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CHAPTER XII A Jonah Day
It really began the night before with a restless, wakeful vigil of grumbling
toothache.
When Anne arose in the dull, bitter winter morning she felt that life was flat, stale,
and unprofitable. She went to school in no angelic mood.
Her cheek was swollen and her face ached.
The schoolroom was cold and smoky, for the fire refused to burn and the children were
huddled about it in shivering groups. Anne sent them to their seats with a
sharper tone than she had ever used before.
Anthony Pye strutted to his with his usual impertinent swagger and she saw him whisper
something to his seat-mate and then glance at her with a grin.
Never, so it seemed to Anne, had there been so many squeaky pencils as there were that
morning; and when Barbara Shaw came up to the desk with a sum she tripped over the
coal scuttle with disastrous results.
The coal rolled to every part of the room, her slate was broken into fragments, and
when she picked herself up, her face, stained with coal dust, sent the boys into
roars of laughter.
Anne turned from the second reader class which she was hearing.
"Really, Barbara," she said icily, "if you cannot move without falling over something
you'd better remain in your seat.
It is positively disgraceful for a girl of your age to be so awkward."
Poor Barbara stumbled back to her desk, her tears combining with the coal dust to
produce an effect truly grotesque.
Never before had her beloved, sympathetic teacher spoken to her in such a tone or
fashion, and Barbara was heartbroken.
Anne herself felt a prick of conscience but it only served to increase her mental
irritation, and the second reader class remember that lesson yet, as well as the
unmerciful infliction of arithmetic that followed.
Just as Anne was snapping the sums out St. Clair Donnell arrived breathlessly.
"You are half an hour late, St. Clair," Anne reminded him frigidly.
"Why is this?"
"Please, miss, I had to help ma make a pudding for dinner 'cause we're expecting
company and Clarice Almira's sick," was St. Clair's answer, given in a perfectly
respectful voice but nevertheless provocative of great mirth among his mates.
"Take your seat and work out the six problems on page eighty-four of your
arithmetic for punishment," said Anne.
St. Clair looked rather amazed at her tone but he went meekly to his desk and took out
his slate. Then he stealthily passed a small parcel to
Joe Sloane across the aisle.
Anne caught him in the act and jumped to a fatal conclusion about that parcel.
Old Mrs. Hiram Sloane had lately taken to making and selling "nut cakes" by way of
adding to her scanty income.
The cakes were specially tempting to small boys and for several weeks Anne had had not
a little trouble in regard to them.
On their way to school the boys would invest their spare cash at Mrs. Hiram's,
bring the cakes along with them to school, and, if possible, eat them and treat their
mates during school hours.
Anne had warned them that if they brought any more cakes to school they would be
confiscated; and yet here was St. Clair Donnell coolly passing a parcel of them,
wrapped up in the blue and white striped paper Mrs. Hiram used, under her very eyes.
"Joseph," said Anne quietly, "bring that parcel here."
Joe, startled and abashed, obeyed.
He was a fat urchin who always blushed and stuttered when he was frightened.
Never did anybody look more guilty than poor Joe at that moment.
"Throw it into the fire," said Anne.
Joe looked very blank. "P...p...p...lease, m...m...miss," he
began. "Do as I tell you, Joseph, without any
words about it."
"B...b...but m...m...miss...th...th ...they're ..." gasped Joe in desperation.
"Joseph, are you going to obey me or are you NOT?" said Anne.
A bolder and more self-possessed lad than Joe Sloane would have been overawed by her
tone and the dangerous flash of her eyes. This was a new Anne whom none of her pupils
had ever seen before.
Joe, with an agonized glance at St. Clair, went to the stove, opened the big, square
front door, and threw the blue and white parcel in, before St. Clair, who had sprung
to his feet, could utter a word.
Then he dodged back just in time. For a few moments the terrified occupants
of Avonlea school did not know whether it was an earthquake or a volcanic explosion
that had occurred.
The innocent looking parcel which Anne had rashly supposed to contain Mrs. Hiram's nut
cakes really held an assortment of firecrackers and pinwheels for which Warren
Sloane had sent to town by St. Clair
Donnell's father the day before, intending to have a birthday celebration that
evening.
The crackers went off in a thunderclap of noise and the pinwheels bursting out of the
door spun madly around the room, hissing and spluttering.
Anne dropped into her chair white with dismay and all the girls climbed shrieking
upon their desks.
Joe Sloane stood as one transfixed in the midst of the commotion and St. Clair,
helpless with laughter, rocked to and fro in the aisle.
Prillie Rogerson fainted and Annetta Bell went into hysterics.
It seemed a long time, although it was really only a few minutes, before the last
pinwheel subsided.
Anne, recovering herself, sprang to open doors and windows and let out the gas and
smoke which filled the room.
Then she helped the girls carry the unconscious Prillie into the porch, where
Barbara Shaw, in an agony of desire to be useful, poured a pailful of half frozen
water over Prillie's face and shoulders before anyone could stop her.
It was a full hour before quiet was restored ...but it was a quiet that might
be felt.
Everybody realized that even the explosion had not cleared the teacher's mental
atmosphere. Nobody, except Anthony Pye, dared whisper a
word.
Ned Clay accidentally squeaked his pencil while working a sum, caught Anne's eye and
wished the floor would open and swallow him up.
The geography class were whisked through a continent with a speed that made them
dizzy. The grammar class were parsed and analyzed
within an inch of their lives.
Chester Sloane, spelling "odoriferous" with two f's, was made to feel that he could
never live down the disgrace of it, either in this world or that which is to come.
Anne knew that she had made herself ridiculous and that the incident would be
laughed over that night at a score of tea- tables, but the knowledge only angered her
further.
In a calmer mood she could have carried off the situation with a laugh but now that was
impossible; so she ignored it in icy disdain.
When Anne returned to the school after dinner all the children were as usual in
their seats and every face was bent studiously over a desk except Anthony
Pye's.
He peered across his book at Anne, his black eyes sparkling with curiosity and
mockery.
Anne twitched open the drawer of her desk in search of chalk and under her very hand
a lively mouse sprang out of the drawer, scampered over the desk, and leaped to the
floor.
Anne screamed and sprang back, as if it had been a snake, and Anthony Pye laughed
aloud. Then a silence fell...a very creepy,
uncomfortable silence.
Annetta Bell was of two minds whether to go into hysterics again or not, especially as
she didn't know just where the mouse had gone.
But she decided not to.
Who could take any comfort out of hysterics with a teacher so white-faced and so
blazing-eyed standing before one? "Who put that mouse in my desk?" said Anne.
Her voice was quite low but it made a shiver go up and down Paul Irving's spine.
Joe Sloane caught her eye, felt responsible from the crown of his head to the sole of
his feet, but stuttered out wildly,
"N...n...not m...m...me t...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 unabashed and unashamed.
"Anthony, was it you?" "Yes, it was," said Anthony insolently.
Anne took her pointer from her desk.
It was a long, heavy hardwood pointer. "Come here, Anthony."
It was far from being the most severe punishment Anthony Pye had ever undergone.
Anne, even the stormy-souled Anne she was at that moment, could not have punished any
child cruelly.
But the pointer nipped keenly and finally Anthony's bravado failed him; he winced and
the tears came to his eyes. Anne, conscience-stricken, dropped the
pointer and told Anthony to go to his seat.
She sat down at her desk feeling ashamed, repentant, and bitterly mortified.
Her quick anger was gone and she would have given much to have been able to seek relief
in tears.
So all her boasts had come to this...she had actually whipped one of her pupils.
How Jane would triumph! And how Mr. Harrison would chuckle!
But worse than this, bitterest thought of all, she had lost her last chance of
winning Anthony Pye. Never would he like her now.
Anne, by what somebody has called "a Herculaneum effort," kept back her tears
until she got home that night.
Then she shut herself in the east gable room and wept all her shame and remorse and
disappointment into her pillows...wept so long that Marilla grew alarmed, invaded the
room, and insisted on knowing what the trouble was.
"The trouble is, I've got things the matter with my conscience," sobbed Anne.
"Oh, this has been such a Jonah day, Marilla.
I'm so ashamed of myself. I lost my temper and whipped Anthony Pye."
"I'm glad to hear it," said Marilla with decision.
"It's what you should have done long ago." "Oh, no, no, Marilla.
And I don't see how I can ever look those children in the face again.
I feel that I have humiliated myself to the very dust.
You don't know how cross and hateful and horrid I was.
I can't forget the expression in Paul Irving's eyes...he looked so surprised and
disappointed.
Oh, Marilla, I HAVE tried so hard to be patient and to win Anthony's liking...and
now it has all gone for nothing."
Marilla passed her hard work-worn hand over the girl's glossy, tumbled hair with a
wonderful tenderness. When Anne's sobs grew quieter she said,
very gently for her,
"You take things too much to heart, Anne. We all make mistakes...but people forget
them. And Jonah days come to everybody.
As for Anthony Pye, why need you care if he does dislike you?
He is the only one." "I can't help it.
I want everybody to love me and it hurts me so when anybody doesn't.
And Anthony never will now. Oh, I just made an idiot of myself today,
Marilla.
I'll tell you the whole story." Marilla listened to the whole story, and if
she smiled at certain parts of it Anne never knew.
When the tale was ended she said briskly,
"Well, never mind. This day's done and there's a new one
coming tomorrow, with no mistakes in it yet, as you used to say yourself.
Just come downstairs and have your supper.
You'll see if a good cup of tea and those plum puffs I made today won't hearten you
up."
"Plum puffs won't minister to a mind diseased," said Anne disconsolately; but
Marilla thought it a good sign that she had recovered sufficiently to adapt a
quotation.
The cheerful supper table, with the twins' bright faces, and Marilla's matchless plum
puffs...of which Davy ate four... did "hearten her up" considerably after all.
She had a good sleep that night and awakened in the morning to find herself and
the world transformed.
It had snowed softly and thickly all through the hours of darkness and the
beautiful whiteness, glittering in the frosty sunshine, looked like a mantle of
charity cast over all the mistakes and humiliations of the past.
"Every morn is a fresh beginning, Every morn is the world made new,"
sang Anne, as she dressed.
Owing to the snow she had to go around by the road to school and she thought it was
certainly an impish coincidence that Anthony Pye should come ploughing along
just as she left the Green Gables lane.
She felt as guilty as if their positions were reversed; but to her unspeakable
astonishment Anthony not only lifted his cap...which he had never done before...but
said easily,
"Kind of bad walking, ain't it? Can I take those books for you, teacher?"
Anne surrendered her books and wondered if she could possibly be awake.
Anthony walked on in silence to the school, but when Anne took her books she smiled
down at him...not the stereotyped "kind" smile she had so persistently assumed for
his benefit but a sudden outflashing of good comradeship.
Anthony smiled...no, if the truth must be told, Anthony GRINNED back.
A grin is not generally supposed to be a respectful thing; yet Anne suddenly felt
that if she had not yet won Anthony's liking she had, somehow or other, won his
respect.
Mrs. Rachel Lynde came up the next Saturday and confirmed this.
"Well, Anne, I guess you've won over Anthony Pye, that's what.
He says he believes you are some good after all, even if you are a girl.
Says that whipping you gave him was 'just as good as a man's.'"
"I never expected to win him by whipping him, though," said Anne, a little
mournfully, feeling that her ideals had played her false somewhere.
"It doesn't seem right.
I'm sure my theory of kindness can't be wrong."
"No, but the Pyes are an exception to every known rule, that's what," declared Mrs.
Rachel with conviction.
Mr. Harrison said, "Thought you'd come to it," when he heard it, and Jane rubbed it
in rather unmercifully.
CHAPTER XIII A Golden Picnic
Anne, on her way to Orchard Slope, met Diana, bound for Green Gables, just where
the mossy old log bridge spanned the brook below the Haunted Wood, and they sat down
by the margin of the Dryad's Bubble, where
tiny ferns were unrolling like curly-headed green pixy folk wakening up from a nap.
"I was just on my way over to invite you to help me celebrate my birthday on Saturday,"
said Anne.
"Your birthday? But your birthday was in March!"
"That wasn't my fault," laughed Anne. "If my parents had consulted me it would
never have happened then.
I should have chosen to be born in spring, of course.
It must be delightful to come into the world with the mayflowers and violets.
You would always feel that you were their foster sister.
But since I didn't, the next best thing is to celebrate my birthday in the spring.
Priscilla is coming over Saturday and Jane will be home.
We'll all four start off to the woods and spend a golden day making the acquaintance
of the spring.
We none of us really know her yet, but we'll meet her back there as we never can
anywhere else. I want to explore all those fields and
lonely places anyhow.
I have a conviction that there are scores of beautiful nooks there that have never
really been SEEN although they may have been LOOKED at.
We'll make friends with wind and sky and sun, and bring home the spring in our
hearts."
"It SOUNDS awfully nice," said Diana, with some inward distrust of Anne's magic of
words. "But won't it be very damp in some places
yet?"
"Oh, we'll wear rubbers," was Anne's concession to practicalities.
"And I want you to come over early Saturday morning and help me prepare lunch.
I'm going to have the daintiest things possible... things that will match the
spring, you understand...little jelly tarts and lady fingers, and drop cookies frosted
with pink and yellow icing, and buttercup cake.
And we must have sandwiches too, though they're NOT very poetical."
Saturday proved an ideal day for a picnic...a day of breeze and blue, warm,
sunny, with a little rollicking wind blowing across meadow and orchard.
Over every sunlit upland and field was a delicate, flower-starred green.
Mr. Harrison, harrowing at the back of his farm and feeling some of the spring witch-
work even in his sober, middle-aged blood, saw four girls, basket laden, tripping
across the end of his field where it joined a fringing woodland of birch and fir.
Their blithe voices and laughter echoed down to him.
"It's so easy to be happy on a day like this, isn't it?"
Anne was saying, with true Anneish philosophy.
"Let's try to make this a really golden day, girls, a day to which we can always
look back with delight. We're to seek for beauty and refuse to see
anything else.
'Begone, dull care!' Jane, you are thinking of something that
went wrong in school yesterday." "How do you know?" gasped Jane, amazed.
"Oh, I know the expression...I've felt it often enough on my own face.
But put it out of your mind, there's a dear.
It will keep till Monday ...or if it doesn't so much the better.
Oh, girls, girls, see that patch of violets!
There's something for memory's picture gallery.
When I'm eighty years old...if I ever am...I shall shut my eyes and see those
violets just as I see them now.
That's the first good gift our day has given us."
"If a kiss could be seen I think it would look like a violet," said Priscilla.
Anne glowed.
"I'm so glad you SPOKE that thought, Priscilla, instead of just thinking it and
keeping it to yourself.
This world would be a much more interesting place...although it IS very interesting
anyhow... if people spoke out their real thoughts."
"It would be too hot to hold some folks," quoted Jane sagely.
"I suppose it might be, but that would be their own faults for thinking nasty things.
Anyhow, we can tell all our thoughts today because we are going to have nothing but
beautiful thoughts. Everybody can say just what comes into her
head.
THAT is conversation. Here's a little path I never saw before.
Let's explore it."
The path was a winding one, so narrow that the girls walked in single file and even
then the fir boughs brushed their faces.
Under the firs were velvety cushions of moss, and further on, where the trees were
smaller and fewer, the ground was rich in a variety of green growing things.
"What a lot of elephant's ears," exclaimed Diana.
"I'm going to pick a big bunch, they're so pretty."
"How did such graceful feathery things ever come to have such a dreadful name?" asked
Priscilla.
"Because the person who first named them either had no imagination at all or else
far too much," said Anne, "Oh, girls, look at that!"
"That" was a shallow woodland pool in the center of a little open glade where the
path ended.
Later on in the season it would be dried up and its place filled with a rank growth of
ferns; but now it was a glimmering placid sheet, round as a saucer and clear as
crystal.
A ring of slender young birches encircled it and little ferns fringed its margin.
"HOW sweet!" said Jane.
"Let us dance around it like wood-nymphs," cried Anne, dropping her basket and
extending her hands.
But the dance was not a success for the ground was boggy and Jane's rubbers came
off. "You can't be a wood-nymph if you have to
wear rubbers," was her decision.
"Well, we must name this place before we leave it," said Anne, yielding to the
indisputable logic of facts. "Everybody suggest a name and we'll draw
lots.
Diana?" "Birch Pool," suggested Diana promptly.
"Crystal Lake," said Jane.
