Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery | Audiobook with subtitles | Dramatic | Part 2


CHAPTER XXI of Anne of Green Gables by L.
M. Montgomery. Anne
of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. CHAPTER XXI. A New Departure in Flavorings
DEAR ME, there is nothing but meetings and partings in this world, as Mrs. Lynde says,”
remarked Anne plaintively, putting her slate and books down on the kitchen table on the
last day of June and wiping her red eyes with a very damp handkerchief. “Wasn’t it fortunate,
Marilla, that I took an extra handkerchief to school today? I had a presentiment that
it would be needed.” “I never thought you were so fond of Mr.
Phillips that you’d require two handkerchiefs to dry your tears just because he was going
away,” said Marilla. “I don’t think I was crying because I
was really so very fond of him,” reflected Anne. “I just cried because all the others
did. It was Ruby Gillis started it. Ruby Gillis has always declared she hated Mr. Phillips,
but just as soon as he got up to make his farewell speech she burst into tears. Then
all the girls began to cry, one after the other. I tried to hold out, Marilla. I tried
to remember the time Mr. Phillips made me sit with Gil—with a boy; and the time he
spelled my name without an ‘e’ on the blackboard; and how he said I was the worst
dunce he ever saw at geometry and laughed at my spelling; and all the times he had been
so horrid and sarcastic; but somehow I couldn’t, Marilla, and I just had to cry too. Jane Andrews
has been talking for a month about how glad she’d be when Mr. Phillips went away and
she declared she’d never shed a tear. Well, she was worse than any of us and had to borrow
a handkerchief from her brother—of course the boys didn’t cry—because she hadn’t
brought one of her own, not expecting to need it. Oh, Marilla, it was heartrending. Mr.
Phillips made such a beautiful farewell speech beginning, ‘The time has come for us to
part.’ It was very affecting. And he had tears in his eyes too, Marilla. Oh, I felt
dreadfully sorry and remorseful for all the times I’d talked in school and drawn pictures
of him on my slate and made fun of him and Prissy. I can tell you I wished I’d been
a model pupil like Minnie Andrews. She hadn’t anything on her conscience. The girls cried
all the way home from school. Carrie Sloane kept saying every few minutes, ‘The time
has come for us to part,’ and that would start us off again whenever we were in any
danger of cheering up. I do feel dreadfully sad, Marilla. But one can’t feel quite in
the depths of despair with two months’ vacation before them, can they, Marilla? And besides,
we met the new minister and his wife coming from the station. For all I was feeling so
bad about Mr. Phillips going away I couldn’t help taking a little interest in a new minister,
could I? His wife is very pretty. Not exactly regally lovely, of course—it wouldn’t
do, I suppose, for a minister to have a regally lovely wife, because it might set a bad example.
Mrs. Lynde says the minister’s wife over at Newbridge sets a very bad example because
she dresses so fashionably. Our new minister’s wife was dressed in blue muslin with lovely
puffed sleeves and a hat trimmed with roses. Jane Andrews said she thought puffed sleeves
were too worldly for a minister’s wife, but I didn’t make any such uncharitable
remark, Marilla, because I know what it is to long for puffed sleeves. Besides, she’s
only been a minister’s wife for a little while, so one should make allowances, shouldn’t
they? They are going to board with Mrs. Lynde until the manse is ready.” If Marilla, in going down to Mrs. Lynde’s
that evening, was actuated by any motive save her avowed one of returning the quilting frames
she had borrowed the preceding winter, it was an amiable weakness shared by most of
the Avonlea people. Many a thing Mrs. Lynde had lent, sometimes never expecting to see
it again, came home that night in charge of the borrowers thereof. A new minister, and
moreover a minister with a wife, was a lawful object of curiosity in a quiet little country
settlement where sensations were few and far between. Old Mr. Bentley, the minister whom Anne had
found lacking in imagination, had been pastor of Avonlea for eighteen years. He was a widower
when he came, and a widower he remained, despite the fact that gossip regularly married him
to this, that, or the other one, every year of his sojourn. In the preceding February
he had resigned his charge and departed amid the regrets of his people, most of whom had
the affection born of long intercourse for their good old minister in spite of his shortcomings
as an orator. Since then the Avonlea church had enjoyed a variety of religious dissipation
in listening to the many and various candidates and “supplies” who came Sunday after Sunday
to preach on trial. These stood or fell by the judgment of the fathers and mothers in
Israel; but a certain small, red-haired girl who sat meekly in the corner of the old Cuthbert
pew also had her opinions about them and discussed the same in full with Matthew, Marilla always
declining from principle to criticize ministers in any shape or form. “I don’t think Mr. Smith would have done,
Matthew” was Anne’s final summing up. “Mrs. Lynde says his delivery was so poor,
but I think his worst fault was just like Mr. Bentley’s—he had no imagination. And
Mr. Terry had too much; he let it run away with him just as I did mine in the matter
of the Haunted Wood. Besides, Mrs. Lynde says his theology wasn’t sound. Mr. Gresham was
a very good man and a very religious man, but he told too many funny stories and made
the people laugh in church; he was undignified, and you must have some dignity about a minister,
mustn’t you, Matthew? I thought Mr. Marshall was decidedly attractive; but Mrs. Lynde says
he isn’t married, or even engaged, because she made special inquiries about him, and
she says it would never do to have a young unmarried minister in Avonlea, because he
might marry in the congregation and that would make trouble. Mrs. Lynde is a very farseeing
woman, isn’t she, Matthew? I’m very glad they’ve called Mr. Allan. I liked him because
his sermon was interesting and he prayed as if he meant it and not just as if he did it
because he was in the habit of it. Mrs. Lynde says he isn’t perfect, but she says she
supposes we couldn’t expect a perfect minister for seven hundred and fifty dollars a year,
and anyhow his theology is sound because she questioned him thoroughly on all the points
of doctrine. And she knows his wife’s people and they are most respectable and the women
are all good housekeepers. Mrs. Lynde says that sound doctrine in the man and good housekeeping
in the woman make an ideal combination for a minister’s family.” The new minister and his wife were a young,
pleasant-faced couple, still on their honeymoon, and full of all good and beautiful enthusiasms
for their chosen lifework. Avonlea opened its heart to them from the start. Old and
young liked the frank, cheerful young man with his high ideals, and the bright, gentle
little lady who assumed the mistress-ship of the manse. With Mrs. Allan Anne fell promptly
and wholeheartedly in love. She had discovered another kindred spirit. “Mrs. Allan is perfectly lovely,” she
announced one Sunday afternoon. “She’s taken our class and she’s a splendid teacher.
She said right away she didn’t think it was fair for the teacher to ask all the questions,
and you know, Marilla, that is exactly what I’ve always thought. She said we could ask
her any question we liked and I asked ever so many. I’m good at asking questions, Marilla.” “I believe you” was Marilla’s emphatic
comment. “Nobody else asked any except Ruby Gillis,
and she asked if there was to be a Sunday-school picnic this summer. I didn’t think that
was a very proper question to ask because it hadn’t any connection with the lesson—the
lesson was about Daniel in the lions’ den—but Mrs. Allan just smiled and said she thought
there would be. Mrs. Allan has a lovely smile; she has such exquisite dimples in her cheeks.
I wish I had dimples in my cheeks, Marilla. I’m not half so skinny as I was when I came
here, but I have no dimples yet. If I had perhaps I could influence people for good.
Mrs. Allan said we ought always to try to influence other people for good. She talked
so nice about everything. I never knew before that religion was such a cheerful thing. I
always thought it was kind of melancholy, but Mrs. Allan’s isn’t, and I’d like
to be a Christian if I could be one like her. I wouldn’t want to be one like Mr. Superintendent
Bell.” “It’s very naughty of you to speak so
about Mr. Bell,” said Marilla severely. “Mr. Bell is a real good man.” “Oh, of course he’s good,” agreed Anne,
“but he doesn’t seem to get any comfort out of it. If I could be good I’d dance
and sing all day because I was glad of it. I suppose Mrs. Allan is too old to dance and
sing and of course it wouldn’t be dignified in a minister’s wife. But I can just feel
she’s glad she’s a Christian and that she’d be one even if she could get to heaven
without it.” “I suppose we must have Mr. and Mrs. Allan
up to tea someday soon,” said Marilla reflectively. “They’ve been most everywhere but here.
Let me see. Next Wednesday would be a good time to have them. But don’t say a word
to Matthew about it, for if he knew they were coming he’d find some excuse to be away
that day. He’d got so used to Mr. Bentley he didn’t mind him, but he’s going to
find it hard to get acquainted with a new minister, and a new minister’s wife will
frighten him to death.” “I’ll be as secret as the dead,” assured
Anne. “But oh, Marilla, will you let me make a cake for the occasion? I’d love to
do something for Mrs. Allan, and you know I can make a pretty good cake by this time.” “You can make a layer cake,” promised
Marilla. Monday and Tuesday great preparations went
on at Green Gables. Having the minister and his wife to tea was a serious and important
undertaking, and Marilla was determined not to be eclipsed by any of the Avonlea housekeepers.
Anne was wild with excitement and delight. She talked it all over with Diana Tuesday
night in the twilight, as they sat on the big red stones by the Dryad’s Bubble and
made rainbows in the water with little twigs dipped in fir balsam. “Everything is ready, Diana, except my cake
which I’m to make in the morning, and the baking-powder biscuits which Marilla will
make just before teatime. I assure you, Diana, that Marilla and I have had a busy two days
of it. It’s such a responsibility having a minister’s family to tea. I never went
through such an experience before. You should just see our pantry. It’s a sight to behold.
We’re going to have jellied chicken and cold tongue. We’re to have two kinds of
jelly, red and yellow, and whipped cream and lemon pie, and cherry pie, and three kinds
of cookies, and fruit cake, and Marilla’s famous yellow plum preserves that she keeps
especially for ministers, and pound cake and layer cake, and biscuits as aforesaid; and
new bread and old both, in case the minister is dyspeptic and can’t eat new. Mrs. Lynde
says ministers are dyspeptic, but I don’t think Mr. Allan has been a minister long enough
for it to have had a bad effect on him. I just grow cold when I think of my layer cake.
Oh, Diana, what if it shouldn’t be good! I dreamed last night that I was chased all
around by a fearful goblin with a big layer cake for a head.” “It’ll be good, all right,” assured
Diana, who was a very comfortable sort of friend. “I’m sure that piece of the one
you made that we had for lunch in Idlewild two weeks ago was perfectly elegant.” “Yes; but cakes have such a terrible habit
of turning out bad just when you especially want them to be good,” sighed Anne, setting
a particularly well-balsamed twig afloat. “However, I suppose I shall just have to
trust to Providence and be careful to put in the flour. Oh, look, Diana, what a lovely
rainbow! Do you suppose the dryad will come out after we go away and take it for a scarf?” “You know there is no such thing as a dryad,”
said Diana. Diana’s mother had found out about the Haunted Wood and had been decidedly
angry over it. As a result Diana had abstained from any further imitative flights of imagination
and did not think it prudent to cultivate a spirit of belief even in harmless dryads. “But it’s so easy to imagine there is,”
said Anne. “Every night before I go to bed, I look out of my window and wonder if the
dryad is really sitting here, combing her locks with the spring for a mirror. Sometimes
I look for her footprints in the dew in the morning. Oh, Diana, don’t give up your faith
in the dryad!” Wednesday morning came. Anne got up at sunrise
because she was too excited to sleep. She had caught a severe cold in the head by reason
of her dabbling in the spring on the preceding evening; but nothing short of absolute pneumonia
could have quenched her interest in culinary matters that morning. After breakfast she
proceeded to make her cake. When she finally shut the oven door upon it she drew a long
breath. “I’m sure I haven’t forgotten anything
this time, Marilla. But do you think it will rise? Just suppose perhaps the baking powder
isn’t good? I used it out of the new can. And Mrs. Lynde says you can never be sure
of getting good baking powder nowadays when everything is so adulterated. Mrs. Lynde says
the Government ought to take the matter up, but she says we’ll never see the day when
a Tory Government will do it. Marilla, what if that cake doesn’t rise?” “We’ll have plenty without it” was Marilla’s
unimpassioned way of looking at the subject. The cake did rise, however, and came out of
the oven as light and feathery as golden foam. Anne, flushed with delight, clapped it together
with layers of ruby jelly and, in imagination, saw Mrs. Allan eating it and possibly asking
for another piece! “You’ll be using the best tea set, of
course, Marilla,” she said. “Can I fix the table with ferns and wild roses?” “I think that’s all nonsense,” sniffed
Marilla. “In my opinion it’s the eatables that matter and not flummery decorations.” “Mrs. Barry had her table decorated,”
said Anne, who was not entirely guiltless of the wisdom of the serpent, “and the minister
paid her an elegant compliment. He said it was a feast for the eye as well as the palate.” “Well, do as you like,” said Marilla,
who was quite determined not to be surpassed by Mrs. Barry or anybody else. “Only mind
you leave enough room for the dishes and the food.” Anne laid herself out to decorate in a manner
and after a fashion that should leave Mrs. Barry’s nowhere. Having abundance of roses
and ferns and a very artistic taste of her own, she made that tea table such a thing
of beauty that when the minister and his wife sat down to it they exclaimed in chorus over
it loveliness. “It’s Anne’s doings,” said Marilla,
grimly just; and Anne felt that Mrs. Allan’s approving smile was almost too much happiness
for this world. Matthew was there, having been inveigled into
the party only goodness and Anne knew how. He had been in such a state of shyness and
nervousness that Marilla had given him up in despair, but Anne took him in hand so successfully
that he now sat at the table in his best clothes and white collar and talked to the minister
not uninterestingly. He never said a word to Mrs. Allan, but that perhaps was not to
be expected. All went merry as a marriage bell until Anne’s
layer cake was passed. Mrs. Allan, having already been helped to a bewildering variety,
declined it. But Marilla, seeing the disappointment on Anne’s face, said smilingly: “Oh, you must take a piece of this, Mrs.
Allan. Anne made it on purpose for you.” “In that case I must sample it,” laughed
Mrs. Allan, helping herself to a plump triangle, as did also the minister and Marilla. Mrs. Allan took a mouthful of hers and a most
peculiar expression crossed her face; not a word did she say, however, but steadily
ate away at it. Marilla saw the expression and hastened to taste the cake. “Anne Shirley!” she exclaimed, “what
on earth did you put into that cake?” “Nothing but what the recipe said, Marilla,”
cried Anne with a look of anguish. “Oh, isn’t it all right?” “All right! It’s simply horrible. Mr.
Allan, don’t try to eat it. Anne, taste it yourself. What flavoring did you use?” “Vanilla,” said Anne, her face scarlet
with mortification after tasting the cake. “Only vanilla. Oh, Marilla, it must have
been the baking powder. I had my suspicions of that bak—” “Baking powder fiddlesticks! Go and bring
me the bottle of vanilla you used.” Anne fled to the pantry and returned with
a small bottle partially filled with a brown liquid and labeled yellowly, “Best Vanilla.” Marilla took it, uncorked it, smelled it. “Mercy on us, Anne, you’ve flavored that
cake with Anodyne Liniment. I broke the liniment bottle last week and poured what was left
into an old empty vanilla bottle. I suppose it’s partly my fault—I should have warned
you—but for pity’s sake why couldn’t you have smelled it?” Anne dissolved into tears under this double
disgrace. “I couldn’t—I had such a cold!” and
with this she fairly fled to the gable chamber, where she cast herself on the bed and wept
as one who refuses to be comforted. Presently a light step sounded on the stairs
and somebody entered the room. “Oh, Marilla,” sobbed Anne, without looking
up, “I’m disgraced forever. I shall never be able to live this down. It will get out—things
always do get out in Avonlea. Diana will ask me how my cake turned out and I shall have
to tell her the truth. I shall always be pointed at as the girl who flavored a cake with anodyne
liniment. Gil—the boys in school will never get over laughing at it. Oh, Marilla, if you
have a spark of Christian pity don’t tell me that I must go down and wash the dishes
after this. I’ll wash them when the minister and his wife are gone, but I cannot ever look
Mrs. Allan in the face again. Perhaps she’ll think I tried to poison her. Mrs. Lynde says
she knows an orphan girl who tried to poison her benefactor. But the liniment isn’t poisonous.
It’s meant to be taken internally—although not in cakes. Won’t you tell Mrs. Allan
so, Marilla?” “Suppose you jump up and tell her so yourself,”
said a merry voice. Anne flew up, to find Mrs. Allan standing
by her bed, surveying her with laughing eyes. “My dear little girl, you mustn’t cry
like this,” she said, genuinely disturbed by Anne’s tragic face. “Why, it’s all
just a funny mistake that anybody might make.” “Oh, no, it takes me to make such a mistake,”
said Anne forlornly. “And I wanted to have that cake so nice for you, Mrs. Allan.” “Yes, I know, dear. And I assure you I appreciate
your kindness and thoughtfulness just as much as if it had turned out all right. Now, you
mustn’t cry any more, but come down with me and show me your flower garden. Miss Cuthbert
tells me you have a little plot all your own. I want to see it, for I’m very much interested
in flowers.” Anne permitted herself to be led down and
comforted, reflecting that it was really providential that Mrs. Allan was a kindred spirit. Nothing
more was said about the liniment cake, and when the guests went away Anne found that
she had enjoyed the evening more than could have been expected, considering that terrible
incident. Nevertheless, she sighed deeply. “Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that
tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” “I’ll warrant you’ll make plenty in
it,” said Marilla. “I never saw your beat for making mistakes, Anne.” “Yes, and well I know it,” admitted Anne
mournfully. “But have you ever noticed one encouraging thing about me, Marilla? I never
make the same mistake twice.” “I don’t know as that’s much benefit
when you’re always making new ones.” “Oh, don’t you see, Marilla? There must
be a limit to the mistakes one person can make, and when I get to the end of them, then
I’ll be through with them. That’s a very comforting thought.” “Well, you’d better go and give that cake
to the pigs,” said Marilla. “It isn’t fit for any human to eat, not even Jerry Boute.” CHAPTER XXII. Anne is Invited Out to Tea
AND what are your eyes popping out of your head about. Now?” asked Marilla, when Anne
had just come in from a run to the post office. “Have you discovered another kindred spirit?”
Excitement hung around Anne like a garment, shone in her eyes, kindled in every feature.
She had come dancing up the lane, like a wind-blown sprite, through the mellow sunshine and lazy
shadows of the August evening. “No, Marilla, but oh, what do you think?
I am invited to tea at the manse tomorrow afternoon! Mrs. Allan left the letter for
me at the post office. Just look at it, Marilla. ‘Miss Anne Shirley, Green Gables.’ That
is the first time I was ever called ‘Miss.’ Such a thrill as it gave me! I shall cherish
it forever among my choicest treasures.” “Mrs. Allan told me she meant to have all
the members of her Sunday-school class to tea in turn,” said Marilla, regarding the
wonderful event very coolly. “You needn’t get in such a fever over it. Do learn to take
things calmly, child.” For Anne to take things calmly would have
been to change her nature. All “spirit and fire and dew,” as she was, the pleasures
and pains of life came to her with trebled intensity. Marilla felt this and was vaguely
troubled over it, realizing that the ups and downs of existence would probably bear hardly
on this impulsive soul and not sufficiently understanding that the equally great capacity
for delight might more than compensate. Therefore Marilla conceived it to be her duty to drill
Anne into a tranquil uniformity of disposition as impossible and alien to her as to a dancing
sunbeam in one of the brook shallows. She did not make much headway, as she sorrowfully
admitted to herself. The downfall of some dear hope or plan plunged Anne into “deeps
of affliction.” The fulfillment thereof exalted her to dizzy realms of delight. Marilla
had almost begun to despair of ever fashioning this waif of the world into her model little
girl of demure manners and prim deportment. Neither would she have believed that she really
liked Anne much better as she was. Anne went to bed that night speechless with
misery because Matthew had said the wind was round northeast and he feared it would be
a rainy day tomorrow. The rustle of the poplar leaves about the house worried her, it sounded
so like pattering raindrops, and the full, faraway roar of the gulf, to which she listened
delightedly at other times, loving its strange, sonorous, haunting rhythm, now seemed like
a prophecy of storm and disaster to a small maiden who particularly wanted a fine day.
Anne thought that the morning would never come. But all things have an end, even nights before
the day on which you are invited to take tea at the manse. The morning, in spite of Matthew’s
predictions, was fine and Anne’s spirits soared to their highest. “Oh, Marilla, there
is something in me today that makes me just love everybody I see,” she exclaimed as
she washed the breakfast dishes. “You don’t know how good I feel! Wouldn’t it be nice
if it could last? I believe I could be a model child if I were just invited out to tea every
day. But oh, Marilla, it’s a solemn occasion too. I feel so anxious. What if I shouldn’t
behave properly? You know I never had tea at a manse before, and I’m not sure that
I know all the rules of etiquette, although I’ve been studying the rules given in the
Etiquette Department of the Family Herald ever since I came here. I’m so afraid I’ll
do something silly or forget to do something I should do. Would it be good manners to take
a second helping of anything if you wanted to very much?” “The trouble with you, Anne, is that you’re
thinking too much about yourself. You should just think of Mrs. Allan and what would be
nicest and most agreeable to her,” said Marilla, hitting for once in her life on a
very sound and pithy piece of advice. Anne instantly realized this. “You are right, Marilla. I’ll try not
to think about myself at all.” Anne evidently got through her visit without
any serious breach of “etiquette,” for she came home through the twilight, under
a great, high-sprung sky gloried over with trails of saffron and rosy cloud, in a beatified
state of mind and told Marilla all about it happily, sitting on the big red-sandstone
slab at the kitchen door with her tired curly head in Marilla’s gingham lap. A cool wind was blowing down over the long
harvest fields from the rims of firry western hills and whistling through the poplars. One
clear star hung over the orchard and the fireflies were flitting over in Lover’s Lane, in and
out among the ferns and rustling boughs. Anne watched them as she talked and somehow felt
that wind and stars and fireflies were all tangled up together into something unutterably
sweet and enchanting. “Oh, Marilla, I’ve had a most fascinating
time. I feel that I have not lived in vain and I shall always feel like that even if
I should never be invited to tea at a manse again. When I got there Mrs. Allan met me
at the door. She was dressed in the sweetest dress of pale-pink organdy, with dozens of
frills and elbow sleeves, and she looked just like a seraph. I really think I’d like to
be a minister’s wife when I grow up, Marilla. A minister mightn’t mind my red hair because
he wouldn’t be thinking of such worldly things. But then of course one would have
to be naturally good and I’ll never be that, so I suppose there’s no use in thinking
about it. Some people are naturally good, you know, and others are not. I’m one of
the others. Mrs. Lynde says I’m full of original sin. No matter how hard I try to
be good I can never make such a success of it as those who are naturally good. It’s
a good deal like geometry, I expect. But don’t you think the trying so hard ought to count
for something? Mrs. Allan is one of the naturally good people. I love her passionately. You
know there are some people, like Matthew and Mrs. Allan that you can love right off without
any trouble. And there are others, like Mrs. Lynde, that you have to try very hard to love.
You know you ought to love them because they know so much and are such active workers in
the church, but you have to keep reminding yourself of it all the time or else you forget.
There was another little girl at the manse to tea, from the White Sands Sunday school.
Her name was Laurette Bradley, and she was a very nice little girl. Not exactly a kindred
spirit, you know, but still very nice. We had an elegant tea, and I think I kept all
the rules of etiquette pretty well. After tea Mrs. Allan played and sang and she got
Lauretta and me to sing too. Mrs. Allan says I have a good voice and she says I must sing
in the Sunday-school choir after this. You can’t think how I was thrilled at the mere
thought. I’ve longed so to sing in the Sunday-school choir, as Diana does, but I feared it was
an honor I could never aspire to. Lauretta had to go home early because there is a big
concert in the White Sands Hotel tonight and her sister is to recite at it. Lauretta says
that the Americans at the hotel give a concert every fortnight in aid of the Charlottetown
hospital, and they ask lots of the White Sands people to recite. Lauretta said she expected
to be asked herself someday. I just gazed at her in awe. After she had gone Mrs. Allan
and I had a heart-to-heart talk. I told her everything—about Mrs. Thomas and the twins
and Katie Maurice and Violetta and coming to Green Gables and my troubles over geometry.
And would you believe it, Marilla? Mrs. Allan told me she was a dunce at geometry too. You
don’t know how that encouraged me. Mrs. Lynde came to the manse just before I left,
and what do you think, Marilla? The trustees have hired a new teacher and it’s a lady.
Her name is Miss Muriel Stacy. Isn’t that a romantic name? Mrs. Lynde says they’ve
never had a female teacher in Avonlea before and she thinks it is a dangerous innovation.
But I think it will be splendid to have a lady teacher, and I really don’t see how
I’m going to live through the two weeks before school begins. I’m so impatient to
see her.” CHAPTER XXIII. Anne Comes to Grief in an Affair of Honor
ANNE had to live through more than two weeks, as it happened. Almost a month having elapsed
since the liniment cake episode, it was high time for her to get into fresh trouble of
some sort, little mistakes, such as absentmindedly emptying a pan of skim milk into a basket
of yarn balls in the pantry instead of into the pigs’ bucket, and walking clean over
the edge of the log bridge into the brook while wrapped in imaginative reverie, not
really being worth counting. A week after the tea at the manse Diana Barry
gave a party. “Small and select,” Anne assured Marilla.
“Just the girls in our class.” They had a very good time and nothing untoward
happened until after tea, when they found themselves in the Barry garden, a little tired
of all their games and ripe for any enticing form of mischief which might present itself.
This presently took the form of “daring.” Daring was the fashionable amusement among
the Avonlea small fry just then. It had begun among the boys, but soon spread to the girls,
and all the silly things that were done in Avonlea that summer because the doers thereof
were “dared” to do them would fill a book by themselves. First of all Carrie Sloane dared Ruby Gillis
to climb to a certain point in the huge old willow tree before the front door; which Ruby
Gillis, albeit in mortal dread of the fat green caterpillars with which said tree was
infested and with the fear of her mother before her eyes if she should tear her new muslin
dress, nimbly did, to the discomfiture of the aforesaid Carrie Sloane. Then Josie Pye
dared Jane Andrews to hop on her left leg around the garden without stopping once or
putting her right foot to the ground; which Jane Andrews gamely tried to do, but gave
out at the third corner and had to confess herself defeated. Josie’s triumph being rather more pronounced
than good taste permitted, Anne Shirley dared her to walk along the top of the board fence
which bounded the garden to the east. Now, to “walk” board fences requires more skill
and steadiness of head and heel than one might suppose who has never tried it. But Josie
Pye, if deficient in some qualities that make for popularity, had at least a natural and
inborn gift, duly cultivated, for walking board fences. Josie walked the Barry fence
with an airy unconcern which seemed to imply that a little thing like that wasn’t worth
a “dare.” Reluctant admiration greeted her exploit, for most of the other girls could
appreciate it, having suffered many things themselves in their efforts to walk fences.
Josie descended from her perch, flushed with victory, and darted a defiant glance at Anne. Anne tossed her red braids. “I don’t think it’s such a very wonderful
thing to walk a little, low, board fence,” she said. “I knew a girl in Marysville who
could walk the ridgepole of a roof.” “I don’t believe it,” said Josie flatly.
“I don’t believe anybody could walk a ridgepole. You couldn’t, anyhow.” “Couldn’t I?” cried Anne rashly. “Then I dare you to do it,” said Josie
defiantly. “I dare you to climb up there and walk the ridgepole of Mr. Barry’s kitchen
roof.” Anne turned pale, but there was clearly only
one thing to be done. She walked toward the house, where a ladder was leaning against
the kitchen roof. All the fifth-class girls said, “Oh!” partly in excitement, partly
in dismay. “Don’t you do it, Anne,” entreated Diana.
