Lucy Maud Montgomery
First published 1909.
This online edition was created and published by Global Gray on January 5, 2023.
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Table of contents
1. An angry neighbor
2. Sell in a hurry and regret in peace
3. Mr. Harrison at home
4. Different opinions
5. A full school ma'am
6. All kinds and conditions of men... and women
7. Showing the duty
8. Marilla adopts twins
9. A matter of color
10. Davy looking for a sensation
11. Facts and fantasies
12. A day of Jonah
13. A golden picnic
14. A danger averted
15. The beginning of the holidays
16. The substance of the things hoped for
17. A chapter full of accidents
18. An Adventure on the Tory Road
19. Just a happy day
20. As often happens
21. Sweet Miss Lavender
22. Quotas and Endings
23. Miss Lavendars Romanze
24. A prophet in his own country
25. Ein Avonlea-Scandal
26. Around the bend
27. An afternoon in the stone house
28. The prince comes back to the enchanted palace
29. Poetry and prose
30. A wedding in a stone house
1. An angry neighbor
A tall, slender girl, "half sixteen," with serious gray eyes and hair her friends called auburn, had sat down on the wide red sandstone threshold of a Prince Edward Island farmhouse on a ripe August afternoon, determined to construct as many lines of Virgil.
But an August afternoon, with blue haze blanketing the harvest slopes, little winds whispering elfishly in the poplars, and a dancing splendor of red poppies blazing against the dark thickets of young firs in a corner of the cherry orchard, was better suited to dreaming than to dead languages. The Virgil soon slid unnoticed to the ground, and Anne, with her chin on her clasped hands and her eyes fixed on the magnificent mass of downy clouds that towered like a great white mountain directly over Mr. J. A. Harrison's house, was far away in a delicious world in which a certain schoolteacher did a marvelous job, shaping the destinies of future statesmen and inspiring youthful minds and hearts with high and lofty ambitions.
However, when it comes to hard facts. . . which Anne, it must be admitted, seldom did, until she had to . . . it didn't seem likely that there was much promising celebrity material in the Avonlea school; but you could never tell what would happen if a teacher used her influence for good. Anne had certain rose-tinted ideals of what a teacher could achieve if she just walked the right path; and she found herself in the midst of a delightful scene with a celebrity forty years later. . . the very things he was going to be famous for stayed in convenient disguise, but Anne thought it would be pretty nice to make him college president or Canadian prime minister. . . Bending low over her wrinkled hand, he assured her that it was she who first awakened his ambition and that all of his success in life was due to the lessons she taught him at Avonlea School so long ago would have. This pleasant vision was shattered by a most unpleasant interruption.
A brittle little Jersey cow coughed down the path and five seconds later Mr. Harrison arrived. . . if "arrived" is not too mild a term to describe the manner of his intrusion into the court.
He jumped the fence without waiting for the gate to open and angrily confronted the astonished Anne, who had stood up and was looking at him somewhat confused. Mr. Harrison was her new neighbor on the right and she had never met him before, although she had seen him once or twice.
In early April, before Anne came home from Queen's, Mr. Robert Bell, whose farm bordered Cuthbert Place to the west, had sold and moved to Charlottetown. His farm had been bought by a Mr. J.A. Harrison, whose name and the fact that he was a New Brunswick man was all that was known about him. But before he was a month in Avonlea, he had gained a reputation for being an odd person. . . "A nutcase," said Mrs. Rachel Lynde. Mrs. Rachel was an outspoken lady, as those of you who may have known her will remember. Mr. Harrison was certainly different from other people. . . and that is known to be the essential feature of a crank.
He ran the household primarily for himself and had stated publicly that he did not want fools of women in his pad. The female Avonlea retaliated with the cruel stories she told about his household and kitchen. He had hired little John Henry Carter from White Sands and John Henry started the stories. For one thing, there was never a set time for meals in the Harrison establishment. Mr. Harrison "got a bite" when he felt hungry, and if John Henry was around at the time he would come in for a helping, but if he wasn't he would have to wait until Mr. Harrison's next hunger attack . John Henry sadly claimed that if he hadn't come home on Sundays and filled himself up, he would have starved to death, and that his mother would always have given him a basket of food to take home on Monday mornings.
As for washing dishes, Mr. Harrison never pretended to do it unless it was a rainy Sunday. Then he went to work and washed them all at once in the rainwater barrel and let them dry.
Again Mr. Harrison was "close". When asked to pay Rev. Mr. Allan's salary, he said he would wait and see how many dollars he could get out of his sermon first. . . he didn't believe in buying a pig in a poke. And when Mrs. Lynde went to ask for a contribution to missions. . . and by the way see the inside of the house. . . he told her there were more heathens among the old woman gossips in Avonlea than anywhere else that he knew of, and he would happily contribute to a mission to Christianize them if she did. Mrs. Rachel slipped away, saying it was a mercy poor Mrs. Robert Bell was safe in her grave, for it would have broken her heart to see the state of the house of which she was once so proud.
'Well, she scrubbed the kitchen floor every other day,' said Mrs Lynde indignantly to Marilla Cuthbert, 'if you could see it now! I had to hold up my skirts as I walked across it.”
Finally, Mr. Harrison kept a parrot named Ginger. No one in Avonlea had ever kept a parrot before; Consequently, this procedure was considered hardly serious. And such a parrot! If you take John Henry Carter's word for it, there's never been such an unholy bird. It cursed terribly. Mrs. Carter would have taken John Henry away immediately if she had been sure she could get him another place. Also, one day Ginger bit a piece of the back of John Henry's neck when he leaned too close to the cage. Mrs. Carter showed everyone the sign when the hapless John Henry went home on Sundays.
All of these things ran through Anne's mind as Mr. Harrison stood in front of her, seemingly speechless with rage. In his most amiable mood Mr. Harrison could not have been considered a handsome man; he was short and fat and bald; and now, with his round face crimson with anger and the bulging blue eyes that almost poked out of his head, Anne thought he really was the ugliest person she had ever seen.
Suddenly Mr. Harrison found his voice.
"I won't put up with that," he stuttered, "not another day, you hear, miss. Bless my soul, this is the third time, miss . . . the third time! Patience is no longer a virtue, miss. I warned your aunt last time that it won't happen again. . . and she lets it. . . she did it. . . What does she mean by that, I want to know. That's why I'm here, Miss."
"Will you explain what the problem is?" asked Anne in her most dignified way. She had practiced it a lot lately to have it in good shape by the start of school; but it had no apparent effect on the enraged J.A. Harrison.
"Trouble, right? Bless my soul, trouble enough I should think. The problem is, miss, I found your aunt's Jersey cow back in my oats not even half an hour ago. The third time, remember. I found her last Tuesday and I found her yesterday. I came and told your aunt it won't happen again. She made it happen again. Where's your aunt, miss? I just want to see her and give her my opinion. . . part of J.A. Harrison's opinion, miss."
"If you mean Miss Marilla Cuthbert, she is not my aunt, and she has gone to East Grafton to visit a distant relative of hers who is very ill," Anne said with due dignity at every word. "I am very sorry that my cow should have broken into your oats . . . She is my cow and not Miss Cuthbert's. . . Matthew gave her to me three years ago when she was a little calf and he bought her from Mr. Bell.”
"Sorry ma'am! Sorry ain't gonna help. You better go and see what the beast in my oats did to me . . . Gossiped her from middle to brim, Miss."
'I'm very sorry,' Anne repeated firmly, 'but maybe Dolly wouldn't have caved in if you'd kept your fences in better condition. It's your part of the fence that separates your oat fields from our pasture and I noticed that recently it wasn't in very good condition.”
"My fence's all right," snapped Mr. Harrison, more angry than ever at this taking of war into enemy country. "The prison fence couldn't keep a demon like that out of a cow. And I can tell you, you red-headed snip, if the cow is yours as you say, you'd better be observing her from other people's grain than sitting around reading faded novels. . . with a withering look at the innocent tanned Virgil at Anne's feet.
Something besides Anne's hair was red at that moment. . . which had always been a sensitive point for her.
"I'd rather have red hair than none at all, except for a little bangs around my ears," she flashed.
The shot said, because Mr. Harrison was really very sensitive about his bald head. His anger choked him again and all he could do was stare dumbfounded at Anne, who regained her composure and pursued her advantage.
"I can respond to you, Mr. Harrison, because I have an imagination. I can easily imagine how exhausting it must be to find a cow in your oats and I will not hold any hard feelings against you for the things you have said. I promise Dolly will never break your oats again. I give you my word of honourthePoint."
"Well, mind you, she doesn't," murmured Mr. Harrison in a somewhat hushed tone; but he stamped off furiously enough, and Anne heard him growling to himself until he was out of earshot.
Deeply disturbed in spirit, Anne marched across the yard and locked the naughty Jersey in the milking stall.
"There's no way she can get out of there unless she tears down the fence," she mused. “She looks pretty calm now. I daresay those oats made her nauseous. I wish I'd sold them to Mr. Shearer last week when he wanted them, but I figured it might as well wait until we'd auctioned off the shares and let them all go together. I think it's true that Mr. Harrison is a nutcase. There's certainly nothing of soul mates therehim.“
Anne always had an open weather eye for like-minded people.
Marilla Cuthbert was driving into the courtyard when Anne came back from the house, and the latter flew over to get the tea ready. They discussed the matter at the tea table.
"I'll be glad when the auction is over," Marilla said. "It's too much of a responsibility to have so many supplies around and nobody but that unreliable Martin to take care of them. He has never come back, and he promised that if I gave him the day off to go to his aunt's funeral, he would definitely come back last night. I don't know how many aunts he has, I'm sure. This is the fourth to have died since he hired here a year ago. I'll be more than grateful when the harvest comes in and Mr. Barry takes over the farm. We have to lock Dolly in the pen until Martin comes because she has to be taken to the back pasture and the fences there have to be repaired. I explain, as Rachel says, it's a world of problems. Here lies poor Mary Keith dying, and what will become of her two children is more than I know. She has a brother in British Columbia and she wrote to him about it, but she hasn't heard from him."
"How are the kids? How old are you?"
"Six past . . . they are twins."
"Oh, I've always been particularly interested in twins since Mrs. Hammond had so many," said Anne eagerly. "Are they pretty?"
"Gosh, you couldn't tell. . . they were too dirty. Davy had been out baking mud pies and Dora went out to fetch him in. Davy shoved her headfirst into the largest pie, and then, because she was crying, he climbed in himself and rolled in it to show her there was nothing to cry about. Mary said Dora was indeed a very good child, but Davy was full of mischief. You could say he was never educated. His father died when he was a baby and Mary has been sick almost every day since.”
"I always feel sorry for children who don't have an education," Anne said matter-of-factly. "You knowIdidn't have one until you put your hands on me. I hope her uncle will take care of her. How is Mrs. Keith related to you?'
"Maria? None on earth. It was her husband . . . he was our third cousin. There comes Mrs. Lynde through the yard. I thought she might be ready to hear from Mary."
"Don't tell her about Mr. Harrison and the cow," Anne pleaded.
Marilla promised; but the promise was wholly unnecessary, for Mrs. Lynde had scarcely taken a proper seat when she said:
'I saw Mr Harrison chasing your jersey out of his oats today when I came home from Carmody. I thought he looked pretty angry. Did he make a fuss?”
Anne and Marilla exchanged furtively amused smiles. Few things in Avonlea have ever escaped Mrs. Lynde. Just that morning Anne had said:
"If you went into your own room at midnight, locked the door, lowered the blinds and...sneezes"Mrs. Lynde would ask you how your cold was the next day!"
"I think so," Marilla admitted. "I was gone. He gave Anne his opinion."
"I think he's a very unpleasant man," Anne said, tossing her flushed head back in resentment.
"You never said a truer word," said Mrs. Rachel solemnly. "I knew there was going to be trouble when Robert Bell sold his condo to a New Brunswick man, that was it. I don't know what Avonlea comes up with when so many weird people rush in. It will soon no longer be safe to sleep in our beds.”
"Why, what other strangers are coming in?" asked Marilla.
"Did not you hear? Well, for one, there's a family of Donnells. They rented Peter Sloane's old house. Peter hired the man to run his mill. They belong to the East and nobody knows anything about them. Then this helpless Timothy Cotton family will rise up from White Sands and become just a burden to the public. He's in consumption. . . if he doesn't steal . . and his wife is a limp creature who cannot turn her hand to anything. She washes her dishessit. Mrs. George Pye has taken in her husband's orphaned nephew, Anthony Pye. He's going to your school, Anne, so expect trouble, that's what. And you'll have another weird student, too. Paul Irving comes from the States to live with his grandmother. You remember his father Marilla. . . Stephen Irving dumping Lavendar Lewis over in Grafton?'
"I don't think he dumped her. There was an argument. . . I suppose there was blame on both sides.”
"Well, anyway, he didn't marry her and she's been as gay as can be ever since, they say. . . She lives all alone in the small stone house she calls Echo Lodge. Stephen went to the States and did business with his uncle and married a Yankee. Since then he has never been home, although his mother has visited him once or twice. His wife died two years ago and he sends the boy home to his mother for a while. He is ten years old and I don't know if he will be a very desirable student. You can never tell about these Yankees.”
Mrs. Lynde looked upon all those unfortunate enough to have been born or raised anywhere other than Prince Edward Island with a decided can-all-good-thing-come-out-of-Nazareth feeling. shecouldbe of course good people; but you were safe if you doubted it. She had a particular prejudice against "Yankees". Her husband had been cheated out of ten dollars by an employer for whom he had once worked in Boston, and no angels, principalities, or powers could have persuaded Mrs. Rachel that the entire United States was not to blame.
"Avonlea school isn't getting any worse for a little offspring," Marilla said dryly, "and if this boy is anything like his father, he'll be fine. Steve Irving was the nicest boy who ever grew up in this area, although some people called him proud. I think Mrs. Irving would be very happy to have the child. She's been very lonely since her husband died."
"Oh, the boy may be well enough, but he'll be different from the children of Avonlea," said Mrs. Rachel, as if that settled the matter. Mrs. Rachel's opinions on a person, place, or thing were always justified. "What have I heard about your plans to start a village improvement company, Anne?"
"I was just talking to some girls and boys at the last debating club," said Anne, blushing. "They thought it would be pretty nice. . . and Mr. and Mrs. Allan too. Many villages have them now.”
"Well, if you do that, you're going to end up in endless hot water. Better leave it alone, Anne, that's something. People don't like to be improved.”
"Oh, we're not going to try to fix thatPeople. It's Avonlea itself. There are many things that could be done to make it more beautiful. For example, if we could persuade Mr. Levi Boulter to tear down that horrible old house on his upper farm, wouldn't that be an improvement?”
"Certainly," Mrs. Rachel admitted. “This old ruin has been a thorn in the side of the settlement for years. But if you, as the improver, can persuade Levi Boulter to do anything for the public that he's not being paid to do, I can be there to see and hear the process, that's something. I don't want to discourage you, Anne, because maybe there's something to your idea, although I assume you got it from some shoddy Yankee magazine; but you have your hands full with your school and i advise you as a friend not to worry about your improvements, that's what. But I know that if you focus on it, you will continue to do it. You were always someone who kind of pulled something off.”
Something about the firm line of Anne's lips suggested that Mrs Rachel hadn't gone far off track with that assessment. Anne's heart beats for founding the Improvement Society. Gilbert Blythe, who was supposed to be teaching at White Sands but was always home Friday night through Monday morning, was delighted; and most other people were willing to engage in anything that meant casual encounters and consequently some "fun". What the "improvements" were supposed to be, nobody but Anne and Gilbert had a clear idea. They had discussed and planned it until an ideal Avonlea existed in their minds, if nowhere else.
Mrs. Rachel had another piece of news.
"They turned the Carmody school over to a Priscilla Grant. Didn't you go to Queen's with a girl by that name, Anne?'
"Yes indeed. Priscilla teaches at Carmody! How beautiful!' exclaimed Anne, and her gray eyes lit up until they were like evening stars, which made Mrs Lynde wonder again if she would ever settle to her satisfaction that Anne Shirley was really a pretty girl was or not.
2. Sell in a hurry and regret in peace
Anne went shopping in Carmody the next afternoon and took Diana Barry with her. Diana was, of course, a dedicated member of the Improvement Society, and the two girls talked about little else all the way to Carmody and back.
"The very first thing we should do when we start is get this hall painted," Diana said as they drove past Avonlea Hall, a rather shabby building that sits in a wooded hollow and is covered in spruce trees all pages. "It's a despicable looking place and we need to take care of it before we even try to get Mr. Levi Boulder to demolish his house. Father says we'll never succeedthe. . . Levi Boulter is too mean to waste the time it would take.”
"Maybe he'll let the boys take it down if they promise to haul the boards and split them up for him for kindling," Anne said hopefully. “We have to do our best and content ourselves with going slowly at first. We can't expect to improve everything at once. We must of course educate public opinion first.”
Diana wasn't quite sure what it meant to educate public opinion; but it sounded good, and she was quite proud to belong to a society with such an aim.
'I thought of something we could do last night, Anne. You know that triangular piece of land where the streets of Carmody and Newbridge and White Sands meet? Everything is overgrown with young spruce; but wouldn't it be nice to have them all cleared out and just leave the two or three birch trees that are on them?"
"Great," Anne agreed cheerfully. “And have a rustic seat put under the birch trees. And when spring comes, we will make a flower bed in the middle of it and plant geraniums.”
"Yeah; we just have to find a way to get old Mrs. Hiram Sloane to keep her cow off the road or she'll eat our geraniums," laughed Diana. "I'm starting to see what you mean, if "You educate public opinion, Anne. That's where the old Boulter house is now. Have you ever seen a crow like that? And it's perched right on the road too. An old house with no windows always makes me think of something dead with eyes gouged out."
"I think an old abandoned house is such a sad sight," said Anne dreamily. "It always seems to me that it's thinking about its past and grieving for its old joys. Marilla says that a large family grew up in this old house a long time ago and that it was a really pretty place with a beautiful garden and roses growing everywhere. It was full of little children and laughter and song; and now it is empty, and nothing ever moves through it but the wind. How lonely and sad it must feel! Maybe they all come back on moonlit nights. . . the ghosts of the little children from long ago and the roses and the songs. . . and for a while the old house can dream it's young and happy again."
Diana shook her head.
“I never imagine such things about places now, Anne. Don't you remember how upset Mom and Marilla were when we imagined ghosts in the haunted forest? To this day I cannot comfortably walk through this bush after dark; and if I were to start imagining such things about the old Boulter house, I would be afraid of the same happening. Besides, these kids aren't dead. They're all grown up and doing fine. . . and one of them is a butcher. And anyway, flowers and songs couldn’t have ghosts.”
Anne stifled a small sigh. She loved Diana very much and they had always been good buddies. But she had learned long ago that when she ventured into the realm of fantasy, she had to walk alone. The way there led along an enchanted path that not even her loved one would follow.
A storm came up while the girls were at Carmody; It was not long, however, and the drive home, through alleys where raindrops glistened on the branches and through little leafy valleys where the sodden ferns spread spicy smells, was delightful. But just as they were turning into Cuthbert Lane, Anne saw something that spoiled the beauty of the landscape.
Before them on the right stretched Mr. Harrison's broad gray-green field of late oats, wet and lush; and in the midst, up to her smooth sides in the luxuriant growth, stood a Jersey cow, quietly blinking at her over the intervening fringes!
Anne dropped the reins and rose with a tightness of the lips that boded ill for the predatory four-legged friend. She didn't say a word, but she nimbly clambered over the wheels and sped over the fence before Diana realized what had happened.
"Anne, come back," she shrieked as soon as she found her voice. "You'll ruin your dress in that wet grain . . . ruin it She doesn't hear me! Well, she'll never get that cow out on her own. Of course I have to go and help her.”
Anne charged madly through the grain. Diana quickly hopped down, tied the horse securely to a post, slung the skirt of her pretty gingham dress over her shoulders, climbed onto the fence, and set off in pursuit of her distraught friend. She could run faster than Anne, who was hampered by her tight and soaked skirt, and soon overtook her. They left a trail behind them that would break Mr. Harrison's heart if he saw them.
"Anne, for heaven's sake, stop it," gasped poor Diana. "I'm out of breath and you're wet to the skin."
"I have to . . . get . . . this cow . . . from . . . before . . . Mr. Harrison . . . sees her," panted Anne. "I don't . . . Care . . . If I . . . drowned . . . if we . . . can . . . just . . . Do that."
But the Jersey cow seemed to see no good reason to be pushed out of her lush grassland. As soon as the two breathless girls approached her, she turned and charged straight into the opposite corner of the field.
"Get rid of her," Anne screamed. "Run, Diana, run."
Diana ran. Anne tried, and evil Jersey ran across the field like she was possessed. Secretly, Diana thought it was her. It took a full ten minutes for them to drop her off and drive her through the gap in the corner onto the Cuthbert lane.
There's no denying that Anne was anything but angelic at that precise moment. It didn't reassure her at all to see a buggy pull up just outside the alley with Mr. Shearer from Carmody and his son in it, both with big smiles on their faces.
"I think you should have sold me that cow better than I was going to buy her last week, Anne," chuckled Mr. Shearer.
"I'll sell her to you now if you want her," said her flushed and disheveled owner. "You can have her this minute."
"Done. I'll give you twenty for her, as I offered earlier, and Jim here can drive her direct to Carmody. She'll drive into town tonight with the rest of the shipment. Mr. Reed of Brighton wants a Jersey Cow."
Five minutes later, Jim Shearer and the Jersey cow were marching up the street, and Anne was driving impulsively down Green Gables Lane with her twenty dollars.
"What will Marilla say?" Diana asked.
"Oh, she won't care. Dolly was my own cow and unlikely to fetch more than twenty dollars at auction. But oh dear, when Mr. Harrison sees that grain he'll know she was back in, and after I gave him my word of honor I would never let it! Well, it taught me a lesson not to give my word of honor on cows. A cow that could jump over or break through our milking parlor fence could not be trusted anywhere.”
Marilla had gone down to Mrs Lynde and when she came back she knew all about Dolly's sale and transfer, for Mrs Lynde had seen most of the transaction from her window and guessed the rest.
"I think it's just as well that she left, though youagainDo things in a terrible way, Anne. However, I don't see how she got out of the pen. She must have broken off some of the boards.”
"I didn't think to check," said Anne, "but I'll go and see now. Martin has never come back. Some of his aunts may have died. I think it's something like Mr. Peter Sloane and the octogenarians. The other night Mrs. Sloane was reading a newspaper and said to Mr. Sloane: 'I see here that another octogenarian has just died. What's an octogenarian, Peter?' And Mr. Sloane said he didn't know, but they must be very sickly creatures, for they had never been heard of, but they were dying. That's how it is with Martin's aunts.”
"Martin is just like all the other French people," Marilla said in disgust. "They can't be counted on for a day." Marilla was looking through Anne's Carmody purchases when she heard a high-pitched scream in the barnyard. A minute later, Anne rushed into the kitchen, wringing her hands.
"Anne Shirley, what's going on now?"
"Oh, Marilla, what should I do? This is terrible. And it's all my fault. I willislearn to stop and think a little before doing reckless things? Mrs Lynde always told me I would do something terrible one day, and now I've done it!"
"Anne, you are the most annoying girl!Wasdid you do it?"
"I sold Mr. Harrison's Jersey cow . . . the one he bought from Mr. Bell. . . to Mr. Shearer! Dolly is out in the milking parlor this minute.”
"Anne Shirley, are you dreaming?"
"I just wish it was me. There is no dream about it, although it is very similar to a nightmare. And Mr. Harrison's cow is in Charlottetown at this time. Oh, Marilla, I thought I was done scratching, and here I am in the worst I've ever been in my life. What can I do?"
"Do? There's nothing to do, child, but go to Mr. Harrison's. We can offer him our jersey in exchange if he doesn't want to take the money. She's just as good as he is."
"I'm sure he'll be terribly angry and uncomfortable about it, though," Anne moaned.
"I daresay he will. He seems to be an irritable man. If you want, I'll go and explain it to him."
"No, really, I'm not that mean," Anne exclaimed. "It's all my fault and I certainly won't let you take my punishment. I'm going myself and I'm leaving immediately. The sooner it's over the better because it's going to be terribly humiliating."
Poor Anne got her hat and twenty dollars and passed out when she happened to glance through the open pantry door. On the table was a nut cake that she had baked that morning. . . a particularly savory concoction, glazed with pink icing and embellished with walnuts. Anne had scheduled it for Friday night when the youth of Avonlea were to meet in Green Gables to start the Improvement Society. But what were they compared to the rightly offended Mr. Harrison? Anne felt cake should soften the heart of every man, especially one who had to cook himself, and she promptly put it in a box. She would bring it to Mr. Harrison as a peace offering.
"That is, if he gives me a chance to say anything at all," she thought ruefully as she climbed over the alley fence and took a shortcut across the fields, which shone golden in the light of the dreamy August evening. "I now know exactly how people who are being led to execution feel."
3. Mr. Harrison at home
Mr. Harrison's house was an old-fashioned, whitewashed building with low eaves, set against a thick grove of pine trees.
Mr. Harrison himself sat in his shirtsleeves on his vine-shaded porch, enjoying his evening pipe. When he saw who was coming up the path, he suddenly jumped up, rushed into the house and closed the door. That was just the uncomfortable result of his surprise mixed with a lot of shame at his outburst the previous day. But it almost stole what was left of her courage from Anne's heart.
"If he's so mad now, what will he be like when he hears what I've done," she mused unhappily as she knocked on the door.
But Mr. Harrison opened it, smiled sheepishly, and in a rather mild and friendly, if somewhat nervous, tone, bade them enter. He had put down his pipe and put on his coat; he very politely offered Anne a very dusty chair, and her reception would have been pleasant enough had it not been for the signal of a parrot peering through the bars of its cage with evil golden eyes. As soon as Anne sat down, Ginger called out:
"Thank God, what's that red-haired snippet coming here for?"
It would be hard to tell whose face was redder, Mr. Harrison's or Anne's.
"Never mind the parrot," Mr. Harrison said, glaring at Ginger. "He's . . . he always talks nonsense. I got him from my brother who was a sailor. Seafarers don't always use the choicest language, and parrots are very mimic birds."
"I should think so," said poor Anne, the memory of her concern quelling her resentment. She couldn't afford to snub Mr. Harrison under the circumstances, that was certain. If you've just sold a man's Jersey cow without his knowledge or consent, don't mind if his parrot repeats rude things. Still, the "redhead snip" wasn't quite as mild-mannered as she might otherwise have been.
"I came to tell you something, Mr. Harrison," she said firmly. "It's . . . It's about . . . this Jersey cow."
'Thank God,' exclaimed Mr Harrison nervously, 'did she break into my oats again? Well, never mind. . . Doesn't matter if she has it. It's no difference. . . none at all, i . . . I was too hasty yesterday, that's a fact. Never mind if she has it.”
"Oh, if only it were that," Anne sighed. "But it's ten times worse. I don't. . .”
"Bless my soul, do you mean to say that it entered my wheat?"
"No . . . no . . . not the wheat. But . . ."
"Then it's the cabbages! She broke into my cabbage I was growing for the show, huh?'
"It isNotthe cabbages, Mr. Harrison. I tell you everything . . That's what I came for - but please don't interrupt me. It makes me so nervous. Just let me tell my story and don't say anything until I'm done – and then you'll no doubt say a lot,” Anne concluded, but only mentally.
"I won't say another word," said Mr. Harrison, and he didn't. But Ginger wasn't bound by any confidentiality stipulations, and ejaculated "Redhead Snippet" at intervals until Anne went wild.
“Yesterday I locked my Jersey cow in our pen. I was in Carmody this morning and when I came back I saw a Jersey cow in your oats. Diana and I chased her out and you can't imagine what a tough time we had. I was so terribly wet and tired and upset - and Mr. Shearer came by at the very minute and offered to buy the cow. I sold it to him on the spot for twenty dollars. It was wrong of me. I should of course have waited and asked Marilla for advice. But I have a terrible tendency to do things without thinking - anyone who knows me will tell you that. Mr. Shearer immediately took the cow to ship on the afternoon train.”
"Redhead snip," Ginger quoted in a tone of deep contempt.
At this point, Mr. Harrison rose and, with an expression that would have appalled any bird but a parrot, carried Ginger's cage into an adjoining room and shut the door. Ginger shrieked, cursed, and otherwise behaved in accordance with his reputation, but lapsed into a sullen silence when left alone.
"Excuse me and go on," said Mr. Harrison, sitting down again. "My brother the sailor never taught this bird any manners."
“I went home and after tea I went to the milking parlor. Mr. Harrison", . . . Anne leaned forward and clasped her hands in that old childish gesture while her wide gray eyes gazed pleadingly into Mr. Harrison's embarrassed face. . . “I found my cow still locked in the pen. It wasyourCow I sold to Mr. Shearer."
"Blessed be my soul," exclaimed Mr. Harrison, amazed at this unexpected conclusion. "What averyextraordinary thing!”
"Oh, it's not at all unusual that I get myself and others into trouble," Anne said sadly. "That's what I'm known for. You might think I would have outgrown him by that point. . . I'll be seventeen next March. . . but apparently I haven't. Mr. Harrison, is it too much to hope that you'll forgive me? I'm afraid it's too late to get your cow back, but here's the money for her. . . or you can have mine in exchange if you like. She is a very good cow. And I can't express how sorry I am about all of this."
'Tut, tut,' said Mr. Harrison briskly, 'don't talk about it any more, miss. It doesn't matter. . . no consequence. Accidents will happen. I'm too hasty sometimes myself, miss . . . way too hasty. But I can't help but say what I think and people have to take me as they find me. If that cow had been in my cabbages right now. . . but whatever, it wasn't her, so it's fine. I think I'd rather have your cow in exchange since you want to get rid of her."
"Oh, thank you, Mr. Harrison. I'm so glad you're not upset. I was afraid it would be you."
"And I suppose you were scared to death to come here and tell me after the fuss I made yesterday, eh? But you don't have to worry about me, I'm a terribly outspoken old chap, that's all. . . terribly apt to tell the truth, even if it's a bit plain."
"Mrs. Lynde too,” Anne said before she could resist.
"Who? Mrs. Lynde? Don't tell me I'm like that old gossip," said Mr. Harrison irritably. "I'm not . . . not a bit. What do you have in that box?”
"A cake," Anne said mischievously. Her spirits rose like a feather in her relief at Mr. Harrison's unexpected kindness. "I brought it for you. . . I thought maybe you don't eat cake that often."
"I don't, that's a fact, and I'm very fond of it too. I'm very much obliged to you. It looks good upstairs. I hope it's consistently good.”
"It is," Anne said confidently. “I made cakes in my time that wereNot, as Mrs. Allan might tell you, but this one's fine. I made it for the Improvement Society but I can make another one for them.”
"Well, I'll tell you what, miss, you have to help me eat it. I put the kettle on and we have a cup of tea. How does that work?"
"Let me make the tea?" Anne said doubtfully.
Mr Harrison chuckled.
"I see you don't have much faith in my ability to make tea. You are wrong . . . I can brew as good Jorum tea as you've ever tasted. But go ahead yourself. Luckily it rained last Sunday so there are enough clean dishes.”
Anne quickly jumped up and went to work. She rinsed the teapot in several waters before steeping the tea. Then she swept the stove, set the table and got the dishes from the pantry. The condition of this pantry shocked Anne, but she wisely said nothing. Mr. Harrison told her where to find sandwiches and a tin of peaches. Anne decorated the table with a bouquet of flowers from the garden and closed her eyes to the stains on the tablecloth. The tea was soon ready and Anne sat across from Mr. Harrison at his own table, pouring him tea and talking frankly with him about her school, friends and plans. She could hardly believe the evidence of her senses.
Mr. Harrison had brought Ginger back, claiming that the poor bird would be lonely; and Anne, feeling able to forgive anyone and anything, offered him a walnut. But Ginger's feelings had been badly hurt and he refused all advances. He perched moodily on his perch and ruffled his feathers until he was a ball of green and gold.
"Why do you call him Ginger?" asked Anne, who liked appropriate names and didn't think Ginger suited such magnificent plumage at all.
“My brother, the sailor, gave him the name. Maybe it had something to do with his temperament. However, I think highly of this bird. . . You would be surprised if you knew how much. Of course he has his faults. That bird cost me a lot in one way or another. Some people dislike his swearing habits, but he can't break it. I tried . . . other people have tried. Some people have prejudices against parrots. Stupid, isn't it? I like them myself. Ginger is a lot of company for me. Nothing would make me give up this bird. . . Nothing in the world, Miss.”
Mr. Harrison threw the last sentence at Anne explosively, as if he suspected her of some ulterior motive to persuade him to give up Ginger. Anne, however, was beginning to like the odd, fussy, fidgety little man, and before dinner was over they were pretty good friends. Mr. Harrison found out about the Improvement Society and was willing to agree.
"That's right. Proceed. There is a lot of room for improvement in this settlement . . . and in the people too."
"Oh, I don't know," Anne flashed. She might admit to herself or her buddies that there were some small flaws in Avonlea and its people that could easily be fixed. But hearing a practical outsider like Mr. Harrison say it was another matter altogether. “I think Avonlea is a beautiful place; and the people in there are also very nice.”
"I reckon you've got a fair amount of temper," Mr. Harrison commented, noting the flushed cheeks and indignant eyes opposite him. "It suits hair like yours I guess. Avonlea is a pretty decent place, otherwise I wouldn't have settled here; but I suppose even you will admit that it is sosomeMistake?"
"I like it all the better for her," said loyal Anne. “I also don't like places and people who don't have flaws. I think a really perfect person would be very uninteresting. Mrs. Milton White says she's never met a perfect person, but she's heard enough about one. . . her husband's first wife. Don't you think it must be very uncomfortable to be married to a man whose first wife was perfect?"
"It would be more uncomfortable to be married to the perfect woman," Mr. Harrison declared with a sudden and inexplicable warmth.
When tea was over, Anne insisted on washing the dishes, although Mr Harrison assured her there would be enough work in the house for weeks. She would have liked to sweep the floor too, but there was no broom to be seen and she didn't want to ask where it was for fear there wasn't one.
"You could walk over and talk to me every now and then," Mr. Harrison suggested as she left. "It's not far and people should be neighborly. I'm kind of interested in your company. Seems like fun to me. Who are you going to attack first?”
"We will not interferePeople. . . It is onlyputswe want to improve,” said Anne in a dignified tone. Rather, she suspected that Mr. Harrison was making fun of the project.
When she had gone Mr. Harrison watched her from the window. . . a lithe, girlish figure tripping carefree across the fields in the sunset light.
"I'm a grumpy, lonely, grumpy old fellow," he said aloud, "but there's something about this little girl that makes me feel young again." . . and it is such a pleasant feeling that I would like to do it again and again.”
"Redhead snip," Ginger croaked mockingly.
Mr. Harrison shook his fist at the parrot.
"You unruly bird," he murmured, "I almost wish I'd snapped your neck when my brother the sailor was taking you home. Won't you ever get me in trouble?"
Anne ran home cheerfully and told Marilla of her adventures, who had been quite frightened by her long absence and was about to go in search of her.
"It's a pretty good world, after all, isn't it, Marilla?" Anne concluded happily. "Mrs. Lynde complained the other day that it wasn't much of a world. She said whenever you look forward to something pleasant, you're sure to be disappointed, more or less. . . maybe that's true. But it also has a good side. Even the bad things don't always live up to your expectations...they almost always turn out a lot better than you think.I was looking forward to a terribly unpleasant experience when I went to see Mr. Harrison tonight; and instead he was quite nice and I almost had a good time.I think we'll become really good friends if we show a lot of consideration for each other and everything turns out alright.But still Marilla I will definitely never sell a cow again without making sure first to have who owns it. And I doNotlike parrots!”
4. Different opinions
One evening as the sun was setting, Jane Andrews, Gilbert Blythe and Anne Shirley lingered by a fence in the shade of gently swaying pine boughs where a wood cutting known as the Birch Path opened onto the main street. Jane had gotten up to spend the afternoon with Anne, who walked part of the way home with her; they met Gilbert at the fence, and all three were now talking about the fateful morning; for this morning was the first of September and the schools would be opening. Jane would go to Newbridge and Gilbert to White Sands.
"You two are superior to me," Anne sighed. 'You'll be teaching children who don't know you but I have to teach my own old schoolmates and Mrs Lynde says she's afraid they won't respect me as a stranger unless I'm very bad at The First. But I don't think a teacher should be angry. Oh, it seems such a responsibility to me!”
"I reckon we'll get along just fine," said Jane comfortably. Jane was not troubled by any attempts to make an impact for good. She wanted to earn her salary fairly, please the trustees, and put her name on the school superintendent's roll of honor. Jane had no other ambitions. “The most important thing will be to keep things in order, and for that a teacher has to be a bit angry. If my students don't do as I tell them, I will punish them."
"Give them a good beating, of course."
"Oh, Jane, you wouldn't," Anne exclaimed, shocked. "Jane, youcould not!”
"Indeed I could and would if they deserved it," said Jane firmly.
"I couldoh nowhip a child,” Anne said with equal determination. "I do not believe thatat all. Miss Stacy never whipped any of us and she was in perfect order; and Mr. Phillips was always whipping and had no order at all. No, if I can't do without flogging, I won't try to teach school. There are better ways of management. I will try to win the affection of my students and then they willwillto do as I tell them."
"But suppose they don't?" said practical Jane.
"I wouldn't whip her anyway. I'm sure it wouldn't do any good. Oh, don't whip your students, Jane my dear, no matter what they do."
"What do you think of that, Gilbert?" Jane demanded. "Don't you think there are children who need a flogging now and then?"
"Don't you think it's a cruel, barbaric thing to whip a child . . .anychild?" exclaimed Anne, her face flushing with seriousness.
"Well," Gilbert said slowly, torn between his true beliefs and his desire to live up to Anne's ideal, "there's something to say on both sides. I don't believe in whipping childrena lot of. I think, as you say, Anne, there are usually better ways to deal with this and corporal punishment should be the last resort. But on the other hand, I believe, as Jane says, that there is an occasional child who cannot be swayed otherwise and who, in short, needs a flogging and would be bettered by it. Corporal punishment as a last resort shall be my rule.”
Gilbert, who had tried to please both sides, failed, as is customary and absolutely right, to please neither. Jane threw her head back.
"I will whip my students if they are naughty. That's the shortest and easiest way to convince them."
Anne gave Gilbert a disappointed look.
"I will never whip a child," she repeated firmly. "I'm sure it's neither right nor necessary."
"Suppose a boy rejected you when you told him to do something?" said Jane.
"I would keep him after school and talk to him kindly and firmly," Anne said. “There is something good in everyone if you can find it. It is a teacher's duty to find and develop them. That's what our school management professor at Queen's told us, you know. Do you think you could find any good in a child if you flogged them? Influencing children the right way is far more important than teaching them the three Rs, says Professor Rennie.”
"But the inspector examines them in the three Rs, mind you, and he won't give you a good report if they don't meet his standard," protested Jane.
"I'd rather have my students love me and look back on me as a real helper even years later than be on the list of honors," asserts Anne resolutely.
"Wouldn't you punish kids at all for misbehaving?" asked Gilbert.
"Oh yeah, I suppose I'll have to do it, although I know I'll hate doing it. But you can keep them during recess, or put them on the floor, or give them lines to write."
"I suppose you won't punish the girls by making them sit with the boys?" said Jane slyly.
Gilbert and Anne looked at each other and smiled rather silly. Once upon a time Anne had to sit with Gilbert as punishment and the consequences had been sad and bitter.
"Well, time will tell what the best way is," said Jane philosophically as they parted.
Anne walked back along the Birch Path to Green Gables, shady, rustling, smelling of ferns, through Violet Vale and past Willowmere, where dark and light kissed under the firs, and down Lover's Lane. . . Spots that she and Diana had named so long ago. She walked slowly, enjoying the sweetness of forest and field and the starry summer twilight, and thought soberly of the new tasks she was to undertake tomorrow. As she reached the courtyard of Green Gables, Mrs. Lynde's loud, decisive voice came through the open kitchen window.
"Mrs. Lynde has come up to give me some good advice for tomorrow," Anne thought with a grimace, "but I don't think I'll go in . . . excellent in small quantities, but quite scorching in their doses. I will." instead run to Mr. Harrison and have a chat with him.”
This was not the first time since the remarkable affair with the Jersey cow that Anne had run up to Mr. Harrison and chatted with him. She had been there several evenings, and she and Mr. Harrison were very good friends, although there were times and seasons when Anne found the frankness of which he prided himself rather taxing. Ginger still viewed her with suspicion and never failed to sarcastically greet her as "the red-haired snip". Mr. Harrison had tried in vain to dissuade him from this habit, jumping up excitedly every time he saw Anne approaching, and exclaiming:
"Thank God it's that pretty little girl again," or something equally flattering. But Ginger saw through the scheme and despised it. Anne was never to know how many compliments Mr. Harrison gave her behind her back. He certainly never paid her anything to her face.
"Well, I assume you've been back in the woods and stocked up on switches for tomorrow?" was his greeting as Anne came up the steps to the porch.
"No, indeed," Anne said indignantly. She was an excellent target for teasing because she always took things so seriously. "I will never have a switch in my school, Mr. Harrison. Of course I'll have to have a pointer, but I'll use it to pointjust.“
"So you want to strap them on instead? Well I don't know, but you're right. A switch then stings more, but the strap hurts longer, that's a fact.”
"I won't use anything like that. I will not flog my students."
"Thank God," exclaimed Mr. Harrison in genuine amazement, "then how do you manage to keep order?"
"I will rule out of affection, Mr. Harrison."
'I can't do that,' said Mr. Harrison, 'I can't do that at all, Anne. 'Save the rod and spoil the child.' When I went to school, Master used to whip me every day because he said that if I wasn't messing around, I planned it."
"Methods have changed since your school days, Mr. Harrison."
"But human nature doesn't have that. Mark my words, you will never finish the young fry unless you keep a rod in pickle for them. That thing is impossible.”
"Well, I'll try first," said Anne, who had a pretty strong will of her own and tended to be very stubborn about her theories.
"You're pretty stubborn, I guess," was Mr. Harrison's way of putting it. "Fine, fine, we'll see. One day when you're upset. . . and people with hair like yours are desperate to get angry. . . You'll forget all your nifty little notions and give some of them a whal. You're too young to teach anyway. . . way too young and childish.”
Overall, Anne went to bed rather pessimistic that night. She slept poorly and was so pale and sad at breakfast the next morning that Marilla was alarmed and insisted on making her a cup of hot ginger tea. Anne sipped patiently, though she couldn't imagine what good ginger tea would do. Had it been some magical concoction capable of bestowing age and experience, Anne would have downed a liter without batting an eyelid.
"Marilla, what if I fail!"
"You're unlikely to fail completely in one day and there are many more days to come," Marilla said. "The problem with you, Anne, is that you're going to expect to teach these kids everything and correct all their mistakes right away, and if you can't do that, you're going to think you failed."
5. A full school ma'am
When Anne got to school that morning. . . for the first time in her life she had crossed the birch path, deaf and blind to its beauties. . . everything was calm and still. The previous teacher had coached the children to be in their places when they arrived, and when Anne entered the classroom, she was greeted by a neat array of 'bright morning faces' and bright, inquisitive eyes. She hung up her hat and turned to her students, hoping she didn't look as scared and stupid as she felt and that they wouldn't notice her shaking.
She had been up until almost noon the previous night and composed a speech to give to her students at the opening of the school. She had painstakingly revised and improved it, and then she had memorized it. It was a very good speech and had some very beautiful thoughts in it, especially about mutual help and earnest pursuit of knowledge. The only problem was that now she couldn't remember a word.
After a year, it seemed to her. . . about ten seconds in reality. . . "Take your wills, please," she said softly, sinking breathlessly into her chair, sheltered from the rustle and clatter of desk covers that followed. While the children read their verses, Anne cleared her trembling mind and gazed out over the crowd of little pilgrims to the land of grown-ups.
Most of them were, of course, fairly well known to her. Her own classmates had passed out the previous year, but the others had all gone to school with her, except for elementary school and ten newcomers to Avonlea. Secretly, Anne was more interested in these ten than in the ones whose possibilities were already fairly well mapped out. Surely they could be just as commonplace as the others; but then therecouldBe a genius among them. It was an exciting idea.
Anthony Pye sat alone at a corner desk. He had a dark, sullen little face and was staring at Anne with a hostile expression in his black eyes. Anne decided immediately that she would win this boy's affection and completely upset the Pyes.
In the other corner sat another weird boy with Arty Sloane. . . a happy-looking little fellow with a snub nose, a freckled face, and large, light blue eyes rimmed with whitish lashes. . . probably the DonnellYoung; and if resemblance mattered, his sister sat across the aisle with Mary Bell. Anne wondered what kind of mother the child had to send her to school dressed as she was. She wore a faded pink silk dress trimmed with lots of cotton lace, dirty white kidskin slippers and silk stockings. Her sandy hair was twisted into countless frizzy and unnatural curls, topped with an extravagant bow of pink ribbon that was larger than her head. Judging by the look on her face, she was very pleased with herself.
A pale little thing with fine, silky, fawn hair that fell over her shoulders, Anne thought, must be Annetta Bell, whose parents had formerly lived in the Newbridge school district, but because they had to haul their house fifty yards north of his old one Locations were now in Avonlea. Three pale little girls, huddled in a seat, were undoubtedly Cottons; and there was no doubt that the little beauty with long brown curls and hazel eyes who gave Jack Gills flirtatious glances over the margin of her will was Prillie Rogerson, whose father had recently married a second wife and brought Prillie home her grandmother is in Grafton. A tall, awkward girl in the back seat who seemed to have too many hands and feet, Anne couldn't place at all, but found out later that her name was Barbara Shaw and that she lived with an aunt from Avonlea. She was also to note that if Barbara ever managed to walk down the aisle without tripping over her own or someone else's feet, the Avonlea scholars wrote the unusual fact on the porch wall to commemorate it.
But when Anne's eyes met those of the boy at the front desk facing her own, she felt a strange little shiver, as if she'd found her genius. She knew this had to be Paul Irving, and that Mrs. Rachel Lynde had once been right when she prophesied that he would be different from the Avonlea children. More than that, Anne realized that he was different from all the other children and that there was a soul that was subtly related to her and was staring at her from those very dark blue eyes that were watching her so intently.
She knew Paul was ten, but he didn't look more than eight. He had the most beautiful little face she had ever seen on a child. . . Features of exquisite delicacy and sophistication framed by a halo of auburn curls. His mouth was delicious, full without pouting, the crimson lips just touching gently, curving into delicate little corners that narrowly avoided dimples. He had a sober, serious, thoughtful expression on his face, as if his mind were much older than his body; but when Anne smiled gently at him, it vanished in a sudden replying smile, which seemed to be an illumination of his whole being, as if a lamp had suddenly burst into flames within him and illuminated him from head to foot. Best of all, it was born involuntarily, with no external effort or motive, but simply the glimpse of a hidden personality, rare and subtle and sweet. With a quick exchange of smiles, Anne and Paul were friends forever before a word was exchanged between them.
The day passed like in a dream. Anne could never remember exactly after that. It almost seemed as if she were not teaching, but someone else. She listened to lessons and did arithmetic and automatically typeset copies. The children behaved quite well; only two disciplinary cases occurred. Morley Andrews was caught driving a pair of trained crickets down the aisle. Anne put Morley on the platform for an hour and . . . which Morley felt much more strongly. . . confiscated his crickets. She put them in a box and released them on the way from school in Violet Vale; but Morley believed then and after that she took them home and kept them for her own amusement.
The other culprit was Anthony Pye, who poured the last drops of water from his slate bottle down Aurelia Clay's neck. Anne kept Anthony on the break and spoke to him about what was expected of gentlemen and admonished him never to throw water down the neck of a lady. She wanted all her boys to be gentlemen, she said. Her little lecture was very friendly and touching; but unfortunately Anthony remained absolutely unaffected. He listened to her in silence with the same sullen expression, and whistled contemptuously as he walked out. Anne sighed; and then she cheered herself up, remembering that it was not the work of a day to win the affections of a Pye, like the building of Rome. In fact, it was doubtful any of the Pyes had any affections to win; but Anne had better hopes for Anthony, who looked like he might be quite a nice boy if his sullenness ever got out.
When school closed and the children left, Anne collapsed wearily into her chair. Her head hurt and she felt discouraged. There was no real reason for discouragement as nothing very terrible had happened; but Anne was very tired and tended to think that she would never learn to like teaching. And how awful it would be to do something you don't like every day. . . Well, let's say forty years. Anne wasn't sure whether to let her cry out right away or wait until she was safely home in her own white room. Before she could make up her mind, heels clattered and a silky rustle hit the porch floor, and Anne found herself confronted with a lady whose appearance reminded her of Mr Harrison's recent criticism of an overdressed woman he found in a store in Charlottetown had seen . "She looked like a head-on collision between a fashion label and a nightmare."