Anne, standing behind them, implored Priscilla with her eyes not to perpetrate
another such name and Priscilla rose to the occasion with "Glimmer-glass."
Anne's selection was "The Fairies' Mirror."
The names were written on strips of birch bark with a pencil Schoolma'am Jane
produced from her pocket, and placed in Anne's hat.
Then Priscilla shut her eyes and drew one.
"Crystal Lake," read Jane triumphantly. Crystal Lake it was, and if Anne thought
that chance had played the pool a shabby trick she did not say so.
Pushing through the undergrowth beyond, the girls came out to the young green seclusion
of Mr. Silas Sloane's back pasture.
Across it they found the entrance to a lane striking up through the woods and voted to
explore it also. It rewarded their quest with a succession
of pretty surprises.
First, skirting Mr. Sloane's pasture, came an archway of wild cherry trees all in
bloom.
The girls swung their hats on their arms and wreathed their hair with the creamy,
fluffy blossoms.
Then the lane turned at right angles and plunged into a spruce wood so thick and
dark that they walked in a gloom as of twilight, with not a glimpse of sky or
sunlight to be seen.
"This is where the bad wood elves dwell," whispered Anne.
"They are impish and malicious but they can't harm us, because they are not allowed
to do evil in the spring.
There was one peeping at us around that old twisted fir; and didn't you see a group of
them on that big freckly toadstool we just passed?
The good fairies always dwell in the sunshiny places."
"I wish there really were fairies," said Jane.
"Wouldn't it be nice to have three wishes granted you...or even only one?
What would you wish for, girls, if you could have a wish granted?
I'd wish to be rich and beautiful and clever."
"I'd wish to be tall and slender," said Diana.
"I would wish to be famous," said Priscilla.
Anne thought of her hair and then dismissed the thought as unworthy.
"I'd wish it might be spring all the time and in everybody's heart and all our
lives," she said. "But that," said Priscilla, "would be just
wishing this world were like heaven."
"Only like a part of heaven. In the other parts there would be summer
and autumn...yes, and a bit of winter, too. I think I want glittering snowy fields and
white frosts in heaven sometimes.
Don't you, Jane?" "I...I don't know," said Jane
uncomfortably.
Jane was a good girl, a member of the church, who tried conscientiously to live
up to her profession and believed everything she had been taught.
But she never thought about heaven any more than she could help, for all that.
"Minnie May asked me the other day if we would wear our best dresses every day in
heaven," laughed Diana.
"And didn't you tell her we would?" asked Anne.
"Mercy, no! I told her we wouldn't be thinking of
dresses at all there."
"Oh, I think we will...a LITTLE," said Anne earnestly.
"There'll be plenty of time in all eternity for it without neglecting more important
things.
I believe we'll all wear beautiful dresses...or I suppose RAIMENT would be a
more suitable way of speaking.
I shall want to wear pink for a few centuries at first...it would take me that
long to get tired of it, I feel sure. I do love pink so and I can never wear it
in THIS world."
Past the spruces the lane dipped down into a sunny little open where a log bridge
spanned a brook; and then came the glory of a sunlit beechwood where the air was like
transparent golden wine, and the leaves
fresh and green, and the wood floor a mosaic of tremulous sunshine.
Then more wild cherries, and a little valley of lissome firs, and then a hill so
steep that the girls lost their breath climbing it; but when they reached the top
and came out into the open the prettiest surprise of all awaited them.
Beyond were the "back fields" of the farms that ran out to the upper Carmody road.
Just before them, hemmed in by beeches and firs but open to the south, was a little
corner and in it a garden ...or what had once been a garden.
A tumbledown stone dyke, overgrown with mosses and grass, surrounded it.
Along the eastern side ran a row of garden cherry trees, white as a snowdrift.
There were traces of old paths still and a double line of rosebushes through the
middle; but all the rest of the space was a sheet of yellow and white narcissi, in
their airiest, most lavish, wind-swayed bloom above the lush green grasses.
"Oh, how perfectly lovely!" three of the girls cried.
Anne only gazed in eloquent silence.
"How in the world does it happen that there ever was a garden back here?" said
Priscilla in amazement. "It must be Hester Gray's garden," said
Diana.
"I've heard mother speak of it but I never saw it before, and I wouldn't have supposed
that it could be in existence still. You've heard the story, Anne?"
"No, but the name seems familiar to me."
"Oh, you've seen it in the graveyard. She is buried down there in the poplar
corner.
You know the little brown stone with the opening gates carved on it and 'Sacred to
the memory of Hester Gray, aged twenty- two.'
Jordan Gray is buried right beside her but there's no stone to him.
It's a wonder Marilla never told you about it, Anne.
To be sure, it happened thirty years ago and everybody has forgotten."
"Well, if there's a story we must have it," said Anne.
"Let's sit right down here among the narcissi and Diana will tell it.
Why, girls, there are hundreds of them...they've spread over everything.
It looks as if the garden were carpeted with moonshine and sunshine combined.
This is a discovery worth making.
To think that I've lived within a mile of this place for six years and have never
seen it before! Now, Diana."
"Long ago," began Diana, "this farm belonged to old Mr. David Gray.
He didn't live on it...he lived where Silas Sloane lives now.
He had one son, Jordan, and he went up to Boston one winter to work and while he was
there he fell in love with a girl named Hester Murray.
She was working in a store and she hated it.
She'd been brought up in the country and she always wanted to get back.
When Jordan asked her to marry him she said she would if he'd take her away to some
quiet spot where she'd see nothing but fields and trees.
So he brought her to Avonlea.
Mrs. Lynde said he was taking a fearful risk in marrying a Yankee, and it's certain
that Hester was very delicate and a very poor housekeeper; but mother says she was
very pretty and sweet and Jordan just worshipped 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 anybody went to see her except mother and Mrs.
Lynde.
Jordan made her this garden and she was crazy about it and spent most of her time
in it. She wasn't much of a housekeeper but she
had a knack with flowers.
And then she got sick. Mother says she thinks she was in
consumption before she ever came here. She never really laid up but just grew
weaker and weaker all the time.
Jordan wouldn't have anybody to wait on her.
He did it all himself and mother says he was as tender and gentle as a woman.
Every day he'd wrap her in a shawl and carry her out to the garden and she'd lie
there on a bench quite happy.
They say she used to make Jordan kneel down by her every night and morning and pray
with her that she might die out in the garden when the time came.
And her prayer was answered.
One day Jordan carried her out to the bench and then he picked all the roses that were
out and heaped them over her; and she just smiled up at him ...and closed her
eyes...and that," concluded Diana softly, "was the end."
"Oh, what a dear story," sighed Anne, wiping away her tears.
"What became of Jordan?" asked Priscilla.
"He sold the farm after Hester died and went back to Boston.
Mr. Jabez Sloane bought the farm and hauled the little house out to the road.
Jordan died about ten years after and he was brought home and buried beside Hester."
"I can't understand how she could have wanted to live back here, away from
everything," said Jane.
"Oh, I can easily understand THAT," said Anne thoughtfully.
"I wouldn't want it myself for a steady thing, because, although I love the fields
and woods, I love people too.
But I can understand it in Hester. She was tired to death of the noise of the
big city and the crowds of people always coming and going and caring nothing for
her.
She just wanted to escape from it all to some still, green, friendly place where she
could rest. And she got just what she wanted, which is
something very few people do, I believe.
She had four beautiful years before she died...four years of perfect happiness, so
I think she was to be envied more than pitied.
And then to shut your eyes and fall asleep among roses, with the one you loved best on
earth smiling down at you...oh, I think it was beautiful!"
"She set out those cherry trees over there," said Diana.
"She told mother she'd never live to eat their fruit, but she wanted to think that
something she had planted would go on living and helping to make the world
beautiful after she was dead."
"I'm so glad we came this way," said Anne, the shining-eyed.
"This is my adopted birthday, you know, and this garden and its story is the birthday
gift it has given me.
Did your mother ever tell you what Hester Gray looked like, Diana?"
"No...only just that she was pretty."
"I'm rather glad of that, because I can imagine what she looked like, without being
hampered by facts.
I think she was very slight and small, with softly curling dark hair and big, sweet,
timid brown eyes, and a little wistful, pale face."
The girls left their baskets in Hester's garden and spent the rest of the afternoon
rambling in the woods and fields surrounding it, discovering many pretty
nooks and lanes.
When they got hungry they had lunch in the prettiest spot of all...on the steep bank
of a gurgling brook where white birches shot up out of long feathery grasses.
The girls sat down by the roots and did full justice to Anne's dainties, even the
unpoetical sandwiches being greatly appreciated by hearty, unspoiled appetites
sharpened by all the fresh air and exercise they had enjoyed.
Anne had brought glasses and lemonade for her guests, but for her own part drank cold
brook water from a cup fashioned out of birch bark.
The cup leaked, and the water tasted of earth, as brook water is apt to do in
spring; but Anne thought it more appropriate to the occasion than lemonade.
"Look do you see that poem?" she said suddenly, pointing.
"Where?" Jane and Diana stared, as if expecting to
see Runic rhymes on the birch trees.
"There...down in the brook...that old green, mossy log with the water flowing
over it in those smooth ripples that look as if they'd been combed, and that single
shaft of sunshine falling right athwart it, far down into the pool.
Oh, it's the most beautiful poem I ever saw."
"I should rather call it a picture," said Jane.
"A poem is lines and verses." "Oh dear me, no."
Anne shook her head with its fluffy wild cherry coronal positively.
"The lines and verses are only the outward garments of the poem and are no more really
it than your ruffles and flounces are YOU, Jane.
The real poem is the soul within them ...and that beautiful bit is the soul of an
unwritten poem. It is not every day one sees a soul...even
of a poem."
"I wonder what a soul...a person's soul...would look like," said Priscilla
dreamily.
"Like that, I should think," answered Anne, pointing to a radiance of sifted sunlight
streaming through a birch tree. "Only with shape and features of course.
I like to fancy souls as being made of light.
And some are all shot through with rosy stains and quivers...and some have a soft
glitter like moonlight on the sea...and some are pale and transparent like mist at
dawn."
"I read somewhere once that souls were like flowers," said Priscilla.
"Then your soul is a golden narcissus," said Anne, "and Diana's is like a red, red
rose.
Jane's is an apple blossom, pink and wholesome and sweet."
"And your own is a white violet, with purple streaks in its heart," finished
Priscilla.
Jane whispered to Diana that she really could not understand what they were talking
about. Could she?
The girls went home by the light of a calm golden sunset, their baskets filled with
narcissus blossoms from Hester's garden, some of which Anne carried to the cemetery
next day and laid upon Hester's grave.
Minstrel robins were whistling in the firs and the frogs were singing in the marshes.
All the basins among the hills were brimmed with topaz and emerald light.
"Well, we have had a lovely time after all," said Diana, as if she had hardly
expected to have it when she set out. "It has been a truly golden day," said
Priscilla.
"I'm really awfully fond of the woods myself," said Jane.
Anne said nothing. She was looking afar into the western sky
and thinking of little Hester Gray.
CHAPTER XIV A Danger Averted
Anne, walking home from the post office one Friday evening, was joined by Mrs. Lynde,
who was as usual cumbered with all the cares of church and state.
"I've just been down to Timothy Cotton's to see if I could get Alice Louise to help me
for a few days," she said.
"I had her last week, for, though she's too slow to stop quick, she's better than
nobody. But she's sick and can't come.
Timothy's sitting there, too, coughing and complaining.
He's been dying for ten years and he'll go on dying for ten years more.
That kind can't even die and have done with it...they can't stick to anything, even to
being sick, long enough to finish it.
They're a terrible shiftless family and what is to become of them I don't know, but
perhaps Providence does."
Mrs. Lynde sighed as if she rather doubted the extent of Providential knowledge on the
subject. "Marilla was in about her eyes again
Tuesday, wasn't she?
What did the specialist think of them?" she continued.
"He was much pleased," said Anne brightly.
"He says there is a great improvement in them and he thinks the danger of her losing
her sight completely is past. But he says she'll never be able to read
much or do any fine hand-work again.
How are your preparations for your bazaar coming on?"
The Ladies' Aid Society was preparing for a fair and supper, and Mrs. Lynde was the
head and front of the enterprise.
"Pretty well...and that reminds me. Mrs. Allan thinks it would be nice to fix
up a booth like an old-time kitchen and serve a supper of baked beans, doughnuts,
pie, and so on.
We're collecting old-fashioned fixings everywhere.
Mrs. Simon Fletcher is going to lend us her mother's braided rugs and Mrs. Levi Boulter
some old chairs and Aunt Mary Shaw will lend us her cupboard with the glass doors.
I suppose Marilla will let us have her brass candlesticks?
And we want all the old dishes we can get.
Mrs. Allan is specially set on having a real blue willow ware platter 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 and ask her if she'll lend it
for the occasion," said Anne. "Well, I wish you would.
I guess we'll have the supper in about a fortnight's time.
Uncle Abe Andrews is prophesying rain and storms for about that time; and that's a
pretty sure sign we'll have fine weather."
The said "Uncle Abe," it may be mentioned, was at least like other prophets in that he
had small honor in his own country.
He was, in fact, considered in the light of a standing joke, for few of his weather
predictions were ever fulfilled.
Mr. Elisha Wright, who labored under the impression that he was a local wit, used to
say that nobody in Avonlea ever thought of looking in the Charlottetown dailies for
weather probabilities.
No; they just asked Uncle Abe what it was going to be tomorrow and expected the
opposite. Nothing daunted, Uncle Abe kept on
prophesying.
"We want to have the fair over before the election comes off," continued Mrs. Lynde,
"for the candidates will be sure to come and spend lots of money.
The Tories are bribing right and left, so they might as well be given a chance to
spend their money honestly for once."
Anne was a red-hot Conservative, out of loyalty to Matthew's memory, but she said
nothing. She knew better than to get Mrs. Lynde
started on politics.
She had a letter for Marilla, postmarked from a town in British Columbia.
"It's probably from the children's uncle," she said excitedly, when she got home.
"Oh, Marilla, I wonder what he says about them."
"The best plan might be to open it and see," said Marilla curtly.
A close observer might have thought that she was excited also, but she would rather
have died than show it.
Anne tore open the letter and glanced over the somewhat untidy and poorly written
contents.
"He says he can't take the children this spring...he's been sick most of the winter
and his wedding is put off. He wants to know if we can keep them till
the fall and he'll try and take them then.
We will, of course, won't we Marilla?" "I don't see that there is anything else
for us to do," said Marilla rather grimly, although she felt a secret relief.
"Anyhow they're not so much trouble as they were...or else we've got used to them.
Davy has improved a great deal."
"His MANNERS are certainly much better," said Anne cautiously, as if she were not
prepared to say as much for his morals.
Anne had come home from school the previous evening, to find Marilla away at an Aid
meeting, Dora asleep on the kitchen sofa, and Davy in the sitting room closet,
blissfully absorbing the contents of a jar
of Marilla's famous yellow plum preserves...
"company jam," Davy called it...which he had been forbidden to touch.
He looked very guilty when Anne pounced on him and whisked him out of the closet.
"Davy Keith, don't you know that it is very wrong of you to be eating that jam, when
you were told never to meddle with anything in THAT closet?"
"Yes, I knew it was wrong," admitted Davy uncomfortably, "but plum jam is awful nice,
Anne. I just peeped in and it looked so good I
thought I'd take just a weeny taste.
I stuck my finger in ..." Anne groaned ...
"and licked it clean.
And it was so much gooder than I'd ever thought that I got a spoon and just SAILED
IN."
Anne gave him such a serious lecture on the sin of stealing plum jam that Davy became
conscience stricken and promised with repentant kisses never to do it again.
"Anyhow, there'll be plenty of jam in heaven, that's one comfort," he said
complacently. Anne nipped a smile in the bud.
"Perhaps there will...if we want it," she said, "But what makes you think so?"
"Why, it's in the catechism," said Davy. "Oh, no, there is nothing like THAT in the
catechism, Davy."
"But I tell you there is," persisted Davy. "It was in that question Marilla taught me
last Sunday. 'Why should we love God?'
It says, 'Because He makes preserves, and redeems us.'
Preserves is just a holy way of saying jam."
"I must get a drink of water," said Anne hastily.
When she came back it cost her some time and trouble to explain to Davy that a
certain comma in the said catechism question made a great deal of difference in
the meaning.
"Well, I thought it was too good to be true," he said at last, with a sigh of
disappointed conviction.