“You’ll fall off and be killed. Never mind Josie Pye. It isn’t fair to dare anybody
to do anything so dangerous.” “I must do it. My honor is at stake,”
said Anne solemnly. “I shall walk that ridgepole, Diana, or perish in the attempt. If I am killed
you are to have my pearl bead ring.” Anne climbed the ladder amid breathless silence,
gained the ridgepole, balanced herself uprightly on that precarious footing, and started to
walk along it, dizzily conscious that she was uncomfortably high up in the world and
that walking ridgepoles was not a thing in which your imagination helped you out much.
Nevertheless, she managed to take several steps before the catastrophe came. Then she
swayed, lost her balance, stumbled, staggered, and fell, sliding down over the sun-baked
roof and crashing off it through the tangle of Virginia creeper beneath—all before the
dismayed circle below could give a simultaneous, terrified shriek. If Anne had tumbled off the roof on the side
up which she had ascended Diana would probably have fallen heir to the pearl bead ring then
and there. Fortunately she fell on the other side, where the roof extended down over the
porch so nearly to the ground that a fall therefrom was a much less serious thing. Nevertheless,
when Diana and the other girls had rushed frantically around the house—except Ruby
Gillis, who remained as if rooted to the ground and went into hysterics—they found Anne
lying all white and limp among the wreck and ruin of the Virginia creeper. “Anne, are you killed?” shrieked Diana,
throwing herself on her knees beside her friend. “Oh, Anne, dear Anne, speak just one word
to me and tell me if you’re killed.” To the immense relief of all the girls, and
especially of Josie Pye, who, in spite of lack of imagination, had been seized with
horrible visions of a future branded as the girl who was the cause of Anne Shirley’s
early and tragic death, Anne sat dizzily up and answered uncertainly: “No, Diana, I am not killed, but I think
I am rendered unconscious.” “Where?” sobbed Carrie Sloane. “Oh,
where, Anne?” Before Anne could answer Mrs. Barry appeared on the scene. At sight of her
Anne tried to scramble to her feet, but sank back again with a sharp little cry of pain. “What’s the matter? Where have you hurt
yourself?” demanded Mrs. Barry. “My ankle,” gasped Anne. “Oh, Diana,
please find your father and ask him to take me home. I know I can never walk there. And
I’m sure I couldn’t hop so far on one foot when Jane couldn’t even hop around
the garden.” Marilla was out in the orchard picking a panful
of summer apples when she saw Mr. Barry coming over the log bridge and up the slope, with
Mrs. Barry beside him and a whole procession of little girls trailing after him. In his
arms he carried Anne, whose head lay limply against his shoulder. At that moment Marilla had a revelation. In
the sudden stab of fear that pierced her very heart she realized what Anne had come to mean
to her. She would have admitted that she liked Anne—nay, that she was very fond of Anne.
But now she knew as she hurried wildly down the slope that Anne was dearer to her than
anything else on earth. “Mr. Barry, what has happened to her?”
she gasped, more white and shaken than the self-contained, sensible Marilla had been
for many years. Anne herself answered, lifting her head. “Don’t be very frightened, Marilla. I
was walking the ridgepole and I fell off. I expect I have sprained my ankle. But, Marilla,
I might have broken my neck. Let us look on the bright side of things.” “I might have known you’d go and do something
of the sort when I let you go to that party,” said Marilla, sharp and shrewish in her very
relief. “Bring her in here, Mr. Barry, and lay her on the sofa. Mercy me, the child has
gone and fainted!” It was quite true. Overcome by the pain of
her injury, Anne had one more of her wishes granted to her. She had fainted dead away. Matthew, hastily summoned from the harvest
field, was straightway dispatched for the doctor, who in due time came, to discover
that the injury was more serious than they had supposed. Anne’s ankle was broken. That night, when Marilla went up to the east
gable, where a white-faced girl was lying, a plaintive voice greeted her from the bed. “Aren’t you very sorry for me, Marilla?” “It was your own fault,” said Marilla,
twitching down the blind and lighting a lamp. “And that is just why you should be sorry
for me,” said Anne, “because the thought that it is all my own fault is what makes
it so hard. If I could blame it on anybody I would feel so much better. But what would
you have done, Marilla, if you had been dared to walk a ridgepole?” “I’d have stayed on good firm ground and
let them dare away. Such absurdity!” said Marilla. Anne sighed. “But you have such strength of mind, Marilla.
I haven’t. I just felt that I couldn’t bear Josie Pye’s scorn. She would have crowed
over me all my life. And I think I have been punished so much that you needn’t be very
cross with me, Marilla. It’s not a bit nice to faint, after all. And the doctor hurt me
dreadfully when he was setting my ankle. I won’t be able to go around for six or seven
weeks and I’ll miss the new lady teacher. She won’t be new any more by the time I’m
able to go to school. And Gil—everybody will get ahead of me in class. Oh, I am an
afflicted mortal. But I’ll try to bear it all bravely if only you won’t be cross with
me, Marilla.” “There, there, I’m not cross,” said
Marilla. “You’re an unlucky child, there’s no doubt about that; but as you say, you’ll
have the suffering of it. Here now, try and eat some supper.” “Isn’t it fortunate I’ve got such an
imagination?” said Anne. “It will help me through splendidly, I expect. What do people
who haven’t any imagination do when they break their bones, do you suppose, Marilla?” Anne had good reason to bless her imagination
many a time and oft during the tedious seven weeks that followed. But she was not solely
dependent on it. She had many visitors and not a day passed without one or more of the
schoolgirls dropping in to bring her flowers and books and tell her all the happenings
in the juvenile world of Avonlea. “Everybody has been so good and kind, Marilla,”
sighed Anne happily, on the day when she could first limp across the floor. “It isn’t
very pleasant to be laid up; but there is a bright side to it, Marilla. You find out
how many friends you have. Why, even Superintendent Bell came to see me, and he’s really a very
fine man. Not a kindred spirit, of course; but still I like him and I’m awfully sorry
I ever criticized his prayers. I believe now he really does mean them, only he has got
into the habit of saying them as if he didn’t. He could get over that if he’d take a little
trouble. I gave him a good broad hint. I told him how hard I tried to make my own little
private prayers interesting. He told me all about the time he broke his ankle when he
was a boy. It does seem so strange to think of Superintendent Bell ever being a boy. Even
my imagination has its limits, for I can’t imagine that. When I try to imagine him as
a boy I see him with gray whiskers and spectacles, just as he looks in Sunday school, only small.
Now, it’s so easy to imagine Mrs. Allan as a little girl. Mrs. Allan has been to see
me fourteen times. Isn’t that something to be proud of, Marilla? When a minister’s
wife has so many claims on her time! She is such a cheerful person to have visit you,
too. She never tells you it’s your own fault and she hopes you’ll be a better girl on
account of it. Mrs. Lynde always told me that when she came to see me; and she said it in
a kind of way that made me feel she might hope I’d be a better girl but didn’t really
believe I would. Even Josie Pye came to see me. I received her as politely as I could,
because I think she was sorry she dared me to walk a ridgepole. If I had been killed
she would had to carry a dark burden of remorse all her life. Diana has been a faithful friend.
She’s been over every day to cheer my lonely pillow. But oh, I shall be so glad when I
can go to school for I’ve heard such exciting things about the new teacher. The girls all
think she is perfectly sweet. Diana says she has the loveliest fair curly hair and such
fascinating eyes. She dresses beautifully, and her sleeve puffs are bigger than anybody
else’s in Avonlea. Every other Friday afternoon she has recitations and everybody has to say
a piece or take part in a dialogue. Oh, it’s just glorious to think of it. Josie Pye says
she hates it but that is just because Josie has so little imagination. Diana and Ruby
Gillis and Jane Andrews are preparing a dialogue, called ‘A Morning Visit,’ for next Friday.
And the Friday afternoons they don’t have recitations Miss Stacy takes them all to the
woods for a ‘field’ day and they study ferns and flowers and birds. And they have
physical culture exercises every morning and evening. Mrs. Lynde says she never heard of
such goings on and it all comes of having a lady teacher. But I think it must be splendid
and I believe I shall find that Miss Stacy is a kindred spirit.” “There’s one thing plain to be seen, Anne,”
said Marilla, “and that is that your fall off the Barry roof hasn’t injured your tongue
at all.” CHAPTER XXIV. Miss Stacy and Her Pupils Get
Up a Concert IT was October again when Anne was ready to
go back to school—a glorious October, all red and gold, with mellow mornings when the
valleys were filled with delicate mists as if the spirit of autumn had poured them in
for the sun to drain—amethyst, pearl, silver, rose, and smoke-blue. The dews were so heavy
that the fields glistened like cloth of silver and there were such heaps of rustling leaves
in the hollows of many-stemmed woods to run crisply through. The Birch Path was a canopy
of yellow and the ferns were sear and brown all along it. There was a tang in the very
air that inspired the hearts of small maidens tripping, unlike snails, swiftly and willingly
to school; and it was jolly to be back again at the little brown desk beside Diana, with
Ruby Gillis nodding across the aisle and Carrie Sloane sending up notes and Julia Bell passing
a “chew” of gum down from the back seat. Anne drew a long breath of happiness as she
sharpened her pencil and arranged her picture cards in her desk. Life was certainly very
interesting. In the new teacher she found another true
and helpful friend. Miss Stacy was a bright, sympathetic young woman with the happy gift
of winning and holding the affections of her pupils and bringing out the best that was
in them mentally and morally. Anne expanded like a flower under this wholesome influence
and carried home to the admiring Matthew and the critical Marilla glowing accounts of schoolwork
and aims. “I love Miss Stacy with my whole heart,
Marilla. She is so ladylike and she has such a sweet voice. When she pronounces my name
I feel instinctively that she’s spelling it with an E. We had recitations this afternoon.
I just wish you could have been there to hear me recite ‘Mary, Queen of Scots.’ I just
put my whole soul into it. Ruby Gillis told me coming home that the way I said the line,
‘Now for my father’s arm,’ she said, ‘my woman’s heart farewell,’ just made
her blood run cold.” “Well now, you might recite it for me some
of these days, out in the barn,” suggested Matthew. “Of course I will,” said Anne meditatively,
“but I won’t be able to do it so well, I know. It won’t be so exciting as it is
when you have a whole schoolful before you hanging breathlessly on your words. I know
I won’t be able to make your blood run cold.” “Mrs. Lynde says it made her blood run cold
to see the boys climbing to the very tops of those big trees on Bell’s hill after
crows’ nests last Friday,” said Marilla. “I wonder at Miss Stacy for encouraging
it.” “But we wanted a crow’s nest for nature
study,” explained Anne. “That was on our field afternoon. Field afternoons are splendid,
Marilla. And Miss Stacy explains everything so beautifully. We have to write compositions
on our field afternoons and I write the best ones.” “It’s very vain of you to say so then.
You’d better let your teacher say it.” “But she did say it, Marilla. And indeed
I’m not vain about it. How can I be, when I’m such a dunce at geometry? Although I’m
really beginning to see through it a little, too. Miss Stacy makes it so clear. Still,
I’ll never be good at it and I assure you it is a humbling reflection. But I love writing
compositions. Mostly Miss Stacy lets us choose our own subjects; but next week we are to
write a composition on some remarkable person. It’s hard to choose among so many remarkable
people who have lived. Mustn’t it be splendid to be remarkable and have compositions written
about you after you’re dead? Oh, I would dearly love to be remarkable. I think when
I grow up I’ll be a trained nurse and go with the Red Crosses to the field of battle
as a messenger of mercy. That is, if I don’t go out as a foreign missionary. That would
be very romantic, but one would have to be very good to be a missionary, and that would
be a stumbling block. We have physical culture exercises every day, too. They make you graceful
and promote digestion.” “Promote fiddlesticks!” said Marilla,
who honestly thought it was all nonsense. But all the field afternoons and recitation
Fridays and physical culture contortions paled before a project which Miss Stacy brought
forward in November. This was that the scholars of Avonlea school should get up a concert
and hold it in the hall on Christmas Night, for the laudable purpose of helping to pay
for a schoolhouse flag. The pupils one and all taking graciously to this plan, the preparations
for a program were begun at once. And of all the excited performers-elect none was so excited
as Anne Shirley, who threw herself into the undertaking heart and soul, hampered as she
was by Marilla’s disapproval. Marilla thought it all rank foolishness. “It’s just filling your heads up with
nonsense and taking time that ought to be put on your lessons,” she grumbled. “I
don’t approve of children’s getting up concerts and racing about to practices. It
makes them vain and forward and fond of gadding.” “But think of the worthy object,” pleaded
Anne. “A flag will cultivate a spirit of patriotism, Marilla.” “Fudge! There’s precious little patriotism
in the thoughts of any of you. All you want is a good time.” “Well, when you can combine patriotism and
fun, isn’t it all right? Of course it’s real nice to be getting up a concert. We’re
going to have six choruses and Diana is to sing a solo. I’m in two dialogues—‘The
Society for the Suppression of Gossip’ and ‘The Fairy Queen.’ The boys are going
to have a dialogue too. And I’m to have two recitations, Marilla. I just tremble when
I think of it, but it’s a nice thrilly kind of tremble. And we’re to have a tableau
at the last—‘Faith, Hope and Charity.’ Diana and Ruby and I are to be in it, all
draped in white with flowing hair. I’m to be Hope, with my hands clasped—so—and
my eyes uplifted. I’m going to practice my recitations in the garret. Don’t be alarmed
if you hear me groaning. I have to groan heartrendingly in one of them, and it’s really hard to
get up a good artistic groan, Marilla. Josie Pye is sulky because she didn’t get the
part she wanted in the dialogue. She wanted to be the fairy queen. That would have been
ridiculous, for who ever heard of a fairy queen as fat as Josie? Fairy queens must be
slender. Jane Andrews is to be the queen and I am to be one of her maids of honor. Josie
says she thinks a red-haired fairy is just as ridiculous as a fat one, but I do not let
myself mind what Josie says. I’m to have a wreath of white roses on my hair and Ruby
Gillis is going to lend me her slippers because I haven’t any of my own. It’s necessary
for fairies to have slippers, you know. You couldn’t imagine a fairy wearing boots,
could you? Especially with copper toes? We are going to decorate the hall with creeping
spruce and fir mottoes with pink tissue-paper roses in them. And we are all to march in
two by two after the audience is seated, while Emma White plays a march on the organ. Oh,
Marilla, I know you are not so enthusiastic about it as I am, but don’t you hope your
little Anne will distinguish herself?” “All I hope is that you’ll behave yourself.
I’ll be heartily glad when all this fuss is over and you’ll be able to settle down.
You are simply good for nothing just now with your head stuffed full of dialogues and groans
and tableaus. As for your tongue, it’s a marvel it’s not clean worn out.” Anne sighed and betook herself to the back
yard, over which a young new moon was shining through the leafless poplar boughs from an
apple-green western sky, and where Matthew was splitting wood. Anne perched herself on
a block and talked the concert over with him, sure of an appreciative and sympathetic listener
in this instance at least. “Well now, I reckon it’s going to be a
pretty good concert. And I expect you’ll do your part fine,” he said, smiling down
into her eager, vivacious little face. Anne smiled back at him. Those two were the best
of friends and Matthew thanked his stars many a time and oft that he had nothing to do with
bringing her up. That was Marilla’s exclusive duty; if it had been his he would have been
worried over frequent conflicts between inclination and said duty. As it was, he was free to,
“spoil Anne”—Marilla’s phrasing—as much as he liked. But it was not such a bad
arrangement after all; a little “appreciation” sometimes does quite as much good as all the
conscientious “bringing up” in the world. CHAPTER XXV. Matthew Insists on Puffed Sleeves
MATTHEW was having a bad ten minutes of it. He had come into the kitchen, in the twilight
of a cold, gray December evening, and had sat down in the woodbox corner to take off
his heavy boots, unconscious of the fact that Anne and a bevy of her schoolmates were having
a practice of “The Fairy Queen” in the sitting room. Presently they came trooping
through the hall and out into the kitchen, laughing and chattering gaily. They did not
see Matthew, who shrank bashfully back into the shadows beyond the woodbox with a boot
in one hand and a bootjack in the other, and he watched them shyly for the aforesaid ten
minutes as they put on caps and jackets and talked about the dialogue and the concert.
Anne stood among them, bright eyed and animated as they; but Matthew suddenly became conscious
that there was something about her different from her mates. And what worried Matthew was
that the difference impressed him as being something that should not exist. Anne had
a brighter face, and bigger, starrier eyes, and more delicate features than the other;
even shy, unobservant Matthew had learned to take note of these things; but the difference
that disturbed him did not consist in any of these respects. Then in what did it consist? Matthew was haunted by this question long
after the girls had gone, arm in arm, down the long, hard-frozen lane and Anne had betaken
herself to her books. He could not refer it to Marilla, who, he felt, would be quite sure
to sniff scornfully and remark that the only difference she saw between Anne and the other
girls was that they sometimes kept their tongues quiet while Anne never did. This, Matthew
felt, would be no great help. He had recourse to his pipe that evening to
help him study it out, much to Marilla’s disgust. After two hours of smoking and hard
reflection Matthew arrived at a solution of his problem. Anne was not dressed like the
other girls! The more Matthew thought about the matter
the more he was convinced that Anne never had been dressed like the other girls—never
since she had come to Green Gables. Marilla kept her clothed in plain, dark dresses, all
made after the same unvarying pattern. If Matthew knew there was such a thing as fashion
in dress it was as much as he did; but he was quite sure that Anne’s sleeves did not
look at all like the sleeves the other girls wore. He recalled the cluster of little girls
he had seen around her that evening—all gay in waists of red and blue and pink and
white—and he wondered why Marilla always kept her so plainly and soberly gowned. Of course, it must be all right. Marilla knew
best and Marilla was bringing her up. Probably some wise, inscrutable motive was to be served
thereby. But surely it would do no harm to let the child have one pretty dress—something
like Diana Barry always wore. Matthew decided that he would give her one; that surely could
not be objected to as an unwarranted putting in of his oar. Christmas was only a fortnight
off. A nice new dress would be the very thing for a present. Matthew, with a sigh of satisfaction,
put away his pipe and went to bed, while Marilla opened all the doors and aired the house. The very next evening Matthew betook himself
to Carmody to buy the dress, determined to get the worst over and have done with it.
It would be, he felt assured, no trifling ordeal. There were some things Matthew could
buy and prove himself no mean bargainer; but he knew he would be at the mercy of shopkeepers
when it came to buying a girl’s dress. After much cogitation Matthew resolved to
go to Samuel Lawson’s store instead of William Blair’s. To be sure, the Cuthberts always
had gone to William Blair’s; it was almost as much a matter of conscience with them as
to attend the Presbyterian church and vote Conservative. But William Blair’s two daughters
frequently waited on customers there and Matthew held them in absolute dread. He could contrive
to deal with them when he knew exactly what he wanted and could point it out; but in such
a matter as this, requiring explanation and consultation, Matthew felt that he must be
sure of a man behind the counter. So he would go to Lawson’s, where Samuel or his son
would wait on him. Alas! Matthew did not know that Samuel, in
the recent expansion of his business, had set up a lady clerk also; she was a niece
of his wife’s and a very dashing young person indeed, with a huge, drooping pompadour, big,
rolling brown eyes, and a most extensive and bewildering smile. She was dressed with exceeding
smartness and wore several bangle bracelets that glittered and rattled and tinkled with
every movement of her hands. Matthew was covered with confusion at finding her there at all;
and those bangles completely wrecked his wits at one fell swoop. “What can I do for you this evening, Mr.
Cuthbert?” Miss Lucilla Harris inquired, briskly and ingratiatingly, tapping the counter
with both hands. “Have you any—any—any—well now, say
any garden rakes?” stammered Matthew. Miss Harris looked somewhat surprised, as
well she might, to hear a man inquiring for garden rakes in the middle of December. “I believe we have one or two left over,”
she said, “but they’re upstairs in the lumber room. I’ll go and see.” During
her absence Matthew collected his scattered senses for another effort. When Miss Harris returned with the rake and
cheerfully inquired: “Anything else tonight, Mr. Cuthbert?” Matthew took his courage
in both hands and replied: “Well now, since you suggest it, I might as well—take—that
is—look at—buy some—some hayseed.” Miss Harris had heard Matthew Cuthbert called
odd. She now concluded that he was entirely crazy. “We only keep hayseed in the spring,”
she explained loftily. “We’ve none on hand just now.” “Oh, certainly—certainly—just as you
say,” stammered unhappy Matthew, seizing the rake and making for the door. At the threshold
he recollected that he had not paid for it and he turned miserably back. While Miss Harris
was counting out his change he rallied his powers for a final desperate attempt. “Well now—if it isn’t too much trouble—I
might as well—that is—I’d like to look at—at—some sugar.” “White or brown?” queried Miss Harris
patiently. “Oh—well now—brown,” said Matthew
feebly. “There’s a barrel of it over there,”
said Miss Harris, shaking her bangles at it. “It’s the only kind we have.” “I’ll—I’ll take twenty pounds of it,”
said Matthew, with beads of perspiration standing on his forehead. Matthew had driven halfway home before he
was his own man again. It had been a gruesome experience, but it served him right, he thought,
for committing the heresy of going to a strange store. When he reached home he hid the rake
in the tool house, but the sugar he carried in to Marilla. “Brown sugar!” exclaimed Marilla. “Whatever
possessed you to get so much? You know I never use it except for the hired man’s porridge
or black fruit cake. Jerry’s gone and I’ve made my cake long ago. It’s not good sugar,
either—it’s coarse and dark—William Blair doesn’t usually keep sugar like that.” “I—I thought it might come in handy sometime,”
said Matthew, making good his escape. When Matthew came to think the matter over
he decided that a woman was required to cope with the situation. Marilla was out of the
question. Matthew felt sure she would throw cold water on his project at once. Remained
only Mrs. Lynde; for of no other woman in Avonlea would Matthew have dared to ask advice.
To Mrs. Lynde he went accordingly, and that good lady promptly took the matter out of
the harassed man’s hands. “Pick out a dress for you to give Anne?
To be sure I will. I’m going to Carmody tomorrow and I’ll attend to it. Have you
something particular in mind? No? Well, I’ll just go by my own judgment then. I believe
a nice rich brown would just suit Anne, and William Blair has some new gloria in that’s
real pretty. Perhaps you’d like me to make it up for her, too, seeing that if Marilla
was to make it Anne would probably get wind of it before the time and spoil the surprise?
Well, I’ll do it. No, it isn’t a mite of trouble. I like sewing. I’ll make it
to fit my niece, Jenny Gillis, for she and Anne are as like as two peas as far as figure
goes.” “Well now, I’m much obliged,” said Matthew,
“and—and—I dunno—but I’d like—I think they make the sleeves different nowadays
to what they used to be. If it wouldn’t be asking too much I—I’d like them made
in the new way.” “Puffs? Of course. You needn’t worry a
speck more about it, Matthew. I’ll make it up in the very latest fashion,” said
Mrs. Lynde. To herself she added when Matthew had gone: “It’ll be a real satisfaction to see that
poor child wearing something decent for once. The way Marilla dresses her is positively
ridiculous, that’s what, and I’ve ached to tell her so plainly a dozen times. I’ve
held my tongue though, for I can see Marilla doesn’t want advice and she thinks she knows
more about bringing children up than I do for all she’s an old maid. But that’s
always the way. Folks that has brought up children know that there’s no hard and fast
method in the world that’ll suit every child. But them as never have think it’s all as
plain and easy as Rule of Three—just set your three terms down so fashion, and the
sum ‘ll work out correct. But flesh and blood don’t come under the head of arithmetic
and that’s where Marilla Cuthbert makes her mistake. I suppose she’s trying to cultivate
a spirit of humility in Anne by dressing her as she does; but it’s more likely to cultivate
envy and discontent. I’m sure the child must feel the difference between her clothes
and the other girls’. But to think of Matthew taking notice of it! That man is waking up
after being asleep for over sixty years.” Marilla knew all the following fortnight that
Matthew had something on his mind, but what it was she could not guess, until Christmas
Eve, when Mrs. Lynde brought up the new dress. Marilla behaved pretty well on the whole,
although it is very likely she distrusted Mrs. Lynde’s diplomatic explanation that
she had made the dress because Matthew was afraid Anne would find out about it too soon
if Marilla made it. “So this is what Matthew has been looking
so mysterious over and grinning about to himself for two weeks, is it?” she said a little
stiffly but tolerantly. “I knew he was up to some foolishness. Well, I must say I don’t
think Anne needed any more dresses. I made her three good, warm, serviceable ones this
fall, and anything more is sheer extravagance. There’s enough material in those sleeves
alone to make a waist, I declare there is. You’ll just pamper Anne’s vanity, Matthew,
and she’s as vain as a peacock now. Well, I hope she’ll be satisfied at last, for
I know she’s been hankering after those silly sleeves ever since they came in, although
she never said a word after the first. The puffs have been getting bigger and more ridiculous
right along; they’re as big as balloons now. Next year anybody who wears them will
have to go through a door sideways.” Christmas morning broke on a beautiful white
world. It had been a very mild December and people had looked forward to a green Christmas;
but just enough snow fell softly in the night to transfigure Avonlea. Anne peeped out from
her frosted gable window with delighted eyes. The firs in the Haunted Wood were all feathery
and wonderful; the birches and wild cherry trees were outlined in pearl; the plowed fields
were stretches of snowy dimples; and there was a crisp tang in the air that was glorious.
Anne ran downstairs singing until her voice reechoed through Green Gables. “Merry Christmas, Marilla! Merry Christmas,
Matthew! Isn’t it a lovely Christmas? I’m so glad it’s white. Any other kind of Christmas
doesn’t seem real, does it? I don’t like green Christmases. They’re not green—they’re
just nasty faded browns and grays. What makes people call them green? Why—why—Matthew,
is that for me? Oh, Matthew!” Matthew had sheepishly unfolded the dress
from its paper swathings and held it out with a deprecatory glance at Marilla, who feigned
to be contemptuously filling the teapot, but nevertheless watched the scene out of the
corner of her eye with a rather interested air. Anne took the dress and looked at it in reverent
silence. Oh, how pretty it was—a lovely soft brown gloria with all the gloss of silk;
a skirt with dainty frills and shirrings; a waist elaborately pintucked in the most
fashionable way, with a little ruffle of filmy lace at the neck. But the sleeves—they were
the crowning glory! Long elbow cuffs, and above them two beautiful puffs divided by
rows of shirring and bows of brown-silk ribbon. “That’s a Christmas present for you, Anne,”
said Matthew shyly. “Why—why—Anne, don’t you like it? Well now—well now.” For Anne’s eyes had suddenly filled with
tears. “Like it! Oh, Matthew!” Anne laid the
dress over a chair and clasped her hands. “Matthew, it’s perfectly exquisite. Oh,
I can never thank you enough. Look at those sleeves! Oh, it seems to me this must be a
happy dream.” “Well, well, let us have breakfast,” interrupted
Marilla. “I must say, Anne, I don’t think you needed the dress; but since Matthew has
got it for you, see that you take good care of it. There’s a hair ribbon Mrs. Lynde
left for you. It’s brown, to match the dress. Come now, sit in.” “I don’t see how I’m going to eat breakfast,”
said Anne rapturously. “Breakfast seems so commonplace at such an exciting moment.
I’d rather feast my eyes on that dress. I’m so glad that puffed sleeves are still
fashionable. It did seem to me that I’d never get over it if they went out before
I had a dress with them. I’d never have felt quite satisfied, you see. It was lovely
of Mrs. Lynde to give me the ribbon too. I feel that I ought to be a very good girl indeed.
It’s at times like this I’m sorry I’m not a model little girl; and I always resolve
that I will be in future. But somehow it’s hard to carry out your resolutions when irresistible
temptations come. Still, I really will make an extra effort after this.” When the commonplace breakfast was over Diana
appeared, crossing the white log bridge in the hollow, a gay little figure in her crimson
ulster. Anne flew down the slope to meet her. “Merry Christmas, Diana! And oh, it’s
a wonderful Christmas. I’ve something splendid to show you. Matthew has given me the loveliest
dress, with such sleeves. I couldn’t even imagine any nicer.” “I’ve got something more for you,” said
Diana breathlessly. “Here—this box. Aunt Josephine sent us out a big box with ever
so many things in it—and this is for you. I’d have brought it over last night, but
it didn’t come until after dark, and I never feel very comfortable coming through the Haunted
Wood in the dark now.” Anne opened the box and peeped in. First a
card with “For the Anne-girl and Merry Christmas,” written on it; and then, a pair of the daintiest
little kid slippers, with beaded toes and satin bows and glistening buckles. “Oh,” said Anne, “Diana, this is too
much. I must be dreaming.” “I call it providential,” said Diana.