The newcomer was splendidly dressed in a light blue summer silk, puffed, ruffled and gathered wherever puff, ruffle or ruffle could be placed. Her head was crowned by a huge white chiffon hat adorned with three long but rather stringy ostrich feathers. A veil of pink chiffon, lavishly sprinkled with huge black dots, hung like a flounce from the brim of her hat to her shoulders and floated away behind her in two airy streamers. She wore all the jewelry that could be crammed on a small woman and a very strong scent of perfume surrounded her.
"I'm Miss Donnell. . . Frau H. B. Donnell' announced this vision, 'and I came to see you because of something Clarice Almira told me when she came home for dinner tonight. It annoyed meexcessive.“
"I'm sorry," Anne stammered, trying in vain to recall some incident of the morning involving the Donnell children.
"Clarice Almira tells me that you said our namePut onwell. Well, Miss Shirley, the correct pronunciation of our name is Donnell. . . Emphasis on the last syllable. IHopeyou will remember it in the future.”
"I'll try," Anne gasped, fighting back a wild urge to laugh. “I know from experience that having his name is very uncomfortableSpeltwrong, and I suppose it must be worse if it's mispronounced."
"Surely it is. And Clarice Almira also informed me that you call my son Jacob."
"He told me his name was Jacob," Anne protested.
"I should have expected that," said Mrs. H.B. Donnell, in a tone that suggested that gratitude is not to be found in children in this degenerate age. "That boy has such plebeian tastes, Miss Shirley. When he was born I wanted to name him St. Clair. . . it soundssoaristocratic, right? But his father insisted that he should be named Jacob after his uncle. I gave in because Uncle Jacob was a rich old bachelor. And what do you think, Miss Shirley? When our innocent boy was five, Uncle Jacob actually went and got married, and now he has three boys of his own. Have you ever heard of such ingratitude? The moment of the invitation to the wedding. . . for he had the gall to send us an invitation, Miss Shirley. . . When I came into the house I said, "No more Jacobs for me, thanks." From that day on I named my son St. Clair and I am determined that he should be named St. Clair. His father continues to stubbornly call him Jacob, and the boy himself has a completely inexplicable fondness for the vulgar name. But he is St. Clair and he will always be St. Clair. You'll kindly remember that, Miss Shirley, won't you?DankShe. I told Clarice Almira that I was sure it was just a misunderstanding and that one word would correct it. Put onnell. . . Emphasis on the last syllable. . . and St Clair. . . onnoAccount Jacob. will you remember?DankShe."
As Mrs. H. B. Donnellhad slipped away Anne locked the school door and went home. At the bottom of the hill she found Paul Irving on the Birch Path. He held out a cluster of the dainty little wild orchids that the Avonlea children called "rice lilies."
"Please, teacher, I found these in Mr. Wright's field," he said shyly, "and I came back to give them to you because I thought you were the kind of woman who would like them, and because . . .” he lifted his big beautiful eyes. . . "I like you, teacher."
"Darling," Anne said, taking the scented spikes. As if Paul's words had been magic, discouragement and weariness left her spirit, and hope welled up in her heart like a dancing fountain. She walked lightly through the birch path, accompanied by the sweetness of her orchids like a blessing.
"Well, how did you get on?" Marilla asked.
“Ask me that a month later and I might be able to tell you. I can not right now. . . I don't know. . . I'm too close My mind feels like it's all been stirred up until it's thick and muddy. The only thing I'm really sure of today is that I taught Cliffie Wright that A equals A. He never knew before. Isn't it something to have set a soul on a path that could end up in Shakespeare and Paradise Lost?"
Mrs. Lynde later approached her with more encouragement. The good lady had ambushed the school children at her gate and demanded how they liked their new teacher.
"And everyone said they really like you Anne, except Anthony Pye. I have to admit he didn't. He said you weren't good, just like all teachers. There's the Pye sourdough for you. But that doesn't matter."
"I won't mind," Anne said softly, "and I'll get Anthony Pye to like me." Patience and kindness will surely win him over.”
"Well, you can never tell with a Pye," said Mrs. Rachel cautiously. “They start from opposites, like dreams, often not. As for thatPut onNelle woman, she won't get a Donnellmine, I can assure you. The name isPut onwell and always has been. The woman is crazy, that's what. She has a pug she calls Queenie and he takes his meals with the family at the table, eating off a china plate. I would be afraid of judgment if I were her. Thomas says Donnell himself is a sensible, hard-working man, but he didn't have much brains when choosing a wife, that's it."
6. All kinds and conditions of men... and women
A September day on the hills of Prince Edward Island; a fresh wind blowing from the sea over the sand dunes; a long red road winding through fields and woods, now snaking around a corner of thick spruce trees, now traversing a plantation of young maples with large, feathery fern-leaves beneath, and now dropping down into a hollow from which a brook glistened through the woods and again in, now basking in the open sunshine among ribbons of goldenrod and smoky blue asters; Air intoxicated with the whistling of myriad crickets, those merry little pensioners of the summer hills; a plump brown pony strolling down the street; two girls behind him, filled to the lips with the simple, priceless joy of youth and life.
"Oh, that's a day left of Eden, isn't it, Diana?" . . and Anne sighed with happiness. “The air has magic in it. Look at the purple in the chalice of Harvest Valley, Diana. And oh, smell the dying fir! It comes from that little sunny hollow where Mr. Eben Wright cut fence posts. Blessed is it to be alive on such a day; but to smell dying fir is very heavenly. That's two-thirds Wordsworth and one-third Anne Shirley. It doesn't seem possible that there is a pine die-off in heaven, does it? And yet it doesn't seem to me that heaven would be quite perfect if you couldn't smell dead fir trees as you walked through its woods. Maybe there we have the smell without death. Yes, I think that will be the way. This delicious aroma must be the souls of the fir trees. . . and of course it will only be souls in heaven.”
"Trees don't have souls," said practical Diana, "but the smell of dead fir trees is definitely lovely. I make a pillow and fill it with pine needles. You had better make one too, Anne.”
"I think I will . . . and use it for my naps. I would surely dream I was a dryad or a wood nymph back then. But right now I am very pleased to be Anne Shirley, Avonlea's school ma'am, driving down a road like this on a sweet, kind day."
"It's a nice day, but we have anything but a nice task ahead of us," Diana sighed. "Why on earth did you offer to survey this road, Anne? Almost all the weirdos in Avonlea live along it, and we're probably treated like we're begging for ourselves. It's the worst road of all.”
"That's why I decided to do it. Of course Gilbert and Fred would have gone that route if we had asked them. But look Diana, I feel for the A.V.I.S. responsible for being the first to suggest it, and it seems to me that I should be doing the most awkward things. I'm sorry about your account; but in the quirky places you don't have to say a word. I'll do all the talking. . . Mrs Lynde would say I could do it. Mrs. Lynde doesn't know whether to approve of our venture or not. She tends to when she remembers that Mr. and Mrs. Allan are in favour; but the fact that village improvement societies originally arose in the States speaks against it. So she vacillates between two opinions and only success will justify us in Mrs Lynde's eyes. Priscilla is going to write an essay for our next improvement meeting and I expect it will be good because her aunt is such a smart writer and no doubt it runs in the family. I will never forget the thrill of finding out that Mrs. Charlotte E. Morgan was Priscilla's aunt. It seemed so wonderful that I was a friend of the girl whose aunt wrote 'Edgewood Days' and 'The Rosebud Garden'."
"Where does Mrs Morgan live?"
"Toronto. And Priscilla says she's coming to visit the island next summer and if it's possible Priscilla will make sure we meet her. That seems almost too good to be true - but there's something nice about imagining it after you've gone to bed."
The Avonlea Village Improvement Society was an organized fact. Gilbert Blythe was president, Fred Wright was vice-president, Anne Shirley was secretary and Diana Barry was treasurer. The "Improvers," as they were promptly dubbed, were to meet in the members' homes every two weeks. It was admitted that they couldn't expect to make many improvements so late in the season; but they wanted to plan the campaign for the following summer, to gather and discuss ideas, to write and read essays, and, as Anne said, to educate public opinion in general.
Of course there was some disapproval, and . . . which the improvers felt much more strongly. . . much mockery. Mr Elisha Wright is reported to have said that a more appropriate name for the organization would be the Courting Club. Mrs. Hiram Sloane explained that she had heard that the Improvers wanted to plow all the roadsides and put geraniums on them. Mr. Levi Boulter warned his neighbors that the improvers would insist that everyone tear down their house and rebuild it according to the society-approved plans. Mr. James Spencer let them know that he wished they would kindly shovel down Church Hill. Eben Wright told Anne he wished the Improvers could get old Josiah Sloane to trim his whiskers. Mr. Lawrence Bell said he would whitewash his barns if they liked nothing but himNotHang lace curtains in the cowshed windows. Mr. Major Spencer asked Clifton Sloane, a processor who drove the milk to the Carmody Cheese Factory, if it was true that everyone had to have their milk stand hand-painted next summer and have an embroidered centerpiece on it.
Despite . . . or maybe human nature is the way it is because . . . So the company tirelessly set about making the only improvement it could bring about that fall. At the second meeting in the Barry salon, Oliver Sloane applied for a subscription to have the hall repainted and repainted; Julia Bell agreed, feeling uneasy that she was doing something less than ladylike. Gilbert proposed it, it was unanimously accepted, and Anne recorded it gravely in her minutes. A committee had to be appointed next, and Gertie Pye, determined not to let Julia Bell take all the credit, lobbied boldly for Miss Jane Andrews to be chairman of that committee. This motion too was duly supported and passed, and Jane returned the compliment by appointing Gertie to the committee along with Gilbert, Anne, Diana and Fred Wright. The committee chose its routes in a private conclave. Anne and Diana were allocated for Newbridge Road, Gilbert and Fred for White Sands Road and Jane and Gertie for Carmody Road.
"Because," Gilbert explained to Anne as they walked home together through the Haunted Wood, "the Pyes all live along this road and they won't give a penny unless one of them talks to them."
The next Saturday, Anne and Diana left. They drove to the end of the street and hustled home, seeking out the "Andrew girls" first.
"If Catherine is alone, we might get something," Diana said, "but if Eliza is there, we won't."
Eliza was there. . . very much so . . . and looked even fiercer than usual. Miss Eliza was one of those people who give you the impression that life is indeed a vale of tears and that a smile, let alone a laugh, is a truly reprehensible waste of nervous energy. The Andrew girls had been "girls" for over fifty years and seemed to remain girls to the end of their earthly pilgrimage. Catherine, it was said, hadn't entirely given up hope, but Eliza, who was born a pessimist, never had it. They lived in a small brown house built in a sunny corner of Mark Andrews Buchenwald. Eliza complained that it was terribly hot in the summer, but Catherine used to say that it was nice and warm in the winter.
Eliza sewed patchwork, not because it was necessary, but simply as a protest against the frivolous lace Catherine was crocheting. Eliza listened with a frown and Catherine listened with a smile as the girls explained their errand. Whenever Catherine caught Eliza's gaze, she would dismiss the smile in guilty confusion; but it crept back the next moment.
'If I had money to waste,' said Eliza grimly, 'I would burn it, and perhaps have the fun of seeing a fire; but I wouldn't give it to that hall, not a penny. It is not a benefit for billing. . . just a place for young people to meet and move on when they'd better be at home in their beds.”
"Oh, Eliza, young people need to have a good time," Catherine protested.
"I see no need.weDidn't walk halls and places when we were young, Catherine Andrews. This world is getting worse every day.”
"I think it's getting better," Catherine said firmly.
„Ofthink!" Miss Eliza's voice expressed the utmost contempt. "It doesn't mean what you arethink, Catherine Andrews. Facts are facts.”
"Well, I always like to look on the bright side, Eliza."
"There is no good side."
"Oh, there is indeed," exclaimed Anne, unable to bear such heresy in silence. "Well, there are so many good points, Miss Andrews. It really is a beautiful world.”
"You won't think so highly of it after you've lived in it as long as I have," said Miss Eliza sourly, "nor will you be so enthusiastic about improving it. How is your mother, Diana? Gosh, but she's been failing lately. She looks terribly run down. And how long before Marilla expects to be stone blind, Anne?”
"The doctor says her eyes won't get worse if she's very careful," Anne faltered.
Elisa shook her head.
“Doctors always talk like that just to cheer people up. I wouldn't have much hope if I were her. It's best to be prepared for the worst.”
"But shouldn't we be prepared for the best?" pleaded Anne. "It's as likely as the worst."
"Not in my experience, and I have fifty-seven years to set against your sixteen," Eliza replied. "You go, yes? Well, I hope your new company can stop Avonlea from going downhill any further, but I don't have much hope for that."
Anne and Diana gratefully got out and drove away as fast as the fat pony could. As they rounded the bend under the beech forest, a plump figure darted across Mr Andrews' pasture and waved excitedly at them. It was Catherine Andrews, and she was so out of breath she could barely speak, but she handed Anne some quarters.
"That's my contribution to painting the hall," she gasped. "I'd happily give you a dollar, but I dare not take more of my egg money because Eliza would find out if I did. I am really interested in your company and I believe that you will do a lot of good. i am an optimist Ito havebe, live with Eliza. I have to hurry before she misses me. . . She thinks I'm feeding the chickens. I hope you have good luck courtship and don't be down about what Eliza said. The worldisgetting better . . . it certainly is."
The next house was Daniel Blair's.
"Now it all depends on whether his wife is home or not," Diana said as they bounced down a deeply rutted alley. "If it's her, we don't get a dime. Everyone says Dan Blair doesn't dare cut his hair without asking their permission; and it is certain that she is very close, to say the least. She says she has to be brief before she's generous. But Mrs Lynde says she's so much 'ahead' that generosity never catches up with her."
Anne told Marilla about her experience at Blair Place that evening.
“We tied the horse up and then knocked on the kitchen door. No one came, but the door was open and we heard someone in the pantry acting terribly. We couldn't make out the words, but Diana says she knows they swear by the sound. I can't believe that from Mr. Blair, because he's always so calm and gentle; but at least he had great provocations, for Marilla was wearing one of his wife's big checked aprons when the poor man came to the door, red as beets and sweating all over his face. "I can't get that damn thing off," he said, "because the threads are tied in a hard knot and I can't tear them, so excuse me, ladies." We begged him not to mentioning it and went in and sat down. Mr Blair sat down too; He turned his apron on his back and rolled it up but he looked so embarrassed and worried I felt sorry for him and Diana said she was afraid we had called at a bad time. 'Oh, not at all,' Mr Blair said, trying to smile. . . You know he's always very polite. . . 'I'm a little busy. . . get ready to bake a cake, so to speak. My wife got a telegram today that her sister is coming from Montreal tonight and she went to the train to meet her and asked me to bake a cake for tea. She wrote down the recipe and told me what to do, but I've already forgotten half of the instructions. And it says, "A taste to taste." What does that mean? How do you know? And what if my taste is not the taste of others? Would a tablespoon of vanilla be enough for a small layer cake?”
"I felt sorry for the poor man more than ever. He didn't seem to be in his proper sphere at all. I had heard of chicken peck husbands and now I felt like seeing one. It was on my lips to say, 'Mr. Blair, if you give us a subscription to the hall, I'll mix your pie for you.” But I suddenly thought it wasn't neighborly to make too sharp a bargain with a fellow man in need. So I offered him to mix the cake without any condition. He just jumped at my offer. He said he was used to baking his own bread before he got married, but fears cake is too much for him and yet he hates disappointing his wife. He got me an apron and Diana beat the eggs and I mixed the cake. Mr. Blair ran around and got us the materials. He had forgotten his apron altogether, and as he ran it streamed after him, and Diana said she thought she was dying to see them. He said he could bake the cake. . . he was used to it. . . and then he asked for our list and put down four dollars. So you see, we've been rewarded. But even if he hadn't given a dime, I would have always felt that we were doing a truly Christian act in helping him.”
Theodore White's was the next stop. Neither Anne nor Diana had ever been there before, and they had very little acquaintance with Mrs. Theodore, who disliked hospitality. Should they go to the back or the front door? While they were having a whispered consultation, Mrs. Theodore appeared at the front door with an armful of newspapers. Deliberately she placed them one by one on the floor and steps of the porch and then down the path to the feet of her bewildered visitors.
"Would you please wipe your feet carefully in the grass and then walk on these papers?" she said anxiously. "I've just swept the whole house and I can't get any more dust in. The path has been really muddy since the rain yesterday.”
"Don't you dare laugh," Anne whispered as they marched past the newspapers. "And I beg you Diana, no matter what she says, don't look at me or I won't be able to keep a sober face."
The papers stretched across the hall and into a neat, immaculate drawing room. Anne and Diana carefully sat down on the nearest chairs and explained their errands. Mrs. White listened politely, interrupting only twice, once to shoo away an adventurous fly and once to pick up a tiny clump of grass that had fallen from Anne's dress onto the carpet. Anne felt miserably guilty; but Mrs. White drew two dollars and paid off the money. . . "To avoid having to go back for that," Diana said when they were gone. Mrs. White had gathered up the newspapers before they untied their horse, and as they drove out of the yard they saw them busily swinging a broom in the hall.
"I've always heard that Mrs. Theodore White was the neatest woman in the world, and after that I'll believe it," Diana said, giving in to her laughter once it was safe.
"I'm glad she has no children," Anne said solemnly. "It would be indescribably horrible for her if she did."
At the Spencer's, Mrs. Isabella Spencer made them unhappy by saying something nasty about everyone in Avonlea. Mr. Thomas Boulter refused to give anything because the hall, when built twenty years ago, was not built on the site he recommended. Mrs. Esther Bell, who was a paragon of health, took half an hour to describe in detail all her aches and pains and sadly put down fifty cents because she would not be there by this time next year, um to do it. . . no, she would lie in her grave.
Her worst reception, however, was with Simon Fletcher. As they pulled into the yard, they saw two faces staring at them through the porch window. But although they knocked and waited patiently and persistently, no one came to the door. Two extremely disheveled and outraged girls drove away from Simon Fletcher. Even Anne admitted she was beginning to feel discouraged. But then the tide turned. Several Sloane homesteads came next, where they got generous subscriptions, and from then to the end they did well, with only the occasional snub. Her last stop was at Robert Dickson's at the Teichbrücke. They stayed here for tea, even though they were almost home, rather than risk offending Mrs Dickson, who had a reputation for being a very 'sensitive' woman.
While they were there, old Mrs. James White came by.
"I was just seeing Lorenzo," she announced. "He's the proudest man in Avonlea right now. What do you think? There's a brand new boy. . . and after seven girls, that's quite an event, I can tell you that.' Anne pricked up her ears, and as they drove away she said.
"I'll go straight to Lorenzo White."
"But he lives on White Sands Road and that's quite a distance from us," Diana protested. "Gilbert and Fred will court him."
"They don't leave until next Saturday and then it will be too late," Anne said firmly. “The novelty will be worn out. Lorenzo White is terribly mean but he will sign itanythingJust now. We must not let such a golden opportunity slip away, Diana.” The result justified Anne's foresight. Mr. White met her in the yard, bright as the sun on an Easter day. When Anne asked for a subscription, he enthusiastically agreed.
"Sure sure. Just give me a dollar more than the highest subscription you have.
"That's five dollars. . . Mr Daniel Blair got four,' Anne said, half startled. But Lorenzo didn't flinch.
"There are five. . . and here the money is on the spot. Now I want you to come into the house. There's something worth seeing in there. . . something very few people have seen before. Just come in and overyourOpinion."
"What are we going to say if the baby isn't pretty?" Diana whispered anxiously as they followed the excited Lorenzo into the house.
"Oh, I'm sure there's still something nice to say," Anne said easily. "It's always about a baby."
The babywarpretty, however, and Mr. White felt he got his five dollars' worth from the girls' genuine delight in the plump little newcomer. But that was the first, last and only time Lorenzo White ever subscribed to anything.
Anne, tired as she was, did one more public good job that evening by sneaking across the fields to interview Mr. Harrison, who was smoking his pipe on the porch, as usual, with Ginger at his side. Adroitly speaking, he was on the Carmody road; but Jane and Gertie, who knew him only by dubious accounts, had nervously asked Anne to speak to him.
However, Mr. Harrison flatly refused to draw a dime, and all Anne's stratagems were in vain.
"But I thought you approved of our company, Mr. Harrison," she mourned.
"As I do . . . As I do . . . but my approval doesn't go as deep as my pocket, Anne."
"A few more experiences like today would make me a pessimist like Miss Eliza Andrews," Anne said to her reflection in the east gable mirror before bed.
7. Showing the duty
Anne leaned back in her chair on a balmy October evening and sighed. She was seated at a table covered with textbooks and exercises, but the densely written sheets in front of her had no discernible connection with study or schoolwork.
"What's going on there?" Gilbert asked, arriving at the open kitchen door just in time to hear the sigh.
Anne colored and slipped her writing under some school essays.
"Nothing very terrible. I was just trying to jot down some of my thoughts as Professor Hamilton advised me, but I couldn't get them to please me. They seem so quiet and foolish, written directly in black ink on white paper. Fantasies are like shadows. . . you can't lock them up, they're such headstrong dancing things. But maybe one day I'll learn the secret if I keep trying. I don't have a lot of free moments, you know. When I'm done correcting homework and essays, I don't always feel like writing my own."
"You're doing great at school, Anne. All the kids like you,' Gilbert said, sitting down on the stone step.
"Not at all. Not Anthony Pye andhabitlike me. What's worse, he doesn't respect me. . . no he does not. He just despises me, and I don't mind telling you it worries me terribly. It's not that he's that bad. . . he's just quite mischievous, but no worse than some of the others. He seldom obeys me; but he obeys with a contemptuous connivance, as if the point was not worth arguing about, or if he would. . . and it has a bad effect on the others. I tried everything to win it but I'm starting to fear I'll never make it. I want to, because he's quite a sweet little chap when heisa pye, and I might like him if he'd let me."
"It's probably just the effect of what he hears at home."
"Not quite. Anthony is an independent little guy and makes his own decisions. He used to go to men and says that female teachers are not good. Well, we'll see what patience and kindness do. I like overcoming difficulties and teaching is really very interesting work. Paul Irving makes up for what the others lack. This kid is a perfect sweetheart, Gilbert, and a genius to boot. I'm sure the world will hear from him one day,” Anne concluded confidently.
"I also enjoy teaching," Gilbert said. “For one thing, it's good training. Well Anne, I've learned more in the weeks I've been teaching the young ideas of White Sands than in all the years I've been at school myself. We all seem to get along pretty well. The Newbridge people like Jane, I hear; and I think White Sands is quite pleased with your humble servant. . . all except Mr. Andrew Spencer. I met Mrs. Peter Blewett on my way home last night, and she told me that she felt it her duty to inform me that Mr. Spencer did not approve of my methods."
“Has it ever occurred to you,” Anne asked thoughtfully, “that when people say it's their duty to tell you something, you might be preparing for something uncomfortable? Why don't they ever seem to consider it a duty to tell you the pleasant things they hear about you? Mrs. H. B. Donnellcalled the school again yesterday and told me she thought sosheDuty to inform me that Mrs. Harmon Andrew does not approve of my reading fairy tales to the children and that Mr. Rogerson thinks that Prillie is not progressing fast enough with arithmetic. If Prillie spent less time glaring at boys across her slate, maybe she'd do better. I'm pretty sure Jack Gillis is doing her class tally for her, although I've never been able to catch him in the act."
“Did you manage to reconcile Mrs. Don?nelshopeful son to his holy name?”
“Yes,” laughed Anne, “but it was really a difficult task. When I first called him 'St. Clair' he wouldn't even notice until I'd spoken two or three times; and then when the other boys nudged him, he would look up with such a hurt expression, as if I had called him John or Charlie and could not be expected to mean him. So one night after school I kept him with me and talked to him kindly. I told him his mother wanted me to call him St. Clair and I couldn't disagree with her wish. He saw it when everything was explained. . . he really is a very sensible little fellow. . . and he saidIcould call him St. Clair, but that he'd lick the stuffing out of every one of the boys who tried it. Of course I had to reprimand him again for using such shocking language. Since thenICall him St. Clair and the boys call him Jake and everything will be fine. He tells me he wants to be a carpenter, but Mrs. Donnellsays I should make a college professor out of him.”
The mention of college gave Gilbert a new direction in his thoughts, and they talked for a while about their plans and aspirations. . . serious, serious, hopeful, as the youth like to talk, while the future is still an untrodden path full of wonderful possibilities.
Gilbert had finally decided to become a doctor.
"It's a great job," he says enthusiastically. “A guy has to fight something his whole life. . . Hasn't someone defined man as a fighting animal? . . . and I want to fight sickness, pain and ignorance. . . who are all members of each other. I want to do my share of honest, real work in the world, Anne. . . Add a little to the sum of human knowledge that all good men have accumulated since the beginning. The people who lived before me have done so much for me that I want to show my gratitude by doing something for the people who will live after me. It seems to me that this is the only way a lad can fulfill his obligations to the race."
"I want to add some beauty to life," said Anne dreamily. “I don't necessarily want to make peopleknowsmore . . . although I know thatisthe noblest ambition. . . but because of me, I would like to make them have a more comfortable time. . . to have a little joy or happy thought that would never have existed had I not been born.”
"I think you fulfill that ambition every day," Gilbert said admiringly.
And he was right. Anne was one of the Children of Light from birth. Having gone through a life with a smile or a word thrown across it like a ray of sunshine, the owner of that life, at least for now, saw it as hopeful and lovely and of good standing.
Finally Gilbert stood up regretfully.
“Well, I have to run to MacPherson's. Moody Spurgeon came home from Queen's today for Sunday to bring me a book that Professor Boyd lent me."
"And I have to get Marilla's tea. She went to Mrs. Keith's tonight and will be back soon.'
Anne had tea ready when Marilla got home; the fire crackled merrily, a vase of frost-bleached ferns and ruby maple leaves adorned the table, and delicious aromas of ham and toast filled the air. But Marilla sank into her chair with a deep sigh.
"Are your eyes bothering you? Does your head hurt?” Anne asked worried.
"No. I'm just tired . . . and worried. It's about Maria and these children . . . Maria is worse . . . she can't last much longer. And as for the twins,Idon't know what will become of them."
"Hasn't your uncle been heard from?"
"Yes, Mary had a letter from him. He works at a logging camp and "breaks it down," whatever that means. Anyway, he says there's no way he can take the kids until spring. He expects to be married by then and have a home to take her to; but he says she must get some of the neighbors to keep her for the winter. She says she can't bear to ask any of them. Mary never got on too well with the people of East Grafton, and that's a fact. And short and sweet, Anne, I'm sure Mary wants me to take these kids. . . she didn't say it, but she didsahes."
"Oh!" Anne clasped her hands, all excited with excitement. "And of course you will, Marilla, won't you?"
"I haven't decided yet," Marilla said rather harshly. “I don't rush into things in your hasty way, Anne. Third cousinship is a pretty slim claim. And it will be a terrible responsibility to look after two children as young as six. . . Twins at that.”
Marilla had the notion that twins were twice as bad as only children.
“Twins are very interesting. . . at least a couple,” said Anne. “It only becomes monotonous with two or three couples. And I think it would be really nice for you to have something that amuses you when I'm at school."
"I don't think it would be much fun. . . more worry and trouble than anything else, I should say. It wouldn't be so risky if they were the same age as you were when I took you. I wouldn't bother Dora that much. . . she seems fine and calm. But this Davy is a link.”
Anne loved children and her heart longed for the Keith twins. The memory of her own neglected childhood was still very vivid with her. She knew that Marilla's only weak point was her stern devotion to what she believed to be her duty, and Anne skillfully articulated her arguments in that direction.
"If Davy is naughty, that's all the more reason he should be well trained, isn't it, Marilla? If we don't take them, we don't know who will, nor what kind of influences can surround them. Suppose Mrs. Keith's neighbors, the Sprotts, took her away. Mrs. Lynde says Henry Sprott is the most profane man that ever lived and you can't believe a word his children say. Wouldn't it be awful if the twins learned something like that? Or suppose they went to the Wiggins. Mrs Lynde says that Mr Wiggins sells everything that can be sold and feeds his family on skim milk. You don't want your relatives to be starved, even if they're only third cousins, do you? It seems to me, Marilla, that it is our duty to take her."
"I suppose it is," Marilla agreed somberly. "I daresay I'll tell Mary I'll take her. You don't have to look so pleased, Anne. That means a lot of extra work for you. I can't sew a stitch because of my eyes, so you have to take care of making and patching her clothes. And you don't like to sew."
'I hate it,' Anne said quietly, 'but if you're willing to take these children out of duty, I can certainly sew them out of duty. It's good for people to have to do things they don't like. . . in moderation."
8. Marilla adopts twins
Mrs. Rachel Lynde sat by her kitchen window knitting a quilt, just as she had sat there one evening some years ago when Matthew Cuthbert was driving down the hill with what Mrs. Rachel called "his imported orphan". But that had been in the spring; and this was late autumn, and all the forests were leafless and the fields bare and brown. The sun was setting with much purple and gold pomp behind the dark woods west of Avonlea when a buggy pulled by a comfortable brown horse came down the hill. Mrs. Rachel studied it eagerly.
"Here comes Marilla home from the funeral," she said to her husband, who was lying on the kitchen sofa. Thomas Lynde hung out on the lounge more these days than he used to, but Mrs Rachel, who was so keen on noticing everything but her own household, had not yet noticed. “And she has the twins with her, . . . Yes, Davy leans over the dash and grabs the ponytail and Marilla yanks it back. Dora sits on the seat as stiffly as you like. She always looks like she's just been starched and ironed. Well, poor Marilla is going to have her hands full this winter, and that's for sure. Still, I don't see that under the circumstances she could do anything less than take her with her, and she will have Anne to help her. Anne tickled herself to death the whole thing and she really has a thing with kids I must say. Gosh, it doesn't seem like a day since poor Matthew brought Anne home herself and everyone laughed at the idea of Marilla raising a kid. And now she has adopted twins. You're never sure of being surprised until you're dead."
The fat pony jogged across the bridge in Lynde's Hollow and down Green Gables Lane. Marilla's face was quite grim. It was ten miles from East Grafton, and Davy Keith seemed obsessed with a passion for the perpetual motion machine. Marilla couldn't get him to sit still, and she'd suffered all the way to keep him from falling over the back of the truck and breaking his neck or falling over the dashboard under the pony's heels. Finally, in desperation, she threatened to flog him vigorously if she took him home. Davy then climbed onto her lap regardless of the reins, wrapped his chubby arms around her neck and gave her a bear hug.
"I don't think you mean it," he said, slapping her wrinkled cheek affectionately. "You don'tseelike a woman whipping a little boy just because he can't keep still. Wasn't it awfully hard for you to keep still when you were my age?"
"No, I've always kept still when told," Marilla said, trying to speak sternly, although she felt her heart soften under Davy's impulsive caresses.
"Well, I suppose that was because you were a girl," Davy said, squirming back into his seat after another hug. "Youwaronce a girl I suppose, although it's awfully funny to think about. Dora can sit still. . . but that's not much funIdo not think so. It seems to me it must be slow being a girl. Here, Dora, let me cheer you up a little.”
Davy's method of "livening it up" was to grasp Dora's curls with his fingers and tug. Dora shrieked and then cried.
"How can you be such a naughty boy and your poor mother is still in her grave today?" Marilla asked desperately.
"But she was glad to die," Davy said confidentially. "I know because she told me. She was terribly tired of being sick. We had a long chat the night before she died. She told me you would take me and Dora for the winter and that I should be a good boy. I'll be good, but can't you walk around just as well as sit still? And she said to always be nice to Dora and stand up for her, and I will."
"Do you call it nice to her to pull her hair?"
"Well, I won't let anyone pull it," said Davy, clenching his fists and frowning. "You'd better just try. I didn't hurt her much. . . She only cried because she's a girl. I'm glad I'm a boy but I'm sorry I'm a twin. When Jimmy Sprott's sister objects to him, he just says, "I'm older than you, so of course I know better," and that settles itshe. But I can't tell Dora that, and she just always thinks differently than I do. You could let me drive the gee-gee for a while since I'm a man."
In general, Marilla was a grateful woman when she drove into her own yard, where the wind of the autumn night danced with the brown leaves. Anne was at the gate to meet them and get the twins out. Dora happily accepted the kiss, but Davy responded to Anne's greeting with one of his warm hugs and the cheerful announcement, "I'm Mr. Davy Keith."
At the dinner table, Dora behaved like a little lady, but Davy's manners left a lot to be desired.
"I'm so hungry I don't have time to eat politely," he said when Marilla rebuked him. "Dora isn't half as hungry as I am. Look at all the excise taxes I've taken here on the road. This cake is terribly beautiful and plump. We haven't had a cake at home in ages because mum was too ill to bake it and Mrs Sprott said it was all she could do to bake our bread for us. And Mrs. Wiggins never puts plums in itsheCake. catch her! Can I have another piece?”
Marilla would have declined, but Anne cut off a generous second piece. However, she reminded Davy to say "thank you" for that. Davy just grinned at her and took a big bite. When he finished the piece he said:
"If you give meAnotherPiece for which I will say thank youes.“
"No, you ate a lot of cake," Marilla said in a tone Anne knew and Davy should learn to be definitive.
Davy winked at Anne, then leaned across the table, snatched the first piece of cake she had just taken a small bite out of Dora's fingers, opened his mouth wide and stuffed the whole piece into Dora's lip trembled and Marilla was speechless with horror. Anne promptly exclaimed in her best "pupil" attitude:
"Oh, Davy, gentlemen don't do that."
"I know they don't," Davy said as soon as he could speak, "but I'm not a gemplum."
"But isn't that what you want?" said Anne, shocked.
"Of course I do. But you can't be a Gemlum until you're an adult."
"Oh, indeed you can," Anne hastened to say, believing she saw a chance to sow good seeds in time. "You can start being a gentleman when you're a little boy. And menoh noGrab things from ladies. . . or forget to say thank you. . . or pulling someone's hair."
"They don't have much fun, that's a fact," Davy said frankly. "I guess I'll wait until I grow up to be one."
Marilla had cut another piece of cake for Dora with an expression of resignation. She didn't feel able to deal with Davy at the moment. It had been a rough day for her, with the funeral and the long drive. At that moment, she looked to the future with a pessimism that would have done Eliza Andrews credit.
The twins weren't noticeably alike, although both were fair-skinned. Dora had long, straight curls that were never out of order. Davy had tousled little yellow curls all over his round head. Dora's hazel eyes were soft and mild; Davys were as mischievous and dancing as an elf's. Dora's nose was straight, Davy a positive snub; Dora had a plum-and-prism mouth, Davy just smiled; and besides, he had a dimple on one cheek and none on the other, which gave him a dear, funny, crooked look when he laughed. Hilarity and mischief lurked in every corner of his small face.
"You better go to bed," said Marilla, who thought it was the easiest way to dispose of them. "Dora will sleep with me and you can put Davy in the west gable. You're not scared of sleeping alone, are you, Davy?"
"No; but I'm not going to bed very long," said Davy comfortably.
"Oh yes you are." That was all the tried and true Marilla said, but something in her tone choked even Davy. Obediently he trotted upstairs with Anne.
"When I grow up, the first thing I'll do is stay upatnight just to see what it would be like," he told her confidentially.
In later years, Marilla never thought of that first week of the twins' stay at Green Gables without a shudder. Not that it was really that much worse than the weeks that followed; but it seemed so because of its novelty. There was seldom a waking minute of a day when Davy wasn't making mischief or making things up; but his first notable act occurred two days after his arrival, on Sunday morning. . . a fine warm day, hazy and mild like September. Anne dressed him for church while Marilla looked after Dora. Davy initially strongly refused to have his face washed.
“Marilla washed it yesterday. . . and Mrs. Wiggins scrubbed me down with bar soap on the day of the funeral. That's enough for a week. I don't see any benefit in being so terribly clean. It's much more comfortable to be dirty.”
"Paul Irving washes his face every day of his own accord," Anne said perceptively.
Davy had been an inmate at Green Gables for a little over forty-eight hours; but he already adored Anne and hated Paul Irving, whom Anne had enthusiastically praised the day after his arrival. If Paul Irving washed his face every day, that was the end of it. He, Davy Keith, would do it too if it killed him. The same reasoning made him humbly submit to the other details of his dressing, and he was a handsome little boy indeed when it was all finished. Anne felt an almost motherly pride in him as she led him into the old Cuthbert Bank.
Davy behaved fairly well at first, busy glancing at all the little boys in sight and wondering who Paul Irving was. The first two hymns and the scripture reading were uneventful. Mr. Allan was praying when the sensation hit.
Lauretta White sat across from Davy, her head tilted slightly and her blond hair hanging in two long pigtails, between which peeped out a seductive white neck encased in a loose lace ruffle. Lauretta was a fat, calm-looking child of eight who had behaved immaculately at church from the first day her mother had carried her there when she was six months old.
Davy put his hand in his pocket and produced . . . a caterpillar, a furry, wriggling caterpillar. Marilla saw and clung to him, but she was too late. Davy let the caterpillar fall on Lauretta's neck.
In the middle of Mr. Allan's prayer came a series of piercing screams. The minister stopped in horror and opened his eyes. Every head in the community flew up. Lauretta White danced up and down in her pew, clutching the back of her dress frantically.
"Ouch. . . Mummy . . . Mummy . . . ow . . . take it off . . ow . . . find out . . . ow . . . That bad boy put it down my neck. . . ow . . . Mummy . . . it keeps going down . . ow . . . ow . . . Ouch . . .”
Mrs. White rose and, face rigid, carried the hysterical, writhing Lauretta out of the church. Their cries died away in the distance, and Mr. Allan continued with the service. But everyone felt that it was a failure that day. For the first time in her life, Marilla ignored the text, and Anne sat scarlet-cheeked with humiliation.
When they got home, Marilla put Davy to bed and let him stay there for the rest of the day. She gave him no supper, but allowed him a simple tea of bread and milk. Anne carried it to him and sadly sat beside him while he ate it with unrepentant relish. But Anne's sad eyes troubled him.
"I suppose," he said thoughtfully, "that Paul Irving wouldn't have thrown a caterpillar down a girl's throat in church, would he?"
"Indeed he wouldn't," said Anne sadly.
"Well then I'm kind of sorry I did it," Davy admitted. “But it was such a great big caterpillar . . . I picked it up on the church steps just as we were entering. It seemed a pity to waste it. And tell me, wasn't it funny to hear that girl scream?"
Tuesday afternoon the Aid Society met in Green Gables. Anne rushed home from school knowing Marilla would need all the help she could give. Dora, neat and tidy in her finely starched white dress and black sash, sat in the drawing room with the members of Aid, speaking softly when spoken to, silent when not spoken to, and behaving like one in every respect exemplary child. Davy, deliciously dirty, made mud pies in the barnyard.
"I told him he could," Marilla said wearily. "I thought it would save him from worse harm. He can only get dirty there. We'll drink our teas before we call him over. Dora can have hers with us, but I wouldn't dare let Davy sit down here with all the AIDS."
When Anne wanted to call the Aids to tea, she found that Dora wasn't in the drawing room. Mrs. Jasper Bell said Davy came to the front door and called her out. A hasty consultation with Marilla in the pantry led to the decision that both children should later have their tea together.
Tea was half over when a lost figure invaded the dining room. Marilla and Anne stared in dismay, the Aids in astonishment. Could that be Dora? . . this sobbing nondescript in a sodden, dripping dress and hair streaming water onto Marilla's new coin-stained carpet?
"Dora, what happened to you?" Anne called with a guilty look at Mrs. Jasper Bell, whose family was said to be the only one in the world that never had an accident.
"Davy made me go over the pigsty fence," wailed Dora. "I didn't want to, but he called me scared cat. And I fell into the pigsty and my dress got all dirty and the pig ran right over me. My dress was just awful but Davy said if I stood under the pump he would wash it clean and I did and he pumped water all over me but my dress isn't any cleaner and my pretty sash and shoes are all spoiled."
Anne made the rest of the meal the honor of the table alone while Marilla went upstairs and Dora put her old clothes back on. Davy was caught and sent to bed without supper. At dusk Anne went into his room and talked to him seriously. . . a method in which she had great confidence, not entirely unjustified by results. She told him that she felt very bad about his behavior.
"Now I feel sorry for myself," Davy admitted, "but the problem is I'm never sorry for doing things until I've done them. Dora wouldn't help me bake the cake because she was afraid of soiling her clothes and it was driving me crazy. I suppose Paul Irving wouldn't have done itseinestep sister over a pigsty fence when he knew she would fall in?
"No, he would never dream of such a thing. Paul is a perfect little gentleman.”
Davy shut his eyes tight and seemed to think about it for a while. Then he crawled up and put his arms around Anne's neck and nuzzled his flushed little face on her shoulder.
"Anne, don't you like me a little, even if I'm not a good boy like Paul?"
"Indeed," Anne said sincerely. It was somehow impossible to like Davy. "But I'd love you even more if you weren't so naughty."
"I . . . did something different today," Davy continued in a low voice. "I'm sorry now, but I'm terribly afraid to tell you. You won't be very angry, will you? And you will Don't tell Marilla, will you?"
"I don't know Davy. Maybe I should tell her. But I guess I can promise you I won't if you promise me you'll never do it again, whatever it is."
"No, I never will. Anyway, I'm unlikely to find any more of them this year. I found this one on the basement stairs.”
"Davy, what have you done?"
"I put a toad in Marilla's bed. You can go and take it out if you like. But tell me, Anne, wouldn't it be fun to leave it there?"
"Davy Keith!" Anne jumped out of Davy's clutched arms and flew down the hall to Marilla's room. The bed was slightly wrinkled. She threw back the blankets in a nervous hurry and there really was the toad, blinking at her from under a pillow.
"How can I unsubscribe this terrible thing?" moaned Anne with a shudder. The fire shovel offered itself to her and she snuck downstairs to get it while Marilla was busy in the pantry. Anne had her own problems carrying the toad down the stairs, as it hopped off the shovel three times, and once she thought she had lost it in the hallway. When she finally deposited it in the cherry orchard, she breathed a sigh of relief.
"If Marilla knew that she would never feel safe going to bed again in her life. I'm so glad the little sinner repented in time. Diana signals me from her window. I'm happy . . . I really feel the need for a distraction because with Anthony Pye at school and Davy Keith at home, my nerves just couldn't take a day for a day."
9. A matter of color
"That old nuisance of Rachel Lynde came back today, nagging me for a subscription to buy a sacristy rug," said Mr. Harrison angrily. "I despise this woman more than anyone I know. She can put an entire sermon, text, commentary and application in six words and throw it at you like a brick.”
Anne, sitting on the edge of the porch, enjoying the charm of a mild westerly wind blowing across a freshly plowed field on a gray November dawn, whistling a whimsical little tune through the twisted firs below the garden, turned her dreamy face around her shoulder.
"The problem is that you and Mrs. Lynde don't get along," she explained. "It's always wrong when people don't like each other. I didn't like Mrs Lynde at first either; but once I understood them, I learned.”
"Mrs. Lynde may be an acquired taste with some people; but I stopped eating bananas because I was told I would learn to like them if I did," growled Mr. Harrison understand, I understand that she is a confirmed busybody and I told her so."
"Oh, that must have hurt her a lot," Anne said reproachfully. "How could you say something like that?II said some terrible things to Mrs Lynde a long time ago, but that was when I lost my temper. I couldn't say themdeliberately.“
"It was the truth and I believe in telling everyone the truth."
"But you're not telling the whole truth," Anne contradicted. "You're only telling the uncomfortable part of the truth. Well, you've told me a dozen times my hair is red, but you've never told me I have a nice nose."
"I suppose you know without saying it," chuckled Mr. Harrison.
"I know I have red hair too. . . although it isa lot ofdarker than before. . . so you don't have to tell me that either."
"Well, well, I'll try not to bring it up again since you're so touchy. You'll have to excuse me, Anne. I have a habit of being outspoken and people aren't allowed to object.
“But they can't help but take care of it. And I don't think it helps that it's your habit. What would you think of someone going around sticking needles and pins into people and saying, “Excuse me, you mustn't mind . . . It's just a habit I have.” You'd think he was crazy, wouldn't you? And as for Mrs Lynde, she might be a busybody. But did you tell her that she has a very kind heart and has always helped the poor and never said a word when Timothy Cotton stole a jar of butter from their dairy and told his wife he bought it for her? Mrs Cotton told her when they next met that it tasted like turnips and Mrs Lynde just said she was sorry it turned out so bad.”
"I suppose she has some good qualities," Mr. Harrison admitted reluctantly. "Most people have. I have a few myself, although you might never suspect it. But I don't give anything to the carpet anyway. People beg for money here forever, it seems to me. How is your project going to paint the hall?”
"Lovely. We had an A.V.I.S. meeting last Friday night and found out we had subscribed a lot of money to paint the hall and also shingle the roof.The mostPeople have given very generously, Mr. Harrison.”
Anne was a good-natured girl, but she could infuse some venom into innocent cursive writing when needed.
"What color do you want?"
“We chose a very nice green. The roof will of course be dark red. Mr. Roger Pye will fetch the paint from town today.”
"Who got the job?"
"Mr. Joshua Pye from Carmody. He's almost done with the clapboard. We had to give him the contract, for each of the Pyes . . . and there are four families, you know . . . said they wouldn't give a dime if Joshua wouldn't get it. They had drawn twelve dollars together and we thought that was too much to lose, although some people think we shouldn't have given in to the Pyes. Mrs. Lynde says they're trying to work things out."
“The main question is whether this Joshua will do his job well. If he does, I don't think it matters if his name is Pye or Pudding."
"He has a reputation for being a good worker, although they say he's a very peculiar man. He hardly speaks.”
"Then he's odd enough," said Mr. Harrison dryly. "At least that's what people will call him around here. I was never much of a talker until I got to Avonlea and then had to take up self defense or Mrs Lynde would have said I was stupid and subscribed to teach me sign language. Aren't you going yet, Anne?"
"I have to. I have to sew something for Dora tonight. Besides, by now Davy is probably breaking Marilla's heart with some new nonsense. This morning, the first thing he said was, 'Where does the darkness go, Anne? I want to know.' Me told him it went to the other side of the world but after breakfast he said it wasn't... that it went down the well Marilla says she caught it hanging over the well four times today eh he tried to reach into the darkness.”
"He's a limb," explained Mr. Harrison. "He came here yesterday and pulled six feathers out of Ginger's tail before I could come in from the barn. Since then the poor bird has been dripping. These children must be a sight of trouble to you.”
"All it's worth is a little trouble," Anne said, secretly deciding to forgive Davy's next offense, whatever it might be, since he had avenged her against Ginger.
Mr. Roger Pye brought home the hallway paint that evening, and Mr. Joshua Pye, a sullen, taciturn man, began painting the next day. He did not allow himself to be disturbed in his task. The hall was located on the so-called "Unteren Straße". In late fall, this road was always muddy and wet, and people driving into Carmody traveled the longer "upper" road. The hall was surrounded by fir forests so densely that it was invisible unless you were near it. Mr. Joshua Pye painted in the solitude and independence so dear to his unsociable heart.
On Friday afternoon he finished work and went home to Carmody. Soon after his departure, Mrs. Rachel drove by Lynde, who, out of curiosity, had braved the mud of the street below to see how the hall looked in her new paint. As she rounded Spruce Bend, she saw.
The sight affected Mrs Lynde strangely. She dropped the reins, raised her hands and said, "Merciful Providence!" She stared as if she couldn't believe her eyes. Then she laughed almost hysterically.
"There must be a mistake. . . thereGot to. I knew those pyes were going to wreak havoc.”
Mrs. Lynde was driving home, met several people in the street and stopped to tell them about the hall. The news spread like wildfire. Gilbert Blythe, at home poring over a textbook, heard it from his father's maid at sundown and, breathless, hurried to Green Gables, accompanied en route by Fred Wright. They found Diana Barry, Jane Andrews, and Anne Shirley, despair personified, at the gates of Green Gables, among the great leafless willow trees.
"Isn't that true, Anne?" Gilbert exclaimed.
"It's true," Anne replied, looking like the muse of tragedy. "Mrs. Lynde called on the way from Carmody to tell me. Oh, it's just awful!Wasis trying to improve anything?”
"What's awful?" asked Oliver Sloane, arriving at that moment with a tape box he'd brought from town for Marilla.
"Did not you hear?" said Jane angrily. "Well, it's just like that. . . Joshua Pyeleft and painted the hall blue instead of green. . . a deep, brilliant blue, the hue they use to paint carts and wheelbarrows. And Mrs. Lynde says it is the most hideous color for a building, especially combined with a red roof, that she has ever seen or imagined. You could have just hit me with a feather when I heard it. It's heartbreaking after all the difficulties we've had."
"How on earth could such a mistake happen?" Diana wailed.
Blame for this ruthless catastrophe was eventually pinned down to the Pyes. The Improvers had chosen to use Morton Harris paint and the Morton Harris paint cans were numbered according to a paint chart. A shopper chose his shade from the chart and ordered using the accompanying number. Number 147 was the shade of green he wanted, and when Mr Roger Pye told the Improvers of his son John Andrew that he would go into town and get their paint for them, the Improvers told John Andrew to tell his father to get it They 147. John Andrew always claimed that he did so, but Mr. Roger Pye declared just as steadfastly that John Andrew had told him 157; and that's where it stands to this day.