"And besides, I didn't see when He'd find time to make jam if it's one endless
Sabbath day, as the hymn says. I don't believe I want to go to heaven.
Won't there ever be any Saturdays in heaven, Anne?"
"Yes, Saturdays, and every other kind of beautiful days.
And every day in heaven will be more beautiful than the one before it, Davy,"
assured Anne, who was rather glad that Marilla was not by to be shocked.
Marilla, it is needless to say, was bringing the twins up in the good old ways
of theology and discouraged all fanciful speculations thereupon.
Davy and Dora were taught a hymn, a catechism question, and two Bible verses
every Sunday.
Dora learned meekly and recited like a little machine, with perhaps as much
understanding or interest as if she were one.
Davy, on the contrary, had a lively curiosity, and frequently asked questions
which made Marilla tremble for his fate.
"Chester Sloane says we'll do nothing all the time in heaven but walk around in white
dresses and play on harps; and he says he hopes he won't have to go till he's an old
man, 'cause maybe he'll like it better then.
And he thinks it will be horrid to wear dresses and I think so too.
Why can't men angels wear trousers, Anne?
Chester Sloane is interested in those things, 'cause they're going to make a
minister of him.
He's got to be a minister 'cause his grandmother left the money to send him to
college and he can't have it unless he is a minister.
She thought a minister was such a 'spectable thing to have in a family.
Chester says he doesn't mind much...though he'd rather be a blacksmith...but he's
bound to have all the fun he can before he begins to be a minister, 'cause he doesn't
expect to have much afterwards.
I ain't going to be a minister. I'm going to be a storekeeper, like Mr.
Blair, and keep heaps of candy and bananas.
But I'd rather like going to your kind of a heaven if they'd let me play a mouth organ
instead of a harp. Do you s'pose they would?"
"Yes, I think they would if you wanted it," was all Anne could trust herself to say.
The A.V.I.S. met at Mr. Harmon Andrews' that evening and a full attendance had been
requested, since important business was to be discussed.
The A.V.I.S. was in a flourishing condition, and had already accomplished
wonders.
Early in the spring Mr. Major Spencer had redeemed his promise and had stumped,
graded, and seeded down all the road front of his farm.
A dozen other men, some prompted by a determination not to let a Spencer get
ahead of them, others goaded into action by Improvers in their own households, had
followed his example.
The result was that there were long strips of smooth velvet turf where once had been
unsightly undergrowth or brush.
The farm fronts that had not been done looked so badly by contrast that their
owners were secretly shamed into resolving to see what they could do another spring.
The triangle of ground at the cross roads had also been cleared and seeded down, and
Anne's bed of geraniums, unharmed by any marauding cow, was already set out in the
center.
Altogether, the Improvers thought that they were getting on beautifully, even if Mr.
Levi Boulter, tactfully approached by a carefully selected committee in regard to
the old house on his upper farm, did
bluntly tell them that he wasn't going to have it meddled with.
At this especial meeting they intended to draw up a petition to the school trustees,
humbly praying that a fence be put around the school grounds; and a plan was also to
be discussed for planting a few ornamental
trees by the church, if the funds of the society would permit of it...for, as Anne
said, there was no use in starting another subscription as long as the hall remained
blue.
The members were assembled in the Andrews' parlor and Jane was already on her feet to
move the appointment of a committee which should find out and report on the price of
said trees, when Gertie Pye swept in,
pompadoured and frilled within an inch of her life.
Gertie had a habit of being late ... "to make her entrance more effective,"
spiteful people said.
Gertie's entrance in this instance was certainly effective, for she paused
dramatically on the middle of the floor, threw up her hands, rolled her eyes, and
exclaimed, "I've just heard something perfectly awful.
What DO you think?
Mr. Judson Parker IS GOING TO RENT ALL THE ROAD FENCE OF HIS FARM TO A PATENT MEDICINE
COMPANY TO PAINT ADVERTISEMENTS ON." For once in her life Gertie Pye made all
the sensation she desired.
If she had thrown a bomb among the complacent Improvers she could hardly have
made more. "It CAN'T be true," said Anne blankly.
"That's just what I said when I heard it first, don't you know," said Gertie, who
was enjoying herself hugely.
"I said it couldn't be true ...that Judson Parker wouldn't have the HEART to do it,
don't you know. But father met him this afternoon and asked
him about it and he said it WAS true.
Just fancy! His farm is side-on to the Newbridge road
and how perfectly awful it will look to see advertisements of pills and plasters all
along it, don't you know?"
The Improvers DID know, all too well. Even the least imaginative among them could
picture the grotesque effect of half a mile of board fence adorned with such
advertisements.
All thought of church and school grounds vanished before this new danger.
Parliamentary rules and regulations were forgotten, and Anne, in despair, gave up
trying to keep minutes at all.
Everybody talked at once and fearful was the hubbub.
"Oh, let us keep calm," implored Anne, who was the most excited of them all, "and try
to think of some way of preventing him."
"I don't know how you're going to prevent him," exclaimed Jane bitterly.
"Everybody knows what Judson Parker is. He'd do ANYTHING for money.
He hasn't a SPARK of public spirit or ANY sense of the beautiful."
The prospect looked rather unpromising.
Judson Parker and his sister were the only Parkers in Avonlea, so that no leverage
could be exerted by family connections.
Martha Parker was a lady of all too certain age who disapproved of young people in
general and the Improvers in particular.
Judson was a jovial, smooth-spoken man, so uniformly goodnatured and bland that it was
surprising how few friends he had.
Perhaps he had got the better in too many business transactions...which seldom makes
for popularity.
He was reputed to be very "sharp" and it was the general opinion that he "hadn't
much principle."
"If Judson Parker has a chance to 'turn an honest penny,' as he says himself, he'll
never lose it," declared Fred Wright. "Is there NOBODY who has any influence over
him?" asked Anne despairingly.
"He goes to see Louisa Spencer at White Sands," suggested Carrie Sloane.
"Perhaps she could coax him not to rent his fences."
"Not she," said Gilbert emphatically.
"I know Louisa Spencer well. She doesn't 'believe' in Village
Improvement Societies, but she DOES believe in dollars and cents.
She'd be more likely to urge Judson on than to dissuade him."
"The only thing to do is to appoint a committee to wait on him and protest," said
Julia Bell, "and you must send girls, for he'd hardly be civil to boys ...but I won't
go, so nobody need nominate me."
"Better send Anne alone," said Oliver Sloane.
"She can talk Judson over if anybody can." Anne protested.
She was willing to go and do the talking; but she must have others with her "for
moral support."
Diana and Jane were therefore appointed to support her morally and the Improvers broke
up, buzzing like angry bees with indignation.
Anne was so worried that she didn't sleep until nearly morning, and then she dreamed
that the trustees had put a fence around the school and painted "Try Purple Pills"
all over it.
The committee waited on Judson Parker the next afternoon.
Anne pleaded eloquently against his nefarious design and Jane and Diana
supported her morally and valiantly.
Judson was sleek, suave, flattering; paid them several compliments of the delicacy of
sunflowers; felt real bad to refuse such charming young ladies ...but business was
business; couldn't afford to let sentiment stand in the way these hard times.
"But I'll tell what I WILL do," he said, with a twinkle in his light, full eyes.
"I'll tell the agent he must use only handsome, tasty colors ...red and yellow
and so on. I'll tell him he mustn't paint the ads BLUE
on any account."
The vanquished committee retired, thinking things not lawful to be uttered.
"We have done all we can do and must simply trust the rest to Providence," said Jane,
with an unconscious imitation of Mrs. Lynde's tone and manner.
"I wonder if Mr. Allan could do anything," reflected Diana.
Anne shook her head. "No, it's no use to worry Mr. Allan,
especially now when the baby's so sick.
Judson would slip away from him as smoothly as from us, although he HAS taken to going
to church quite regularly just now.
That is simply because Louisa Spencer's father is an elder and very particular
about such things."
"Judson Parker is the only man in Avonlea who would dream of renting his fences,"
said Jane indignantly.
"Even Levi Boulter or Lorenzo White would never stoop to that, tightfisted as they
are. They would have too much respect for public
opinion."
Public opinion was certainly down on Judson Parker when the facts became known, but
that did not help matters much.
Judson chuckled to himself and defied it, and the Improvers were trying to reconcile
themselves to the prospect of seeing the prettiest part of the Newbridge road
defaced by advertisements, when Anne rose
quietly at the president's call for reports of committees on the occasion of the next
meeting of the Society, and announced that Mr. Judson Parker had instructed her to
inform the Society that he was NOT going to
rent his fences to the Patent Medicine Company.
Jane and Diana stared as if they found it hard to believe their ears.
Parliamentary etiquette, which was generally very strictly enforced in the
A.V.I.S., forbade them giving instant vent to their curiosity, but after the Society
adjourned Anne was besieged for explanations.
Anne had no explanation to give.
Judson Parker had overtaken her on the road the preceding evening and told her that he
had decided to humor the A.V.I.S. in its peculiar prejudice against patent medicine
advertisements.
That was all Anne would say, then or ever afterwards, and it was the simple truth;
but when Jane Andrews, on her way home, confided to Oliver Sloane her firm belief
that there was more behind Judson Parker's
mysterious change of heart than Anne Shirley had revealed, she spoke the truth
also.
Anne had been down to old Mrs. Irving's on the shore road the preceding evening and
had come home by a short cut which led her first over the low-lying shore fields, and
then through the beech wood below Robert
Dickson's, by a little footpath that ran out to the main road just above the Lake of
Shining Waters...known to unimaginative people as Barry's pond.
Two men were sitting in their buggies, reined off to the side of the road, just at
the entrance of the path.
One was Judson Parker; the other was Jerry Corcoran, a Newbridge man against whom, as
Mrs. Lynde would have told you in eloquent italics, nothing shady had ever been
PROVED.
He was an agent for agricultural implements and a prominent personage in matters
political.
He had a finger... some people said ALL his fingers...in every political pie that was
cooked; and as Canada was on the eve of a general election Jerry Corcoran had been a
busy man for many weeks, canvassing the
county in the interests of his party's candidate.
Just as Anne emerged from under the overhanging beech boughs she heard Corcoran
say, "If you'll vote for Amesbury, Parker...well, I've a note for that pair of
harrows you've got in the spring.
I suppose you wouldn't object to having it back, eh?"
"We...ll, since you put it in that way," drawled Judson with a grin, "I reckon I
might as well do it.
A man must look out for his own interests in these hard times."
Both saw Anne at this moment and conversation abruptly ceased.
Anne bowed frostily and walked on, with her chin slightly more tilted than usual.
Soon Judson Parker overtook her. "Have a lift, Anne?" he inquired genially.
"Thank you, no," said Anne politely, but with a fine, needle-like disdain in her
voice that pierced even Judson Parker's none too sensitive consciousness.
His face reddened and he twitched his reins angrily; but the next second prudential
considerations checked him.
He looked uneasily at Anne, as she walked steadily on, glancing neither to the right
nor to the left. Had she heard Corcoran's unmistakable offer
and his own too plain acceptance of it?
Confound Corcoran! If he couldn't put his meaning into less
dangerous phrases he'd get into trouble some of these long-come-shorts.
And confound redheaded school-ma'ams with a habit of popping out of beechwoods where
they had no business to be.
If Anne had heard, Judson Parker, measuring her corn in his own half bushel, as the
country saying went, and cheating himself thereby, as such people generally do,
believed that she would tell it far and wide.
Now, Judson Parker, as has been seen, was not overly regardful of public opinion; but
to be known as having accepted a bribe would be a nasty thing; and if it ever
reached Isaac Spencer's ears farewell
forever to all hope of winning Louisa Jane with her comfortable prospects as the
heiress of a well-to-do farmer.
Judson Parker knew that Mr. Spencer looked somewhat askance at him as it was; he could
not afford to take any risks.
"Ahem...Anne, I've been wanting to see you about that little matter we were discussing
the other day. I've decided not to let my fences to that
company after all.
A society with an aim like yours ought to be encouraged."
Anne thawed out the merest trifle. "Thank you," she said.
"And...and...you needn't mention that little conversation of mine with Jerry."
"I have no intention of mentioning it in any case," said Anne icily, for she would
have seen every fence in Avonlea painted with advertisements before she would have
stooped to bargain with a man who would sell his vote.
"Just so...just so," agreed Judson, imagining that they understood each other
beautifully.
"I didn't suppose you would. Of course, I was only stringing Jerry...he
thinks he's so all-fired cute and smart. I've no intention of voting for Amesbury.
I'm going to vote for Grant as I've always done...you'll see that when the election
comes off. I just led Jerry on to see if he would
commit himself.
And it's all right about the fence ...you can tell the Improvers that."
"It takes all sorts of people to make a world, as I've often heard, but I think
there are some who could be spared," Anne told her reflection in the east gable
mirror that night.
"I wouldn't have mentioned the disgraceful thing to a soul anyhow, so my conscience is
clear on THAT score. I really don't know who or what is to be
thanked for this.
I did nothing to bring it about, and it's hard to believe that Providence ever works
by means of the kind of politics men like Judson Parker and Jerry Corcoran have."
CHAPTER XV The Beginning of Vacation
Anne locked the schoolhouse door on a still, yellow evening, when the winds were
purring in the spruces around the playground, and the shadows were long and
lazy by the edge of the woods.
She dropped the key into her pocket with a sigh of satisfaction.
The school year was ended, she had been reengaged for the next, with many
expressions of satisfaction....only Mr. Harmon Andrews told her she ought to use
the strap oftener...and two delightful
months of a well-earned vacation beckoned her invitingly.
Anne felt at peace with the world and herself as she walked down the hill with
her basket of flowers in her hand.
Since the earliest mayflowers Anne had never missed her weekly pilgrimage to
Matthew's grave.
Everyone else in Avonlea, except Marilla, had already forgotten 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 been the first to give her the love and
sympathy her starved childhood had craved.
At the foot of the hill a boy was sitting on the fence in the shadow of the
spruces...a boy with big, dreamy eyes and a beautiful, sensitive face.
He swung down and joined Anne, smiling; but there were traces of tears on his cheeks.
"I thought I'd wait for you, teacher, because I knew you were going to the
graveyard," he said, slipping his hand into hers.
"I'm going there, too...I'm taking this bouquet of geraniums to put on Grandpa
Irving's grave for grandma.
And look, teacher, I'm going to put this bunch of white roses beside 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 know all about it, just the same?"
"Yes, I am sure she will, Paul." "You see, teacher, it's just three years
today since my little mother died.
It's such a long, long time but it hurts just as much as ever ...and I miss her just
as much as ever. Sometimes it seems to me that I just can't
bear it, it hurts so."
Paul's voice quivered and his lip trembled. He looked down at his roses, hoping that
his teacher would not notice the tears in his eyes.
"And yet," said Anne, very softly, "you wouldn't want it to stop hurting ...you
wouldn't want to forget your little mother even if you could."
"No, indeed, I wouldn't...that's just the way I feel.
You're so good at understanding, teacher. Nobody else understands so well...not even
grandma, although she's so good to me.
Father understood pretty well, but still I couldn't talk much to him about mother,
because it made him feel so bad. When he put his hand over his face I always
knew it was time to stop.
Poor father, he must be dreadfully lonesome without me; but you see he has nobody but a
housekeeper now and he thinks housekeepers are no good to bring up little boys,
especially when he has to be away from home so much on business.
Grandmothers are better, next to mothers.
Someday, when I'm brought up, I'll go back to father and we're never going to be
parted again."
Paul had talked so much to Anne about his mother and father that she felt as if she
had known them.
She thought his mother must have been very like what he was himself, in temperament
and disposition; and she had an idea that Stephen Irving was a rather reserved man
with a deep and tender nature which he kept hidden scrupulously from the world.
"Father's not very easy to get acquainted with," Paul had said once.
"I never got really acquainted with him until after my little mother died.
But he's splendid when you do get to know him.
I love him the best in all the world, and Grandma Irving next, and then you, teacher.
I'd love you next to father if it wasn't my DUTY to love Grandma Irving best, because
she's doing so much for me.
YOU know, teacher. I wish she would leave the lamp in my room
till I go to sleep, though.
She takes it right out as soon as she tucks me up because she says I mustn't be a
coward. I'm NOT scared, but I'd RATHER have the
light.
My little mother used always to sit beside me and hold my hand till I went to sleep.