“You won’t have to borrow Ruby’s slippers now, and that’s a blessing, for they’re
two sizes too big for you, and it would be awful to hear a fairy shuffling. Josie Pye
would be delighted. Mind you, Rob Wright went home with Gertie Pye from the practice night
before last. Did you ever hear anything equal to that?” All the Avonlea scholars were in a fever of
excitement that day, for the hall had to be decorated and a last grand rehearsal held. The concert came off in the evening and was
a pronounced success. The little hall was crowded; all the performers did excellently
well, but Anne was the bright particular star of the occasion, as even envy, in the shape
of Josie Pye, dared not deny. “Oh, hasn’t it been a brilliant evening?”
sighed Anne, when it was all over and she and Diana were walking home together under
a dark, starry sky. “Everything went off very well,” said
Diana practically. “I guess we must have made as much as ten dollars. Mind you, Mr.
Allan is going to send an account of it to the Charlottetown papers.” “Oh, Diana, will we really see our names
in print? It makes me thrill to think of it. Your solo was perfectly elegant, Diana. I
felt prouder than you did when it was encored. I just said to myself, ‘It is my dear bosom
friend who is so honored.’” “Well, your recitations just brought down
the house, Anne. That sad one was simply splendid.” “Oh, I was so nervous, Diana. When Mr. Allan
called out my name I really cannot tell how I ever got up on that platform. I felt as
if a million eyes were looking at me and through me, and for one dreadful moment I was sure
I couldn’t begin at all. Then I thought of my lovely puffed sleeves and took courage.
I knew that I must live up to those sleeves, Diana. So I started in, and my voice seemed
to be coming from ever so far away. I just felt like a parrot. It’s providential that
I practiced those recitations so often up in the garret, or I’d never have been able
to get through. Did I groan all right?” “Yes, indeed, you groaned lovely,” assured
Diana. “I saw old Mrs. Sloane wiping away tears
when I sat down. It was splendid to think I had touched somebody’s heart. It’s so
romantic to take part in a concert, isn’t it? Oh, it’s been a very memorable occasion
indeed.” “Wasn’t the boys’ dialogue fine?”
said Diana. “Gilbert Blythe was just splendid. Anne, I do think it’s awful mean the way
you treat Gil. Wait till I tell you. When you ran off the platform after the fairy dialogue
one of your roses fell out of your hair. I saw Gil pick it up and put it in his breast
pocket. There now. You’re so romantic that I’m sure you ought to be pleased at that.” “It’s nothing to me what that person does,”
said Anne loftily. “I simply never waste a thought on him, Diana.” That night Marilla and Matthew, who had been
out to a concert for the first time in twenty years, sat for a while by the kitchen fire
after Anne had gone to bed. “Well now, I guess our Anne did as well
as any of them,” said Matthew proudly. “Yes, she did,” admitted Marilla. “She’s
a bright child, Matthew. And she looked real nice too. I’ve been kind of opposed to this
concert scheme, but I suppose there’s no real harm in it after all. Anyhow, I was proud
of Anne tonight, although I’m not going to tell her so.” “Well now, I was proud of her and I did
tell her so ‘fore she went upstairs,” said Matthew. “We must see what we can do
for her some of these days, Marilla. I guess she’ll need something more than Avonlea
school by and by.” “There’s time enough to think of that,”
said Marilla. “She’s only thirteen in March. Though tonight it struck me she was
growing quite a big girl. Mrs. Lynde made that dress a mite too long, and it makes Anne
look so tall. She’s quick to learn and I guess the best thing we can do for her will
be to send her to Queen’s after a spell. But nothing need be said about that for a
year or two yet.” “Well now, it’ll do no harm to be thinking
it over off and on,” said Matthew. “Things like that are all the better for lots of thinking
over.” CHAPTER XXVI. The Story Club Is Formed
JUNIOR Avonlea found it hard to settle down to humdrum existence again. To Anne in particular
things seemed fearfully flat, stale, and unprofitable after the goblet of excitement she had been
sipping for weeks. Could she go back to the former quiet pleasures of those faraway days
before the concert? At first, as she told Diana, she did not really think she could. “I’m positively certain, Diana, that life
can never be quite the same again as it was in those olden days,” she said mournfully,
as if referring to a period of at least fifty years back. “Perhaps after a while I’ll
get used to it, but I’m afraid concerts spoil people for everyday life. I suppose
that is why Marilla disapproves of them. Marilla is such a sensible woman. It must be a great
deal better to be sensible; but still, I don’t believe I’d really want to be a sensible
person, because they are so unromantic. Mrs. Lynde says there is no danger of my ever being
one, but you can never tell. I feel just now that I may grow up to be sensible yet. But
perhaps that is only because I’m tired. I simply couldn’t sleep last night for ever
so long. I just lay awake and imagined the concert over and over again. That’s one
splendid thing about such affairs—it’s so lovely to look back to them.” Eventually, however, Avonlea school slipped
back into its old groove and took up its old interests. To be sure, the concert left traces.
Ruby Gillis and Emma White, who had quarreled over a point of precedence in their platform
seats, no longer sat at the same desk, and a promising friendship of three years was
broken up. Josie Pye and Julia Bell did not “speak” for three months, because Josie
Pye had told Bessie Wright that Julia Bell’s bow when she got up to recite made her think
of a chicken jerking its head, and Bessie told Julia. None of the Sloanes would have
any dealings with the Bells, because the Bells had declared that the Sloanes had too much
to do in the program, and the Sloanes had retorted that the Bells were not capable of
doing the little they had to do properly. Finally, Charlie Sloane fought Moody Spurgeon
MacPherson, because Moody Spurgeon had said that Anne Shirley put on airs about her recitations,
and Moody Spurgeon was “licked”; consequently Moody Spurgeon’s sister, Ella May, would
not “speak” to Anne Shirley all the rest of the winter. With the exception of these
trifling frictions, work in Miss Stacy’s little kingdom went on with regularity and
smoothness. The winter weeks slipped by. It was an unusually
mild winter, with so little snow that Anne and Diana could go to school nearly every
day by way of the Birch Path. On Anne’s birthday they were tripping lightly down it,
keeping eyes and ears alert amid all their chatter, for Miss Stacy had told them that
they must soon write a composition on “A Winter’s Walk in the Woods,” and it behooved
them to be observant. “Just think, Diana, I’m thirteen years
old today,” remarked Anne in an awed voice. “I can scarcely realize that I’m in my
teens. When I woke this morning it seemed to me that everything must be different. You’ve
been thirteen for a month, so I suppose it doesn’t seem such a novelty to you as it
does to me. It makes life seem so much more interesting. In two more years I’ll be really
grown up. It’s a great comfort to think that I’ll be able to use big words then
without being laughed at.” “Ruby Gillis says she means to have a beau
as soon as she’s fifteen,” said Diana. “Ruby Gillis thinks of nothing but beaus,”
said Anne disdainfully. “She’s actually delighted when anyone writes her name up in
a take-notice for all she pretends to be so mad. But I’m afraid that is an uncharitable
speech. Mrs. Allan says we should never make uncharitable speeches; but they do slip out
so often before you think, don’t they? I simply can’t talk about Josie Pye without
making an uncharitable speech, so I never mention her at all. You may have noticed that.
I’m trying to be as much like Mrs. Allan as I possibly can, for I think she’s perfect.
Mr. Allan thinks so too. Mrs. Lynde says he just worships the ground she treads on and
she doesn’t really think it right for a minister to set his affections so much on
a mortal being. But then, Diana, even ministers are human and have their besetting sins just
like everybody else. I had such an interesting talk with Mrs. Allan about besetting sins
last Sunday afternoon. There are just a few things it’s proper to talk about on Sundays
and that is one of them. My besetting sin is imagining too much and forgetting my duties.
I’m striving very hard to overcome it and now that I’m really thirteen perhaps I’ll
get on better.” “In four more years we’ll be able to put
our hair up,” said Diana. “Alice Bell is only sixteen and she is wearing hers up,
but I think that’s ridiculous. I shall wait until I’m seventeen.” “If I had Alice Bell’s crooked nose,”
said Anne decidedly, “I wouldn’t—but there! I won’t say what I was going to because
it was extremely uncharitable. Besides, I was comparing it with my own nose and that’s
vanity. I’m afraid I think too much about my nose ever since I heard that compliment
about it long ago. It really is a great comfort to me. Oh, Diana, look, there’s a rabbit.
That’s something to remember for our woods composition. I really think the woods are
just as lovely in winter as in summer. They’re so white and still, as if they were asleep
and dreaming pretty dreams.” “I won’t mind writing that composition
when its time comes,” sighed Diana. “I can manage to write about the woods, but the
one we’re to hand in Monday is terrible. The idea of Miss Stacy telling us to write
a story out of our own heads!” “Why, it’s as easy as wink,” said Anne. “It’s easy for you because you have an
imagination,” retorted Diana, “but what would you do if you had been born without
one? I suppose you have your composition all done?” Anne nodded, trying hard not to look virtuously
complacent and failing miserably. “I wrote it last Monday evening. It’s
called ‘The Jealous Rival; or In Death Not Divided.’ I read it to Marilla and she said
it was stuff and nonsense. Then I read it to Matthew and he said it was fine. That is
the kind of critic I like. It’s a sad, sweet story. I just cried like a child while I was
writing it. It’s about two beautiful maidens called Cordelia Montmorency and Geraldine
Seymour who lived in the same village and were devotedly attached to each other. Cordelia
was a regal brunette with a coronet of midnight hair and duskly flashing eyes. Geraldine was
a queenly blonde with hair like spun gold and velvety purple eyes.” “I never saw anybody with purple eyes,”
said Diana dubiously. “Neither did I. I just imagined them. I
wanted something out of the common. Geraldine had an alabaster brow too. I’ve found out
what an alabaster brow is. That is one of the advantages of being thirteen. You know
so much more than you did when you were only twelve.” “Well, what became of Cordelia and Geraldine?”
asked Diana, who was beginning to feel rather interested in their fate. “They grew in beauty side by side until
they were sixteen. Then Bertram DeVere came to their native village and fell in love with
the fair Geraldine. He saved her life when her horse ran away with her in a carriage,
and she fainted in his arms and he carried her home three miles; because, you understand,
the carriage was all smashed up. I found it rather hard to imagine the proposal because
I had no experience to go by. I asked Ruby Gillis if she knew anything about how men
proposed because I thought she’d likely be an authority on the subject, having so
many sisters married. Ruby told me she was hid in the hall pantry when Malcolm Andres
proposed to her sister Susan. She said Malcolm told Susan that his dad had given him the
farm in his own name and then said, ‘What do you say, darling pet, if we get hitched
this fall?’ And Susan said, ‘Yes—no—I don’t know—let me see’—and there they
were, engaged as quick as that. But I didn’t think that sort of a proposal was a very romantic
one, so in the end I had to imagine it out as well as I could. I made it very flowery
and poetical and Bertram went on his knees, although Ruby Gillis says it isn’t done
nowadays. Geraldine accepted him in a speech a page long. I can tell you I took a lot of
trouble with that speech. I rewrote it five times and I look upon it as my masterpiece.
Bertram gave her a diamond ring and a ruby necklace and told her they would go to Europe
for a wedding tour, for he was immensely wealthy. But then, alas, shadows began to darken over
their path. Cordelia was secretly in love with Bertram herself and when Geraldine told
her about the engagement she was simply furious, especially when she saw the necklace and the
diamond ring. All her affection for Geraldine turned to bitter hate and she vowed that she
should never marry Bertram. But she pretended to be Geraldine’s friend the same as ever.
One evening they were standing on the bridge over a rushing turbulent stream and Cordelia,
thinking they were alone, pushed Geraldine over the brink with a wild, mocking, ‘Ha,
ha, ha.’ But Bertram saw it all and he at once plunged into the current, exclaiming,
‘I will save thee, my peerless Geraldine.’ But alas, he had forgotten he couldn’t swim,
and they were both drowned, clasped in each other’s arms. Their bodies were washed ashore
soon afterwards. They were buried in the one grave and their funeral was most imposing,
Diana. It’s so much more romantic to end a story up with a funeral than a wedding.
As for Cordelia, she went insane with remorse and was shut up in a lunatic asylum. I thought
that was a poetical retribution for her crime.” “How perfectly lovely!” sighed Diana,
who belonged to Matthew’s school of critics. “I don’t see how you can make up such
thrilling things out of your own head, Anne. I wish my imagination was as good as yours.” “It would be if you’d only cultivate it,”
said Anne cheeringly. “I’ve just thought of a plan, Diana. Let you and me have a story
club all our own and write stories for practice. I’ll help you along until you can do them
by yourself. You ought to cultivate your imagination, you know. Miss Stacy says so. Only we must
take the right way. I told her about the Haunted Wood, but she said we went the wrong way about
it in that.” This was how the story club came into existence.
It was limited to Diana and Anne at first, but soon it was extended to include Jane Andrews
and Ruby Gillis and one or two others who felt that their imaginations needed cultivating.
No boys were allowed in it—although Ruby Gillis opined that their admission would make
it more exciting—and each member had to produce one story a week. “It’s extremely interesting,” Anne told
Marilla. “Each girl has to read her story out loud and then we talk it over. We are
going to keep them all sacredly and have them to read to our descendants. We each write
under a nom-de-plume. Mine is Rosamond Montmorency. All the girls do pretty well. Ruby Gillis
is rather sentimental. She puts too much lovemaking into her stories and you know too much is
worse than too little. Jane never puts any because she says it makes her feel so silly
when she had to read it out loud. Jane’s stories are extremely sensible. Then Diana
puts too many murders into hers. She says most of the time she doesn’t know what to
do with the people so she kills them off to get rid of them. I mostly always have to tell
them what to write about, but that isn’t hard for I’ve millions of ideas.” “I think this story-writing business is
the foolishest yet,” scoffed Marilla. “You’ll get a pack of nonsense into your heads and
waste time that should be put on your lessons. Reading stories is bad enough but writing
them is worse.” “But we’re so careful to put a moral into
them all, Marilla,” explained Anne. “I insist upon that. All the good people are
rewarded and all the bad ones are suitably punished. I’m sure that must have a wholesome
effect. The moral is the great thing. Mr. Allan says so. I read one of my stories to
him and Mrs. Allan and they both agreed that the moral was excellent. Only they laughed
in the wrong places. I like it better when people cry. Jane and Ruby almost always cry
when I come to the pathetic parts. Diana wrote her Aunt Josephine about our club and her
Aunt Josephine wrote back that we were to send her some of our stories. So we copied
out four of our very best and sent them. Miss Josephine Barry wrote back that she had never
read anything so amusing in her life. That kind of puzzled us because the stories were
all very pathetic and almost everybody died. But I’m glad Miss Barry liked them. It shows
our club is doing some good in the world. Mrs. Allan says that ought to be our object
in everything. I do really try to make it my object but I forget so often when I’m
having fun. I hope I shall be a little like Mrs. Allan when I grow up. Do you think there
is any prospect of it, Marilla?” “I shouldn’t say there was a great deal”
was Marilla’s encouraging answer. “I’m sure Mrs. Allan was never such a silly, forgetful
little girl as you are.” “No; but she wasn’t always so good as
she is now either,” said Anne seriously. “She told me so herself—that is, she said
she was a dreadful mischief when she was a girl and was always getting into scrapes.
I felt so encouraged when I heard that. Is it very wicked of me, Marilla, to feel encouraged
when I hear that other people have been bad and mischievous? Mrs. Lynde says it is. Mrs.
Lynde says she always feels shocked when she hears of anyone ever having been naughty,
no matter how small they were. Mrs. Lynde says she once heard a minister confess that
when he was a boy he stole a strawberry tart out of his aunt’s pantry and she never had
any respect for that minister again. Now, I wouldn’t have felt that way. I’d have
thought that it was real noble of him to confess it, and I’d have thought what an encouraging
thing it would be for small boys nowadays who do naughty things and are sorry for them
to know that perhaps they may grow up to be ministers in spite of it. That’s how I’d
feel, Marilla.” “The way I feel at present, Anne,” said
Marilla, “is that it’s high time you had those dishes washed. You’ve taken half an
hour longer than you should with all your chattering. Learn to work first and talk afterwards.” CHAPTER XXVII. Vanity and Vexation of Spirit
Marilla, walking home one late April evening from an Aid meeting, realized that the winter
was over and gone with the thrill of delight that spring never fails to bring to the oldest
and saddest as well as to the youngest and merriest. Marilla was not given to subjective
analysis of her thoughts and feelings. She probably imagined that she was thinking about
the Aids and their missionary box and the new carpet for the vestry room, but under
these reflections was a harmonious consciousness of red fields smoking into pale-purply mists
in the declining sun, of long, sharp-pointed fir shadows falling over the meadow beyond
the brook, of still, crimson-budded maples around a mirrorlike wood pool, of a wakening
in the world and a stir of hidden pulses under the gray sod. The spring was abroad in the
land and Marilla’s sober, middle-aged step was lighter and swifter because of its deep,
primal gladness. Her eyes dwelt affectionately on Green Gables,
peering through its network of trees and reflecting the sunlight back from its windows in several
little coruscations of glory. Marilla, as she picked her steps along the damp lane,
thought that it was really a satisfaction to know that she was going home to a briskly
snapping wood fire and a table nicely spread for tea, instead of to the cold comfort of
old Aid meeting evenings before Anne had come to Green Gables. Consequently, when Marilla entered her kitchen
and found the fire black out, with no sign of Anne anywhere, she felt justly disappointed
and irritated. She had told Anne to be sure and have tea ready at five o’clock, but
now she must hurry to take off her second-best dress and prepare the meal herself against
Matthew’s return from plowing. “I’ll settle Miss Anne when she comes
home,” said Marilla grimly, as she shaved up kindlings with a carving knife and with
more vim than was strictly necessary. Matthew had come in and was waiting patiently for
his tea in his corner. “She’s gadding off somewhere with Diana, writing stories
or practicing dialogues or some such tomfoolery, and never thinking once about the time or
her duties. She’s just got to be pulled up short and sudden on this sort of thing.
I don’t care if Mrs. Allan does say she’s the brightest and sweetest child she ever
knew. She may be bright and sweet enough, but her head is full of nonsense and there’s
never any knowing what shape it’ll break out in next. Just as soon as she grows out
of one freak she takes up with another. But there! Here I am saying the very thing I was
so riled with Rachel Lynde for saying at the Aid today. I was real glad when Mrs. Allan
spoke up for Anne, for if she hadn’t I know I’d have said something too sharp to Rachel
before everybody. Anne’s got plenty of faults, goodness knows, and far be it from me to deny
it. But I’m bringing her up and not Rachel Lynde, who’d pick faults in the Angel Gabriel
himself if he lived in Avonlea. Just the same, Anne has no business to leave the house like
this when I told her she was to stay home this afternoon and look after things. I must
say, with all her faults, I never found her disobedient or untrustworthy before and I’m
real sorry to find her so now.” “Well now, I dunno,” said Matthew, who,
being patient and wise and, above all, hungry, had deemed it best to let Marilla talk her
wrath out unhindered, having learned by experience that she got through with whatever work was
on hand much quicker if not delayed by untimely argument. “Perhaps you’re judging her
too hasty, Marilla. Don’t call her untrustworthy until you’re sure she has disobeyed you.
Mebbe it can all be explained—Anne’s a great hand at explaining.” “She’s not here when I told her to stay,”
retorted Marilla. “I reckon she’ll find it hard to explain that to my satisfaction.
Of course I knew you’d take her part, Matthew. But I’m bringing her up, not you.” It was dark when supper was ready, and still
no sign of Anne, coming hurriedly over the log bridge or up Lover’s Lane, breathless
and repentant with a sense of neglected duties. Marilla washed and put away the dishes grimly.
Then, wanting a candle to light her way down the cellar, she went up to the east gable
for the one that generally stood on Anne’s table. Lighting it, she turned around to see
Anne herself lying on the bed, face downward among the pillows. “Mercy on us,” said astonished Marilla,
“have you been asleep, Anne?” “No,” was the muffled reply. “Are you sick then?” demanded Marilla
anxiously, going over to the bed. Anne cowered deeper into her pillows as if
desirous of hiding herself forever from mortal eyes. “No. But please, Marilla, go away and don’t
look at me. I’m in the depths of despair and I don’t care who gets head in class
or writes the best composition or sings in the Sunday-school choir any more. Little things
like that are of no importance now because I don’t suppose I’ll ever be able to go
anywhere again. My career is closed. Please, Marilla, go away and don’t look at me.” “Did anyone ever hear the like?” the mystified
Marilla wanted to know. “Anne Shirley, whatever is the matter with you? What have you done?
Get right up this minute and tell me. This minute, I say. There now, what is it?” Anne had slid to the floor in despairing obedience. “Look at my hair, Marilla,” she whispered. Accordingly, Marilla lifted her candle and
looked scrutinizingly at Anne’s hair, flowing in heavy masses down her back. It certainly
had a very strange appearance. “Anne Shirley, what have you done to your
hair? Why, it’s green!” Green it might be called, if it were any earthly
color—a queer, dull, bronzy green, with streaks here and there of the original red
to heighten the ghastly effect. Never in all her life had Marilla seen anything so grotesque
as Anne’s hair at that moment. “Yes, it’s green,” moaned Anne. “I
thought nothing could be as bad as red hair. But now I know it’s ten times worse to have
green hair. Oh, Marilla, you little know how utterly wretched I am.” “I little know how you got into this fix,
but I mean to find out,” said Marilla. “Come right down to the kitchen—it’s too cold
up here—and tell me just what you’ve done. I’ve been expecting something queer for
some time. You haven’t got into any scrape for over two months, and I was sure another
one was due. Now, then, what did you do to your hair?” “I dyed it.” “Dyed it! Dyed your hair! Anne Shirley,
didn’t you know it was a wicked thing to do?” “Yes, I knew it was a little wicked,”
admitted Anne. “But I thought it was worth while to be a little wicked to get rid of
red hair. I counted the cost, Marilla. Besides, I meant to be extra good in other ways to
make up for it.” “Well,” said Marilla sarcastically, “if
I’d decided it was worth while to dye my hair I’d have dyed it a decent color at
least. I wouldn’t have dyed it green.” “But I didn’t mean to dye it green, Marilla,”
protested Anne dejectedly. “If I was wicked I meant to be wicked to some purpose. He said
it would turn my hair a beautiful raven black—he positively assured me that it would. How could
I doubt his word, Marilla? I know what it feels like to have your word doubted. And
Mrs. Allan says we should never suspect anyone of not telling us the truth unless we have
proof that they’re not. I have proof now—green hair is proof enough for anybody. But I hadn’t
then and I believed every word he said implicitly.” “Who said? Who are you talking about?” “The peddler that was here this afternoon.
I bought the dye from him.” “Anne Shirley, how often have I told you
never to let one of those Italians in the house! I don’t believe in encouraging them
to come around at all.” “Oh, I didn’t let him in the house. I
remembered what you told me, and I went out, carefully shut the door, and looked at his
things on the step. Besides, he wasn’t an Italian—he was a German Jew. He had a big
box full of very interesting things and he told me he was working hard to make enough
money to bring his wife and children out from Germany. He spoke so feelingly about them
that it touched my heart. I wanted to buy something from him to help him in such a worthy
object. Then all at once I saw the bottle of hair dye. The peddler said it was warranted
to dye any hair a beautiful raven black and wouldn’t wash off. In a trice I saw myself
with beautiful raven-black hair and the temptation was irresistible. But the price of the bottle
was seventy-five cents and I had only fifty cents left out of my chicken money. I think
the peddler had a very kind heart, for he said that, seeing it was me, he’d sell it
for fifty cents and that was just giving it away. So I bought it, and as soon as he had
gone I came up here and applied it with an old hairbrush as the directions said. I used
up the whole bottle, and oh, Marilla, when I saw the dreadful color it turned my hair
I repented of being wicked, I can tell you. And I’ve been repenting ever since.” “Well, I hope you’ll repent to good purpose,”
said Marilla severely, “and that you’ve got your eyes opened to where your vanity
has led you, Anne. Goodness knows what’s to be done. I suppose the first thing is to
give your hair a good washing and see if that will do any good.” Accordingly, Anne washed her hair, scrubbing
it vigorously with soap and water, but for all the difference it made she might as well
have been scouring its original red. The peddler had certainly spoken the truth when he declared
that the dye wouldn’t wash off, however his veracity might be impeached in other respects. “Oh, Marilla, what shall I do?” questioned
Anne in tears. “I can never live this down. People have pretty well forgotten my other
mistakes—the liniment cake and setting Diana drunk and flying into a temper with Mrs. Lynde.
But they’ll never forget this. They will think I am not respectable. Oh, Marilla, ‘what
a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.’ That is poetry, but it is true.
And oh, how Josie Pye will laugh! Marilla, I cannot face Josie Pye. I am the unhappiest
girl in Prince Edward Island.” Anne’s unhappiness continued for a week.
During that time she went nowhere and shampooed her hair every day. Diana alone of outsiders
knew the fatal secret, but she promised solemnly never to tell, and it may be stated here and
now that she kept her word. At the end of the week Marilla said decidedly: “It’s no use, Anne. That is fast dye if
ever there was any. Your hair must be cut off; there is no other way. You can’t go
out with it looking like that.” Anne’s lips quivered, but she realized the
bitter truth of Marilla’s remarks. With a dismal sigh she went for the scissors. “Please cut it off at once, Marilla, and
have it over. Oh, I feel that my heart is broken. This is such an unromantic affliction.
The girls in books lose their hair in fevers or sell it to get money for some good deed,
and I’m sure I wouldn’t mind losing my hair in some such fashion half so much. But
there is nothing comforting in having your hair cut off because you’ve dyed it a dreadful
color, is there? I’m going to weep all the time you’re cutting it off, if it won’t
interfere. It seems such a tragic thing.” Anne wept then, but later on, when she went
upstairs and looked in the glass, she was calm with despair. Marilla had done her work
thoroughly and it had been necessary to shingle the hair as closely as possible. The result
was not becoming, to state the case as mildly as may be. Anne promptly turned her glass
to the wall. “I’ll never, never look at myself again
until my hair grows,” she exclaimed passionately. Then she suddenly righted the glass. “Yes, I will, too. I’d do penance for
being wicked that way. I’ll look at myself every time I come to my room and see how ugly
I am. And I won’t try to imagine it away, either. I never thought I was vain about my
hair, of all things, but now I know I was, in spite of its being red, because it was
so long and thick and curly. I expect something will happen to my nose next.” Anne’s clipped head made a sensation in
school on the following Monday, but to her relief nobody guessed the real reason for
it, not even Josie Pye, who, however, did not fail to inform Anne that she looked like
a perfect scarecrow. “I didn’t say anything when Josie said
that to me,” Anne confided that evening to Marilla, who was lying on the sofa after
one of her headaches, “because I thought it was part of my punishment and I ought to
bear it patiently. It’s hard to be told you look like a scarecrow and I wanted to
say something back. But I didn’t. I just swept her one scornful look and then I forgave
her. It makes you feel very virtuous when you forgive people, doesn’t it? I mean to
devote all my energies to being good after this and I shall never try to be beautiful
again. Of course it’s better to be good. I know it is, but it’s sometimes so hard
to believe a thing even when you know it. I do really want to be good, Marilla, like
you and Mrs. Allan and Miss Stacy, and grow up to be a credit to you. Diana says when
my hair begins to grow to tie a black velvet ribbon around my head with a bow at one side.
She says she thinks it will be very becoming. I will call it a snood—that sounds so romantic.