That night in every house in Avonlea where an improver lived was pure consternation. The darkness in Green Gables was so intense it snuffed out even Davy. Anne was crying and could not be comforted.
"IGot tocrying even though I'm almost seventeen Marilla,” she sobbed. "It's so humbling. And it rings the death knell of our society. We just get laughed at.”
However, in life, as in dreams, things often go in opposite directions. The people of Avonlea did not laugh; they were too angry.yourMoney had been spent on the hall's paintings and henceyoufelt bitterly offended by the mistake. Public outrage focused on the Pyes. Roger Pye and John Andrew had screwed things up between themselves; and as for Joshua Pye, he must be a natural born fool not to suspect something was wrong when he opened the cans and saw the color of the paint. Joshua Pye, when addressed in this way, replied that Avonlea's taste in color was none of his business, whatever his personal opinion; he had been hired to paint the hall, not to talk about it; and he wanted his money for it.
The Improvers paid him his money in bitterness after consulting Mr. Peter Sloane, a judge.
"You have to pay for it," Peter told him. "You can't blame him for the mistake as he claims he was never told what the paint was supposed to be, just given the cans and told to move on. But it's a burning shame and this hall looks really awful."
The hapless improvers expected Avonlea to be more prejudiced against them than ever; Instead, public sympathy swung in her favor. People thought the eager, enthusiastic little gang that had worked so hard towards their goal had been badly exploited. Mrs. Lynde told them to go ahead and show the Pyes that there really were people in the world who could do things without messing them up. Mr. Major Spencer informed her that he would clear and grass all the stumps along the road in front of his farm at his own expense; and Mrs. Hiram Sloane called the school one day and mysteriously waved Anne out onto the porch to tell her that the Sassiety were going to make a bed of geraniums at the crossing in the spring, they needn't be afraid of their cow to have, because she would ensure that the marauding animal was kept within safe limits. Even Mr. Harrison, when he giggled at all, secretly giggled and outwardly showed complete sympathy.
"It doesn't matter, Ann. Most colors fade uglier every year, but this blue is about as ugly as it gets to begin with, so it's bound to fade prettier. And the roof is properly clapboarded and painted. People can sit in the hall afterwards without being leaked. You have already achieved so much anyway.”
"But the blue hall of Avonlea will be a household name in all the neighboring settlements from now on," Anne said bitterly.
And it must be admitted that it was so.
10. Davy looking for a sensation
Walking home from school via Birkenweg one November afternoon, Anne was convinced once again that life is something very wonderful. The day had been a good day; all had gone well in their little kingdom. St. Clair Donnell hadNotfought with one of the other boys over a question about his name; Prillie Rogerson's face was so bloated from the effects of the toothache that she never once tried to flirt with the boys around her. Barbara Shaw had just metoneAccident . . . pour a ladleful of water over the floor. . . and Anthony Pye hadn't been to school at all.
"What a lovely month this November has been!" said Anne, who had never quite broken her childish habit of talking to herself. “November is usually such a nasty month. . . as if the year had suddenly learned that she was getting old and could do nothing but cry and get angry about it. This year will grow old gracefully. . . like a stately old lady who knows she can be charming even with gray hair and wrinkles. We had beautiful days and delicious twilights. These last fortnight have been so peaceful and even Davy has been almost good. I really think he's improving a lot. How quiet are the woods today. . . no murmur but that gentle wind purring in the treetops! It sounds like surf on a distant shore. How dear are the forests! You beautiful trees! I love each of you as a friend.”
Anne paused to wrap her arm around a slender young birch and kiss its creamy white trunk. Diana, turning a bend in the road, saw her and laughed.
"Anne Shirley, you're just pretending to be an adult. I think when you're alone you're just as much a little girl as ever."
"Well, you can't get used to being a little girl all of a sudden," Anne said happily. “You see, I was fourteen years old and only grown up for almost three years. I'm sure I'll always feel like a kid in the woods. Those walks home from school are almost the only time I have to daydream. . . except about half an hour before I go to sleep. I'm so busy teaching and learning and helping Marilla with the twins that I don't have time to imagine things anymore. You don't know what wonderful adventures I have every night just after bed in the East Gable. I always imagine myself as something very brilliant and triumphant and magnificent. . . a great prima donna, or a Red Cross nurse, or a queen. I was a queen last night. It's really glorious to imagine being a queen. You have all the fun without the inconvenience and you can stop being a queen whenever you want, which you couldn't do in real life. But here in the forest I prefer to imagine completely different things. . . I'm a dryad living in an old pine tree, or a little brown wood elf hiding under a ruffled leaf. That white birch you caught me kissing is a sister of mine. The only difference is she's a tree and I'm a girl, but that's not really a difference. Where are you going, Diana?”
"Down to the Dicksons. I promised Alberta I'd help her cut her new dress. Can't you go down at night, Anne, and come home with me?'
"I could . . . since Fred Wright is in town," Anne said, looking a little too innocent.
Diana blushed, threw back her head and walked on. However, she didn't seem offended.
Anne was determined to go to the Dicksons' that night, but she didn't. When she arrived at Green Gables, she found herself in a state that banished any other thought from her mind. Marilla met her in the yard. . . a wild-eyed Marilla.
"Anne, Dora is lost!"
"Dora! Lost!" Anne looked at Davy, who was swinging around at the yard gate, and saw happiness in his eyes. "Davy, do you know where she is?"
"No, I didn't," Davy said firmly. "I haven't seen her since dinner, honestly."
"I've been gone since one o'clock," Marilla said. “Thomas Lynde suddenly fell ill and Rachel sent me upstairs to leave immediately. When I left, Dora was playing with her doll in the kitchen and Davy was making mud pies behind the barn. I just got home half an hour ago. . . and no Dora to see. Davy explains he hasn't seen her since I left."
"Neither do I," Davy declared solemnly.
"She must be around somewhere," said Anne. “She would never wander far alone. . . You know how shy she is. Maybe she fell asleep in one of the rooms.”
Marilla shook her head.
"I searched the whole house. But she may be in some of the buildings.”
A thorough search followed. Every corner of the house, yard and outbuildings was ransacked by these two distracted people. Anne roamed the orchards and the Haunted Wood, calling Dora's name. Marilla took a candle and explored the basement. Davy walked each of them in turn, diligently thinking of places Dora might be. Eventually they met again in the yard.
"It's a most mysterious thing," Marilla groaned.
"Where can she be?" said Anne unhappily
"Maybe she fell in the well," Davy suggested cheerfully.
Anne and Marilla looked fearfully into each other's eyes. The thought had accompanied them both throughout their quest, but neither had dared to put it into words.
"She . . . she might have," Marilla whispered.
Anne, feeling weak and ill, went to the well and peered over. The bucket was on the shelf inside. Far below was a tiny glimmer of still water. The Cuthbert Well was the deepest in Avonlea. If Dora. . . but Anne could not endure the thought. She shuddered and turned away.
"Run to Mr. Harrison," Marilla said, wringing her hands.
"Mr. Harrison and John Henry are both gone. . . They went into town today. I'll take Mr. Barry."
Mr. Barry returned with Anne carrying a pulley to which was attached a clawlike instrument which had been the business end of a cultivator fork. Marilla and Anne stood by, cold and shaken with horror and fear, while Mr Barry dragged the fountain and Davy, astride the gate, watched the group with a face that betrayed great delight.
Finally Mr Barry shook his head in relief.
"She can't be down there. However, it's a very strange thing where she might have gotten to. Listen, young man, are you sure you have no idea where your sister is?”
"I've told you a dozen times I didn't do it," Davy said, looking hurt. "Perhaps a tramp came and stole them."
"Nonsense," Marilla said sharply, freed from her terrible fear of the well. 'Anne, do you think she might have strayed to Mr Harrison? She's been talking about his parrot ever since you took her on."
"I can't believe Dora would venture that far alone, but I'll go over and see," said Anne.
No one was looking straight at Davy or you would have seen a very definite change come over his face. He slipped quietly from the gate and ran to the barn as fast as his thick legs would carry him.
Anne hurried across the fields to the Harrison establishment in a not very hopeful mood. The house was locked, the blinds drawn, and there was no sign of life in the area. She stood on the porch and called loudly to Dora.
Ginger, in the kitchen behind her, was shrieking and cursing with sudden violence; but between his outbursts Anne heard a plaintive cry from the little building in the yard that served as Mr. Harrison's tool-shed. Anne flew to the door, opened it, and caught up with a tear-stained little mortal sitting lonely on a fallen barrel of nails.
"Oh, Dora, Dora, what a fright you gave us! how did you get here?”
"Davy and I came over to see Ginger," Dora sobbed, "but we couldn't see him, only Davy made him swear by kicking the door." And then Davy brought me here and ran out and shut the door; and I couldn't get out. I've cried and cried, I've been scared, and oh I'm so hungry and cold; and I thought you would never come, Anne."
"Davy?" But Anne couldn't say more. She carried Dora home with a heavy heart. Her joy at finding the child safe and sound was drowned out by the pain caused by Davy's behavior. The whim of silencing Dora could easily have been forgiven. But Davy had told untruths. . . downright cold-blooded untruths about it. That was the ugly fact and Anne couldn't turn a blind eye to it. She could have sat down and cried from sheer disappointment. She had grown very fond of Davy. . . how dearly she had not known until this minute. . . and it pained her unbearably to discover that he had been guilty of willful falsehood.
Marilla listened to Anne's tale in a silence that boded ill for Davyward; Mr Barry laughed and recommended that Davy be treated immediately. When he had gone home, Anne comforted and warmed the sobbing, trembling Dora, brought her supper and put her to bed. Then she returned to the kitchen just as Marilla came in grimly, leading, or rather pulling, the reluctant, cobwebby Davy whom she had just found tucked away in the darkest corner of the stable.
She dragged him onto the mat in the middle of the floor and then went and sat by the east window. Anne sat limply by the west window. Between them stood the perpetrator. His back was to Marilla, and it was a meek, subdued, frightened back; but his face was turned to Anne, and although it was a little mortified, there was a comradely twinkle in Davy's eyes, as if he knew he had done something wrong and would be punished for it, but beyond that could expect a laugh from Anne later .
But in Anne's gray eyes no half-hidden smile answered him, as might have happened if it had only been about high spirits. There was something else. . . something ugly and repulsive.
"How could you behave like that, Davy?" she asked sadly.
Davy squirmed uncomfortably.
"I just did it for fun. It's been awfully quiet in here for so long I thought it would be fun to scare you all. It was closed."
Despite fear and a little regret, Davy grinned at the memory.
"But you told an untruth about it, Davy," Anne said sadder than ever.
Davy looked confused.
"What is a lie? Do you mean a whopper?”
"I mean a story that isn't true."
"Of course I have," Davy said bluntly. "If I hadn't done it, you wouldn't have been scared. Ihadto tell.”
Anne felt the reaction of her fear and effort. Davy's impenitent attitude added the finishing touch. Two big tears welled up in her eyes.
"Oh, Davy, how could you?" she said, a tremor in her voice. "Don't you know how wrong it was?"
Davy was appalled. Anne is crying. . . he had made Anne cry! A tide of genuine regret rolled like a wave over his warm little heart, engulfing it. He lunged at Anne, threw himself on her lap, wrapped his arms around her neck and burst into tears.
"I didn't know telling Whoppers was wrong," he sobbed. "How did you expect me to know it was wrong? All of Mr. Sprott's children have told themregularevery day, and press their hearts too. I suppose Paul Irving never tells Whoppers, and here I tried terribly to be as good as him, but now I suppose you'll never love me again. But I think you may have told me it was wrong. I'm terribly sorry I made you cry, Anne, and I'll never tell a Whopper again."
Davy buried his face in Anne's shoulder and wept violently. Anne held him in a sudden joyful flash of understanding and looked at Marilla over his curly straw.
"He didn't know it was wrong to tell untruths, Marilla. I think we have to forgive him for that part of it this time, when he promises never to say anything that's not true again."
"I never will, now that I know it's bad," Davy assured between sobs. "If you ever catch me telling a whopper again, you can . . .” Davy mentally groped for an appropriate penance. . . "You can skin me alive, Anne."
'Don't say 'Whopper,' Davy. . . say 'untruth'," said the school ma'am.
"Why?" asked Davy, settling down and looking up with a tear-streaked, inquiring face. "Why isn't Whopper as good as Lie? I would like to know. It's a big word as well.”
“It's colloquial; and it is wrong for little boys to use slang.”
"There's a lot of things you get wrong," Davy said with a sigh. "I never thought there would be so many. I'm sorry, it's wrong to say who. . . Falsehoods because it's terribly convenient, but since it is, I'll never tell more. What are you gonna do to me for telling them this time? I'd like to know." Anne looked pleadingly at Marilla.
"I don't want to be too hard on the kid," Marilla said. "I daresay no one ever told him it was wrong to tell lies, and these Sprott children were not suitable companions for him. Poor Mary was too ill to raise him properly, and I suppose you cannot expect a child of six to know such things instinctively. I suppose we just have to assume he doesn't knowanythingright and start over. But he needs to be punished for shutting up Dora, and all I can think of is sending him to bed without supper, and we've done that many times before. Can't you suggest something else, Anne? I think you should be able to, with that imagination you keep talking about.”
"But punishments are so terrible and I only imagine pleasant things," Anne said, cuddling Davy. "There are already so many unpleasant things in the world that there is no point in imagining any more."
In the end Davy was sent to bed as usual, to stay there until the next noon. Apparently he was thinking, because a little later Anne went up to her room and heard him softly calling her name. When she went in, she found him sitting up in bed, elbows on knees and chin on hands.
'Anne,' he said solemnly, 'it's wrong when everyone tells who. . . untruths? I would like to know?"
"Is it wrong for an adult?"
"Then," Davy said firmly, "Marilla is unwell, becauseyoutells you. And she's worse than me because I didn't know it was wrong, but she does."
"Davy Keith, Marilla has never told a story in her life," Anne said indignantly.
"She did. She told me last Tuesday that something terriblewanthappen to me when I don't say my prayers every night. And I haven't said them in over a week just to see what would happen. . . and has nothing,” Davy concluded in an offended tone.
Anne suppressed an insane desire to laugh with the belief that it would be fatal, and then set about seriously trying to save Marilla's reputation.
"Why, Davy Keith," she said solemnly, "something terriblehathappened to you today."
Davy looked skeptical.
'I suppose you mean being sent to bed without supper,' he said scornfully, 'buttheis not terrible. Of course I don't like it, but since I've been here I've been sent to bed so often that I'm getting used to it. And you're not saving anything if you let me go without dinner because I always eat twice as much for breakfast."
"I don't mean that you will be sent to bed. I mean the fact that you told an untruth today. And, Davy", . . . Anne leaned over the foot of the bed and pointedly wagged her finger at the offender. . . "It's almost the worst thing for a boy to say what isn't truecouldhappen to him. . . almost the worst. So you see, Marilla was telling you the truth.”
"But I thought something bad would be exciting," Davy protested in a hurt tone.
"Marilla is not to blame for what you thought. Bad things aren't always exciting. Very often they are just mean and stupid.”
"But it was terribly funny to see Marilla and you looking down the well," Davy said, hugging his knees.
Anne kept a sober face until she came down the stairs and then she collapsed on the living room lounge and laughed until her sides ached.
"I wish you would tell me the joke," Marilla said a little grimly. "I didn't see much laughing today."
"You'll laugh when you hear that," Anne assured. And Marilla laughed, showing how far her education had progressed since adopting Anne. But she sighed right after.
"I suppose I shouldn't have told him that, although I heard a minister say it to a child once. But he teased me so much. You went to the Carmody concert that night and I put him to bed. He said he doesn't see the benefit of prayer until it's big enough to matter to God. Anne, I don't know what we're going to do with this kid. I never saw his beat. I feel cleanly discouraged.”
"Oh, don't say that, Marilla. Think how bad I was when I came here.”
"Anne, you were never bad . . .oh no. I see that now after learning what real wickedness is. You kept getting into terrible trouble, I'll admit, but your motive was always good. Davy is just bad for the sheer love of it.”
"Oh no, I don't think it's really that bad with him either," Anne pleaded. "It's just nonsense. And it's pretty quiet here for him, you know. He has no other boys to play with and his mind needs to be busy with something. Dora is so prudish and decent that she's no good for a boy's playmate. I really think it would be better to let her go to school, Marilla."
'No,' said Marilla firmly, 'my father always said that no child should be confined within the four walls of a school until he is seven years old, and Mr Allan says the same. The twins can have a few hours of lessons at home, but they shouldn’t start school until they are seven.”
"Well then we must try to reform Davy at home," said Anne cheerfully. "For all his flaws, he really is a sweet little guy. I can't help but love him. Marilla, it might be awful to say this, but honestly, I like Davy better than Dora, even though she's so good."
"I don't know, but I do that myself," Marilla admitted, "and it's not fair, because Dora doesn't cause a bit of trouble. There couldn't be a better child and you hardly realize she's in the house."
"Dora is too good," said Anne. "She would behave just as well if there wasn't a soul telling her what to do. She's already grown up, so she doesn't need us; and I think,” Anne concluded, stating a very important truth, “that we always love the people who need us the most. Davy needs us urgently.”
"He definitely needs something," Marilla agreed. "Rachel Lynde would say it was a good spanking."
11. Facts and fantasies
"Teaching is really very interesting work," Anne wrote to a pal at Queen's Academy. "Jane says she finds it monotonous, but I don't find it that way. Something funny happens almost every day and the kids say such amusing things. Jane says she punishes her students if they make funny speeches, which is probably why she finds the class monotonous. This afternoon little Jimmy Andrews tried to spell "speckled" and couldn't. "Well," he finally said, "I can't spell it, but I know what it means."
"'What?' I asked.
"St. Clair Donnell's face, Miss.'
"St. Clair is certainly very freckled, although I try not to comment on the others. . . PerII had freckles once and I remember it well. But I don't think St. Clair understands. That was because Jimmy called him "St. Clair" that St. Clair hit him on the way home from school. I've heard about the hammering but not officially so I don't think I'll pay attention.
“Yesterday I tried to teach Lottie Wright how to add. I said, "If you had three candies in one hand and two in the other, how many would you have altogether?" "One sip," Lottie said. And when I asked her in science class for a good reason why toads shouldn't be killed, Benjie Sloane answered gravely, "Because it would rain the next day."
"It's so hard not to laugh, Stella. I have to save all my amusement until I get home, and Marilla says it makes her nervous to hear wild cries of laughter from the east gable for no apparent reason. She says a man in Grafton went insane once, and that's how it started.
“Did you know that Thomas a Becket was canonized as aLine?Rose Bell says he was . . . also this William Tyndalewrotethe new Testament. Claude White Says A "Glacier" Is A Man Installing Window Frames!
“I think the hardest and most interesting thing about teaching is getting the kids to tell you their true thoughts about things. On a blustery day last week, I gathered her around me over dinner and tried to get her to talk to me like I was one of them. I asked them to tell me the things they wanted most. Some of the answers were commonplace enough. . . Dolls, ponies and skates. Others were downright original. Hester Boulter wanted to "wear her Sunday dress every day and eat in the living room." Hannah Bell wanted "to be good without having to care." Marjory White, ten years old, wanted to be onewidow. When asked why, she answered seriously that if you weren't married people would call you an spinster and if you were dominated by your husband; but if you were a widow, neither would exist. The most notable wish was that of Sally Bell. She wanted "honeymoon." I asked her if she knew what that was, and she said she thought it was a particularly nice bike because her cousin was in Montreal on his honeymoon when he was married, and he always had the latest in bikes!
"The other day I asked them all to tell me the cheekiest thing they had ever done. I couldn't get the older ones to do it, but the third graders answered quite freely. Eliza Bell had "set her aunt's carded buns on fire". When asked if she intends to do that, she said, "Not quite." She only tried a small end to see how it would burn, and the whole bundle was up in flames in no time. Emerson Gillis had spent ten cents on candy when he should have put it in his missionary box. Annetta Bell's worst crime was "eating some blueberries that grew in the graveyard." Willie White had "often slipped off the roof of the sheepfold in his Sunday pants." "But I was fined for it because I had to wear patches all summer in." Sunday school and if you get punished for something you don't have to regret it,' Willie explained.
“I wish you could see some of her compositions. . . I wish so much that I will send you copies of some that have been written recently. Last week I told the fourth graders that I would like them to write me letters about anything they liked and added as a suggestion that they could tell me about a place they've been to or something interesting or person they saw. They should write the letters on real stationery, put them in an envelope, and address them to me, all unaided. Last Friday morning I found a stack of letters on my desk and that evening I realized again that teaching has its joys as well as its pains. These compositions would pay for a lot. Here's Ned Clay's address, spelling and grammar as originally written.
"'Miss teacher ShiRley
Sports. island can
"'Dear teacher, I think I'll write you a composition about birds. Birds are very useful animals. My cat catches birds. His name is William but dad calls him Tom. He is fully striped and has an ear frozen off from last winter. he'd be a handsome tomcat just for that. My uncle adopted a cat. It comes to his house one day and wouldn't go away, and Uncle says it's forgotten more than most people have ever known. he lets it sleep in his rocking chair, and my aunt says he thinks of it more than his children. that is not right. We should be kind to cats and give them new milk, but we should be no better to them than we are to our children. that's old, I can't think of it at the moment
Edward Blake ClaY.‘“
"St. As usual, Clair Donnell's is short and to the point. St. Clair doesn't waste words. I don't think he chose his subject out of willful malice or added the postscript. It's just that he doesn't have much tact or imagination."
"'Dear Miss Shirley
"'You told us to describe something strange that we saw. I will describe the Avonlea Hall. It has two doors, one inside and one outside. It has six windows and a chimney. It has two ends and two sides. It is painted blue. That makes it weird. It is built on Lower Carmody Road. It is the third most important building in Avonlea. The others are the church and the smithy. They organize debating clubs and lectures in them and concerts.
"P.S. The hall is of a very light blue.”
“Annetta Bell's letter was quite long, which surprised me because essay writing is not Annetta's forte and hers are generally as short as St Clair's. Annetta is a quiet little kitty and a paragon of good manners, but there isn't a shadow of originality about her. Here is her letter.—
"'I think I'll write you a letter to tell you how much I love you. I love you with all my heart, soul and mind. . . with all there is to love of me. . . and I will serve you forever. It would be my highest privilege. That's why I try so hard to do well in school and learn my lessons.
"'You are so beautiful, my teacher. Your voice is like music and your eyes are like pansies when the dew is on them. You are like a great stately queen. Your hair is like rippling gold. Anthony Pye says it's red, but you don't have to pay attention to Anthony.
"'I've only known you a few months, but I can't imagine there was ever a time when I didn't know you . . . when you didn't come into my life to bless and sanctify it. I will always look back on this year as the best of my life because it brought you to me. It's also the year we moved to Avonlea from Newbridge. My love for you has made my life very rich and saved me from much suffering and evil. I owe it all to you, my sweetest teacher.
"'I'll never forget how cute you looked the last time I saw you in that black dress with flowers in your hair. I'll always see you like this, even though we're both old and gray. You will always remain young and beautiful to me, dearest teacher. I think about you all the time. . . morning and noon and at dusk. I love you when you laugh and when you sigh. . . even if you look despicable. I've never seen you angry, although Anthony Pye says you always look that way, but I'm not surprised that you look angry at him, because he deserves it. i love you in every dress . . You look more adorable in each new dress than the last.
"'Dearest teacher, good night. The sun has set and the stars are shining. . . Stars as bright and beautiful as your eyes. I kiss your hands and your face, my sweet. May God watch over you and protect you from all harm.
"'Your anxious student,
“I was not a little confused by this extraordinary letter. I knew Annetta could no more compose it than she could fly. When I went to school the next day, I took her down to the creek during recess and asked her to tell me the truth about the letter. Annetta cried and released herself. She said she had never written a letter and didn't know how or what to say, but in her mother's top drawer was a bundle of love letters written to her by an old "beau".
"'It wasn't father,' Annetta sobbed, 'it was someone studying for a pastor, so he could write nice letters, but Mama didn't marry him. She said she couldn't tell what he was driving half the time. But I thought the letters were cute and I would just copy something out of them here and there to write to you. I've put "teacher" in place of "lady" and I've added something of my own when it occurred to me and I've changed a few words. I put "dress" instead of "mood". I didn't know exactly what a "mood" was, but I assumed it was something to wear. I didn't think you knew the difference. I don't understand how you found out it's not all mine. You must be terribly clever, teacher.”
“I told Annetta it was very wrong to copy someone else's letter and pass it off as your own. But I'm afraid everything Annetta regretted has been found out.
"'And I love you, teacher,' she sobbed. "It was all true, even if the minister wrote it first. I love you with all my heart."
“It is very difficult to properly scold someone in such circumstances.
"Here is Barbara Shaw's letter. I can't reproduce the blobs of the original.
"'You said we could write about a visit. I have never visited but once. It was last winter at my Aunt Mary's. My Aunt Mary is a very special woman and a great housekeeper. The first night I was there we were having tea. I knocked over a jug and broke it. Aunt Mary said she had this jug since she got married and no one had ever broken it before. As we got up, I stepped on her dress and all the ruffles ripped out of the skirt. When I got up the next morning I banged the pitcher on the bowl and smashed them both, and at breakfast I spilled a cup of tea on the tablecloth. As I was helping Aunt Mary with the dishes, I dropped a china plate and it broke. That night I fell down the stairs, sprained my ankle and had to stay in bed for a week. I heard Aunt Mary tell Uncle Joseph it was a mercy or I would have ruined everything in the house. When I got better it was time to go home. I don't like to visit. I prefer going to school, especially since I came to Avonlea.
"Willie White's began
"'I want to tell you about my very brave aunt. She lives in Ontario and one day she went into the barn and saw a dog in the yard. The dog had no business there so she got a stick and hit him hard and herded him into the barn and silenced him. Pretty soon a man came looking for an imaginary lion" (Question; - did Willie mean a menagerie lion?) "who had run away from a circus. And it turned out that the dog was a lion, and my very brave aunt drove him into the barn with a stick. It was a wonder she wasn't armored, but she was very brave. Emerson Gillis says when she thought it was a dog, she was no braver than if it really was a dog. But Emerson is jealous because he has no brave aunt himself, nothing but uncle.”
"'I saved the best for last. You laugh at me for thinking Paul is a genius, but I am sure his letter will convince you that he is a very unusual child. Paul lives down by the shore with his grandmother and has no playmates. . . no real playmates. You'll remember our school management professor telling us not to have "favorites" among our students, but I can't help but love Paul Irving the most. I don't think there's any harm though, because everyone loves Paul, even Mrs Lynde, who says she could never have believed she would become so fond of a Yankee. The other boys at school like him too. Despite his dreams and fantasies, there is nothing weak or girly about him. He is very manly and can hold his own in all games. He recently fought St. Clair Donnell because St. Clair said the Union Jack is way ahead of the Stars and Stripes as a flag. The result was an indecisive battle and a mutual agreement to respect each other's patriotism henceforth. St. Clair says he can hitthe hardestbut Paul can hit thatmost frequently.‘“
"'My dear teacher,
"'You told us we could write to you about some interesting people we knew. I think the most interesting people I know are my rock people and I want to tell you about them. I have never told anyone about this except Grandma and Dad but I want you to know about it because you understand things. There are a lot of people who don't understand things, so there's no point in telling them."
"'My rock people live on the shore. I used to visit her almost every night before winter came. Now I can't drive until spring, but they will be there because people like that never change. . . that's the great thing about them. Nora was the first of them I met and that's why I think I love her the most. She lives in Andrews' Cove, has black hair and black eyes, and knows all about mermaids and seaweed. You should listen to the stories she can tell. Then there are the Twin Sailors. They don't live anywhere, they sail all the time, but they often come ashore to talk to me. They are a fun tar couple and have seen everything in the world. . . and more than what is in the world. Do you know what once happened to the youngest Twin Sailor? He was sailing and he was sailing straight into a moonglade. A moonglade is the mark the full moon leaves on the water as it rises out of the sea, you know, teacher. Well, the youngest Gemini sailor sailed down the moon glade till he came straight to the moon and there was a little golden door in the moon and he opened it and sailed straight through. He had some wonderful adventures on the moon, but recounting them would make this letter too long.”
"'Then there's the Golden Lady of the Cave. One day I found a big cave down on the shore and went in and after a while I found the Golden Lady. She has golden hair down to her feet and her dress shines and shines like living gold. And she has a golden harp and plays it all day long. . . You can always hear the music along the coast if you listen carefully, but most people would think it's just the wind between the rocks. I never told Nora about the Golden Lady. I was afraid it might hurt her feelings. It even hurt her feelings if I talked to the Twin Sailors for too long."
"'I used to meet the Twin Sailors at the Striped Rocks. The youngest Twin Sailor is very cheerful, but the oldest Twin Sailor can look terribly wild at times. I have my suspicions about the eldest twin. I think he would be a pirate if he dared. There really is something very mysterious about him. He swore once and I told him if he did it again he didn't have to come ashore to talk to me because I promised Grandma I would never get involved with anyone who swore. He was pretty scared, I can tell you that, and he said if I forgive him he'd take me to the sunset. The next evening, as I was sitting on the Striped Rocks, the eldest twin came sailing across the sea in an enchanted boat, and I got into them. The boat was all pearly and rainbow-colored like the inside of the shells, and her sail was like moonlight. Well, we sailed right over to the sunset. Remember teacher, I was in the sunset. And what do you think it is? The sunset is a land of flowers. We sailed into a big garden and the clouds are flower beds. We entered a large harbor all in gold and I stepped straight out of the boat into a large meadow all covered with buttercups the size of roses. I stayed there for so long. It seemed to last almost a year, but the eldest twin says it was only a few minutes. You see, time is much longer in sunset land than here.”
"'Your loving student,
"'P.S., this letter is of course not true, teacher.
12. A day of Jonah
It really started the night before with a fitful wake from a rumbling toothache. When Anne arose on the dreary, bitter winter morning, she felt life was flat, stale, and unprofitable.
She didn't go to school in an angelic mood. Her cheek was swollen and her face hurt. The schoolroom was cold and smoky, for the fire would not burn, and the children crowded around it in trembling groups. Anne sent them to their seats with a sharper tone than ever. Anthony Pye stalked over to him with his usual brazen boast, and she saw him whisper something to his seatmate, then give her a grin.
Never, it seemed to Anne, had there been so many squeaky pencils as this morning; and when Barbara Shaw came to the desk with a sum, she stumbled over the brazier with disastrous results. The coal rolled to all parts of the room, her slate shattered into pieces, and when she got to her feet, her face smeared with coal dust made the boys roar with laughter.
Anne turned away from the second reading class she was listening to.
"Really, Barbara," she said icily, "if you can't move without tripping over something, you better stay put. It's downright embarrassing for a girl your age to be so awkward."
Poor Barbara staggered back to her desk, her tears mingling with the coal dust to a truly grotesque effect. Never before had her beloved compassionate teacher spoken to her in such a tone and manner, and Barbara was heartbroken. Anne felt a pang of conscience herself, but it only increased her mental irritation, and second graders still remember that lesson, as well as the ruthless infliction of arithmetic that followed. Just as Anne was writing down the bills, St. Clair Donnell arrived, out of breath.
"You're half an hour late, St. Clair," Anne reminded him coldly. "Why is this?"
"Please, Miss, I had to help Mama make a pudding for supper because we're expecting company and Clarice Almira is ill," was St. Clair's reply, delivered in an entirely respectful tone, but nonetheless provoking great hilarity among his comrades .
"Sit down and do the six problems on page eighty-four of your Punishment Arithmetic," said Anne. St. Clair looked rather taken aback at her tone, but he sheepishly went to his desk and pulled out his slate. He then secretly handed Joe Sloane a small package across the aisle. Anne caught him in the act and has come to a fatal conclusion because of this package.
Old Mrs. Hiram Sloane had recently started making and selling "nut pies" to supplement her meager income. The cakes were particularly tempting to little boys, and Anne hadn't had any trouble with them for a few weeks. On the way to school, the boys deposited their leftover money with Mrs. Hiram, brought the cakes to school and ate them when possible, and spoiled their buddies during school hours. Anne had warned them that if they brought any more cakes to the school they would be confiscated; and yet here St. Clair coolly handed Donnell a packet of them, wrapped in the blue-and-white striped paper that Mrs. Hiram used, right under her eyes.
"Joseph," Anne said softly, "bring the package."
Joe, startled and embarrassed, obeyed. He was a fat brat who always blushed and stuttered when he was scared. Nobody ever looked more guilty than poor Joe at that moment.
"Throw it on the fire," said Anne.
Joe looked very blank.
"P . . . p . . . p . . . lease, M . . . m . . . miss," he began.
"Do as I tell you, Joseph, without saying a word about it."
"B . . . b . . . but m . . . m . . . Miss . . . . . . . . . You are . . . " Joe panted desperately.
“Joseph, are you obeying me or are you?Not?' said Ann.
A braver and more confident boy than Joe Sloane would have been overwhelmed by her tone and the dangerous twinkle in her eyes. This was a new Anne that none of her students had ever seen before. Joe went to the stove with a pained look at St. Clair, opened the big square front door and threw in the blue and white packet before St. Clair, who had jumped to his feet, could say a word. Then he backed away just in time.
For a few moments, the terrified residents of Avonlea School didn't know if it was an earthquake or a volcanic explosion. The innocent-looking package, which Anne had hastily mistaken for Mrs Hiram's nut cake, actually contained a selection of firecrackers and pinwheels that Warren Sloane had sent into town from St Clair Donnell's father the day before for a birthday party that night . The crackers went off with a bang, and the pinwheels shooting out the door spun wildly across the room, hissing and sputtering. Anne collapsed into her chair, white with dismay, and all the girls climbed onto their desks, screaming. Joe Sloane stood transfixed in the commotion and St. Clair rocked helplessly in the aisle with laughter. Prillie Rogerson passed out and Annetta Bell went into hysterics.
It seemed to be a long time, when in fact it was only a few minutes before the last pinwheel died. Anne, recovering, jumped up to open doors and windows, letting out the gas and smoke that filled the room. She then helped the girls carry the unconscious Prillie onto the porch, where Barbara Shaw, in a nagging need to be useful, poured a bucket of semi-frozen water over Prillie's face and shoulders before anyone could stop her.
It took a full hour for calm to be restored. . . but there was a stillness that could be felt. Everyone realized that not even the explosion cleared Teacher's mental atmosphere. Nobody but Anthony Pye dared whisper a word. Ned Clay accidentally squeaked his pencil while working on a bill, catching Anne's eye and wishing the floor would open up and swallow him. The geography class was thrown across a continent at a speed that would make them dizzy. Grammar lessons were parsed and analyzed within an inch of her life. Chester Sloane, who spells "odoriferous" with two f's, was made to feel that he could never bear the shame, in this world or the world to come.
Anne knew she'd made a fool of herself and that the incident would be laughed at twenty tea tables that night, but the knowledge only made her angrier. In a calmer mood she could have ended the situation with a laugh, but that was impossible now; so she ignored it with icy contempt.
When Anne returned to school after supper, all the children were seated as usual, and all but Anthony Pye's faces were bent eagerly over a desk. He peered over his book at Anne, his black eyes sparkling with curiosity and mockery. Anne pulled open her desk drawer in search of chalk, and under her own hand, a lively mouse sprang out of the drawer, scampered across the desk, and jumped to the floor.
Anne cried out and jumped back like it was a snake, and Anthony Pye laughed out loud.
Then there was silence. . . a very eerie, uncomfortable silence. Annetta Bell wasn't sure whether or not to get hysterical again, especially since she didn't know exactly where the mouse had gone. But she decided against it. Who could console oneself from hysteria when a teacher with such pale face and bright eyes stands before one?
"Who put that mouse in my desk?" said Anne. Her voice was fairly low, but it sent shivers down Paul Irving's spine. Joe Sloane caught her eye, feeling responsible from head to toe, but stuttered wildly:
"N . . . n . . . not m . . . m . . . met . . . t . . . teacher, N . . . n . . . not m . . . m . . . me."
Anne paid no attention to the wretched Joseph. She looked at Anthony Pye and Anthony Pye looked back unashamedly and impudently.
"Anthony, was it you?"
"Yes, it was," Anthony said impudently.
Anne picked up her pointer from her desk. It was a long, heavy hardwood hand.
"Come here, Anthony."
It was far from the most severe punishment Anthony Pye had ever suffered. Anne, even the stormy Anne she was at that moment, could not have punished a child cruelly. But the pointer nibbled sharply and eventually Anthony's bravery failed him; he winced and tears welled up in his eyes.
Anne, feeling guilty, dropped the pointer and motioned for Anthony to go to his seat. She sat down at her desk feeling ashamed, remorseful and deeply hurt. Her quick anger had evaporated and she would have given anything to be able to shed tears for relief. That's how all her boasting had come about. . . she had actually whipped one of her students. How would Jane triumph! And how Mr. Harrison would giggle! But worse, the bitterest thought of all, she had missed her last chance to win Anthony Pye. He would never like her now.
Anne held back her tears until she got home that evening. Then she locked herself in the east gable room and wept into her pillows all her shame and regret and disappointment. . . cried for so long that Marilla was alarmed, invading the room and insisting on knowing what the problem was.
"The problem is, I've got something wrong with my conscience," Anne sobbed. "Oh, that was such a Jonah day, Marilla. I am so ashamed of myself. I lost my temper and flogged Anthony Pye.”
"I'm glad to hear that," Marilla said firmly. "You should have done that a long time ago."
"Oh no, no Marilla. And I don't see how I can ever look those kids in the face again. I feel like I've humiliated myself to the core. You don't know how angry and hateful and terrible I was. I can't forget the look in Paul Irving's eyes. . . he looked so surprised and disappointed. Ah, Marilla, meto havetried so hard to be patient and win Anthony's affections. . . and now it's all for nothing."
Marilla ran her work-worn hand over the girl's shiny, tousled hair with wonderful tenderness. As Anne's sobs subsided, she said to her very softly:
“You take things too much to heart, Anne. We all make mistakes . . . but people forget them. And Jonah days come to everyone. As for Anthony Pye, why do you care if he doesn't like you? He is the only one."
"I can not help myself. I want everyone to love me and it hurts me so much when nobody does. And Anthony never will now. Oh, I made a fool of myself today, Marilla. I'll tell you the whole story."
Marilla listened to the whole story, and when she smiled at certain parts of it, Anne never found out. When the story ended, she said briskly:
"Well, never mind. That day is over and tomorrow there will be a new one, still flawless, as you used to say yourself. Just come down and eat your dinner. You'll see if a good cup of tea and the plum leaves I made today won't cheer you up."
"Plum puffs don't help the insane," Anne said glumly; but Marilla thought it was a good sign that she had recovered sufficiently to adjust a quote.
The cheerful dinner table with the beaming faces of the twins and Marilla's incomparable plum puffs. . . four of which Davy ate. . . I've really "spooked" her up a lot. She had a good night's sleep that night and awoke in the morning to find herself and the world changed. It had snowed softly and thickly through all the hours of darkness, and the beautiful white glittering in the frosty sunshine looked like a cloak of mercy laid over all the mistakes and humiliations of the past.
"Every morning is a new beginning,
The world is made new every morning.”
sang Anne as she dressed.
Because of the snow she had to walk around School Street, and she thought it a mischievous coincidence that Anthony Pye plowed past just as she was turning off Green Gables Street. She felt so guilty as if their positions had been reversed; but to their inexpressible astonishment, Anthony didn't just lift his cap. . . what he had never done before. . . but easily said
"It's kind of a bad walk, isn't it? May I take these books for you, teacher?”
Anne checked in her books and wondered if she might be awake. Anthony continued on to school in silence, but when Anne picked up her books, she smiled down at him. . . not the stereotypical "friendly" smile she had so persistently adopted on his behalf, but a sudden flash of good camaraderie. Anton smiled. . . No, if the truth is to be told, anthonygrinnedthe back. A grin is generally not meant to be respectful; But Anne suddenly felt that if she hadn't won Anthony's affections, somehow she had won his respect.
Mrs. Rachel Lynde came the following Saturday and confirmed this.
"Well Anne, I guess you convinced Anthony Pye, that's something. He says he thinks you're a good thing even though you're a girl. Says the flogging you gave him was 'as good as a man's'."
"But I never expected to win him by flogging him," Anne said, a little sadly, feeling that her ideals had played her wrong somewhere. "It doesn't seem right. I amfor sureMy theory of kindnesschickensto be wrong."
"No, but the Pyes are an exception to every known rule, that's what," Mrs. Rachel stated confidently.
Mr. Harrison said, "I thought you'd guessed it," when he heard it, and Jane added it rather ruthlessly.
13. A golden picnic
On her way up Orchard Slope, Anne met Diana on the way to Green Gables, right where the mossy old log bridge spanned the creek below the Haunted Wood, and they sat on the edge of Dryad's Bubble, where tiny ferns uncurled like curly green pixies waking up from a nap.
"I was just on my way to invite you to help me celebrate my birthday on Saturday," Anne said.
"Your birthday? But your birthday was in March!"
"It wasn't my fault," laughed Anne. "If my parents had consulted me, it would never have happened then. I should of course have chosen to be born in the spring. It must be wonderful to be born with mayflowers and violets. They would always feel like their foster sister. But since I didn't, the next best thing is to celebrate my birthday in the spring. Priscilla will be over on Saturday and Jane will be home. All four of us make our way into the forest and spend a golden day getting to know spring. We all don't really know her yet, but we'll meet her back there like we can't get anywhere else. I want to explore all these fields and lonely places anyway. I am convinced that there are countless beautiful corners that never really existedseenalthough they may have beensahat. We will embrace the wind and sky and sun and bring spring home in our hearts.”
"EsSoundsawfully nice,' said Diana, inwardly suspicious of Anne's wordspell. "But won't it be very damp in some places?"
"Oh, we wear gummies," was Anne's concession to practicality. "And I want you to come over early Saturday morning and help me prepare lunch. I will have the most delicious things possible. . . Things that go with spring, you know. . . little jelly tarts and ladyfingers and biscuits with pink and yellow icing and buttercup cakes. And we must have sandwiches, too, although they areNotvery poetic."
Saturday turned out to be an ideal day for a picnic. . . a day of breeze and blue, warm, sunny, with a little boisterous wind blowing across meadow and orchard. Over every sunlit highland and field lay a delicate green with flower stars.
Mr. Harrison, toiling at the back of his farm, sensing something of the springtime witchcraft even in his sober middle-aged blood, saw four girls stumbling laden with baskets across the end of his field, where it emptied into a forest of birch and Fir. Their cheerful voices and laughter echoed down to him.
"It's so easy to be happy on a day like this, isn't it?" Anne said, with true Anneish philosophy. "Let's try to make this a truly golden day, girls, a day to always look back on with joy. We are to seek beauty and refuse to see anything else. 'Go away, boring worry!' Jane, you're thinking about something that went wrong at school yesterday."
"How do you know?" gasped Jane in astonishment.
“Oh, I know the expression . . . I've felt it often enough on my own face. But forget it, there is treasure. It lasts until Monday. . . or if not, all the better. Oh, girl, girl, look at that violet spot! There is something for the picture gallery of memories. When I'm eighty years old. . . if i ever am . . I'll close my eyes and see these violets as I see them now. This is the first good gift our day has given us.”
"If there was a kiss, I think it would look like a violet," Priscilla said.
"I'm so happy for youspokenthat thought, Priscilla, instead of just thinking it and keeping it to yourself. This world would be a much more interesting place. . . although itisvery interesting anyway. . . if people would speak their true thoughts.”
"It would be too hot to hold some people," Jane wisely quoted.
"I suppose it could be, but that would be their own faults for thinking evil things. Anyway, we can say all our thoughts today because we will only have beautiful thoughts. Anyone can say whatever is on their mind.Thatis conversation. Here's a little trail I've never seen before. Let's explore.”
The path was winding, so narrow that the girls walked in single file and even then the fir branches brushed their faces. Under the firs lay velvety cushions of moss, and farther back, where the trees were smaller and fewer, the ground was rich in various green plants.
"What a lot of elephant ears," Diana exclaimed. "I'll pick a big bunch, they're so pretty."
"How come such graceful feathered things ever have such a dreadful name?" asked Priscilla.
"Because the person who called it first either had no imagination at all or way too much," said Anne, "Oh girls, look at that!"
"That" was a shallow forest pond in the middle of a small open clearing where the path ended. Later in the season it would dry up and fill its place with a wild growth of ferns; but now it was a shimmering, still sheet, round as a saucer and clear as crystal. A ring of slender young birches surrounded it, and small ferns lined its rim.
„howSweet!" said Jane.
"Let's dance around it like wood nymphs," Anne cried, dropping her basket and holding out her hands.
But the dance was not a success, for the ground was swampy and Jane's rubber bands fell off.
"You can't be a wood nymph if you have to wear gummies," was her decision.
"Well, we must give this place a name before we leave," Anne said, yielding to the undeniable logic of fact. “Everyone proposes a name and we draw lots. Diana?"
"Birch pool," Diana promptly suggested.
"Crystal Lake," said Jane.
Anne, standing behind them, begged Priscilla with her eyes not to commit another such name, and Priscilla met the occasion with Mica Glass. Anne's choice was The Fairies' Mirror.
The names were written on strips of birch bark with a pencil that Schoolma'am Jane pulled from her pocket and placed in Anne's hat. Then Priscilla closed her eyes and drew one. "Crystal Lake," Jane read triumphantly. It was Crystal Lake, and if Anne thought chance had played a shabby trick on the pool, she didn't say so.
The girls pushed through the undergrowth beyond and reached the young green seclusion of Mr. Silas Sloane's back pasture. On the other side, they found the entrance to an alley leading through the forest and decided to explore it as well. It rewarded their search with a series of nice surprises. The first thing that passed by Mr. Sloane's pasture was an archway with wild cherry trees all in full bloom. The girls swung their hats on their arms and wreathed their hair with the creamy, fluffy flowers. Then the path turned at right angles and plunged into a spruce forest so dense and dark that they walked in a twilight gloom, with not a glimpse of sky or sunlight to be seen.
"This is where the evil wood elves live," whispered Anne. "They are mischievous and mischievous, but they cannot harm us because they are not allowed to do evil in the spring. Around this old crooked fir one peeped at us; and didn't you see a group of them on the big freckled toadstool we just passed? The good fairies always live in sunny places.”
"I wish there really were fairies," said Jane. "Wouldn't it be nice if three wishes were granted to you . . . or even just one? What would you wish for, girls, if you could grant one wish? I want to be rich and beautiful and smart.”
"I'd like to be tall and slim," Diana said.
"I'd like to be famous," Priscilla said. Anne thought of her hair and then dismissed the thought as unworthy.
"I wish it was spring all the time and in everyone's hearts and lives," she said.
"But that," said Priscilla, "would only wish this world were like heaven."
"Just like a piece of heaven. In the other parts there would be summer and autumn. . . Yes, and a bit of winter too. I think sometimes I want sparkling snowy fields and white hoarfrost in the sky. Isn't that right, Jane?"
"I . . . I don't know," said Jane uneasily. Jane was a good girl, a member of the Church who tried hard to do her job and believed everything she had been taught. But she thought never went more to heaven than she could help, in spite of everything.
"Minnie May asked me the other day if we wore our best clothes every day in heaven," laughed Diana.
"And didn't you tell her we were going to do it?" asked Anne.
"Mercy, no! I told her we wouldn't think about clothes at all."
“Oh, I think we will . . . aklein' Anne said seriously. “There will be enough time for all eternity without neglecting more important things. I think we'll all wear nice clothes. . . or i guessgarmentwould be a more appropriate idiom. I'm going to want to wear pink for a few centuries first. . . It would take me so long to get tired of it, I'm sure. I love pink so much and I can never wear it insideThisWelt."
Past the pines the path dropped down into a sunny little open space where a wooden bridge spanned a stream; and then came the splendor of a sunlit beech forest, where the air was like transparent golden wine, and the leaves fresh and green, and the wooden floor a mosaic of trembling sunshine. Then wild cherries again, and a little valley of soft firs, and then a hill so steep that the girls gasped as they climbed it; but when they reached the top and came out into the open, the nicest surprise of all awaited them.
Beyond lay the "back fields" of the farms, leading to Upper Carmody Road. Just ahead of them, lined with beeches and firs but open to the south, was a little corner and a garden in it. . . or what had once been a garden. A ramshackle stone dike, overgrown with moss and grass, surrounded it. Along the east side ran a row of cherry trees white as a snowdrift. There were traces of old paths and a double row of rose bushes in the middle; but all the rest of the room was a leaf of yellow and white daffodils, in their airiest, most lavish, windblown blossoms above the lush green grasses.
"Oh, how beautiful!" three of the girls cried. Anne just stared in eloquent silence.