I expect she spoiled me. Mothers do sometimes, you know."
No, Anne did not know this, although she might imagine it.
She thought sadly of HER "little mother," the mother who had thought her so
"perfectly beautiful" and who had died so long ago and was buried beside her boyish
husband in that unvisited grave far away.
Anne could not remember her mother and for this reason she almost envied Paul.
"My birthday is next week," said Paul, as they walked up the long red hill, basking
in the June sunshine, "and father wrote me that he is sending me something that he
thinks I'll like better than anything else he could send.
I believe it has come already, for Grandma is keeping the bookcase drawer locked and
that is something new.
And when I asked her why, she just looked mysterious and said little boys mustn't be
too curious. It's very exciting to have a birthday,
isn't it?
I'll be eleven. You'd never think it to look at me, would
you?
Grandma says I'm very small for my age and that it's all because I don't eat enough
porridge.
I do my very best, but Grandma gives such generous platefuls ...there's nothing mean
about Grandma, I can tell you.
Ever since you and I had that talk about praying going home from Sunday School that
day, teacher... when you said we ought to pray about all our difficulties...I've
prayed every night that God would give me
enough grace to enable me to eat every bit of my porridge in the mornings.
But I've never been able to do it yet, and whether it's because I have too little
grace or too much porridge I really can't decide.
Grandma says father was brought up on porridge, and it certainly did work well in
his case, for you ought to see the shoulders he has.
But sometimes," concluded Paul with a sigh and a meditative air "I really think
porridge will be the death of me." Anne permitted herself a smile, since Paul
was not looking at her.
All Avonlea knew that old Mrs. Irving was bringing her grandson up in accordance with
the good, old-fashioned methods of diet and morals.
"Let us hope not, dear," she said cheerfully.
"How are your rock people coming on? Does the oldest Twin still continue to
behave himself?"
"He HAS to," said Paul emphatically. "He knows I won't associate with him if he
doesn't. He is really full of wickedness, I think."
"And has Nora found out about the Golden Lady yet?"
"No; but I think she suspects. I'm almost sure she watched me the last
time I went to the cave.
I don't mind if she finds out... it is only for HER sake I don't want her to...so that
her feelings won't be hurt. But if she is DETERMINED to have her
feelings hurt it can't be helped."
"If I were to go to the shore some night with you do you think I could see your rock
people too?" Paul shook his head gravely.
"No, I don't think you could see MY rock people.
I'm the only person who can see them. But you could see rock people of your own.
You're one of the kind that can.
We're both that kind. YOU know, teacher," he added, squeezing her
hand chummily. "Isn't it splendid to be that kind,
teacher?"
"Splendid," Anne agreed, gray shining eyes looking down into blue shining ones.
Anne and Paul both knew
"How fair the realm Imagination opens to the view," and both knew the way to that
happy land.
There the rose of joy bloomed immortal by dale and stream; clouds never darkened the
sunny sky; sweet bells never jangled out of tune; and kindred spirits abounded.
The knowledge of that land's geography...
"east o' the sun, west o' the moon"...is priceless lore, not to be bought in any
market place.
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 possess it, living in a garret, than to be the inhabitant of
palaces without it. The Avonlea graveyard was as yet the grass-
grown solitude it had always been.
To be sure, the Improvers had an eye on it, and Priscilla Grant had read a paper on
cemeteries before the last meeting of the Society.
At some future time the Improvers meant to have the lichened, wayward old board fence
replaced by a neat wire railing, the grass mown and the leaning monuments straightened
up.
Anne put on Matthew's grave the flowers she had brought for it, and then went over to
the little poplar shaded corner where Hester Gray slept.
Ever since the day of the spring picnic Anne had put flowers on Hester's grave when
she visited Matthew's.
The evening before she had made a pilgrimage back to the little deserted
garden in the woods and brought therefrom some of Hester's own white roses.
"I thought you would like them better than any others, dear," she said softly.
Anne was still sitting there when a shadow fell over the grass and she looked up to
see Mrs. Allan.
They walked home together. Mrs. Allan's face was not the face of the
girlbride whom the minister had brought to Avonlea five years before.
It had lost some of its bloom and youthful curves, and there were fine, patient lines
about eyes and mouth.
A tiny grave in that very cemetery accounted for some of them; and some new
ones had come during the recent illness, now happily over, of her little son.
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 of girlish beauty was now more than atoned
for in added tenderness and strength.
"I suppose you are looking forward to your vacation, Anne?" she said, as they left the
graveyard. Anne nodded.
"Yes....I could roll the word as a sweet morsel under my tongue.
I think the summer is going to be lovely.
For one thing, Mrs. Morgan is coming to the Island in July and Priscilla is going to
bring her up. I feel one of my old 'thrills' at the mere
thought."
"I hope you'll have a good time, Anne. You've worked very hard this past year and
you have succeeded." "Oh, I don't know.
I've come so far short in so many things.
I haven't done what I meant to do when I began to teach last fall.
I haven't lived up to my ideals." "None of us ever do," said Mrs. Allan with
a sigh.
"But then, Anne, you know what Lowell says, 'Not failure but low aim is crime.'
We must have ideals and try to live up to them, even if we never quite succeed.
Life would be a sorry business without them.
With them it's grand and great. Hold fast to your ideals, Anne."
"I shall try.
But I have to let go most of my theories," said Anne, laughing a little.
"I had the most beautiful set of theories you ever knew when I started out as a
schoolma'am, but every one of them has failed me at some pinch or another."
"Even the theory on corporal punishment," teased Mrs. Allan.
But Anne flushed. "I shall never forgive myself for whipping
Anthony."
"Nonsense, dear, he deserved it. And it agreed with him.
You have had no trouble with him since and he has come to think there's nobody like
you.
Your kindness won his love after the idea that a 'girl was no good' was rooted out of
his stubborn mind." "He may have deserved it, but that is not
the point.
If I had calmly and deliberately decided to whip him because I thought it a just
punishment for him I would not feel over it as I do.
But the truth is, Mrs. Allan, that I just flew into a temper and whipped him because
of that.
I wasn't thinking whether it was just or unjust...even if he hadn't deserved it I'd
have done it just the same. That is what humiliates me."
"Well, we all make mistakes, dear, so just put it behind you.
We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward
into the future with us.
There goes Gilbert Blythe on his wheel...home for his vacation too, I
suppose. How are you and he getting on with your
studies?"
"Pretty well. We plan to finish the Virgil
tonight...there are only twenty lines to do.
Then we are not going to study any more until September."
"Do you think you will ever get to college?"
"Oh, I don't know."
Anne looked dreamily afar to the opal- tinted horizon.
"Marilla's eyes will never be much better than they are now, although we are so
thankful to think that they will not get worse.
And then there are the twins...somehow I don't believe their uncle will ever really
send for them.
Perhaps college may be around the bend in the road, but I haven't got to the bend yet
and I don't think much about it lest I might grow discontented."
"Well, I should like to see you go to college, Anne; but if you never do, don't
be discontented about it.
We make our own lives wherever we are, after all...college can only help us to do
it more easily. They are broad or narrow according to what
we put into them, not what we get out.
Life is rich and full here... everywhere...if we can only learn how to
open our whole hearts to its richness and fulness."
"I think I understand what you mean," said Anne thoughtfully, "and I know I have so
much to feel thankful for...oh, so much... my work, and Paul Irving, and the dear
twins, and all my friends.
Do you know, Mrs. Allan, I'm so thankful for friendship.
It beautifies life so much."
"True friendship is a very helpful thing indeed," said Mrs. Allan, "and we should
have a very high ideal of it, and never sully it by any failure in truth and
sincerity.
I fear the name of friendship is often degraded to a kind of intimacy that has
nothing of real friendship in it." "Yes...like Gertie Pye's and Julia Bell's.
They are very intimate and go everywhere together; but Gertie is always saying nasty
things of Julia behind her back and everybody thinks she is jealous of her
because she is always so pleased when anybody criticizes Julia.
I think it is desecration to call that friendship.
If we have friends we should look only for the best in them and give them the best
that is in us, don't you think? Then friendship would be the most beautiful
thing in the world."
"Friendship IS very beautiful," smiled Mrs. Allan, "but some day ..."
Then she paused abruptly.
In the delicate, white-browed face beside her, with its candid eyes and mobile
features, there was still far more of the child than of the woman.
Anne's heart so far harbored only dreams of friendship and ambition, and Mrs. Allan did
not wish to brush the bloom from her sweet unconsciousness.
So she left her sentence for the future years to finish.
CHAPTER XVI The Substance of Things Hoped For
"Anne," said Davy appealingly, scrambling up on the shiny, leather-covered sofa in
the Green Gables kitchen, where Anne sat, reading a letter, "Anne, I'm AWFUL hungry.
You've no idea."
"I'll get you a piece of bread and butter in a minute," said Anne 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 ain't bread and butter hungry," said Davy in a disgusted tone.
"I'm plum cake hungry."
"Oh," laughed Anne, laying down her letter and putting her arm about Davy to give him
a squeeze, "that's a kind of hunger that can be endured very comfortably, Davy-boy.
You know it's one of Marilla's rules that you can't have anything but bread and
butter between meals." "Well, gimme a piece then...please."
Davy had been at last taught to say "please," but he generally tacked it on as
an afterthought. He looked with approval at the generous
slice Anne presently brought to him.
"You always put such a nice lot of butter on it, Anne.
Marilla spreads it pretty thin. It slips down a lot easier when there's
plenty of butter."
The slice "slipped down" with tolerable ease, judging from its rapid disappearance.
Davy slid head first off the sofa, turned a double somersault on the rug, and then sat
up and announced decidedly,
"Anne, I've made up my mind about heaven. I don't want to go there."
"Why not?" asked Anne gravely. "Cause heaven is in Simon Fletcher's
garret, and I don't like Simon Fletcher."
"Heaven in...Simon Fletcher's garret!" gasped Anne, too amazed even to laugh.
"Davy Keith, whatever put such an extraordinary idea into your head?"
"Milty Boulter says that's where it is.
It was last Sunday in Sunday School. The lesson was about Elijah and Elisha, and
I up and asked Miss Rogerson where heaven was.
Miss Rogerson looked awful offended.
She was cross anyhow, because when she'd asked us what Elijah left Elisha when he
went to heaven Milty Boulter said, 'His old clo'es,' and us fellows all laughed before
we thought.
I wish you could think first and do things afterwards, 'cause then you wouldn't do
them. But Milty didn't mean to be disrespeckful.
He just couldn't think of the name of the thing.
Miss Rogerson said heaven was where God was and I wasn't to ask questions like that.
Milty nudged me and said in a whisper, 'Heaven's in Uncle Simon's garret and I'll
esplain about it on the road home.' So when we was coming home he esplained.
Milty's a great hand at esplaining things.
Even if he don't know anything about a thing he'll make up a lot of stuff and so
you get it esplained all the same.
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'd gone to heaven, though Milty says she was lying right
before them in the coffin. But he s'posed they carried the coffin to
the garret afterwards.
Well, when Milty and his mother went upstairs after it was all over to get her
bonnet he asked her where heaven was that Jane Ellen had gone to, and she pointed
right to the ceiling and said, 'Up there.'
Milty knew there wasn't anything but the garret over the ceiling, so that's how HE
found out. And he's been awful scared to go to his
Uncle Simon's ever since."
Anne took Davy on her knee and did her best to straighten out this theological tangle
also.
She was much better fitted for the task than Marilla, for she remembered her own
childhood and had an instinctive understanding of the curious ideas that
seven-year-olds sometimes get about matters
that are, of course, very plain and simple to grown up people.
She had just succeeded in convincing Davy that heaven was NOT in Simon Fletcher's
garret when Marilla came in from the garden, where she and Dora had been picking
peas.
Dora was an industrious little soul and never happier than when "helping" in
various small tasks suited to her chubby fingers.
She fed chickens, picked up chips, wiped dishes, and ran errands galore.
She was neat, faithful and observant; she never had to be told how to do a thing
twice and never forgot any of her little duties.
Davy, on the other hand, was rather heedless and forgetful; but he had the born
knack of winning love, and even yet Anne and Marilla liked him the better.
While Dora proudly shelled the peas and Davy made boats of the pods, with masts of
matches and sails of paper, Anne told Marilla about the wonderful contents of her
letter.
"Oh, Marilla, what do you think?
I've had a letter from Priscilla and she says that Mrs. Morgan is on the Island, and
that if it is fine Thursday they are going to drive up to Avonlea and will reach here
about twelve.
They will spend the afternoon with us and go to the hotel at White Sands in the
evening, because some of Mrs. Morgan's American friends are staying there.
Oh, Marilla, isn't it wonderful?
I can hardly believe I'm not dreaming." "I daresay Mrs. Morgan is a lot like other
people," said Marilla drily, although she did feel a trifle excited herself.
Mrs. Morgan was a famous woman and a visit from her was no commonplace occurrence.
"They'll be here to dinner, then?" "Yes; and oh, Marilla, may I cook every bit
of the dinner myself?
I want to feel that I can do something for the author of 'The Rosebud Garden,' if it
is only to cook a dinner for her. You won't mind, will you?"
"Goodness, I'm not so fond of stewing over a hot fire in July that it would vex me
very much to have someone else do it. You're quite welcome to the job."
"Oh, thank you," said Anne, as if Marilla had just conferred a tremendous favor,
"I'll make out the menu this very night."
"You'd better not try to put on too much style," warned Marilla, a little alarmed by
the high-flown sound of 'menu.' "You'll likely come to grief if you do."
"Oh, I'm not going to put on any 'style,' if you mean trying to do or have things we
don't usually have on festal occasions," assured Anne.
"That would be affectation, and, although I know I haven't as much sense and steadiness
as a girl of seventeen and a schoolteacher ought to have, I'm not so silly as THAT.
But I want to have everything as nice and dainty as possible.
Davy-boy, don't leave those peapods on the back stairs...someone might slip on them.
I'll have a light soup to begin with...you know I can make lovely cream-of-onion
soup...and then a couple of roast fowls. I'll have the two white roosters.
I have real affection for those roosters and they've been pets ever since the gray
hen hatched out just the two of them...little balls of yellow down.
But I know they would have to be sacrificed sometime, and surely there couldn't be a
worthier occasion than this. But oh, Marilla, I cannot kill them...not
even for Mrs. Morgan's sake.
I'll have to ask John Henry Carter to come over and do it for me."
"I'll do it," volunteered Davy, "if Marilla'll hold them by the legs, 'cause I
guess it'd take both my hands to manage the axe.
It's awful jolly fun to see them hopping about after their heads are cut off."
"Then I'll have peas and beans and creamed potatoes and a lettuce salad, for
vegetables," resumed Anne, "and for dessert, lemon pie with whipped cream, and
coffee and cheese and lady fingers.
I'll make the pies and lady fingers tomorrow and do up my white muslin dress.
And I must tell Diana tonight, for she'll want to do up hers.
Mrs. Morgan's heroines are nearly always dressed in white muslin, and Diana and I
have always resolved that that was what we would wear if we ever met her.
It will be such a delicate compliment, don't you think?
Davy, dear, you mustn't poke peapods into the cracks of the floor.
I must ask Mr. and Mrs. Allan and Miss Stacy to dinner, too, for they're all very
anxious to meet Mrs. Morgan. It's so fortunate she's coming while Miss
Stacy is here.
Davy dear, don't sail the peapods in the water bucket...go out to the trough.
Oh, I do hope it will be fine Thursday, and I think it will, for Uncle Abe said last
night when he called at Mr. Harrison's, that it was going to rain most of this
week."
"That's a good sign," agreed Marilla.
Anne ran across to Orchard Slope that evening to tell the news to Diana, who was
also very much excited over it, and they discussed the matter in the hammock swung
under the big willow in the Barry garden.
"Oh, Anne, mayn't I help you cook the dinner?" implored Diana.
"You know I can make splendid lettuce salad."
"Indeed you, may" said Anne unselfishly.
"And I shall want you to help me decorate too.
I mean to have the parlor simply a BOWER of blossoms ...and the dining table is to be
adorned with wild roses.
Oh, I do hope everything will go smoothly. Mrs. Morgan's heroines NEVER get into
scrapes or are taken at a disadvantage, and they are always so selfpossessed and such
good housekeepers.
They seem to be BORN good housekeepers. You remember that Gertrude in 'Edgewood
Days' kept house for her father when she was only eight years old.