But am I talking too much, Marilla? Does it hurt your head?” “My head is better now. It was terrible
bad this afternoon, though. These headaches of mine are getting worse and worse. I’ll
have to see a doctor about them. As for your chatter, I don’t know that I mind it—I’ve
got so used to it.” Which was Marilla’s way of saying that she
liked to hear it. CHAPTER XXVIII. An Unfortunate Lily Maid
OF course you must be Elaine, Anne,” said Diana. “I could never have the courage to
float down there.” “Nor I,” said Ruby Gillis, with a shiver.
“I don’t mind floating down when there’s two or three of us in the flat and we can
sit up. It’s fun then. But to lie down and pretend I was dead—I just couldn’t. I’d
die really of fright.” “Of course it would be romantic,” conceded
Jane Andrews, “but I know I couldn’t keep still. I’d be popping up every minute or
so to see where I was and if I wasn’t drifting too far out. And you know, Anne, that would
spoil the effect.” “But it’s so ridiculous to have a redheaded
Elaine,” mourned Anne. “I’m not afraid to float down and I’d love to be Elaine.
But it’s ridiculous just the same. Ruby ought to be Elaine because she is so fair
and has such lovely long golden hair—Elaine had ‘all her bright hair streaming down,’
you know. And Elaine was the lily maid. Now, a red-haired person cannot be a lily maid.” “Your complexion is just as fair as Ruby’s,”
said Diana earnestly, “and your hair is ever so much darker than it used to be before
you cut it.” “Oh, do you really think so?” exclaimed
Anne, flushing sensitively with delight. “I’ve sometimes thought it was myself—but I never
dared to ask anyone for fear she would tell me it wasn’t. Do you think it could be called
auburn now, Diana?” “Yes, and I think it is real pretty,”
said Diana, looking admiringly at the short, silky curls that clustered over Anne’s head
and were held in place by a very jaunty black velvet ribbon and bow. They were standing on the bank of the pond,
below Orchard Slope, where a little headland fringed with birches ran out from the bank;
at its tip was a small wooden platform built out into the water for the convenience of
fishermen and duck hunters. Ruby and Jane were spending the midsummer afternoon with
Diana, and Anne had come over to play with them. Anne and Diana had spent most of their playtime
that summer on and about the pond. Idlewild was a thing of the past, Mr. Bell having ruthlessly
cut down the little circle of trees in his back pasture in the spring. Anne had sat among
the stumps and wept, not without an eye to the romance of it; but she was speedily consoled,
for, after all, as she and Diana said, big girls of thirteen, going on fourteen, were
too old for such childish amusements as playhouses, and there were more fascinating sports to
be found about the pond. It was splendid to fish for trout over the bridge and the two
girls learned to row themselves about in the little flat-bottomed dory Mr. Barry kept for
duck shooting. It was Anne’s idea that they dramatize Elaine.
They had studied Tennyson’s poem in school the preceding winter, the Superintendent of
Education having prescribed it in the English course for the Prince Edward Island schools.
They had analyzed and parsed it and torn it to pieces in general until it was a wonder
there was any meaning at all left in it for them, but at least the fair lily maid and
Lancelot and Guinevere and King Arthur had become very real people to them, and Anne
was devoured by secret regret that she had not been born in Camelot. Those days, she
said, were so much more romantic than the present. Anne’s plan was hailed with enthusiasm.
The girls had discovered that if the flat were pushed off from the landing place it
would drift down with the current under the bridge and finally strand itself on another
headland lower down which ran out at a curve in the pond. They had often gone down like
this and nothing could be more convenient for playing Elaine. “Well, I’ll be Elaine,” said Anne, yielding
reluctantly, for, although she would have been delighted to play the principal character,
yet her artistic sense demanded fitness for it and this, she felt, her limitations made
impossible. “Ruby, you must be King Arthur and Jane will be Guinevere and Diana must
be Lancelot. But first you must be the brothers and the father. We can’t have the old dumb
servitor because there isn’t room for two in the flat when one is lying down. We must
pall the barge all its length in blackest samite. That old black shawl of your mother’s
will be just the thing, Diana.” The black shawl having been procured, Anne
spread it over the flat and then lay down on the bottom, with closed eyes and hands
folded over her breast. “Oh, she does look really dead,” whispered
Ruby Gillis nervously, watching the still, white little face under the flickering shadows
of the birches. “It makes me feel frightened, girls. Do you suppose it’s really right
to act like this? Mrs. Lynde says that all play-acting is abominably wicked.” “Ruby, you shouldn’t talk about Mrs. Lynde,”
said Anne severely. “It spoils the effect because this is hundreds of years before Mrs.
Lynde was born. Jane, you arrange this. It’s silly for Elaine to be talking when she’s
dead.” Jane rose to the occasion. Cloth of gold for
coverlet there was none, but an old piano scarf of yellow Japanese crepe was an excellent
substitute. A white lily was not obtainable just then, but the effect of a tall blue iris
placed in one of Anne’s folded hands was all that could be desired. “Now, she’s all ready,” said Jane. “We
must kiss her quiet brows and, Diana, you say, ‘Sister, farewell forever,’ and Ruby,
you say, ‘Farewell, sweet sister,’ both of you as sorrowfully as you possibly can.
Anne, for goodness sake smile a little. You know Elaine ‘lay as though she smiled.’
That’s better. Now push the flat off.” The flat was accordingly pushed off, scraping
roughly over an old embedded stake in the process. Diana and Jane and Ruby only waited
long enough to see it caught in the current and headed for the bridge before scampering
up through the woods, across the road, and down to the lower headland where, as Lancelot
and Guinevere and the King, they were to be in readiness to receive the lily maid. For a few minutes Anne, drifting slowly down,
enjoyed the romance of her situation to the full. Then something happened not at all romantic.
The flat began to leak. In a very few moments it was necessary for Elaine to scramble to
her feet, pick up her cloth of gold coverlet and pall of blackest samite and gaze blankly
at a big crack in the bottom of her barge through which the water was literally pouring.
That sharp stake at the landing had torn off the strip of batting nailed on the flat. Anne
did not know this, but it did not take her long to realize that she was in a dangerous
plight. At this rate the flat would fill and sink long before it could drift to the lower
headland. Where were the oars? Left behind at the landing! Anne gave one gasping little scream which
nobody ever heard; she was white to the lips, but she did not lose her self-possession.
There was one chance—just one. “I was horribly frightened,” she told
Mrs. Allan the next day, “and it seemed like years while the flat was drifting down
to the bridge and the water rising in it every moment. I prayed, Mrs. Allan, most earnestly,
but I didn’t shut my eyes to pray, for I knew the only way God could save me was to
let the flat float close enough to one of the bridge piles for me to climb up on it.
You know the piles are just old tree trunks and there are lots of knots and old branch
stubs on them. It was proper to pray, but I had to do my part by watching out and right
well I knew it. I just said, ‘Dear God, please take the flat close to a pile and I’ll
do the rest,’ over and over again. Under such circumstances you don’t think much
about making a flowery prayer. But mine was answered, for the flat bumped right into a
pile for a minute and I flung the scarf and the shawl over my shoulder and scrambled up
on a big providential stub. And there I was, Mrs. Allan, clinging to that slippery old
pile with no way of getting up or down. It was a very unromantic position, but I didn’t
think about that at the time. You don’t think much about romance when you have just
escaped from a watery grave. I said a grateful prayer at once and then I gave all my attention
to holding on tight, for I knew I should probably have to depend on human aid to get back to
dry land.” The flat drifted under the bridge and then
promptly sank in midstream. Ruby, Jane, and Diana, already awaiting it on the lower headland,
saw it disappear before their very eyes and had not a doubt but that Anne had gone down
with it. For a moment they stood still, white as sheets, frozen with horror at the tragedy;
then, shrieking at the tops of their voices, they started on a frantic run up through the
woods, never pausing as they crossed the main road to glance the way of the bridge. Anne,
clinging desperately to her precarious foothold, saw their flying forms and heard their shrieks.
Help would soon come, but meanwhile her position was a very uncomfortable one. The minutes passed by, each seeming an hour
to the unfortunate lily maid. Why didn’t somebody come? Where had the girls gone? Suppose
they had fainted, one and all! Suppose nobody ever came! Suppose she grew so tired and cramped
that she could hold on no longer! Anne looked at the wicked green depths below her, wavering
with long, oily shadows, and shivered. Her imagination began to suggest all manner of
gruesome possibilities to her. Then, just as she thought she really could
not endure the ache in her arms and wrists another moment, Gilbert Blythe came rowing
under the bridge in Harmon Andrews’s dory! Gilbert glanced up and, much to his amazement,
beheld a little white scornful face looking down upon him with big, frightened but also
scornful gray eyes. “Anne Shirley! How on earth did you get
there?” he exclaimed. Without waiting for an answer he pulled close
to the pile and extended his hand. There was no help for it; Anne, clinging to Gilbert
Blythe’s hand, scrambled down into the dory, where she sat, drabbled and furious, in the
stern with her arms full of dripping shawl and wet crepe. It was certainly extremely
difficult to be dignified under the circumstances! “What has happened, Anne?” asked Gilbert,
taking up his oars. “We were playing Elaine” explained Anne frigidly, without even looking
at her rescuer, “and I had to drift down to Camelot in the barge—I mean the flat.
The flat began to leak and I climbed out on the pile. The girls went for help. Will you
be kind enough to row me to the landing?” Gilbert obligingly rowed to the landing and
Anne, disdaining assistance, sprang nimbly on shore. “I’m very much obliged to you,” she
said haughtily as she turned away. But Gilbert had also sprung from the boat and now laid
a detaining hand on her arm. “Anne,” he said hurriedly, “look here.
Can’t we be good friends? I’m awfully sorry I made fun of your hair that time. I
didn’t mean to vex you and I only meant it for a joke. Besides, it’s so long ago.
I think your hair is awfully pretty now—honest I do. Let’s be friends.” For a moment Anne hesitated. She had an odd,
newly awakened consciousness under all her outraged dignity that the half-shy, half-eager
expression in Gilbert’s hazel eyes was something that was very good to see. Her heart gave
a quick, queer little beat. But the bitterness of her old grievance promptly stiffened up
her wavering determination. That scene of two years before flashed back into her recollection
as vividly as if it had taken place yesterday. Gilbert had called her “carrots” and had
brought about her disgrace before the whole school. Her resentment, which to other and
older people might be as laughable as its cause, was in no whit allayed and softened
by time seemingly. She hated Gilbert Blythe! She would never forgive him! “No,” she said coldly, “I shall never
be friends with you, Gilbert Blythe; and I don’t want to be!” “All right!” Gilbert sprang into his skiff
with an angry color in his cheeks. “I’ll never ask you to be friends again, Anne Shirley.
And I don’t care either!” He pulled away with swift defiant strokes,
and Anne went up the steep, ferny little path under the maples. She held her head very high,
but she was conscious of an odd feeling of regret. She almost wished she had answered
Gilbert differently. Of course, he had insulted her terribly, but still—! Altogether, Anne
rather thought it would be a relief to sit down and have a good cry. She was really quite
unstrung, for the reaction from her fright and cramped clinging was making itself felt. Halfway up the path she met Jane and Diana
rushing back to the pond in a state narrowly removed from positive frenzy. They had found
nobody at Orchard Slope, both Mr. and Mrs. Barry being away. Here Ruby Gillis had succumbed
to hysterics, and was left to recover from them as best she might, while Jane and Diana
flew through the Haunted Wood and across the brook to Green Gables. There they had found
nobody either, for Marilla had gone to Carmody and Matthew was making hay in the back field. “Oh, Anne,” gasped Diana, fairly falling
on the former’s neck and weeping with relief and delight, “oh, Anne—we thought—you
were—drowned—and we felt like murderers—because we had made—you be—Elaine. And Ruby is
in hysterics—oh, Anne, how did you escape?” “I climbed up on one of the piles,” explained
Anne wearily, “and Gilbert Blythe came along in Mr. Andrews’s dory and brought me to
land.” “Oh, Anne, how splendid of him! Why, it’s
so romantic!” said Jane, finding breath enough for utterance at last. “Of course
you’ll speak to him after this.” “Of course I won’t,” flashed Anne, with
a momentary return of her old spirit. “And I don’t want ever to hear the word ‘romantic’
again, Jane Andrews. I’m awfully sorry you were so frightened, girls. It is all my fault.
I feel sure I was born under an unlucky star. Everything I do gets me or my dearest friends
into a scrape. We’ve gone and lost your father’s flat, Diana, and I have a presentiment
that we’ll not be allowed to row on the pond any more.” Anne’s presentiment proved more trustworthy
than presentiments are apt to do. Great was the consternation in the Barry and Cuthbert
households when the events of the afternoon became known. “Will you ever have any sense, Anne?”
groaned Marilla. “Oh, yes, I think I will, Marilla,” returned
Anne optimistically. A good cry, indulged in the grateful solitude of the east gable,
had soothed her nerves and restored her to her wonted cheerfulness. “I think my prospects
of becoming sensible are brighter now than ever.” “I don’t see how,” said Marilla. “Well,” explained Anne, “I’ve learned
a new and valuable lesson today. Ever since I came to Green Gables I’ve been making
mistakes, and each mistake has helped to cure me of some great shortcoming. The affair of
the amethyst brooch cured me of meddling with things that didn’t belong to me. The Haunted
Wood mistake cured me of letting my imagination run away with me. The liniment cake mistake
cured me of carelessness in cooking. Dyeing my hair cured me of vanity. I never think
about my hair and nose now—at least, very seldom. And today’s mistake is going to
cure me of being too romantic. I have come to the conclusion that it is no use trying
to be romantic in Avonlea. It was probably easy enough in towered Camelot hundreds of
years ago, but romance is not appreciated now. I feel quite sure that you will soon
see a great improvement in me in this respect, Marilla.” “I’m sure I hope so,” said Marilla skeptically. But Matthew, who had been sitting mutely in
his corner, laid a hand on Anne’s shoulder when Marilla had gone out. “Don’t give up all your romance, Anne,”
he whispered shyly, “a little of it is a good thing—not too much, of course—but
keep a little of it, Anne, keep a little of it.” CHAPTER XXIX. An Epoch in Anne’s Life
ANNE was bringing the cows home from the back pasture by way of Lover’s Lane. It was a
September evening and all the gaps and clearings in the woods were brimmed up with ruby sunset
light. Here and there the lane was splashed with it, but for the most part it was already
quite shadowy beneath the maples, and the spaces under the firs were filled with a clear
violet dusk like airy wine. The winds were out in their tops, and there is no sweeter
music on earth than that which the wind makes in the fir trees at evening. The cows swung placidly down the lane, and
Anne followed them dreamily, repeating aloud the battle canto from Marmion—which had
also been part of their English course the preceding winter and which Miss Stacy had
made them learn off by heart—and exulting in its rushing lines and the clash of spears
in its imagery. When she came to the lines The stubborn spearsmen still made good
Their dark impenetrable wood, she stopped in ecstasy to shut her eyes that
she might the better fancy herself one of that heroic ring. When she opened them again
it was to behold Diana coming through the gate that led into the Barry field and looking
so important that Anne instantly divined there was news to be told. But betray too eager
curiosity she would not. “Isn’t this evening just like a purple
dream, Diana? It makes me so glad to be alive. In the mornings I always think the mornings
are best; but when evening comes I think it’s lovelier still.” “It’s a very fine evening,” said Diana,
“but oh, I have such news, Anne. Guess. You can have three guesses.” “Charlotte Gillis is going to be married
in the church after all and Mrs. Allan wants us to decorate it,” cried Anne. “No. Charlotte’s beau won’t agree to
that, because nobody ever has been married in the church yet, and he thinks it would
seem too much like a funeral. It’s too mean, because it would be such fun. Guess again.” “Jane’s mother is going to let her have
a birthday party?” Diana shook her head, her black eyes dancing
with merriment. “I can’t think what it can be,” said
Anne in despair, “unless it’s that Moody Spurgeon MacPherson saw you home from prayer
meeting last night. Did he?” “I should think not,” exclaimed Diana
indignantly. “I wouldn’t be likely to boast of it if he did, the horrid creature!
I knew you couldn’t guess it. Mother had a letter from Aunt Josephine today, and Aunt
Josephine wants you and me to go to town next Tuesday and stop with her for the Exhibition.
There!” “Oh, Diana,” whispered Anne, finding it
necessary to lean up against a maple tree for support, “do you really mean it? But
I’m afraid Marilla won’t let me go. She will say that she can’t encourage gadding
about. That was what she said last week when Jane invited me to go with them in their double-seated
buggy to the American concert at the White Sands Hotel. I wanted to go, but Marilla said
I’d be better at home learning my lessons and so would Jane. I was bitterly disappointed,
Diana. I felt so heartbroken that I wouldn’t say my prayers when I went to bed. But I repented
of that and got up in the middle of the night and said them.” “I’ll tell you,” said Diana, “we’ll
get Mother to ask Marilla. She’ll be more likely to let you go then; and if she does
we’ll have the time of our lives, Anne. I’ve never been to an Exhibition, and it’s
so aggravating to hear the other girls talking about their trips. Jane and Ruby have been
twice, and they’re going this year again.” “I’m not going to think about it at all
until I know whether I can go or not,” said Anne resolutely. “If I did and then was
disappointed, it would be more than I could bear. But in case I do go I’m very glad
my new coat will be ready by that time. Marilla didn’t think I needed a new coat. She said
my old one would do very well for another winter and that I ought to be satisfied with
having a new dress. The dress is very pretty, Diana—navy blue and made so fashionably.
Marilla always makes my dresses fashionably now, because she says she doesn’t intend
to have Matthew going to Mrs. Lynde to make them. I’m so glad. It is ever so much easier
to be good if your clothes are fashionable. At least, it is easier for me. I suppose it
doesn’t make such a difference to naturally good people. But Matthew said I must have
a new coat, so Marilla bought a lovely piece of blue broadcloth, and it’s being made
by a real dressmaker over at Carmody. It’s to be done Saturday night, and I’m trying
not to imagine myself walking up the church aisle on Sunday in my new suit and cap, because
I’m afraid it isn’t right to imagine such things. But it just slips into my mind in
spite of me. My cap is so pretty. Matthew bought it for me the day we were over at Carmody.
It is one of those little blue velvet ones that are all the rage, with gold cord and
tassels. Your new hat is elegant, Diana, and so becoming. When I saw you come into church
last Sunday my heart swelled with pride to think you were my dearest friend. Do you suppose
it’s wrong for us to think so much about our clothes? Marilla says it is very sinful.
But it is such an interesting subject, isn’t it?” Marilla agreed to let Anne go to town, and
it was arranged that Mr. Barry should take the girls in on the following Tuesday. As
Charlottetown was thirty miles away and Mr. Barry wished to go and return the same day,
it was necessary to make a very early start. But Anne counted it all joy, and was up before
sunrise on Tuesday morning. A glance from her window assured her that the day would
be fine, for the eastern sky behind the firs of the Haunted Wood was all silvery and cloudless.
Through the gap in the trees a light was shining in the western gable of Orchard Slope, a token
that Diana was also up. Anne was dressed by the time Matthew had the
fire on and had the breakfast ready when Marilla came down, but for her own part was much too
excited to eat. After breakfast the jaunty new cap and jacket were donned, and Anne hastened
over the brook and up through the firs to Orchard Slope. Mr. Barry and Diana were waiting
for her, and they were soon on the road. It was a long drive, but Anne and Diana enjoyed
every minute of it. It was delightful to rattle along over the moist roads in the early red
sunlight that was creeping across the shorn harvest fields. The air was fresh and crisp,
and little smoke-blue mists curled through the valleys and floated off from the hills.
Sometimes the road went through woods where maples were beginning to hang out scarlet
banners; sometimes it crossed rivers on bridges that made Anne’s flesh cringe with the old,
half-delightful fear; sometimes it wound along a harbor shore and passed by a little cluster
of weather-gray fishing huts; again it mounted to hills whence a far sweep of curving upland
or misty-blue sky could be seen; but wherever it went there was much of interest to discuss.
It was almost noon when they reached town and found their way to “Beechwood.” It
was quite a fine old mansion, set back from the street in a seclusion of green elms and
branching beeches. Miss Barry met them at the door with a twinkle in her sharp black
eyes. “So you’ve come to see me at last, you
Anne-girl,” she said. “Mercy, child, how you have grown! You’re taller than I am,
I declare. And you’re ever so much better looking than you used to be, too. But I dare
say you know that without being told.” “Indeed I didn’t,” said Anne radiantly.
“I know I’m not so freckled as I used to be, so I’ve much to be thankful for,
but I really hadn’t dared to hope there was any other improvement. I’m so glad you
think there is, Miss Barry.” Miss Barry’s house was furnished with “great magnificence,”
as Anne told Marilla afterward. The two little country girls were rather abashed by the splendor
of the parlor where Miss Barry left them when she went to see about dinner. “Isn’t it just like a palace?” whispered
Diana. “I never was in Aunt Josephine’s house before, and I’d no idea it was so
grand. I just wish Julia Bell could see this—she puts on such airs about her mother’s parlor.” “Velvet carpet,” sighed Anne luxuriously,
“and silk curtains! I’ve dreamed of such things, Diana. But do you know I don’t believe
I feel very comfortable with them after all. There are so many things in this room and
all so splendid that there is no scope for imagination. That is one consolation when
you are poor—there are so many more things you can imagine about.” Their sojourn in town was something that Anne
and Diana dated from for years. From first to last it was crowded with delights. On Wednesday Miss Barry took them to the Exhibition
grounds and kept them there all day. “It was splendid,” Anne related to Marilla
later on. “I never imagined anything so interesting. I don’t really know which department
was the most interesting. I think I liked the horses and the flowers and the fancywork
best. Josie Pye took first prize for knitted lace. I was real glad she did. And I was glad
that I felt glad, for it shows I’m improving, don’t you think, Marilla, when I can rejoice
in Josie’s success? Mr. Harmon Andrews took second prize for Gravenstein apples and Mr.
Bell took first prize for a pig. Diana said she thought it was ridiculous for a Sunday-school
superintendent to take a prize in pigs, but I don’t see why. Do you? She said she would
always think of it after this when he was praying so solemnly. Clara Louise MacPherson
took a prize for painting, and Mrs. Lynde got first prize for homemade butter and cheese.
So Avonlea was pretty well represented, wasn’t it? Mrs. Lynde was there that day, and I never
knew how much I really liked her until I saw her familiar face among all those strangers.
There were thousands of people there, Marilla. It made me feel dreadfully insignificant.
And Miss Barry took us up to the grandstand to see the horse races. Mrs. Lynde wouldn’t
go; she said horse racing was an abomination and, she being a church member, thought it
her bounden duty to set a good example by staying away. But there were so many there
I don’t believe Mrs. Lynde’s absence would ever be noticed. I don’t think, though,
that I ought to go very often to horse races, because they are awfully fascinating. Diana
got so excited that she offered to bet me ten cents that the red horse would win. I
didn’t believe he would, but I refused to bet, because I wanted to tell Mrs. Allan all
about everything, and I felt sure it wouldn’t do to tell her that. It’s always wrong to
do anything you can’t tell the minister’s wife. It’s as good as an extra conscience
to have a minister’s wife for your friend. And I was very glad I didn’t bet, because
the red horse did win, and I would have lost ten cents. So you see that virtue was its
own reward. We saw a man go up in a balloon. I’d love to go up in a balloon, Marilla;
it would be simply thrilling; and we saw a man selling fortunes. You paid him ten cents
and a little bird picked out your fortune for you. Miss Barry gave Diana and me ten
cents each to have our fortunes told. Mine was that I would marry a dark-complected man
who was very wealthy, and I would go across water to live. I looked carefully at all the
dark men I saw after that, but I didn’t care much for any of them, and anyhow I suppose
it’s too early to be looking out for him yet. Oh, it was a never-to-be-forgotten day,
Marilla. I was so tired I couldn’t sleep at night. Miss Barry put us in the spare room,
according to promise. It was an elegant room, Marilla, but somehow sleeping in a spare room
isn’t what I used to think it was. That’s the worst of growing up, and I’m beginning
to realize it. The things you wanted so much when you were a child don’t seem half so
wonderful to you when you get them.” Thursday the girls had a drive in the park,
and in the evening Miss Barry took them to a concert in the Academy of Music, where a
noted prima donna was to sing. To Anne the evening was a glittering vision of delight. “Oh, Marilla, it was beyond description.
I was so excited I couldn’t even talk, so you may know what it was like. I just sat
in enraptured silence. Madame Selitsky was perfectly beautiful, and wore white satin
and diamonds. But when she began to sing I never thought about anything else. Oh, I can’t
tell you how I felt. But it seemed to me that it could never be hard to be good any more.
I felt like I do when I look up to the stars. Tears came into my eyes, but, oh, they were
such happy tears. I was so sorry when it was all over, and I told Miss Barry I didn’t
see how I was ever to return to common life again. She said she thought if we went over
to the restaurant across the street and had an ice cream it might help me. That sounded
so prosaic; but to my surprise I found it true. The ice cream was delicious, Marilla,
and it was so lovely and dissipated to be sitting there eating it at eleven o’clock
at night. Diana said she believed she was born for city life. Miss Barry asked me what
my opinion was, but I said I would have to think it over very seriously before I could
tell her what I really thought. So I thought it over after I went to bed. That is the best
time to think things out. And I came to the conclusion, Marilla, that I wasn’t born
for city life and that I was glad of it. It’s nice to be eating ice cream at brilliant restaurants
at eleven o’clock at night once in a while; but as a regular thing I’d rather be in
the east gable at eleven, sound asleep, but kind of knowing even in my sleep that the
stars were shining outside and that the wind was blowing in the firs across the brook.
I told Miss Barry so at breakfast the next morning and she laughed. Miss Barry generally
laughed at anything I said, even when I said the most solemn things. I don’t think I
liked it, Marilla, because I wasn’t trying to be funny. But she is a most hospitable
lady and treated us royally.” Friday brought going-home time, and Mr. Barry
drove in for the girls. “Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed yourselves,”
said Miss Barry, as she bade them good-bye. “Indeed we have,” said Diana. “And you, Anne-girl?” “I’ve enjoyed every minute of the time,”
said Anne, throwing her arms impulsively about the old woman’s neck and kissing her wrinkled
cheek. Diana would never have dared to do such a thing and felt rather aghast at Anne’s
freedom. But Miss Barry was pleased, and she stood on her veranda and watched the buggy
out of sight. Then she went back into her big house with a sigh. It seemed very lonely,
lacking those fresh young lives. Miss Barry was a rather selfish old lady, if the truth
must be told, and had never cared much for anybody but herself. She valued people only
as they were of service to her or amused her. Anne had amused her, and consequently stood
high in the old lady’s good graces. But Miss Barry found herself thinking less about
Anne’s quaint speeches than of her fresh enthusiasms, her transparent emotions, her
little winning ways, and the sweetness of her eyes and lips. “I thought Marilla Cuthbert was an old fool
when I heard she’d adopted a girl out of an orphan asylum,” she said to herself,
“but I guess she didn’t make much of a mistake after all. If I’d a child like Anne
in the house all the time I’d be a better and happier woman.” Anne and Diana found the drive home as pleasant
as the drive in—pleasanter, indeed, since there was the delightful consciousness of
home waiting at the end of it. It was sunset when they passed through White Sands and turned
into the shore road. Beyond, the Avonlea hills came out darkly against the saffron sky. Behind
them the moon was rising out of the sea that grew all radiant and transfigured in her light.
Every little cove along the curving road was a marvel of dancing ripples. The waves broke
with a soft swish on the rocks below them, and the tang of the sea was in the strong,
fresh air. “Oh, but it’s good to be alive and to
be going home,” breathed Anne. When she crossed the log bridge over the brook
the kitchen light of Green Gables winked her a friendly welcome back, and through the open
door shone the hearth fire, sending out its warm red glow athwart the chilly autumn night.
Anne ran blithely up the hill and into the kitchen, where a hot supper was waiting on
the table. “So you’ve got back?” said Marilla,
folding up her knitting. “Yes, and oh, it’s so good to be back,”
said Anne joyously. “I could kiss everything, even to the clock. Marilla, a broiled chicken!
