” in the girlhood of her aunts. One of them, hanging over the head of the bed, represented two guardian angels. In its day this had been much admired but Emily looked at it with distaste.

“I don’t like feather wings on angels,” she said decidedly. “Angels should have rainbowy wings.”

On the floor was a pretty homespun carpet and round braided rugs. There was a high black bedstead with carved posts, a fat feather-bed, and an Irish chain quilt, but, as Emily was glad to see, no curtains. A little table, with funny claw-feet and brass-knobbed drawers, stood by the window, which was curtained with muslin frills; one of the window-panes contorted the landscape funnily, making a hill where no hill was. Emily liked this—she couldn’t have told why, but it was really because it gave the pane an individuality of its own. An oval mirror in a tarnished gilt frame hung above the table; Emily was delighted to find she could see herself in it—“all but my boots”—without craning or tipping it. “And it doesn’t twist my face or turn my complexion green,” she thought happily. Two high-backed, black chairs with horsehair seats, a little washstand with a blue basin and pitcher, and a faded ottoman with woollen roses cross-stitched on it, completed the furnishing. On the little mantel were vases full of dried and coloured grasses and a fascinating pot-bellied bottle filled with West Indian shells. On either side were lovable little cupboards with leaded-glass doors like those in the sitting-room. Underneath was a small fireplace.

“I wonder if Aunt Elizabeth will ever let me have a little fire here,” thought Emily.

The room was full of that indefinable charm found in all rooms where the pieces of furniture, whether old or new, are well acquainted with each other and the walls and floors are on good terms. Emily felt it all over her as she flitted about examining everything. This was her room—she loved it already—she felt perfectly at home.

“I belong here,” she breathed happily.

She felt deliciously near to her mother—as if Juliet Starr had suddenly become real to her. It thrilled her to think that her mother had probably crocheted the lace cover on the round pincushion on the table. And that fat, black jar of pot-pourri on the mantel—her mother must have compounded it. When Emily lifted the lid a faint spicy odour floated out. The souls of all the roses that had bloomed through many olden summers at New Moon seemed to be prisoned there in a sort of flower purgatory. Something in the haunting, mystical, elusive odour gave Emily the flash—and her room had received its consecration.

There was a picture of her mother hanging over the mantel—a large daguerreotype taken when she was a little girl. Emily looked at it lovingly. She had the picture of her mother which her father had left, taken after their marriage. But when Aunt Elizabeth had brought that from Maywood to New Moon she had hung it in the parlour where Emily seldom saw it. This picture, in her bedroom, of the golden-haired, rose-cheeked girl, was all her own. She could look at it—talk to it at will.

“Oh, Mother,” she said, “what did you think of when you were a little girl here like me? I wish I could have known you then. And to think nobody has ever slept here since that last night you did before you ran away with Father. Aunt Elizabeth says you were wicked to do it but I don’t think you were. It wasn’t as if you were running away with a stranger. Anyway, I’m glad you did, because if you hadn’t there wouldn’t have been any me.”

Emily, very glad that there was an Emily, opened her lookout window as high as it would go, got into bed and drifted off to sleep, feeling a happiness that was so deep as to be almost pain as she listened to the sonorous sweep of the night wind among the great trees in Lofty John’s bush. When she wrote to her father a few days later she began the letter “Dear Father and Mother.”

“And I’ll always write the letter to you as well as Father after this, Mother. I’m sorry I left you out so long. But you didn’t seem real till that night I came home. I made the bed beautifully next morning—Aunt Elizabeth didn’t find a bit of fault with it—and I dusted everything—and when I went out I knelt down and kissed the doorstep. I didn’t think Aunt Elizabeth saw me but she did and said had I gone crazy. Why does Aunt Elizabeth think any one is crazy who does something she never does? I said ‘No, it’s only because I love my room so much’ and she sniffed and said ‘You’d better love your God.’ But so I do, dear Father—and Mother—and I love Him better than ever since I have my dear room. I can see all over the garden from it and into Lofty John’s bush and one little bit of the Blair Water through the gap in the trees where the Yesterday Road runs. I like to go to bed early now. I love to lie all alone in my own room and make poetry and think out descriptions of things while I look through the open window at the stars and the nice, big, kind, quiet trees in Lofty John’s bush.

“Oh, Father dear and Mother, we are going to have a new teacher. Miss Brownell is not coming back. She is going to be married and Ilse says that when her father heard it he said ‘God help the man.’ And the new teacher is a Mr. Carpenter. Ilse saw him when he came to see her father about the school—because Dr. Burnley is a trustee this year—and she says he has bushy grey hair and whiskers. He is married, too, and is going to live in that little old house down in the hollow below the school. It seems so funny to think of a teacher having a wife and whiskers.

“I am glad to be home. But I miss Dean and the gazing-ball. Aunt Elizabeth looked very cross when she saw my bang but didn’t say anything. Aunt Laura says just to keep quiet and go on wearing it. But I don’t feel comfortable going against Aunt Elizabeth so I have combed it all back except a little fringe. I don’t feel quite comfortable about it even yet, but I have to put up with being a little uncomfortable for the sake of my looks. Aunt Laura says bustles are going out of style so I’ll never be able to have one but I don’t care because I think they’re ugly. Rhoda Stuart will be cross because she was just longing to be old enough to wear a bustle. I hope I’ll be able to have a gin-jar all to myself when the weather gets cold. There is a row of gin-jars on the high shelf in the cook-house.

“Teddy and I had the nicest adventure yesterday evening. We are going to keep it a secret from everybody—partly because it was so nice, and partly because we think we’d get a fearful scolding for one thing we did.