"How on earth is there ever been a garden back here?" said Priscilla, amazed.
"That must be Hester Gray's garden," Diana said. "I've heard mother talk about it, but I've never seen it before and didn't think it could still exist. Did you hear the story, Anne?”
"No, but the name sounds familiar."
"Oh, you saw it in the graveyard. She's buried down there in the poplar corner. You know the little brown stone with the carved gates to open and "Holy in Memory of Hester Gray, Aged Twenty-Two." Jordan Gray is buried right next to her, but there is no stone for him. It's a wonder Marilla never told you about this, Anne. However, it happened thirty years ago and everyone has forgotten it.”
"Well, if there's a story, we have to have it," said Anne. “Let's sit right here under the daffodils and Diana will tell. Well girls, there are hundreds of them. . . they have spread over everything. It looks like the garden is combined with moonlight and sunshine. This is a discovery worth making. To think I've lived within a mile of this place for six years and I've never seen it before! Well Diana.”
“A long time ago,” Diana began, “this farm belonged to old Mr. David Gray. He didn't live off that. . . He lived where Silas Sloane lives now. He had a son, Jordan, and went to Boston one winter to work and while he was there he fell in love with a girl named Hester Murray. She worked in a shop and she hated it. She grew up in the country and always wanted to go back. When Jordan asked her to marry him, she said she would if he would take her to a quiet place where she would see nothing but fields and trees. So he brought her to Avonlea. Mrs. Lynde said he was taking a terrible risk in marrying a Yankee, and it is certain that Hester was very delicate and a very bad housekeeper; but mother says she was very pretty and sweet and jordan just adored the ground she walked on. Well, Mr. Gray gave Jordan this farm, and he built a little house back here, and Jordan and Hester lived in it for four years. She never went out much and hardly anyone saw her except for Mother and Mrs Lynde. Jordan made her this garden and she loved it and spent most of her time in it. She wasn't much of a housekeeper, but she had a knack for flowers. And then she got sick. Mom says she thinks she was consumed before she came here. She never really hung up, but kept getting weaker and weaker. Jordan would have no one waiting for her. He did everything himself and mother says he was as tender and gentle as a woman. Every day he wrapped her in a shawl and carried her into the garden, and she lay there quite happily on a bench. It is said that she made Jordan kneel by her side every evening and every morning and pray with her that she would die in the garden when the time came. And her prayer was answered. One day Jordan carried her out to the bench, and then he plucked all the roses that were outside and heaped them over her; and she just smiled at him. . . and closed her eyes. . . and that,” Diana concluded softly, “was the end.”
"Oh, what a lovely story," Anne sighed, wiping away her tears.
"What happened to Jordan?" asked Priscilla.
"He sold the farm after Hester died and went back to Boston. Mr. Jabez Sloane bought the farm and dragged the little house onto the road. Jordan died about ten years later and he was brought home and buried next to Hester."
"I can't understand how she would want to live back here, away from it all," said Jane.
"Oh, I can understand that easilythe' Anne said thoughtfully. "I wouldn't wish it on myself for a solid cause, because although I love the fields and forests, I also love the people. But I can understand it in Hester. She was dead tired from the noise of the big city and the crowds that kept coming and going and didn't care about her. She just wanted to get away from it all, to a quiet, green, friendly place where she could rest. And she got exactly what she wanted, which I think very few people do. She had four happy years before she died. . . four years of perfect happiness, so I thought she was more to envy than to pity. And then closing your eyes and falling asleep among roses while the one you loved most smiles down at you. . . Oh I thought it was beautiful!”
"She put those cherry trees over there," Diana said. "She told her mother that she would never live to eat its fruit, but she wanted to believe that something she planted would live on and help make the world a better place after she was dead."
"I'm so glad we came this way," said Anne, eyes bright. "This is my adopted birthday, you know, and this garden and its story is the birthday present it gave me. Did your mother ever tell you what Hester Gray looked like, Diana?”
"No . . . only that she was pretty."
"I'm pretty happy about that because I can imagine what she looked like without being bogged down by facts. I think she was very slim and short with softly curled dark hair and big sweet shy brown eyes and a wistful little pale face.”
The girls left their baskets in Hester's garden and spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around in the surrounding woods and fields, discovering many pretty nooks and alleys. When they got hungry, they ate lunch in the nicest place of all. . . on the steep bank of a babbling brook where white birch trees shot up from long, feathery grasses. The girls sat down to basics and did full justice to Anne's delicacies, even the unpoetic sandwiches being cherished by hearty, unspoiled appetites sharpened by all the fresh air and exercise they'd enjoyed. Anne had brought glasses and lemonade for her guests, but she drank cold stream water from a birch bark mug. The cup leaked, and the water tasted of earth, as brook water tends to do in spring; but Anne thought it more appropriate than lemonade.
"Look, do you see the poem?" she said suddenly, pointing.
"Where from?" Jane and Diana stared at her as if expecting runic rhymes on the birch trees.
"There . . . down in the creek . . . that old green moss-covered log with the water flowing over it in those smooth waves that look like they've been combed and that single ray of sunshine falling right on it, way down in the pool. Oh, that's the most beautiful poem I've ever seen."
"I'd rather call it a picture," said Jane. "A poem consists of lines and verses."
"Oh my goodness, no." Anne positively shook her head with her fluffy wild cherry coronary. “The lines and verses are only the outer covering of the poem, no more so than its ruffles and flouncesshe, Jane. The real poem is the soul in them. . . and this beautiful part is the soul of an unwritten poem. You don't see a soul every day. . . even a poem.”
“I wonder what kind of soul . . . the soul of a person. . . would look like,” Priscilla said dreamily.
"So, I think," Anne replied, pointing to a ray of filtered sunlight streaming through a birch tree. “Only with shape and equipment, of course. I like to think of souls as made of light. And some are streaked all over with rosy spots and quivers. . . and some have a soft glitter like moonlight on the sea. . . and some are pale and transparent like mist at dawn."
"I once read somewhere that souls are like flowers," Priscilla said.
"Then your soul is a golden daffodil," said Anne, "and Diana's is like a red, red rose. Jane's is an apple blossom, pink and healthy and sweet."
"And your own is a white violet with violet streaks at its heart," Priscilla finished.
Jane whispered to Diana that she really couldn't understand what they were talking about. Could she?
The girls went home in the light of a calm golden sunset, their baskets filled with daffodil flowers from Hester's garden, some of which Anne carried to the cemetery the next day and placed on Hester's grave. Minstrel robins whistled in the firs and the frogs sang in the swamps. All the pools between the hills were awash with topaz and emerald light.
"Well, we did have a good time," Diana said, hardly expecting it, as she left.
"It was a really golden day," said Priscilla.
"I'm also very fond of the forest," said Jane.
Anne said nothing. She gazed far into the western sky and thought of little Hester Gray.
14. A danger averted
Anne, walking home from the post office one Friday evening, was accompanied by Mrs. Lynde, who was, as usual, burdened with all the concerns of Church and State.
"I just stopped by Timothy Cotton to see if I could get Alice Louise to help me out for a few days," she said. "I had her last week because although she's too slow to stop quickly, she's better than nobody. But she is ill and cannot come. Timothy is sitting there too, coughing and moaning. He has been dying for ten years and he will die for another ten years. This species cannot even die and be done with it. . . You can't hold on to anything long enough, not even being sick, to break it off. They are a horrible, helpless family and what will become of them I do not know, but perhaps Providence does.”
Mrs. Lynde sighed, as if she doubted the extent of providential knowledge on the subject.
"Marilla was back for her eyes on Tuesday, wasn't she? What did the specialist think of that?” She continued.
"He was very happy," said Anne, beaming. "He says there is a big improvement and he believes the risk of her losing her sight completely is over. But he says she will never read much or be able to do manual work again. How are your preparations going for your bazaar?”
The Ladies' Aid Society prepared a mass and dinner, and Mrs. Lynde was the leader and front of the enterprise.
"Pretty good . . . and that reminds me. Mrs. Allan thinks it would be nice to set up a shack like an old kitchen and serve a dinner of baked beans, donuts, cakes and whatnot. We collect old-fashioned fixtures everywhere. Mrs .Simon Fletcher will lend us her mother's woven rugs and Mrs. Levi Boulter some old chairs and Aunt Mary Shaw will lend us her glass-doored cupboard. I suppose Marilla will let us have her brass candlesticks? And we want all the old crockery, that we can get. Mrs. Allan is particularly anxious to have a real blue willow slab if we can find one. But nobody seems to have one. Do you know where we could get one?"
"Miss Josephine Barry has one. I'll write to her and ask her if she'll borrow it for the occasion," Anne said.
"Well, I wish you would. I guess we'll have dinner in about a fortnight. About this time Uncle Abe Andrews prophesies rain and storms; and that is a pretty sure sign that we shall have fine weather.”
The said "Uncle Abe," it should be noted, was at least like other prophets in that he had little honor in his own country. In fact, he was viewed in the light of a standing joke, for few of his weather forecasts ever came true. Mr. Elisha Wright, who had the impression that he was a local boy, used to say that no one in Avonlea ever thought to look for weather probabilities in the Charlottetown dailies. No; they just asked Uncle Abe what tomorrow would bring and expected the opposite. Nothing discourages, Uncle Abe continued to prophesy.
'We want the carnival to be over before the election,' continued Mrs Lynde, 'because the candidates will certainly come and spend a lot of money. The Tories bribe left and right so they might as well get a chance to spend their money honestly.”
Anne was an ardent conservative, loyal to Matthew's memory, but she said nothing. She knew better than to break into politics as Mrs Lynde. She had a letter for Marilla postmarked from a town in British Columbia.
"Probably from the kids' uncle," she said excitedly when she got home. "Oh, Marilla, I wonder what he says about her."
"Perhaps the best plan would be to open it up and see," Marilla said tersely. A close observer might have thought she was excited too, but she would rather have died than show it.
Anne tore open the letter and scanned the somewhat messy and poorly written contents.
"He says he can't take the kids this spring. . . He was ill for most of the winter and his wedding is being postponed. He wants to know if we can keep her until the fall and he'll try to take her then. Of course we will, won’t we, Marilla?”
"I don't see there's anything else we can do," Marilla said rather grimly, although she felt a secret relief. "Anyway, they don't cause as much trouble as they used to. . . or we have become accustomed to them. Davy has improved a lot.”
"SeineMannersare certainly much better,” said Anne cautiously, as if unwilling to say so much for his morale.
Anne had come home from school the night before to find Marilla at a charity meeting, Dora asleep on the kitchen sofa and Davy in the living room cupboard, sipping the contents of a jar of Marilla's famous yellow plum jam. . . "Company jam," Davy called it. . . which he was forbidden to touch. He looked very guilty as Anne lunged at him and took him out of the closet.
"Davy Keith, don't you know that if you've been told never to interfere, it's very wrong of you to eat that jamthecloset?"
"Yes, I knew it was wrong," Davy admitted uneasily, "but plum jam is terribly delicious, Anne. I just checked it out and it looked so good I thought I'd just take a sneak peek. I stuck my finger in. . .” Anne groaned. . . "and licked it clean. And it was so much better than I ever thought I got a spoon and justsailed in.“
Anne lectured him so earnestly about the sin of stealing plum jam that Davy felt guilty and kissed him ruefully that he would never do it again.
"In any case, there will be enough jam in heaven, that's a consolation," he said smugly.
Anne nipped a smile in the bud.
"Maybe there is . . . if we want to," she said, "but what makes you think that way?"
"It's in the catechism," said Davy.
“Oh no, there is nothing like itthein the Catechism, Davy.”
"But I assure you there is," Davy insisted. “Marilla taught me that question last Sunday. "Why should we love God?" It says, "Because he makes preserves and redeems us." Preserves are just a holy way of saying jam."
"I need to drink some water," Anne said hastily. When she returned, it took her some time and effort to explain to Davy that a certain comma in the catechism question in question made a big difference in meaning.
"Well, I thought it was too good to be true," he finally said with a sigh of disappointed conviction. "And besides, I didn't see when he would find time to make jam when it's an endless Sabbath day like the song says. I don't think I want to go to heaven. Will there never be Saturdays in heaven, Anne?”
“Yes, Saturdays and all other nice days. And every day in heaven will be more beautiful than the one before, Davy,” assured Anne, quite glad that Marilla wasn't shocked. Needless to say, Marilla raised the twins in the good old fashion of theology and discouraged all fanciful speculation about it. Davy and Dora were taught a song, a catechism question, and two Bible verses every Sunday. Dora studied humbly and recited like a little machine, perhaps with as much understanding or interest as if she were one. Davy, on the other hand, was very curious and often asked questions that made Marilla tremble for his fate.
“Chester Sloane says that all the time in heaven we will do nothing but walk around in white robes and play the harp; and he says he hopes he doesn't have to go until he's an old man, because then he might like it better. And he thinks it's going to be horrible to wear dresses, and I think so too. Why can't male angels wear pants, Anne? Chester Sloane is interested in these things because they will make a minister out of him. He needs to be a minister because his grandmother left him the money to send him to college and he cannot have it unless he is a minister. She felt that a pastor was such a "significant thing in a family." Chester says he doesn't mind. . . although he would rather be a blacksmith. . . but he'll definitely have as much fun as he can before he starts becoming a minister because he doesn't expect to have much afterward.Iwill not become a minister. I'll keep shopkeepers like Mr. Blair and heaps of candy and bananas. But I'd rather go to your heaven if they let me play a harmonica instead of a harp. Do you think they would?"
"Yes, I think they would if you wanted them to," was all Anne dared.
The A.V.I.S. met at Mr. Harmon Andrews's that evening, and full attendance had been requested as important business was to be discussed. The A.V.I.S. was in a thriving state and had already performed miracles. By the early spring, Mr. Major Spencer had fulfilled his promise and tamped, sorted, and seeded the entire frontage of his farm. A dozen other men, some with a determination not to be overtaken by a Spencer, others spurred to action by improvers in their own households, had followed his example. The result was that where there had once been unsightly undergrowth or scrub, long strips of smooth velvet turf have emerged. The unplastered farm facades, on the other hand, looked so bad that their owners were secretly ashamed to try to see what they could do in another spring. The triangle of soil at the crossings had also been cleared and seeded, and Anne's geranium bed, undamaged by a marauding cow, was already planted in the middle.
On the whole the improvers thought they got along well, although Mr. Levi Boulter, tactfully asked about the old house on his upper farm by a carefully selected committee, told them bluntly that he would not have interfered.
At this particular meeting, they intended to write a petition to the school administrators and humbly pray that a fence be put up around the school grounds; and a plan should also be discussed of planting some ornamental trees by the church if the Society's resources would permit. . . for, as Anne said, there was no point in starting another subscription as long as the room stayed blue. The members were gathered in the Andrews' drawing room, and Jane was already on her feet to press ahead with the appointment of a committee to find out and report on the price of said trees, when Gertie Pye swept in, pompadoured and ruffled, just an inch from her removes life. Gertie had a habit of being late. . . "to make their appearance more effective," said hateful people. Gertie's performance was certainly effective on this occasion, as she dramatically stopped in the middle of the floor, threw up her hands, rolled her eyes and exclaimed, "I just heard something absolutely horrible. Whatagainyou think? Mr Judson Parkerwill lease his farm's entire road fence to a patent medicine company to paint advertisements on.“
For once in her life, Gertie Pye caused all the sensation she wanted. If she dropped a bomb among the smug improvers, she couldn't have earned much more.
"Eschickensbe true,” Anne said flatly.
"That's exactly whatIsaid when I first heard it, you don't know," said Gertie, who was having a great time. "Isaid it couldn't be true. . . that Judson Parker wouldn't have thatHerzto do it you don't know. But father met him this afternoon and asked him about it and he said it was true. Simply chic! His farm is on the side of the road from Newbridge, and how awful it's going to look to see adverts for pills and band-aids all over the place, don't you know?"
The Improverstatknow all too well. Even the most unimaginative among them could imagine the grotesque effect of a half-mile board fence adorned with such advertisements. All thoughts of church and school grounds vanished before this new danger. Parliamentary rules and regulations were forgotten, and Anne despairingly gave up trying to take any minutes at all. Everyone was talking at once and the hustle and bustle was terrible.
"Oh, let's stay calm," pleaded Anne, who was the most excited of them all, "and let's try to think of something to stop him."
"I don't know how you're going to stop him," cried Jane bitterly. “Everyone knows what Judson Parker is. He wouldanythingfor money. He has noFunkecommon sense oranysense of beauty.”
The prospect looked rather unpromising. Judson Parker and his sister were the only Parkers in Avonlea, so family connections could not exert any pressure. Martha Parker was a lady of too secure an age who disapproved of young people in general and the rising stars in particular. Judson was a cheerful, calm-voiced man, so evenly good-natured and expressionless that it was surprising how few friends he had. Perhaps he had gotten better at too many business transactions. . . which seldom garnered popularity. He was considered very 'sharp' and the general opinion was that he 'didn't have much principle'.
"If Judson Parker has a chance to 'make an honest penny,' as he puts it, he'll never lose it," Fred Wright said.
"Is therenobodyWho has influence over him?” Anne asked desperately.
"He's visiting Louisa Spencer at White Sands," Carrie Sloane suggested. "Maybe she could persuade him not to rent his fences."
"You don't," Gilbert said firmly. “I know Louisa Spencer well. She doesn't "believe" in Village Improvement Societies, but she doestutbelieve in dollars and cents. She would rather urge Judson than dissuade him."
"The only thing to do is appoint a committee to wait for him and protest," said Julia Bell, "and you must send girls, for he would hardly be polite to boys." . . butIwon't go, so no one has to nominate me."
"Better send Anne alone," Oliver Sloane said. "She can persuade Judson if anyone can."
Anne protested. She was ready to go and do the talking; but she must have others with her "for moral support." Diana and Jane were therefore tasked with morally supporting them, and the Improvers broke up, buzzing with indignation like angry bees. Anne was so worried that she didn't fall asleep until almost morning, and then she dreamed that the school authorities had put a fence around the school and painted "Try purple pills" all over it.
The committee waited for Judson Parker the next afternoon. Anne eloquently pleaded against his nefarious plan, and Jane and Diana gave her moral and valiant support. Judson was elegant, polite, and flattering; made them several compliments on the delicacy of sunflowers; felt really bad to turn down such charming young ladies. . . but business was business; couldn't afford to let moods get in the way during these trying times.
"But I'll say what I doWilledo,” he said, a twinkle in his bright, full eyes. "I'll tell the agent to use only nice, tasty colors. . . red and yellow and so on. I'll tell him not to paint the adblauIn any case."
The defeated committee withdrew, thinking it was not permissible to say things.
"We've done all we can and must just leave the rest to Providence," said Jane, in an unconscious imitation of Mrs. Lynde's tone and manner.
"I wonder if there's anything Mr. Allan could do," Diana mused.
Anne shook her head.
"No, there's no use worrying Mr. Allan, especially now that the baby is so ill. Judson would slip away from him as easily as us, though hehatI'm going to church pretty regularly right now. It's simply because Louisa Spencer's father is an elder and is very specific about things like this."
"Judson Parker is the only man in Avonlea who would dream of renting his fences," Jane said indignantly. "Even Levi Boulter or Lorenzo White would never agree to it, stingy as they are. They have too much respect for public opinion.”
Public opinion was certainly against Judson Parker when the facts emerged, but that didn't help much. Judson chuckled and resisted, and the improvers were trying to reconcile the prospect of seeing the finest part of Newbridge street marred by advertisements, when Anne rose quietly as the President heard reports from committees at the next meeting filed the Society's meeting and announced that Mr. Judson Parker had directed them to inform the Society thereofNotlease his fences to the Patent Medicine Company.
Jane and Diana stared at her as if they couldn't believe their ears. The parliamentary etiquette used in the A.V.I.S. was generally very strictly enforced, forbidding them to vent their curiosity immediately, but after the company adjourned Anne was beset for explanations. Anne had no explanation to give. Judson Parker had passed her on the street the night before and told her that he had decided to join the A.V.I.S. in his peculiar bias against patent drug advertising. That was all Anne would say, then or later, and it was the plain truth; But when Jane Andrews confided in Oliver Sloane on the way home that she believed there was more to Judson Parker's mysterious change of heart than Anne Shirley had revealed, she too was telling the truth.
Anne had been to old Mrs. Irving's on the quay the night before, and had come home by a shortcut which took her first across the low-lying coastal fields, and then by a little footpath through the beech wood below Robert Dickson's house, which was just above the lake of shining waters flowed into the main street. . . known to unimaginative people as Barry's Pond.
Two men sat in their buggies, harnessed to the curb, right at the entrance to the trail. One was Judson Parker; the other was Jerry Corcoran, a man from Newbridge whom, as Mrs Lynde would have told you in eloquent italics, there had never been anything shady aboutproven. He was an agricultural equipment salesman and a prominent figure in political affairs. He had one finger. . . said some peopleathis fingers. . . in every political pie that has been cooked; and for many weeks, when Canada was on the eve of general elections, Jerry Corcoran had been a busy man campaigning on behalf of his party's candidate in the county. Just as Anne emerged from under the overhanging beech boughs, she heard Corcoran say, 'If you vote for Amesbury, Parker . . . Well, I have a note for that pair of harrows you have in the spring. I suppose you wouldn't mind getting it back, would you?"
"We . . . ll, since you put it that way," Judson said with a grin, "I think I might as well do it. A man has to look after his own interests in these trying times."
Both saw Anne at that moment and the conversation ended abruptly. Anne bowed frostily and walked on, her chin tilted a little more than usual. Soon Judson Parker passed them.
"Do you have a lift, Anne?" he asked kindly.
"Thank you, no," Anne said politely, but with a subtle, pinprick of contempt in her voice that even penetrated Judson Parker's not-too-sensitive consciousness. His face flushed and he jerked the reins furiously; but in the next second considerations of caution slowed him down. He looked uneasily at Anne as she walked steadily on, looking neither left nor right. Had she heard Corcoran's unequivocal offer and his own oversimplified assumption? Damn Corcoran! If he couldn't put his meaning into less dangerous phrases, he'd be in trouble with some of these late risers. And confuse red-haired schoolgirls with the habit of jumping out of beech forests where they shouldn't be. If Anne had heard it, Judson Parker, measuring her corn in his own half-bushel, as the word went in the country, and deceiving himself as such people generally do, thought she would tell far and wide. Well, as we have seen, Judson Parker did not pay undue attention to public opinion; but to be known for taking a bribe would be a bad thing; and if it ever reached Isaac Spencer's ears, farewell to all hope of winning Louisa Jane with her comfortable prospects as heiress to a prosperous farmer. Judson Parker knew Mr. Spencer was looking at him a bit askance anyway; he couldn't afford to take any chances.
"Um. . . Anne, I wanted to speak to you about this little matter we were talking about the other day. I have decided not to leave my fences to this company after all. A society with a goal like yours should be encouraged.”
Anne thawed the smallest trifle.
"Thank you," she said.
"And . . . and . . . you don't need to mention that little conversation I had with Jerry."
"I have no intention of mentioning it anyway," Anne said icily, for she would have seen every fence in Avonlea painted with advertisements before she stooped to negotiate with a man who was going to sell his vote.
"Just like that . . . just like that," Judson agreed, imagining that they got along wonderfully. "I wouldn't have thought so. Of course I was just stringing Jerry . . . he thinks he's so super cute and smart I have no intention of voting for Amesbury. I will vote for Grant as I always have... You will see that when the election comes. I just carried Jerry along to see if he would oblige. And the fence is all right... you can tell the improvers that."
"It takes all sorts of people to create a world, as I've heard many times, but I think there are some who could be spared," Anne said of her reflection in the east gable mirror that evening. "I wouldn't have mentioned that disgraceful thing to a living soul anyway, so I'm in good spiritstheScore. I really don't know who or what to thank for that.Idid nothing, and it's hard to believe providence ever worked with the kind of politics that men like Judson Parker and Jerry Corcoran have.
15. The beginning of the holidays
On a still, yellow evening, when the winds whispered in the spruce trees around the playground and the shadows at the edge of the forest were long and sluggish, Anne locked the door of the schoolhouse. With a satisfied sigh, she put the key in her pocket. The school year was over, she had been rehired for the next with many happy utterances. . . . only Mr. Harmon Andrews told her to use the belt more often. . . and two delightful months of a well-deserved holiday beckoned to her. Anne felt at peace with the world and with herself as she walked down the hill, her basket of flowers in hand. Ever since the earliest Mayflowers, Anne had never missed her weekly pilgrimage to Matthew's tomb. Everyone else in Avonlea, except Marilla, had already forgotten the quiet, shy, unimportant Matthew Cuthbert; but his memory was still green in Anne's heart and always would be. She could never forget the kind old man who had first given her the love and compassion her starved childhood craved.
At the foot of the hill, a boy sat on the fence in the shade of the pine trees. . . a boy with big, dreamy eyes and a beautiful, sensitive face. He swung down and joined Anne, smiling; but there were tear marks on his cheeks.
"I thought I'd wait for you, teacher, because I knew you were going to the cemetery," he said, putting his hand in hers. "I'm going there too. . . I'm taking this bouquet of geraniums to decorate Grandpa Irving's grave for Grandma. And look, teacher, I'm going to put this bouquet of white roses next to grandpa's grave in memory of my little mother. . . because I can't go to her grave to put it there. But don't you think she'll still know all about it?"
"Yes, I'm sure, Paul."
“You see, teacher, it has only been three years today since my little mother passed away. It's been such a long, long time, but it hurts just as much as ever. . . and I miss her just as much as ever. Sometimes I feel like I just can't take it, it hurts so much."
Paul's voice trembled and his lips trembled. He looked down at his roses and hoped his teacher wouldn't notice the tears in his eyes.
"And yet," Anne said very softly, "you wouldn't want it to stop hurting . . . you wouldn't want to forget your little mother even if you could."
"No, I really wouldn't . . . that's how I feel. You are so good at understanding, teacher. Nobody else understands so well. . . not even grandma, even though she's so good to me. Dad understood it pretty well, but I still couldn't talk to him much about Mom because he was in such a bad way. Whenever he put his hand over his face, I always knew it was time to stop. Poor father, he must be terribly lonely without me; but you see, he's only got one housekeeper now, and he thinks housekeepers are no good for raising little boys, especially when he's away from home so much on business. Grandmothers are better next to mothers. One day, when I grow up, I will return to Father and we will never be separated again."
Paul had spoken to Anne so much about his mother and father that she felt as if she knew them. She thought that his mother must have been very like what he was, in temperament and disposition; and she had the notion that Stephen Irving was a rather reserved man, with a deep and tender nature which he was painstakingly concealing from the world.
"Father is not easy to meet," Paul once said. "I never really got to know him until my little mom died. But he's great when you get to know him. I love him dearly, and next Grandma Irving, and then you, teacher. I would love you next to father if it wasn't minedutyLoving Grandma Irving the most because she does so much for me.Ofknow, teacher. I do wish, though, that she would leave the lamp in my room until I go to sleep. She takes it out as soon as she tucks me in because she says I can't be a coward. I amNotscared but I wouldlieberhave the light My little mother used to sit next to me and hold my hand until I fell asleep. I suppose she spoiled me. Moms do that sometimes, you know.”
No, Anne didn't know that, although she might have imagined it. She thought sadlyshe"little mother", the mother she had thought so "perfectly beautiful" and who had died so long ago and was buried beside her boyish husband in that far-off unvisited grave. Anne couldn't remember her mother and almost envied Paul for that.
'My birthday is next week,' said Paul as they walked up the long red hill and basked in the June sun, 'and Father texted me he was sending me something he thinks I'll like better than anything send others what he might like. I think it's already come because Grandma keeps the shelf drawer locked and this is something new. And when I asked her why, she just looked mysterious and said little boys aren't supposed to be too curious. It's very exciting to have a birthday, isn't it? I'll be eleven. You would never think it possible to look at me, would you? Grandma says I'm very short for my age and it's all because I don't eat enough porridge. I do my best, but grandma gives suchgenerousplate full . . . there's nothing common about granny, I can tell you that. Ever since you and I talked about going home from Sunday school that day, pray, teacher . . . when you said we should pray about all our troubles. . . I prayed every night that God would give me enough grace to eat every bite of my porridge in the morning. But I've never made it, and I really can't decide whether I have too little grace or too much porridge. Grandma says dad grew up eating porridge and it must have worked for him 'cause you should see his shoulders. But sometimes,” Paul concluded with a sigh and a thoughtful expression, “I really think porridge is going to kill me.”
Anne allowed herself a smile as Paul wasn't looking at her. All Avonlea knew that old Mrs. Irving was raising her grandson in accordance with good old-fashioned diet and morals.
"Let's hope not, dear," she said cheerfully. “How are your rock people doing? Is the eldest twin still behaving decently?”
"Ishatokay,” Paul said firmly. "He knows I won't bother with him if he doesn't. He's really full of maliceIthink."
"And has Nora heard about the Golden Lady yet?"
"No; but I think she has a suspicion. I'm almost certain she was watching me the last time I went into the cave.Idon't worry if she finds out. . . it is only forsheI don't want her to. . . so that their feelings are not hurt. But if it is herdefinitelyHaving her feelings hurt can't be any other way."
"If I went to the shore with you one night, do you think I could see your rock people too?"
Paul shook his head seriously.
"No, I don't think you could see itmeinrock people. I'm the only person who can see her. But you could see your own rock people. You are one of those who can. So are we both.OfYou know, teacher,' he added, giving her hand a friendly squeeze. "Isn't it wonderful to be so nice, teacher?"
"Great," Anne agreed, glowing gray eyes turning to glowing blue. Anne and Paul both knew
"How beautiful the kingdom
The imagination opens to the sight”
and both knew the way to that happy land. There the rose of joy blossomed immortal in valley and brook; Clouds never darkened the sunny sky; sweet bells never rang out of tune; and kindred spirits abounded. Knowledge of the geography of this country . . . "east of the sun, west of the moon". . . is a priceless lore that cannot be bought in any marketplace. It must be the gift of the good fairies at birth, and the years can never deface it or take it away. It is better to own it and live in an attic than to be residents of palaces without it.
Avonlea Graveyard was still the grassy solitude it had always been. Of course, the Improvers were keeping an eye on it, and Priscilla Grant had read an essay on cemeteries before the Society's last meeting. Eventually, the improvers wanted to replace the lichen-covered old plank fence with a decent wire railing, have the lawn mowed, and the crooked monuments straightened.
Anne laid the flowers she had brought for this on Matthew's grave and then walked over to the little corner shaded by poplars where Hester Gray slept. Since the day of the spring picnic, Anne had placed flowers on Hester's grave when she visited Matthew. The night before she had made a pilgrimage back to the small deserted garden in the woods, bringing with her some of Hester's own white roses.
"I thought you'd like them better than everyone else, love," she said softly.
Anne was still sitting when a shadow fell across the grass and she looked up to see Mrs Allan. They went home together.
Mrs. Allan's face was not the face of the bride the vicar had brought to Avonlea five years ago. It had lost some of its bloom and youthful curves, and there were fine, patient lines around the eyes and mouth. A tiny grave in that same cemetery made up some of them; and some new ones had been added during the recent salvation of their young son's illness. But Mrs. Allan's dimples were as sweet and sudden as ever, her eyes as clear and bright and true; and what her face lacked in girlish beauty was now more than made up for by added tenderness and strength.
"I take it you're looking forward to your vacation, Anne?" she said as they left the cemetery.
"Yes. . . . I could roll the word under my tongue like a sweet morsel. I think summer is going to be nice. For one thing, Mrs. Morgan is coming to the island in July and Priscilla will be raising her. I can already feel at the mere Thoughts one of my old 'thrills'.”
"I hope you're having a good time, Anne. You have worked very hard over the past year and you have succeeded.”
"Oh, I do not know. I've fallen so far short in so many things. I haven't done what I set out to do when I started teaching last fall. I didn't live up to my ideals."
"None of us do," Mrs. Allan said with a sigh. "But Anne, you know what Lowell says: 'It is crime, not failure, but base aim.' We must have ideals and try to live up to them, even if we never quite succeed. Life would be a sad business without her. With them it's great and great. Hold on to your ideals, Anne.”
"I should try. But I have to let go of most of my theories," Anne said, laughing a little or elsewhere."
"Even the corporal punishment theory," teased Mrs Allan.
But Anne blushed.
"I will never forgive myself for whipping Anthony."
"Nonsense, love, he deserves it. And it agreed with him. Since then you haven't had any problems with him and he now believes that there is no one like you. Your kindness won his love after the notion that a 'girl's no good' was eradicated from his stubborn mind."
"He may have deserved it, but that's not the point. If I had calmly and consciously chosen to whip him because I felt it was just punishment for him, I wouldn't be so upset about it. But the truth is, Mrs. Allan, that's why I got mad and whipped him. I didn't think about whether it was fair or unfair. . . even if he didn't deserve it, I would have done it anyway. That's what humbles me.”
"Well we all make mistakes love so just leave it behind. We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them with us into the future. Gilbert Blythe rides his bike. . home for his vacation too, I suppose. How are you and he getting on with your studies?”
"Pretty good. We plan to finish the Virgil tonight . . . there are only twenty lines to do. Then we won't study until September."
"Do you think you'll ever make it to college?"
"Oh, I don't know." Anne gazed dreamily into the distance at the opal horizon. "Marilla's eyes will never be much better than they are now, although we are so thankful they will not deteriorate. And then there are the twins. . . somehow I don't think their uncle will ever actually send for them. Maybe college is around the bend in the road, but I'm not around the bend yet and I don't think about it much lest I get dissatisfied."
"Well, I'd like to see you go to college, Anne; but if you never do, don't be dissatisfied about it. After all, wherever we are, we live our own lives. . . College can only help us make it easier. They're wide or narrow depending on what we put in, not what we get out. Life is rich and fulfilling here. . . all over . . . if only we can learn to open our whole hearts to its riches and abundance.”
“I think I see what you're saying,” said Anne thoughtfully, “and I know I have so many things to be grateful for . . . oh, so much. . . my work and Paul Irving and the lovely twins and all my friends. You know, Mrs Allan, I'm so grateful for the friendship. It makes life so much better.”
'True friendship is a very helpful thing indeed,' said Mrs Allan, 'and we should have a very high ideal of it, and never besmirch it by want of truth and sincerity. I'm afraid the name friendship is often degraded to a kind of intimacy that contains nothing of real friendship."
"Yes . . . like those of Gertie Pye and Julia Bell. They're very intimate and go everywhere together; but Gertie is always saying nasty things about Julia behind her back, and everyone thinks she's jealous of her because she's always so pleased when anyone criticizes julia i think it's profanation to calltheFriendship. When we have friends we should only look for the best in them and give them the best we have, don't you think? Then friendship would be the best thing in the world.”
"Friendshipisvery nice," smiled Mrs. Allan, "but one day . . .”
Then she stopped abruptly. In the delicate face with the white eyebrows next to her, with its open eyes and flexible features, there was much more of the child than of the woman. Anne's heart had only harbored dreams of friendship and ambition, and Mrs. Allan would not wipe the blossom from her sweet unconsciousness. So she let her sentence end for years to come.
16. The substance of the things hoped for
"Anne," Davy said appealingly, climbing onto the shiny leather upholstered sofa in the Green Gables kitchen where Anne was sitting reading a letter, "Anne, I amabominablehungry. You have no idea."
"I'll get you a piece of bread and butter in a minute," Anne said absently. Her letter evidently contained some exciting news, for her cheeks were as pink as the roses on the big bush outside, and her eyes were as starry as only Anne's eyes could be.
"But I'm not hungry for bread and butter," Davy said in disgust. "I'm hungry for plum cake."
"Oh," Anne laughed, putting down her letter and putting her arm around Davy to hug him, "that's a kind of hunger that's very endurable, Davy-boy. You know it's one of Marilla's rules that you can't eat anything but bread and butter between meals."
"Well, then give me a piece . . . You're welcome."
Davy had finally been taught to say "please," but he generally added it after the fact. He looked with satisfaction at the lavish piece Anne was bringing him. “You always put so much butter on it, Anne. Marilla spreads it quite thinly. It slides down a lot easier when there's a lot of butter."
The disk "slid down" with bearable ease, judging by its rapid disappearance. Davy slid off the sofa headfirst, did a double somersault on the carpet, then sat up and announced firmly,
“Anne, I have chosen heaven. I don't want to go there."
"Why not?" asked Anne seriously.
"Because heaven is in Simon Fletcher's attic, and I don't like Simon Fletcher."
"Heaven in . . . Simon Fletcher's Attic!” panted Anne, too amazed even to laugh. "Davy Keith, what gave you this extraordinary idea?"
"Milty Boulter says it's there. It was last Sunday at Sunday school. The lesson was about Elijah and Elisha and I got up and asked Miss Rogerson where heaven was. Miss Rogerson looked terribly offended. She was upset anyway, because when she asked us what Elijah left Elisha when he went to heaven, Milty Boulter said, "His old clothes," and we boys all laughed before we thought. I wish you could think first and do things afterwards because then you wouldn't do them. But Milty didn't want to be disrespectful. He just couldn't think of the name of the thing. Miss Rogerson said heaven is where God is and I shouldn't ask such questions. Milty nudged me and whispered, "Heaven is in Uncle Simon's attic and I'll explain on the way home." So when we got home he explained. Milty is great at explaining things. Even if he doesn't know anything about something, he makes up a lot of stuff, so you can still get it explained. His mother is Mrs. Simon's sister and he went with her to the funeral when his cousin Jane Ellen died. The minister said she went to heaven, although Milty says she was in the coffin right in front of them. But he assumed they carried the coffin into the attic afterwards. Well, when Milty and his mother went upstairs after it was all over to get her bonnet, he asked her where that heaven was that Jane Ellen went to and she pointed straight at the ceiling and said, "Up there .” Milty knew there was nothing but the attic above the ceiling, like thatisfound out. And he's been terrified of going to his uncle Simon ever since."
Anne took Davy to his knees and did her best to clear up this theological mess as well. She was much better suited for this task than Marilla, for she remembered her own childhood and had an instinctive understanding of the strange ideas seven-year-olds sometimes have about things that are naturally very simple and easy for adults. She had just managed to convince Davy that heaven existedNotin Simon Fletcher's attic when Marilla came out of the garden where she and Dora had been picking peas. Dora was a hardworking little soul and was never happier than when she was "helping out" with various little tasks to suit her fat fingers. She fed chickens, got fries, wiped dishes and ran errands galore. She was orderly, loyal and attentive; she never needed to be told twice how to do anything, and she never forgot one of her small duties. Davy, on the other hand, was quite careless and forgetful; but he had an innate talent for attracting love, and yet Anne and Marilla liked him best.
While Dora proudly shelled the peas and Davy built boats out of the pods, with matchstick masts and paper sails, Anne told Marilla the wonderful contents of her letter.
"Oh, Marilla, what do you think? I got a letter from Priscilla and she says Mrs Morgan is on the island and if Thursday is nice they'll drive to Avonlea and get here around twelve. You will spend the afternoon with us and in the evening you will go to the hotel in White Sands, because some of Mrs. Morgan's American friends are staying there. Oh, Marilla, isn't that wonderful? I can't believe I'm not dreaming."
"I dare say that Mrs. Morgan is very much like other people," Marilla said dryly, although she was a little excited herself. Mrs. Morgan was a famous woman and it was not common to see her. "So you will be here for dinner?"
"Yes; and oh, Marilla, can I cook everything myself? I want to feel like I can do something for the author of The Rosebud Garden, if only to cook her dinner. You will don't mind, do you?"
"Gosh I don't like stewing over a hot fire in July that it would annoy me so much if someone else did. You are very welcome at the job.”
"Oh thanks," said Anne, as if Marilla had just done her a big favor, "I'll put the menu together tonight."
"You'd better not try to put on too much style," Marilla warned, a little unnerved by the pompous sound of "Menu". "You will probably get hurt if you do."
"Oh, I'm not going to put on a 'style' if you mean trying to do or have things that we don't normally have on festive occasions," Anne assured. "That would be affectation, and while I know I don't have the sense and steadfastness that a seventeen-year-old girl and teacher should have, I'm not as stupid as I amthe. But I want everything to be as pretty and dainty as possible. Davy boy, don't leave the pea pods on the back steps. . . someone could slip on them. I take a light soup to start with. . . You know I can make a wonderful cream of onion soup. . . and then some fried chicken. I take the two white roosters. I have genuine affection for these roosters and they have been pets since the gray hen just hatched them both. . . small balls of yellow down. But I know they would have to be sacrificed at some point, and surely there could be no more dignified occasion than this. But alas, Marilla,Ican't kill her. . . not even for Mrs Morgan's sake. I have to ask John Henry Carter to come over and do it for me.”
"I'll do it," Davy volunteered, "if Marilla is holding her legs, as I guess it would take both of my hands to wield the axe. It's a lot of fun to see them jumping around after they've had their heads cut off."
"Then I'll have peas and beans and mashed potatoes and a lettuce for vegetables," Anne continued, "and lemon cake with whipped cream and coffee and cheese and ladyfingers for dessert. I'll make the pies and ladyfingers tomorrow and get my white muslin dress ready. And I have to tell Diana tonight because she's going to want to fix hers. Mrs. Morgan's heroines are almost always dressed in white muslin, and Diana and I always made it a point that if we ever met her, that's what we would wear. It's going to be such a tender compliment, don't you think? Davy, honey, you can't stick pea pods in the cracks in the floor. I must take Mr. and Mrs. Allan and Miss Stacy to dinner too, as they are all very anxious to meet Mrs. Morgan. It's so fortunate that she's coming while Miss Stacy is here. Davy, dear, don't sail the peapods in the bucket of water. . . go out to the trough. Oh, I hope Thursday will be nice, and I think it will be, because Uncle Abe, when he stopped by Mr Harrison last night, said it was going to rain most of the week.”
"That's a good sign," Marilla agreed.
Anne ran over to Orchard Slope that evening to break the news to Diana, who was also very excited about it, and they discussed the matter in the hammock that had been swung under the large willow tree in the Barry Garden.
"Oh Anne, can't I help you cook?" Diana pleaded. "You know I can make a lovely salad."
"You may indeed," Anne said unselfishly. “And I want you to help me decorate too. I mean just having the salon aarborof flowers. . . and the dining table shall be adorned with wild roses. Oh, I hope everything goes well. Mrs. Morgan's heroinesoh noget into trouble or are disadvantaged and they are always so self-possessed and such good housekeepers. You seem to beborngood housekeepers. Do you remember thatGertrudekept house for her father when she was only eight years old in Edgewood Days. When I was eight years old, I knew very little about raising children. Mrs Morgan must be an authority on girls to have written so much about them and I want her to have a good opinion of us. I imagined all of this in dozens of different ways. . . what she's going to look like and what she's going to say and what I'm going to say. And I'm so worried about my nose. As you can see, there are seven freckles on it. They came at the A.V.I.S. picnic when I was walking around in the sun without a hat. I suppose it's ungrateful of me to worry about them when I should be grateful they're not all over my face like they used to be; but I wish they hadn't come. . . All of Mrs. Morgan's heroines have such perfect complexions. I don't remember a freckled one underneath."
"Yours aren't very noticeable," Diana comforted. "Try some lemon juice on top tonight."
The next day, Anne made her pies and ladyfingers, pulled up her muslin dress, and swept and wiped every room in the house. . . a rather unnecessary procedure, since Green Gables was, as always, close to Marilla's heart when ordering the apple pie. But Anne felt that a speck of dust would be a desecration in a house to be honored by a visit from Charlotte E. Morgan. She even cleared out the storage cupboard under the stairs, although there wasn't the slightest chance that Mrs Morgan could see the inside.
"But I want tofeelthat it's in perfect order, even if you don't want her to see it," Anne told Marilla. "You know, in her book 'Golden Keys' she makes her two heroinesAliceandLuisetake as a motto this verse from Longfellow,
“In the older days of art
Builders worked with the utmost care
Every tiny and invisible part,
For the gods see everywhere,'
and so they always scrubbed their basement steps and never forgot to sweep under the beds. I'd feel guilty if I thought this closet was out of order when Mrs. Morgan was in the house. Since reading 'Golden Keys' last April, Diana and I have made that verse our motto as well.”
That night, John Henry Carter and Davy together managed to execute the two white roosters, and Anne dressed them, the usually unpleasant task which, in her eyes, was glorified by the aim of the fat birds.
"I don't like picking chickens," she told Marilla, "but isn't it fortunate that we don't have to put our souls into what our hands do? I've picked chickens with my hands, but in my imagination I've wandered the Milky Way."
"I thought you had more feathers scattered on the floor than usual," Marilla remarked.
Then Anne put Davy to bed and made him promise that he would behave perfectly the next day.
"If I'm going to be my best all day tomorrow, will you let me be as bad as I want to be all next day?" asked Davy.
'I couldn't,' Anne said discreetly, 'but I'll take you and Dora for a walk on the plain to the bottom of the pond, and we'll go ashore on the sand hills and have a picnic. ”
"That's a bargain," said Davy. "I'll be good, you can bet on that. I was going to go to Mr. Harrison's and shoot Ginger with peas from my new crack gun, but another day will do. I'm guessing it'll be like Sunday, but a picnic on the shore will make up for itthe.“
17. A chapter full of accidents
Anne woke up three times a night and made a pilgrimage to her window to make sure Uncle Abe's prediction was not true. At last the morning dawned pearly and brilliant in a sky full of silver and radiance, and the glorious day had come.
Soon after breakfast, Diana appeared with a basket of flowers on her arm andsheMuslin dress over the other. . . for it would not do to put it on until all preparations for dinner were complete. Meanwhile she wore her afternoon pink print and a lawn apron fearfully and wonderfully ruffled and ruffled; and very neat and pretty and rosy she was.
"You just look cute," Anne said admiringly.
"But I had to let every one of my clothes outagain. I'm four pounds heavier than I was in July. Anna,wowill this end? Mrs. Morgan's heroines are all tall and slender.”
"Well, let's forget our worries and think of our mercy," Anne said cheerfully. "Ms. Allan says that whenever we think of something that's going to be a test for us, we should also think of something nice to counter with. Dimples are great for those who are a little fat; and when I am have a freckled noseshapeall of that is fine. Do you think the lemon juice did you any good?”
"Yes, I really think so," Diana said critically; and delighted, Anne led the way into the garden, which was full of airy shadows and swaying golden lights.
“First we decorate the drawing room. We have plenty of time because Priscilla said they'd be here around twelve or two-thirty at the latest, so we'll have dinner at one.”
There might have been two happier and more excited girls somewhere in Canada or the United States right now, but I doubt it. Each silhouette as the rose, peony, and bluebell fell seemed to chirp, "Mrs. Morgan is coming today.” Anne wondered how Mr. Harrisoncouldjust keep mowing the field across the street as if nothing happened.
The drawing room at Green Gables was a rather austere and sombre apartment, with rigid horsehair furniture, rigid lace curtains, and white antimacassars that were always laid at just the right angle except when clinging to the buttons of unfortunate people. Even Anne hadn't been able to inspire him with much grace, for Marilla wouldn't allow changes. But it's wonderful what flowers can achieve when given a fair chance; When Anne and Diana finished the room, you wouldn't have recognized it.
A large blue bowl of snowballs spilled over the polished table. The glossy black mantel was draped with roses and ferns. Each shelf of the what-not held a bunch of bluebells; the dark corners on either side of the trellis were lighted with jars of glowing crimson peonies, and the trellis itself burned with yellow poppies. All this splendor and colour, mingled with the sunshine falling through the honeysuckle vines on the windows in a leafy riot of dancing shadows across the walls and floor, made the normally gloomy little room a veritable 'arbor' of Anne's imagination and even extorted a tribute to her the admiration of Marilla, who came to criticize and stayed to praise.
"Now we must set the table," Anne said, in the tone of a priestess about to perform a sacred rite in honor of a deity. "We'll have a large vase of wild roses in the center and a single rose in front of each plate - and a special bouquet of rosebuds just from Mrs Morgan - a nod to 'The Rosebud Garden,' you know."
The table in the living room was set with Marilla's finest linen and the finest china, glass and silver. You can be absolutely certain that every item placed on it has been polished or scoured to the highest possible perfection of shine and glitter.
Then the girls stumbled out into the kitchen, which was filled with appetizing smells emanating from the oven, where the chickens were already sizzling splendidly. Anne prepared the potatoes and Diana prepared the peas and beans. Then, while Diana locked herself in the pantry to prepare the lettuce, Anne, her cheeks already flushing purple from both excitement and the heat of the fire, prepared the bread sauce for the chickens, chopping her onions for the soup and finally whipped the cream for their lemon tarts.
And what's with Davy all this time? Did he keep his promise to be good? Indeed he was. However, he insisted on staying in the kitchen, his curiosity wanting to see everything that was going on. But as he sat quietly in a corner, busy untying knots in a piece of herring net he'd brought back from his last trip ashore, no one objected.
At ten thirty the salad salad was ready, the golden circles of the cakes were heaped with whipped cream, and everything that was supposed to sizzle and bubble was sizzling and bubbling.