You don’t mean to say you cooked that for me!” “Yes, I did,” said Marilla. “I thought
you’d be hungry after such a drive and need something real appetizing. Hurry and take
off your things, and we’ll have supper as soon as Matthew comes in. I’m glad you’ve
got back, I must say. It’s been fearful lonesome here without you, and I never put
in four longer days.” After supper Anne sat before the fire between
Matthew and Marilla, and gave them a full account of her visit. “I’ve had a splendid time,” she concluded
happily, “and I feel that it marks an epoch in my life. But the best of it all was the
coming home.” CHAPTER XXX. The Queens Class Is Organized
MARILLA laid her knitting on her lap and leaned back in her chair. Her eyes were tired, and
she thought vaguely that she must see about having her glasses changed the next time she
went to town, for her eyes had grown tired very often of late. It was nearly dark, for the full November
twilight had fallen around Green Gables, and the only light in the kitchen came from the
dancing red flames in the stove. Anne was curled up Turk-fashion on the hearthrug,
gazing into that joyous glow where the sunshine of a hundred summers was being distilled from
the maple cordwood. She had been reading, but her book had slipped to the floor, and
now she was dreaming, with a smile on her parted lips. Glittering castles in Spain were
shaping themselves out of the mists and rainbows of her lively fancy; adventures wonderful
and enthralling were happening to her in cloudland—adventures that always turned out triumphantly and never
involved her in scrapes like those of actual life. Marilla looked at her with a tenderness that
would never have been suffered to reveal itself in any clearer light than that soft mingling
of fireshine and shadow. The lesson of a love that should display itself easily in spoken
word and open look was one Marilla could never learn. But she had learned to love this slim,
gray-eyed girl with an affection all the deeper and stronger from its very undemonstrativeness.
Her love made her afraid of being unduly indulgent, indeed. She had an uneasy feeling that it
was rather sinful to set one’s heart so intensely on any human creature as she had
set hers on Anne, and perhaps she performed a sort of unconscious penance for this by
being stricter and more critical than if the girl had been less dear to her. Certainly
Anne herself had no idea how Marilla loved her. She sometimes thought wistfully that
Marilla was very hard to please and distinctly lacking in sympathy and understanding. But
she always checked the thought reproachfully, remembering what she owed to Marilla. “Anne,” said Marilla abruptly, “Miss
Stacy was here this afternoon when you were out with Diana.” Anne came back from her other world with a
start and a sigh. “Was she? Oh, I’m so sorry I wasn’t
in. Why didn’t you call me, Marilla? Diana and I were only over in the Haunted Wood.
It’s lovely in the woods now. All the little wood things—the ferns and the satin leaves
and the crackerberries—have gone to sleep, just as if somebody had tucked them away until
spring under a blanket of leaves. I think it was a little gray fairy with a rainbow
scarf that came tiptoeing along the last moonlight night and did it. Diana wouldn’t say much
about that, though. Diana has never forgotten the scolding her mother gave her about imagining
ghosts into the Haunted Wood. It had a very bad effect on Diana’s imagination. It blighted
it. Mrs. Lynde says Myrtle Bell is a blighted being. I asked Ruby Gillis why Myrtle was
blighted, and Ruby said she guessed it was because her young man had gone back on her.
Ruby Gillis thinks of nothing but young men, and the older she gets the worse she is. Young
men are all very well in their place, but it doesn’t do to drag them into everything,
does it? Diana and I are thinking seriously of promising each other that we will never
marry but be nice old maids and live together forever. Diana hasn’t quite made up her
mind though, because she thinks perhaps it would be nobler to marry some wild, dashing,
wicked young man and reform him. Diana and I talk a great deal about serious subjects
now, you know. We feel that we are so much older than we used to be that it isn’t becoming
to talk of childish matters. It’s such a solemn thing to be almost fourteen, Marilla.
Miss Stacy took all us girls who are in our teens down to the brook last Wednesday, and
talked to us about it. She said we couldn’t be too careful what habits we formed and what
ideals we acquired in our teens, because by the time we were twenty our characters would
be developed and the foundation laid for our whole future life. And she said if the foundation
was shaky we could never build anything really worth while on it. Diana and I talked the
matter over coming home from school. We felt extremely solemn, Marilla. And we decided
that we would try to be very careful indeed and form respectable habits and learn all
we could and be as sensible as possible, so that by the time we were twenty our characters
would be properly developed. It’s perfectly appalling to think of being twenty, Marilla.
It sounds so fearfully old and grown up. But why was Miss Stacy here this afternoon?” “That is what I want to tell you, Anne,
if you’ll ever give me a chance to get a word in edgewise. She was talking about you.” “About me?” Anne looked rather scared.
Then she flushed and exclaimed: “Oh, I know what she was saying. I meant
to tell you, Marilla, honestly I did, but I forgot. Miss Stacy caught me reading Ben
Hur in school yesterday afternoon when I should have been studying my Canadian history. Jane
Andrews lent it to me. I was reading it at dinner hour, and I had just got to the chariot
race when school went in. I was simply wild to know how it turned out—although I felt
sure Ben Hur must win, because it wouldn’t be poetical justice if he didn’t—so I
spread the history open on my desk lid and then tucked Ben Hur between the desk and my
knee. I just looked as if I were studying Canadian history, you know, while all the
while I was reveling in Ben Hur. I was so interested in it that I never noticed Miss
Stacy coming down the aisle until all at once I just looked up and there she was looking
down at me, so reproachful-like. I can’t tell you how ashamed I felt, Marilla, especially
when I heard Josie Pye giggling. Miss Stacy took Ben Hur away, but she never said a word
then. She kept me in at recess and talked to me. She said I had done very wrong in two
respects. First, I was wasting the time I ought to have put on my studies; and secondly,
I was deceiving my teacher in trying to make it appear I was reading a history when it
was a storybook instead. I had never realized until that moment, Marilla, that what I was
doing was deceitful. I was shocked. I cried bitterly, and asked Miss Stacy to forgive
me and I’d never do such a thing again; and I offered to do penance by never so much
as looking at Ben Hur for a whole week, not even to see how the chariot race turned out.
But Miss Stacy said she wouldn’t require that, and she forgave me freely. So I think
it wasn’t very kind of her to come up here to you about it after all.” “Miss Stacy never mentioned such a thing
to me, Anne, and its only your guilty conscience that’s the matter with you. You have no
business to be taking storybooks to school. You read too many novels anyhow. When I was
a girl I wasn’t so much as allowed to look at a novel.” “Oh, how can you call Ben Hur a novel when
it’s really such a religious book?” protested Anne. “Of course it’s a little too exciting
to be proper reading for Sunday, and I only read it on weekdays. And I never read any
book now unless either Miss Stacy or Mrs. Allan thinks it is a proper book for a girl
thirteen and three-quarters to read. Miss Stacy made me promise that. She found me reading
a book one day called, The Lurid Mystery of the Haunted Hall. It was one Ruby Gillis had
lent me, and, oh, Marilla, it was so fascinating and creepy. It just curdled the blood in my
veins. But Miss Stacy said it was a very silly, unwholesome book, and she asked me not to
read any more of it or any like it. I didn’t mind promising not to read any more like it,
but it was agonizing to give back that book without knowing how it turned out. But my
love for Miss Stacy stood the test and I did. It’s really wonderful, Marilla, what you
can do when you’re truly anxious to please a certain person.” “Well, I guess I’ll light the lamp and
get to work,” said Marilla. “I see plainly that you don’t want to hear what Miss Stacy
had to say. You’re more interested in the sound of your own tongue than in anything
else.” “Oh, indeed, Marilla, I do want to hear
it,” cried Anne contritely. “I won’t say another word—not one. I know I talk
too much, but I am really trying to overcome it, and although I say far too much, yet if
you only knew how many things I want to say and don’t, you’d give me some credit for
it. Please tell me, Marilla.” “Well, Miss Stacy wants to organize a class
among her advanced students who mean to study for the entrance examination into Queen’s.
She intends to give them extra lessons for an hour after school. And she came to ask
Matthew and me if we would like to have you join it. What do you think about it yourself,
Anne? Would you like to go to Queen’s and pass for a teacher?” “Oh, Marilla!” Anne straightened to her
knees and clasped her hands. “It’s been the dream of my life—that is, for the last
six months, ever since Ruby and Jane began to talk of studying for the Entrance. But
I didn’t say anything about it, because I supposed it would be perfectly useless.
I’d love to be a teacher. But won’t it be dreadfully expensive? Mr. Andrews says
it cost him one hundred and fifty dollars to put Prissy through, and Prissy wasn’t
a dunce in geometry.” “I guess you needn’t worry about that
part of it. When Matthew and I took you to bring up we resolved we would do the best
we could for you and give you a good education. I believe in a girl being fitted to earn her
own living whether she ever has to or not. You’ll always have a home at Green Gables
as long as Matthew and I are here, but nobody knows what is going to happen in this uncertain
world, and it’s just as well to be prepared. So you can join the Queen’s class if you
like, Anne.” “Oh, Marilla, thank you.” Anne flung her
arms about Marilla’s waist and looked up earnestly into her face. “I’m extremely
grateful to you and Matthew. And I’ll study as hard as I can and do my very best to be
a credit to you. I warn you not to expect much in geometry, but I think I can hold my
own in anything else if I work hard.” “I dare say you’ll get along well enough.
Miss Stacy says you are bright and diligent.” Not for worlds would Marilla have told Anne
just what Miss Stacy had said about her; that would have been to pamper vanity. “You needn’t
rush to any extreme of killing yourself over your books. There is no hurry. You won’t
be ready to try the Entrance for a year and a half yet. But it’s well to begin in time
and be thoroughly grounded, Miss Stacy says.” “I shall take more interest than ever in
my studies now,” said Anne blissfully, “because I have a purpose in life. Mr. Allan says everybody
should have a purpose in life and pursue it faithfully. Only he says we must first make
sure that it is a worthy purpose. I would call it a worthy purpose to want to be a teacher
like Miss Stacy, wouldn’t you, Marilla? I think it’s a very noble profession.” The Queen’s class was organized in due time.
Gilbert Blythe, Anne Shirley, Ruby Gillis, Jane Andrews, Josie Pye, Charlie Sloane, and
Moody Spurgeon MacPherson joined it. Diana Barry did not, as her parents did not intend
to send her to Queen’s. This seemed nothing short of a calamity to Anne. Never, since
the night on which Minnie May had had the croup, had she and Diana been separated in
anything. On the evening when the Queen’s class first remained in school for the extra
lessons and Anne saw Diana go slowly out with the others, to walk home alone through the
Birch Path and Violet Vale, it was all the former could do to keep her seat and refrain
from rushing impulsively after her chum. A lump came into her throat, and she hastily
retired behind the pages of her uplifted Latin grammar to hide the tears in her eyes. Not
for worlds would Anne have had Gilbert Blythe or Josie Pye see those tears. “But, oh, Marilla, I really felt that I
had tasted the bitterness of death, as Mr. Allan said in his sermon last Sunday, when
I saw Diana go out alone,” she said mournfully that night. “I thought how splendid it would
have been if Diana had only been going to study for the Entrance, too. But we can’t
have things perfect in this imperfect world, as Mrs. Lynde says. Mrs. Lynde isn’t exactly
a comforting person sometimes, but there’s no doubt she says a great many very true things.
And I think the Queen’s class is going to be extremely interesting. Jane and Ruby are
just going to study to be teachers. That is the height of their ambition. Ruby says she
will only teach for two years after she gets through, and then she intends to be married.
Jane says she will devote her whole life to teaching, and never, never marry, because
you are paid a salary for teaching, but a husband won’t pay you anything, and growls
if you ask for a share in the egg and butter money. I expect Jane speaks from mournful
experience, for Mrs. Lynde says that her father is a perfect old crank, and meaner than second
skimmings. Josie Pye says she is just going to college for education’s sake, because
she won’t have to earn her own living; she says of course it is different with orphans
who are living on charity—they have to hustle. Moody Spurgeon is going to be a minister.
Mrs. Lynde says he couldn’t be anything else with a name like that to live up to.
I hope it isn’t wicked of me, Marilla, but really the thought of Moody Spurgeon being
a minister makes me laugh. He’s such a funny-looking boy with that big fat face, and his little
blue eyes, and his ears sticking out like flaps. But perhaps he will be more intellectual
looking when he grows up. Charlie Sloane says he’s going to go into politics and be a
member of Parliament, but Mrs. Lynde says he’ll never succeed at that, because the
Sloanes are all honest people, and it’s only rascals that get on in politics nowadays.” “What is Gilbert Blythe going to be?”
queried Marilla, seeing that Anne was opening her Caesar. “I don’t happen to know what Gilbert Blythe’s
ambition in life is—if he has any,” said Anne scornfully. There was open rivalry between Gilbert and
Anne now. Previously the rivalry had been rather one-sided, but there was no longer
any doubt that Gilbert was as determined to be first in class as Anne was. He was a foeman
worthy of her steel. The other members of the class tacitly acknowledged their superiority,
and never dreamed of trying to compete with them. Since the day by the pond when she had refused
to listen to his plea for forgiveness, Gilbert, save for the aforesaid determined rivalry,
had evinced no recognition whatever of the existence of Anne Shirley. He talked and jested
with the other girls, exchanged books and puzzles with them, discussed lessons and plans,
sometimes walked home with one or the other of them from prayer meeting or Debating Club.
But Anne Shirley he simply ignored, and Anne found out that it is not pleasant to be ignored.
It was in vain that she told herself with a toss of her head that she did not care.
Deep down in her wayward, feminine little heart she knew that she did care, and that
if she had that chance of the Lake of Shining Waters again she would answer very differently.
All at once, as it seemed, and to her secret dismay, she found that the old resentment
she had cherished against him was gone—gone just when she most needed its sustaining power.
It was in vain that she recalled every incident and emotion of that memorable occasion and
tried to feel the old satisfying anger. That day by the pond had witnessed its last spasmodic
flicker. Anne realized that she had forgiven and forgotten without knowing it. But it was
too late. And at least neither Gilbert nor anybody else,
not even Diana, should ever suspect how sorry she was and how much she wished she hadn’t
been so proud and horrid! She determined to “shroud her feelings in deepest oblivion,”
and it may be stated here and now that she did it, so successfully that Gilbert, who
possibly was not quite so indifferent as he seemed, could not console himself with any
belief that Anne felt his retaliatory scorn. The only poor comfort he had was that she
snubbed Charlie Sloane, unmercifully, continually, and undeservedly. Otherwise the winter passed away in a round
of pleasant duties and studies. For Anne the days slipped by like golden beads on the necklace
of the year. She was happy, eager, interested; there were lessons to be learned and honor
to be won; delightful books to read; new pieces to be practiced for the Sunday-school choir;
pleasant Saturday afternoons at the manse with Mrs. Allan; and then, almost before Anne
realized it, spring had come again to Green Gables and all the world was abloom once more. Studies palled just a wee bit then; the Queen’s
class, left behind in school while the others scattered to green lanes and leafy wood cuts
and meadow byways, looked wistfully out of the windows and discovered that Latin verbs
and French exercises had somehow lost the tang and zest they had possessed in the crisp
winter months. Even Anne and Gilbert lagged and grew indifferent. Teacher and taught were
alike glad when the term was ended and the glad vacation days stretched rosily before
them. “But you’ve done good work this past year,”
Miss Stacy told them on the last evening, “and you deserve a good, jolly vacation.
Have the best time you can in the out-of-door world and lay in a good stock of health and
vitality and ambition to carry you through next year. It will be the tug of war, you
know—the last year before the Entrance.” “Are you going to be back next year, Miss
Stacy?” asked Josie Pye. Josie Pye never scrupled to ask questions;
in this instance the rest of the class felt grateful to her; none of them would have dared
to ask it of Miss Stacy, but all wanted to, for there had been alarming rumors running
at large through the school for some time that Miss Stacy was not coming back the next
year—that she had been offered a position in the grade school of her own home district
and meant to accept. The Queen’s class listened in breathless suspense for her answer. “Yes, I think I will,” said Miss Stacy.
“I thought of taking another school, but I have decided to come back to Avonlea. To
tell the truth, I’ve grown so interested in my pupils here that I found I couldn’t
leave them. So I’ll stay and see you through.” “Hurrah!” said Moody Spurgeon. Moody Spurgeon
had never been so carried away by his feelings before, and he blushed uncomfortably every
time he thought about it for a week. “Oh, I’m so glad,” said Anne, with shining
eyes. “Dear Stacy, it would be perfectly dreadful if you didn’t come back. I don’t
believe I could have the heart to go on with my studies at all if another teacher came
here.” When Anne got home that night she stacked
all her textbooks away in an old trunk in the attic, locked it, and threw the key into
the blanket box. “I’m not even going to look at a schoolbook
in vacation,” she told Marilla. “I’ve studied as hard all the term as I possibly
could and I’ve pored over that geometry until I know every proposition in the first
book off by heart, even when the letters are changed. I just feel tired of everything sensible
and I’m going to let my imagination run riot for the summer. Oh, you needn’t be
alarmed, Marilla. I’ll only let it run riot within reasonable limits. But I want to have
a real good jolly time this summer, for maybe it’s the last summer I’ll be a little
girl. Mrs. Lynde says that if I keep stretching out next year as I’ve done this I’ll have
to put on longer skirts. She says I’m all running to legs and eyes. And when I put on
longer skirts I shall feel that I have to live up to them and be very dignified. It
won’t even do to believe in fairies then, I’m afraid; so I’m going to believe in
them with all my whole heart this summer. I think we’re going to have a very gay vacation.
Ruby Gillis is going to have a birthday party soon and there’s the Sunday school picnic
and the missionary concert next month. And Mr. Barry says that some evening he’ll take
Diana and me over to the White Sands Hotel and have dinner there. They have dinner there
in the evening, you know. Jane Andrews was over once last summer and she says it was
a dazzling sight to see the electric lights and the flowers and all the lady guests in
such beautiful dresses. Jane says it was her first glimpse into high life and she’ll
never forget it to her dying day.” Mrs. Lynde came up the next afternoon to find
out why Marilla had not been at the Aid meeting on Thursday. When Marilla was not at Aid meeting
people knew there was something wrong at Green Gables. “Matthew had a bad spell with his heart
Thursday,” Marilla explained, “and I didn’t feel like leaving him. Oh, yes, he’s all
right again now, but he takes them spells oftener than he used to and I’m anxious
about him. The doctor says he must be careful to avoid excitement. That’s easy enough,
for Matthew doesn’t go about looking for excitement by any means and never did, but
he’s not to do any very heavy work either and you might as well tell Matthew not to
breathe as not to work. Come and lay off your things, Rachel. You’ll stay to tea?” “Well, seeing you’re so pressing, perhaps
I might as well, stay” said Mrs. Rachel, who had not the slightest intention of doing
anything else. Mrs. Rachel and Marilla sat comfortably in
the parlor while Anne got the tea and made hot biscuits that were light and white enough
to defy even Mrs. Rachel’s criticism. “I must say Anne has turned out a real smart
girl,” admitted Mrs. Rachel, as Marilla accompanied her to the end of the lane at
sunset. “She must be a great help to you.” “She is,” said Marilla, “and she’s
real steady and reliable now. I used to be afraid she’d never get over her featherbrained
ways, but she has and I wouldn’t be afraid to trust her in anything now.” “I never would have thought she’d have
turned out so well that first day I was here three years ago,” said Mrs. Rachel. “Lawful
heart, shall I ever forget that tantrum of hers! When I went home that night I says to
Thomas, says I, ‘Mark my words, Thomas, Marilla Cuthbert ‘ll live to rue the step
she’s took.’ But I was mistaken and I’m real glad of it. I ain’t one of those kind
of people, Marilla, as can never be brought to own up that they’ve made a mistake. No,
that never was my way, thank goodness. I did make a mistake in judging Anne, but it weren’t
no wonder, for an odder, unexpecteder witch of a child there never was in this world,
that’s what. There was no ciphering her out by the rules that worked with other children.
It’s nothing short of wonderful how she’s improved these three years, but especially
in looks. She’s a real pretty girl got to be, though I can’t say I’m overly partial
to that pale, big-eyed style myself. I like more snap and color, like Diana Barry has
or Ruby Gillis. Ruby Gillis’s looks are real showy. But somehow—I don’t know how
it is but when Anne and them are together, though she ain’t half as handsome, she makes
them look kind of common and overdone—something like them white June lilies she calls narcissus
alongside of the big, red peonies, that’s what.” CHAPTER XXXI. Where the Brook and River Meet
ANNE had her “good” summer and enjoyed it wholeheartedly. She and Diana fairly lived
outdoors, reveling in all the delights that Lover’s Lane and the Dryad’s Bubble and
Willowmere and Victoria Island afforded. Marilla offered no objections to Anne’s gypsyings.
The Spencervale doctor who had come the night Minnie May had the croup met Anne at the house
of a patient one afternoon early in vacation, looked her over sharply, screwed up his mouth,
shook his head, and sent a message to Marilla Cuthbert by another person. It was: “Keep that redheaded girl of yours in the
open air all summer and don’t let her read books until she gets more spring into her
step.” This message frightened Marilla wholesomely.
She read Anne’s death warrant by consumption in it unless it was scrupulously obeyed. As
a result, Anne had the golden summer of her life as far as freedom and frolic went. She
walked, rowed, berried, and dreamed to her heart’s content; and when September came
she was bright-eyed and alert, with a step that would have satisfied the Spencervale
doctor and a heart full of ambition and zest once more. “I feel just like studying with might and
main,” she declared as she brought her books down from the attic. “Oh, you good old friends,
I’m glad to see your honest faces once more—yes, even you, geometry. I’ve had a perfectly
beautiful summer, Marilla, and now I’m rejoicing as a strong man to run a race, as Mr. Allan
said last Sunday. Doesn’t Mr. Allan preach magnificent sermons? Mrs. Lynde says he is
improving every day and the first thing we know some city church will gobble him up and
then we’ll be left and have to turn to and break in another green preacher. But I don’t
see the use of meeting trouble halfway, do you, Marilla? I think it would be better just
to enjoy Mr. Allan while we have him. If I were a man I think I’d be a minister. They
can have such an influence for good, if their theology is sound; and it must be thrilling
to preach splendid sermons and stir your hearers’ hearts. Why can’t women be ministers, Marilla?
I asked Mrs. Lynde that and she was shocked and said it would be a scandalous thing. She
said there might be female ministers in the States and she believed there was, but thank
goodness we hadn’t got to that stage in Canada yet and she hoped we never would. But
I don’t see why. I think women would make splendid ministers. When there is a social
to be got up or a church tea or anything else to raise money the women have to turn to and
do the work. I’m sure Mrs. Lynde can pray every bit as well as Superintendent Bell and
I’ve no doubt she could preach too with a little practice.” “Yes, I believe she could,” said Marilla
dryly. “She does plenty of unofficial preaching as it is. Nobody has much of a chance to go
wrong in Avonlea with Rachel to oversee them.” “Marilla,” said Anne in a burst of confidence,
“I want to tell you something and ask you what you think about it. It has worried me
terribly—on Sunday afternoons, that is, when I think specially about such matters.
I do really want to be good; and when I’m with you or Mrs. Allan or Miss Stacy I want
it more than ever and I want to do just what would please you and what you would approve
of. But mostly when I’m with Mrs. Lynde I feel desperately wicked and as if I wanted
to go and do the very thing she tells me I oughtn’t to do. I feel irresistibly tempted
to do it. Now, what do you think is the reason I feel like that? Do you think it’s because
I’m really bad and unregenerate?” Marilla looked dubious for a moment. Then
she laughed. “If you are I guess I am too, Anne, for
Rachel often has that very effect on me. I sometimes think she’d have more of an influence
for good, as you say yourself, if she didn’t keep nagging people to do right. There should
have been a special commandment against nagging. But there, I shouldn’t talk so. Rachel is
a good Christian woman and she means well. There isn’t a kinder soul in Avonlea and
she never shirks her share of work.” “I’m very glad you feel the same,” said
Anne decidedly. “It’s so encouraging. I shan’t worry so much over that after this.
But I dare say there’ll be other things to worry me. They keep coming up new all the
time—things to perplex you, you know. You settle one question and there’s another
right after. There are so many things to be thought over and decided when you’re beginning
to grow up. It keeps me busy all the time thinking them over and deciding what is right.
It’s a serious thing to grow up, isn’t it, Marilla? But when I have such good friends
as you and Matthew and Mrs. Allan and Miss Stacy I ought to grow up successfully, and
I’m sure it will be my own fault if I don’t. I feel it’s a great responsibility because
I have only the one chance. If I don’t grow up right I can’t go back and begin over
again. I’ve grown two inches this summer, Marilla. Mr. Gillis measured me at Ruby’s
party. I’m so glad you made my new dresses longer. That dark-green one is so pretty and
it was sweet of you to put on the flounce. Of course I know it wasn’t really necessary,
but flounces are so stylish this fall and Josie Pye has flounces on all her dresses.
I know I’ll be able to study better because of mine. I shall have such a comfortable feeling
deep down in my mind about that flounce.” “It’s worth something to have that,”
admitted Marilla. Miss Stacy came back to Avonlea school and
found all her pupils eager for work once more. Especially did the Queen’s class gird up
their loins for the fray, for at the end of the coming year, dimly shadowing their pathway
already, loomed up that fateful thing known as “the Entrance,” at the thought of which
one and all felt their hearts sink into their very shoes. Suppose they did not pass! That
thought was doomed to haunt Anne through the waking hours of that winter, Sunday afternoons
inclusive, to the almost entire exclusion of moral and theological problems. When Anne
had bad dreams she found herself staring miserably at pass lists of the Entrance exams, where
Gilbert Blythe’s name was blazoned at the top and in which hers did not appear at all. But it was a jolly, busy, happy swift-flying
winter. Schoolwork was as interesting, class rivalry as absorbing, as of yore. New worlds
of thought, feeling, and ambition, fresh, fascinating fields of unexplored knowledge
seemed to be opening out before Anne’s eager eyes. “Hills peeped o’er hill and Alps on Alps
arose.” Much of all this was due to Miss Stacy’s
tactful, careful, broadminded guidance. She led her class to think and explore and discover
for themselves and encouraged straying from the old beaten paths to a degree that quite
shocked Mrs. Lynde and the school trustees, who viewed all innovations on established
methods rather dubiously. Apart from her studies Anne expanded socially,
for Marilla, mindful of the Spencervale doctor’s dictum, no longer vetoed occasional outings.
The Debating Club flourished and gave several concerts; there were one or two parties almost
verging on grown-up affairs; there were sleigh drives and skating frolics galore. Between times Anne grew, shooting up so rapidly
that Marilla was astonished one day, when they were standing side by side, to find the
girl was taller than herself. “Why, Anne, how you’ve grown!” she said,
almost unbelievingly. A sigh followed on the words. Marilla felt a queer regret over Anne’s
inches. The child she had learned to love had vanished somehow and here was this tall,
serious-eyed girl of fifteen, with the thoughtful brows and the proudly poised little head,
in her place. Marilla loved the girl as much as she had loved the child, but she was conscious
of a queer sorrowful sense of loss. And that night, when Anne had gone to prayer meeting
with Diana, Marilla sat alone in the wintry twilight and indulged in the weakness of a
cry. Matthew, coming in with a lantern, caught her at it and gazed at her in such consternation
that Marilla had to laugh through her tears. “I was thinking about Anne,” she explained.
“She’s got to be such a big girl—and she’ll probably be away from us next winter.
I’ll miss her terrible.” “She’ll be able to come home often,”
comforted Matthew, to whom Anne was as yet and always would be the little, eager girl
he had brought home from Bright River on that June evening four years before. “The branch
railroad will be built to Carmody by that time.” “It won’t be the same thing as having
her here all the time,” sighed Marilla gloomily, determined to enjoy her luxury of grief uncomforted.