When I was eight years old I hardly knew how to do a thing except bring up children.
Mrs. Morgan must be an authority on girls when she has written so much about them,
and I do want her to have a good opinion of us.
I've imagined it all out a dozen different ways...what she'll look like, and what
she'll say, and what I'll say. And I'm so anxious about my nose.
There are seven freckles on it, as you can see.
They came at the A.V.I S. picnic, when I went around in the sun without my hat.
I suppose it's ungrateful of me to worry over them, when I should be thankful
they're not spread all over my face as they once were; but I do wish they hadn't
come...all Mrs. Morgan's heroines have such perfect complexions.
I can't recall a freckled one among them." "Yours are not very noticeable," comforted
Diana.
"Try a little lemon juice on them tonight."
The next day Anne made her pies and lady fingers, did up her muslin dress, and swept
and dusted every room in the house...a quite unnecessary proceeding, for Green
Gables was, as usual, in the apple pie order dear to Marilla's heart.
But Anne felt that a fleck of dust would be a desecration in a house that was to be
honored by a visit from Charlotte E. Morgan.
She even cleaned out the "catch-all" closet under the stairs, although there was not
the remotest possibility of Mrs. Morgan's seeing its interior.
"But I want to FEEL that it is in perfect order, even if she isn't to see it," Anne
told Marilla.
"You know, in her book 'Golden Keys,' she makes her two heroines Alice and Louisa
take for their motto that verse of Longfellow's,
'In the elder days of art Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part, For the gods see everywhere,'
and so they always kept their cellar stairs scrubbed and never forgot to sweep under
the beds.
I should have a guilty conscience if I thought this closet was in disorder when
Mrs. Morgan was in the house.
Ever since we read 'Golden Keys,' last April, Diana and I have taken that verse
for our motto too."
That night John Henry Carter and Davy between them contrived to execute the two
white roosters, and Anne dressed them, the usually distasteful task glorified in her
eyes by the destination of the plump birds.
"I don't like picking fowls," she told Marilla, "but isn't it fortunate we don't
have to put our souls into what our hands may be doing?
I've been picking chickens with my hands but in imagination I've been roaming the
Milky Way."
"I thought you'd scattered more feathers over the floor than usual," remarked
Marilla.
Then Anne put Davy to bed and made him promise that he would behave perfectly the
next day.
"If I'm as good as good can be all day tomorrow will you let me be just as bad as
I like all the next day?" asked Davy.
"I couldn't do that," said Anne discreetly, "but I'll take you and Dora for a row in
the flat right to the bottom of the pond, and we'll go ashore on the sandhills and
have a picnic."
"It's a bargain," said Davy. "I'll be good, you bet.
I meant to go over to Mr. Harrison's and fire peas from my new popgun at Ginger but
another day'll do as well.
I espect it will be just like Sunday, but a picnic at the shore'll make up for THAT."
CHAPTER XVII A Chapter of Accidents
Anne woke three times in the night and made pilgrimages to her window to make sure that
Uncle Abe's prediction was not coming true.
Finally the morning dawned pearly and lustrous in a sky full of silver sheen and
radiance, and the wonderful day had arrived.
Diana appeared soon after breakfast, with a basket of flowers over one arm and HER
muslin dress over the other...for it would not do to don it until all the dinner
preparations were completed.
Meanwhile she wore her afternoon pink print and a lawn apron fearfully and wonderfully
ruffled and frilled; and very neat and pretty and rosy she was.
"You look simply sweet," said Anne admiringly.
Diana sighed. "But I've had to let out every one of my
dresses AGAIN.
I weigh four pounds more than I did in July.
Anne, WHERE will this end? Mrs. Morgan's heroines are all tall and
slender."
"Well, let's forget our troubles and think of our mercies," said Anne gaily.
"Mrs. Allan says that whenever we think of anything that is a trial to us we should
also think of something nice that we can set over against it.
If you are slightly too plump you've got the dearest dimples; and if I have a
freckled nose the SHAPE of it is all right. Do you think the lemon juice did any good?"
"Yes, I really think it did," said Diana critically; and, much elated, Anne led the
way to the garden, which was full of airy shadows and wavering golden lights.
"We'll decorate the parlor first.
We have plenty of time, for Priscilla said they'd be here about twelve or half past at
the latest, so we'll have dinner at one."
There may have been two happier and more excited girls somewhere in Canada or the
United States at that moment, but I doubt it.
Every snip of the scissors, as rose and peony and bluebell fell, seemed to chirp,
"Mrs. Morgan is coming today."
Anne wondered how Mr. Harrison COULD go on placidly mowing hay in the field across the
lane, just as if nothing were going to happen.
The parlor at Green Gables was a rather severe and gloomy apartment, with rigid
horsehair furniture, stiff lace curtains, and white antimacassars that were always
laid at a perfectly correct angle, except
at such times as they clung to unfortunate people's buttons.
Even Anne had never been able to infuse much grace into it, for Marilla would not
permit any alterations.
But it is wonderful what flowers can accomplish if you give them a fair chance;
when Anne and Diana finished with the room you would not have recognized it.
A great blue bowlful of snowballs overflowed on the polished table.
The shining black mantelpiece was heaped with roses and ferns.
Every shelf of the what-not held a sheaf of bluebells; the dark corners on either side
of the grate were lighted up with jars full of glowing crimson peonies, and the grate
itself was aflame with yellow poppies.
All this splendor and color, mingled with the sunshine falling through the
honeysuckle vines at the windows in a leafy riot of dancing shadows over walls and
floor, made of the usually dismal little
room the veritable "bower" of Anne's imagination, and even extorted a tribute of
admiration from Marilla, who came in to criticize and remained to praise.
"Now, we must set the table," said Anne, in the tone of a priestess about to perform
some sacred rite in honor of a divinity.
"We'll have a big vaseful of wild roses in the center and one single rose in front of
everybody's plate--and a special bouquet of rosebuds only by Mrs. Morgan's--an allusion
to 'The Rosebud Garden' you know."
The table was set in the sitting room, with Marilla's finest linen and the best china,
glass, and silver.
You may be perfectly certain that every article placed on it was polished or
scoured to the highest possible perfection of gloss and glitter.
Then the girls tripped out to the kitchen, which was filled with appetizing odors
emanating from the oven, where the chickens were already sizzling splendidly.
Anne prepared the potatoes and Diana got the peas and beans ready.
Then, while Diana shut herself into the pantry to compound the lettuce salad, Anne,
whose cheeks were already beginning to glow crimson, as much with excitement as from
the heat of the fire, prepared the bread
sauce for the chickens, minced her onions for the soup, and finally whipped the cream
for her lemon pies. And what about Davy all this time?
Was he redeeming his promise to be good?
He was, indeed. To be sure, he insisted on remaining in the
kitchen, for his curiosity wanted to see all that went on.
But as he sat quietly in a corner, busily engaged in untying the knots in a piece of
herring net he had brought home from his last trip to the shore, nobody objected to
this.
At half past eleven the lettuce salad was made, the golden circles of the pies were
heaped with whipped cream, and everything was sizzling and bubbling that ought to
sizzle and bubble.
"We'd better go and dress now," said Anne, "for they may be here by twelve.
We must have dinner at sharp one, for the soup must be served as soon as it's done."
Serious indeed were the toilet rites presently performed in the east gable.
Anne peered anxiously at her nose and rejoiced to see that its freckles were not
at all prominent, thanks either to the lemon juice or to the unusual flush on her
cheeks.
When they were ready they looked quite as sweet and trim and girlish as ever did any
of "Mrs. Morgan's heroines."
"I do hope I'll be able to say something once in a while, and not sit like a mute,"
said Diana anxiously. "All Mrs. Morgan's heroines converse so
beautifully.
But I'm afraid I'll be tongue-tied and stupid.
And I'll be sure to say 'I seen.'
I haven't often said it since Miss Stacy taught here; but in moments of excitement
it's sure to pop out. Anne, if I were to say 'I seen' before Mrs.
Morgan I'd die of mortification.
And it would be almost as bad to have nothing to say."
"I'm nervous about a good many things," said Anne, "but I don't think there is much
fear that I won't be able to talk."
And, to do her justice, there wasn't. Anne shrouded her muslin glories in a big
apron and went down to concoct her soup.
Marilla had dressed herself and the twins, and looked more excited than she had ever
been known to look before. At half past twelve the Allans and Miss
Stacy came.
Everything was going well but Anne was beginning to feel nervous.
It was surely time for Priscilla and Mrs. Morgan to arrive.
She made frequent trips to the gate and looked as anxiously down the lane as ever
her namesake in the Bluebeard story peered from the tower casement.
"Suppose they don't come at all?" she said piteously.
"Don't suppose it.
It would be too mean," said Diana, who, however, was beginning to have
uncomfortable misgivings on the subject.
"Anne," said Marilla, coming out from the parlor, "Miss Stacy wants to see Miss
Barry's willowware platter." Anne hastened to the sitting room closet to
get the platter.
She had, in accordance with her promise to Mrs. Lynde, written to Miss Barry of
Charlottetown, asking for the loan of it.
Miss Barry was an old friend of Anne's, and she promptly sent the platter out, with a
letter exhorting Anne to be very careful of it, for she had paid twenty dollars for it.
The platter had served its purpose at the Aid bazaar and had then been returned to
the Green Gables closet, for Anne would not trust anybody but herself to take it back
to town.
She carried the platter carefully to the front door where her guests were enjoying
the cool breeze that blew up from the brook.
It was examined and admired; then, just as Anne had taken it back into her own hands,
a terrific crash and clatter sounded from the kitchen pantry.
Marilla, Diana, and Anne fled out, the latter pausing only long enough to set the
precious platter hastily down on the second step of the stairs.
When they reached the pantry a truly harrowing spectacle met their eyes ...a
guilty looking small boy scrambling down from the table, with his clean print blouse
liberally plastered with yellow filling,
and on the table the shattered remnants of what had been two brave, becreamed lemon
pies. Davy had finished ravelling out his herring
net and had wound the twine into a ball.
Then he had gone into the pantry to put it up on the shelf above the table, where he
already kept a score or so of similar balls, which, so far as could be
discovered, served no useful purpose save to yield the joy of possession.
Davy had to climb on the table and reach over to the shelf at a dangerous
angle...something he had been forbidden by Marilla to do, as he had come to grief once
before in the experiment.
The result in this instance was disastrous. Davy slipped and came sprawling squarely
down on the lemon pies. His clean blouse was ruined for that time
and the pies for all time.
It is, however, an ill wind that blows nobody good, and the pig was eventually the
gainer by Davy's mischance.
"Davy Keith," said Marilla, shaking him by the shoulder, "didn't I forbid you to climb
up on that table again? Didn't I?"
"I forgot," whimpered Davy.
"You've told me not to do such an awful lot of things that I can't remember them all."
"Well, you march upstairs and stay there till after dinner.
Perhaps you'll get them sorted out in your memory by that time.
No, Anne, never you mind interceding for him.
I'm not punishing him because he spoiled your pies...that was an accident.
I'm punishing him for his disobedience. Go, Davy, I say."
"Ain't I to have any dinner?" wailed Davy.
"You can come down after dinner is over and have yours in the kitchen."
"Oh, all right," said Davy, somewhat comforted.
"I know Anne'll save some nice bones for me, won't you, Anne?
'Cause you know I didn't mean to fall on the pies.
Say, Anne, since they ARE spoiled can't I take some of the pieces upstairs with me?"
"No, no lemon pie for you, Master Davy," said Marilla, pushing him toward the hall.
"What shall we do for dessert?" asked Anne, looking regretfully at the wreck and ruin.
"Get out a crock of strawberry preserves," said Marilla consolingly.
"There's plenty of whipped cream left in the bowl for it."
One o'clock came...but no Priscilla or Mrs. Morgan.
Anne was in an agony.
Everything was done to a turn and the soup was just what soup should be, but couldn't
be depended on to remain so for any length of time.
"I don't believe they're coming after all," said Marilla crossly.
Anne and Diana sought comfort in each other's eyes.
At half past one Marilla again emerged from the parlor.
"Girls, we MUST have dinner. Everybody is hungry and it's no use waiting
any longer.
Priscilla and Mrs. Morgan are not coming, that's plain, and nothing is being improved
by waiting."
Anne and Diana set about lifting the dinner, with all the zest gone out of the
performance. "I don't believe I'll be able to eat a
mouthful," said Diana dolefully.
"Nor I. But I hope everything will be nice for Miss
Stacy's and Mr. and Mrs. Allan's sakes," said Anne listlessly.
When Diana dished the peas she tasted them and a very peculiar expression crossed her
face. "Anne, did YOU put sugar in these peas?"
"Yes," said Anne, mashing the potatoes with the air of one expected to do her duty.
"I put a spoonful of sugar in. We always do.
Don't you like it?"
"But I put a spoonful in too, when I set them on the stove," said Diana.
Anne dropped her masher and tasted the peas also.
Then she made a grimace.
"How awful! I never dreamed you had put sugar in,
because I knew your mother never does. I happened to think of it, for a wonder...
I'm always forgetting it...so I popped a spoonful in."
"It's a case of too many cooks, I guess," said Marilla, who had listened to this
dialogue with a rather guilty expression.
"I didn't think you'd remember about the sugar, Anne, for I'm perfectly certain you
never did before...so I put in a spoonful."
The guests in the parlor heard peal after peal of laughter from the kitchen, but they
never knew what the fun was about. There were no green peas on the dinner
table that day, however.
"Well," said Anne, sobering down again with a sigh of recollection, "we have the salad
anyhow and I don't think anything has happened to the beans.
Let's carry the things in and get it over."
It cannot be said that that dinner was a notable success socially.
The Allans and Miss Stacy exerted themselves to save the situation and
Marilla's customary placidity was not noticeably ruffled.
But Anne and Diana, between their disappointment and the reaction from their
excitement of the forenoon, could neither talk nor eat.
Anne tried heroically to bear her part in the conversation for the sake of her
guests; but all the sparkle had been quenched in her for the time being, and, in
spite of her love for the Allans and Miss
Stacy, she couldn't help thinking how nice it would be when everybody had gone home
and she could bury her weariness and disappointment in the pillows of the east
gable.
There is an old proverb that really seems at times to be inspired ...
"it never rains but it pours." The measure of that day's tribulations was
not yet full.
Just as Mr. Allan had finished returning thanks there arose a strange, ominous sound
on the stairs, as of some hard, heavy object bounding from step to step,
finishing up with a grand smash at the bottom.
Everybody ran out into the hall. Anne gave a shriek of dismay.
At the bottom of the stairs lay a big pink conch shell amid the fragments of what had
been Miss Barry's platter; and at the top of the stairs knelt a terrified Davy,
gazing down with wide-open eyes at the havoc.
"Davy," said Marilla ominously, "did you throw that conch down ON PURPOSE?"
"No, I never did," whimpered Davy.
"I was just kneeling here, quiet as quiet, to watch you folks through the bannisters,
and my foot struck that old thing and pushed it off...and I'm awful hungry...and
I do wish you'd lick a fellow and have done
with it, instead of always sending him upstairs to miss all the fun."
"Don't blame Davy," said Anne, gathering up the fragments with trembling fingers.
"It was my fault.
I set that platter there and forgot all about it.
I am properly punished for my carelessness; but oh, what will Miss Barry say?"
"Well, you know she only bought it, so it isn't the same as if it was an heirloom,"
said Diana, trying to console.
The guests went away soon after, feeling that it was the most tactful thing to do,
and Anne and Diana washed the dishes, talking less than they had ever been known
to do before.
Then Diana went home with a headache and Anne went with another to the east gable,
where she stayed until Marilla came home from the post office at sunset, with a
letter from Priscilla, written the day before.
Mrs. Morgan had sprained her ankle so severely that she could not leave her room.
"And oh, Anne dear," wrote Priscilla, "I'm so sorry, but I'm afraid we won't get up to
Green Gables at all now, for by the time Aunty's ankle is well she will have to go
back to Toronto.
She has to be there by a certain date."
"Well," sighed Anne, laying the letter down on the red sandstone step of the back
porch, where she was sitting, while the twilight rained down 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'm
ashamed of making it.
After all, it was NOT too good to be true...things just as good and far better
are coming true for me all the time. And I suppose the events of today have a
funny side too.
Perhaps when Diana and I are old and gray we shall be able to laugh over them.
But I feel that I can't expect to do it before then, for it has truly been a bitter
disappointment."