'We'd better get dressed now,' said Anne, 'because they might be here at twelve. We must have dinner at one sharp because the soup must be served as soon as it is ready.”
Serious indeed were the toilet rites currently being performed in the east gable. Anne looked anxiously at her nose and was pleased to see that the freckles weren't noticeable at all thanks to the lemon juice or the unusual blush on her cheeks. When they were done, they looked as cute and well groomed and girly as one always gets from "Mrs. Morgan's heroines."
"I hope to be able to say something now and then and not sit like a mute," Diana said worriedly. “All of Mrs. Morgan's heroines have such wonderful conversations. But I'm afraid I'll be speechless and stupid. And I'll be sure to say, "I saw." I haven't said it much since Miss Stacy taught here; but in moments of excitement it sure pops out. Anne, if I said "I saw it" in front of Mrs. Morgan, I would die of shame. And it would be almost as bad not to have a say.”
"I'm nervous about a lot of things," said Anne, "but I don't think there's much fear that I won't be able to make ittalk.“
And to be fair to her, there weren't any.
Anne wrapped her muslin finery in a large apron and went downstairs to cook her soup. Marilla had dressed herself and the twins and looked more excited than she had ever looked. At half past twelve the Allans and Miss Stacy came. Everything was going well, but Anne was getting nervous. It was surely about time Priscilla and Mrs. Morgan arrived. She made frequent trips to the gate and gazed down the path anxiously as her namesake in the Bluebeard tale always peered out of the tower wing.
"Suppose they don't come at all?" she said miserably.
"Don't suspect it. It would be too mean," Diana said, but she was beginning to have uneasy concerns about the subject.
"Anne," Marilla said, coming out of the living room, "Miss Stacy would like to see Miss Barry's wicker plate."
Anne rushed to the living room cupboard to get the record. As she had promised Mrs. Lynde, she had written to Miss Barry of Charlottetown asking for a loan. Miss Barry was an old friend of Anne's and she promptly sent the record with a letter advising Anne to be very careful with it, as she had paid twenty dollars for it. The record had served its purpose at the Aid Bazaar and then returned to the Green Gables cupboard because Anne would not trust anyone but herself to bring it to town.
She carried the slab carefully to the front door, where her guests enjoyed the cool breeze that blew up from the creek. It was examined and admired; then, just as Anne had picked it up herself again, there was a terrible crashing and clattering from the kitchen pantry. Marilla, Diana and Anne fled out, the latter pausing only long enough to hastily set the precious slab down on the second step of the stairs.
When they reached the pantry, they were met with a truly harrowing spectacle. . . a guilty-looking little boy, clambering down from the table in his clean, printed blouse liberally pasted with yellow stuffing, and on the table the shattered remains of two brave creamed lemon cakes.
Davy had finished fraying his peg net and wound the line into a ball. Then he had gone into the pantry to put them on the shelf above the table, where he already kept about twenty orbs of a similar kind, which, so far as could be discovered, served no useful purpose save the pleasure of possession . Davy had to climb onto the table and reach for the shelf at a dangerous angle. . . something Marilla had forbidden him for having failed in the experiment before. The result in this case was catastrophic. Davy slipped and landed flat on the lemon cake. His clean blouse was ruined for this time and the cakes for ever. However, it is an evil wind that blows no one good, and the pig ended up being the winner through Davy's mishap.
"Davy Keith," Marilla said, shaking his shoulder, "didn't I tell you not to climb on that table again? Haven't I?"
"I forgot," Davy whimpered. "You told me not to do so many things that I can't remember them all."
"Well, you march upstairs and stay there until after dinner. You may have them sorted in your memory by then. No, Anne, you don't mind standing up for him. I'm not punishing him for spoiling your cakes. . . that was an accident. I punish him for his disobedience. Go, Davy, I say.'
"Shouldn't I have dinner?" Davy whined.
"You can come down after dinner and have yours in the kitchen."
"Oh, it's okay," said Davy, somewhat comforted. "I know Anne will save some nice bones for me, don't you, Anne? 'Cause you know I didn't mean to fall on the pies. Say, Anne, there shearespoiled, can't I take a few pieces upstairs?"
"No, no lemon pie for you, Master Davy," Marilla said, pushing him toward the hall.
"What shall we make for dessert?" Anne asked, looking regretfully at the wreck and the ruins.
"Get out a pot of strawberry jam," Marilla said comfortingly. "There's still enough whipped cream in the bowl for that."
One o'clock came. . . but no Priscilla or Mrs. Morgan. Anne was in agony. Everything was spot on and the soup was exactly what soup was supposed to be but could not be trusted to stay that way for long.
"I don't think they're coming," Marilla said angrily.
Anne and Diana sought comfort in each other's eyes.
At half past twelve Marilla came out of the salon again.
"Girls, weGot tohave dinner. Everyone is hungry and there is no point in waiting any longer. Priscilla and Mrs Morgan aren't coming, that's clear, and waiting doesn't make anything better."
Anne and Diana set about raising dinner after the performance lost all of its momentum.
"I don't think I can eat a bite," Diana said sadly.
"Neither do I. But I hope, for the sake of Miss Stacy and Mr and Mrs Allan, everything will be fine,' Anne said listlessly.
As Diana served the peas, she tasted them and a very odd expression crossed her face.
"Anne, yessheput sugar in those peas?”
"Yes," Anne said, mashing the potatoes with the air of someone expecting to do their duty. "I put a spoonful of sugar in it. We always do. Do not you like it?"
"ButIput a spoon in it too when I put it on the stove,' said Diana.
Anne dropped her masher and tried the peas too. Then she made a face.
"How awful! I never thought you put sugar in it because I knew your mother never does. I happened to think of it, for a miracle... I always forget... so I have a spoon fully cleaned.”
"It's too many cooks, I guess," said Marilla, who had been listening to this dialogue with a rather guilty expression on her face. "I didn't think you'd remember the sugar, Anne, because I'm absolutely sure you never did . . . soIput in a spoon.”
Guests in the drawing room heard laughter after laughter from the kitchen, but they never knew what the fun was about. However, there were no green peas on the dining table that day.
'Well,' said Anne, sobering up with a sigh of memory, 'we've got the salad anyway, and I don't think anything happened to the beans. Let's carry things in and get it over with."
It cannot be said that this dinner was a remarkable social success. The Allans and Miss Stacy scrambled to salvage the situation, and Marilla's usual composure was not perceptibly disturbed. But between their disappointment and the reaction of their morning's excitement, Anne and Diana could neither speak nor eat. Anne strove heroically to her guests to carry her share of the entertainment; but her luster had faded for the time being, and in spite of her love for the Allans and Miss Stacy, she could not help thinking how nice it would be if everyone had gone home and she could bury her weariness and disappointment in the pillows of the east gable.
There's an old saying that sometimes seems really inspired. . . "it never rains, but it pours." The measure of the tribulation of that day was not yet full. Just as Mr. Allan had finished his thanks, there came a strange, ominous sound on the stairs, as if some hard, heavy object were leaping from step to step and ending with a mighty bang on the floor. Everyone ran into the hall. Anne let out a horrified scream.
At the foot of the stairs lay a large pink seashell amid the shards of Miss Barry's plate; and at the top of the stairs a frightened Davy knelt and stared wide-eyed at the devastation.
"Davy," Marilla said menacingly, "did you throw down the conch?intentionally?”
"No, I never have," Davy whimpered. "I was just kneeling here quietly watching you guys through the railing and my foot kicked the old thing and pushed it off . . . and I'm terribly hungry. . . and I wish you would lick a guy and be done with it instead of always sending him upstairs to miss all the fun."
"Don't blame Davy," Anne said, collecting the fragments with trembling fingers. "It was my fault. I put that plate there and forgot all about it. I am properly punished for my negligence; but oh, what will Miss Barry say?"
"Well, you know she only bought it, so it's not the same as if it were an heirloom," Diana said, trying to comfort.
The guests soon left, feeling it was the most tactful thing to do, and Anne and Diana washed the dishes and talked less than ever. Then Diana went home with a headache and Anne went with another to the East Gable, where she stayed until Marilla came from the post office at sunset, with a letter from Priscilla, written the day before. Mrs. Morgan sprained her ankle so badly she couldn't leave her room.
"And oh Anne dear," Priscilla wrote, "I'm so sorry, but I'm afraid we won't get to Green Gables at all now, because until Auntie's ankle is well she has to get back to Toronto." She has to be there by a certain date.”
"Well," Anne sighed, laying the letter on the red sandstone step of the back porch where she sat while dusk rained out of a dappled sky, "I always thought it was too good to be true that Mrs. Morgan should." really come. But there . . . That speech sounds as pessimistic as Miss Eliza Andrews and I am ashamed of it. At least it wasNotto be too good to be true . . . Things that are just as good and way better come true to me all the time. And I suppose there is a funny side to today's events as well. Maybe when Diana and I are old and gray we can laugh at her. But I feel like I can't wait any longer because it was a real disappointment."
"You're probably going to have a lot more and worse disappointments before you get through life," said Marilla, who honestly thought she was giving a comforting speech. "It seems to me, Anne, that you'll never go out of style to set your heart on things like that and then fall into despair because you don't get it."
"I know I'm too inclined to do that," Anne agreed ruefully. “When I think something beautiful is about to happen, I seem to fly on the wings of anticipation; and then the first thing that strikes me is that I hit the ground with a thud. But really, Marilla, the flying partiswonderful while it lasts. . . It's like floating through a sunset. I think it almost pays off for the impact.”
"Well, maybe," Marilla admitted. “I prefer to keep walking and avoid flying and banging. But everyone has their own way of life. . . I used to think there was only one right way. . . but since I had to raise you and the twins, I'm not so sure anymore. What are you going to do with Miss Barry's record?"
'Repay her the twenty dollars she paid for it, I suppose. I'm so thankful it wasn't a treasured heirloom because then no money could replace it.”
"Maybe you could find one somewhere and buy it for her."
"I'm afraid not. Records that old are very rare. Mrs. Lynde couldn't find one for dinner anywhere. I only wish I could, for of course Miss Barry would have one record as quickly as the other if both were the same old and real. Marilla, look at that great star over Mr. Harrison's maple grove, with all that sacred stillness of the silver sky above it. It gives me a feeling that's like a prayer. When you can see stars and sky like that, little disappointments and accidents can't matter that much, can they?"
"Where's Davy?" said Marilla with an indifferent glance at the star.
"In bed. I promised to take him and Dora to a picnic on the shore tomorrow. Of course, the original agreement was that he had to be good. But hetriesbe good . . . and I didn't have the heart to disappoint him."
"You'll drown yourself or the twins rowing across the pond in this apartment," Marilla grumbled. "I've lived here for sixty years and I've never been to the pond."
"Well, it's never too late to mend yourselves," Anne said mischievously. "Suppose you come with us tomorrow. We're going to close Green Gables and spend all day on the shore pushing the world aside."
"No thanks," Marilla said with indignant emphasis. 'I'd be a sight to behold, wouldn't I, rowing down the pond in an apartment? I think I hear Rachel pointing that out. Somewhere Mr. Harrison drives off. Do you think there is any truth to the gossip that Mr. Harrison will see Isabella Andrews?”
"No, I'm sure there isn't. He stopped by there one evening on business with Mr Harmon Andrews and Mrs Lynde saw him and said she knew he was courting because he wore a white collar. I don't think Mr. Harrison will ever marry. He seems to have a prejudice against marriage.”
“Well, one can never say anything about these old bachelors. And if he wore a white collar I would agree with Rachel that it looks suspicious because I'm sure he's never been seen wearing one before."
"I think he just put it on because he wanted to do a deal with Harmon Andrews," Anne said. "I've heard him say that this is the only time a man has to watch his looks because if he looks wealthy the party in the second part won't be as likely to try to cheat on him. I really feel sorry for Mr. Harrison; I don't think he's happy with his life. It must be very lonely not caring for anyone but a parrot, don't you think? But I've noticed that Mr. Harrison doesn't like being pitied. Nobody does, I suppose.”
"There's Gilbert coming up the alley," Marilla said. "If he wants you to row on the pond, remember to put on your coat and rubber bands. Heavy dew tonight.”
18. An Adventure on the Tory Road
"Anne," said Davy, sitting up in bed and resting his chin on his hands, "Anne, where's the sleep? People go to sleep every night and of course I know it's the place where I do the things I dream about, but I want to knowwoit is and how I get there and back without knowing anything about it. . . and in my nightgown too. Where is it?"
Anne knelt by the west gable window and looked at the sunset sky, which was like a large flower with crocus petals and a fiery yellow heart. At Davy's question, she turned her head and answered dreamily:
"'Over the mountains of the moon,
Down in the Valley of Shadows.'"
Paul Irving would have known the meaning of it, or made meaning of it for himself if he had not; but the practitioner Davy, who, as Anne often desperately remarked, had absolutely no imagination, was only confused and disgusted.
"Anne, I think you're just talking nonsense."
"Of course I was, dear boy. Don't you know it's just very stupid people who talk rationally all the time?"
"Well, I think you could give a reasonable answer if I asked a reasonable question," Davy said in a hurt tone.
"Oh, you're too small to understand," said Anne. But she was rather ashamed to say it; for had she not solemnly sworn, vividly remembering many similar snubs in her own early years, that she would never tell a child that it was too little to understand? But here she did. . . Sometimes the gap between theory and practice is so big.
"Well, I'm doing my best to grow," Davy said, "but there's not much of a hurry. If Marilla wasn't so stingy with her jam, I think I'd be growing a lot faster."
"Marilla isn't stingy, Davy," Anne said sternly. "It is very ungrateful of you to say such a thing."
"There's another word that means the same thing and sounds a lot better, but that's not the only one I remember," Davy said, frowning intensely. "I heard Marilla say it was herself the other day."
"If you thinkeconomically, It is averyanything other than being stingy. Being thrifty is an excellent trait in a person. If Marilla had been stingy, she wouldn't have taken you and Dora with her when your mother died. Would you have liked to stay with Mrs Wiggins?'
"You bet I wouldn't!" Davy emphasized that point. "I don't want to go out to Uncle Richard's either. I'd much rather live here, even if Marilla is that long-tailed word when it comes to jam, becauseyou'reHere Anne. Tell me, Anne, won't you tell me a story before I go to sleep? I don't want a fairy tale. They're ok for girls I suppose, but I want something exciting. . . There's a lot of killing and shooting and a house on fire and you don't trust things like that.”
Luckily for Anne, Marilla called out of her room at that moment.
“Anne, Diana is signaling at high speed. You'd better see what she wants."
Anne ran to the east gable and saw flashes of light coming through the dusk from Diana's window in clusters of five, which, in her old childish code, meant, "Come over at once, for I have something important to reveal." Anne threw her white shawl over her head and hurried through the Haunted Wood and via Mr. Bell's Pasture Corner to Orchard Slope.
"I have good news for you, Anne," Diana said. "Mother and I have just come home from Carmody and I saw Mary Sentner from Spencer Vale in Mr. Blair's shop. She says the old Copp girls on Tory Road have a wicker plate and she thinks it's just like the one we had at dinner. She says they will likely sell it since Martha Copp has never kept any of herscouldto sell; but if they don't, there's a record at Wesley Keyson's in Spencervale and she knows they'd sell it, but she's not sure if it's exactly the same as Aunt Josephine's.”
'I'm going to Spencervale first thing tomorrow,' Anne said firmly, 'and you must come with me. It's going to weigh on me so much because I have to go into town the day after tomorrow and how can I face your Aunt Josephine without a wicker plate? It would be even worse than the time I had to confess to jumping on the bed in the spare room."
Both girls laughed at the old memory. . . If any of my readers are ignorant and curious about this, I must refer them to Anne's earlier story.
The next afternoon, the girls set out on their plate-hunting expedition. It was ten miles to Spencervale, and the day was not particularly pleasant for travel. It was very warm and windless, and the dust on the road was what might have been expected after six weeks of dry weather.
"Oh, I wish it would rain soon," Anne sighed. "Everything is so parched. The barren fields just seem pathetic to me and the trees seem to reach out their hands and beg for rain. As for my garden, it hurts me every time I enter it. I suppose I shouldn't complain about a garden when the farmers' crops are suffering so badly. Mr. Harrison says his pastures are so scorched that his poor cows are barely fed, and he feels guilty about cruelty to animals every time he meets their eyes.”
After a tiring drive, the girls reached Spencervale and turned onto Tory Road. . . a green, lonely highway where the strips of grass between the wheel lanes betrayed a lack of travel. For most of its expanse it was lined with dense young spruces, crowding up to the road, with a break here and there where the back field of a Spencervale farm jutted out the fence, or an area of stumps with fireweed and goldenrod aflame was standing .
"Why is it called Tory Road?" asked Anne.
"Mr. Allan says that the principle of calling a place a grove goes because there aren't any trees there," Diana said, "because nobody lives down the road except the Copp girls and old Martin Bovyer across the road Ende, who is a Liberal. The Tory government crossed the street when they were in power just to show they were doing something."
Diana's father was a liberal, so she and Anne never discussed politics. The Green Gables people had always been conservatives.
Finally the girls came to the old Copp homestead. . . a place of such extraordinary external cleanliness that even Green Gables would have suffered. The house was very old-fashioned and was on a slope, which necessitated the construction of a stone basement under one end. The house and outbuildings were all whitewashed to a state of dazzling perfection and not a weed was to be seen in the neat kitchen garden surrounded by its white slats.
"The blinds are all down," Diana said ruefully. "I don't think anyone is home."
This came true. The girls looked at each other in confusion.
"I don't know what to do," said Anne. "If I was sure the record was the right kind, I wouldn't mind waiting for them to come home. But if not, it might be too late to go to Wesley Keyson afterwards."
Diana looked at a particular small square window above the basement.
'That's the pantry window, I'm sure of it,' she said, 'because this house is just like Uncle Charles's in Newbridge, and that's her pantry window. The shade isn't down so if we climbed onto the roof of this little house we could look into the pantry and maybe see the plate. Do you think it would do any harm?"
"No, I don't think so," Anne decided after careful consideration, "because our motive isn't mere curiosity."
With this important ethical point settled, Anne prepared to build the aforementioned "little house," a lathe construction with a peaked roof that had once served as a home for ducks. The Copp girls had given up keeping ducks. . . "because they were such messy birds". . . and the house had not been used for some years except as a pen for hens. Though carefully whitewashed, it had become a little wobbly and Anne felt quite doubtful as she clambered up from the vantage point of a barrel set on a crate.
"I'm afraid it won't support my weight," she said as she carefully stepped onto the roof.
"Lean on the windowsill," Diana advised, and Anne leaned accordingly. To her great delight, as she peered through the pane, she saw on the shelf in front of the window a plate of wicker crockery just like she had been looking for. She saw so much before the catastrophe struck. In her delight, Anne forgot the unsteady nature of her foot, carelessly stopped leaning on the windowsill, took an impulsive little hop of joy. . . and in a moment she was shoulder-deep through the roof, and there she hung, quite unable to free herself. Diana fell into the duck house, grabbed her unfortunate friend by the waist and tried to pull her down.
"Ouch. . . don't,' shrieked poor Anne. "I've got some long splinters stuck in me. See if you can put something under my feet. . . then maybe I can sit up.”
Diana hastily hauled in the aforementioned barrel and Anne found that it was just high enough for her feet to rest safely. But she couldn't free herself.
"Could I pull you out once I've crawled up?" Diana suggested.
Anne shook her head hopelessly.
"No . . . the splinters hurt too much. If you find an ax you might be able to chop me off though. Oh dear, I'm really starting to think Iwarborn under an evil star.”
Diana searched faithfully, but no ax could be found.
"I have to get help," she said, returning to the prisoner.
"No, you won't," Anne said vehemently. "If you do that, the story will get out everywhere and I will be ashamed to show my face. No, we just have to wait for the Copp girls to come home and swear them to secrecy. They'll know where the ax is and get me out. I don't feel uncomfortable as long as I remain perfectly still. . . not uncomfortable in itbodyI mean. I wonder what the Copp girls like about this house. I'll have to pay for the damage I've caused, but I wouldn't mind if only I could be sure they would understand my reason for peeking through their pantry window. My only consolation is that the record is exactly the kind I want and if Miss Copp will just sell it to me I'll put up with what happened."
"What if the Copp girls don't come home until after night? . . or see you tomorrow?” Diana suggested.
"If they're not back by sundown, I suppose you'll have to get other help," Anne said reluctantly, "but you mustn't go until you really have to. Oh dear, this is a terrible situation. I wouldn't mind my unhappiness so much if it were romantic, as Mrs. Morgan's heroines always are, but they're always just plain ridiculous. Imagine what the Copp girls will think when they drive into their yard and see a girl's head and shoulders sticking out of the roof of one of their outbuildings. Listen . . . is that a car? No, Diana, I think it's thunder."
It was thunder, no doubt, and Diana, who had hastily made a pilgrimage around the house, returned to announce that a very black cloud was rising rapidly in the north-west.
"I think we're going to have a heavy thunderstorm," she exclaimed in dismay, "Oh, Anne, what are we going to do?"
"We must prepare for this," said Anne calmly. A thunderstorm seemed a small thing compared to what had already happened. "You'd better take a horse and carriage into these open sheds. Luckily my parasol is in the buggy. Here . . . take my hat with you. Marilla told me I was a goose to put on my best hat to get to Tory Road and she was right as she always is.
Diana untied the pony and drove into the shed just as the first heavy raindrops began to fall. There she sat and watched the resulting downpour, so thick and heavy that she could barely see Anne as she bravely held the parasol over her bare head. There wasn't much thunder, but it rained happily for almost an hour. Occasionally Anne tilted her parasol and waved her hand encouragingly at her friend; But conversation at that distance was out of the question. Finally the rain stopped, the sun came out, and Diana ventured across the puddles in the yard.
"Did you get very wet?" she asked anxiously.
"Oh no," Anne replied happily. “My head and shoulders are pretty dry and my skirt is just a little damp where the rain is beating through the slats. Don't feel sorry for me Diana, because it didn't bother me at all. I kept thinking how good the rain will do and how happy my garden must be about it, and imagining what the flowers and buds would think when the drops started to fall. I imagined a most interesting dialogue between the asters and the sweet peas and the wild canaries in the lilac bush and the guardian spirit of the garden. When I go home I want to write it down. I wish I had a pencil and paper right now because I dare say I'll forget the best parts before I get home."
Diana the Faithful had a pencil and found a piece of wrapping paper in the stroller box. Anne folds her dripping parasol, puts on her hat, spreads out the wrapping paper on a clapboard, which Diana hands up, and writes down her garden idyll in terms that are hardly literary-friendly. Nonetheless, the result was quite pretty and Diana was "smitten" when Anne read it to her.
"Oh, Anne, that's sweet . . . simply sweet.Againsend it to themCanadian woman.“
Anne shook her head.
"Oh no, that wouldn't do at all. There is noactionin it, you see. It's just a string of fantasies. I like to write stuff like that, but of course nothing like that would do for publication because editors insist on plots, says Priscilla. Oh, there's Miss Sarah Copp now.You're welcome, Diana, go and explain.”
Miss Sarah Copp was a small person, dressed in shabby black, with a hat chosen less for vain ornament than for its qualities that would be well worn. She looked as amazed as one could expect when she saw the strange tableau in her garden, but when she heard Diana's explanation she was filled with sympathy. Hastily she unlocked the back door, drew the ax and freed Anne with a few skillful blows. The latter, a little tired and stiff, ducked inside her prison and gratefully emerged to freedom.
"Miss Copp," she said seriously. "I assure you I looked in your pantry windowjustto find out if you had a wicker crockery plate. I didn't see anything else - I didn't do itseefor everything else.”
"Thank God that's all right," Miss Sarah said graciously. “You don't have to worry - no damage has been done. Thank God we Copps always keep our pantries presentable and don't care who's looking in. As for the old duck house, I'm glad it's smashed, because maybe now Martha will agree to tear it down. She would never have done that before for fear it would eventually come in handy and I had to whitewash it every spring. But you can argue with a post just as well as with Martha. She went into town today - I drove her to the train station. And you want to buy my plate. Well, what do you give for it?”
"Twenty dollars," said Anne, who should never have traded with a copp or she wouldn't have offered her price from the start.
"Well, I'll see," Miss Sarah said cautiously. "Fortunately this record is mine, otherwise I would never have dared to sell it if Martha wasn't here. As it is, I daresay it will turn heads. Martha is the boss of this place, I can tell you that. I'm terribly tired of living under the thumb of another woman. But come in, come in. You must be really tired and hungry. I'll do my best for you about the tea, but I warn you, don't expect anything other than bread and butter and some cow pickles. Martha locked up all the cake, cheese, and preserves before she left. She always does that because she says I'm too flamboyant when people come over."
The girls were hungry enough to do justice to each dish, and they dined on Miss Sarah's excellent bread and butter and cowcumbers. When the meal was over, Miss Sarah said:
"I don't know as I do mind selling the record. But it's worth twenty-five dollars. It's a very old record.”
Diana gave Anne's foot a gentle kick under the table and said, 'That's not true - she'll let it go for twenty if you hold on.' But Anne didn't want to take any chances with that precious record. She immediately agreed to give twenty-five, and Miss Sarah looked sorry she hadn't asked for thirty.
"Well, I guess you might have. I want all the money I can muster. The fact is…” Miss Sarah tossed her head pompously, a proud blush on her thin cheeks – “I shall be married – to Luther Wallace. He wanted me twenty years ago. I liked him very much, but he was poor then and father sent him away. I suppose I shouldn't have let him go so gently, but I was shy and scared of Father. Besides, I didn't know men were so scurvy."
When the girls were safely gone, with Diana driving and Anne holding the coveted record carefully on her lap, the green, rain-fresh wastelands of the Tory Road were alive with girls' laughter.
"I'll amuse your Aunt Josephine with this afternoon's 'Oddly Troubled Story' when I drive into town tomorrow. We had a pretty tough time, but now it's over. I have the record and this rain has settled the dust beautifully. So 'All's well that ends well'.”
"We're not home yet," Diana said rather pessimistically, "and there's no telling what might happen before we are. You are such an adventure girl, Anne.”
"Adventure comes naturally to some people," Anne said calmly. "You only have a gift for her or you don't have it."
19. Just a happy day
"After all," Anne had once said to Marilla, "I believe the loveliest and sweetest days are not those when something very glorious or wonderful or exciting happens, but only those that bring simple little joys that follow each other gently, like pearls slipping out of a string.”
Life in Green Gables was full of such days, for Anne's adventures and misadventures, like other people's, did not happen all at once but were spread throughout the year, interspersed with long stretches of harmless, happy days of work and dreams and laughter and lessons. Such a day came late in August. In the morning Anne and Diana rowed the delighted twins down the pond to the sandy beach to pick 'sweet grass' and paddle in the surf, over which the wind played an old song learned when the world was young.
In the afternoon Anne went down to the old Irving house to see Paul. She found him sprawled on the grassy bank beside the dense grove of firs that protected the house to the north, absorbed in a book of fairy tales. At the sight of her he jumped up, beaming.
"Oh, I'm so glad you came, teacher," he said eagerly, "because Grandma's away. You stay and have tea with me, won't you? It's so lonely drinking tea all by yourself.Ofknow, teacher. I seriously considered asking young Mary Joe to sit down and share her tea with me, but I suppose Grandma wouldn't approve. She says the French must be kept in place. And anyway, it's difficult to talk to Young Mary Joe. She just laughs and says, 'Well, you hit every kid I've ever known.' That's not my idea of conversation."
"Of course I'll stay for tea," Anne said happily. "I really wanted to be asked. My mouth is watering drinking more of your grandmother’s delicious shortcrust pastry since I’ve had tea here before.”
Paul looked very sober.
'If it were up to me, teacher,' he said, standing in front of Anne with his hands in his pockets and his pretty little face shadowed with sudden concern, 'you should have butter biscuits of good will. But it depends on Mary Joe. I heard Grandma tell her before she left not to give me shortcrust pastry because it was too fat for little boys' stomachs. But maybe Mary Joe will cut something for you if I promise I won't eat. Let's hope for the best."
"Yeah, let's," Anne agreed, accommodating this cheery philosophy just fine, "and if Mary Joe's hard-hearted and won't give me shortbread, that doesn't matter in the slightest, so you don't have to worry about that."
"Are you sure you don't mind if she doesn't?" Paul said concerned.
"Perfectly safe, dear heart."
"Then I'm not worried," Paul said with a long breath of relief, "since I truly believe Mary Joe will listen to reason. She is not by nature an unreasonable person, but she has learned from experience that disobeying grandmother's orders is not enough. Grandma is an excellent woman, but people have to do as she tells them. She was very happy for me this morning because I finally managed to eat my whole plate of oatmeal. It was a big effort, but I made it. Grandma says she thinks she'll make a man out of me yet. But, teacher, I want to ask you a very important question. You will answer truthfully, won't you?”
"I'll try," Anne promised.
"Do you think I'm wrong about my upstairs?" Paul asked as if his very existence depended on her answer.
"My goodness, no, Paul," Anne exclaimed in astonishment. "You sure aren't. How did you come up with this idea?”
"Marie Joe. . . but she didn't know I heard her. Veronica, Mrs. Peter Sloane's clerk, stopped by Mary Joe's last night and I heard her talking in the kitchen as I walked down the hall. I heard Mary Joe say, "Dat Paul, he's the queer little boy. He's talking queer. I think there's something wrong upstairs.” I couldn't sleep for so long last night thinking about it and wondering if Mary Joe was right. I couldn't bear to ask Grandma anyhow, but I made up my mind to ask you. I'm so glad you think I'm ok on my top floor.”
"Of course you are. Mary Joe is a stupid, ignorant girl and you needn't worry about anything she says," said Anne indignantly, secretly deciding to give Mrs. Irving a discreet hint that it was advisable was to bridle Mary Joe's tongue.
"Now that's a weight for me," Paul said. "I'm perfectly happy now, teacher, thanks to you. It wouldn't be nice if something was wrong upstairs, would it, teacher? I suppose the reason Mary Joe thinks I have it is because sometimes I tell her what I think about things."
"Esisquite a dangerous practice,” Anne admitted from the depths of her own experience.
"Well, little by little I'll tell you the thoughts I told Mary Joe, and you can see for yourself if there's anything strange about it," said Paul, "but I'll wait until dark. That's the time I long to tell people things, and when nobody else is around I just do itto haveto say Mary Joe. But after that I won't if she then thinks I'm wrong about my upstairs. I will just suffer and endure it.”
"And if the pain gets too bad, you can come to Green Gables and tell me what you think," Anne suggested, with all the seriousness that made her so popular with kids who love to be taken seriously.
"Yes I will. But I hope Davy won't be there when I leave because he's making faces. I don't mindverya lot because he's such a small boy and I'm quite a big one, but still it's not pleasant when you make faces. And Davy makes such terrible things. Sometimes I'm afraid he'll never get his face straight again. He makes them for me in church when I should be thinking of sacred things. Dora likes me and I like her, but not as much as I did before she told Minnie May Barry that she plans to marry me when I grow up. I can marry someone when I grow up, but I'm far too young to think about it, don't you think, teacher?"
"Pretty young," agreed the teacher.
"Speaking of getting married, that reminds me of another thing that's been troubling me lately," Paul continued. "Mrs. Lynde was down here one day last week having tea with Grandma and Grandma asked me to show her the picture of my little mother . . . one father sent me my birthday present. I didn't really want to show Mrs. Lynde Mrs. Lynde is a good, kind woman, but she's not the kind of person you want to show your mother's picture to.Ofknow, teacher. But of course I obeyed Grandma. Mrs Lynde said she was very pretty but looked somewhat like an actress and she must have been much younger than her father. Then she said, "In a few days your dad will probably get married again. How would you like having a new mother, Master Paul?' Well, the idea took my breath away, Teacher, but I didn't want Mrs Lynde to show itthe. I just looked her straight in the face. . . like this . . . and I said, 'Mrs. Lynde, dad, did a pretty good job choosing my first mother and I could have confidence that he would choose an equally good one the second time around.” And so did Icantrust him, teacher. But I still hope that if he ever gives me a new mother, he'll ask my opinion on her before it's too late. Mary Joe comes to call us to tea. I'll go and see her about the shortbread."
As a result of the "consultation," Mary Joe cut the shortbread and added a canned dish to the menu. Anne poured the tea and she and Paul ate very happily in the gloomy old living room with windows open to the Gulf breeze and they talked so much 'nonsense' that Mary Joe was quite outraged and Veronica said the next evening, 'de school mees" was as queer as Paul. After tea, Paul took Anne to his room to show her his mother's picture, which had been the mysterious birthday present Mrs Irving had kept on the bookshelf. Paul's small, low-ceilinged room was a soft swirl of reddish light from the sun setting over the sea and swinging shadows from the fir trees that grew close to the square, low-set window. From that soft glow and shine shone a sweet, girlish face with tender mother's eyes, hanging on the wall at the foot of the bed.
"This is my little mother," Paul said with loving pride. "I asked Grandma to put it where I would see it as soon as I opened my eyes in the morning. I don't mind going to bed now if I don't have a light because it's just like my little mom is here with me. Dad knew exactly what I would want for my birthday, although he never asked me. Isn't it wonderful how many fathersagainknows?"
“Your mother was very nice, Paul, and you look a bit like her. But her eyes and hair are darker than yours.”
"My eyes are the same color as Dad's," Paul said, flying around the room to pile any available pillows on the windowsill, "but Dad's hair is gray. He has a lot of it, but it's gray. You know, father is almost fifty. That's old age, isn't it? But it's onlyoutsidehe sold.Withinhe is just as young as everyone else. Now, teacher, please sit down here; and I will sit at your feet. May I put my head on your knee? This is how my little mother and I used to sit. Oh, that's really great, I think."
"Now I want to hear those thoughts that Mary Joe says so strangely," Anne said, patting the curly hair at her side. Paul never needed to be persuaded to voice his thoughts. . . at least for sympathetic souls.
"I thought it up one night in the fir grove," he said dreamily. "Of course notbelieveher, but methoughtShe.Ofknow, teacher. And then I wanted to tell someone and there was nobody but Mary Joe. Mary Joe was in the pantry laying out bread and I sat down next to her on the bench and said, 'Mary Joe, do you know what I'm thinking? I think the evening star is a lighthouse on the land where the fairies dwell." And Mary Joe said, "Well, you're the strange one. Daring isn't like fairies.” I was very provoked. Of course I knew there were no fairies; but that doesn't have to stop me from thinking that it is.Ofknow, teacher. But I tried again very patiently. I said, "Well then, Mary Joe, do you know what I'm thinking? I think an angel walks over the world after the sun goes down. . . a great, tall, white angel with silvery folded wings. . . and sings the flowers and birds to sleep. Kids can hear him if they can listen." Then Mary Joe held her hands over all the flour and said, "Well, you're de queer leetle boy. You scare me.” And she looked really scared. I then went outside and whispered the rest of my thoughts into the garden. In the garden there was a small birch that died. Grandma says the salt spray killed it; but I believe the accompanying dryad was a foolish dryad who wandered off to see the world and got lost. And the little tree was so lonely that he died of a broken heart.”
"And when the poor silly little dryad gets sick of the world and goes back to her treesheHeart will break,” said Anne.
"Yes; but if dryads are stupid, they have to face the consequences as if they were real people," Paul said seriously. "You know what I think about the new moon, teacher? I think it's a little golden boat full of dreams ."
"And when it topples onto a cloud, some of them squirt out and fall into your sleep."
"Exactly, teacher. Oh youagainknows. And I think the violets are little scraps of heaven that fell when the angels punched holes for the stars to shine through. And the buttercups are made of old sunshine; and I think the sweet peas will be butterflies when they go to heaven. Now, sir, do you see anything so odd about that thought?”
“No, my dear, you are not gay at all; They are strange and beautiful thoughts for a little boy, and therefore people who could not think of such things themselves if they had tried for a hundred years, think them strange. But keep that in mind, Paul. . . One day you will be a poet, I believe."
When Anne got home, she found a very different kind of childhood waiting to be put to bed. Davy was sullen; and when Anne had undressed him, he jumped into bed and buried his face in the pillow.
"Davy, you forgot to pray," Anne said reprovingly.
"No, I haven't forgotten," Davy said defiantly, "but I won't say my prayers anymore. I'll give up trying to be good because no matter how good I am, you'd rather like Paul Irving. So I might as well be evil and have fun with it.”
"I don't like Paul Irvingbetter' Anne said seriously. "I like you just as much, just different."
"But I want you to like me the same way," Davy pouted.
"You can't like different people in the same way. You don't like Dora and me in the same way, do you?"
Davy sat up and thought.
"No . . . O . . . o," he finally admitted, "I like Dora because she's my sister, but I like you because you areshe.“
"And I like Paul because he's Paul and Davy because he's Davy," said Anne cheerfully.
"Well, I wish I'd said my prayers back then," Davy said, confident in that logic. "But it's too much trouble getting out now to say them. I'll say it twice in the morning, Anne. Isn't that also possible?"
No, Anne was sure things wouldn't go so well. So Davy climbed out and knelt by her knee. When he finished his prayers, he leaned back on his small, bare, brown heels and looked up at her.
"Anne, I'm better than I used to be."
"Yes, indeed you are, Davy," said Anne, never hesitating to give credit where credit was due.
"IknowsI'm better," said Davy confidently, "and I'll tell you how I know. Today Marilla gives me two pieces of bread and jam, one for me and one for Dora. One was much larger than the other and Marilla didn't say which was mine. But I give the biggest piece to Dora. That was nice of me, wasn't it?"
"Very good and very manly, Davy."
"Of course," admitted Davy, "Dora wasn't very hungry and she only ate half of her piece and then gave the rest to me. But I didn't know she would do that when I gave it to her, so I didwarGood Anne.”
At dusk Anne strolled down to Dryad's Bubble and saw Gilbert Blythe coming down through the gloomy Haunted Wood. Suddenly she realized that Gilbert wasn't a schoolboy anymore. And how manly he looked - the tall, open-faced man with clear, straight eyes and broad shoulders. Anne thought Gilbert was a very handsome boy, even though he didn't look like her ideal man at all. She and Diana had long ago decided what kind of man they admired, and their preferences seemed to be exactly the same. He must look very tall and distinguished, with melancholic, fathomless eyes and a melting, compassionate voice. There was neither melancholy nor the inscrutable in Gilbert's physiognomy, but of course that played no part in the friendship!
Gilbert stretched out on the ferns beside the bubble and gave Anne an appreciative look. If Gilbert had been asked to describe his ideal wife, Anne's description would have answered point by point, even to those seven tiny freckles whose repulsive presence still tormented her soul. Gilbert was little more than a boy; but a boy has his dreams like any other, and in Gilbert's future there was always a girl with large clear gray eyes and a face as fine and delicate as a flower. He had also resolved that his future must be worthy of their goddess. Even in quiet Avonlea there were temptations to be met and faced. White Sands youth was quite a "fast" set, and Gilbert was well-liked everywhere. But he wished to consider himself worthy of Anne's friendship, and perhaps of her love some distant day; and he watched over words and thoughts and deeds as jealously as if their clear eyes judged them. She exercised on him the unconscious influence that every girl whose ideals are high and pure exercises on her friends; an influence that would last as long as she remained true to those ideals, and which she would just as surely lose if she were ever unfaithful to them. In Gilbert's eyes, Anne's greatest charm was that she never stooped to the petty practices of so many Avonlea girls—the petty jealousies, the petty deceptions and rivalries, the palpable pleas for favors. Anne stayed aloof from all of this, not consciously or intentionally, but simply because it was completely alien to her transparent, impulsive nature, crystal clear in her motives and aspirations.
But Gilbert didn't try to put his thoughts into words, for he already had good reason to know that Anne would be merciless and icy to nip any attempts at sentimentality in the bud – or laugh at him, which was ten times worse.
"You look like a real dryad under that birch," he said teasingly.
"I love birches," Anne said, resting her cheek against the creamy satin of the slender trunk of the tree in one of those lovely, caressing gestures that seemed so natural to her.
"Then you will be pleased to know that Mr. Major Spencer has decided to plant a row of white birch trees along the road in front of his farm to mark the A.V.I.S. encouraging," said Gilbert. "He talked to me about it today. Major Spencer is the most progressive and common-minded man in Avonlea. And Mr. William Bell will put up a pine hedge along his frontage and lane. Our company is doing well, Anne. It has passed the experimental stage and is an accepted fact. The older folks are starting to get interested and the White Sands folks are talking about starting one too. Even Elisha Wright has stopped by since the day the Americans from the hotel on the shore had a picnic. They praised our roadsides so much and said they were so much prettier than any other part of the island. And if in due course the other farmers follow Mr. Spencer's good example and plant ornamental trees and hedges along their roads, Avonlea will be the loveliest settlement in the province."
"The AIDS are talking about taking over the cemetery," Anne said, "and I hope they will, because there has to be a subscription for that and there's no point in the society trying to do it after the Hallen affair. But AIDS would never have interfered if society hadn't unofficially taken it into its thoughts. The trees we have planted on the church grounds are thriving and the trustees have promised me that they will fence off the school grounds next year. If they do, I shall have a leafy day, and every scholar shall plant a tree; and we will have a garden in the corner by the street.”
"We have succeeded in almost all our plans so far, except that the old Boulter house was removed," said Gilbert, "and I have giventheget up in despair. Levi won't take it down just to annoy us. There is an opposite streak in all Boulters and it is strong in him.”
"Julia Bell wants to send him another committee, but I think the better way will be to just leave him alone," Anne said wisely.
"And trust in Providence, as Mrs. Lynde says," Gilbert smiled. “Sure, no more committees. You only annoy him. Julia Bell believes that you can do anything if you just have a committee trying. Next spring, Anne, we have to start a campaign for beautiful lawns and grounds. We will sow good seed in time this winter. I have a treatise on lawns and lawn care here and will soon be preparing a paper on the subject. Well, I suppose our vacation is almost over. The school opens on Monday. Does Ruby Gillis have Carmody School?”
"Yes; Priscilla wrote that she took her own home schooling, so the Carmody trustees gave it to Ruby. I'm sorry Priscilla isn't coming back, but since she can't, I'm glad Ruby got the school She will be home on Saturdays and it will seem like old times to have her and Jane and Diana and I all together again."
Marilla, who had just come home from Mrs. Lynde, was sitting on the back porch step when Anne returned to the house.
"Rachel and I have decided to take our cruise into town tomorrow," she said. "Mr. Lynde is feeling better this week and Rachel wants to leave before he gets sick again."
"I plan to get up extra early tomorrow morning because I have so much to do," Anne said virtuously. “First, I'm going to move the feathers from my old bed tick to the new one. I should have done it a long time ago, but I kept putting it off. . . it's such a despicable task. Procrastination is a very bad habit and I will never do it again or I can't be comfortable telling my students not to do it. That would be inconsistent. Then I want to bake a cake for Mr. Harrison and write my essay on gardens for the A.V.I.S. finish and write to Stella and wash and starch my muslin dress and make Dora's new apron.”
"You can't do it by halves," Marilla said pessimistically. "I've never planned to do many things, but something happened to stop me from doing it."
20. As often happens
The next morning, Anne rose in time and merrily greeted the fresh day as the banners of sunrise shook triumphantly across the pearly sky. Green Gables lay in a sunbathing pool dotted with the dancing shadows of poplars and willows. Across the country was Mr. Harrison's wheat field, a great wind-ruffled expanse of pale gold. The world was so beautiful that Anne spent ten blissful minutes hanging idly over the garden gate and absorbing the loveliness.
After breakfast, Marilla got ready for her journey. Dora should go with her, she had been promised this treat for a long time.
"Well, Davy, you're trying to be a good boy and not bother Anne," she prompted bluntly. "If you're good, I'll bring you a striped candy cane from town."
Unfortunately, Marilla had indulged in the evil habit of bribing people to be good!
"I'm not going to be bad on purpose, but suppose I happen to be bad?" Davy wanted to know.
"You have to be careful of accidents," Marilla warned. "Anne, if Mr. Shearer comes today, get yourself a nice roast and a steak. If not, you will have to kill a chicken for dinner tomorrow.”
"I'm not going to bother cooking dinner just for Davy and I today," she said. "This cold ham bone is enough for lunch and I'll cook you a steak when you come home in the evening."
"I'm going to help Mr. Harrison bring Dulse in this morning," Davy announced. "He asked me to, and I think he'll take me to dinner too. Mr. Harrison is a terribly kind man. He's a really sociable man. I hope I will be like him when I grow up. I meanbehaviorlike him . . . I do not wantseelike him. But I don't think there's any danger, for Mrs Lynde says I'm a very pretty child. Do you think it will last, Anne? I would like to know?"
"I dare say so," said Anne seriously. "Youarea pretty boy, Davy”, . . . Marilla looked volumes of disapproval. . . "But you have to live up to that and be as nice and gentlemanly as you look."
"And you told Minnie May Barry the other day when you found her crying because someone said she was ugly, that if she was nice and kind and loving people wouldn't mind the way she looked," Davy said unhappily. “It seems to me that for some reason you cannot avoid being good in this world. you justto havebehave."
"Aren't you trying to be nice?" asked Marilla, who had learned a lot but hadn't yet learned the pointlessness of asking such questions.
"Yes, I want to be good, but I don'ttogood,” said Davy cautiously. “You don't have to be very good to be a Sunday school leader. It's Mr. Bell, and he's a really bad man."
"Indeed he isn't," Marila said indignantly.
"He is . . . he says he is himself," Davy assured. "He said it while praying in Sunday school last Sunday. He said he was a vile worm and a pathetic sinner and guilty of the blackest injustice. What's the worst thing he's done, Marilla? Did he kill someone? Or steal the collectibles? I'd like to know."
Fortunately Mrs. Lynde was driving up the lane at that moment, and Marilla, feeling she had escaped the snare of the bird-catcher, sped off, and fervently wished Mr. Bell were not quite so figurative in his public petitions , especially in the hearing of little boys who always "wanted to know".
Anne, left alone in her glory, worked with a will. The floor was swept, the beds made, the chickens fed, the muslin dress washed and hung on the line. Then Anne prepared to transfer the feathers. She climbed into the attic and put on the first old dress that came to hand. . . a navy blue cashmere worn when she was fourteen. It was decidedly short and as "barely" as the flashy Wincey Anne had worn to her Green Gables debut; but at least it would not be materially damaged by down and feathers. Anne completed her dressing by tying over her head a large red and white spotted handkerchief that had belonged to Matthew, and, thus equipped, made her way to the kitchen closet where Marilla had helped her carry the feather bed before her departure.
A cracked mirror hung in the chamber window, and in an unfortunate moment Anne looked into it. There were those seven freckles on her nose, wilder than ever, or so it seemed in the glare coming through the undarkened window.
"Oh, I forgot to put that lotion on last night," she thought. "I'd better run down to the pantry and do it now."
Anne had already suffered a lot trying to remove those freckles. At one point all the skin had come off her nose, but the freckles remained. A few days earlier, she had found a recipe for freckle lotion in a magazine, and since the ingredients were within her reach, she immediately put it together, much to the disgust of Marilla, who figured if Providence had put freckles on your nose, it was was your duty to leave them there.
Anne hurried down to the pantry, which, always gloomy from the large willow tree that grew close to the window, was almost dark now because the blinds were down to keep flies out. Anne retrieved the bottle of lotion from the shelf and rubbed her nose extensively with a small sponge dedicated to the purpose. This important duty fulfilled, she returned to her work. Needless to say to anyone who has ever shifted feathers from one hook to another, when Anne was finished she was a sight to behold. Her dress was white with down and fluff, and her front hair, which came out from under the handkerchief, was adorned with a veritable halo of feathers. At this opportune moment there was a knock on the kitchen door.
"That must be Mr. Shearer," thought Anne. "I'm in a terrible mess but I need to calm down as I am because he's always in a hurry."
Below, Anne flew to the kitchen door. If ever a benevolent floor opened up to devour a wretched, feathered damsel, Green Gables' porch floor should have devoured Anne at that very moment. On the doorstep stood Priscilla Grant, golden and fair in silk, a short, stocky, gray-haired lady in a tweed suit, and another lady, tall, stately, wonderfully dressed, with a beautiful, high-class face, and large, black-lashed violet eyes, which Anne "instinctively" recognized as Mrs. Charlotte E. Morgan, as she would have said earlier.
In the dismay of the moment, a thought broke Anne's confusion and she grasped at it like the proverbial straw. All of Mrs. Morgan's heroines were known for being "up to the task." No matter what their problems, they invariably rose to the occasion and demonstrated their superiority over all the evils of time, space, and quantity. So Anne felt itsheDuty to rise to the occasion, and she did it so perfectly that Priscilla later declared that she never admired Anne Shirley more than she did at that moment. Whatever her outraged feelings, she didn't show them. She greeted Priscilla and was introduced to her companions as calmly and composedly as if she were dressed in purple and fine linen. Of course, it came as quite a shock to discover that the lady she had instinctively taken to be Mrs Morgan was not Mrs Morgan at all, but an unknown Mrs Pendexter, while the stocky little grey-haired woman was Mrs Morgan; but in the greater shock the smaller one lost its strength. Anne ushered her guests into the guest bedroom and from there into the drawing room, where she left them while she hurried out to help Priscilla unhitch her horse.