“But there—men can’t understand these things!” There were other changes in Anne no less real
than the physical change. For one thing, she became much quieter. Perhaps she thought all
the more and dreamed as much as ever, but she certainly talked less. Marilla noticed
and commented on this also. “You don’t chatter half as much as you
used to, Anne, nor use half as many big words. What has come over you?” Anne colored and laughed a little, as she
dropped her book and looked dreamily out of the window, where big fat red buds were bursting
out on the creeper in response to the lure of the spring sunshine. “I don’t know—I don’t want to talk
as much,” she said, denting her chin thoughtfully with her forefinger. “It’s nicer to think
dear, pretty thoughts and keep them in one’s heart, like treasures. I don’t like to have
them laughed at or wondered over. And somehow I don’t want to use big words any more.
It’s almost a pity, isn’t it, now that I’m really growing big enough to say them
if I did want to. It’s fun to be almost grown up in some ways, but it’s not the
kind of fun I expected, Marilla. There’s so much to learn and do and think that there
isn’t time for big words. Besides, Miss Stacy says the short ones are much stronger
and better. She makes us write all our essays as simply as possible. It was hard at first.
I was so used to crowding in all the fine big words I could think of—and I thought
of any number of them. But I’ve got used to it now and I see it’s so much better.” “What has become of your story club? I haven’t
heard you speak of it for a long time.” “The story club isn’t in existence any
longer. We hadn’t time for it—and anyhow I think we had got tired of it. It was silly
to be writing about love and murder and elopements and mysteries. Miss Stacy sometimes has us
write a story for training in composition, but she won’t let us write anything but
what might happen in Avonlea in our own lives, and she criticizes it very sharply and makes
us criticize our own too. I never thought my compositions had so many faults until I
began to look for them myself. I felt so ashamed I wanted to give up altogether, but Miss Stacy
said I could learn to write well if I only trained myself to be my own severest critic.
And so I am trying to.” “You’ve only two more months before the
Entrance,” said Marilla. “Do you think you’ll be able to get through?” Anne shivered. “I don’t know. Sometimes I think I’ll
be all right—and then I get horribly afraid. We’ve studied hard and Miss Stacy has drilled
us thoroughly, but we mayn’t get through for all that. We’ve each got a stumbling
block. Mine is geometry of course, and Jane’s is Latin, and Ruby and Charlie’s is algebra,
and Josie’s is arithmetic. Moody Spurgeon says he feels it in his bones that he is going
to fail in English history. Miss Stacy is going to give us examinations in June just
as hard as we’ll have at the Entrance and mark us just as strictly, so we’ll have
some idea. I wish it was all over, Marilla. It haunts me. Sometimes I wake up in the night
and wonder what I’ll do if I don’t pass.” “Why, go to school next year and try again,”
said Marilla unconcernedly. “Oh, I don’t believe I’d have the heart
for it. It would be such a disgrace to fail, especially if Gil—if the others passed.
And I get so nervous in an examination that I’m likely to make a mess of it. I wish
I had nerves like Jane Andrews. Nothing rattles her.” Anne sighed and, dragging her eyes from the
witcheries of the spring world, the beckoning day of breeze and blue, and the green things
upspringing in the garden, buried herself resolutely in her book. There would be other
springs, but if she did not succeed in passing the Entrance, Anne felt convinced that she
would never recover sufficiently to enjoy them. CHAPTER XXXII. The Pass List Is Out
WITH the end of June came the close of the term and the close of Miss Stacy’s rule
in Avonlea school. Anne and Diana walked home that evening feeling very sober indeed. Red
eyes and damp handkerchiefs bore convincing testimony to the fact that Miss Stacy’s
farewell words must have been quite as touching as Mr. Phillips’s had been under similar
circumstances three years before. Diana looked back at the schoolhouse from the foot of the
spruce hill and sighed deeply. “It does seem as if it was the end of everything,
doesn’t it?” she said dismally. “You oughtn’t to feel half as badly as
I do,” said Anne, hunting vainly for a dry spot on her handkerchief. “You’ll be back
again next winter, but I suppose I’ve left the dear old school forever—if I have good
luck, that is.” “It won’t be a bit the same. Miss Stacy
won’t be there, nor you nor Jane nor Ruby probably. I shall have to sit all alone, for
I couldn’t bear to have another deskmate after you. Oh, we have had jolly times, haven’t
we, Anne? It’s dreadful to think they’re all over.” Two big tears rolled down by Diana’s nose. “If you would stop crying I could,” said
Anne imploringly. “Just as soon as I put away my hanky I see you brimming up and that
starts me off again. As Mrs. Lynde says, ‘If you can’t be cheerful, be as cheerful as
you can.’ After all, I dare say I’ll be back next year. This is one of the times I
know I’m not going to pass. They’re getting alarmingly frequent.” “Why, you came out splendidly in the exams
Miss Stacy gave.” “Yes, but those exams didn’t make me nervous.
When I think of the real thing you can’t imagine what a horrid cold fluttery feeling
comes round my heart. And then my number is thirteen and Josie Pye says it’s so unlucky.
I am not superstitious and I know it can make no difference. But still I wish it wasn’t
thirteen.” “I do wish I was going in with you,” said
Diana. “Wouldn’t we have a perfectly elegant time? But I suppose you’ll have to cram
in the evenings.” “No; Miss Stacy has made us promise not
to open a book at all. She says it would only tire and confuse us and we are to go out walking
and not think about the exams at all and go to bed early. It’s good advice, but I expect
it will be hard to follow; good advice is apt to be, I think. Prissy Andrews told me
that she sat up half the night every night of her Entrance week and crammed for dear
life; and I had determined to sit up at least as long as she did. It was so kind of your
Aunt Josephine to ask me to stay at Beechwood while I’m in town.” “You’ll write to me while you’re in,
won’t you?” “I’ll write Tuesday night and tell you
how the first day goes,” promised Anne. “I’ll be haunting the post office Wednesday,”
vowed Diana. Anne went to town the following Monday and
on Wednesday Diana haunted the post office, as agreed, and got her letter. “Dearest Diana” [wrote Anne], “Here it is Tuesday night and I’m writing
this in the library at Beechwood. Last night I was horribly lonesome all alone in my room
and wished so much you were with me. I couldn’t ‘cram’ because I’d promised Miss Stacy
not to, but it was as hard to keep from opening my history as it used to be to keep from reading
a story before my lessons were learned. “This morning Miss Stacy came for me and
we went to the Academy, calling for Jane and Ruby and Josie on our way. Ruby asked me to
feel her hands and they were as cold as ice. Josie said I looked as if I hadn’t slept
a wink and she didn’t believe I was strong enough to stand the grind of the teacher’s
course even if I did get through. There are times and seasons even yet when I don’t
feel that I’ve made any great headway in learning to like Josie Pye! “When we reached the Academy there were
scores of students there from all over the Island. The first person we saw was Moody
Spurgeon sitting on the steps and muttering away to himself. Jane asked him what on earth
he was doing and he said he was repeating the multiplication table over and over to
steady his nerves and for pity’s sake not to interrupt him, because if he stopped for
a moment he got frightened and forgot everything he ever knew, but the multiplication table
kept all his facts firmly in their proper place! “When we were assigned to our rooms Miss
Stacy had to leave us. Jane and I sat together and Jane was so composed that I envied her.
No need of the multiplication table for good, steady, sensible Jane! I wondered if I looked
as I felt and if they could hear my heart thumping clear across the room. Then a man
came in and began distributing the English examination sheets. My hands grew cold then
and my head fairly whirled around as I picked it up. Just one awful moment—Diana, I felt
exactly as I did four years ago when I asked Marilla if I might stay at Green Gables—and
then everything cleared up in my mind and my heart began beating again—I forgot to
say that it had stopped altogether!—for I knew I could do something with that paper
anyhow. “At noon we went home for dinner and then
back again for history in the afternoon. The history was a pretty hard paper and I got
dreadfully mixed up in the dates. Still, I think I did fairly well today. But oh, Diana,
tomorrow the geometry exam comes off and when I think of it it takes every bit of determination
I possess to keep from opening my Euclid. If I thought the multiplication table would
help me any I would recite it from now till tomorrow morning. “I went down to see the other girls this
evening. On my way I met Moody Spurgeon wandering distractedly around. He said he knew he had
failed in history and he was born to be a disappointment to his parents and he was going
home on the morning train; and it would be easier to be a carpenter than a minister,
anyhow. I cheered him up and persuaded him to stay to the end because it would be unfair
to Miss Stacy if he didn’t. Sometimes I have wished I was born a boy, but when I see
Moody Spurgeon I’m always glad I’m a girl and not his sister. “Ruby was in hysterics when I reached their
boardinghouse; she had just discovered a fearful mistake she had made in her English paper.
When she recovered we went uptown and had an ice cream. How we wished you had been with
us. “Oh, Diana, if only the geometry examination
were over! But there, as Mrs. Lynde would say, the sun will go on rising and setting
whether I fail in geometry or not. That is true but not especially comforting. I think
I’d rather it didn’t go on if I failed! “Yours devotedly, “Anne” The geometry examination and all the others
were over in due time and Anne arrived home on Friday evening, rather tired but with an
air of chastened triumph about her. Diana was over at Green Gables when she arrived
and they met as if they had been parted for years. “You old darling, it’s perfectly splendid
to see you back again. It seems like an age since you went to town and oh, Anne, how did
you get along?” “Pretty well, I think, in everything but
the geometry. I don’t know whether I passed in it or not and I have a creepy, crawly presentiment
that I didn’t. Oh, how good it is to be back! Green Gables is the dearest, loveliest
spot in the world.” “How did the others do?” “The girls say they know they didn’t pass,
but I think they did pretty well. Josie says the geometry was so easy a child of ten could
do it! Moody Spurgeon still thinks he failed in history and Charlie says he failed in algebra.
But we don’t really know anything about it and won’t until the pass list is out.
That won’t be for a fortnight. Fancy living a fortnight in such suspense! I wish I could
go to sleep and never wake up until it is over.” Diana knew it would be useless to ask how
Gilbert Blythe had fared, so she merely said: “Oh, you’ll pass all right. Don’t worry.” “I’d rather not pass at all than not come
out pretty well up on the list,” flashed Anne, by which she meant—and Diana knew
she meant—that success would be incomplete and bitter if she did not come out ahead of
Gilbert Blythe. With this end in view Anne had strained every
nerve during the examinations. So had Gilbert. They had met and passed each other on the
street a dozen times without any sign of recognition and every time Anne had held her head a little
higher and wished a little more earnestly that she had made friends with Gilbert when
he asked her, and vowed a little more determinedly to surpass him in the examination. She knew
that all Avonlea junior was wondering which would come out first; she even knew that Jimmy
Glover and Ned Wright had a bet on the question and that Josie Pye had said there was no doubt
in the world that Gilbert would be first; and she felt that her humiliation would be
unbearable if she failed. But she had another and nobler motive for
wishing to do well. She wanted to “pass high” for the sake of Matthew and Marilla—especially
Matthew. Matthew had declared to her his conviction that she “would beat the whole Island.”
That, Anne felt, was something it would be foolish to hope for even in the wildest dreams.
But she did hope fervently that she would be among the first ten at least, so that she
might see Matthew’s kindly brown eyes gleam with pride in her achievement. That, she felt,
would be a sweet reward indeed for all her hard work and patient grubbing among unimaginative
equations and conjugations. At the end of the fortnight Anne took to “haunting”
the post office also, in the distracted company of Jane, Ruby, and Josie, opening the Charlottetown
dailies with shaking hands and cold, sinkaway feelings as bad as any experienced during
the Entrance week. Charlie and Gilbert were not above doing this too, but Moody Spurgeon
stayed resolutely away. “I haven’t got the grit to go there and
look at a paper in cold blood,” he told Anne. “I’m just going to wait until somebody
comes and tells me suddenly whether I’ve passed or not.” When three weeks had gone by without the pass
list appearing Anne began to feel that she really couldn’t stand the strain much longer.
Her appetite failed and her interest in Avonlea doings languished. Mrs. Lynde wanted to know
what else you could expect with a Tory superintendent of education at the head of affairs, and Matthew,
noting Anne’s paleness and indifference and the lagging steps that bore her home from
the post office every afternoon, began seriously to wonder if he hadn’t better vote Grit
at the next election. But one evening the news came. Anne was sitting
at her open window, for the time forgetful of the woes of examinations and the cares
of the world, as she drank in the beauty of the summer dusk, sweet-scented with flower
breaths from the garden below and sibilant and rustling from the stir of poplars. The
eastern sky above the firs was flushed faintly pink from the reflection of the west, and
Anne was wondering dreamily if the spirit of color looked like that, when she saw Diana
come flying down through the firs, over the log bridge, and up the slope, with a fluttering
newspaper in her hand. Anne sprang to her feet, knowing at once what
that paper contained. The pass list was out! Her head whirled and her heart beat until
it hurt her. She could not move a step. It seemed an hour to her before Diana came rushing
along the hall and burst into the room without even knocking, so great was her excitement. “Anne, you’ve passed,” she cried, “passed
the very first—you and Gilbert both—you’re ties—but your name is first. Oh, I’m so
proud!” Diana flung the paper on the table and herself
on Anne’s bed, utterly breathless and incapable of further speech. Anne lighted the lamp,
oversetting the match safe and using up half a dozen matches before her shaking hands could
accomplish the task. Then she snatched up the paper. Yes, she had passed—there was
her name at the very top of a list of two hundred! That moment was worth living for. “You did just splendidly, Anne,” puffed
Diana, recovering sufficiently to sit up and speak, for Anne, starry eyed and rapt, had
not uttered a word. “Father brought the paper home from Bright River not ten minutes
ago—it came out on the afternoon train, you know, and won’t be here till tomorrow
by mail—and when I saw the pass list I just rushed over like a wild thing. You’ve all
passed, every one of you, Moody Spurgeon and all, although he’s conditioned in history.
Jane and Ruby did pretty well—they’re halfway up—and so did Charlie. Josie just
scraped through with three marks to spare, but you’ll see she’ll put on as many airs
as if she’d led. Won’t Miss Stacy be delighted? Oh, Anne, what does it feel like to see your
name at the head of a pass list like that? If it were me I know I’d go crazy with joy.
I am pretty near crazy as it is, but you’re as calm and cool as a spring evening.” “I’m just dazzled inside,” said Anne.
“I want to say a hundred things, and I can’t find words to say them in. I never dreamed
of this—yes, I did too, just once! I let myself think once, ‘What if I should come
out first?’ quakingly, you know, for it seemed so vain and presumptuous to think I
could lead the Island. Excuse me a minute, Diana. I must run right out to the field to
tell Matthew. Then we’ll go up the road and tell the good news to the others.” They hurried to the hayfield below the barn
where Matthew was coiling hay, and, as luck would have it, Mrs. Lynde was talking to Marilla
at the lane fence. “Oh, Matthew,” exclaimed Anne, “I’ve
passed and I’m first—or one of the first! I’m not vain, but I’m thankful.” “Well now, I always said it,” said Matthew,
gazing at the pass list delightedly. “I knew you could beat them all easy.” “You’ve done pretty well, I must say,
Anne,” said Marilla, trying to hide her extreme pride in Anne from Mrs. Rachel’s
critical eye. But that good soul said heartily: “I just guess she has done well, and far
be it from me to be backward in saying it. You’re a credit to your friends, Anne, that’s
what, and we’re all proud of you.” That night Anne, who had wound up the delightful
evening with a serious little talk with Mrs. Allan at the manse, knelt sweetly by her open
window in a great sheen of moonshine and murmured a prayer of gratitude and aspiration that
came straight from her heart. There was in it thankfulness for the past and reverent
petition for the future; and when she slept on her white pillow her dreams were as fair
and bright and beautiful as maidenhood might desire. CHAPTER XXXIII. The Hotel Concert
PUT on your white organdy, by all means, Anne,” advised Diana decidedly. They were together in the east gable chamber;
outside it was only twilight—a lovely yellowish-green twilight with a clear-blue cloudless sky.
A big round moon, slowly deepening from her pallid luster into burnished silver, hung
over the Haunted Wood; the air was full of sweet summer sounds—sleepy birds twittering,
freakish breezes, faraway voices and laughter. But in Anne’s room the blind was drawn and
the lamp lighted, for an important toilet was being made. The east gable was a very different place
from what it had been on that night four years before, when Anne had felt its bareness penetrate
to the marrow of her spirit with its inhospitable chill. Changes had crept in, Marilla conniving
at them resignedly, until it was as sweet and dainty a nest as a young girl could desire. The velvet carpet with the pink roses and
the pink silk curtains of Anne’s early visions had certainly never materialized; but her
dreams had kept pace with her growth, and it is not probable she lamented them. The
floor was covered with a pretty matting, and the curtains that softened the high window
and fluttered in the vagrant breezes were of pale-green art muslin. The walls, hung
not with gold and silver brocade tapestry, but with a dainty apple-blossom paper, were
adorned with a few good pictures given Anne by Mrs. Allan. Miss Stacy’s photograph occupied
the place of honor, and Anne made a sentimental point of keeping fresh flowers on the bracket
under it. Tonight a spike of white lilies faintly perfumed the room like the dream of
a fragrance. There was no “mahogany furniture,” but there was a white-painted bookcase filled
with books, a cushioned wicker rocker, a toilet table befrilled with white muslin, a quaint,
gilt-framed mirror with chubby pink Cupids and purple grapes painted over its arched
top, that used to hang in the spare room, and a low white bed. Anne was dressing for a concert at the White
Sands Hotel. The guests had got it up in aid of the Charlottetown hospital, and had hunted
out all the available amateur talent in the surrounding districts to help it along. Bertha
Sampson and Pearl Clay of the White Sands Baptist choir had been asked to sing a duet;
Milton Clark of Newbridge was to give a violin solo; Winnie Adella Blair of Carmody was to
sing a Scotch ballad; and Laura Spencer of Spencervale and Anne Shirley of Avonlea were
to recite. As Anne would have said at one time, it was
“an epoch in her life,” and she was deliciously athrill with the excitement of it. Matthew
was in the seventh heaven of gratified pride over the honor conferred on his Anne and Marilla
was not far behind, although she would have died rather than admit it, and said she didn’t
think it was very proper for a lot of young folks to be gadding over to the hotel without
any responsible person with them. Anne and Diana were to drive over with Jane
Andrews and her brother Billy in their double-seated buggy; and several other Avonlea girls and
boys were going too. There was a party of visitors expected out from town, and after
the concert a supper was to be given to the performers. “Do you really think the organdy will be
best?” queried Anne anxiously. “I don’t think it’s as pretty as my
blue-flowered muslin—and it certainly isn’t so fashionable.” “But it suits you ever so much better,”
said Diana. “It’s so soft and frilly and clinging. The muslin is stiff,
and makes you look too dressed up. But the organdy seems as if it
grew on you.” Anne sighed and yielded. Diana was beginning
to have a reputation for notable taste in dressing, and her advice on such subjects
was much sought after. She was looking very pretty herself on this particular night in
a dress of the lovely wild-rose pink, from which Anne was forever debarred; but she was
not to take any part in the concert, so her appearance was of minor importance. All her
pains were bestowed upon Anne, who, she vowed, must, for the credit of Avonlea, be dressed
and combed and adorned to the Queen’s taste. “Pull out that frill a little more—so;
here, let me tie your sash; now for your slippers. I’m going to braid your hair in two thick
braids, and tie them halfway up with big white bows—no, don’t pull out a single curl
over your forehead—just have the soft part. There is no way you do your hair suits you
so well, Anne, and Mrs. Allan says you look like a Madonna when you part it so. I shall
fasten this little white house rose just behind your ear. There was just one on my bush, and
I saved it for you.” “Shall I put my pearl beads on?” asked
Anne. “Matthew brought me a string from town last week, and I know he’d like to
see them on me.” Diana pursed up her lips, put her black head
on one side critically, and finally pronounced in favor of the beads, which were thereupon
tied around Anne’s slim milk-white throat. “There’s something so stylish about you,
Anne,” said Diana, with unenvious admiration. “You hold your head with such an air. I
suppose it’s your figure. I am just a dumpling. I’ve always been afraid of it, and now I
know it is so. Well, I suppose I shall just have to resign myself to it.” “But you have such dimples,” said Anne,
smiling affectionately into the pretty, vivacious face so near her own. “Lovely dimples, like
little dents in cream. I have given up all hope of dimples. My dimple-dream will never
come true; but so many of my dreams have that I mustn’t complain. Am I all ready now?” “All ready,” assured Diana, as Marilla
appeared in the doorway, a gaunt figure with grayer hair than of yore and no fewer angles,
but with a much softer face. “Come right in and look at our elocutionist, Marilla.
Doesn’t she look lovely?” Marilla emitted a sound between a sniff and
a grunt. “She looks neat and proper. I like that
way of fixing her hair. But I expect she’ll ruin that dress driving over there in the
dust and dew with it, and it looks most too thin for these damp nights. Organdy’s the
most unserviceable stuff in the world anyhow, and I told Matthew so when he got it. But
there is no use in saying anything to Matthew nowadays. Time was when he would take my advice,
but now he just buys things for Anne regardless, and the clerks at Carmody know they can palm
anything off on him. Just let them tell him a thing is pretty and fashionable, and Matthew
plunks his money down for it. Mind you keep your skirt clear of the wheel, Anne, and put
your warm jacket on.” Then Marilla stalked downstairs, thinking
proudly how sweet Anne looked, with that “One moonbeam from the forehead to the crown” and regretting that she could not go to the
concert herself to hear her girl recite. “I wonder if it is too damp for my dress,”
said Anne anxiously. “Not a bit of it,” said Diana, pulling
up the window blind. “It’s a perfect night, and there won’t be any dew. Look at the
moonlight.” “I’m so glad my window looks east into
the sun rising,” said Anne, going over to Diana. “It’s so splendid to see the morning
coming up over those long hills and glowing through those sharp fir tops. It’s new every
morning, and I feel as if I washed my very soul in that bath of earliest sunshine. Oh,
Diana, I love this little room so dearly. I don’t know how I’ll get along without
it when I go to town next month.” “Don’t speak of your going away tonight,”
begged Diana. “I don’t want to think of it, it makes me so miserable, and I do want
to have a good time this evening. What are you going to recite, Anne? And are you nervous?” “Not a bit. I’ve recited so often in public
I don’t mind at all now. I’ve decided to give ‘The Maiden’s Vow.’ It’s so
pathetic. Laura Spencer is going to give a comic recitation, but I’d rather make people
cry than laugh.” “What will you recite if they encore you?” “They won’t dream of encoring me,” scoffed
Anne, who was not without her own secret hopes that they would, and already visioned herself
telling Matthew all about it at the next morning’s breakfast table. “There are Billy and Jane
now—I hear the wheels. Come on.” Billy Andrews insisted that Anne should ride
on the front seat with him, so she unwillingly climbed up. She would have much preferred
to sit back with the girls, where she could have laughed and chattered to her heart’s
content. There was not much of either laughter or chatter in Billy. He was a big, fat, stolid
youth of twenty, with a round, expressionless face, and a painful lack of conversational
gifts. But he admired Anne immensely, and was puffed up with pride over the prospect
of driving to White Sands with that slim, upright figure beside him. Anne, by dint of talking over her shoulder
to the girls and occasionally passing a sop of civility to Billy—who grinned and chuckled
and never could think of any reply until it was too late—contrived to enjoy the drive
in spite of all. It was a night for enjoyment. The road was full of buggies, all bound for
the hotel, and laughter, silver clear, echoed and reechoed along it. When they reached the
hotel it was a blaze of light from top to bottom. They were met by the ladies of the
concert committee, one of whom took Anne off to the performers’ dressing room which was
filled with the members of a Charlottetown Symphony Club, among whom Anne felt suddenly
shy and frightened and countrified. Her dress, which, in the east gable, had seemed so dainty
and pretty, now seemed simple and plain—too simple and plain, she thought, among all the
silks and laces that glistened and rustled around her. What were her pearl beads compared
to the diamonds of the big, handsome lady near her? And how poor her one wee white rose
must look beside all the hothouse flowers the others wore! Anne laid her hat and jacket
away, and shrank miserably into a corner. She wished herself back in the white room
at Green Gables. It was still worse on the platform of the
big concert hall of the hotel, where she presently found herself. The electric lights dazzled
her eyes, the perfume and hum bewildered her. She wished she were sitting down in the audience
with Diana and Jane, who seemed to be having a splendid time away at the back. She was
wedged in between a stout lady in pink silk and a tall, scornful-looking girl in a white-lace
dress. The stout lady occasionally turned her head squarely around and surveyed Anne
through her eyeglasses until Anne, acutely sensitive of being so scrutinized, felt that
she must scream aloud; and the white-lace girl kept talking audibly to her next neighbor
about the “country bumpkins” and “rustic belles” in the audience, languidly anticipating
“such fun” from the displays of local talent on the program. Anne believed that
she would hate that white-lace girl to the end of life. Unfortunately for Anne, a professional elocutionist
was staying at the hotel and had consented to recite. She was a lithe, dark-eyed woman
in a wonderful gown of shimmering gray stuff like woven moonbeams, with gems on her neck
and in her dark hair. She had a marvelously flexible voice and wonderful power of expression;
the audience went wild over her selection. Anne, forgetting all about herself and her
troubles for the time, listened with rapt and shining eyes; but when the recitation
ended she suddenly put her hands over her face. She could never get up and recite after
that—never. Had she ever thought she could recite? Oh, if she were only back at Green
Gables! At this unpropitious moment her name was called.
Somehow Anne—who did not notice the rather guilty little start of surprise the white-lace
girl gave, and would not have understood the subtle compliment implied therein if she had—got
on her feet, and moved dizzily out to the front. She was so pale that Diana and Jane,
down in the audience, clasped each other’s hands in nervous sympathy. Anne was the victim of an overwhelming attack
of stage fright. Often as she had recited in public, she had never before faced such
an audience as this, and the sight of it paralyzed her energies completely. Everything was so
strange, so brilliant, so bewildering—the rows of ladies in evening dress, the critical
faces, the whole atmosphere of wealth and culture about her. Very different this from
the plain benches at the Debating Club, filled with the homely, sympathetic faces of friends
and neighbors. These people, she thought, would be merciless critics. Perhaps, like
the white-lace girl, they anticipated amusement from her “rustic” efforts. She felt hopelessly,
helplessly ashamed and miserable. Her knees trembled, her heart fluttered, a horrible
faintness came over her; not a word could she utter, and the next moment she would have
fled from the platform despite the humiliation which, she felt, must ever after be her portion
if she did so. But suddenly, as her dilated, frightened eyes
gazed out over the audience, she saw Gilbert Blythe away at the back of the room, bending
forward with a smile on his face—a smile which seemed to Anne at once triumphant and
taunting. In reality it was nothing of the kind. Gilbert was merely smiling with appreciation
of the whole affair in general and of the effect produced by Anne’s slender white
form and spiritual face against a background of palms in particular. Josie Pye, whom he
had driven over, sat beside him, and her face certainly was both triumphant and taunting.
But Anne did not see Josie, and would not have cared if she had. She drew a long breath
and flung her head up proudly, courage and determination tingling over her like an electric
shock. She would not fail before Gilbert Blythe—he should never be able to laugh at her, never,
never! Her fright and nervousness vanished; and she began her recitation, her clear, sweet
voice reaching to the farthest corner of the room without a tremor or a break. Self-possession
was fully restored to her, and in the reaction from that horrible moment of powerlessness
she recited as she had never done before. When she finished there were bursts of honest
applause. Anne, stepping back to her seat, blushing with shyness and delight, found her
hand vigorously clasped and shaken by the stout lady in pink silk. “My dear, you did splendidly,” she puffed.
“I’ve been crying like a baby, actually I have. There, they’re encoring you—they’re
bound to have you back!” “Oh, I can’t go,” said Anne confusedly.
“But yet—I must, or Matthew will be disappointed. He said they would encore me.” “Then don’t disappoint Matthew,” said
the pink lady, laughing. Smiling, blushing, limpid eyed, Anne tripped
back and gave a quaint, funny little selection that captivated her audience still further.