"You'll probably have a good many more and worse disappointments than that before you
get through life," said Marilla, who honestly thought she was making a
comforting speech.
"It seems to me, Anne, that you are never going to outgrow your fashion of setting
your heart so on things and then crashing down into despair because you don't get
them."
"I know I'm too much inclined that, way" agreed Anne ruefully.
"When I think something nice is going to happen I seem to fly right up on the wings
of anticipation; and then the first thing I realize I drop down to earth with a thud.
But really, Marilla, the flying part IS glorious as long as it lasts...it's like
soaring through a sunset. I think it almost pays for the thud."
"Well, maybe it does," admitted Marilla.
"I'd rather walk calmly along and do without both flying and thud.
But everybody has her own way of living...I used to think there was only one right way
...but since I've had you and the twins to bring up I don't feel so sure of it.
What are you going to do about Miss Barry's platter?"
"Pay her back the twenty dollars she paid for it, I suppose.
I'm so thankful it wasn't a cherished heirloom because then no money could
replace it." "Maybe you could find one like it somewhere
and buy it for her."
"I'm afraid not. Platters as old as that are very scarce.
Mrs. Lynde couldn't find one anywhere for the supper.
I only wish I could, for of course Miss Barry would just as soon have one platter
as another, if both were equally old and genuine.
Marilla, look at that big star over Mr. Harrison's maple grove, with all that holy
hush of silvery sky about it. It gives me a feeling that is like a
prayer.
After all, when one can see stars and skies like that, little disappointments and
accidents can't matter so much, can they?" "Where's Davy?" said Marilla, with an
indifferent glance at the star.
"In bed. I've promised to take him and Dora to the
shore for a picnic tomorrow. Of course, the original agreement was that
he must be good.
But he TRIED to be good...and I hadn't the heart to disappoint him."
"You'll drown yourself or the twins, rowing about the pond in that flat," grumbled
Marilla.
"I've lived here for sixty years and I've never been on the pond yet."
"Well, it's never too late to mend," said Anne roguishly.
"Suppose you come with us tomorrow.
We'll shut Green Gables up and spend the whole day at the shore, daffing the world
aside." "No, thank you," said Marilla, with
indignant emphasis.
"I'd be a nice sight, wouldn't I, rowing down the pond in a flat?
I think I hear Rachel pronouncing on it. There's Mr. Harrison driving away
somewhere.
Do you suppose there is any truth in the gossip that Mr. Harrison is going to see
Isabella Andrews?" "No, I'm sure there isn't.
He just called there one evening on business with Mr. Harmon Andrews and Mrs.
Lynde saw him and said she knew he was courting because he had a white collar on.
I don't believe Mr. Harrison will ever marry.
He seems to have a prejudice against marriage."
"Well, you can never tell about those old bachelors.
And if he had a white collar on I'd agree with Rachel that it looks suspicious, for
I'm sure he never was seen with one before."
"I think he only put it on because he wanted to conclude a business deal with
Harmon Andrews," said Anne.
"I've heard him say that's the only time a man needs to be particular about his
appearance, because if he looks prosperous the party of the second part won't be so
likely to try to cheat him.
I really feel sorry for Mr. Harrison; I don't believe he feels satisfied with his
life.
It must be very lonely to have no one to care about except a parrot, don't you
think? But I notice Mr. Harrison doesn't like to
be pitied.
Nobody does, I imagine." "There's Gilbert coming up the lane," said
Marilla. "If he wants you to go for a row on the
pond mind you put on your coat and rubbers.
There's a heavy dew tonight."
CHAPTER XVIII An Adventure on the Tory Road
"Anne," said Davy, sitting up in bed and propping his chin on his hands, "Anne,
where is sleep?
People go to sleep every night, and of course I know it's the place where I do the
things I dream, but I want to know WHERE it is and how I get there and back without
knowing anything about it...and in my nighty too.
Where is it?"
Anne was kneeling at the west gable window watching the sunset sky that was like a
great flower with petals of crocus and a heart of fiery yellow.
She turned her head at Davy's question and answered dreamily,
"'Over the mountains of the moon, Down the valley of the shadow.'"
Paul Irving would have known the meaning of this, or made a meaning out of it for
himself, if he didn't; but practical Davy, who, as Anne often despairingly remarked,
hadn't a particle of imagination, was only puzzled and disgusted.
"Anne, I believe you're just talking nonsense."
"Of course, I was, dear boy.
Don't you know that it is only very foolish folk who talk sense all the time?"
"Well, I think you might give a sensible answer when I ask a sensible question,"
said Davy in an injured tone.
"Oh, you are too little to understand," said Anne.
But she felt rather ashamed of saying it; for had she not, in keen remembrance of
many similar snubs administered in her own early years, solemnly vowed that she would
never tell any child it was too little to understand?
Yet here she was doing it...so wide sometimes is the gulf between theory and
practice.
"Well, I'm doing my best to grow," said Davy, "but it's a thing you can't hurry
much. If Marilla wasn't so stingy with her jam I
believe I'd grow a lot faster."
"Marilla is not stingy, Davy," said Anne severely.
"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 I don't
just remember it," said Davy, frowning intently.
"I heard Marilla say she was it, herself, the other day."
"If you mean ECONOMICAL, it's a VERY different thing from being stingy.
It is an excellent trait in a person if she is economical.
If Marilla had been stingy she wouldn't have taken you and Dora when your mother
died.
Would you have liked to live with Mrs. Wiggins?"
"You just bet I wouldn't!" Davy was emphatic on that point.
"Nor I don't want to go out to Uncle Richard neither.
I'd far rather live here, even if Marilla is that long-tailed word when it comes to
jam, 'cause YOU'RE here, Anne.
Say, Anne, won't you tell me a story 'fore I go to sleep?
I don't want a fairy story.
They're all right for girls, I s'pose, but I want something exciting...lots of killing
and shooting in it, and a house on fire, and in'trusting things like that."
Fortunately for Anne, Marilla called out at this moment from her room.
"Anne, Diana's signaling at a great rate. You'd better see what she wants."
Anne ran to the east gable and saw flashes of light coming through the twilight from
Diana's window in groups of five, which meant, according to their old childish
code, "Come over at once for I have something important to reveal."
Anne threw her white shawl over her head and hastened through the Haunted Wood and
across Mr. Bell's pasture corner to Orchard Slope.
"I've good news for you, Anne," said Diana.
"Mother and I have just got home from Carmody, and I saw Mary Sentner from
Spencer vale in Mr. Blair's store.
She says the old Copp girls on the Tory Road have a willow-ware platter and she
thinks it's exactly like the one we had at the supper.
She says they'll likely sell it, for Martha Copp has never been known to keep anything
she COULD sell; but if they won't there's a platter at Wesley Keyson's at Spencervale
and she knows they'd sell it, but she isn't
sure it's just the same kind as Aunt Josephine's."
"I'll go right over to Spencervale after it tomorrow," said Anne resolutely, "and you
must come with me.
It will be such a weight off my mind, for I have to go to town day after tomorrow and
how can I face your Aunt Josephine without a willow-ware platter?
It would be even worse than the time I had to confess about jumping on the spare room
bed."
Both girls laughed over the old memory...concerning which, if any of my
readers are ignorant and curious, I must refer them to Anne's earlier history.
The next afternoon the girls fared forth on their platter hunting expedition.
It was ten miles to Spencervale and the day was not especially pleasant for traveling.
It was very warm and windless, and the dust on the road was such as might have been
expected after six weeks of dry weather. "Oh, I do wish it would rain soon," sighed
Anne.
"Everything is so parched up. The poor fields just seem pitiful to me and
the trees seem to be stretching out their hands pleading for rain.
As for my garden, it hurts me every time I go into it.
I suppose I shouldn't complain about a garden when the farmers' crops are
suffering so.
Mr. Harrison says his pastures are so scorched up that his poor cows can hardly
get a bite to eat and he feels guilty of cruelty to animals every time he meets
their eyes."
After a wearisome drive the girls reached Spencervale and turned down the "Tory"
Road...a green, solitary highway where the strips of grass between the wheel tracks
bore evidence to lack of travel.
Along most of its extent it was lined with thick-set young spruces crowding down to
the roadway, with here and there a break where the back field of a Spencervale farm
came out to the fence or an expanse of
stumps was aflame with fireweed and goldenrod.
"Why is it called the Tory Road?" asked Anne.
"Mr. Allan says it is on the principle of calling a place a grove because there are
no trees in it," said Diana, "for nobody lives along the road except the Copp girls
and old Martin Bovyer at the further end, who is a Liberal.
The Tory government ran the road through when they were in power just to show they
were doing something."
Diana's father was a Liberal, for which reason she and Anne never discussed
politics. Green Gables folk had always been
Conservatives.
Finally the girls came to the old Copp homestead...a place of such exceeding
external neatness that even Green Gables would have suffered by contrast.
The house was a very old-fashioned one, situated on a slope, which fact had
necessitated the building of a stone basement under one end.
The house and out-buildings were all whitewashed to a condition of blinding
perfection and not a weed was visible in the prim kitchen garden surrounded by its
white paling.
"The shades are all down," said Diana ruefully.
"I believe that nobody is home." This proved to be the case.
The girls looked at each other in perplexity.
"I don't know what to do," said Anne.
"If I were sure the platter was the right kind I would not mind waiting until they
came home. But if it isn't it may be too late to go to
Wesley Keyson's afterward."
Diana looked at a certain little square window over the basement.
"That is the pantry window, I feel sure," she said, "because this house is just like
Uncle Charles' at Newbridge, and that is their pantry window.
The shade isn't down, so if we climbed up on the roof of that little house we could
look into the pantry and might be able to see the platter.
Do you think it would be any harm?"
"No, I don't think so," decided Anne, after due reflection, "since our motive is not
idle curiosity."
This important point of ethics being settled, Anne prepared to mount the
aforesaid "little house," a construction of lathes, with a peaked roof, which had in
times past served as a habitation for ducks.
The Copp girls had given up keeping ducks..."because they were such untidy
birds"...and the house had not been in use for some years, save as an abode of
correction for setting hens.
Although scrupulously whitewashed it had become somewhat shaky, and Anne felt rather
dubious as she scrambled up from the vantage point of a keg placed on a box.
"I'm afraid it won't bear my weight," she said as she gingerly stepped on the roof.
"Lean on the window sill," advised Diana, and Anne accordingly leaned.
Much to her delight, she saw, as she peered through the pane, a willow-ware platter,
exactly such as she was in quest of, on the shelf in front of the window.
So much she saw before the catastrophe came.
In her joy Anne forgot the precarious nature of her footing, incautiously ceased
to lean on the window sill, gave an impulsive little hop of pleasure...and the
next moment she had crashed through the
roof up to her armpits, and there she hung, quite unable to extricate herself.
Diana dashed into the duck house and, seizing her unfortunate friend by the
waist, tried to draw her down.
"Ow...don't," shrieked poor Anne. "There are some long splinters sticking
into me. See if you can put something under my
feet...then perhaps I can draw myself up."
Diana hastily dragged in the previously mentioned keg and Anne found that it was
just sufficiently high to furnish a secure resting place for her feet.
But she could not release herself.
"Could I pull you out if I crawled up?" suggested Diana.
Anne shook her head hopelessly. "No...the splinters hurt too badly.
If you can find an axe you might chop me out, though.
Oh dear, I do really begin to believe that I was born under an ill-omened star."
Diana searched faithfully but no axe was to be found.
"I'll have to go for help," she said, returning to the prisoner.
"No, indeed, you won't," said Anne vehemently.
"If you do the story of this will get out everywhere and I shall be ashamed to show
my face.
No, we must just wait until the Copp girls come home and bind them to secrecy.
They'll know where the axe is and get me out.
I'm not uncomfortable, as long as I keep perfectly still... not uncomfortable in
BODY I mean. I wonder what the Copp girls value this
house at.
I shall have to pay for the damage I've done, but I wouldn't mind that if I were
only sure they would understand my motive in peeping in at their pantry window.
My sole comfort is that the platter is just the kind I want and if Miss Copp will only
sell it to me I shall be resigned to what has happened."
"What if the Copp girls don't come home until after night...or till tomorrow?"
suggested Diana.
"If they're not back by sunset you'll have to go for other assistance, I suppose,"
said Anne reluctantly, "but you mustn't go until you really have to.
Oh dear, this is a dreadful predicament.
I wouldn't mind my misfortunes so much if they were romantic, as Mrs. Morgan's
heroines' always are, but they are always just simply ridiculous.
Fancy 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 outhouses.
Listen...is that a wagon?
No, Diana, I believe it is thunder."
Thunder it was undoubtedly, and Diana, having made a hasty pilgrimage around the
house, returned to announce that a very black cloud was rising rapidly in the
northwest.
"I believe we're going to have a heavy thunder-shower," she exclaimed in dismay,
"Oh, Anne, what will we do?" "We must prepare for it," said Anne
tranquilly.
A thunderstorm seemed a trifle in comparison with what had already happened.
"You'd better drive the horse and buggy into that open shed.
Fortunately 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 come to the Tory Road and she was right, as she always is."
Diana untied the pony and drove into the shed, just as the first heavy drops of rain
fell.
There she sat and watched the resulting downpour, which was so thick and heavy that
she could hardly see Anne through it, holding the parasol bravely over her bare
head.
There was not a great deal of thunder, but for the best part of an hour the rain came
merrily down.
Occasionally Anne slanted back her parasol and waved an encouraging hand to her
friend; But conversation at that distance was quite out of the question.
Finally the rain ceased, the sun came out, and Diana ventured across the puddles of
the yard. "Did you get very wet?" she asked
anxiously.
"Oh, no," returned Anne cheerfully. "My head and shoulders are quite dry and my
skirt is only a little damp where the rain beat through the lathes.
Don't pity me, Diana, for I haven't minded it at all.
I kept thinking how much good the rain will do and how glad my garden must be for it,
and imagining what the flowers and buds would think when the drops began to fall.
I imagined out 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 mean to write it down.
I wish I had a pencil and paper to do it now, because I daresay I'll forget the best
parts before I reach home."
Diana the faithful had a pencil and discovered a sheet of wrapping paper in the
box of the buggy.
Anne folded up her dripping parasol, put on her hat, spread the wrapping paper on a
shingle Diana handed up, and wrote out her garden idyl under conditions that could
hardly be considered as favorable to literature.
Nevertheless, the result was quite pretty, and Diana was "enraptured" when Anne read
it to her.
"Oh, Anne, it's sweet...just sweet. DO send it to the 'Canadian Woman.'"
Anne shook her head. "Oh, no, it wouldn't be suitable at all.
There is no PLOT in it, you see.
It's just a string of fancies. I like writing such things, but of course
nothing of the sort would ever do for publication, for editors insist on plots,
so Priscilla says.
Oh, there's Miss Sarah Copp now. PLEASE, Diana, go and explain."
Miss Sarah Copp was a small person, garbed in shabby black, with a hat chosen less for
vain adornment than for qualities that would wear well.
She looked as amazed as might be expected on seeing the curious tableau in her yard,
but when she heard Diana's explanation she was all sympathy.
She hurriedly unlocked the back door, produced the axe, and with a few skillfull
blows set Anne free.
The latter, somewhat tired and stiff, ducked down into the interior of her prison
and thankfully emerged into liberty once more.
"Miss Copp," she said earnestly.
"I assure you I looked into your pantry window only to discover if you had a
willow-ware platter. I didn't see anything else--I didn't LOOK
for anything else."
"Bless you, that's all right," said Miss Sarah amiably.
"You needn't worry--there's no harm done.
Thank goodness, we Copps keep our pantries presentable at all times and don't care who
sees into them.
As for that old duckhouse, I'm glad it's smashed, for maybe now Martha will agree to
having it taken down.
She never would before for fear it might come in handy sometime and I've had to
whitewash it every spring. But you might as well argue with a post as
with Martha.
She went to town today--I drove her to the station.
And you want to buy my platter. Well, what will you give for it?"
"Twenty dollars," said Anne, who was never meant to match business wits with a Copp,
or she would not have offered her price at the start.
"Well, I'll see," said Miss Sarah cautiously.
"That platter is mine fortunately, or I'd never dare to sell it when Martha wasn't
here.
As it is, I daresay she'll raise a fuss. Martha's the boss of this establishment I
can tell you. I'm getting awful tired of living under
another woman's thumb.
But come in, come in. You must be real tired and hungry.