"It's awful meeting you so unexpectedly," Priscilla apologized, "but I didn't know we were coming until last night. Aunt Charlotte is leaving on Monday and she had promised to spend the day with a friend in town. But last night her friend called her not to come because they were quarantined for scarlet fever. So I suggested we come here instead because I knew you were dying to see her. We visited the White Sands Hotel and brought Mrs. Pdexter with us. She is friends with her aunt and lives in New York, her husband is a millionaire. We can't stay long as Mrs Pdexter has to be back at the hotel by five o'clock.'
Several times as they put the horse away, Anne caught Priscilla glancing at her furtively and in confusion.
"She doesn't have to stare at me like that," Anne thought, a little annoyed. "If she doesn'tknowswhat it means to change a feather bed, she couldimaginees."
When Priscilla had gone into the drawing room and Anne was able to escape upstairs, Diana went into the kitchen. Anne grabbed her astonished friend's arm.
'Diana Barry, who do you think is in this drawing room right now? Mrs. Charlotte E. Morgan. . . and the wife of a New York millionaire. . . and here i am likeThis. . . andnothing in the house for dinner but a cold ham bone, Diana!“
By this time Anne had become aware that Diana was staring at her just as confused as Priscilla. It was really too much.
"Oh, Diana, don't look at me like that," she pleaded. "Of, must at least know that the neatest person in the world can't tuck feathers from one tick to another and stay tidy at the same time."
"It . . . it . . . not the feathers," Diana hesitated. . . it is . . . your nose, Anne.”
"My nose? Oh, Diana, nothing went wrong after all!"
Anne hurried to the small mirror over the sink. A glance revealed the fatal truth. Her nose was a brilliant scarlet!
Anne sat down on the sofa, her unflinching courage finally dampened.
"What's up with that?" Diana asked, curiosity overcoming tenderness.
"I thought I'd rub my freckle lotion on it, but I must have used that red dye that Marilla used to mark the pattern on her carpets," was the exasperated reply. "What should I do?"
"Wash it off," Diana said practically.
"Maybe it won't wash off. First I color my hair; then I dye my nose. Marilla cut my hair off when I dyed it, but that remedy would hardly be practical in this case. Well, that's another punishment for vanity, and I think I deserve it. . . although there is not much consolationthe. It really is almost enough to make you believe in bad luck, although Mrs Lynde says there is no such thing as everything is preordained.”
Luckily the paint washed off easily and Anne made her way to the east gable with some comfort while Diana ran home. A moment later Anne came downstairs, clothed and in her right mind. The muslin dress she wanted so much to wear bounced happily on the line outside, so she had to settle for her black lawn. She had the fire lit and the tea brewed when Diana returned; the latter woresheMuslin, at least, and carrying a covered platter.
"Mother sent you this," she said, lifting the lid and holding up a nicely carved and sliced chicken in front of Anne's admiring eyes.
The chicken was complemented by light new bread, excellent butter and cheese, Marilla's fruit tarts and a dish of pickled plums swimming in their golden syrup like congealed summer sun. There was also a large bowl of pink and white asters for decoration; yet the spread seemed very poor next to the elaborate one formerly prepared for Mrs. Morgan.
Anne's hungry guests, however, seemed to want for nothing and ate the simple fare with obvious relish. But after the first few moments, Anne stopped thinking about what was or wasn't on her menu. Mrs. Morgan's performance was perhaps somewhat disappointing, as even her staunch suitors were forced to admit to one another; but she proved a delightful conversationalist. She had traveled extensively and was an excellent storyteller. She had seen many men and women and crystallized their experiences into witty little phrases and epigrams that made her listeners feel like they were listening to one of the people in clever books. But beneath all her glamor was a strongly felt undercurrent of genuine feminine sympathy and kindness that won affection as easily as her brilliance won admiration. She also didn't monopolize the conversation. She could elicit others as skillfully and fully as she could speak herself, and Anne and Diana chattered freely to her. Mrs. Pdexter said little; she only smiled with her lovely eyes and lips, and ate chicken and fruit tarts and preserves with such exquisite grace that she gave the impression of dining on ambrosia and honeydew. But then again, as Anne later said to Diana, someone as divinely beautiful as Mrs. Pdexter didn't need to talk; it was just enough for hersee.
After dinner they all took a stroll down Lover's Lane and Violet Vale and the Birch Path, then back through the Haunted Wood to Dryad's Bubble where they sat down and chatted for a delightful final half hour. Mrs Morgan wanted to know how the Haunted Wood got its name and laughed until she cried when she heard the story and Anne's dramatic account of a certain memorable walk through it at the witching hour of twilight.
"It was indeed a celebration of sanity and soul flow, wasn't it?" said Anne when her guests had departed and she and Diana were alone again. "I don't know what I enjoyed more. . . Listening to Mrs. Morgan or looking at Mrs. Pdexter. I think we had a nicer time than if we knew they were coming and were burdened with a lot of serving. You have to stay with me for tea, Diana, and we'll discuss everything."
'Priscilla says Mrs Pendexter's husband's sister is married to an English earl; and yet she took a second helping of plum jam,” Diana said, as if the two facts were somehow inconsistent.
"I daresay not even the English Earl himself would have turned his aristocratic nose up at Marilla's tinned plums," said Anne proudly.
Anne did not mention the accident that had happenedshenose as she told Marilla the story of the day that evening. But she took the bottle of freckle lotion and emptied it out the window.
"I'll never try any beautifying messes again," she said with grim determination. “For cautious, thoughtful people they may suffice; but for one so hopelessly prone to making mistakes as I seem to be, it is a temptation of fate to interfere with them.
21. Sweet Miss Lavender
The school opened and Anne returned to her work with less theory but far more experience. She had several new students, six and seven year olds, who were just venturing into a world of wonder with round eyes. Among them were Davy and Dora. Davy sat with Milty Boulter, who had been at school for a year and was therefore quite a man of the world. Dora had made a pact at Sunday school the previous Sunday to sit with Lily Sloane; However, since Lily Sloane didn't show up on day one, she was temporarily assigned to Mirabel Cotton, who was ten years old and therefore one of the "big girls" in Dora's eyes.
"I think school is great fun," Davy told Marilla when he got home that night. "You said I had a hard time sitting still, and I did. . . You mostly tell the truth, I realize. . . but you can wriggle your legs under the desk and that helps a lot. It's great to have so many guys to play with. I'm sitting with Milty Boulter and he's fine. He's taller than me, but I'm wider. It's nicer to sit in the back seats, but you can't sit there until your legs are long enough to touch the ground. Milty drew a picture of Anne on his blackboard and it was terribly ugly and I told him if he drew pictures of Anne like that I would lick it off at recess. I thought at first I would draw one of him and put horns and a tail on him, but I was afraid it would hurt his feelings, and Anne says you should never hurt someone's feelings. It seems awful when your feelings get hurt. It's better to hit a boy than hurt his feelingsGot todo something. Milty said he wasn't scared of me, but he'd just as easily call it someone else to annoy me, so he crossed out Anne's name and printed Barbara Shaw's underneath. Milty doesn't like Barbara because she calls him a cute little boy and once she petted his head."
Dora said stiffly that she liked school; but she was very quiet, even for her; and at dusk, when Marilla asked her to go upstairs to bed, she hesitated and began to cry.
"I'm . . . I'm scared," she sobbed. "I . . . I don't want to go upstairs alone in the dark."
"What's the idea in your head now?" Marilla demanded. "I'm sure you've gone to bed alone all summer and never been scared."
Dora was still crying, so Anne picked her up, gave her a sympathetic hug, and whispered,
"Tell Anne all about it, darling. What are you afraid of?"
"From . . . Mirabel Cotton's uncle," Dora sobbed. "Mirabel Cotton told me all about her family at school today. Almost everyone in her family died . . . all her grandfathers and grandmothers and so many uncles and aunts .They have a habit of dying, says Mirabel. Mirabel is terribly proud of having so many dead relatives, and she told me what they all died of and what they said and how they looked in their coffins. And "Mirabel says one of her uncles was seen walking around the house after his funeral. Her mother saw him. The rest doesn't bother me that much, but I can't help but think about that uncle."
Anne took Dora upstairs and sat next to her until she fell asleep. The next day, Mirabel Cotton was held at recess and "gently but firmly" made to understand that it wasn't in bad taste to talk when you're unlucky enough to have an uncle who insists on going through after his decent funeral go the houses over this eccentric gentleman to your desk mates in tender years. Mirabel found that very hard. The Cottons didn't have much to boast about. How was she supposed to maintain her standing with her peers when she was forbidden to capitalize on the family ghost?
September slipped into a golden and crimson grace of October. Diana stopped by one Friday evening.
"I got a letter from Ella Kimball today, Anne, and she wants us to go over for tea tomorrow afternoon to meet her cousin Irene Trent from town. But we can't fix one of our horses because tomorrow they're all on duty and your pony is lame. . . so I guess we can't go."
"Why can't we walk?" Anne suggested. “If we go straight back through the woods, we come to West Grafton Road not far from the Kimball house. I walked through this path last winter and I know the path. It's no more than four miles and we don't have to walk home because Oliver Kimball will drive us safely. He'll be only too glad of the apology because he's going to see Carrie Sloane and they say his father would hardly ever let him have a horse."
Accordingly it was arranged that they should go on foot, and the following afternoon they set out and walked along Lover's Lane to the rear of Cuthbert Farm, where they found a road leading into the heart of acres of gleaming beech and Maple forests were all in a wondrous glow of flame and gold and lay in a great purple stillness and peace.
"It's like the year kneeling to pray in a huge cathedral full of soft, patchy light, isn't it?" said Anne dreamily. "It doesn't seem right to rush it, does it? It feels disrespectful, like walking in a church.”
"WeGot toHurry up, though,” Diana said, looking at her watch. "We took so little time."
"Well, I'll walk quickly, but don't ask me to talk," Anne said, quickening her steps. “I just want to drink in the beauty of the day. . . I feel like she's holding it to my lips like a cup of fluffy wine, and I take a sip with every step."
Perhaps it was because she was so busy 'potting up' that Anne turned left at a fork in the road. She should have taken the law, but has since considered it the happiest mistake of her life. Eventually they came to a lonely, grassy road with nothing to see but rows of spruce saplings.
"Why, where are we?" exclaimed Diana confused. "This isn't West Grafton Road."
"No, that's the base street in Middle Grafton," Anne said, rather embarrassed. “I must have taken a wrong turn at the fork. I don't know exactly where we are, but we must be all three miles from Kimballs' still."
"Then we can't be there at five because it's three thirty now," Diana said, looking desperately at her watch. "We arrive after they've had their tea and they'll go to the trouble of getting ours back."
"We'd better turn around and go home," Anne suggested humbly. But Diana, after much deliberation, vetoed it.
"No, we might as well go and spend the evening since we've come this far."
A few meters further on, the girls came to a place where the path forked again.
"Which ones do we take?" Diana asked doubtfully.
Anne shook her head.
"I don't know and we can't afford to make any more mistakes. Here is a gate and an alley that leads straight into the forest. On the other side there must be a house. Let's go down and ask."
"What a romantic old alley this is," Diana said as they made their way down its twists and turns. It ran under patriarchal old firs whose branches met at the top, creating an eternal gloom where nothing but moss could grow. There were brown wooden floors on either side, streaked here and there with fallen sunbeams. Everything was very still and distant, as if the world and the worries of the world were far away.
"It feels like we're walking through an enchanted forest," Anne said in a hushed voice. "Do you think we'll ever find our way back to the real world, Diana? We will soon come to a palace with an enchanted princess I think.”
Around the next bend they came into view, not of a palace, though, but of a small house that was almost as surprising as a palace would have been in this province of conventional wooden farmhouses, all as similar in their general features as if they were grown the same seed. Anne stopped short of delight and Diana exclaimed, "Oh, I know where we are now. This is the little stone house where Miss Lavendar Lewis lives. . . Echo Lodge they call it I think. I've heard about it many times, but I've never seen it. Isn't that a romantic place?”
"It's the cutest, most beautiful place I've ever seen or imagined," Anne said happily. "It looks like something out of a storybook or a dream."
The house was a low-eaves building of unworked blocks of island red sandstone, with a small peaked roof protruding from two dormer windows with curious wooden hoods above, and two large chimneys. The whole house was covered with a luxuriant growth of ivy, which found a comfortable hold on the rough masonry and was bathed in the most beautiful shades of bronze and burgundy by the autumn frost.
In front of the house was a long garden into which the gate opened, where the girls were standing. The house bordered it on one side; on the other three it was enclosed by an old stone dike so overgrown with moss and grass and ferns that it looked like a high green bank. To the right and left the tall, dark spruces spread their palm-like branches above; but below was a little meadow, green with shamrocks, sloping down to the blue loop of the Grafton River. No other house or clearing was in sight. . . nothing but hills and valleys covered with feathery saplings.
"I wonder what kind of person Miss Lewis is," Diana speculated as they opened the gate to the garden. "They say she is very peculiar."
"Then it will be interesting," said Anne firmly. "Odd people are always at least whatever they are or aren't. Didn't I tell you we were coming to an enchanted palace? I knew the elves hadn't weaved magic across this alley for nothing."
"But Miss Lavendar Lewis is hardly an enchanted princess," laughed Diana. "She's an old maid. . . She's forty-five and quite gray, I hear."
"Oh, that's just part of the magic," Anne asserted confidently. “She is still young and beautiful at heart. . . and if we only knew how to break the spell, she would emerge bright and beautiful again. But we don't know how. . . only the prince knows that. . . and Miss Lavendar's prince has not yet come. Perhaps a fatal misfortune has befallen him. . . althoughThis isagainst the law of all fairy tales."
"I'm afraid he came and went a long time ago," Diana said. "They say she was formerly engaged to Stephan Irving. . . Paul's father. . . when they were young. But they quarreled and broke up.”
"Hush," Anne warned. "The door is open."
The girls paused on the porch under the ivy and knocked on the open door. There was a clatter of footsteps in it, and a rather odd little personality presented itself. . . a girl of about fourteen, with a freckled face, a snub nose, a mouth so wide it really seemed to stretch "from ear to ear," and two long pigtails of blond hair tied with two huge bows tied together with blue ribbon.
"Is Miss Lewis home?" Diana asked.
"Yes ma'am. Come in ma'am. I'll tell Miss Lavendar you're here, ma'am. She's upstairs, ma'am."
With that the little maid disappeared, and the girls, who had been left alone, looked around with delighted eyes. The inside of this wonderful little house was just as interesting as the outside.
The room had a low ceiling and two square windows with small panes draped in muslin ruffles. All the furniture was old-fashioned, but so well cared for and dainty that the effect was delightful. But it must be frankly admitted that what was most appealing to two sane girls, who had just trudged four miles through the autumn air, was a table set with pale blue china and laden with delicacies, while small golden ferns were scattered over the cloth gave it what Anne would have called "a festive atmosphere".
"Miss Lavendar must be expecting company for tea," she whispered. “There are six places. But what a funny little girl she has. She looked like a messenger from goblin country. I suppose she could have given us the street, but I was curious to see Miss Lavendar. S. . . s. . . shh, she's coming."
And with that, Miss Lavendar Lewis stood in the door. The girls were so surprised that they forgot the good manners and just stared. They had subconsciously expected to see the usual sort of spinster they were known to experience. . . a rather edgy personality with stiff gray hair and glasses. Nothing but Miss Lavendar could be imagined.
She was a small lady with snow-white hair, beautifully wavy and thick, and carefully arranged in bunches and coils. Below was an almost girlish face, with pink cheeks and sweet lips, with large soft brown eyes and dimples. . . actually dimples. She wore a very delicate cream muslin dress with pale roses on it. . . a dress which would have seemed ridiculously youthful to most women her age, but which suited Miss Lavendar so perfectly that it was unthinkable.
"Charlotta Fourth says you wanted to see me," she said in a voice that matched her looks.
"We wanted to ask about the right way to West Grafton," Diana said. 'We've been invited to tea at Mr Kimball's, but we took the wrong route through the woods and came out on the base line instead of West Grafton Road. Do we turn right or left at your gate?”
"The Left," said Miss Lavendar, glancing hesitantly at her tea table. Then, as if in a sudden little burst of determination, she exclaimed:
"But oh, don't you want to stay and have tea with me? Please. Mr. Kimball's will have tea before you get there. And Charlotta Fourth and I will be so lucky to have you."
Diana looked at Anne inquiringly.
"We'd like to stay," Anne said promptly, determined to find out more about this surprising Miss Lavendar, "if it doesn't cause you any inconvenience. But you're expecting other guests, aren't you?"
Miss Lavendar looked back down at her tea table and blushed.
"I know you're going to think I'm terribly stupid," she said. "Ibinfoolish . . . and I'm ashamed when I'm found out, but never unless Ibinfound out. I'm not expecting anyone. . . I was just pretending to be. See I've been so lonely i love company . . that is, the right kind of company. . . but so few people ever come here because it is so remote. Charlotte the Fourth was lonely too. So I just pretended to throw a tea party. I cooked for it. . . and decorated the table for it. . . and set it with my mother's wedding china. . . and I dressed for it.”
Diana secretly found Miss Lavendar just as odd as the report had made her out to be. The idea of a woman of forty-five playing tea party as if she were a little girl! But Anne with the shining eyes cried joyfully,
"Oh yessheDo you imagine things too?”
This "also" revealed to Miss Lavendar a kindred spirit.
"Yes, I do," she admitted boldly. "Of course it's silly for someone my age. But what's the use of being an independent spinster if you can't be silly if you want and if it doesn't hurt anyone? A person must have some compensations. I don't think I could live sometimes if I didn't dictate things. I don't get caught doing it often, though, and Charlotta the Fourth never tells it. But I'm glad to be caught today because you really came and I have tea ready for you. Will you go up to the spare room and take off your hats? It's the white door at the top of the stairs. I have to run to the kitchen and make sure Charlotta the Fourth isn't making the tea. Charlotte Fourth is a very good girl, but sheWillelet the tea boil.”
Miss Lavendar stumbled into the kitchen in hospitable thoughts, and the girls found their way upstairs to the guest room, an apartment as white as its door, lit by the ivy-hung skylight and, as Anne said, looked like the place , where happy dreams grew.
"It's quite an adventure, isn't it?" said Diana. "And isn't Miss Lavendar sweet when sheisa little strange? She doesn't look like an old maid at all."
"She looks just like music sounds, I think," Anne replied.
As they went down Miss Lavendar carried in the teapot and behind her stood Charlotta Fourth with a plate of hot biscuits, looking very pleased.
"Now you must tell me your names," said Miss Lavendar. "I'm so glad you guys are young girls. i love young girls It's so easy to pretend to be a girl myself when I'm with them. I hate". . . with a little grimace. . . "To think I'm old. Well, who are you? . . just for convenience? Diana Barry? And Anne Shirley? Can I pretend I've known you for a hundred years and call you Anne and Diana right away?"
"You may," the girls both said together.
"Then let's sit down comfortably and eat everything," said Miss Lavendar cheerfully. "Charlotta, you sit at the foot and help with the chicken. It's so lucky I made the sponge cake and donuts. Of course it was stupid to do this for imaginary guests. . . I know Charlotta the Fourth thought so, didn't I, Charlotta? But you can see how good it has become. Of course they wouldn't have been wasted because Charlotta the Fourth and I could have eaten them over time. But sponge cake is not something that improves over time.”
It was a happy and memorable meal; and when it was over they all went out into the garden and lay in the light of the sunset.
"I think you have the most beautiful place here," said Diana, looking around admiringly.
"Why do you call it Echo Lodge?" Anne asked.
"Charlotta," said Miss Lavendar, "go inside and take out the little tin horn that hangs over the clock shelf."
Charlotta Fourth skipped away and returned with the horn.
"Fuck off, Charlotta," ordered Miss Lavendar.
Accordingly, Charlotta blew a rather harsh, high-pitched explosion. There was a moment's silence. . . and then from the woods beyond the river came a multitude of fairy echoes, sweet, elusive, silvery, as if all the "horns of elf-land" were blowing against the sunset. exclaimed Anne and Diana delightedly.
"Now laugh, Charlotte . . . laugh out loud."
Charlotta, who probably would have obeyed if Miss Lavendar had told her to stand on her head, climbed onto the stone bench and laughed loudly and heartily. Back came the echo, as if a troop of imp-men would mimic her laughter in the violet woods and along the pine-lined headlands.
"People always admire my echoes a lot," said Miss Lavendar, as if the echoes were her personal property. “I love you myself. You are very good company. . . with a little pretense. Charlotta Fourth and I often sit out here on quiet evenings and have fun with them. Charlotta, take back the horn and put it carefully in its place.”
"Why do you call her Charlotta the Fourth?" asked Diana, bursting with curiosity at the point.
"Just to keep my mind from confusing her with other Charlottas," said Miss Lavendar seriously. “They all look so alike that you can't tell them apart. Her name isn't really Charlotta at all. It is . . . let me see . . . What is it? Ithinkit is Leonore. . . yes itisLeonora. You see, it is like this. When mother died ten years ago, I couldn't stay here alone. . . and I couldn't afford to pay a grown girl's wages. So I got little Charlotta Bowman to come and stay with me for food and clothes. Her name really was Charlotte. . . she was Charlotte the First. She was only thirteen. She stayed with me until she was sixteen and then went to Boston because she could do better there. Her sister came to see me then. Her name was Julia. . . I think Mrs Bowman had a thing for fancy names. . . but she looked so much like Charlotta that I called her that all the time. . .and she didn't mind. So I just gave up trying to remember her real name. She was Charlotta the second and when she left Evelina came and she was Charlotta the third. Now I have Charlotte the Fourth; but when she is sixteen. . . she is fourteen now. . . she's going to want to go to Boston too, and I really don't know what to do then. Charlotta Fourth is the last of the Bowman girls and the best. The other Charlottas always let me see that they thought I was stupid to fake things, but Charlotta the Fourth never does, no matter what she may really think. I don't care what people think of me if they don't show it to me."
"Well," Diana said, looking regretfully at the setting sun. "I guess we'll have to go if we want to get to Mr. Kimball's before dark. We had a lovely time, Miss Lewis.”
"Won't you come back to see me?" asked Miss Lavendar.
Big Anne put her arm around the little lady.
"Indeed we will," she promised. "Now that we've discovered you, we'll use up our welcome to see you. yes we have to go . . 'We've got to break away,' as Paul Irving says every time he comes to Green Gables."
"Paul Irving?" There was a subtle change in Miss Lavendar's voice. "Who is he? I didn't realize there was someone by that name in Avonlea."
Anne resented her own carelessness. She had forgotten Miss Lavendar's old romance when Paul's name slipped out.
"He's a little student of mine," she explained slowly. "He came from Boston last year to live with his grandmother, Mrs. Irving of Shore Road."
"Is he Stephen Irving's son?" asked Miss Lavendar, leaning over her eponymous border so that her face was hidden.
"I'll give you girls a bouquet of lavender," said Miss Lavendar cheerfully, as if she hadn't heard the answer to her question. "That's very cute, don't you think? Mom always loved it. She planted those boundaries a long time ago. Dad called me Lavendar because he liked it that way. The very first time he saw Mother was when he was visiting her home in East Grafton with her brother. He fell in love with her at first sight; and they put him to sleep in the spare room, and the sheets smelled of lavender, and he lay up all night thinking of her. After that, he always loved the scent of lavender. . . and that's why he gave me the name. Don't forget to come back soon, dear ones. We'll look for you, Charlotta Fourth and I."
She opened the gate under the fir trees for them to pass through. She suddenly looked old and tired; the glow and radiance had left her face; her farewell smile was as sweet of inextinguishable youth as ever, but when the girls looked back from the first bend of the lane they saw her sitting on the old stone bench under the white poplar in the middle of the garden, her head resting wearily on her hand.
"She looks lonely," Diana said softly. "We must come often to see them."
"I think her parents gave her the only right and appropriate name that could be given to her," Anne said. "If they had been blind enough to call her Elizabeth or Nellie or Muriel, I think she should have been named Lavendar as well. It's so reminiscent of sweetness and old-fashioned grace and 'silk clothes'. Now my name smells like bread and butter, patchwork and housework.”
"Oh, I don't think so," Diana said. "Anne seems to me very stately and like a queen. But I'd like to have Kerrenhappuch if it happened to be your name. I think people make their names pretty or ugly just by who they are. I can't stand Josie or Gertie as names anymore, but before I knew the Pye girls I thought they were really pretty.
"That's a nice idea, Diana," Anne said enthusiastically. “Live so that you may beautify your name, even if it was not beautiful at first . . . to let it stand in people's minds for something so beautiful and pleasant that they never think of it on their own. Thank you Diana.”
22. Quotas and Endings
"So you had tea with Lavendar Lewis at the stone house?" Marilla said the next morning at the breakfast table. "How is she now? It's been over fifteen years since I last saw her. . . It was a Sunday at Grafton Church. I suppose she's changed a lot. Davy Keith, if you want something you can't achieve, ask to make it happen and don't spread that across the table. Did you ever see Paul Irving do that when he came here for dinner?”
"But Paul's arms are longer than mine," Davy grumbled. “They had eleven years to grow and mine only had seven. "Pages, metatYou ask, but you and Anne were so busy talking you didn't pay attention. "By the way, Paul has never been here for a meal except tea, and it's easier to be polite at tea than at breakfast. You're not half as hungry. There is an awfully long time between dinner and breakfast. Well, Anne, this spoon is no bigger than last year andII'm so much bigger."
"Of course, I don't know what Miss Lavendar used to look like, but I kinda don't think she's changed much," Anne said after helping Davy with some maple syrup, giving him two spoonfuls to calm him down. "Her hair is snow white, but her face is fresh and almost girly, and she has the sweetest brown eyes . . . such a pretty woody brown shade with little golden glints in it. . . and her voice makes one think of white satin and tinkling water and fairy bells all mixed up.”
"As a girl, she was considered a great beauty," Marilla said. "I never knew her very well, but I liked her as far as I knew her. Even then, some people thought they were weird.Davy, if I catch you doing a trick like that again, you'll have to wait for your food like the French do until everyone else is done."
Most conversations between Anne and Marilla in the presence of the twins were interrupted by these rebukes from Davy-wards. In this case, Davy, saddened at not being able to scoop up the last drops of his syrup with his spoon, had solved the difficulty by lifting his plate with both hands and resting his little pink tongue on it. Anne looked at him with eyes so horrified that the little sinner blushed and said, half ashamed, half defiant:
"So nothing is wasted."
"People who are different from other people are always labeled as quirky," Anne said. "And Miss Lavendar is certainly different, although it's hard to say exactly what the difference is. Maybe it's because she's one of those people who never grow old."
"Might as well get old if your whole generation does it," said Marilla, who was pretty reckless with her pronouns. "If you don't do that, you don't fit in anywhere. As far as I know, Lavendar Lewis just left it all behind. She lived in this remote place until everyone forgot her. This stone house is one of the oldest on the island. Old Mr Lewis built it eighty years ago when he came from England. Davy, stop shaking Dora's elbows. Ah, I saw you! You don't have to try to look innocent. Why are you acting like this this morning?”
"Maybe I got up on the wrong side of the bed," Davy suggested. "Milty Boulter says if you do that, there's bound to be something wrong with you all day. His grandmother told him about it. But which oneisthe right side? And what to do if the bed is against the wall? I would like to know."
"I've always wondered what went wrong between Stephen Irving and Lavendar Lewis," Marilla continued, ignoring Davy. "They must have been engaged twenty-five years ago and then it suddenly broke off. I don't know what the problem was but it must have been something horrible because he went to the States and hasn't come home since."
"Maybe it wasn't anything very terrible after all. I think the little things in life often cause more trouble than the big things,” Anne said with one of those insights that experience couldn't have helped. “Marilla, please don't tell Mrs. Lynde that I'm with Miss Lavendar. She would definitely ask a hundred questions and somehow I wouldn't like that. . . nor Miss Lavendar, if she knew, I am sure.”
"I suppose Rachel would be curious," Marilla admitted, "although she doesn't have as much time to mind other people's business as she used to." Because of Thomas, she is now homebound; and she's pretty down because I think she's starting to lose hope that he'll ever get better. Rachel will be quite lonely if anything happens to him as all her children have settled west except Eliza in town; and she doesn't like her husband."
Marilla's pronouns slandered Eliza, who loved her husband very much.
"Rachel says if he just pulled himself together and used his willpower he would be better. But what's the use of asking a jellyfish to sit up?” Marilla continued. “Thomas Lynde never had willpower. His mother ruled him until he married, and then Rachel continued it. It's a wonder he dared to get sick without asking her permission. But I shouldn't talk like that. Rachel was a good wife to him. Without her he would never have become anything, that's for sure. He was born to be ruled; and it's good that it fell into the hands of a clever, capable manager like Rachel. He didn't mind her manner. It saved him the trouble of ever making up his own mind about anything. Davy, stop squirming like an eel.”
"I have nothing else to do," Davy protested. "I can't eat anymore and it's not fun watching you and Anne eat."
"Well, you and Dora go out and give the chickens their wheat," Marilla said. "And don't try to pull any more feathers out of the white rooster's tail either."
"I wanted some feathers for an Injun headdress," Davy said sullenly. "Milty Boulter has a dandy made of the feathers his mother gave him when she killed her old white eater. Maybe you give me some. This rooster has so much more than he wants.”
"You can have the old feather duster in the attic," said Anne, "and I'll dye them green and red and yellow for you."
"You're really spoiling that boy," Marilla said when Davy had followed the stiff Dora outside, beaming. Marilla's education had progressed greatly in the last six years; but she had not yet been able to shake off the thought that it was very bad for a child to have too many of his wishes granted.
"All the boys in his class have Native American hats and Davy wants one too," Anne said. "Iknow how it feels. . . I will never forget how much I craved puff sleeves when all other girls had them. And Davy is not spoiled. He's improving every day. Think how different he is since he came here a year ago.”
"He certainly hasn't messed around as much since he started school," confirms Marilla. "I suppose he's working the trend with the other guys. But it's a wonder to me we haven't heard from Richard Keith before. Not a word since last May.”
"I'll be scared to hear from him," Anne sighed and began clearing the dishes. "If a letter came, I would dread opening it for fear it would tell us to send the twins to him."
A month later a letter came. But it wasn't by Richard Keith. A friend of his wrote that Richard Keith had died of consumption two weeks earlier. The writer of the letter was the executor, and by that will Miss Marilla Cuthbert was left in trust for David and Dora Keith the sum of two thousand dollars until they were of age or married. In the meantime, the interest should be used to support them.
"It seems awful to be happy about anything related to death," Anne said matter-of-factly. “I'm sorry for poor Mr. Keith; but Ibinglad we can keep the twins.”
"It's a very good thing about the money," Marilla said practically. "I wanted to keep them but really didn't see how I could afford it, especially as they got older. The lease on the farm is no more than the upkeep of the house, and I was committed that not a penny of your money should be spent on it. You're doing way too much for her anyway. Dora needed that new hat you bought her any more than a cat needs two tails. But now the way is clear and they are taken care of.”
Davy and Dora were thrilled to hear they were going to live in Green Gables "forever". On the other hand, the death of an uncle whom they had never seen could not make up for a moment. But Dora had concerns.
"Was Uncle Richard buried?" she whispered to Anne.
"Yes, darling, of course."
"He . . . he . . . isn't like Mirabel Cotton's uncle, is he?" in an even more excited whisper. "He won't be walking around the houses after the funeral, will he, Anne?"
23. Miss Lavendars Romanze
"I think I'll take a walk to Echo Lodge tonight," Anne said on a Friday afternoon in December.
"It looks like snow," Marilla said doubtfully.
"I'll be there before the snow comes and I plan on staying all night. Diana can't go because she has company, and I'm sure Miss Lavendar will be looking for me tonight. It's been a full fortnight since I've been there.”
Anne had paid many visits to Echo Lodge since that October day. Sometimes she and Diana drove around the road; sometimes they walked through the forest. When Diana couldn't walk, Anne went alone. Between her and Miss Lavendar was formed one of those fervent, helpful friendships that are only possible between a woman who has kept the freshness of youth in her heart and soul, and a girl whose imagination and intuition provided the locus of the experience are. Anne had at last discovered a genuine 'kindred spirit', while Anne and Diana came into the lonely, secluded life of the little lady's dreams with the wholesome joy and exhilaration of outward existence that Miss Lavendar 'the world forgets, by the world forgets ”, had long stopped sharing; They brought an atmosphere of youth and reality to the small stone house. Charlotte the Fourth always greeted her with her widest smile. . . and Charlotte's smilewarterribly wide. . . She loves them both for her adored mistress and for her own. Never had there been such "haughtiness" in the little stone house as in that beautiful, long-lasting autumn, when November again seemed like October, and even December imitated the sunshine and haze of summer.
But on this particular day, it seemed as if December had remembered that it was winter time and had suddenly turned cloudy and brooding, with a windless stillness that portended snow to come. Nevertheless, Anne very much enjoyed her walk through the great gray labyrinth of beech forests; though she never found it lonely alone; her imagination peopled her way with cheerful companions, and with them she engaged in a cheerful, feigned conversation, funnier and more fascinating than conversations in real life, where people sometimes fail most miserably in keeping up. In a "believable" assembly of choice minds, everyone says exactly what you're supposed to say, giving you the opportunity to say exactly what you're supposed to sayshewant to say. Accompanied by this invisible company, Anne crossed the forest and reached the Tannenweg just as broad, feathery flakes began to flutter softly down.
At the first bend she found Miss Lavendar standing under a large, branched fir tree. She wore a dress of warm rich red, and her head and shoulders were draped in a silver-grey silk shawl.
"You look like the Queen of the Pinewood Fairies," Anne exclaimed happily.
"I thought you were coming tonight, Anne," said Miss Lavendar, running to the front. "And I'm doubly happy because Charlotta the fourth is gone. Her mother is ill and she had to go home overnight. I would have been very lonely if you hadn't come. . . even the dreams and the echoes would not have been enough company. Oh, Anne, how pretty you are,” she added suddenly, looking up at the tall, slender girl with the soft rose blush of walking on her face. "How pretty and how young! It's so adorable to be seventeen, isn't it? I really do envy you,” Miss Lavendar concluded bluntly.
"But you're only seventeen at heart," smiled Anne.
"No, I'm old. . . or rather middle-aged, which is far worse,” sighed Miss Lavendar. "Sometimes I can pretend I'm not, but sometimes I realize it. And I can't put up with it like most women seem to. I'm just as rebellious as I was when I discovered my first gray hairs. Well, Anne, don't look like you want to understand. Seventeenchickensunderstand. I'm about to pretend I'm seventeen too, and I can now that you're here. You always bring youth into your hands like a gift. We're going to have a fun evening. tea first. . . What do you want for tea? We have what you want. Think of something beautiful and indigestible.”
That evening there were sounds of uproar and merriment in the little stone house. As for cooking and feasting and making sweets and laughing and "pretending," it is quite true that Miss Lavendar and Anne behaved in a manner wholly unbefitting of the dignity of a forty-five-year-old spinster and a portly schoolma'am was. Then, when they were tired, they sat down on the carpet in front of the drawing-room fireplace, lit only by the soft glow of the fire and perfumed deliciously by Miss Lavendar's open rose glass on the mantelpiece. The wind had picked up, howling and sighing around the eaves, and the snow was pounding softly against the windows as if a hundred storm spirits were knocking for admittance.
"I'm so glad you're here, Anne," Miss Lavendar said, nibbling on her candy. "If it weren't for you, I would be blue. . . very blue. . . almost navy blue. Dreams and illusions are all very good in the day and sunshine, but when darkness and storm come they cannot satisfy. Then you want real things. But you don't know that. . . seventeen never knows. At seventeen, dreams satisfy because you think realities are still waiting for you. When I was seventeen, Anne, I didn't think that at forty-five I would find a white-haired little spinster with nothing but dreams to fill my life."
"But you're not an old maid," said Anne, smiling into Miss Lavendar's wistful brown eyes. "Old maids areborn. . . They don'twill.“
"Some are born spinsters, some live to the age of spinsters, and some are spinstered," parodied Miss Lavendar moodily.
"You're one of those guys who did it then," Anne laughed, "and you did it so beautifully that if every spinster were like you, I think it would be fashionable."
'I always like to make things as good as possible,' said Miss Lavendar thoughtfully, 'and as I had to be an spinster I was determined to be a very nice one. People say I'm weird; but that's only because I follow my own way of being an spinster and refuse to copy the traditional pattern. Anne, has anyone ever told you anything about Stephen Irving and me?'
"Yes," Anne said frankly, "I heard you and he were once engaged."
"So we were . . . twenty five years ago. . . before a life. And next spring we should have gotten married. I had my wedding dress made, although no one knew about it except Mother and Stephenthe. We've been at it almost our entire lives, you could say. When Stephen was a little boy his mother used to bring him here when she visited my mother; and the second time he ever came. . . he was nine and I was six. . . he told me outside in the garden that he was quite determined to marry me when he grew up. I remember saying "thank you"; and when he was gone I told the mother, very seriously, that it was a great burden to me that I was no longer afraid of being an old maid. How the poor mother laughed!”
"And what went wrong?" Anne asked breathlessly.
“We just had a silly, silly, everyday argument. So commonplace that if you believe me I can't even remember how it started. I hardly know who was more to blame. Stephen really started it, but I think I provoked him with some stupidity of mine. He had a rival or two, you know. I was vain and flirtatious and liked to tease him a little. He was a very nervous, sensitive guy. Well we parted on both sides in anger. But I thought everything would be fine; and it would have if Stephen hadn't come back too soon. Anne, my dear, I'm sorry to say that. . . Miss Lavendar lowered her voice, as if to confess her fondness for murdering people, "that I am a terribly grumpy person. Oh, you don't have to smile, . . . it's only too true. Iagainsulk; and Stephen came back before I could finish pouting. I wouldn't listen to him and I wouldn't forgive him; and so he went away forever. He was too proud to come again. And then I pouted because he didn't come. I might have sent for him, but I couldn't deign to do it. I was just as proud as he was. . . Pride and moroseness are a very bad combination, Anne. But I could never take care of anyone else and I didn't want to either. I knew I'd rather be an old maid for a thousand years than marry anyone who wasn't Stephen Irving. Well, now of course it all seems like a dream to me. How lovely you look, Anne. . . as personable as only seventeen can look. But don't overdo it. I really am a very happy, content little human despite my broken heart. My heart broke if a heart ever did when I realized Stephen Irving wasn't coming back. But, Anne, a broken heart in real life isn't half as bad as it is in books. It's a good deal like a bad tooth. . . even though you don't thinkthea very romantic parable. It takes bouts of pain and gives you a sleepless night every now and then, but in between it lets you enjoy life and dreams and echoes and peanut candies like nothing else. And now you look disappointed. You don't think me half as interesting a person as you did five minutes ago when you thought I was always the prey to a tragic memory bravely hidden behind an outside smile. That's the worst. . . or the best. . . of real life, Anne. Ithabitlet yourself be unhappy. It keeps trying to make you comfortable . . . and to be successful...even if you are determined to be unhappy and romantic. Isn't this candy delicious? I've eaten far more than is good for me, but I will recklessly continue."
After a short silence, Miss Lavendar said abruptly:
"The day you were here I was shocked to hear about Stephen's son, Anne. I haven't been able to mention him to you since then, but I wanted to know everything about him. What kind of boy is he?”
"He's the sweetest, sweetest child I've ever known, Miss Lavendar. . . and he also dictates things, just like you and me.”
"I would like to see him," Miss Lavendar said softly, as if speaking to herself. "I wonder if he looks like the little dream boy who lives here with me. . .meinlittle dream boy.”
"If you want to see Paul, I'll bring him sometime," said Anne.
"IwantI like . . . but not too soon. I want to get used to the thought. There might be more pain than pleasure in it. . . when he looked too much like Stephen. . . or if he didn't resemble him enough. You can bring him here in a month.”
Accordingly, a month later, Anne and Paul walked through the woods to the stone house and met Miss Lavendar in the alley. She just wasn't expecting them and she turned very pale.
"So this is Stephen's boy," she said softly, taking Paul's hand and looking at him as he stood there, handsome and boyish, in his smart little fur coat and hat. "He . . . he's very much like his father."
"Everyone says I'm a chip from the old block," Paul remarked, quite relaxed.
Anne, who had observed the little scene, breathed a sigh of relief. She saw that Miss Lavendar and Paul were "locked in" and that there would be no constraints or stiffness. Miss Lavendar was a very sensible person, despite her dreams and romance, and after that first little betrayal she hid her feelings and entertained Paul as happily and naturally as if he were someone's son who had come to see her. They all had a fun afternoon together, and so much fat for supper that old Mrs. Irving would have held up her hands in horror, thinking Paul's digestion would be ruined forever.
"Come back, boy," said Miss Lavendar, shaking his hand in parting.
"You can kiss me if you want," Paul said seriously.
Miss Lavendar leaned forward and kissed him.
"How did you know I wanted this?" She whispered.
"Because you looked at me like my little mother used to when she wanted to kiss me. I don't usually like being kissed. boys don't.Ofyou know, Miss Lewis. But I think I like it better when you kiss me. And of course I'll come visit you again. I think I'd like you to be one of my very special friends, if you don't mind."
"I . . . I don't think I will argue," said Miss Lavendar. She turned and went in very quickly; but a moment later she was waving them goodbye from the window, cheerful and smiling.
"I like Miss Lavendar," Paul announced as they walked through the beech forest. "I like the way she looks at me and I like her stone house and I like Charlotta Fourth. I wish Grandma Irving had a Charlotta the Fourth instead of a Mary Joe. I'm sure Charlotta the Fourth wouldn't think I was wrong in my upper story if I told her what I think about things. Wasn't that lovely tea we had, teacher? Grandma says a boy shouldn't think about what to eat, but sometimes he can't help it when he's really hungry.Ofknow, teacher. I don't think Miss Lavendar would force a boy to eat porridge for breakfast if he didn't like it. She would get things for him that he liked. But of course." . . Paul was anything but fair. . . "That may not be good for him. It's very nice for a change, Mr. Teacher.Ofknows."
24. A prophet in his own country
On a May day, the people of Avonlea were slightly excited about some "Avonlea Notes" signed "Observer" appearing in CharlottetownDaily company. Gossip credited Charlie Sloane with the authorship, partly because said Charlie had made similar literary strides in the past, and partly because one of the notes seemed to embody a mockery of Gilbert Blythe. Avonlea youth society persisted in regarding Gilbert Blythe and Charlie Sloane as rivals in the favor of a certain gray-eyed, imaginative damsel.
As usual, gossip was wrong. Gilbert Blythe, with Anne's encouragement and encouragement, had written the notes and included those about himself being blind. Only two of the notes are related to this story:
“There is a rumor that there will be a wedding in our village before the daisies bloom. A new and highly respected citizen will lead one of our favorite ladies to the maiden altar.
“Uncle Abe, our well-known weather prophet, predicts a violent storm of thunder and lightning on the evening of May twenty-third beginning at seven o'clock sharp. The storm area will cover most of the province. Anyone traveling that evening would do well to take umbrellas and raincoats with them.”
"Uncle Abe did predict a storm sometime this spring," Gilbert said, "but do you think Mr. Harrison is really going to Isabella Andrews?"
'No,' said Anne, laughing, 'I'm sure he only goes to play checkers with Mr Harrison Andrews, but Mrs Lynde says she knows Isabella Andrews is going to get married, she's in such a good mood this spring. ”
Poor old Uncle Abe was quite disgusted with the notes. He suspected "Observer" was making fun of him. He angrily denied giving a specific date for his storm, but no one believed him.
Life in Avonlea ran its smooth and steady course. The "planting" was brought in; the Improvers celebrated an Arbor Day. Each improver installed or had installed five ornamental trees. Since the association now had forty members, this meant a total of two hundred young trees. Former oats greened over the red fields; Apple orchards threw great blooming arms around the farmhouses and the Snow Queen adorned herself as a bride for her husband. Anne liked to sleep with the window open and let the scent of cherries waft around her nose all night. She found it very poetic. Marilla thought she was risking her life.
"Thanksgiving should be celebrated in the spring," Anne said to Marilla one evening as they sat on the front door steps, listening to the silver-sweet chorus of frogs. "I think it would be a lot better than November when everything is dead or asleep. Then you must remember to be thankful; but in May you just can't help but be grateful. . . that they live, if for nothing else. I feel exactly how Eva must have felt in the Garden of Eden before the troubles began.isthe grass in the hollow green or golden? It seems to me, Marilla, that a pearl from a day like this, when the blossoms are out and the winds don't know where to blow next for mad joy, must be as good as heaven.”
Marilla looked disgusted and looked around anxiously to make sure the twins weren't within earshot. They were just around the corner of the house.
"Isn't this an awfully nice smelling evening?" asked Davy, sniffling in delight as he swung a pickaxe in his dirty hands. He had been working in his garden. That spring, Marilla had gifted him and Dora a small piece of land for a garden, turning Davy's passion for wallowing in mud and clay into useful channels. Both had been characteristically eager to work. Dora planted, weeded, and watered carefully, systematically, and dispassionately. As a result, her plot was already green with neat, tidy little rows of vegetables and annuals. However, Davy worked with more zeal than discretion; he dug and hoeed and raked and watered and transplanted so vigorously that his seeds had no chance of life.
"How's your garden, Davy-Boy?" asked Anne.
"A little slow," Davy said with a sigh. "I don't know why things aren't getting better. Milty Boulter says I must have planted them by moonlight and that's the whole problem. He says you must never sow seeds or kill pork or cut your hair or do anything important at the wrong moon time. Is that right Anne? I would like to know."
"Maybe if you didn't pull your plants up by the roots every other day to see how they're doing 'on the other end,' they'd do better," Marilla said sarcastically.
"I only pulled up six of them," Davy protested. "I wanted to see if there were maggots on the roots. Milty Boulter said if it wasn't the moon's fault, it must be maggots. But I only found one caterpillar. He was a big, juicy, curly grub. I put him on a rock and got another rock and smashed it flat. He did a fun sqush, let me tell you. I was sorry there weren't more of them. Dora's garden was planted at the same time as mine and her stuff is growing well. Itchickensbe the moon,” Davy concluded in a thoughtful tone.
"Marilla, look at that apple tree," Anne said. “Well, the thing is human. It stretches out long arms to delicately lift its own pink skirts, provoking our admiration.”
"Those yellow duchess trees always bear well," Marilla said smugly. “This tree will be loaded this year. I am really happy. . . They're great for cakes.”
But neither Marilla nor Anne nor anyone else was destined to bake Yellow Duchess apple pies that year.
May twenty-third came. . . an unseasonably warm day, as none observed more keenly than Anne and her little hive of students poring over fractions and sentence structure in the Avonlea classroom. A hot breeze blew all morning; but after noon it ebbed away in a heavy stillness. At two-thirty, Anne heard a faint rumble of thunder. She immediately dismissed school so the children could get home before the storm came.
As they walked out to the playground, Anne sensed a certain shadow and gloom over the world, although the sun was still shining brightly. Annetta Bell nervously took her hand.
"Oh, teacher, look at that terrible cloud!"
Anne looked and let out a dismayed exclamation. In the north-west, a mass of clouds was rolling in like she'd never seen in her life. It was dead black except where its scalloped and fringed edges showed a ghostly, livid white. There was something indescribably menacing about it as it loomed somberly against the clear blue sky; every now and then a bolt of lightning streaked across it, followed by a savage growl. It hung so low it almost seemed to touch the tops of the wooded hills.
Mr. Harmon Andrews rumbled up the hill in his truck, driving his team from horror to top speed. He stopped her in front of the school.
"I guess Uncle Abe did it once in his life, Anne," he cried. "His storm is coming a little early. Have you ever seen anything like this cloud? Here, all the young folks heading my way, pile up, and those who don't scurry to the post office when you've got a quarter mile to go, and stay there until the shower is over. ”
Anne grabbed Davy and Dora's hands and flew down the hill, along the Birch Path, past Violet Vale and Willowmere as fast as the twins' fat legs could. They reached Green Gables not a moment too soon and were escorted to the door by Marilla, who had her ducks and chickens sheltered. As they burst into the kitchen, the light seemed to vanish as if blown out by a mighty breath; the terrible cloud rolled over the sun, and a darkness like late dawn settled over the world. At the same moment, with a clap of thunder and a blinding flash of lightning, the hail fell, darkening the landscape in a white fury.