The rest of the evening was quite a little triumph for her. When the concert was over, the stout, pink
lady—who was the wife of an American millionaire—took her under her wing, and introduced her to
everybody; and everybody was very nice to her. The professional elocutionist, Mrs. Evans,
came and chatted with her, telling her that she had a charming voice and “interpreted”
her selections beautifully. Even the white-lace girl paid her a languid little compliment.
They had supper in the big, beautifully decorated dining room; Diana and Jane were invited to
partake of this, also, since they had come with Anne, but Billy was nowhere to be found,
having decamped in mortal fear of some such invitation. He was in waiting for them, with
the team, however, when it was all over, and the three girls came merrily out into the
calm, white moonshine radiance. Anne breathed deeply, and looked into the clear sky beyond
the dark boughs of the firs. Oh, it was good to be out again in the purity
and silence of the night! How great and still and wonderful everything was, with the murmur
of the sea sounding through it and the darkling cliffs beyond like grim giants guarding enchanted
coasts. “Hasn’t it been a perfectly splendid time?”
sighed Jane, as they drove away. “I just wish I was a rich American and could spend
my summer at a hotel and wear jewels and low-necked dresses and have ice cream and chicken salad
every blessed day. I’m sure it would be ever so much more fun than teaching school.
Anne, your recitation was simply great, although I thought at first you were never going to
begin. I think it was better than Mrs. Evans’s.” “Oh, no, don’t say things like that, Jane,”
said Anne quickly, “because it sounds silly. It couldn’t be better than Mrs. Evans’s,
you know, for she is a professional, and I’m only a schoolgirl, with a little knack of
reciting. I’m quite satisfied if the people just liked mine pretty well.” “I’ve a compliment for you, Anne,” said
Diana. “At least I think it must be a compliment because of the tone he said it in. Part of
it was anyhow. There was an American sitting behind Jane and me—such a romantic-looking
man, with coal-black hair and eyes. Josie Pye says he is a distinguished artist, and
that her mother’s cousin in Boston is married to a man that used to go to school with him.
Well, we heard him say—didn’t we, Jane?—‘Who is that girl on the platform with the splendid
Titian hair? She has a face I should like to paint.’ There now, Anne. But what does
Titian hair mean?” “Being interpreted it means plain red, I
guess,” laughed Anne. “Titian was a very famous artist who liked to paint red-haired
women.” “Did you see all the diamonds those ladies
wore?” sighed Jane. “They were simply dazzling. Wouldn’t you just love to be rich,
girls?” “We are rich,” said Anne staunchly. “Why,
we have sixteen years to our credit, and we’re happy as queens, and we’ve all got imaginations,
more or less. Look at that sea, girls—all silver and shadow and vision of things not
seen. We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes
of diamonds. You wouldn’t change into any of those women if you could. Would you want
to be that white-lace girl and wear a sour look all your life, as if you’d been born
turning up your nose at the world? Or the pink lady, kind and nice as she is, so stout
and short that you’d really no figure at all? Or even Mrs. Evans, with that sad, sad
look in her eyes? She must have been dreadfully unhappy sometime to have such a look. You
know you wouldn’t, Jane Andrews!” “I don’t know—exactly,” said Jane
unconvinced. “I think diamonds would comfort a person for a good deal.” “Well, I don’t want to be anyone but myself,
even if I go uncomforted by diamonds all my life,” declared Anne. “I’m quite content
to be Anne of Green Gables, with my string of pearl beads. I know Matthew gave me as
much love with them as ever went with Madame the Pink Lady’s jewels.” CHAPTER XXXIV. A Queen’s Girl
THE next three weeks were busy ones at Green Gables, for Anne was getting ready to go to
Queen’s, and there was much sewing to be done, and many things to be talked over and
arranged. Anne’s outfit was ample and pretty, for Matthew saw to that, and Marilla for once
made no objections whatever to anything he purchased or suggested. More—one evening
she went up to the east gable with her arms full of a delicate pale green material. “Anne, here’s something for a nice light
dress for you. I don’t suppose you really need it; you’ve plenty of pretty waists;
but I thought maybe you’d like something real dressy to wear if you were asked out
anywhere of an evening in town, to a party or anything like that. I hear that Jane and
Ruby and Josie have got ‘evening dresses,’ as they call them, and I don’t mean you
shall be behind them. I got Mrs. Allan to help me pick it in town last week, and we’ll
get Emily Gillis to make it for you. Emily has got taste, and her fits aren’t to be
equaled.” “Oh, Marilla, it’s just lovely,” said
Anne. “Thank you so much. I don’t believe you ought to be so kind to me—it’s making
it harder every day for me to go away.” The green dress was made up with as many tucks
and frills and shirrings as Emily’s taste permitted. Anne put it on one evening for
Matthew’s and Marilla’s benefit, and recited “The Maiden’s Vow” for them in the kitchen.
As Marilla watched the bright, animated face and graceful motions her thoughts went back
to the evening Anne had arrived at Green Gables, and memory recalled a vivid picture of the
odd, frightened child in her preposterous yellowish-brown wincey dress, the heartbreak
looking out of her tearful eyes. Something in the memory brought tears to Marilla’s
own eyes. “I declare, my recitation has made you cry,
Marilla,” said Anne gaily stooping over Marilla’s chair to drop a butterfly kiss
on that lady’s cheek. “Now, I call that a positive triumph.” “No, I wasn’t crying over your piece,”
said Marilla, who would have scorned to be betrayed into such weakness by any poetry
stuff. “I just couldn’t help thinking of the little girl you used to be, Anne. And
I was wishing you could have stayed a little girl, even with all your queer ways. You’ve
grown up now and you’re going away; and you look so tall and stylish and so—so—different
altogether in that dress—as if you didn’t belong in Avonlea at all—and I just got
lonesome thinking it all over.” “Marilla!” Anne sat down on Marilla’s
gingham lap, took Marilla’s lined face between her hands, and looked gravely and tenderly
into Marilla’s eyes. “I’m not a bit changed—not really. I’m only just pruned
down and branched out. The real me—back here—is just the same. It won’t make a
bit of difference where I go or how much I change outwardly; at heart I shall always
be your little Anne, who will love you and Matthew and dear Green Gables more and better
every day of her life.” Anne laid her fresh young cheek against Marilla’s
faded one, and reached out a hand to pat Matthew’s shoulder. Marilla would have given much just
then to have possessed Anne’s power of putting her feelings into words; but nature and habit
had willed it otherwise, and she could only put her arms close about her girl and hold
her tenderly to her heart, wishing that she need never let her go. Matthew, with a suspicious moisture in his
eyes, got up and went out-of-doors. Under the stars of the blue summer night he walked
agitatedly across the yard to the gate under the poplars. “Well now, I guess she ain’t been much
spoiled,” he muttered, proudly. “I guess my putting in my oar occasional never did
much harm after all. She’s smart and pretty, and loving, too, which is better than all
the rest. She’s been a blessing to us, and there never was a luckier mistake than what
Mrs. Spencer made—if it was luck. I don’t believe it was any such thing. It was Providence,
because the Almighty saw we needed her, I reckon.” The day finally came when Anne must go to
town. She and Matthew drove in one fine September morning, after a tearful parting with Diana
and an untearful practical one—on Marilla’s side at least—with Marilla. But when Anne
had gone Diana dried her tears and went to a beach picnic at White Sands with some of
her Carmody cousins, where she contrived to enjoy herself tolerably well; while Marilla
plunged fiercely into unnecessary work and kept at it all day long with the bitterest
kind of heartache—the ache that burns and gnaws and cannot wash itself away in ready
tears. But that night, when Marilla went to bed, acutely and miserably conscious that
the little gable room at the end of the hall was untenanted by any vivid young life and
unstirred by any soft breathing, she buried her face in her pillow, and wept for her girl
in a passion of sobs that appalled her when she grew calm enough to reflect how very wicked
it must be to take on so about a sinful fellow creature. Anne and the rest of the Avonlea scholars
reached town just in time to hurry off to the Academy. That first day passed pleasantly
enough in a whirl of excitement, meeting all the new students, learning to know the professors
by sight and being assorted and organized into classes. Anne intended taking up the
Second Year work being advised to do so by Miss Stacy; Gilbert Blythe elected to do the
same. This meant getting a First Class teacher’s license in one year instead of two, if they
were successful; but it also meant much more and harder work. Jane, Ruby, Josie, Charlie,
and Moody Spurgeon, not being troubled with the stirrings of ambition, were content to
take up the Second Class work. Anne was conscious of a pang of loneliness when she found herself
in a room with fifty other students, not one of whom she knew, except the tall, brown-haired
boy across the room; and knowing him in the fashion she did, did not help her much, as
she reflected pessimistically. Yet she was undeniably glad that they were in the same
class; the old rivalry could still be carried on, and Anne would hardly have known what
to do if it had been lacking. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable without it,”
she thought. “Gilbert looks awfully determined. I suppose he’s making up his mind, here
and now, to win the medal. What a splendid chin he has! I never noticed it before. I
do wish Jane and Ruby had gone in for First Class, too. I suppose I won’t feel so much
like a cat in a strange garret when I get acquainted, though. I wonder which of the
girls here are going to be my friends. It’s really an interesting speculation. Of course
I promised Diana that no Queen’s girl, no matter how much I liked her, should ever be
as dear to me as she is; but I’ve lots of second-best affections to bestow. I like the
look of that girl with the brown eyes and the crimson waist. She looks vivid and red-rosy;
there’s that pale, fair one gazing out of the window. She has lovely hair, and looks
as if she knew a thing or two about dreams. I’d like to know them both—know them well—well
enough to walk with my arm about their waists, and call them nicknames. But just now I don’t
know them and they don’t know me, and probably don’t want to know me particularly. Oh,
it’s lonesome!” It was lonesomer still when Anne found herself
alone in her hall bedroom that night at twilight. She was not to board with the other girls,
who all had relatives in town to take pity on them. Miss Josephine Barry would have liked
to board her, but Beechwood was so far from the Academy that it was out of the question;
so Miss Barry hunted up a boarding-house, assuring Matthew and Marilla that it was the
very place for Anne. “The lady who keeps it is a reduced gentlewoman,”
explained Miss Barry. “Her husband was a British officer, and she is very careful what
sort of boarders she takes. Anne will not meet with any objectionable persons under
her roof. The table is good, and the house is near the Academy, in a quiet neighborhood.” All this might be quite true, and indeed,
proved to be so, but it did not materially help Anne in the first agony of homesickness
that seized upon her. She looked dismally about her narrow little room, with its dull-papered,
pictureless walls, its small iron bedstead and empty book-case; and a horrible choke
came into her throat as she thought of her own white room at Green Gables, where she
would have the pleasant consciousness of a great green still outdoors, of sweet peas
growing in the garden, and moonlight falling on the orchard, of the brook below the slope
and the spruce boughs tossing in the night wind beyond it, of a vast starry sky, and
the light from Diana’s window shining out through the gap in the trees. Here there was
nothing of this; Anne knew that outside of her window was a hard street, with a network
of telephone wires shutting out the sky, the tramp of alien feet, and a thousand lights
gleaming on stranger faces. She knew that she was going to cry, and fought against it. “I won’t cry. It’s silly—and weak—there’s
the third tear splashing down by my nose. There are more coming! I must think of something
funny to stop them. But there’s nothing funny except what is connected with Avonlea,
and that only makes things worse—four—five—I’m going home next Friday, but that seems a hundred
years away. Oh, Matthew is nearly home by now—and Marilla is at the gate, looking
down the lane for him—six—seven—eight—oh, there’s no use in counting them! They’re
coming in a flood presently. I can’t cheer up—I don’t want to cheer up. It’s nicer
to be miserable!” The flood of tears would have come, no doubt,
had not Josie Pye appeared at that moment. In the joy of seeing a familiar face Anne
forgot that there had never been much love lost between her and Josie. As a part of Avonlea
life even a Pye was welcome. “I’m so glad you came up,” Anne said
sincerely. “You’ve been crying,” remarked Josie,
with aggravating pity. “I suppose you’re homesick—some people have so little self-control
in that respect. I’ve no intention of being homesick, I can tell you. Town’s too jolly
after that poky old Avonlea. I wonder how I ever existed there so long. You shouldn’t
cry, Anne; it isn’t becoming, for your nose and eyes get red, and then you seem all red.
I’d a perfectly scrumptious time in the Academy today. Our French professor is simply
a duck. His moustache would give you kerwollowps of the heart. Have you anything eatable around,
Anne? I’m literally starving. Ah, I guessed likely Marilla ‘d load you up with cake.
That’s why I called round. Otherwise I’d have gone to the park to hear the band play
with Frank Stockley. He boards same place as I do, and he’s a sport. He noticed you
in class today, and asked me who the red-headed girl was. I told him you were an orphan that
the Cuthberts had adopted, and nobody knew very much about what you’d been before that.” Anne was wondering if, after all, solitude
and tears were not more satisfactory than Josie Pye’s companionship when Jane and
Ruby appeared, each with an inch of Queen’s color ribbon—purple and scarlet—pinned
proudly to her coat. As Josie was not “speaking” to Jane just then she had to subside into
comparative harmlessness. “Well,” said Jane with a sigh, “I feel
as if I’d lived many moons since the morning. I ought to be home studying my Virgil—that
horrid old professor gave us twenty lines to start in on tomorrow. But I simply couldn’t
settle down to study tonight. Anne, methinks I see the traces of tears. If you’ve been
crying do own up. It will restore my self-respect, for I was shedding tears freely before Ruby
came along. I don’t mind being a goose so much if somebody else is goosey, too. Cake?
You’ll give me a teeny piece, won’t you? Thank you. It has the real Avonlea flavor.” Ruby, perceiving the Queen’s calendar lying
on the table, wanted to know if Anne meant to try for the gold medal. Anne blushed and admitted she was thinking
of it. “Oh, that reminds me,” said Josie, “Queen’s
is to get one of the Avery scholarships after all. The word came today. Frank Stockley told
me—his uncle is one of the board of governors, you know. It will be announced in the Academy
tomorrow.” An Avery scholarship! Anne felt her heart
beat more quickly, and the horizons of her ambition shifted and broadened as if by magic.
Before Josie had told the news Anne’s highest pinnacle of aspiration had been a teacher’s
provincial license, First Class, at the end of the year, and perhaps the medal! But now
in one moment Anne saw herself winning the Avery scholarship, taking an Arts course at
Redmond College, and graduating in a gown and mortar board, before the echo of Josie’s
words had died away. For the Avery scholarship was in English, and Anne felt that here her
foot was on native heath. A wealthy manufacturer of New Brunswick had
died and left part of his fortune to endow a large number of scholarships to be distributed
among the various high schools and academies of the Maritime Provinces, according to their
respective standings. There had been much doubt whether one would be allotted to Queen’s,
but the matter was settled at last, and at the end of the year the graduate who made
the highest mark in English and English Literature would win the scholarship—two hundred and
fifty dollars a year for four years at Redmond College. No wonder that Anne went to bed that
night with tingling cheeks! “I’ll win that scholarship if hard work
can do it,” she resolved. “Wouldn’t Matthew be proud if I got to be a B.A.? Oh,
it’s delightful to have ambitions. I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never
seems to be any end to them—that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to
one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.” CHAPTER XXXV. The Winter at Queen’s
ANNE’S homesickness wore off, greatly helped in the wearing by her weekend visits home.
As long as the open weather lasted the Avonlea students went out to Carmody on the new branch
railway every Friday night. Diana and several other Avonlea young folks were generally on
hand to meet them and they all walked over to Avonlea in a merry party. Anne thought
those Friday evening gypsyings over the autumnal hills in the crisp golden air, with the homelights
of Avonlea twinkling beyond, were the best and dearest hours in the whole week. Gilbert Blythe nearly always walked with Ruby
Gillis and carried her satchel for her. Ruby was a very handsome young lady, now thinking
herself quite as grown up as she really was; she wore her skirts as long as her mother
would let her and did her hair up in town, though she had to take it down when she went
home. She had large, bright-blue eyes, a brilliant complexion, and a plump showy figure. She
laughed a great deal, was cheerful and good-tempered, and enjoyed the pleasant things of life frankly. “But I shouldn’t think she was the sort
of girl Gilbert would like,” whispered Jane to Anne. Anne did not think so either, but
she would not have said so for the Avery scholarship. She could not help thinking, too, that it
would be very pleasant to have such a friend as Gilbert to jest and chatter with and exchange
ideas about books and studies and ambitions. Gilbert had ambitions, she knew, and Ruby
Gillis did not seem the sort of person with whom such could be profitably discussed. There was no silly sentiment in Anne’s ideas
concerning Gilbert. Boys were to her, when she thought about them at all, merely possible
good comrades. If she and Gilbert had been friends she would not have cared how many
other friends he had nor with whom he walked. She had a genius for friendship; girl friends
she had in plenty; but she had a vague consciousness that masculine friendship might also be a
good thing to round out one’s conceptions of companionship and furnish broader standpoints
of judgment and comparison. Not that Anne could have put her feelings on the matter
into just such clear definition. But she thought that if Gilbert had ever walked home with
her from the train, over the crisp fields and along the ferny byways, they might have
had many and merry and interesting conversations about the new world that was opening around
them and their hopes and ambitions therein. Gilbert was a clever young fellow, with his
own thoughts about things and a determination to get the best out of life and put the best
into it. Ruby Gillis told Jane Andrews that she didn’t understand half the things Gilbert
Blythe said; he talked just like Anne Shirley did when she had a thoughtful fit on and for
her part she didn’t think it any fun to be bothering about books and that sort of
thing when you didn’t have to. Frank Stockley had lots more dash and go, but then he wasn’t
half as good-looking as Gilbert and she really couldn’t decide which she liked best! In the Academy Anne gradually drew a little
circle of friends about her, thoughtful, imaginative, ambitious students like herself. With the
“rose-red” girl, Stella Maynard, and the “dream girl,” Priscilla Grant, she soon
became intimate, finding the latter pale spiritual-looking maiden to be full to the brim of mischief
and pranks and fun, while the vivid, black-eyed Stella had a heartful of wistful dreams and
fancies, as aerial and rainbow-like as Anne’s own. After the Christmas holidays the Avonlea students
gave up going home on Fridays and settled down to hard work. By this time all the Queen’s
scholars had gravitated into their own places in the ranks and the various classes had assumed
distinct and settled shadings of individuality. Certain facts had become generally accepted.
It was admitted that the medal contestants had practically narrowed down to three—Gilbert
Blythe, Anne Shirley, and Lewis Wilson; the Avery scholarship was more doubtful, any one
of a certain six being a possible winner. The bronze medal for mathematics was considered
as good as won by a fat, funny little up-country boy with a bumpy forehead and a patched coat. Ruby Gillis was the handsomest girl of the
year at the Academy; in the Second Year classes Stella Maynard carried off the palm for beauty,
with small but critical minority in favor of Anne Shirley. Ethel Marr was admitted by
all competent judges to have the most stylish modes of hair-dressing, and Jane Andrews—plain,
plodding, conscientious Jane—carried off the honors in the domestic science course.
Even Josie Pye attained a certain preeminence as the sharpest-tongued young lady in attendance
at Queen’s. So it may be fairly stated that Miss Stacy’s old pupils held their own in
the wider arena of the academical course. Anne worked hard and steadily. Her rivalry
with Gilbert was as intense as it had ever been in Avonlea school, although it was not
known in the class at large, but somehow the bitterness had gone out of it. Anne no longer
wished to win for the sake of defeating Gilbert; rather, for the proud consciousness of a well-won
victory over a worthy foeman. It would be worth while to win, but she no longer thought
life would be insupportable if she did not. In spite of lessons the students found opportunities
for pleasant times. Anne spent many of her spare hours at Beechwood and generally ate
her Sunday dinners there and went to church with Miss Barry. The latter was, as she admitted,
growing old, but her black eyes were not dim nor the vigor of her tongue in the least abated.
But she never sharpened the latter on Anne, who continued to be a prime favorite with
the critical old lady. “That Anne-girl improves all the time,”
she said. “I get tired of other girls—there is such a provoking and eternal sameness about
them. Anne has as many shades as a rainbow and every shade is the prettiest while it
lasts. I don’t know that she is as amusing as she was when she was a child, but she makes
me love her and I like people who make me love them. It saves me so much trouble in
making myself love them.” Then, almost before anybody realized it, spring
had come; out in Avonlea the Mayflowers were peeping pinkly out on the sere barrens where
snow-wreaths lingered; and the “mist of green” was on the woods and in the valleys.
But in Charlottetown harassed Queen’s students thought and talked only of examinations. “It doesn’t seem possible that the term
is nearly over,” said Anne. “Why, last fall it seemed so long to look forward to—a
whole winter of studies and classes. And here we are, with the exams looming up next week.
Girls, sometimes I feel as if those exams meant everything, but when I look at the big
buds swelling on those chestnut trees and the misty blue air at the end of the streets
they don’t seem half so important.” Jane and Ruby and Josie, who had dropped in,
did not take this view of it. To them the coming examinations were constantly very important
indeed—far more important than chestnut buds or Maytime hazes. It was all very well
for Anne, who was sure of passing at least, to have her moments of belittling them, but
when your whole future depended on them—as the girls truly thought theirs did—you could
not regard them philosophically. “I’ve lost seven pounds in the last two
weeks,” sighed Jane. “It’s no use to say don’t worry. I will worry. Worrying
helps you some—it seems as if you were doing something when you’re worrying. It would
be dreadful if I failed to get my license after going to Queen’s all winter and spending
so much money.” “I don’t care,” said Josie Pye. “If
I don’t pass this year I’m coming back next. My father can afford to send me. Anne,
Frank Stockley says that Professor Tremaine said Gilbert Blythe was sure to get the medal
and that Emily Clay would likely win the Avery scholarship.” “That may make me feel badly tomorrow, Josie,”
laughed Anne, “but just now I honestly feel that as long as I know the violets are coming
out all purple down in the hollow below Green Gables and that little ferns are poking their
heads up in Lovers’ Lane, it’s not a great deal of difference whether I win the Avery
or not. I’ve done my best and I begin to understand what is meant by the ‘joy of
the strife.’ Next to trying and winning, the best thing is trying and failing. Girls,
don’t talk about exams! Look at that arch of pale green sky over those houses and picture
to yourself what it must look like over the purply-dark beech-woods back of Avonlea.” “What are you going to wear for commencement,
Jane?” asked Ruby practically. Jane and Josie both answered at once and the
chatter drifted into a side eddy of fashions. But Anne, with her elbows on the window sill,
her soft cheek laid against her clasped hands, and her eyes filled with visions, looked out
unheedingly across city roof and spire to that glorious dome of sunset sky and wove
her dreams of a possible future from the golden tissue of youth’s own optimism. All the
Beyond was hers with its possibilities lurking rosily in the oncoming years—each year a
rose of promise to be woven into an immortal chaplet. CHAPTER XXXVI. The Glory and the Dream
ON the morning when the final results of all the examinations were to be posted on the
bulletin board at Queen’s, Anne and Jane walked down the street together. Jane was
smiling and happy; examinations were over and she was comfortably sure she had made
a pass at least; further considerations troubled Jane not at all; she had no soaring ambitions
and consequently was not affected with the unrest attendant thereon. For we pay a price
for everything we get or take in this world; and although ambitions are well worth having,
they are not to be cheaply won, but exact their dues of work and self-denial, anxiety
and discouragement. Anne was pale and quiet; in ten more minutes she would know who had
won the medal and who the Avery. Beyond those ten minutes there did not seem, just then,
to be anything worth being called Time. “Of course you’ll win one of them anyhow,”
said Jane, who couldn’t understand how the faculty could be so unfair as to order it
otherwise. “I have not hope of the Avery,” said Anne.
“Everybody says Emily Clay will win it. And I’m not going to march up to that bulletin
board and look at it before everybody. I haven’t the moral courage. I’m going straight to
the girls’ dressing room. You must read the announcements and then come and tell me,
Jane. And I implore you in the name of our old friendship to do it as quickly as possible.
If I have failed just say so, without trying to break it gently; and whatever you do don’t
sympathize with me. Promise me this, Jane.” Jane promised solemnly; but, as it happened,
there was no necessity for such a promise. When they went up the entrance steps of Queen’s
they found the hall full of boys who were carrying Gilbert Blythe around on their shoulders
and yelling at the tops of their voices, “Hurrah for Blythe, Medalist!” For a moment Anne felt one sickening pang
of defeat and disappointment. So she had failed and Gilbert had won! Well, Matthew would be
sorry—he had been so sure she would win. And then! Somebody called out: “Three cheers for Miss Shirley, winner of
the Avery!” “Oh, Anne,” gasped Jane, as they fled
to the girls’ dressing room amid hearty cheers. “Oh, Anne I’m so proud! Isn’t
it splendid?” And then the girls were around them and Anne
was the center of a laughing, congratulating group. Her shoulders were thumped and her
hands shaken vigorously. She was pushed and pulled and hugged and among it all she managed
to whisper to Jane: “Oh, won’t Matthew and Marilla be pleased!
I must write the news home right away.” Commencement was the next important happening.
The exercises were held in the big assembly hall of the Academy. Addresses were given,
essays read, songs sung, the public award of diplomas, prizes and medals made. Matthew and Marilla were there, with eyes
and ears for only one student on the platform—a tall girl in pale green, with faintly flushed
cheeks and starry eyes, who read the best essay and was pointed out and whispered about
as the Avery winner. “Reckon you’re glad we kept her, Marilla?”
whispered Matthew, speaking for the first time since he had entered the hall, when Anne
had finished her essay. “It’s not the first time I’ve been glad,”
retorted Marilla. “You do like to rub things in, Matthew Cuthbert.” Miss Barry, who was sitting behind them, leaned
forward and poked Marilla in the back with her parasol. “Aren’t you proud of that Anne-girl? I
am,” she said. Anne went home to Avonlea with Matthew and
Marilla that evening. She had not been home since April and she felt that she could not
wait another day. The apple blossoms were out and the world was fresh and young. Diana
was at Green Gables to meet her. In her own white room, where Marilla had set a flowering
house rose on the window sill, Anne looked about her and drew a long breath of happiness. “Oh, Diana, it’s so good to be back again.
It’s so good to see those pointed firs coming out against the pink sky—and that white
orchard and the old Snow Queen. Isn’t the breath of the mint delicious? And that tea
rose—why, it’s a song and a hope and a prayer all in one. And it’s good to see
you again, Diana!” “I thought you liked that Stella Maynard
better than me,” said Diana reproachfully. “Josie Pye told me you did. Josie said you
were infatuated with her.” Anne laughed and pelted Diana with the faded
“June lilies” of her bouquet. “Stella Maynard is the dearest girl in the
world except one and you are that one, Diana,” she said. “I love you more than ever—and
I’ve so many things to tell you. But just now I feel as if it were joy enough to sit
here and look at you. I’m tired, I think—tired of being studious and ambitious. I mean to
spend at least two hours tomorrow lying out in the orchard grass, thinking of absolutely
nothing.” “You’ve done splendidly, Anne. I suppose
you won’t be teaching now that you’ve won the Avery?” “No. I’m going to Redmond in September.
Doesn’t it seem wonderful? I’ll have a brand new stock of ambition laid in by that
time after three glorious, golden months of vacation. Jane and Ruby are going to teach.
Isn’t it splendid to think we all got through even to Moody Spurgeon and Josie Pye?” “The Newbridge trustees have offered Jane
their school already,” said Diana. “Gilbert Blythe is going to teach, too. He has to.
His father can’t afford to send him to college next year, after all, so he means to earn
his own way through. I expect he’ll get the school here if Miss Ames decides to leave.” Anne felt a queer little sensation of dismayed
surprise. She had not known this; she had expected that Gilbert would be going to Redmond
also. What would she do without their inspiring rivalry? Would not work, even at a coeducational
college with a real degree in prospect, be rather flat without her friend the enemy? The next morning at breakfast it suddenly
struck Anne that Matthew was not looking well. Surely he was much grayer than he had been
a year before. “Marilla,” she said hesitatingly when
he had gone out, “is Matthew quite well?” “No, he isn’t,” said Marilla in a troubled
tone. “He’s had some real bad spells with his heart this spring and he won’t spare
himself a mite. I’ve been real worried about him, but he’s some better this while back
and we’ve got a good hired man, so I’m hoping he’ll kind of rest and pick up. Maybe
he will now you’re home. You always cheer him up.” Anne leaned across the table and took Marilla’s
face in her hands. “You are not looking as well yourself as
I’d like to see you, Marilla. You look tired. I’m afraid you’ve been working too hard.