I'll do the best I can for you in the way of tea but I warn you not to expect
anything but bread and butter and some cowcumbers.
Martha locked up all the cake and cheese and preserves afore she went.
She always does, because she says I'm too extravagant with them if company comes."
The girls were hungry enough to do justice to any fare, and they enjoyed Miss Sarah's
excellent bread and butter and "cowcumbers" thoroughly.
When the meal was over Miss Sarah said,
"I don't know as I mind selling the platter.
But it's worth twenty-five dollars. It's a very old platter."
Diana gave Anne's foot a gentle kick under the table, meaning, "Don't agree--she'll
let it go for twenty if you hold out." But Anne was not minded to take any chances
in regard to that precious platter.
She promptly agreed to give twenty-five and Miss Sarah looked as if she felt sorry she
hadn't asked for thirty. "Well, I guess you may have it.
I want all the money I can scare up just now.
The fact is--" Miss Sarah threw up her head importantly, with a proud flush on her thin
cheeks--"I'm going to be married--to Luther Wallace.
He wanted me twenty years ago.
I liked him real well but he was poor then and father packed him off.
I s'pose I shouldn't have let him go so meek but I was timid and frightened of
father.
Besides, I didn't know men were so skurse."
When the girls were safely away, Diana driving and Anne holding the coveted
platter carefully on her lap, the green, rain-freshened solitudes of the Tory Road
were enlivened by ripples of girlish laughter.
"I'll amuse your Aunt Josephine with the 'strange eventful history' of this
afternoon when I go to town tomorrow.
We've had a rather trying time but it's over now.
I've got the platter, and that rain has laid the dust beautifully.
So 'all's well that ends well.'"
"We're not home yet," said Diana rather pessimistically, "and there's no telling
what may happen before we are. You're such a girl to have adventures,
Anne."
"Having adventures comes natural to some people," said Anne serenely.
"You just have a gift for them or you haven't."
CHAPTER XIX Just a Happy Day
"After all," Anne had said to Marilla once, "I believe the nicest and sweetest days are
not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just
those that bring simple little pleasures,
following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string."
Life at Green Gables was full of just such days, for Anne's adventures and
misadventures, like those of other people, did not all happen at once, but were
sprinkled over the year, with long
stretches of harmless, happy days between, filled with work and dreams and laughter
and lessons. Such a day came late in August.
In the forenoon Anne and Diana rowed the delighted twins down the pond to the
sandshore to pick "sweet grass" and paddle in the surf, over which the wind was
harping an old lyric learned when the world was young.
In the afternoon Anne walked down to the old Irving place to see Paul.
She found him stretched out on the grassy bank beside the thick fir grove that
sheltered the house on the north, absorbed in a book of fairy tales.
He sprang up radiantly at sight of her.
"Oh, I'm so glad you've come, teacher," he said eagerly, "because Grandma's away.
You'll stay and have tea with me, won't you?
It's so lonesome to have tea all by oneself.
YOU know, teacher.
I've had serious thoughts of asking Young Mary Joe to sit down and eat her tea with
me, but I expect Grandma wouldn't approve. She says the French have to be kept in
their place.
And anyhow, it's difficult to talk with Young Mary Joe.
She just laughs and says, 'Well, yous do beat all de kids I ever knowed.'
That isn't my idea of conversation."
"Of course I'll stay to tea," said Anne gaily.
"I was dying to be asked.
My mouth has been watering for some more of your grandma's delicious shortbread ever
since I had tea here before." Paul looked very sober.
"If it depended on me, teacher," he said, standing before Anne with his hands in his
pockets and his beautiful little face shadowed with sudden care, "You should have
shortbread with a right good will.
But it depends on Mary Joe. I heard Grandma tell her before she left
that she wasn't to give me any shortcake because it was too rich for little boys'
stomachs.
But maybe Mary Joe will cut some for you if I promise I won't eat any.
Let us hope for the best."
"Yes, let us," agreed Anne, whom this cheerful philosophy suited exactly, "and if
Mary Joe proves hard-hearted and won't give me any shortbread it doesn't matter in the
least, so you are not to worry over that."
"You're sure you won't mind if she doesn't?" said Paul anxiously.
"Perfectly sure, dear heart."
"Then I won't worry," said Paul, with a long breath of relief, "especially as I
really think Mary Joe will listen to reason.
She's not a naturally unreasonable person, but she has learned by experience that it
doesn't do to disobey Grandma's orders. Grandma is an excellent woman but people
must do as she tells them.
She was very much pleased with me this morning because I managed at last to eat
all my plateful of porridge. It was a great effort but I succeeded.
Grandma says she thinks she'll make a man of me yet.
But, teacher, I want to ask you a very important question.
You will answer it truthfully, won't you?"
"I'll try," promised Anne. "Do you think I'm wrong in my upper story?"
asked Paul, as if his very existence depended on her reply.
"Goodness, no, Paul," exclaimed Anne in amazement.
"Certainly you're not. What put such an idea into your head?"
"Mary Joe...but she didn't know I heard her.
Mrs. Peter Sloane's hired girl, Veronica, came to see Mary Joe last evening and I
heard them talking in the kitchen as I was going through the hall.
I heard Mary Joe say, 'Dat Paul, he is de queeres' leetle boy.
He talks dat queer. I tink dere's someting wrong in his upper
story.'
I couldn't sleep last night for ever so long, thinking of it, and wondering if Mary
Joe was right. I couldn't bear to ask Grandma about it
somehow, but I made up my mind I'd ask you.
I'm so glad you think I'm all right in my upper story."
"Of course you are.
Mary Joe is a silly, ignorant girl, and you are never to worry about anything she
says," said Anne indignantly, secretly resolving to give Mrs. Irving a discreet
hint as to the advisability of restraining Mary Joe's tongue.
"Well, that's a weight off my mind," said Paul.
"I'm perfectly happy now, teacher, thanks to you.
It wouldn't be nice to have something wrong in your upper story, would it, teacher?
I suppose the reason Mary Joe imagines I have is because I tell her what I think
about things sometimes."
"It is a rather dangerous practice," admitted Anne, out of the depths of her own
experience.
"Well, by and by I'll tell you the thoughts I told Mary Joe and you can see for
yourself if there's anything queer in them," said Paul, "but I'll wait till it
begins to get dark.
That is the time I ache to tell people things, and when nobody else is handy I
just HAVE to tell Mary Joe. But after this I won't, if it makes her
imagine I'm wrong in my upper story.
I'll just ache and bear it."
"And if the ache gets too bad you can come up to Green Gables and tell me your
thoughts," suggested Anne, with all the gravity that endeared her to children, who
so dearly love to be taken seriously.
"Yes, I will. But I hope Davy won't be there when I go
because he makes faces at me.
I don't mind VERY much because he is such a little boy and I am quite a big one, but
still it is not pleasant to have faces made at you.
And Davy makes such terrible ones.
Sometimes I am frightened he will never get his face straightened out again.
He makes them at me in church when I ought to be thinking of sacred things.
Dora likes me though, and I like her, but not so well as I did before she told Minnie
May Barry that she meant to marry me when I grew up.
I may marry somebody when I grow up but I'm far too young to be thinking of it yet,
don't you think, teacher?" "Rather young," agreed teacher.
"Speaking of marrying, reminds me of another thing that has been troubling me of
late," continued Paul.
"Mrs. Lynde was down here one day last week having tea with Grandma, and Grandma made
me show her my little mother's picture...the one father sent me for my
birthday present.
I didn't exactly want to show it to Mrs. Lynde.
Mrs. Lynde is a good, kind woman, but she isn't the sort of person you want to show
your mother's picture to.
YOU know, teacher. But of course I obeyed Grandma.
Mrs. Lynde said she was very pretty but kind of actressy looking, and must have
been an awful lot younger than father.
Then she said, 'Some of these days your pa will be marrying again likely.
How will you like to have a new ma, Master Paul?'
Well, the idea almost took my breath away, teacher, but I wasn't going to let Mrs.
Lynde see THAT.
I just looked her straight in the face...like this...and I said, 'Mrs. Lynde,
father made a pretty good job of picking out my first mother and I could trust him
to pick out just as good a one the second time.'
And I CAN trust him, teacher.
But still, I hope, if he ever does give me a new mother, he'll ask my opinion about
her before it's too late. There's Mary Joe coming to call us to tea.
I'll go and consult with her about the shortbread."
As a result of the "consultation," Mary Joe cut the shortbread and added a dish of
preserves to the bill of fare.
Anne poured the tea and she and Paul had a very merry meal in the dim old sitting room
whose windows were open to the gulf breezes, and they talked so much "nonsense"
that Mary Joe was quite scandalized and
told Veronica the next evening that "de school mees" was as queer as Paul.
After tea Paul took Anne up to his room to show her his mother's picture, which had
been the mysterious birthday present kept by Mrs. Irving in the bookcase.
Paul's little low-ceilinged room was a soft whirl of ruddy light from the sun that was
setting over the sea and swinging shadows from the fir trees that grew close to the
square, deep-set window.
From out this soft glow and glamor shone a sweet, girlish face, with tender mother
eyes, that was hanging on the wall at the foot of the bed.
"That's my little mother," said Paul with loving pride.
"I got Grandma to hang it there where I'd see it as soon as I opened my eyes in the
morning.
I never mind not having the light when I go to bed now, because it just seems as if my
little mother was right here with me.
Father knew just what I would like for a birthday present, although he never asked
me. Isn't it wonderful how much fathers DO
know?"
"Your mother was very lovely, Paul, and you look a little like her.
But her eyes and hair are darker than yours."
"My eyes are the same color as father's," said Paul, flying about the room to heap
all available cushions on the window seat, "but father's hair is gray.
He has lots of it, but it is gray.
You see, father is nearly fifty. That's ripe old age, isn't it?
But it's only OUTSIDE he's old. INSIDE he's just as young as anybody.
Now, teacher, please sit here; and I'll sit at your feet.
May I lay my head against your knee? That's the way my little mother and I used
to sit.
Oh, this is real splendid, I think." "Now, I want to hear those thoughts which
Mary Joe pronounces so queer," said Anne, patting the mop of curls at her side.
Paul never needed any coaxing to tell his thoughts...at least, to congenial souls.
"I thought them out in the fir grove one night," he said dreamily.
"Of course I didn't BELIEVE them but I THOUGHT them.
YOU know, teacher. And then I wanted to tell them to somebody
and there was nobody but Mary Joe.
Mary Joe was in the pantry setting bread and I sat down on the bench beside her and
I said, 'Mary Joe, do you know what I think?
I think the evening star is a lighthouse on the land where the fairies dwell.'
And Mary Joe said, 'Well, yous are de queer one.
Dare ain't no such ting as fairies.'
I was very much provoked. Of course, I knew there are no fairies; but
that needn't prevent my thinking there is. You know, teacher.
But I tried again quite patiently.
I said, 'Well then, Mary Joe, do you know what I think?
I think an angel walks over the world after the sun sets...a great, tall, white angel,
with silvery folded wings... and sings the flowers and birds to sleep.
Children can hear him if they know how to listen.'
Then Mary Joe held up her hands all over flour and said, 'Well, yous are de queer
leetle boy.
Yous make me feel scare.' And she really did looked scared.
I went out then and whispered the rest of my thoughts to the garden.
There was a little birch tree in the garden and it died.
Grandma says the salt spray killed it; but I think the dryad belonging to it was a
foolish dryad who wandered away to see the world and got lost.
And the little tree was so lonely it died of a broken heart."
"And when the poor, foolish little dryad gets tired of the world and comes back to
her tree HER heart will break," said Anne.
"Yes; but if dryads are foolish they must take the consequences, just as if they were
real people," said Paul gravely. "Do you know what I think about the new
moon, teacher?
I think it is a little golden boat full of dreams."
"And when it tips on a cloud some of them spill out and fall into your sleep."
"Exactly, teacher.
Oh, you DO know. And I think the violets are little snips of
the sky that fell down when the angels cut out holes for the stars to shine through.
And the buttercups are made out of old sunshine; and I think the sweet peas will
be butterflies when they go to heaven. Now, teacher, do you see anything so very
queer about those thoughts?"
"No, laddie dear, they are not queer at all; they are strange and beautiful
thoughts for a little boy to think, and so people who couldn't think anything of the
sort themselves, if they tried for a hundred years, think them queer.
But keep on thinking them, Paul ...some day you are going to be a poet, I believe."
When Anne reached home she found a very different type of boyhood waiting to be put
to bed.
Davy was sulky; and when Anne had undressed him he bounced into bed and buried his face
in the pillow. "Davy, you have forgotten to say your
prayers," said Anne rebukingly.
"No, I didn't forget," said Davy defiantly, "but I ain't going to say my prayers any
more.
I'm going to give up trying to be good, 'cause no matter how good I am you'd like
Paul Irving better. So I might as well be bad and have the fun
of it."
"I don't like Paul Irving BETTER," said Anne seriously.
"I like you just as well, only in a different way."
"But I want you to like me the same way," pouted Davy.
"You can't like different people the same way.
You don't like Dora and me the same way, do you?"
Davy sat up and reflected.
"No...o...o," he admitted at last, "I like Dora because she's my sister but I like you
because you're YOU." "And I like Paul because he is Paul and
Davy because he is Davy," said Anne gaily.
"Well, I kind of wish I'd said my prayers then," said Davy, convinced by this logic.
"But it's too much bother getting out now to say them.
I'll say them twice over in the morning, Anne.
Won't that do as well?" No, Anne was positive it would not do as
well.
So Davy scrambled out and knelt down at her knee.
When he had finished his devotions he leaned back on his little, bare, brown
heels and looked up at her.
"Anne, I'm gooder than I used to be." "Yes, indeed you are, Davy," said Anne, who
never hesitated to give credit where credit was due.
"I KNOW I'm gooder," said Davy confidently, "and I'll tell you how I know it.
Today Marilla give me two pieces of bread and jam, one for me and one for Dora.
One was a good deal bigger than the other and Marilla didn't say which was mine.
But I give the biggest piece to Dora. That was good of me, wasn't it?"
"Very good, and very manly, Davy."
"Of course," admitted Davy, "Dora wasn't very hungry and she only et half her slice
and then she give the rest to me.
But I didn't know she was going to do that when I give it to her, so I WAS good,
Anne."
In the twilight Anne sauntered down to the Dryad's Bubble and saw Gilbert Blythe
coming down through the dusky Haunted Wood. She had a sudden realization that Gilbert
was a schoolboy no longer.
And how manly he looked--the tall, frank- faced fellow, with the clear,
straightforward eyes and the broad shoulders.
Anne thought Gilbert was a very handsome lad, even though he didn't look at all like
her ideal man.
She and Diana had long ago decided what kind of a man they admired and their tastes
seemed exactly similar.
He must be very tall and distinguished looking, with melancholy, inscrutable eyes,
and a melting, sympathetic voice.
There was nothing either melancholy or inscrutable in Gilbert's physiognomy, but
of course that didn't matter in friendship!
Gilbert stretched himself out on the ferns beside the Bubble and looked approvingly at
Anne.
If Gilbert had been asked to describe his ideal woman the description would have
answered point for point to Anne, even to those seven tiny freckles whose obnoxious
presence still continued to vex her soul.
Gilbert was as yet little more than a boy; but a boy has his dreams as have others,
and in Gilbert's future there was always a girl with big, limpid gray eyes, and a face
as fine and delicate as a flower.
He had made up his mind, also, that his future must be worthy of its goddess.
Even in quiet Avonlea there were temptations to be met and faced.
White Sands youth were a rather "fast" set, and Gilbert was popular wherever he went.
But he meant to keep himself worthy of Anne's friendship and perhaps some distant
day her love; and he watched over word and thought and deed as jealously as if her
clear eyes were to pass in judgment on it.
She held over him the unconscious influence that every girl, whose ideals are high and
pure, wields over her friends; an influence which would endure as long as she was
faithful to those ideals and which she
would as certainly lose if she were ever false to them.
In Gilbert's eyes Anne's greatest charm was the fact that she never stooped to the
petty practices of so many of the Avonlea girls--the small jealousies, the little
deceits and rivalries, the palpable bids for favor.
Anne held herself apart from all this, not consciously or of design, but simply
because anything of the sort was utterly foreign to her transparent, impulsive
nature, crystal clear in its motives and aspirations.
