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  • Writer's pictureLinda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspirations #93

[Eleven-year-old Emily Starr rescues a pile of old pink paper with “lovely blank backs for writing on” from  being burned, just when she needs it most after a difficult day at school.]         She gathered her precious booty into her arms and fairly ran upstairs – and then upstairs again into the garret, where she already had her “favorite haunt,” in which her uncomfortable way of thinking of things thousands of miles away could not vex Aunt Elizabeth. This was the quiet corner of the dormer window, where shadows always moved about, softly and swingingly, and beautiful mosaics patterned the bare floor....        In the recess of the dormer window she crouched – breathlessly she selected a letter-bill and extracted a lead pencil from her pocket. An old sheet of cardboard served as a desk; she began to write feverishly.       “Dear Father” – and then she poured out her tale of the day – of her rapture and her pain –  writing heedlessly and intently until the sunset faded into dim, star-litten twilight. The chickens went unfed – Cousin Jimmy had to go himself for the cows – Saucy Sal got no new milk – Aunt Laura had to wash the dishes – what mattered it? Emily, in the delightful throes of literary composition, was lost to all worldly things.       When she had covered the backs of four letter-bills she could see to write no more. But she had emptied out her soul and it was once more free from evil passions. She even felt curiously indifferent to Miss Brownell. Emily folded up her letter-bills and wrote clearly across the packet, Mr. Douglas Starr, On the Road to Heaven.     Then she stepped softly across to an old, worn-out sofa in a far corner and knelt down, stowing away her letter and her “letter-bills” snugly on a little shelf formed by a board nailed across it underneath.  Emily had discovered this one day when playing in the garret and had noted it as a lovely hiding-place for secret  documents.  Nobody would ever come across them there. She had writing paper enough to last for months – there must be hundreds of those jolly old letter-bills.       “Oh,” cried Emily, dancing down the stairs, “I feel as if I was made out of star-dust.”        Thereafter few evenings passed on which Emily did not steal up to the garret and write a letter, long or short, to her father. The bitterness died out of her grief. Writing to him seemed to bring him so near; and she told him everything, with a certain honesty of confession that was characteristic of her – her triumphs, her failures, her joys, her sorrows, everything went down on the letter-bills of a Government which had not been so economical of paper as it afterwards became. There was fully half a yard of  paper in each bill and Emily wrote a small hand and made the most of every inch.     -L. M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon (1923), pp. 92-94

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