You must take a rest, now that I’m home. I’m just going to take this one day off
to visit all the dear old spots and hunt up my old dreams, and then it will be your turn
to be lazy while I do the work.” Marilla smiled affectionately at her girl. “It’s not the work—it’s my head. I’ve
got a pain so often now—behind my eyes. Doctor Spencer’s been fussing with glasses,
but they don’t do me any good. There is a distinguished oculist coming to the Island
the last of June and the doctor says I must see him. I guess I’ll have to. I can’t
read or sew with any comfort now. Well, Anne, you’ve done real well at Queen’s I must
say. To take First Class License in one year and win the Avery scholarship—well, well,
Mrs. Lynde says pride goes before a fall and she doesn’t believe in the higher education
of women at all; she says it unfits them for woman’s true sphere. I don’t believe a
word of it. Speaking of Rachel reminds me—did you hear anything about the Abbey Bank lately,
Anne?” “I heard it was shaky,” answered Anne.
“Why?” “That is what Rachel said. She was up here
one day last week and said there was some talk about it. Matthew felt real worried.
All we have saved is in that bank—every penny. I wanted Matthew to put it in the Savings
Bank in the first place, but old Mr. Abbey was a great friend of father’s and he’d
always banked with him. Matthew said any bank with him at the head of it was good enough
for anybody.” “I think he has only been its nominal head
for many years,” said Anne. “He is a very old man; his nephews are really at the head
of the institution.” “Well, when Rachel told us that, I wanted
Matthew to draw our money right out and he said he’d think of it. But Mr. Russell told
him yesterday that the bank was all right.” Anne had her good day in the companionship
of the outdoor world. She never forgot that day; it was so bright and golden and fair,
so free from shadow and so lavish of blossom. Anne spent some of its rich hours in the orchard;
she went to the Dryad’s Bubble and Willowmere and Violet Vale; she called at the manse and
had a satisfying talk with Mrs. Allan; and finally in the evening she went with Matthew
for the cows, through Lovers’ Lane to the back pasture. The woods were all gloried through
with sunset and the warm splendor of it streamed down through the hill gaps in the west. Matthew
walked slowly with bent head; Anne, tall and erect, suited her springing step to his. “You’ve been working too hard today, Matthew,”
she said reproachfully. “Why won’t you take things easier?” “Well now, I can’t seem to,” said Matthew,
as he opened the yard gate to let the cows through. “It’s only that I’m getting
old, Anne, and keep forgetting it. Well, well, I’ve always worked pretty hard and I’d
rather drop in harness.” “If I had been the boy you sent for,”
said Anne wistfully, “I’d be able to help you so much now and spare you in a hundred
ways. I could find it in my heart to wish I had been, just for that.” “Well now, I’d rather have you than a
dozen boys, Anne,” said Matthew patting her hand. “Just mind you that—rather than
a dozen boys. Well now, I guess it wasn’t a boy that took the Avery scholarship, was
it? It was a girl—my girl—my girl that I’m proud of.” He smiled his shy smile at her as he went
into the yard. Anne took the memory of it with her when she went to her room that night
and sat for a long while at her open window, thinking of the past and dreaming of the future.
Outside the Snow Queen was mistily white in the moonshine; the frogs were singing in the
marsh beyond Orchard Slope. Anne always remembered the silvery, peaceful beauty and fragrant
calm of that night. It was the last night before sorrow touched her life; and no life
is ever quite the same again when once that cold, sanctifying touch has been laid upon
it. CHAPTER XXXVII. The Reaper Whose Name Is Death
MATTHEW—Matthew—what is the matter? Matthew, are you sick?” It was Marilla who spoke, alarm in every jerky
word. Anne came through the hall, her hands full of white narcissus,—it was long before
Anne could love the sight or odor of white narcissus again,—in time to hear her and
to see Matthew standing in the porch doorway, a folded paper in his hand, and his face strangely
drawn and gray. Anne dropped her flowers and sprang across the kitchen to him at the same
moment as Marilla. They were both too late; before they could reach him Matthew had fallen
across the threshold. “He’s fainted,” gasped Marilla. “Anne,
run for Martin—quick, quick! He’s at the barn.” Martin, the hired man, who had just driven
home from the post office, started at once for the doctor, calling at Orchard Slope on
his way to send Mr. and Mrs. Barry over. Mrs. Lynde, who was there on an errand, came too.
They found Anne and Marilla distractedly trying to restore Matthew to consciousness. Mrs. Lynde pushed them gently aside, tried
his pulse, and then laid her ear over his heart. She looked at their anxious faces sorrowfully
and the tears came into her eyes. “Oh, Marilla,” she said gravely. “I
don’t think—we can do anything for him.” “Mrs. Lynde, you don’t think—you can’t
think Matthew is—is—” Anne could not say the dreadful word; she turned sick and
pallid. “Child, yes, I’m afraid of it. Look at
his face. When you’ve seen that look as often as I have you’ll know what it means.” Anne looked at the still face and there beheld
the seal of the Great Presence. When the doctor came he said that death had
been instantaneous and probably painless, caused in all likelihood by some sudden shock.
The secret of the shock was discovered to be in the paper Matthew had held and which
Martin had brought from the office that morning. It contained an account of the failure of
the Abbey Bank. The news spread quickly through Avonlea, and
all day friends and neighbors thronged Green Gables and came and went on errands of kindness
for the dead and living. For the first time shy, quiet Matthew Cuthbert was a person of
central importance; the white majesty of death had fallen on him and set him apart as one
crowned. When the calm night came softly down over
Green Gables the old house was hushed and tranquil. In the parlor lay Matthew Cuthbert
in his coffin, his long gray hair framing his placid face on which there was a little
kindly smile as if he but slept, dreaming pleasant dreams. There were flowers about
him—sweet old-fashioned flowers which his mother had planted in the homestead garden
in her bridal days and for which Matthew had always had a secret, wordless love. Anne had
gathered them and brought them to him, her anguished, tearless eyes burning in her white
face. It was the last thing she could do for him. The Barrys and Mrs. Lynde stayed with them
that night. Diana, going to the east gable, where Anne was standing at her window, said
gently: “Anne dear, would you like to have me sleep
with you tonight?” “Thank you, Diana.” Anne looked earnestly
into her friend’s face. “I think you won’t misunderstand me when I say I want to be alone.
I’m not afraid. I haven’t been alone one minute since it happened—and I want to be.
I want to be quite silent and quiet and try to realize it. I can’t realize it. Half
the time it seems to me that Matthew can’t be dead; and the other half it seems as if
he must have been dead for a long time and I’ve had this horrible dull ache ever since.” Diana did not quite understand. Marilla’s
impassioned grief, breaking all the bounds of natural reserve and lifelong habit in its
stormy rush, she could comprehend better than Anne’s tearless agony. But she went away
kindly, leaving Anne alone to keep her first vigil with sorrow. Anne hoped that the tears would come in solitude.
It seemed to her a terrible thing that she could not shed a tear for Matthew, whom she
had loved so much and who had been so kind to her, Matthew who had walked with her last
evening at sunset and was now lying in the dim room below with that awful peace on his
brow. But no tears came at first, even when she knelt by her window in the darkness and
prayed, looking up to the stars beyond the hills—no tears, only the same horrible dull
ache of misery that kept on aching until she fell asleep, worn out with the day’s pain
and excitement. In the night she awakened, with the stillness
and the darkness about her, and the recollection of the day came over her like a wave of sorrow.
She could see Matthew’s face smiling at her as he had smiled when they parted at the
gate that last evening—she could hear his voice saying, “My girl—my girl that I’m
proud of.” Then the tears came and Anne wept her heart out. Marilla heard her and
crept in to comfort her. “There—there—don’t cry so, dearie.
It can’t bring him back. It—it—isn’t right to cry so. I knew that today, but I
couldn’t help it then. He’d always been such a good, kind brother to me—but God
knows best.” “Oh, just let me cry, Marilla,” sobbed
Anne. “The tears don’t hurt me like that ache did. Stay here for a little while with
me and keep your arm round me—so. I couldn’t have Diana stay, she’s good and kind and
sweet—but it’s not her sorrow—she’s outside of it and she couldn’t come close
enough to my heart to help me. It’s our sorrow—yours and mine. Oh, Marilla, what
will we do without him?” “We’ve got each other, Anne. I don’t
know what I’d do if you weren’t here—if you’d never come. Oh, Anne, I know I’ve
been kind of strict and harsh with you maybe—but you mustn’t think I didn’t love you as
well as Matthew did, for all that. I want to tell you now when I can. It’s never been
easy for me to say things out of my heart, but at times like this it’s easier. I love
you as dear as if you were my own flesh and blood and you’ve been my joy and comfort
ever since you came to Green Gables.” Two days afterwards they carried Matthew Cuthbert
over his homestead threshold and away from the fields he had tilled and the orchards
he had loved and the trees he had planted; and then Avonlea settled back to its usual
placidity and even at Green Gables affairs slipped into their old groove and work was
done and duties fulfilled with regularity as before, although always with the aching
sense of “loss in all familiar things.” Anne, new to grief, thought it almost sad
that it could be so—that they could go on in the old way without Matthew. She felt something
like shame and remorse when she discovered that the sunrises behind the firs and the
pale pink buds opening in the garden gave her the old inrush of gladness when she saw
them—that Diana’s visits were pleasant to her and that Diana’s merry words and
ways moved her to laughter and smiles—that, in brief, the beautiful world of blossom and
love and friendship had lost none of its power to please her fancy and thrill her heart,
that life still called to her with many insistent voices. “It seems like disloyalty to Matthew, somehow,
to find pleasure in these things now that he has gone,” she said wistfully to Mrs.
Allan one evening when they were together in the manse garden. “I miss him so much—all
the time—and yet, Mrs. Allan, the world and life seem very beautiful and interesting
to me for all. Today Diana said something funny and I found myself laughing. I thought
when it happened I could never laugh again. And it somehow seems as if I oughtn’t to.” “When Matthew was here he liked to hear
you laugh and he liked to know that you found pleasure in the pleasant things around you,”
said Mrs. Allan gently. “He is just away now; and he likes to know it just the same.
I am sure we should not shut our hearts against the healing influences that nature offers
us. But I can understand your feeling. I think we all experience the same thing. We resent
the thought that anything can please us when someone we love is no longer here to share
the pleasure with us, and we almost feel as if we were unfaithful to our sorrow when we
find our interest in life returning to us.” “I was down to the graveyard to plant a
rosebush on Matthew’s grave this afternoon,” said Anne dreamily. “I took a slip of the
little white Scotch rosebush his mother brought out from Scotland long ago; Matthew always
liked those roses the best—they were so small and sweet on their thorny stems. It
made me feel glad that I could plant it by his grave—as if I were doing something that
must please him in taking it there to be near him. I hope he has roses like them in heaven.
Perhaps the souls of all those little white roses that he has loved so many summers were
all there to meet him. I must go home now. Marilla is all alone and she gets lonely at
twilight.” “She will be lonelier still, I fear, when
you go away again to college,” said Mrs. Allan. Anne did not reply; she said good night and
went slowly back to green Gables. Marilla was sitting on the front door-steps and Anne
sat down beside her. The door was open behind them, held back by a big pink conch shell
with hints of sea sunsets in its smooth inner convolutions. Anne gathered some sprays of pale-yellow honeysuckle
and put them in her hair. She liked the delicious hint of fragrance, as some aerial benediction,
above her every time she moved. “Doctor Spencer was here while you were
away,” Marilla said. “He says that the specialist will be in town tomorrow and he
insists that I must go in and have my eyes examined. I suppose I’d better go and have
it over. I’ll be more than thankful if the man can give me the right kind of glasses
to suit my eyes. You won’t mind staying here alone while I’m away, will you? Martin
will have to drive me in and there’s ironing and baking to do.” “I shall be all right. Diana will come over
for company for me. I shall attend to the ironing and baking beautifully—you needn’t
fear that I’ll starch the handkerchiefs or flavor the cake with liniment.” Marilla laughed. “What a girl you were for making mistakes
in them days, Anne. You were always getting into scrapes. I did use to think you were
possessed. Do you mind the time you dyed your hair?” “Yes, indeed. I shall never forget it,”
smiled Anne, touching the heavy braid of hair that was wound about her shapely head. “I
laugh a little now sometimes when I think what a worry my hair used to be to me—but
I don’t laugh much, because it was a very real trouble then. I did suffer terribly over
my hair and my freckles. My freckles are really gone; and people are nice enough to tell me
my hair is auburn now—all but Josie Pye. She informed me yesterday that she really
thought it was redder than ever, or at least my black dress made it look redder, and she
asked me if people who had red hair ever got used to having it. Marilla, I’ve almost
decided to give up trying to like Josie Pye. I’ve made what I would once have called
a heroic effort to like her, but Josie Pye won’t be liked.” “Josie is a Pye,” said Marilla sharply,
“so she can’t help being disagreeable. I suppose people of that kind serve some useful
purpose in society, but I must say I don’t know what it is any more than I know the use
of thistles. Is Josie going to teach?” “No, she is going back to Queen’s next
year. So are Moody Spurgeon and Charlie Sloane. Jane and Ruby are going to teach and they
have both got schools—Jane at Newbridge and Ruby at some place up west.” “Gilbert Blythe is going to teach too, isn’t
he?” “Yes”—briefly. “What a nice-looking fellow he is,” said
Marilla absently. “I saw him in church last Sunday and he seemed so tall and manly. He
looks a lot like his father did at the same age. John Blythe was a nice boy. We used to
be real good friends, he and I. People called him my beau.” Anne looked up with swift interest. “Oh, Marilla—and what happened?—why
didn’t you—” “We had a quarrel. I wouldn’t forgive
him when he asked me to. I meant to, after awhile—but I was sulky and angry and I wanted
to punish him first. He never came back—the Blythes were all mighty independent. But I
always felt—rather sorry. I’ve always kind of wished I’d forgiven him when I had
the chance.” “So you’ve had a bit of romance in your
life, too,” said Anne softly. “Yes, I suppose you might call it that.
You wouldn’t think so to look at me, would you? But you never can tell about people from
their outsides. Everybody has forgot about me and John. I’d forgotten myself. But it
all came back to me when I saw Gilbert last Sunday.” CHAPTER XXXVIII. The Bend in the road
MARILLA went to town the next day and returned in the evening. Anne had gone over to Orchard
Slope with Diana and came back to find Marilla in the kitchen, sitting by the table with
her head leaning on her hand. Something in her dejected attitude struck a chill to Anne’s
heart. She had never seen Marilla sit limply inert like that. “Are you very tired, Marilla?” “Yes—no—I don’t know,” said Marilla
wearily, looking up. “I suppose I am tired but I haven’t thought about it. It’s not
that.” “Did you see the oculist? What did he say?”
asked Anne anxiously. “Yes, I saw him. He examined my eyes. He
says that if I give up all reading and sewing entirely and any kind of work that strains
the eyes, and if I’m careful not to cry, and if I wear the glasses he’s given me
he thinks my eyes may not get any worse and my headaches will be cured. But if I don’t
he says I’ll certainly be stone-blind in six months. Blind! Anne, just think of it!” For a minute Anne, after her first quick exclamation
of dismay, was silent. It seemed to her that she could not speak. Then she said bravely,
but with a catch in her voice: “Marilla, don’t think of it. You know
he has given you hope. If you are careful you won’t lose your sight altogether; and
if his glasses cure your headaches it will be a great thing.” “I don’t call it much hope,” said Marilla
bitterly. “What am I to live for if I can’t read or sew or do anything like that? I might
as well be blind—or dead. And as for crying, I can’t help that when I get lonesome. But
there, it’s no good talking about it. If you’ll get me a cup of tea I’ll be thankful.
I’m about done out. Don’t say anything about this to any one for a spell yet, anyway.
I can’t bear that folks should come here to question and sympathize and talk about
it.” When Marilla had eaten her lunch Anne persuaded
her to go to bed. Then Anne went herself to the east gable and sat down by her window
in the darkness alone with her tears and her heaviness of heart. How sadly things had changed
since she had sat there the night after coming home! Then she had been full of hope and joy
and the future had looked rosy with promise. Anne felt as if she had lived years since
then, but before she went to bed there was a smile on her lips and peace in her heart.
She had looked her duty courageously in the face and found it a friend—as duty ever
is when we meet it frankly. One afternoon a few days later Marilla came
slowly in from the front yard where she had been talking to a caller—a man whom Anne
knew by sight as Sadler from Carmody. Anne wondered what he could have been saying to
bring that look to Marilla’s face. “What did Mr. Sadler want, Marilla?” Marilla sat down by the window and looked
at Anne. There were tears in her eyes in defiance of the oculist’s prohibition and her voice
broke as she said: “He heard that I was going to sell Green
Gables and he wants to buy it.” “Buy it! Buy Green Gables?” Anne wondered
if she had heard aright. “Oh, Marilla, you don’t mean to sell Green Gables!” “Anne, I don’t know what else is to be
done. I’ve thought it all over. If my eyes were strong I could stay here and make out
to look after things and manage, with a good hired man. But as it is I can’t. I may lose
my sight altogether; and anyway I’ll not be fit to run things. Oh, I never thought
I’d live to see the day when I’d have to sell my home. But things would only go
behind worse and worse all the time, till nobody would want to buy it. Every cent of
our money went in that bank; and there’s some notes Matthew gave last fall to pay.
Mrs. Lynde advises me to sell the farm and board somewhere—with her I suppose. It won’t
bring much—it’s small and the buildings are old. But it’ll be enough for me to live
on I reckon. I’m thankful you’re provided for with that scholarship, Anne. I’m sorry
you won’t have a home to come to in your vacations, that’s all, but I suppose you’ll
manage somehow.” Marilla broke down and wept bitterly. “You mustn’t sell Green Gables,” said
Anne resolutely. “Oh, Anne, I wish I didn’t have to. But
you can see for yourself. I can’t stay here alone. I’d go crazy with trouble and loneliness.
And my sight would go—I know it would.” “You won’t have to stay here alone, Marilla.
I’ll be with you. I’m not going to Redmond.” “Not going to Redmond!” Marilla lifted
her worn face from her hands and looked at Anne. “Why, what do you mean?” “Just what I say. I’m not going to take
the scholarship. I decided so the night after you came home from town. You surely don’t
think I could leave you alone in your trouble, Marilla, after all you’ve done for me. I’ve
been thinking and planning. Let me tell you my plans. Mr. Barry wants to rent the farm
for next year. So you won’t have any bother over that. And I’m going to teach. I’ve
applied for the school here—but I don’t expect to get it for I understand the trustees
have promised it to Gilbert Blythe. But I can have the Carmody school—Mr. Blair told
me so last night at the store. Of course that won’t be quite as nice or convenient as
if I had the Avonlea school. But I can board home and drive myself over to Carmody and
back, in the warm weather at least. And even in winter I can come home Fridays. We’ll
keep a horse for that. Oh, I have it all planned out, Marilla. And I’ll read to you and keep
you cheered up. You sha’n’t be dull or lonesome. And we’ll be real cozy and happy
here together, you and I.” Marilla had listened like a woman in a dream. “Oh, Anne, I could get on real well if you
were here, I know. But I can’t let you sacrifice yourself so for me. It would be terrible.” “Nonsense!” Anne laughed merrily. “There
is no sacrifice. Nothing could be worse than giving up Green Gables—nothing could hurt
me more. We must keep the dear old place. My mind is quite made up, Marilla. I’m not
going to Redmond; and I am going to stay here and teach. Don’t you worry about me a bit.” “But your ambitions—and—” “I’m just as ambitious as ever. Only,
I’ve changed the object of my ambitions. I’m going to be a good teacher—and I’m
going to save your eyesight. Besides, I mean to study at home here and take a little college
course all by myself. Oh, I’ve dozens of plans, Marilla. I’ve been thinking them
out for a week. I shall give life here my best, and I believe it will give its best
to me in return. When I left Queen’s my future seemed to stretch out before me like
a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend
in it. I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the
best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend, Marilla. I wonder how the road
beyond it goes—what there is of green glory and soft, checkered light and shadows—what
new landscapes—what new beauties—what curves and hills and valleys further on.” “I don’t feel as if I ought to let you
give it up,” said Marilla, referring to the scholarship. “But you can’t prevent me. I’m sixteen
and a half, ‘obstinate as a mule,’ as Mrs. Lynde once told me,” laughed Anne.
“Oh, Marilla, don’t you go pitying me. I don’t like to be pitied, and there is
no need for it. I’m heart glad over the very thought of staying at dear Green Gables.
Nobody could love it as you and I do—so we must keep it.” “You blessed girl!” said Marilla, yielding.
“I feel as if you’d given me new life. I guess I ought to stick out and make you
go to college—but I know I can’t, so I ain’t going to try. I’ll make it up to
you though, Anne.” When it became noised abroad in Avonlea that
Anne Shirley had given up the idea of going to college and intended to stay home and teach
there was a good deal of discussion over it. Most of the good folks, not knowing about
Marilla’s eyes, thought she was foolish. Mrs. Allan did not. She told Anne so in approving
words that brought tears of pleasure to the girl’s eyes. Neither did good Mrs. Lynde.
She came up one evening and found Anne and Marilla sitting at the front door in the warm,
scented summer dusk. They liked to sit there when the twilight came down and the white
moths flew about in the garden and the odor of mint filled the dewy air. Mrs. Rachel deposited her substantial person
upon the stone bench by the door, behind which grew a row of tall pink and yellow hollyhocks,
with a long breath of mingled weariness and relief. “I declare I’m getting glad to sit down.
I’ve been on my feet all day, and two hundred pounds is a good bit for two feet to carry
round. It’s a great blessing not to be fat, Marilla. I hope you appreciate it. Well, Anne,
I hear you’ve given up your notion of going to college. I was real glad to hear it. You’ve
got as much education now as a woman can be comfortable with. I don’t believe in girls
going to college with the men and cramming their heads full of Latin and Greek and all
that nonsense.” “But I’m going to study Latin and Greek
just the same, Mrs. Lynde,” said Anne laughing. “I’m going to take my Arts course right
here at Green Gables, and study everything that I would at college.” Mrs. Lynde lifted her hands in holy horror. “Anne Shirley, you’ll kill yourself.” “Not a bit of it. I shall thrive on it.
Oh, I’m not going to overdo things. As ‘Josiah Allen’s wife,’ says, I shall be ‘mejum’.
But I’ll have lots of spare time in the long winter evenings, and I’ve no vocation
for fancy work. I’m going to teach over at Carmody, you know.” “I don’t know it. I guess you’re going
to teach right here in Avonlea. The trustees have decided to give you the school.” “Mrs. Lynde!” cried Anne, springing to
her feet in her surprise. “Why, I thought they had promised it to Gilbert Blythe!” “So they did. But as soon as Gilbert heard
that you had applied for it he went to them—they had a business meeting at the school last
night, you know—and told them that he withdrew his application, and suggested that they accept
yours. He said he was going to teach at White Sands. Of course he knew how much you wanted
to stay with Marilla, and I must say I think it was real kind and thoughtful in him, that’s
what. Real self-sacrificing, too, for he’ll have his board to pay at White Sands, and
everybody knows he’s got to earn his own way through college. So the trustees decided
to take you. I was tickled to death when Thomas came home and told me.” “I don’t feel that I ought to take it,”
murmured Anne. “I mean—I don’t think I ought to let Gilbert make such a sacrifice
for—for me.” “I guess you can’t prevent him now. He’s
signed papers with the White Sands trustees. So it wouldn’t do him any good now if you
were to refuse. Of course you’ll take the school. You’ll get along all right, now
that there are no Pyes going. Josie was the last of them, and a good thing she was, that’s
what. There’s been some Pye or other going to Avonlea school for the last twenty years,
and I guess their mission in life was to keep school teachers reminded that earth isn’t
their home. Bless my heart! What does all that winking and blinking at the Barry gable
mean?” “Diana is signaling for me to go over,”
laughed Anne. “You know we keep up the old custom. Excuse me while I run over and see
what she wants.” Anne ran down the clover slope like a deer,
and disappeared in the firry shadows of the Haunted Wood. Mrs. Lynde looked after her
indulgently. “There’s a good deal of the child about
her yet in some ways.” “There’s a good deal more of the woman
about her in others,” retorted Marilla, with a momentary return of her old crispness. But crispness was no longer Marilla’s distinguishing
characteristic. As Mrs. Lynde told her Thomas that night. “Marilla Cuthbert has got mellow. That’s
what.” Anne went to the little Avonlea graveyard
the next evening to put fresh flowers on Matthew’s grave and water the Scotch rosebush. She lingered
there until dusk, liking the peace and calm of the little place, with its poplars whose
rustle was like low, friendly speech, and its whispering grasses growing at will among
the graves. When she finally left it and walked down the long hill that sloped to the Lake
of Shining Waters it was past sunset and all Avonlea lay before her in a dreamlike afterlight—“a
haunt of ancient peace.” There was a freshness in the air as of a wind that had blown over
honey-sweet fields of clover. Home lights twinkled out here and there among the homestead
trees. Beyond lay the sea, misty and purple, with its haunting, unceasing murmur. The west
was a glory of soft mingled hues, and the pond reflected them all in still softer shadings.
The beauty of it all thrilled Anne’s heart, and she gratefully opened the gates of her
soul to it. “Dear old world,” she murmured, “you
are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.” Halfway down the hill a tall lad came whistling
out of a gate before the Blythe homestead. It was Gilbert, and the whistle died on his
lips as he recognized Anne. He lifted his cap courteously, but he would have passed
on in silence, if Anne had not stopped and held out her hand. “Gilbert,” she said, with scarlet cheeks,
“I want to thank you for giving up the school for me. It was very good of you—and I want
you to know that I appreciate it.” Gilbert took the offered hand eagerly. “It wasn’t particularly good of me at
all, Anne. I was pleased to be able to do you some small service. Are we going to be
friends after this? Have you really forgiven me my old fault?” Anne laughed and tried unsuccessfully to withdraw
her hand. “I forgave you that day by the pond landing,
although I didn’t know it. What a stubborn little goose I was. I’ve been—I may as
well make a complete confession—I’ve been sorry ever since.” “We are going to be the best of friends,”
said Gilbert, jubilantly. “We were born to be good friends, Anne. You’ve thwarted
destiny enough. I know we can help each other in many ways. You are going to keep up your
studies, aren’t you? So am I. Come, I’m going to walk home with you.” Marilla looked curiously at Anne when the
latter entered the kitchen. “Who was that came up the lane with you,
Anne?” “Gilbert Blythe,” answered Anne, vexed
to find herself blushing. “I met him on Barry’s hill.” “I didn’t think you and Gilbert Blythe
were such good friends that you’d stand for half an hour at the gate talking to him,”
said Marilla with a dry smile. “We haven’t been—we’ve been good enemies.
But we have decided that it will be much more sensible to be good friends in the future.
Were we really there half an hour? It seemed just a few minutes. But, you see, we have
five years’ lost conversations to catch up with, Marilla.” Anne sat long at her window that night companioned
by a glad content. The wind purred softly in the cherry boughs, and the mint breaths
came up to her. The stars twinkled over the pointed firs in the hollow and Diana’s light
gleamed through the old gap. Anne’s horizons had closed in since the
night she had sat there after coming home from Queen’s; but if the path set before
her feet was to be narrow she knew that flowers of quiet happiness would bloom along it. The
joy of sincere work and worthy aspiration and congenial friendship were to be hers;
nothing could rob her of her birthright of fancy or her ideal world of dreams. And there
was always the bend in the road! “‘God’s in his heaven, all’s right
with the world,’” whispered Anne softly.

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