Amidst all the roar of the storm came the roar of torn branches slamming against the house and the sharp crack of shattering glass. In three minutes every pane in the west and north windows was shattered and the hail poured through the openings, which covered the floor with stones, the smallest of which was the size of a hen's egg. For three quarters of an hour the storm raged unabated, and no one who had experienced it ever forgot it. Marilla, terrified for the first time in her life, knelt by her rocking chair in a corner of the kitchen, panting and sobbing between the deafening bangs of thunder. Anne, white as a sheet, had pulled the sofa away from the window and sat on it with a twin on either side. Davy had yelled at the first crash, "Anne, Anne, is it Judgment Day? Anne, Anne, never memeantbeing naughty,” and then he had buried his face in Anne's lap and was holding it there, his little body shaking. Dora, a little pale but composed, sat with her hand in Anne's hand, calm and motionless. It is doubtful whether an earthquake would have disturbed Dora.
Then the storm stopped almost as suddenly as it had begun. The hail stopped, the thunder rolled and murmured to the east, and the sun broke out merrily and brightly over a world so changed that it seemed absurd to think that a scant forty-five minutes could have brought about such a transformation.
Marilla rose from her knees, weak and trembling, and collapsed into her rocking chair. Her face was gaunt and she looked ten years older.
"Did we all get out of there alive?" she asked solemnly.
"You bet we have," Davy squeaked happily, his own man again. "I wasn't scared at all either. . . only at the beginning. It comes on a guy so suddenly. I quickly decided, like a wink, that I wasn't going to fight Teddy Sloane on Monday as I had promised; but now maybe I will. Tell me, Dora, were you afraid?”
"Yes, I was a bit scared," Dora said stiffly, "but I held Anne's hand and said my prayers over and over."
"Well, I would have said my prayers too, if I had thought of it," said Davy; "but," he added triumphantly, "you see, I got through just as safely as you did, though I didn't say so."
Anne got Marilla a glass of her strong currant wine. . .howpowerful it was that in her earlier days Anne had had all too good reason to know. . . and then they went to the door to look out at the strange scene.
Far and wide lay a knee-deep white carpet of hailstones; They piled up in heaps under the eaves and on the steps. When those hailstones melted three or four days later, the devastation they had caused was plain to see, for all the green that was growing in the field or garden was cut off. Not only was every blossom removed from the apple trees, but large branches and twigs were also torn away. And of the two hundred trees set up by the improvers, by far the most were snapped off or torn to shreds.
"Can it possibly be the same world as an hour ago?" Anne asked dazedly. "ItGot totook longer to play such a mess.
"You've never seen anything like this on Prince Edward Island," Marilla said, "never. I remember when I was a girl there was a bad storm but it didn't matter. We will hear of terrible destruction, rest assured.”
"I do hope that none of the children got caught by it," Anne murmured anxiously. It had not been one of the children, as it later turned out, as those who were some distance away had followed Mr Andrews' excellent advice and taken refuge at the post office.
"Here comes John Henry Carter," Marilla said.
John Henry came wading through the hailstones with a rather frightened grin.
"Oh, isn't that awful, Miss Cuthbert? Mr. Harrison sent me over to see if you came out all right.'
"None of us were killed," Marilla said grimly, "and none of the buildings were hit. I hope you got off just as well.”
"Yes, am. Not quite so good, ma'am. We got hit. Lightning threw the kitchen over with a clatter and came down the trigger and knocked over Ginger's cage and ripped a hole in the floor and went into the sullar. Yasm."
"Was Ginger hurt?" Anne asked.
"Yes, am. He was injured pretty badly. He was killed." Anne later went over to comfort Mr. Harrison. She found him sitting at the table and stroking Ginger's gay dead body with a shaking hand.
"Poor Ginger won't call you names anymore, Anne," he said sadly.
Anne never imagined crying over Ginger, but tears welled up in her eyes.
"He was the only company I had, Anne . . . and now he's dead. Well, well, I'm an old fool for caring so much. I admit it, I don't care. I know you'll say something sympathetic as soon as I stop talking. . . but not. If you did I would cry like a baby. Wasn't that a terrible storm? I don't think people will laugh at Uncle Abe's predictions again. Seems like all the storms he prophesied all his life that never happened came at once. However, beats everything he slammed that day, doesn't it? Look at the mess we have here. I have to hurry and get some planks to patch the hole in the floor.”
The people of Avonlea did nothing the next day but visit each other and compare damage. The roads were impassable for bikes because of the hailstones, so they walked or rode on horseback. The post came late with bad news from across the province. Houses had been hit, people killed and injured; the whole telephone and telegraph system was disorganized and scores of young animals abandoned in the fields had perished.
Uncle Abe waded to the forge early in the morning and spent the whole day there. It was Uncle Abe's hour of triumph and he enjoyed it to the fullest. It would be unfair to Uncle Abe to say he was glad the storm had come; but since it had to be, he was very glad he had predicted it. . . also on the day. Uncle Abe forgot he ever denied setting the day. As for the slight discrepancy in the hour, it was nothing.
Gilbert arrived at Green Gables that evening to find Marilla and Anne nailing strips of oilcloth over the broken windows.
"God knows when we'll get glass for her," Marilla said. "Mr. Barry went to Carmody's this afternoon, but he couldn't get a slice for love or money. Lawson and Blair were cleared out by the Carmody people at ten o'clock. Was the storm bad at White Sands, Gilbert?"
"I should say that. I got caught with all the kids at school and thought some were going to go crazy with the shock. Three of them fainted, and two girls got hysteria, and Tommy Blewett just had a loud voice the whole time screamed."
"I only squeaked once," Davy said proudly. "My garden was all shattered," he continued sadly, "but so was Dora's," he added, in a tone that suggested there was still balsam in Gilead.
Anne came running down the west gable.
"Oh, Gilbert, did you hear the news? Mr. Levi Boulter's old house was hit and burned down. I feel like I'm terribly angry to be happy about itthe, when so much damage has been done. Mr. Boulter says he believes the A.V.I.S. created this storm on purpose.”
"Well, one thing's for sure," said Gilbert, laughing, "'Observer' established Uncle Abe's reputation as a weather prophet. "Uncle Abe's Storm" will go down in local history. It is a most extraordinary coincidence that it should have happened on the very day we chose. I actually feel half guilty, like I really "magiced" it. We can also be happy about the old house being removed, because there is not much to be happy about with our young trees. Not ten of them escaped.”
"Ah, well, we'll just have to plant them again next spring," said Anne philosophically. “That's a good thing in this world . . . there are always more feathers.”
25. Ein Avonlea-Scandal
On a cheerful June morning, a fortnight after Uncle Abe's storm, Anne came slowly out of the garden through the garden of Green Gables, two rotten stalks of white daffodils in her hands.
"Look, Marilla," she said sadly, holding the flowers in front of a fierce lady in a green plaid apron who was walking into the house with a plucked chicken, "these are the only buds the storm has spared. . . and even they are imperfect. I'm sorry . . . I wanted something for Matthew's grave. He always loved June lilies so much.”
"I kind of miss her myself," Marilla admitted, "although it doesn't seem right to whine about her when so many worse things have happened. . . all crops and fruits destroyed.”
'But the people have planted their oats again,' said Anne comfortingly, 'and Mr Harrison says he thinks if we have a good summer they will come up quite well, if late. And my yearbooks are all coming up again. . . but alas, nothing can replace the June Lilies. Poor little Hester Gray won't have either. I walked all the way back to her garden last night but there wasn't anyone there. I'm sure she will miss them."
"I don't think you would say such a thing, Anne, I really don't," Marilla said sternly. "Hester Gray has been dead for thirty years and her spirit is in heaven. . . I hope."
"Yes, but I think she still loves and remembers her garden here," said Anne. "I'm sure no matter how long I've lived in heaven, I would love to look down and see someone laying flowers on my grave. If I had had a garden like Hester Gray's here, it would take me more than thirty years, even in heaven, to cast spells to cast my mind away from homesickness."
"Well, don't let the twins hear you talking like that," was Marilla's weak protest as she carried her chicken inside.
Anne put her daffodils in her hair and walked to the gate of the alley, where she stood for a while and basked in the June brightness before going in to attend to her Saturday morning duties. The world became beautiful again; Old Mother Nature did her best to erase the storm's marks, and though she would not have complete success for many moons, she did work wonders.
"I wish I could just be idle all day today," Anne said to a bluebird singing and rocking on a willow branch, "but a schoolmother who also helps raise twins can't be lazy, birdie. How sweetly you sing, little bird. You just put the feelings of my heart into the song much better than I could myself. Why, who's coming?"
An express train car bounced down the roadway with two people in the front seats and a large trunk behind it. As it got closer, Anne recognized the driver as the son of the Bright River station agent; but his companion was a stranger. . . a scrap of a woman leaping nimbly down the gate almost before the horse came to a halt. She was a very pretty little person, apparently more in her fifties than forty, but with rosy cheeks, sparkling black eyes and shiny black hair, topped with a wonderful bonnet decorated with flowers and feathers. Despite having driven eight miles down a dusty road, she was as neat as if she had just stepped out of the proverbial band box.
"Does Mr. James A. Harrison live here?" she asked briskly.
"No, Mr. Harrison lives over there," Anne said, puzzled.
"Now, Itatthink this place seemed too neat. . .a lot oftoo neat for James A. to live here unless he's changed a lot since I've known him,” the little lady chirped. "Is it true that James A. will be married to a woman who lives in this development?"
"No, oh no," Anne cried, blushing so guiltily that the stranger looked at her curiously, as if she half suspected her of having conjugal intentions toward Mr. Harrison.
"But I saw it in an island newspaper," insisted the handsome stranger. “A friend sent me a marked specimen . . . Friends are always so willing to do such things. James A.'s name was written over 'new citizen'.”
"Oh, that note was only meant as a joke," Anne gasped. "Mr. Harrison has no intention of marryinganyone. I assure you he didn't."
"I'm very glad to hear that," said the pink lady, clambering nimbly back to her seat in the carriage, "because he happens to be married already.Iam his wife. Oh, you may look surprised. I assume he posed as a bachelor and broke hearts left and right. Good, good, James A." nodded vigorously across the fields by the long white house, "your fun's over. I'm here . . . although I wouldn't have come if I hadn't thought you were up to some mischief. I suppose,” he turned to Anne, “that parrot of his is as mundane as ever?”
"His parrot . . . is dead . . . Ithink' panted poor Anne, not sure of her own name at that moment.
"Dead! It'll be all right then," the pink lady cried jubilantly. "I can guide James A. with that bird out of the way."
With that cryptic utterance, she happily set off and Anne flew to the kitchen door to meet Marilla.
"Anne, who was this woman?"
"Marilla," Anne said seriously but with dancing eyes, "do I look like I'm crazy?"
"No more than usual," Marilla said without thinking about sarcasm.
"Well, do you think I'm awake?"
"Anne, what nonsense has gotten into you? Who was this woman I say?”
"Marilla, if I'm not crazy and I'm not sleeping, she can't be the stuff that dreams are made of." . . she must be real In any case, I certainly could not have imagined such a bonnet. She says she is Mr. Harrison's wife, Marilla."
Marilla stared in turn.
"His wife! Anne Shirley! Then what is he posing as an unmarried man for?"
"I don't think he actually did that," Anne said, trying to be fair. "He never said he wasn't married. People just took it for granted. Oh Marilla, what will Mrs Lynde say to that?'
They found out what Mrs. Lynde had to say when she came up that evening. Mrs Lynde wasn't surprised! Mrs Lynde had always expected something like this! Mrs Lynde had always known there was such a thingsomeabout Mr. Harrison!
"To think that he abandoned his wife!" she said indignantly. "It's like something you've read about in the States, but who would expect something like that to happen here in Avonlea?"
"But we don't know if he left her," Anne protested, determined to keep her boyfriend innocent until proven guilty. "We don't know the rights to it at all."
"Well, we will soon. I'll be right over,' said Mrs Lynde, who had never known there was a word in the dictionary like delicacy. "I'm not supposed to know about their arrival, and Mr. Harrison was supposed to bring some medicine for Thomas from Carmody today, so that would be a good excuse. I'll find out the whole story and stop by on the way back and tell you."
Mrs Lynde rushed where Anne had feared to step. Nothing would have caused the latter to go over to the Harrison house; but she had her natural and fair share of curiosity, and was secretly glad that Mrs. Lynde would solve the riddle. She and Marilla waited expectantly for the return of this good lady, but in vain. Mrs. Lynde did not visit Green Gables again that evening. Davy, returning home from the Boulter house at nine o'clock, explained why.
'I met Mrs Lynde and a strange woman in the hollow,' he said, 'and gracious how they both spoke at the same time! Mrs Lynde said to tell you she's sorry it's too late to phone tonight. Anne, I'm very hungry. We had tea at Milty's at four and I think Mrs Boulter is really mean. She didn't give us any canned goods or cakes. . . and even the bread was skurce.”
"Davy, when you visit, you must never criticize anything that is given to you to eat," Anne said solemnly. "That's very bad manners."
"Well . . . I just think so," said Davy cheerfully. "Give a lad some supper, Anne."
Anne looked at Marilla, who followed her into the pantry and carefully closed the door.
"You can put some jam on his bread, I know what goes for tea at Levi Boulter."
Davy sighed and picked up his slice of bread and jam.
"It's kind of a disappointing world," he remarked. “Milty has a cat that has seizures . . . she made fit every day for three weeks. Milty says she's great fun to watch. I went downstairs today on purpose to see how she had one but the mean old thing didn't throw a fit and just stayed so sane even though Milty and I hung around and waited all afternoon. But never mind" . . . Davy brightened as the insidious solace of plum jam stole into his soul . . . "Maybe I'll see her in one someday to have once, when she's so used to it, isn't it? This marmalade is terribly beautiful."
Davy had no worries that plum jam couldn't cure.
Sunday proved so rainy that there was no movement abroad; but by Monday everyone had heard one version of the Harrison story. The school buzzed about it and Davy came home full of information.
“Marilla, Mr. Harrison has a new wife . . . Well, not brand new, but they haven't been married for a long time, Milty says. I always thought people had to keep getting married once they started, but Milty says no, there are ways to stop if you can't agree. Milty says one option is to just run off and leave his wife, and that's exactly what Mr. Harrison did. Milty says Mr. Harrison left his wife because she threw things at him. . .hartThings . . . and Arty Sloane says it was because she wouldn't let him smoke, and Ned Clay says it was because she never stopped scolding him. I wouldn't leave MY wife for something like that. I would just put my foot down and say, 'Mrs. Davy, you just have to do what you likemich'Cause I'm oneMann.’That wouldcalm her down pretty quickly I guess. But Annetta Clay saysyoulinkshimbecause he wouldn't scrape his boots on the door and she doesn't blame her. I'll go see Mr. Harrison in a minute to see how she is."
Davy soon returned, somewhat dejected.
"Mrs. Harrison was gone . . . she went to Carmody with Mrs. Rachel Lynde to get some new paper for the sitting-room. And Mr. Harrison said to tell Anne to go to him because he was with her want to talk. And let's say the floor is scrubbed and Mr. Harrison is shaved, although there was no sermon yesterday."
The Harrison kitchen looked very unfamiliar to Anne. The floor was indeed scrubbed to a wonderful degree of cleanliness, as was every piece of furniture in the room; the stove was polished until she could see her face in it; the walls were whitewashed and the windowpanes sparkled in the sunlight. Beside the table sat Mr. Harrison in his work clothes, which on Friday had been known for various tears and rags but were now neatly patched and brushed. He was clean-shaven and what little hair he had was carefully trimmed.
"Sit down, Anne, sit down," said Mr. Harrison, in a tone but two degrees removed from that used by the people of Avonlea at funerals. “Emily went to Carmody with Rachel Lynde. . . She has already formed a lifelong friendship with Rachel Lynde. Beats everything about how contradictory women are. Well, Anne, my easy times are over. . . all over. It's cleanliness and order to me for the rest of my natural life, I suppose.”
Mr. Harrison did his best to speak sadly, but an uncontrollable twinkle in his eyes gave him away.
"Mr. Harrison, you're glad your wife came back," Anne called, wagging her finger at him. "You don't have to pretend you aren't because I can see it plainly."
Mr. Harrison relaxed into an embarrassed smile.
"Well . . . Well . . . I'm getting used to it," he conceded. "I can't say I was sorry to see Emily. A man really needs some protection in a community like this where he's not can play checkers with a neighbor without being accused of wanting to marry the neighbor's sister and putting it in the papers."
"No one would have thought you went to Isabella Andrews unless you pretended you were unmarried," Anne said sternly.
"I didn't pretend I was. If someone had asked me if I was married, I would have said I was. But they just took it for granted. I didn't feel like talking about it. . . I felt too sore about it. It would have been crazy for Mrs. Rachel Lynde to know my wife left me, wouldn't it?"
"But some people say you left them."
“She started it, Anne, she started it. I'm going to tell you the whole story because I don't want you to think less of me than I deserve. . . neither did Emily. But let's go to the porch. Everything in here is so terribly tidy that it makes me homesick. I suppose I'll get used to it after a while, but looking at the yard relaxes me. Emily didn't have time to clean upeswide awake."
As soon as they were comfortably seated on the porch, Mr. Harrison began his tale of woe.
"I lived in Scottsford, New Brunswick, before I came here, Anne. My sister kept house for me and she suited me well; she was only half decent and she left me alone and spoiled me. . . so Emily says. But three years ago she died. Before she died, she was very worried about what would become of me, and finally got me to promise her that I would get married. She advised me to take Emily Scott with me because Emily had money of her own and was a model housekeeper. I said, I say, "Emily Scott wouldn't look at me." "You ask her and you see," says my sister; and just to reassure her, I promised her I would. . . and i did. And Emily said she would have me. I've never been so surprised in my life, Anne. . . a smart pretty little woman like her and an old fellow like me. I'm telling you, at first I thought I was lucky. Well, we were married and we took a little wedding trip to St. John for a fortnight and then we went home. We got home at ten o'clock in the evening and I give you my word Anne that this woman would be cleaning in half an hour. Oh I know you think my house needed it. . . you have a very expressive face, Anne; Your thoughts just come out like pressure on it. . . but it didn't, not so bad. I'll admit it got pretty messed up while I was running the bachelor hall, but I had a wife who was supposed to come in and clean it up before I got married, and a lot had been painted and fixed up. I'm telling you, if you took Emily to a brand new white marble palace, she'd start scrubbing as soon as she could put on an old dress. Well, she cleaned the house until one o'clock that night and was up by four. And she stayed that way. . . As far as I could see, she never stopped. It was always scrubbing and sweeping and dusting, except for Sundays, and then she just longed for Monday to start again. But it was her way of enjoying herself, and I could have put up with it if she'd left me alone. But she wouldn't do that. She wanted to take me over, but she hadn't caught me young enough. I wasn't allowed to enter the house unless I exchanged my boots for slippers at the door. I don't dare smoke a pipe all my life if I haven't gone to the barn. And I didn't use grammar well enough. Emily had been a teacher when she was young and she had never gotten over it. Then she hated seeing me eat with my knife. Well, there it was, forever picking and nagging. But I suppose, Anne, to be fairIwas also argumentative. I wasn't trying to improve like I might have. . . I just got cranky and uncomfortable when she found a mistake. One day I told her she didn't complain about my grammar when I proposed to her. It wasn't very tactful to say that. A woman would be more forgiving of a man if he hits her than if he suggests that she is too happy to get him. Well, we got into a lot of arguments and it wasn't exactly comfortable, but we might have gotten used to each other after a while if it wasn't for Ginger. Ginger was the rock that finally separated us. Emily didn't like parrots and she couldn't stand Ginger's profane way of speaking. I clung to the bird for my brother the sailor. My brother the sailor was a pet of mine when we were little and he sent Ginger to me when he was dying. I saw no point in getting upset about his swearing. I hate nothing worse than obscenity in a human, but concessions could be made to a parrot who just repeats what he's heard without having any more understanding of it than I would have for Chinese. But Emily couldn't see it that way. Women are not logical. She tried to break Ginger from swearing, but she had no better success than trying to get me to stop saying "I saw" and "those things."
"Well things just kept going, both of us getting scratchy, up to the CLImaxcame. Emily invited our vicar and his wife to tea, and another vicar andseinewoman who visited her. I had promised to keep Ginger in a safe place where no one would hear him. . . Emily wouldn't touch his cage with a ten foot pole. . . and I intended to do it because I didn't want the ministers to hear anything unpleasant in my house. But it's slipped my mind. . . Emily worried so much about clean collars and grammar that it was no wonder. . . and I never thought of that poor parrot until we sat down to tea. Just as vicar number one was saying the word of grace, Ginger, who was standing on the porch in front of the dining room window, rose to her feetseineVoice. The eater had come into view in the yard, and the sight of a eater always had an unhealthy effect on Ginger. He surpassed himself back then. You can smile, Anne, and I don't deny I've chuckled about it since myself, but at the time I felt almost as embarrassed as Emily. I went out and carried Ginger to the barn. I can't say I enjoyed the meal. I could see from Emily that Ginger and James A. were causing trouble. As people left, I made my way to the cow pasture and had a few thoughts along the way. I felt sorry for Emily, and somehow I fancied that I hadn't been as attentive to her as I might have been; and I also wondered if the ministers would think Ginger had learned his vocabulary from himmich. In short, I decided that Ginger needed to be mercifully disposed of, and when I'd herded the cows home, I went in to tell Emily so. But there was no Emily and therewara letter on the table. . . just following the rule in storybooks. Emily wrote that I had to choose between her and Ginger; She had gone back to her own house and stayed there until I left and told her I got rid of that parrot.
'I was very excited, Anne, and I said she could stay until Judgment Day if she waited; and I stuck to it. I packed up her things and sent them after her. It talked a lot. . . Scottsford was almost as bad as Avonlea when it came to gossip. . . and everyone sympathized with Emily. It always made me angry and argumentative and I saw that I had to get out or I would never have peace. I came to the conclusion that I would come to the island. I stayed here when I was a boy and liked it; but Emily had always said she wouldn't live in a place where people were afraid to go out after dark for fear of falling off the edge. To say the opposite, I moved here. And that's all there is to it. I had never heard a word from or about Emily until I got home from back field on Saturday and saw her scrubbing the floor, but with the first decent dinner I've had since she left me ready on the table. She told me to eat it first and then we would talk. . . from which I concluded that Emily had learned some lessons about getting on with a man. So she is here and she will stay. . . to see that Ginger is dead and the island is bigger than she thought. Now there's Mrs Lynde and her. No, don't go, Anne. Stay and meet Emily. She had quite an inkling about you on Saturday. . . wanted to know who the pretty red-haired girl next door is.”
Mrs Harrison greeted Anne beamingly and insisted that she stay for tea.
"James A. told me all about you and how nice you were to bake cakes and other things for him," she said. “I want to meet all my new neighbors as soon as possible. Mrs. Lynde is a beautiful woman, isn't she? So friendly."
When Anne went home in the sweet June twilight, Mrs. Harrison walked with her across the fields where the fireflies lit their star lamps.
"I take it," said Mrs. Harrison confidentially, "that James A. told you our story?"
"Then I don't need to say it because James A. is a just man and he would tell the truth. It was far from his fault alone. I see that now. I wasn't back in my own house an hour. I wish I hadn't been so hasty, but I wouldn't back down. I see now that I expected too much from a man. And I was really stupid to care about his bad grammar. It doesn't matter if a man uses bad grammar as long as he's a good provider and doesn't rummage around the pantry to see how much sugar you've used in a week. I have a feeling that James A. and I will be really happy now. I wish I knew who "Observer" is so I could thank him. I really owe him a debt of gratitude.”
Anne kept her own advice, and Mrs. Harrison never knew her gratitude found her way to the goal. Anne was quite confused about the far-reaching consequences of these foolish "notes". They had reconciled a man with his wife and earned the reputation of a prophet.
Mrs. Lynde was in the kitchen at Green Gables. She had told Marilla the whole story.
"Well, how do you like Mrs. Harrison?" she asked Anne.
"A lot. I think she's a really nice little lady."
"That's what she is," said Mrs. Rachel emphatically, "and as I was just saying to Marilla, for her sake we should all look past Mr. Harrison's peculiarities and try to make her feel at home here, this is what. Well I have to go back. Thomas will tire me. I've been getting out a bit since Eliza came and he seemed to be doing a lot better the last few days but I never like being away from him for long. I heard that Gilbert Blythe has resigned from White Sands. He'll be going to college in the fall I guess."
Mrs. Rachel looked sharply at Anne, but Anne was bending over a sleepy Davy, who was nodding on the sofa, and nothing could be read on her face. She carried Davy away, her oval, girlish cheek pressed against his curly yellow head. As they walked up the stairs, Davy slipped a weary arm around Anne's neck and gave her a warm hug and sticky kiss.
“You are incredibly nice, Anne. Milty Boulter wrote on his slate today and showed it to Jennie Sloane:
"'Rosen rot und Vi'lets blau,
Sugar is sweet and so are you"
and that expresses my feelings for you very much, Anne.”
26. Around the bend
Thomas Lynde disappeared from life as quietly and unobtrusively as he had lived it. His wife was a tender, patient, tireless nurse. Sometimes Rachel had been a little harsh on her Thomas health-wise when his slowness or gentleness had irritated her; but when he fell ill, no voice could be softer, no gentler dexterous hand, no vigil more uncomplaining.
"You've been a good wife to me, Rachel," he once said simply, as she sat beside him in the twilight, holding his thin, pale old hand in her work-hardened hand. "A good wife. I'm sorry I don't leave you better off; but the children will take care of you. They are all bright, capable children, just like their mother. A good mother. . . a good woman. . . .”
Then he fell asleep, and the next morning, just as the white dawn was creeping over the pines in the hollow, Marilla went quietly to the east gable and woke Anne.
"Anne, Thomas Lynde is gone. . . her wage boy just broke the news. I'll go down to Rachel's in a minute."
The day after Thomas Lynde's funeral, Marilla walked through Green Gables looking oddly busy. Occasionally she looked at Anne, seemed about to say something, then shook her head and buttoned her mouth shut. After tea she went down to see Mrs. Rachel; and when she came back, she went to the east gable, where Anne was grading homework.
"How is Mrs. Lynde tonight?" asked the latter.
"She feels calmer and more relaxed," Marilla replied, sitting on Anne's bed. . . an act that betrayed an unusual level of mental excitement, for according to Marilla's code of household etiquette, sitting on a bed after it was made was an unforgivable offense. "But she is very lonely. Eliza had to go home today. . . her son is not well and she felt she could not stay any longer.”
"When I'm done with these exercises, I'm going to run down and chat with Mrs. Lynde for a while," said Anne. "I was planning to learn a Latin composition tonight, but that can wait."
"I'm assuming Gilbert Blythe is going to college this fall," Marilla said jerkily. "How would you like to go, Anne?"
Anne looked up in surprise.
“Of course I would like that, Marilla. But it is not possible."
“I think it can be made possible. I always felt that you should go. It's never been easy for me to think about you giving up everything for me."
"But Marilla, I've never been sorry for a moment for staying at home. I was so happy. . . Oh these last two years have been amazing.”
"Oh yes, I know you were satisfied enough. But that's not exactly the question. You should continue your education. You've saved enough to get you through a year in Redmond, and the money the stock brought in will last you another year. . . and there are grants and things you could win.
"Yes, but I can't walk, Marilla. Your eyes are better, of course; But I can't leave you alone with the twins. They need so much care.”
"I will not be alone with them. I wanted to discuss this with you. I had a long chat with Rachel tonight. Anne, she feels terribly bad about a lot of things. She's not very wealthy. Apparently they mortgaged the farm eight years ago to give the youngest boy a chance when he goes west; and since then they have never been able to pay more than the interest. And then, of course, Thomas' illness cost a lot in one way or another. The farm has to be sold and Rachel believes there will be little left after the bills are paid. She says she must go and live with Eliza, and it breaks her heart to think of leaving Avonlea. It's not easy for a woman her age to make new friends and interests. And, Anne, as she was talking about this, it occurred to me that I would ask her to come and stay with me, but I thought I should check it out with you before I tell her anything. If Rachel lived with me, you could go to college. How do you feel about that?"
"I feel . . . as if . . . someone . . . had given me . . . the moon . . . and I didn't know . . . exactly . . . what to do . . . with it," said Anne "But whether or not you ask Mrs. Lynde to come here is up to you, Marilla. Do you think... are you sure... you would like it? Mrs. Lynde is a good woman and a friendly neighbor, but . . ." . . but . . ."
"But she has her flaws, don't you think? Well, of course she has; but I think I'd rather make far worse mistakes than see Rachel walk away from Avonlea. I would miss her terribly. She is the only close friend I have here and without her I would be lost. We've been neighbors for 45 years and have never had a fight. . . although we came pretty close when you started Mrs. Rachel for calling you ugly and redheaded. Do you remember, Anne?'
"I think so," Anne said ruefully. "You don't forget something like that. How I hated poor Mrs. Rachel in that moment!”
"And then that 'sorry' you made her. Well, to the best of my knowledge, you were a handful, Anne. I was so confused and confused how to deal with you. Matthew understood you better.”
"Matthew understood everything," Anne said quietly, since she always spoke of him.
"Well, I think it could be handled in a way that Rachel and I don't clash at all. It always seemed to me that the reason two women can't get along in one house is because they try to share the same kitchen and get in each other's way. Well, if Rachel came here, she might or might not have the north gable for her bedroom and the guest room for a kitchen, because we don't really need a guest room. There she could put her stove and the furniture she wanted to keep and really feel comfortable and independent. She will of course have enough to live on... her children will take care of that... so I would only give her a room in the house. Yes, Anne, I would like to."
"Then ask her," Anne said promptly. "I would be very sorry myself to see Mrs. Rachel go."
"And when she comes," Marilla continued, "you might as well not go to college. She'll keep me company and do what I can't do for the twins, so there's no reason on earth you shouldn't go."
Anne had a long meditation by her window that evening. Joy and regret fought each other in her heart. She had finally come. . . suddenly and unexpected. . . to the road bend; and collegewarall around, with a hundred rainbow hopes and visions; but Anne also realized that when she rounded that curve she had to leave a lot of cute things behind. . . all the simple little duties and interests that had grown so dear to her for the last two years and which she had exalted into beauty and joy with her enthusiasm. She has to give up her school. . . and she loved every one of her students, even the stupid and naughty ones. The mere thought of Paul Irving made her wonder if Redmond was even such a name to summon.
"I've sprouted a lot of little roots in these two years," Anne told the moon, "and if I'm pulled up they're going to hurt a lot." But it's best to go, I think, and as Marilla says, there's no good reason why I shouldn't. I have to get all my ambitions out and dust them off.”
The next day, Anne handed in her resignation; and Mrs. Rachel, after a cordial conversation with Marilla, gratefully accepted the offer of a house in Green Gables. However, she chose to stay in her own house for the summer; The farm was not due for sale until the fall, and there were many precautions to be taken.
"I certainly never thought of living as far from the road as Green Gables," Mrs. Rachel sighed to herself. "But really, Green Gables doesn't seem as unworldly as it used to. . . Anne has lots of company and the twins really make it come alive. And besides, I'd rather live at the bottom of a well than leave Avonlea."
These two decisions, which were heard abroad, quickly eclipsed the arrival of Mrs. Harrison in popular gossip. Wise heads shook at Marilla Cuthbert's hasty step in asking Mrs Rachel to live with her. People felt that they would not get along. They both "loved their own way too much," and many sad predictions were made, none of which even worried the parties concerned. They had come to a clear and distinct understanding of the respective obligations and rights of their new regulations and intended to abide by them.
'I won't interfere with you, nor you with me,' Mrs Rachel had said firmly, 'and as for the twins, I'll be happy to do anything I can for them; but I'm not answering Davy's questions, that's what. I am neither an encyclopedia nor a Philadelphia attorney. You will miss Anne for that.”
"Sometimes Anne's answers were about as strange as Davy's questions," Marilla said dryly. “The twins will miss her and no mistake; but her future must not be sacrificed to Davy's thirst for information. If he asks questions I can't answer, I just tell him kids should be seen, not heard. It was like thisIwas raised, and I don't know how that was as good a way as all these newfangled ideas of raising children."
"Well, Anne's methods seem to have worked pretty well on Davy," said Mrs. Lynde, smiling. "He's a reformed character, that's what."
"He's not a bad little soul," Marilla admitted. "I never thought I would love to have these kids like I did. Davy somehow gets around you. . . and Dora is a beautiful child, though she is. . . Kind of . . . like that. . .”
"Repetitive? Exactly," Mrs. Rachel added. "Like a book where every page is the same, that's it. Dora will make a good, reliable wife, but she'll never set the pond on fire. Well, that kind people are nice to be around, even if they are not as interesting as the others.”
Gilbert Blythe was probably the only person who took undivided joy at the news of Anne's retirement. Her students viewed it as pure disaster. Annetta Bell had hysteria walking home. Anthony Pye fought two violent and unprovoked battles with other boys to assuage his feelings. Barbara Shaw cried all night. Paul Irving defiantly told his grandmother that she shouldn't expect him to eat porridge for a week.
"I can't do this, Grandma," he said. "I don't really know if I can eatanything. I feel like I have a terrible lump in my throat. I would have cried when I got home from school if Jake Donnell hadn't been watching me. I think I'll cry when I go to bed. It wouldn't show up in my eyes tomorrow, would it? And it would be such a relief. But I still can't eat oatmeal. It's going to take all my fortitude to endure this, Grandma, and I'm going to run out of porridge to deal with. Oh grandma, I don't know what I'll do when my beautiful teacher goes away. Milty Boulter says he bets Jane Andrews gets the school. I suppose Miss Andrews is very nice. But I know she won't understand things like Miss Shirley."
Diana was also very pessimistic about things.
"It's going to be dreadfully lonely here next winter," she grieved, one evening as the moonlight rained "airy silver" through the cherry branches and filled the east pediment with a soft, dreamlike glow, where the two girls sat and talked, Anne her low rocking chair by the window, Diana sat Turkish on the bed. "You and Gilbert will be gone . . . and the Allans too. You will call Mr. Allan to Charlottetown and of course he will accept. It's too mean. We'll be vacant all winter, I suppose, and have to face a long line of candidates. . . and half of them will not be good.”
"I hope they're not calling Mr. Baxter from East Grafton," said Anne firmly. "He wants the call, but he preaches such somber sermons. Mr. Bell says he's an old-school vicar, but Mrs. Lynde says he's got nothing but indigestion. His wife isn't a very good cook, it seems, and Mrs Lynde says that if a man has to eat sour bread two weeks out of three his theology is bound to get a snag somewhere. Mrs. Allan feels very uncomfortable about leaving. She says everyone has been so kind to her since she came here as a bride that she feels she is leaving lifelong friends. And then there's the baby's grave, you know. She says she doesn't see how she can walk away and leave that behind. . . It was such a small thing and only three months old and she says she's afraid it's going to miss its mother, although she knows better and wouldn't tell Mr Allan for anything. She says she slipped through the birch grove behind the manor to the graveyard almost every night and sang him a little lullaby. She told me all about it last night when I put some of those early wild roses on Matthew's grave. I promised her that while I was at Avonlea I would lay flowers on the baby's grave, and when I was gone I was sure that . . .”
"That I would," Diana added warmly. "Of course I will. And I'll put them on Matthew's grave too, for your sake, Anne."
"Oh thanks. I wanted to ask you if you would. And with little Hester Gray too? Please don't forget hers. You know, I've been thinking and dreaming about little Hester Gray so much that she's become strangely real to me I think of her back there in her little garden in that cool still green corner, and I fancy if I could sneak back there on a spring evening, just at that magical time between light and dark, and tiptoe like that could creep softly up the beech hill, that my steps might not startle them, I would find the garden just the same It used to be quite sweet with June lilies and early roses, and the little house beyond was hung with vines; and little Hester Gray would be there, with her soft eyes and the wind tossing her dark hair, wandered, put her fingertips under the chin of the lilies and whispered secrets with the roses, and I would go forward , oh, so soft, and stretch out my hands and say to her, "Little Hester Grey, won't you let me be your playmate, 'cause I love the roses too?" And we'd sit down on the old bench and talk a little and dream a little or just be quiet together. And then the moon would rise and I would look around. . . and there would be no Hester Gray and no little vine-hung house and no roses. . . only an old desolate garden glittered with lilies among the grasses, and the wind sighed, oh so sadly, in the cherry trees. And I don't know if it was real or if I just imagined it all.” Diana crawled up and leaned her back against the headboard of the bed. When your companion of the twilight hour said such eerie things, it was good not to be able to imagine that anything was behind you.
"I'm afraid the betterment society will perish when you and Gilbert are both gone," she remarked sadly.
"Don't be afraid of it one bit," said Anne briskly, returning from dreamland to the affairs of practical life. “It's too well established for that, especially since the older ones are so enthusiastic about it. Check out what they're doing for their lawns and pathways this summer. Also, I'll be on the lookout for leads in Redmond and will write a paper on it and send it over next winter. Don't look at things so gloomily, Diana. And don't begrudge me my little hour of joy and jubilation. Later, when I have to leave, I'm anything but happy."
"It's okay that you're happy . . . You're going to college and you're going to have a fun time and make tons of nice new friends.”
"I hope to make new friends," Anne said thoughtfully. “The opportunities to make new friends make life very fascinating. But no matter how many friends I make, they'll never be as dear to me as the old ones. . . especially a certain girl with black eyes and dimples. Can you guess who she is, Diana?”
"But there's going to be so many smart girls in Redmond," Diana sighed, "and I'm just a silly little country girl who says 'I've seen' sometimes. . . although I really know better when I stop thinking. Well, of course these last two years have really been too comfortable to last. I knowsomeonewho's glad you're going to redmond anyway. Anne, I'm going to ask you a question. . . a serious question. Don't get angry and answer seriously. Will you take care of Gilbert?”
"Quite as much as a friend and not at all like you mean," Anne said calmly and firmly; she also thought she was speaking sincerely.
Diana sighed. Somehow she wished Anne had answered differently.
"Do not you thinkisbe married, Anne?”
"Maybe . . . someday . . . when I meet the right one," said Anne, smiling dreamily into the moonlight.
"But how can you be sure you're meeting the right one?" Diana insisted.
"Oh, I should know him. . .somewould tell me You know what my ideal is, Diana.”
"But people's ideals sometimes change."
"Not mine. And mecould notcare for every man who has not fulfilled it.”
"What if you never meet him?"
"Then I'll die an old maid," was the happy answer. "I daresay it is by no means the hardest of deaths."
“Oh, I suppose dying would be easy enough; I wouldn't like the life of an spinster," Diana said, with no intention of being humorous. "Though I wouldn't mind being an old maidverymuch if I could be one like Miss Lavendar. But it could never be me. When I'm forty-five I'll be terribly fat. And while there could be some romance about a skinny spinster, there couldn't possibly be one about a fat one. Oh mind you, Nelson Atkins proposed to Ruby Gillis three weeks ago. Ruby told me all about it. She says she never intended to take him because everyone who married him has to go to the old folks; but Ruby says he proposed so beautifully and romantically that he just blew her mind. But she didn't want to do anything rash, so she asked for a week to think it over; and two days later she was at a sewing circle meeting with his mother, and on the living room table was a book called The Complete Guide to Etiquette. Ruby said she just couldn't describe her feelings when, in a section headed "The Conduct of Courtship and Marriage," she found the very suggestion Nelson had made, word for word. She went home and wrote him a completely devastating rejection; and she says his father and mother have taken turns watching him ever since, afraid he might drown in the river; but Ruby says they needn't be afraid; for in the attitude of courtship and marriage it has been said how a rejected lover should behave, and there is no drowning in itthe. And she says Wilbur Blair is literally pining for her, but she's completely helpless in the matter."
Anne gestured impatiently.
"I hate to say it. . . it seems so disloyal. . . but well, I don't like Ruby Gillis now. I liked her when we went to school and the Queen together. . . though not as good as you and Jane of course. But in her last year at Carmody, she seems so different. . . like that . . . like that . . .”
"I know," Diana nodded. “It's the Gillis that comes out in her. . . she can't help it. Mrs. Lynde says that if a Gillis girl ever had anything else in mind than the boys, she never showed it in her walk or conversation. She just talks about boys and the compliments they give her and how crazy everyone at Carmody is about her. And the strange thing is, herare, to . . .” Diana admitted this, somewhat annoyed. "Last night when I saw her in Mr. Blair's shop, she whispered to me that she had just made a new 'porridge.' I wouldn't ask her who did it because I knew she was dying to knowHisasked. Well, that's what Ruby always wanted, I suppose. You remember that as a child she always said that she wanted to have dozens of beaus when she grew up and to have as much fun as possible before she settled down. She's so different from Jane, isn't she? Jane is such a nice, sensible, ladylike girl.”
'Dear old Jane is a gem,' Anne agreed, 'but,' she added, leaning in to pat the plump little dimpled hand that hung over her pillow, 'there's nobody like my own Diana. Do you remember the night we met for the first time, Diana, and "sworn" eternal friendship in your garden? We kept that "oath" I think. . . We never had a fight or even a coolness. I will never forget the thrill that came over me the day you told me you loved me. I'd had such a lonely, starving heart all my childhood. I'm just beginning to realize how starved and lonely it really was. No one cared about me or wanted to be bothered with me. I would have been miserable if it hadn't been for this weird little dream life of mine imagining all the friends and love I craved. But when I came to Green Gables, everything was different. And then I met you. You don't know what your friendship has meant to me. I want to thank you here and now, dear, for the warm and genuine affection you have always shown me.”
"And always will, always," Diana sobbed. "I shouldoh noto love someone. . . anygirl. . . half as good as i love you And if I ever get married and have a little girl of my own, I will name herAnne.“
27. An afternoon in the stone house
"Where are you going dressed like that, Anne?" Davy asked. "You look tyrannical in that dress."
Anne had come down to dinner in a new dress of pale green muslin. . . the first color she had worn since Matthew's death. It suited her perfectly, bringing out all the delicate, floral-like hues of her face and the shine and shine of her hair.
"Davy, how many times have I told you not to use that word," she scolded. "I'm going to Echo Lodge."
"Take me with you," Davy begged.
"I would if I were driving. But I walk, and that's too far for your eight-year-old legs. Also, Paul is going with me, and I'm afraid you don't feel comfortable in his company."
"Oh, I like Paul a lot better than I do," Davy said, beginning to dig into his pudding anxiously. "Since I've gotten pretty good myself, it doesn't bother me that much that he's better. If I can keep going, I'll catch up with him one day, both in terms of legs and goodness. 'By the way, Paul's really nice to us second years at school. He doesn't let the other big boys down and shows us a lot of games."
"How is it that Paul fell into the brook yesterday at noon?" asked Anne. "I met him at the playground, such a dripping character that I immediately sent him home to get clothes without waiting to see what happened."
"Well, it was partly a Zacksident," Davy explained. “He put his head in it on purpose, but the rest of him fell in by accident. We were all down by the creek and Prillie Rogerson was getting mad at Paul about something. . . She's awfully mean anyway and awful when she's pretty. . . and said that his grandmother put his hair up in wisps of curls every night. Paul wouldn't have minded what she said, I guess, but Gracie Andrews laughed and Paul blushed terribly because Gracie's his girl, you know. He isclean awayon her . . . brings her flowers and carries her books to the embankment. He blushed like a beet and said his grandmother didn't do anything like that and that his hair was born curly. And then he lay down on the bank and stuck his head right into the spring to show them. Oh, it wasn't the fountain we drink from. . .” saw a horrified look on Marilla's face. . . "It was the little one down below. But the bank is terribly slippery and Paul went straight in. Oh, Anne, Anne, I didn't mean to say that. . . it just slipped out before I thought about it. He made agorgeoussyringes But he looked so weird when he crawled out, all wet and muddy. The girls laughed harder than ever, but Gracie didn't laugh. She was sorry. Gracie's a nice girl, but she has a snub nose. When I grow up to have a girl, I won't have one with a snub nose. . . I'll pick one with a pretty nose like yours, Anne."
"A boy who makes that much syrup all over his face while eating his pudding will never get a girl to look at him," Marilla said sternly.
"But I'll wash my face before I court," Davy protested, trying to mend things by rubbing the back of his hand over the spots. "And I'll wash behind my ears, too, without being told. I remembered this morning, Marilla. I don't forget half as often as I do. But . . .” and Davy sighed. . . "A guy has so many rough edges it's awfully hard to remember them all. Well, if I can't go to Miss Lavendar's, I'll go to Mrs. Harrison's. Mrs. Harrison is a terribly nice woman, let me tell you. She keeps a jar of biscuits in her little boy's pantry, and she always gives me the leftovers from a pan she made up a plum cake. A lot of plums stick to the pages, you know. Mr. Harrison was always a nice man, but he's twice as nice since he remarried. I guess getting married makes people nicer. Why notshemarry Marilla? I would like to know."
Marilla's state of bliss alone had never been a sore point for her, so she responded amiably, exchanging meaningful looks with Anne that she assumed it was because no one wanted her.
"But maybe you never asked anyone to record you," Davy protested.
"Oh, Davy," said Dora stiffly, surprised without being spoken to, "it's himmenthey have to settle the question.
"I don't know why they have to do thisalways' Davy grumbled. “It seems to me that the men of this world are credited with everything. Can I have some more pudding, Marilla?”
"You've had as much as was good for you," Marilla said; but she gave him a moderate second helping.
"I wish people could live on pudding. Why can't they, Marilla? I would like to know."
"Because they would soon get tired of it."
"I'd like to try that myself," Davy said skeptically. "But I think it's better to have pudding only on fish and company days than none at all. They never have any at Milty Boulter. Milty says that when visitors come, his mother gives him cheese and cuts it herself. . . a bit apiece and one over there for manners.”
"If Milty Boulter talks like that about his mother, at least you don't have to repeat it," Marilla said sternly.
"Bless my soul," . . . Davy had borrowed that expression from Mr. Harrison and used it with great enthusiasm. . . "Milty meant it as a compliment. He's awfully proud of his mother because people say she could scratch a living on a rock."
"I . . . I suppose those pesky chickens are back in my pansy bed," said Marilla, getting up and hurrying out.
The slandered chickens were nowhere near the pansy bed and Marilla didn't even look at them. Instead she sat on the basement hatch and laughed until she was embarrassed.
When Anne and Paul got to the stone house that afternoon, they found Miss Lavendar and Charlotta the Fourth in the garden, weeding, raking, cutting and trimming for dear life. Miss Lavendar herself, all merry and sweet in the ruffles and lace she loved, dropped her scissors and happily ran towards her guests while Charlotta the Fourth grinned happily.
"Welcome, Ann. I thought you would come today. You belong in the afternoon, so it brought you. What belongs together will surely come together. What a lot of trouble that would have saved some people if they only knew. But they don't. . . and so they waste beautiful energy moving heaven and earth to bring things togetherNotbelong. And you, Paul. . . why, you've grown! You're half a head taller than before."
"Yes, I do start growing like hogweed at night, as Mrs. Lynde says," Paul said, openly delighted. "Grandma says it's the porridge that finally works. Maybe it is. Heaven knows. . .” Paul sighed deeply. . . "I've eaten enough to make someone grow. I hope now that I've started I'll keep going until I'm as tall as dad. He's six feet tall, you know, Miss Lavendar."
Yes, Miss Lavendar knew; the blush on her pretty cheeks deepened a little; She took Paul's hand on one side and Anne's on the other and silently walked towards the house.
"Is today a good day for the Echoes, Miss Lavendar?" Paul asked concerned. The day of his first visit had been too windy for Echos and Paul had been very disappointed.
"Yes, simply the best kind of day," Miss Lavendar replied, snapping out of her reverie. "But first we'll all eat something. I know you two couldn't walk all the way here through those beech woods without getting hungry, and Charlotte the Fourth and I can eat any time of the day. . . we have such a pleasing appetite. So let's just raid the pantry. Luckily it's nice and crowded. I had a premonition that I would have company today and Charlotta Fourth and I prepared for it.”
"I think you're one of those people who always have nice things in their pantry," Paul explained. "Grandma is like that too. But she doesn't like snacking between meals. I wonder," he added thoughtfully, "if Imusteating her out when I know she doesn't approve."
"Oh, I don't think she would disapprove after you've had a long walk. It makes a difference,” said Miss Lavendar, exchanging amused looks with Anne at Paul's brown curls. “I assume these are snacksareextremely unhealthy. That's why we have them so often at Echo Lodge. We. . . Charlotte the Fourth and I . . . live in disregard of all known dietary laws. We eat all sorts of indigestible things whenever we think about it, day or night; and we thrive like green laurels. We always intend to reform. When we read an article in a newspaper that warns us about something we like, we cut it out and hang it on the kitchen wall so we can remember it. But somehow we never can. . . until after we eat that very thing. Nothing ever killed us; but Charlotta the Fourth has been known to have bad dreams after we ate donuts and mince pie and fruitcake before we went to bed.”