“We went up to the Disappointed House, and we found one of the boards on the windows loose. So we pried it off and crawled in and went all over the house. It is lathed but not plastered, and the shavings are lying all over the floors just as the carpenters left them years ago. It seemed more disappointed than ever. I just felt like crying. There was a dear little fireplace in one room so we went to work and kindled a fire in it with shavings and pieces of boards (this is the thing we would be scolded for, likely) and then sat before it on an old carpenter’s bench and talked. We decided that when we grew up we would buy the Disappointed House and live here together. Teddy said he supposed we’d have to get married, but I thought maybe we could find a way to manage without going to all that bother. Teddy will paint pictures and I will write poetry and we will have toast and bacon and marmalade every morning for breakfast—just like Wyther Grange—but never porridge. And we’ll always have lots of nice things to eat in the pantry and I’ll make lots of jam and Teddy is always going to help me wash the dishes and we’ll hang the gazing-ball from the middle of the ceiling in the fireplace room—because likely Aunt Nancy will be dead by then.

“When the fire burned out we jammed the board into place in the window and came away. Every now and then to-day Teddy would say to me “Toast and bacon and marmalade” in the most mysterious tones and Ilse and Perry are wild because they can’t find out what he means.

“Cousin Jimmy has got Jimmy Joe Belle to help with the harvest. Jimmy Joe Belle comes from over Derry Pond way. There are a great many French there and when a French girl marries they call her mostly by her husband’s first name instead of Mrs. like the English do. If a girl named Mary marries a man named Leon she will always be called Mary Leon after that. But in Jimmy Joe Belle’s case, it is the other way and he is called by his wife’s name. I asked Cousin Jimmy why, and he said it was because Jimmy Joe was a poor stick of a creature and Belle wore the britches. But still I don’t understand. Jimmy Joe wears britches himself—that means trousers—and why should he be called Jimmy Joe Belle instead of her being called Belle Jimmy Joe just because she wears them too! I won’t rest till I find out.

“Cousin Jimmy’s garden is splendid now. The tiger lilies are out. I am trying to love them because nobody seems to like them at all but deep down in my heart I know I love the late roses best. You just can’t help loving the roses best.

“Ilse and I hunted all over the old orchard to-day for a four-leaved clover and couldn’t find one. Then I found one in a clump of clover by the dairy steps to-night when I was straining the milk and never thinking of clovers. Cousin Jimmy says that is the way luck always comes, and it is no use to look for it.

“It is lovely to be with Ilse again. We have only fought twice since I came home. I am going to try not to fight with Ilse any more because I don’t think it is dignified, although quite interesting. But it is hard not to because even when I keep quiet and don’t say a word Ilse thinks that’s a way of fighting and gets madder and says worse things than ever. Aunt Elizabeth says it always takes two to make a quarrel but she doesn’t know Ilse as I do. Ilse called me a sneaking albatross to-day. I wonder how many animals are left to call me. She never repeats the same one twice. I wish she wouldn’t clapper-claw Perry so much. (Clapper-claw is a word I learned from Aunt Nancy. Very striking, I think.) It seems as if she couldn’t bear him. He dared Teddy to jump from the henhouse roof across to the pighouse roof. Teddy wouldn’t. He said he would try it if it had to be done or would do anybody any good but he wasn’t going to do it just to show off. Perry did it and landed safe. If he hadn’t he might have broken his neck. Then he bragged about it and said Teddy was afraid and Ilse turned red as a beet and told him to shut up or she would bite his snout off. She can’t bear to have anything said against Teddy, but I guess he can take care of himself.

“Ilse can’t study for the Entrance either. Her father won’t let her. But she says she doesn’t care. She says she’s going to run away when she gets a little older and study for the stage. That sounds wicked, but interesting.

“I felt very queer and guilty when I saw Ilse first, because I knew about her mother. I don’t know why I felt guilty because I had nothing to do with it. The feeling is wearing away a little now but I am so unhappy by spells over it. I wish I could either forget it altogether or find out the rights of it. Because I am sure nobody knows them.

“I had a letter from Dean to-day. He writes lovely letters—just as if I was grown up. He sent me a little poem he had cut out of a paper called The Fringed Gentian. He said it made him think of me. It is all lovely but I like the last verse best of all. This is it:

Then whisper, blossom, in thy sleepHow I may upward climbThe Alpine Path, so hard, so steep,That leads to heights sublime.How I may reach that far-off goalOf true and honored fameAnd write upon its shining scrollA woman’s humble name.

“When I read that the flash came, and I took a sheet of paper—I forgot to tell you Cousin Jimmy gave me a little box of paper and envelopes—on the sly—and I wrote on it:

I, Emily Byrd Starr, do solemnly vow this day that I will climb the Alpine Path and write my name on the scroll of fame.

“Then I put it in the envelope and sealed it up and wrote on it The Vow of Emily Byrd Starr, aged 12 years and 3 months, and put it away on the sofa shelf in the garret.

“I am writing a murder story now and I am trying to feel how a man would feel who was a murderer. It is creepy, but thrilling. I almost feel as if I had murdered somebody.

“Good night, dear Father and Mother.

“Your lovingest daughter,


“P. S. I have been wondering how I’ll sign my name when I grow up and print my pieces. I don’t know which would be best—Emily Byrd Starr in full or Emily B. Starr, or E. B. Starr, or E. Byrd Starr. Sometimes I think I’ll have a nom-de-plume—that is, another name you pick for yourself. It’s in my dictionary among the “French phrases” at the back. If I did that then I could hear people talking of my pieces right before me, never suspecting, and say just what they really thought of them. That would be interesting but perhaps not always comfortable. I think I’ll be,

E. Byrd Starr.”

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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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