Reynolds "Clad in Victory" Transcription 3

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sudden appearance of a strange relation might prove a great
bore to my cousin.
However, Martha Bianchi was in a hospitable mood, so that
my reticence melted under her gracious insistence that I come
to her house to meet her.
The sensation I had as I walked up the path to the Austin
Dickinson residence, and got a glimpse of Emily's house
through the garden, was nothing short of extraordinary. Al-
though the journey from the gate to the front door consumed
only a few seconds in time, my feelings underwent a minor revo-
lution. I no longer felt a stranger, but very much at home be-
hind the hedge. Inside that door I was to meet for the first time
a personage who was to reconstruct for me in a very subtle way
my own background, or at least a very vital section of it.
Being diluted by descent from the so-called "Cavalier civil-
ization" of Virginia, I can only count that one quarter of my
heritage is Puritan, but on the pathway to the door which was
to open for me, I was suddenly conscious of holding hands
with reality.
I felt a rushing like the hurrying up of Time. My spirit took
a leap in the dark and landed on a friendly shore. The step
across the threshold made so much difference that the change
held something in it of magic. I gathered an immediate im-
pression of a tall erect woman, in the middle years of life, full
to the brim of charm and challenge. It was impossible to miss
in her a breathless quality and the fullness of her extraordi-
nary personality.
That meeting was followed by others in Paris, London, Italy
and New York. For several years before she died I made peri-
odical visits to Amherst, in order to reassure myself that she
was there, actually, and because I wished to hold fast to that
thing which had become more deeply important to me because
of her--my own heritage, of which she was the embodiment.
During our friendship, I did not attempt to penetrate very
far into the mystery of that magical chemistry, nor to break
the spell of the relationship we had established spontaneously.
She became interwoven with early memories of conversations