But Gilbert did not attempt to put his thoughts into words, for he had already too
good reason to know that Anne would mercilessly and frostily nip all attempts
at sentiment in the bud--or laugh at him, which was ten times worse.
"You look like a real dryad under that birch tree," he said teasingly.
"I love birch trees," said Anne, laying her cheek against the creamy satin of the slim
bole, with one of the pretty, caressing gestures that came so natural to her.
"Then you'll be glad to hear that Mr. Major Spencer has decided to set out a row of
white birches all along the road front of his farm, by way of encouraging the
A.V.I.S.," said Gilbert.
"He was talking to me about it today. Major Spencer is the most progressive and
public-spirited man in Avonlea.
And Mr. William Bell is going to set out a spruce hedge along his road front and up
his lane. Our Society is getting on splendidly, Anne.
It is past the experimental stage and is an accepted fact.
The older folks are beginning to take an interest in it and the White Sands people
are talking of starting one too.
Even Elisha Wright has come around since that day the Americans from the hotel had
the picnic at the shore.
They praised our roadsides so highly and said they were so much prettier than in any
other part of the Island.
And when, in due time, the other farmers follow Mr. Spencer's good example and plant
ornamental trees and hedges along their road fronts Avonlea will be the prettiest
settlement in the province."
"The Aids are talking of taking up the graveyard," said Anne, "and I hope they
will, because there will have to be a subscription for that, and it would be no
use for the Society to try it after the hall affair.
But the Aids would never have stirred in the matter if the Society hadn't put it
into their thoughts unofficially.
Those trees we planted on the church grounds are flourishing, and the trustees
have promised me that they will fence in the school grounds next year.
If they do I'll have an arbor day and every scholar shall plant a tree; and we'll have
a garden in the corner by the road."
"We've succeeded in almost all our plans so far, except in getting the old Boulter
house removed," said Gilbert, "and I've given THAT up in despair.
Levi won't have it taken down just to vex us.
There's a contrary streak in all the Boulters and it's strongly developed in
him."
"Julia Bell wants to send another committee to him, but I think the better way will
just be to leave him severely alone," said Anne sagely.
"And trust to Providence, as Mrs. Lynde says," smiled Gilbert.
"Certainly, no more committees. They only aggravate him.
Julia Bell thinks you can do anything, if you only have a committee to attempt it.
Next spring, Anne, we must start an agitation for nice lawns and grounds.
We'll sow good seed betimes this winter.
I've a treatise here on lawns and lawnmaking and I'm going to prepare a paper
on the subject soon. Well, I suppose our vacation is almost
over.
School opens Monday. Has Ruby Gillis got the Carmody school?"
"Yes; Priscilla wrote that she had taken her own home school, so the Carmody
trustees gave it to Ruby.
I'm sorry Priscilla is not coming back, but since she can't I'm glad Ruby has got the
school.
She will be home for Saturdays and it will seem like old times, to have her and Jane
and Diana and myself all together again."
Marilla, just home from Mrs. Lynde's, was sitting on the back porch step when Anne
returned to the house. "Rachel and I have decided to have our
cruise to town tomorrow," she said.
"Mr. Lynde is feeling better this week and Rachel wants to go before he has another
sick spell."
"I intend to get up extra early tomorrow morning, for I've ever so much to do," said
Anne virtuously.
"For one thing, I'm going to shift the feathers from my old bedtick to the new
one.
I ought to have done it long ago but I've just kept putting it off... it's such a
detestable task.
It's a very bad habit to put off disagreeable things, and I never mean to
again, or else I can't comfortably tell my pupils not to do it.
That would be inconsistent.
Then I want to make a cake for Mr. Harrison and finish my paper on gardens for the
A.V.I.S., and write Stella, and wash and starch my muslin dress, and make Dora's new
apron."
"You won't get half done," said Marilla pessimistically.
"I never yet planned to do a lot of things but something happened to prevent me."
CHAPTER XX The Way It Often Happens
Anne rose betimes the next morning and blithely greeted the fresh day, when the
banners of the sunrise were shaken triumphantly across the pearly skies.
Green Gables lay in a pool of sunshine, flecked with the dancing shadows of poplar
and willow.
Beyond the land was Mr. Harrison's wheatfield, a great, windrippled expanse of
pale gold.
The world was so beautiful that Anne spent ten blissful minutes hanging idly over the
garden gate drinking the loveliness in. After breakfast Marilla made ready for her
journey.
Dora was to go with her, having been long promised this treat.
"Now, Davy, you try to be a good boy and don't bother Anne," she straitly charged
him.
"If you are good I'll bring you a striped candy cane from town."
For alas, Marilla had stooped to the evil habit of bribing people to be good!
"I won't be bad on purpose, but s'posen I'm bad zacksidentally?"
Davy wanted to know. "You'll have to guard against accidents,"
admonished Marilla.
"Anne, if Mr. Shearer comes today get a nice roast and some steak.
If he doesn't you'll have to kill a fowl for dinner tomorrow."
Anne nodded.
"I'm not going to bother cooking any dinner for just Davy and myself today," she said.
"That cold ham bone will do for noon lunch and I'll have some steak fried for you when
you come home at night."
"I'm going to help Mr. Harrison haul dulse this morning," announced Davy.
"He asked me to, and I guess he'll ask me to dinner too.
Mr. Harrison is an awful kind man.
He's a real sociable man. I hope I'll be like him when I grow up.
I mean BEHAVE like him...I don't want to LOOK like him.
But I guess there's no danger, for Mrs. Lynde says I'm a very handsome child.
Do you s'pose it'll last, Anne? I want to know?"
"I daresay it will," said Anne gravely.
"You ARE a handsome boy, Davy," ...Marilla looked volumes of disapproval..."but you
must live up to it and be just as nice and gentlemanly as you look to be."
"And you told Minnie May Barry the other day, when you found her crying 'cause some
one said she was ugly, that if she was nice and kind and loving people wouldn't mind
her looks," said Davy discontentedly.
"Seems to me you can't get out of being good in this world for some reason or
'nother. You just HAVE to behave."
"Don't you want to be good?" asked Marilla, who had learned a great deal but had not
yet learned the futility of asking such questions.
"Yes, I want to be good but not TOO good," said Davy cautiously.
"You don't have to be very good to be a Sunday School superintendent.
Mr. Bell's that, and he's a real bad man."
"Indeed he's not," said Marila indignantly. "He is...he says he is himself,"
asseverated Davy. "He said it when he prayed in Sunday School
last Sunday.
He said he was a vile worm and a miserable sinner and guilty of the blackest 'niquity.
What did he do that was so bad, Marilla? Did he kill anybody?
Or steal the collection cents?
I want to know."
Fortunately Mrs. Lynde came driving up the lane at this moment and Marilla made off,
feeling that she had escaped from the snare of the fowler, and wishing devoutly that
Mr. Bell were not quite so highly
figurative in his public petitions, especially in the hearing of small boys who
were always "wanting to know." Anne, left alone in her glory, worked with
a will.
The floor was swept, the beds made, the hens fed, the muslin dress washed and hung
out on the line. Then Anne prepared for the transfer of
feathers.
She mounted to the garret and donned the first old dress that came to hand...a navy
blue cashmere she had worn at fourteen.
It was decidedly on the short side and as "skimpy" as the notable wincey Anne had
worn upon the occasion of her debut at Green Gables; but at least it would not be
materially injured by down and feathers.
Anne completed her toilet by tying a big red and white spotted handkerchief that had
belonged to Matthew over her head, and, thus accoutred, betook herself to the
kitchen chamber, whither Marilla, before
her departure, had helped her carry the feather bed.
A cracked mirror hung by the chamber window and in an unlucky moment Anne looked into
it.
There were those seven freckles on her nose, more rampant than ever, or so it
seemed in the glare of light from the unshaded window.
"Oh, I forgot to rub that lotion on last night," she thought.
"I'd better run down to the pantry and do it now."
Anne had already suffered many things trying to remove those freckles.
On one occasion the entire skin had peeled off her nose but the freckles remained.
A few days previously she had found a recipe for a freckle lotion in a magazine
and, as the ingredients were within her reach, she straightway compounded it, much
to the disgust of Marilla, who thought that
if Providence had placed freckles on your nose it was your bounden duty to leave them
there.
Anne scurried down to the pantry, which, always dim from the big willow growing
close to the window, was now almost dark by reason of the shade drawn to exclude flies.
Anne caught the bottle containing the lotion from the shelf and copiously
anointed her nose therewith by means of a little sponge sacred to the purpose.
This important duty done, she returned to her work.
Any one who has ever shifted feathers from one tick to another will not need to be
told that when Anne finished she was a sight to behold.
Her dress was white with down and fluff, and her front hair, escaping from under the
handkerchief, was adorned with a veritable halo of feathers.
At this auspicious moment a knock sounded at the kitchen door.
"That must be Mr. Shearer," thought Anne.
"I'm in a dreadful mess but I'll have to run down as I am, for he's always in a
hurry." Down flew Anne to the kitchen door.
If ever a charitable floor did open to swallow up a miserable, befeathered damsel
the Green Gables porch floor should promptly have engulfed Anne at that moment.
On the doorstep were standing Priscilla Grant, golden and fair in silk attire, a
short, stout gray-haired lady in a tweed suit, and another lady, tall stately,
wonderfully gowned, with a beautiful,
highbred face and large, black-lashed violet eyes, whom Anne "instinctively
felt," as she would have said in her earlier days, to be Mrs. Charlotte E.
Morgan.
In the dismay of the moment one thought stood out from the confusion of Anne's mind
and she grasped at it as at the proverbial straw.
All Mrs. Morgan's heroines were noted for "rising to the occasion."
No matter what their troubles were, they invariably rose to the occasion and showed
their superiority over all ills of time, space, and quantity.
Anne therefore felt it was HER duty to rise to the occasion and she did it, so
perfectly that Priscilla afterward declared she never admired Anne Shirley more than at
that moment.
No matter what her outraged feelings were she did not show them.
She greeted Priscilla and was introduced to her companions as calmly and composedly as
if she had been arrayed in purple and fine linen.
To be sure, it was somewhat of a shock to find that the lady she had instinctively
felt to be Mrs. Morgan was not Mrs. Morgan at all, but an unknown Mrs. Pendexter,
while the stout little gray-haired woman
was Mrs. Morgan; but in the greater shock the lesser lost its power.
Anne ushered her guests to the spare room and thence into the parlor, where she left
them while she hastened out to help Priscilla unharness her horse.
"It's dreadful to come upon you so unexpectedly as this," apologized
Priscilla, "but I did not know till last night that we were coming.
Aunt Charlotte is going away Monday and she had promised to spend today with a friend
in town.
But last night her friend telephoned to her not to come because they were quarantined
for scarlet fever. So I suggested we come here instead, for I
knew you were longing to see her.
We called at the White Sands Hotel and brought Mrs. Pendexter with us.
She is a friend of aunt's and lives in New York and her husband is a millionaire.
We can't stay very long, for Mrs. Pendexter has to be back at the hotel by five
o'clock."
Several times while they were putting away the horse Anne caught Priscilla looking at
her in a furtive, puzzled way. "She needn't stare at me so," Anne thought
a little resentfully.
"If she doesn't KNOW what it is to change a feather bed she might IMAGINE it."
When Priscilla had gone to the parlor, and before Anne could escape upstairs, Diana
walked into the kitchen.
Anne caught her astonished friend by the arm.
"Diana Barry, who do you suppose is in that parlor at this very moment?
Mrs. Charlotte E. Morgan...and a New York millionaire's wife...and here I am like
THIS...and NOT A THING IN THE HOUSE FOR DINNER BUT A COLD HAM BONE, Diana!"
By this time Anne had become aware that Diana was staring at her in precisely the
same bewildered fashion as Priscilla had done.
It was really too much.
"Oh, Diana, don't look at me so," she implored.
"YOU, at least, must know that the neatest person in the world couldn't empty feathers
from one tick into another and remain neat in the process."
"It...it...isn't the feathers," hesitated Diana.
"It's ...it's...your nose, Anne." "My nose?
Oh, Diana, surely nothing has gone wrong with it!"
Anne rushed to the little looking glass over the sink.
One glance revealed the fatal truth.
Her nose was a brilliant scarlet! Anne sat down on the sofa, her dauntless
spirit subdued at last. "What is the matter with it?" asked Diana,
curiosity overcoming delicacy.
"I thought I was rubbing my freckle lotion on it, but I must have used that red dye
Marilla has for marking the pattern on her rugs," was the despairing response.
"What shall I do?"
"Wash it off," said Diana practically. "Perhaps it won't wash off.
First I dye my hair; then I dye my nose.
Marilla cut my hair off when I dyed it but that remedy would hardly be practicable in
this case.
Well, this is another punishment for vanity and I suppose I deserve it...though there's
not much comfort in THAT.
It is really almost enough to make one believe in ill-luck, though Mrs. Lynde says
there is no such thing, because everything is foreordained."
Fortunately the dye washed off easily and Anne, somewhat consoled, betook herself to
the east gable while Diana ran home. Presently Anne came down again, clothed and
in her right mind.
The muslin dress she had fondly hoped to wear was bobbing merrily about on the line
outside, so she was forced to content herself with her black lawn.
She had the fire on and the tea steeping when Diana returned; the latter wore HER
muslin, at least, and carried a covered platter in her hand.
"Mother sent you this," she said, lifting the cover and displaying a nicely carved
and jointed chicken to Anne's greatful eyes.
The chicken was supplemented by light new bread, excellent butter and cheese,
Marilla's fruit cake and a dish of preserved plums, floating in their golden
syrup as in congealed summer sunshine.
There was a big bowlful of pink-and-white asters also, by way of decoration; yet the
spread seemed very meager beside the elaborate one formerly prepared for Mrs.
Morgan.
Anne's hungry guests, however, did not seem to think anything was lacking and they ate
the simple viands with apparent enjoyment.
But after the first few moments Anne thought no more of what was or was not on
her bill of fare.
Mrs. Morgan's appearance might be somewhat disappointing, as even her loyal
worshippers had been forced to admit to each other; but she proved to be a
delightful conversationalist.
She had traveled extensively and was an excellent storyteller.
She had seen much of men and women, and crystalized her experiences into witty
little sentences and epigrams which made her hearers feel as if they were listening
to one of the people in clever books.
But under all her sparkle there was a strongly felt undercurrent of true, womanly
sympathy and kindheartedness which won affection as easily as her brilliancy won
admiration.
Nor did she monopolize the conversation. She could draw others out as skillfully and
fully as she could talk herself, and Anne and Diana found themselves chattering
freely to her.
Mrs. Pendexter said little; she merely smiled with her lovely eyes and lips, and
ate chicken and fruit cake and preserves with such exquisite grace that she conveyed
the impression of dining on ambrosia and honeydew.
But then, as Anne said to Diana later on, anybody so divinely beautiful as Mrs.
Pendexter didn't need to talk; it was enough for her just to LOOK.
After dinner they all had a walk through Lover's Lane and Violet Vale and the Birch
Path, then back through the Haunted Wood to the Dryad's Bubble, where they sat down and
talked for a delightful last half hour.
Mrs. Morgan wanted to know how the Haunted Wood came by 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 has indeed been a feast of reason and flow of soul, hasn't it?" said Anne, when
her guests had gone and she and Diana were alone again.
"I don't know which I enjoyed more...listening to Mrs. Morgan or gazing
at Mrs. Pendexter.
I believe we had a nicer time than if we'd known they were coming and been cumbered
with much serving. You must stay to tea with me, Diana, and
we'll talk it all over."
"Priscilla says Mrs. Pendexter's husband's sister is married to an English earl; and
yet she took a second helping of the plum preserves," said Diana, as if the two facts
were somehow incompatible.
"I daresay even the English earl himself wouldn't have turned up his aristocratic
nose at Marilla's plum preserves," said Anne proudly.
Anne did not mention the misfortune which had befallen HER nose when she related the
day's history to Marilla that evening. But she took the bottle of freckle lotion
and emptied it out of the window.
"I shall never try any beautifying messes again," she said, darkly resolute.
"They may do for careful, deliberate people; but for anyone so hopelessly given
over to making mistakes as I seem to be it's tempting fate to meddle with them."
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アンの青春ーL・M・モンゴメリ(Chs 12-20) (Part 2 - Anne of Avonlea Audiobook by Lucy Maud Montgomery (Chs 12-20))

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Hhart Budha 2014 年 6 月 17 日 に公開
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