“Grandma gives me a glass of milk and a slice of buttered bread before I go to bed; and on Sunday nights she makes jam on bread,” said Paul. “That's why I'm always happy when it's Sunday evening . . . for more than one reason. Sunday is a very long day on the Embankment. Grandma says it's all too short for her, and when he was a little boy his father never found Sundays boring. It wouldn't take me that long if I could talk to my rock folks, but I never do because Grandma doesn't approve on Sundays. I think a good deal; but I fear my thoughts are worldly. Grandma says we should only think about religious thoughts on Sundays. But the teacher here once said that every really beautiful thought is religious, no matter what it was about or what day we thought it. But I'm sure Grandma thinks that sermons and Sunday school lessons are the only things you can really have religious thoughts about. And when there is a disagreement between grandma and the teacher, I don't know what to do. In my heart" . . . Paul put his hand on his chest and turned his very serious blue eyes to Miss Lavendar's immediately sympathetic face . . . "I agree with the teacher. But after all, Grandma raised Dadsheaway and made a brilliant success of it; and the teacher has never raised anyone, although she helps with Davy and Dora. But one cannot say how they will develop until theyaregrew up. So sometimes I feel like it would be safer to go with Grandma's opinion."
"I think so," Anne agreed solemnly. "Anyway, I dare say that if your grandmother and I both figured out what we really mean based on our different ways of speaking, we'd find out that we both meant roughly the same thing. You'd better stick to your way of saying it, since it's the result of experience. We'll have to wait to see how the twins turn out before we can be sure my way is just as good.” After lunch they went back to the garden where, to his amazement and delight, Paul made the acquaintance of the twins made echoes while Anne and Miss Lavendar sat on the stone bench under the poplar and talked.
"So you're going away in the fall?" said Miss Lavendar wistfully. "I should be happy for you, Anne . . . but I'm terribly, selfishly sorry. I will miss you so much. Oh, sometimes I think it's no use making friends. They take a while to leave your life, leaving behind a pain worse than the emptiness before they came.”
"That sounds like something Miss Eliza Andrews would say, but never Miss Lavendar," said Anne. "Nothing at allis worse than emptiness. . . and I'm not leaving your life. There are things like letters and vacations. Dear, I'm afraid you look a bit pale and tired."
"Oh . . . huh . . . huh . . . huhu," Paul walked up onto the dike where he had been yelling diligently . . . not all of them were melodic in origin, but all of those coming back were greeted by the fairy alchemists above the River transformed into the true gold and silver of sound Miss Lavendar gestured impatiently with her pretty hands.
"I'm just tired of everything. . . even from the echoes. There's nothing in my life but echoes. . . Echoes of lost hopes and dreams and joys. They are beautiful and mocking. Oh Anne, it's awful of me to talk like that when I've got company. It's just that I'm getting old and it doesn't suit me. I know I'm going to be terribly moody when I'm sixty. But maybe I just need a regimen of blue pills.' At that moment Charlotta the Fourth, who had disappeared after lunch, came back and announced that the northeast corner of Mr. John Kimball's pasture was red with early strawberries, and Miss Shirley wouldn't like to go and pick some.
"Early strawberries for tea!" exclaimed Miss Lavender. "Oh, I'm not as old as I thought I was . . . and I don't need a single blue pill! Girls, if you guys come back with your strawberries, we'll have tea out here under the white poplar. I will prepare everything for you with homemade cream.”
Anne and Charlotta the Fourth accordingly made their way back to Mr. Kimball's pasture, a green secluded place where the air was soft as velvet and fragrant as a bed of violets and golden as amber.
"Oh, isn't it sweet and fresh back here?" Anne breathed. "I just feel like I'm drinking in the sun."
"Yes ma'am, me too. That's how I feel, ma'am,” agreed Charlotta the Fourth, who would have said exactly the same if Anne had noticed that she felt like a pelican of the wild. After Anne had visited Echo Lodge, Charlotta the Fourth would climb into her small room above the kitchen and try to speak, look and move like Anne in front of her mirror. Charlotta could never flatter herself that she was entirely successful; but practice makes perfect, as Charlotta had learned at school, and she fervently hoped that in time she would learn the trick of that delicate lift of the chin, that quick, starry flash of eyes, that way of walking as if one were a swaying branch in the wind. It seemed so easy watching Anne. Charlotte the Fourth admired Anne with all her heart. It wasn't that she thought she was that good looking. Diana Barry's beauty, with the crimson cheeks and black curls, suited Charlotta Fourth much better than Anne's moonlit charm of bright gray eyes and the pale, ever-changing roses of her cheeks.
"But I'd rather look like you than be pretty," she said to Anne sincerely.
Anne laughed, sipped the tribute's honey, and threw away the spike. She was used to taking her compliments in a mixed way. Public opinion has never been unanimous about Anne's appearance. People who had heard her called handsome met her and were disappointed. People who had heard her called Plain saw her and wondered where other people's eyes were. Anne herself would never believe that she had any claim to beauty. When she looked into the glass, all she saw was a small, pale face with seven freckles on its nose. Her mirror never revealed to her the elusive, ever-changing play of emotions that came and went like a rosy glowing flame across her features, or the magic of dream and laughter that alternated in her wide eyes.
While Anne wasn't beautiful in a strictly defined sense of the word, she possessed a certain elusive charm and distinctive appearance that left the viewer with a pleasant sense of satisfaction in her gently rounded girlhood with all her strongly felt possibilities. Those who knew Anne best felt without realizing that her greatest attraction was the aura of possibility that surrounded her. . . the power of future development that was within her. She seemed to be moving in an atmosphere of things about to happen.
While they were choosing, Charlotta confided in the Fourth Anne her fears about Miss Lavendar. The warm-hearted little maid was genuinely concerned about the condition of her adored mistress.
"Miss Lavendar is not well, Miss Shirley, ma'am. I'm sure she isn't, although she never complains. She hasn't acted like herself in a long time, ma'am. . . not since the day you and Paul were here together. I'm sure she caught a cold that night, ma'am. After she and he left, she went outside and continued to walk in the garden long after dark with nothing around her but a small scarf. There was a lot of snow on the trails and I'm sure she caught a cold, ma'am. Since then, I've noticed that she's acting tired and lonely. She doesn't seem interested in anything, ma'am. She never pretends to have visitors, nor does she prepare anything for them, nothing yet, ma'am. Only when you come does she seem to chirp a bit. And the worst sign of all, Miss Shirley, ma'am. . .” Charlotta the Fourth lowered her voice, as if she were actually announcing a most strange and terrible symptom. . . "is that now she never gets mad when I break things. Ah, Miss Shirley, ma'am, yesterday I crushed your green and yellow bowl that was always on the bookshelf. Her grandmother brought it from England and Miss Lavendar was a terrible choice. I dusted it off just as carefully, Miss Shirley, ma'am, and it slipped out, so fashionably, before I could grab it and crumble into about forty million pieces. I'm telling you I was sorry and scared. I thought Miss Lavendar would scold me terribly, ma'am; and I'd rather she had than take it the way she did. She just walked in and barely looked at it and said, "It doesn't matter, Charlotta. Pick up the pieces and throw them away.” Just like that, Miss Shirley, ma’am. . . "pick up the pieces and throw them away," as if it weren't her grandmother's bowl from England. Oh, she's not well and I feel terribly bad about it. She has no one to take care of her but me.”
Charlotta Fourth's eyes filled with tears. Anne sympathetically patted the small brown paw holding the cracked pink mug.
"I think Miss Lavendar needs a change, Charlotta. She stays here alone too much. Can't we persuade her to go on a little trip?"
Charlotta shook his head disconsolately with his wild bows.
"I don't think so, Miss Shirley, ma'am. Miss Lavendar hates visitors. She only has three relatives she ever visits, and she says she only visits as a family duty. The last time she came home, she said she would no longer visit her because of family responsibilities. "I came home in love with the solitude, Charlotta," she tells me, "and I never want to leave my own vine and fig tree again. My relatives are trying so hard to make me an old lady and it's affecting me badly.” Just like that, Miss Shirley, ma'am. 'It has a very bad effect on me.' So I don't think there would be any point in persuading her to visit."
"We'll have to see what to do," Anne said firmly as she popped the last possible berry into her pink mug. "As soon as I have my vacation I'll come over and spend a whole week with you. We're going to have a picnic every day and fake all sorts of interesting things and see if we can't cheer up Miss Lavendar."
"This will be just right, Miss Shirley, ma'am," Charlotta Fourth exclaimed delightedly. She was happy for Miss Lavendar and also for herself. With a whole week studying Anne steadily, she would certainly be able to learn to move and behave like her.
When the girls got back to Echo Lodge, they found that Miss Lavendar and Paul had carried the small square table from the kitchen into the garden and had everything ready for tea. Nothing has ever tasted so delicious as these strawberries and cream, eaten under a great blue sky streaked with fluffy little white clouds, and in the long shadows of the forest with its lisp and murmur. After tea, Anne Charlotta helped wash up in the kitchen while Miss Lavendar sat on the stone bench with Paul and heard all about his rock people. She was a good listener, this sweet Miss Lavendar, but it wasn't until the last moment that Paul realized that she had suddenly lost interest in the Twin Sailors.
"Miss Lavendar, why are you looking at me like that?" he asked seriously.
"How do I look, Paul?"
"Like you're looking right through me at someone I'm thinking of you," said Paul, who occasionally had insights so uncanny it was dangerous to have secrets when he was around.
"You remind me of someone I knew a long time ago," said Miss Lavendar dreamily.
"When you were young?"
"Yes, when I was young. Do I seem very old to you, Paul?”
"You know, I can't decide," Paul said confidentially. “Your hair looks old . . . I have never known a young person with white hair. But your eyes are as young as my beautiful teacher's when you laugh. I'll tell you what, Miss Lavendar. . . Paul's voice and face were as serious as a judge's. . . "I think you would make a great mother. You have just the right expression in your eyes. . . the look my little mother used to have. I think it's a shame you don't have boys of your own."
"I have a little dream boy, Paul."
"Oh really? How old is he?"
"About your age, I think. He should be older because I dreamed him long before you were born. But I never let him get past eleven or twelve; because if I did one day, he could grow up all the way, and then I would lose him.”
"I know," Paul nodded. "That's the beauty of dream people. . . You stay any age you want. You and my beautiful teacher and myself are the only people in the world that I know have dream people. Isn't it funny and nice that we all know each other? But I guess these kind of people always find each other out. Grandma never has dream people and Mary Joe thinks I'm wrong upstairs for having her. But I think it's great to have them.Ofyou know, Miss Lavender. Tell me all about your little dream boy.”
"He has blue eyes and curly hair. He sneaks in and wakes me up with a kiss every morning. Then he plays here in the garden all day long. . . and i play with him. Such games as we have. We run races and talk to the Echoes; and I tell him stories. And when the dawn comes. . .”
„Iknow,” Paul interrupted eagerly. "He comes and sits next to you . . .so. . . because of course at twelve he would be too big to climb on your lap. . . and lays his head on your shoulder. . .so. . . and you put your arms around him and hold him tight, tight, and rest your cheek on his head. . . Yes, exactly. Oh youagainyou know, Miss Lavendar.”
Anne found the two there, coming out of the stone house, and something on Miss Lavendar's face made her hate to disturb them.
"I'm afraid we'll have to go, Paul, if we're going to get home before dark. Miss Lavendar, I will be inviting myself to Echo Lodge for a week soon.”
"If you come for a week, I'll keep you for two," threatened Miss Lavendar.
28. The prince comes back to the enchanted palace
The last day of school came and went. A triumphant "half-year exam" was held and Anne's students did brilliantly. In the end they gave her an address and a desk. All the girls and women present cried, and some of the boys later let themselves be accused of crying too, although they always denied it.
Mrs. Harmon Andrews, Mrs. Peter Sloane, and Mrs. William Bell went home together and discussed things.
"It really is a pity Anne is leaving when the children are so attached to her," sighed Mrs. Peter Sloane, who had a habit of sighing at everything and even ended her jokes that way. "Of course," she hastily added, "we all know we'll have a good teacher next year too."
"Jane will do her duty, I have no doubt about that," said Mrs. Andrews, rather stiffly. "I don't suppose she'll tell the kids as many fairy tales or spend as much time roaming the woods with them. But her name is on the inspector's roll of honor and the people of Newbridge are in a terrible state after she's gone."
"I'm really glad Anne is going to college," Mrs. Bell said. "She's always wanted it and it's going to be a great thing for her."
"Well, I do not know." Mrs. Andrews was determined not to agree with anyone that day. “I don't see that Anne needs any more education. She'll probably marry Gilbert Blythe if his infatuation with her lasts until he graduates from college, and what good will Latin and Greek do her then? If you were taught how to behave with a man in college, maybe she makes sense.”
Mrs. Harmon Andrews, Avonlea whispered, had never learned how to deal with her 'husband' and consequently the Andrews household was not exactly a model of domestic bliss.
"I see the call from Charlottetown to Mr. Allan is outside the presbytery," said Mrs. Bell. "That means we're going to lose him soon, I suppose."
"You don't leave until September," Mrs. Sloane said. “It will be a great loss to the community. . . although I always thought Mrs Allan dressed a little too homosexually for a minister's wife. But none of us are perfect. Have you noticed how neat and comfortable Mr. Harrison looked today? I've never seen a man so changed. He goes to church every Sunday and has a salary subscription.”
"Hasn't that Paul Irving grown up to be a big boy?" said Mrs. Andrews. "He was such a runt for his age when he came here. I explain that I hardly knew him today. He will look a lot like his father.”
"He's a smart boy," said Mrs. Bell.
"He's smart enough, though". . . Mrs. Andrews lowered her voice. . . "I think he tells strange stories. Gracie came home from school one day last week with the biggest twaddle he'd ever told her about people who lived down on the coast. . . Stories that can't have a word of truth in them, you know. I told Gracie not to believe them, and she said Paul didn't mean to. But if not, what did he tell her for?”
"Anne says Paul is a genius," said Mrs. Sloane.
"He might. You never know what to expect from Americans," said Mrs. Andrews. Mrs. Andrews' only acquaintance with the word "genius" came from the colloquial fashion of calling any eccentric person "a strange genius." She probably thought with Mary Joe that it meant a person whose upper floor was not quite right.
Back in the classroom, Anne sat alone at her desk, as she had on the first day of school two years ago, her face in her hand, her dewy eyes longingly out the window on the lake of shimmering waters. Saying goodbye to her students was so heartbreaking that the college lost all its charm for a moment. She still felt Annetta Bell's arms around her neck and heard the childish wail, "I willoh noLove any teacher as much as you do, Miss Shirley, never, ever.”
For two years she had worked earnestly and faithfully, made many mistakes and learned from them. She had gotten her reward. She had taught her scholars something, but she felt they had taught her much more. . . Lessons in tenderness, self-control, innocent wisdom, lore of children's hearts. Perhaps she had failed to "awaken" her students to wonderful ambitions, but she had taught them, more by her own sweet personality than by all her careful precepts, that it was good and necessary, in the years ahead, to live their lives beautifully and gracefully, clinging to truth, courtesy, and kindness, and refraining from all that smacks of falsehood, meanness, and vulgarity. They may all have been unaware of having learned such lessons; but they would remember and practice it long after they had forgotten the capital of Afghanistan and the dates of the Wars of the Roses.
"Another chapter in my life has closed," Anne said loudly as she locked her desk. She was really very sad about it; but the romance in the notion of this "closed chapter" comforted her a little.
Anne spent a fortnight at Echo Lodge at the start of her holiday and everyone involved had a good time.
She took Miss Lavendar shopping into town and persuaded her to buy a new organza dress; then came the excitement of cutting and folding while happy Charlotta the Fourth brushed and swept up the clippings. Miss Lavendar had complained that she wasn't very interested in anything, but the sparkle over her pretty dress returned to her eyes.
"What a stupid, frivolous person I must be," she sighed. “I am deeply ashamed to think that a new dress . . . even it's a forget-me-not organdy. . . should please me so much when a clear conscience and an extra contribution to foreign missions could not do it.”
In the middle of her visit, Anne drove home to Green Gables for the day to mend the twins' stockings and answer Davy's accumulated questions. In the evening she went down to the embankment to see Paul Irving. As she passed the low, square window of the Irving sitting room, she caught a glimpse of Paul on someone's lap; but the next moment he came flying across the hall.
"Oh, Miss Shirley," he exclaimed excitedly, "You have no idea what happened! Something so great. father is here . . just remember! father is here Come in. Father, this is my wonderful teacher.Ofyou know, father."
Stephen Irving greeted Anne with a smile. He was a tall, handsome, middle-aged man with iron-grey hair, deep-set dark blue eyes, and a strong, sad face beautifully modeled around the chin and forehead. Just the right face for a romantic hero, Anne thought with a shiver of intense satisfaction. It was so disappointing to meet someone who was supposed to be a hero and find them bald or stooped or otherwise lacking in masculine beauty. Anne would have hated it if the object of Miss Lavendar's romance didn't look like this.
"So this is my young son's 'beautiful teacher' that I've heard so much about," said Mr. Irving, with a hearty handshake. "Paul's letters have been so full of you, Miss Shirley, that I feel I already know you quite well. I want to thank you for what you have done for Paul. I think your influence was just what he needed. Mother is one of the best and dearest women; but her hardy, sober Scottish common sense could not always understand a temper like my boy's. What she lacked, you provided. Between you, I think Paul's education over the past two years has been as near to ideal as a motherless boy could be.
Everyone likes to be appreciated. Under Mr. Irving's praise, Anne's face burst "like a rosy flower," and the busy, weary man of the world who looked at her thought he had never seen a prettier, sweeter slip of girlhood than that little schoolteacher "down east." . with her red hair and wonderful eyes.
Paul sat blissfully between them.
"I never thought Father would come," he said, beaming. "Not even Grandma knew. It was a great surprise. As a general thing. . .” Paul solemnly shook his brown curls. . . "I don't like being surprised. You lose all the fun of expecting things when you're surprised. But in that case everything is fine. Dad came last night after I went to bed. And after Grandma and Mary Joe stopped wondering, he and Grandma came upstairs to look at me because they didn't want to wake me up until morning. But I woke up immediately and saw father. I'm telling you, I just jumped in his face."
"With a hug like a bear's," said Mr. Irving, smiling and putting his arms around Paul's shoulders. "I hardly knew my boy, he had gotten so big and brown and strong."
"I don't know who was most excited to see Dad, Grandma or me," Paul continued. "Grandma was in the kitchen all day and prepared the things that father likes to eat. She wouldn't confide in Mary Joe, she says. That issheway of showing joy.II prefer to just sit and talk to father. But I'll leave you alone for a little while now, if you'll excuse me. I have to get the cows for Mary Joe. That's part of my daily work."
When Paul had scurried off to attend to his "daily duty," Mr. Irving spoke to Anne of various matters. But Anne had the feeling that he was thinking of something else underneath it all the time. Now it came to the surface.
“In Paul's last letter he spoke of going with you to an old . . . a friend of mine . . . Miss Lewis at the Stone House in Grafton. Do you know her well?"
“Yes, indeed, she isveryDear friend of mine,' was Anne's guarded reply, revealing nothing of the sudden excitement that filled her head to toe at Mr Irving's question. Anne "instinctively felt" romance peeking her around a corner.
Mr. Irving got up and went to the window and looked out at a great golden surging sea where a wild wind howled. For a few moments there was silence in the small room with the dark walls. Then he turned and looked at Anne's sympathetic face with a smile that was half whimsical, half tender.
"I wonder how much you know," he said.
"I know all about it," Anne replied promptly. "You see," she explained hastily, "Miss Lavendar and I are very familiar. She wouldn't tell anyone things of such a sacred nature. We are soul mates.”
"Yes I think so. Well, I'm going to ask you a favor. I'd like to go to Miss Lavendar, if she lets me. Will you ask her if I can come?”
Wouldn't she? Oh she really would! Yes, that was romance, the real thing, with all the charm of rhymes and stories and dreams. It was perhaps a little late, like a rose blooming in October that should have bloomed in June; but a rose nonetheless, all sweet and fragrant, with the luster of gold in its heart. Never did Anne's feet carry her to a more ready errand than on the next morning's walk through the beech woods to Grafton. She found Miss Lavendar in the garden. Anne was terribly excited. Her hands grew cold and her voice trembled.
"Miss Lavendar, I have something to tell you . . . something very important. Can you guess what it is?"
Anne never thought that Miss Lavendarcouldassume; but Miss Lavendar's face grew very pale, and Miss Lavendar spoke in a calm, still voice, from which all the color and sparkle that Miss Lavendar's voice usually suggested had faded.
"Stephen Irving is home?"
"How did you know that? Who told you?" exclaimed Anne, disappointed, upset that her big revelation had been pre-empted.
"Nobody. I knew it had to be like this, just the way you spoke."
"He wants to come visit you," said Anne. "May I let him know that he can?"
"Yes, of course," fluttered Miss Lavendar. "There's no reason he shouldn't. He just comes like any old friend.”
Anne had her own opinion on this as she rushed inside to write a note on Miss Lavendar's desk.
"Oh, it's lovely living in a storybook," she thought happily. “Of course everything will turn out fine . . . it must . . . and Paul will have a mother after his own heart and everyone will be happy. But Mr. Irving will take Miss Lavendar with him. . . and love knows what will happen to the little stone house. . . and so there are two sides to it, as there seems to be to everything in this world.' The important note was written, and Anne personally carried it to the Grafton Post Office, where she waylaid the postman and asked him to deliver it to the Avonlea office.
"It's so important," Anne assured him anxiously. The postman was a rather grumpy old man who didn't look like a Cupid messenger at all; and Anne wasn't too sure his memory could be trusted. But he said he would do his best to remember it and she had to be content with that.
Charlotta the Fourth felt that a secret permeated the stone house that afternoon. . . a mystery from which she was excluded. Miss Lavendar wandered absently through the garden. Anne too seemed possessed by a demon of restlessness, pacing and pacing. Charlotte the Fourth endured until patience ceased to be a virtue; then she confronted Anne on the romantic youngster's third aimless wandering through the kitchen.
"Please, Miss Shirley, ma'am," said Charlotta Fourth, tossing her very blue ribbons in disgust. I'm too hasty, Miss Shirley, ma'am, that it's really mean not to tell me when we've all been such good buddies."
"Oh, dear Charlotta, I would have told you everything if it were my secret. . . but it belongs to Miss Lavendar, you know. But I'll tell you that much. . . and if nothing comes of it, you must never say a word about it to a living soul. Look, Prince Charming is coming tonight. He came a long time ago, but in a stupid moment he went away and wandered into the distance, forgetting the secret of the magical path to the enchanted castle, where the princess wept her faithful heart for him. But finally he remembered and the princess is still waiting. . . because no one but her own dear prince could abduct her."
"Oh, Miss Shirley, ma'am, what's that in prose?" gasped the confused Charlotta.
"In prose, an old friend of Miss Lavendar's coming to see her tonight."
"You mean an old suitor of hers?" demanded the literal Charlotta.
"That's probably what I mean. . . in prose,” Anne answered gravely. “This is Paul's father . . . Stephen Irving. And God knows what will come of it, but let's hope for the best, Charlotta."
"I hope he will marry Miss Lavendar," was Charlotta's unequivocal reply. "Some women wanted to be spinsters from the start, and I'm afraid I'm one of them, Miss Shirley, ma'am, for having awful little patience with men. But Miss Lavendar never was. And I got terribly worried and thought about what on earth she would do if I was big enough to do itto havego to Boston. There are no more girls in our family, and God knows what she would do if she had a stranger who could laugh at her pretense and leave things lying around and wouldn't be willing to be called Charlotta the Fifth. Maybe she'll get someone who doesn't have as bad luck breaking dishes as I do, but she'd never find someone who loved her more."
And the faithful little maid rushed to the oven door, sniffing the air.
They went through the form of tea-drinking as usual that evening at Echo Lodge; but nobody really ate anything. After tea, Miss Lavendar went to her room and put on her new forget-me-not orgando while Anne styled her hair. Both were terribly excited; but Miss Lavendar pretended to be very quiet and indifferent.
"I really have to mend that tear in the curtain tomorrow," she said anxiously, inspecting it as if it were the only thing that mattered right now. "These curtains didn't wear as well as they should considering the price I paid. My goodness, Charlotta forgot to dust the banisteragain. I reallyGot totalk to her about it.”
Anne was sitting on the porch steps when Stephen Irving came down the lane and across the garden.
"This is the only place where time has stood still," he said, looking around with delighted eyes. "This house or garden hasn't changed since I was here twenty-five years ago. It makes me feel young again.”
"You know, time always stands still in an enchanted palace," Anne said seriously. "It's only when the prince comes that things start to happen."
Mr. Irving smiled a little sadly at her lofty face, overcome with youth and promise.
"Sometimes the prince is late," he said. He did not ask Anne to translate her remark into prose. Like all soulmates, he "understood."
"Oh no, not when he's the real prince coming to the real princess," said Anne, shaking her red head resolutely as she opened the parlor door. When he entered, she closed it tightly behind him and turned to Charlotta Fourth, who was standing in the hall, all "nodding and nodding and wreathed smiles."
"Oh, Miss Shirley, ma'am," she breathed, "I was peeking out the kitchen window . . . and he's terribly handsome. . . and just the right age for Miss Lavendar. And oh, Miss Shirley, madam, do you think it would do much harm to listen at the door?'
"It would be awful, Charlotta," Anne said firmly, "so just walk away with me, out of the reach of temptation."
"I can't do anything and it's horrible just hanging around here and waiting," Charlotta sighed. "What if he doesn't propose, Miss Shirley, ma'am? You can never be sure with these men. My older sister, Charlotta the First, thought she was once engaged to one. But it turned outisdisagreed and she says she will never trust any of them again. And I heard about another case where a man thought he wanted a girl terribly badly when he actually wanted her sister all the time. If a man doesn't know his own mind, Miss Shirley, ma'am, how can a poor woman be sure of that?"
"We'll go into the kitchen and clean the silver spoons," said Anne. “It's a task that fortunately doesn't require much thought. . . for mecould notthink tonight. And it will pass the time.”
An hour passed. Then, just as Anne was putting down the last shiny spoon, they heard the front door close. Both anxiously sought comfort in the other's eyes.
"Oh, Miss Shirley, ma'am," Charlotta gasped, "if he goes away so early, it ain't and never will be." They flew to the window. Mr. Irving had no intention of going away. He and Miss Lavendar sauntered slowly down the center path to the stone bench.
"Oh, Miss Shirley, ma'am, he's got his arm around her waist," Charlotta Fourth whispered, delighted. "HeGot toproposed to her, otherwise she would never allow it.”
Anne grabbed Charlotta Fourth by her own fat waist and danced her across the kitchen until they were both out of breath.
"Oh, Charlotta," she cried happily, "I am neither a prophetess nor a prophetess's daughter, but I will make a prophecy. Before the maple leaves are red, people get married in this old stone house. Would you like that translated into prose, Charlotta?'
"No, I can understand that," Charlotta said. “A wedding is not poetry. Why, Miss Shirley, ma'am, are you crying! What for?"
"Oh, because everything is so beautiful . . . and story bookworm. . . and romantic. . . and sad,” Anne said, blinking the tears from her eyes. "It's all really nice. . . but somehow there is also a bit of sadness.”
"Oh, of course it's difficult to marry anyone," admitted Charlotta the Fourth, "but after all, Miss Shirley, ma'am, there are worse things than a husband."
29. Poetry and prose
For the next month Anne lived in what could be called a whirlwind of excitement for Avonlea. Preparing her own modest outfit for Redmond was secondary. Miss Lavendar was preparing for her wedding, and the Stone House was the scene of endless deliberation, planning, and discussion while Charlotta the Fourth hovered on the edge in excited joy and wonder. Then came the seamstress, and there was the rapture and misery of choosing fashion and being fitted. Anne and Diana spent half their time at Echo Lodge and there were nights when Anne couldn't sleep because she wondered if she had been right in advising Miss Lavendar to choose brown for her traveling dress instead of navy blue and to have her gray silk made into a princess .
Everyone involved in Miss Lavendar's story was very happy. Paul Irving rushed to Green Gables to catch up with Anne on the news as soon as his father told him.
"I knew I could trust Dad to pick me a nice little second mom," he said proudly. "It's nice to have a father you can count on, teacher. I just love Miss Lavender. Grandma is happy too. She says she's really glad dad didn't choose an American for his second wife, because while it turned out well the first time, it's unlikely to happen a second time. Mrs. Lynde says that she approves of the engagement very much and thinks that Miss Lavendar will probably give up her odd notions and being like other people now that she is getting married. But I hope she doesn't give up her strange notions, teacher, because I like her. And I don't want her to be like other people. There are too many other people around anyway.Ofyou know, teacher."
Charlotta Fourth was another bright person.
"Oh, Miss Shirley, madam, it's all turned out so beautifully. When Mr. Irving and Miss Lavendar come back from their tower, I shall go to Boston and stay with them. . . and I only fifteen, and the other girls never left until they were sixteen. Isn't Mr. Irving great? He just adores the ground she treads on and sometimes I feel so weird seeing the look in his eyes as he watches her. It's hard to describe, Miss Shirley, ma'am. I'm terribly grateful that they like each other so much. It's the best way to go when all is said and done, although some people can do without it. I have an aunt who has been married three times and says she married the first time for love and the last two times purely for business and was happy with all three except at the times of the funerals. But I think she got in touch, Miss Shirley, ma'am."
"Oh, it's all so romantic," Anne breathed to Marilla that night. "If I hadn't gone the wrong way the day we went to Mr. Kimball's, I should never have met Miss Lavendar; and if I hadn't met her I would never have taken Paul there. . . and he would never have written to his father that he was going to visit Miss Lavendar just as Mr. Irving was leaving for San Francisco. Mr. Irving says whenever he got that letter he decided to send his partner to San Francisco and come here instead. He hadn't heard from Miss Lavendar in fifteen years. Someone had told him then that she was getting married and he thought she was and never asked anyone anything about her. And now everything is fine. And I had a hand in making it happen. Maybe, as Mrs Lynde says, everything is preordained and it had to happen anyway. But still, it's nice to think that you were an instrument of predestination. Yes, really, it's very romantic.”
"I can't imagine it being that terribly romantic," Marilla said rather tersely. Marilla felt that Anne was too excited and preoccupied with getting ready for college without "traipsing" to Echo Lodge two days out of three to help Miss Lavendar. “In the first place two young fools quarrel and grow surly; then Steve Irving goes to the States and after a while gets married up there and is perfectly happy in every way. Then his wife dies and after a decent break he thinks he's going to come home and see if his first lust gets him. She now lives single, probably because no one came around nice enough to want her and they meet and agree to get married after all. Now where is the romance in all of this?”
"Oh, there aren't any, if you put it that way," Anne gasped, as if someone had poured cold water on her. “I suppose that's how it looks in prose. But it's very different when you look at it through poetry. . . andIfind it nicer. . .” Anne recovered and her eyes brightened and her cheeks flushed. . . "to contemplate it through poetry."
Marilla took one look at the beaming young face and refrained from further sarcastic comments. Perhaps she came to realize that having "the vision and the divine ability" like Anne was better after all. . . that gift which the world can neither give nor take, to look at life through a kind of transfiguration. . . or insightful? . . . medium, whereby everything seemed clothed in heavenly light, bearing a brilliance and freshness not visible to those who, like her and Charlotte IV, viewed things only through prose.
"When is the wedding supposed to be?" she asked after a pause.
"The last Wednesday in August. They are to be married in the garden under the honeysuckle trellis. . . on the very spot where Mr. Irving had proposed to her twenty-five years before. Marilla, thatisromantic, even in prose. There must be no one but Mrs. Irving and Paul and Gilbert and Diana and me and Miss Lavendar's cousins. And they will take the six o'clock train on a journey to the Pacific coast. When they return in the fall, Paul and Charlotte Fourth are to go to Boston to live with them. But the Echo Lodge should be left as it is. . . only of course they sell the chickens and the cow and board up the windows. . . and every summer they come down to live in it. I am so happy. It would have hurt me terribly the next winter in Redmond to think of that expensive stone house, all empty and deserted, with empty rooms. . . or even worse if other people live in it. But I can think of it now, as I have always seen it, and happily wait for summer to bring life and laughter back again."
There was more romance in the world than had fallen to middle-aged stone house lovers. Anne suddenly stumbled upon it one evening as she was going to Orchard Slope to do the woodcut and came out into the Barry Garden. Diana Barry and Fred Wright stood together under the big willow tree. Diana leaned against the gray trunk, her lashes down on very crimson cheeks. One hand was held by Fred, who was standing with his face bent towards her and stammering something in quiet seriousness. At that magical moment there were no other people in the world besides her two selves; so none of them saw Anne, who turned after a dazed look of understanding and silently sped back through the pine forest, not stopping, until she reached her own gabled room, where she sat breathlessly by her window and tried to gather up her scattered wits.
"Diana and Fred are in love with each other," she gasped. “Oh, it seems so . . . like that . . . sohopelessgrew up."
Anne hadn't been without her suspicions lately that Diana was proving wrong to the melancholy Byronic hero of her early dreams. But since "things seen are more powerful than things heard" or suspected, the realization that it was indeed so came almost as a complete surprise to her. This was followed by a strange, somewhat lonely feeling. . . as if Diana had somehow entered a new world, closing a gate behind her and leaving Anne outside.
"Things are changing so fast it almost scares me," Anne thought a little sadly. "And I'm afraid that can't help make a difference between Diana and me. I'm sure I won't be able to tell her all my secrets afterwards. . . she could tell Fred. And whatcanDoes she look at Fred? He is very nice and cheerful. . . but he's just Fred Wright."
It's always a very puzzling question. . . What can one see in another? But how fortunate that it is so, because if everyone saw it the same way . . . Well, in that case everyone would want my squaw, as the old Indian said. It was obvious that DianatatI see something in Fred Wright, but Anne's eyes might be held. Diana came to Green Gables the next evening, a thoughtful, shy young lady, and told Anne the whole story in the gloomy seclusion of the east gable. Both girls cried and kissed and laughed.
"I'm so happy," Diana said, "but it seems ridiculous to think I'm engaged."
"What's it really like to be engaged?" Anne asked curiously.
"Well, that all depends on who you're engaged to," Diana replied, with that mad aura of superior wisdom that's always assumed by those who are engaged over those who aren't. "It's wonderful to be engaged to Fred. . . but I think it would be just awful to be engaged to someone else."
"It's not very comforting to the rest of us, considering there's only one Fred," laughed Anne.
"Oh, Anne, you don't understand," Diana said angrily. "Thats not what I meantthe. . . it's so hard to explain Never mind, you'll understand eventually when it's your turn."
"Blessed be, dearest of Dianas, now I understand. What good is an imagination if not to enable you to see life through the eyes of other people?”
"You have to be my bridesmaid, you know, Anne. Promise me that. . . wherever you may be when I am married.”
"If necessary, I'll come from the end of the world," Anne promised solemnly.
"Of course it won't be that long," Diana said, blushing. "At least three years. . . for I am only eighteen, and mother says no daughter of hers shall be married till she is twenty-one. Also, Fred's father will buy the Abraham Fletcher farm for him, and he says he must pay two-thirds of it before giving it to him in his own name. But three years isn't too much time to get ready for the household chores as I haven't done a bit of fancy work yet. But I will start crocheting doilies tomorrow. Myra Gillis had thirty-seven doilies when she was married and I am determined to have as many as she did.”
"I suppose it would be utterly impossible to keep house with only thirty-six doilies," Anne admitted, her face serious but her eyes dancing.
Diana looked hurt.
"I didn't think you would make fun of me, Anne," she said accusingly.
"Darling, I wasn't making fun of you," Anne cried ruefully. "I just wanted to tease you a little. I think you will be the cutest little housekeeper in the world. And I think it's very kind of you that you're already planning for your home o'dreams."
No sooner had Anne uttered the phrase "home o'dreams" than it captured her imagination and she immediately began to create one of her own. It was of course inhabited by an ideal gentleman, dark, proud and melancholy; but strangely, Gilbert Blythe also kept hanging around, helping her arrange pictures, planting gardens, and performing various other tasks that a proud and melancholic hero evidently considered beneath his dignity. Anne tried to ban Gilbert's image from her castle in Spain, but somehow he stayed there, so Anne in a hurry gave up the attempt and pursued her aerial architecture with such success that it became her "home of dreams" built and furnished, before Diana spoke again.
"I suppose, Anne, you must be thinking that it's weird that I should like Fred so much when he's so different from the kind of man I always said I'd marry." . . the tall, slender kind? But somehow I don't want Fred to be tall and skinny. . . because, don't you see, then he wouldn't be Fred. Of course," Diana added rather sadly, "we're going to be a terribly chubby couple. But at least that's better than one of us being short and fat and the other tall and lean like Morgan Sloane and his wife. Mrs Lynde says it always makes her think of the long and short when she sees them together.”
'Well,' Anne said to herself that evening as she brushed her hair in front of her gold-framed mirror, 'I'm glad Diana is so happy and content. But when it's my turn. . . if it ever does. . . I hope there will be something more exciting. But then Diana thought the same thing once. I've heard her say over and over that she would never get engaged in an obnoxious, everyday way. . . he wouldto havedo something great to win her over. But she has changed. Maybe I'll change too. But I won't. . . And I'm determined I won't do it. Oh, I think those engagements are terribly unsettling things when they happen to your intimate friends."
30. A wedding in a stone house
The last week of August came. Miss Lavendar was to be married in it. Two weeks later, Anne and Gilbert would leave for Redmond College. In a week, Mrs. Rachel Lynde would move to Green Gables and set up her lares and penates in the former guest bedroom already prepared for her arrival. She had auctioned off all her superfluous household items and was presently enjoying the pleasant occupation of helping the Allans pack. Mr. Allan was due to deliver his farewell sermon next Sunday. The old order was rapidly changing to make way for the new as Anne felt a little sadness seep through all her excitement and happiness.
"Change isn't exactly pleasant, but it's a wonderful thing," said Mr. Harrison philosophically. “Two years is about long enough for things to stay exactly the same. If they stay in place longer, they might get mossy.”
Mr. Harrison smoked on his porch. His wife had told him self-sacrificingly that he could smoke in the house if he made sure to sit by the open window. Mr. Harrison rewarded this concession by going out in the open to smoke when the weather was fine, and so there was mutual goodwill.
Anne had come over to ask Mrs. Harrison for some of her yellow dahlias. She and Diana went to Echo Lodge that evening to help Miss Lavendar and Charlotta the Fourth with the final preparations for tomorrow's wedding. Miss Lavendar herself never had dahlias; she didn't like them and they wouldn't have fitted into the beautiful retreat of her old-fashioned garden. But flowers of any kind were quite scarce in Avonlea and adjoining districts that summer, thanks to Uncle Abe's storm; and Anne and Diana thought that a certain old cream-colored stone jug, usually sacred to donuts and studded with yellow dahlias, would be just the thing to set in a low angle of the stone house staircase against the dark red background of the hall paper.
"I take it you're going to college in two weeks?" continued Mr. Harrison. "Well, we're going to miss you very much, Emily and I. Of course Mrs Lynde will be over there in your place. There is no one, but a replacement can be found for them.”
The irony of Mr. Harrison's tone is quite transferrable to paper. Despite his wife's intimacy with Mrs. Lynde, the best that could be said of the relationship between her and Mr. Harrison, even under the new regime, was that they maintained an armed neutrality.
"Yes, I'm going," Anne said. "I'm very happy with my head. . . and I am sincerely sorry.”
"I suppose you'll take whatever honorifics there are lying around Redmond."
"Maybe I'll try one or two of these," Anne confessed, "but I don't care about those things as much as I did two years ago. What I want to take away from my college course is some knowledge about how best to live life and make the most of it. I want to learn to understand other people and myself and to help them.”
Mr. Harrison nodded.
"That's exactly the idea. That's what college should be for, instead of producing lots of B.A. degrees so cluttered with books and vanities that there's no room for anything else. You're okay. College won't do you much harm, I guess."
Diana and Anne drove over to Echo Lodge after tea, taking with them all the floral loot that several forays had produced in their own gardens and those of their neighbors. They found the stone house full of excitement. Charlotta the Fourth flew around with such vivacity and speed that her blue bows really seemed to have the power to be everywhere at once. Like the helm of Navarre, Charlotta's blue bows always waved in the thickest of battles.
“Thank God you came,” she said reverently, “because there are tons of things to do . . . and the frosting on this cakehabitharden . . . and there is still all the silver to be rubbed . . . and the horsehair suitcase to be packed. . . and the roosters for the chicken salad are already running out behind the chicken coop,crow, Miss Shirley, ma'am. And Miss Lavendar cannot be trusted to do anything. I was grateful when Mr. Irving came by a few minutes ago and took her for a walk in the woods. Courting is all right in its place, Miss Shirley, ma'am, but if you try to confuse it with cooking and cleaning, all is spoiled. That ismeinOpinion, Miss Shirley, ma'am."
Anne and Diana worked so hard that by ten o'clock even Charlotte the Fourth was content. She braided her hair into countless pigtails and took her weary little bones to bed.
"But I certainly won't sleep a wink, Miss Shirley, ma'am, for fear that something might go wrong at the last minute . . . the cream doesn't rise. . . or Mr. Irving has a stroke and cannot come.”
"He's not in the habit of having strokes, is he?" Diana asked, the corners of her mouth twitching. For Diana, Charlotte was the fourth, though not exactly a beauty, certainly a forever joy.
"These are not things of habit," said Charlotta the Fourth with dignity. "Just herbite. . . and there you areanyonemay have a stroke. You don't have to learn how. Mr. Irving looks a lot like an uncle of mine who once had one when he sat down to dinner one day. But maybe everything will be fine. In this world you just have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst and take whatever God sends.”
"The only thing I'm worried about is that tomorrow won't be good," Diana said. "Uncle Abe predicted rain for the middle of the week and since the big storm, I can't help but believe there is a lot to what Uncle Abe is saying."
Anne, who knew better than Diana how involved Uncle Abe was in the storm, didn't mind. She slept the sleep of the just and weary, and was awakened at an unearthly hour by Charlotta the Fourth.
"Oh, Miss Shirley, ma'am, it's horrible to call you so early," came a wail through the keyhole, "but there's still so much to do... . . and oh, Miss Shirley, ma'am, I'm afraid it's going to rain, and I wish you'd get up and tell me you don't think it's going to rain." Anne hurried to the window, hoping against hope that that Charlotta the Fourth was only saying this to effectively rouse her. But unfortunately the morning didn't look good. Below the window Miss Lavendar's garden, which should have been a splendor of pale virgin sunshine, lay gloomy and windless; and the sky above the firs was dark with moody clouds.
"Isn't that too mean!" said Diana.
"We must hope for the best," Anne said firmly. "If only it wasn't really raining, a cool, pearly gray day like that would actually be nicer than hot sunshine."
"But it's going to rain," mourned Charlotta, crawling into the room, a merry figure, with her many pigtails wound around her head, the ends, tied together with white thread, sticking out in all directions. “It will wait until the last minute and then water cats and dogs. And all the people get soaked. . . and track mud all over the house. . . and they will not be able to marry under the honeysuckle. . . and it's awfully unfortunate when no sun shines on a bride, say what you like, Miss Shirley, ma'am. Iknewthings were going too well to last.”
Charlotta Fourth must have borrowed a leaf from Miss Eliza Andrews' book.
It didn't rain, although it still looked like it would. Towards noon the rooms were decorated, the table beautifully set; and above waited a bride "dressed for her husband."
"You look cute," Anne said enthusiastically.
"Nice," Diana repeated.
"Everything is ready, Miss Shirley, ma'am, and nothing terrible has happenedstill' was Charlotta's cheerful statement as she made her way to her small back room to get dressed. All the braids came out; the resulting proliferating crease was braided into two tails and tied together with not two but four loops of brand new light blue ribbon. The two upper loops gave the impression of overgrown wings sprouting from Charlotta's neck, somewhat in the manner of Raphael's cherubs. But Charlotta Fourth thought she was very beautiful, and after snuggling into a white dress starched so stiff it could stand on its own, she gazed at herself in her glass with great satisfaction. . . a satisfaction that lasted until she walked out into the hallway and caught a glimpse through the guest room door of a tall girl in a soft, slinky dress pinning white, star-like flowers to the smooth ruffles of her reddish hair.
"Oh, I willoh nobe able to look like Miss Shirley,” poor Charlotta thought desperately. “You just have to be born that way, I guess . . . It doesn't seem like you can do that with practiceLuft.“
About one o'clock the guests had arrived, including Mr. and Mrs. Allan, for Mr. Allan was to perform the ceremony in the absence of the Minister from Grafton on his leave. There was no formality in the marriage. Miss Lavendar came down the stairs to meet her bridegroom's foot, and when he took her hand she lifted her large brown eyes to his with a look that seemed stranger than ever to Charlotta the Fourth, who caught him. They went out to the honeysuckle arbour, where Mr. Allan was waiting for them. The guests grouped themselves as they wished. Anne and Diana stood by the old stone bench, between them Charlotta the Fourth, desperately clutching her hands in her cold, trembling little paws.
Mr. Allan opened his blue book and the ceremony continued. Just as Miss Lavendar and Stephen Irving were being pronounced husband and wife, something very beautiful and symbolic happened. Suddenly the sun broke through the gray and showered the happy bride with a deluge of rays. Immediately the garden was full of dancing shadows and flickering lights.
"What a beautiful omen," thought Anne as she ran to kiss the bride. Then the three girls let the rest of the guests laugh around the newlyweds while they flew inside to see that everything was ready for the feast.
"Thank God it's over, Miss Shirley, ma'am," breathed Charlotta Fourth, "and they're married safe and sound, no matter what happens." The rice sacks are in the pantry, ma'am, and the old shoes are by the door, and the whipped cream is on the Sullar step.”
At one-thirty Mr. and Mrs. Irving left and everyone went to Bright River to see them off on the afternoon train. As Miss Lavender. . . I beg your pardon, Mrs Irving. . . came from the door of their old house Gilbert and the girls threw the rice and Charlotta the fourth threw an old shoe with such excellent aim that it hit Mr. Allan square in the head. But it was up to Paul to give the most beautiful farewell. He came out of the porch and angrily rang a huge old brass bell that had adorned the dining room mantel. Paul's only motive was to make a happy noise; but as the clinking died away, from the peak and bend and hill beyond the river came the chime of "fairy wedding bells," ringing clear, sweet, faint, and ever fainter, as if Miss Lavendar's beloved echoes were bidding her salute and farewell. And so, amidst this blessing of sweet sounds, Miss Lavendar drove away from the old life of dreams and illusions to a fuller life of realities in the busy world beyond.
Two hours later, Anne and Charlotte Fourth came down the path again. Gilbert had gone to West Grafton on an errand and Diana had an appointment to keep at home. Anne and Charlotta had come back to put things in order and lock up the little stone house. The garden was a pool of late golden sunshine, with butterflies fluttering about and bees buzzing; but the cottage already had that indefinable desolation that always follows a festival.
"Oh my god, doesn't it look lonely?" sniffed Charlotta 4th, who had been crying all the way home from the train station. "After all, a wedding doesn't get much merrier than a funeral when it's all over, Miss Shirley, ma'am."
A busy evening followed. The decorations had to be removed, the dishes washed, the uneaten delicacies packed into a basket to delight Charlotta Fourth's young brothers at home. Anne would not rest until everything was in apple pie order; After Charlotta went home with her swag, Anne walked through the silent rooms, feeling like someone entering a deserted banquet hall alone, and closed the blinds. Then she locked the door and sat under the white poplar to wait for Gilbert. She felt very tired, but still kept thinking "long, long thoughts" relentlessly.
"What are you thinking of, Anne?" asked Gilbert, coming down the path. He had parked his horse and wagon out on the street.
"From Miss Lavendar and Mr. Irving," Anne replied dreamily. "Isn't it nice to think about how it all turned out . . . how they got back together after all these years of separation and misunderstanding?”
"Yes, it's beautiful," said Gilbert, staring steadily at Anne's majestic face, "but wouldn't it have been even more beautiful, Anne, if there had been NO separation or misunderstanding . . . if they'd come hand in hand all the way through life with no memories behind them except those that belong together?"
For a moment Anne's heart pounded strangely, and for the first time her eyes faltered under Gilbert's gaze, and a rosy blush suffused the pallor of her face. It was as if a veil that had hung over her inner consciousness had been lifted, giving her gaze a revelation of unexpected feelings and realities. Perhaps romance didn't come into being with pomp and clamor after all, like a merry knight riding down; perhaps like an old friend it has slipped aside in quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in apparent prose until a sudden ray of light darted across its pages betrayed the rhythm and perhaps the music. . . perhaps . . . Love unfolded naturally from a beautiful friendship, like a rose with a heart of gold emerging from its green sheath.
Then the veil fell again; but the Anne who went up the dark lane was not quite the same Anne who had merrily driven down the night before. As with an invisible finger, the page of girlhood had been turned and the page of womanhood lay before her with all her charm and mystery, her pain and joy.
Gilbert wisely said nothing more; but in his silence he read the story of the next four years in the light of Anne's remembered blush. Four years of serious happy work. . . and then the reward for a useful acquired knowledge and a won sweet heart.
Behind them in the garden the little stone house brooded in the shade. It was lonely but not deserted. It wasn't over with dreams and laughter and joie de vivre; there should be future summers for the little stone house; in the meantime it could wait. And over the river in crimson permanence the echoes bided their time.