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Title: Anne of Green Gables
Author: Montgomery, L. M. (Lucy Maud)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
        BY
  L. M. MONTGOMERY


  _Illustrated by
  M. A. and W. A. J. Claus_

  “The good stars met in your horoscope,
  Made you of spirit and fire and dew.”
                          — _Browning_.


  _BOSTON
  L. C. PAGE & COMPANY
  MDCCCCVII_



  _Copyright, 1908_
  By L. C. Page & Company (Incorporated)
  _Entered at Stationers’ Hall, London
  All rights reserved_

  Third Impression, August, 1908
  Fourth Impression, September, 1908

  _COLONIAL PRESS
  Electrotyped and Printed by C. H. Simonds & Co.
  Boston, U.S.A._



  TO THE MEMORY OF
  MY FATHER AND MOTHER



  CONTENTS

         I. Mrs. Rachel Lynde Is Surprised
        II. Matthew Cuthbert Is Surprised
       III. Marilla Cuthbert Is Surprised
        IV. Morning at Green Gables
         V. Anne’s History
        VI. Marilla Makes Up Her Mind
       VII. Anne Says Her Prayers
      VIII. Anne’s Bringing-up Is Begun
        IX. Mrs. Rachel Lynde Is Properly Horrified
         X. Anne’s Apology
        XI. Anne’s Impressions of Sunday-school
       XII. A Solemn Vow and Promise
      XIII. The Delights of Anticipation
       XIV. Anne’s Confession
        XV. A Tempest in the School Teapot
       XVI. Diana Is Invited to Tea with Tragic Results
      XVII. A New Interest in Life
     XVIII. Anne to the Rescue
       XIX. A Concert, a Catastrophe, and a Confession
        XX. A Good Imagination Gone Wrong
       XXI. A New Departure in Flavourings
      XXII. Anne Is Invited Out to Tea
     XXIII. Anne Comes to Grief in an Affair of Honour
      XXIV. Miss Stacy and Her Pupils Get Up a Concert
       XXV. Matthew Insists on Puffed Sleeves
      XXVI. The Story Club Is Formed
     XXVII. Vanity and Vexation of Spirit
    XXVIII. An Unfortunate Lily Maid
      XXIX. An Epoch in Anne’s Life
       XXX. The Queen’s Class Is Organized
      XXXI. Where the Brook and River Meet
     XXXII. The Pass List Is Out
    XXXIII. The Hotel Concert
     XXXIV. A Queen’s Girl
      XXXV. The Winter at Queen’s
     XXXVI. The Glory and the Dream
    XXXVII. The Reaper Whose Name Is Death
   XXXVIII. The Bend in the Road



ANNE OF GREEN GABLES

CHAPTER I.

MRS. RACHEL LYNDE IS SURPRISED


Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down
into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies’ eardrops and
traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the
old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook
in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool
and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde’s Hollow it was a quiet,
well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs.
Rachel Lynde’s door without due regard for decency and decorum; it
probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window,
keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children
up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would
never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof.

There are plenty of people, in Avonlea and out of it, who can attend
closely to their neighbours’ business by dint of neglecting their own;
but Mrs. Rachel Lynde was one of those capable creatures who can manage
their own concerns and those of other folks into the bargain. She was a
notable housewife; her work was always done and well done; she “ran”
the Sewing Circle, helped run the Sunday-school, and was the strongest
prop of the Church Aid Society and Foreign Missions Auxiliary. Yet with
all this Mrs. Rachel found abundant time to sit for hours at her
kitchen window, knitting “cotton warp” quilts—she had knitted sixteen
of them, as Avonlea housekeepers were wont to tell in awed voices—and
keeping a sharp eye on the main road that crossed the hollow and wound
up the steep red hill beyond. Since Avonlea occupied a little
triangular peninsula jutting out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with
water on two sides of it, anybody who went out of it or into it had to
pass over that hill road and so run the unseen gauntlet of Mrs.
Rachel’s all-seeing eye.

She was sitting there one afternoon in early June. The sun was coming
in at the window warm and bright; the orchard on the slope below the
house was in a bridal flush of pinky-white bloom, hummed over by a
myriad of bees. Thomas Lynde—a meek little man whom Avonlea people
called “Rachel Lynde’s husband”—was sowing his late turnip seed on the
hill field beyond the barn; and Matthew Cuthbert ought to have been
sowing his on the big red brook field away over by Green Gables. Mrs.
Rachel knew that he ought because she had heard him tell Peter Morrison
the evening before in William J. Blair’s store over at Carmody that he
meant to sow his turnip seed the next afternoon. Peter had asked him,
of course, for Matthew Cuthbert had never been known to volunteer
information about anything in his whole life.

And yet here was Matthew Cuthbert, at half-past three on the afternoon
of a busy day, placidly driving over the hollow and up the hill;
moreover, he wore a white collar and his best suit of clothes, which
was plain proof that he was going out of Avonlea; and he had the buggy
and the sorrel mare, which betokened that he was going a considerable
distance. Now, where was Matthew Cuthbert going and why was he going
there?

Had it been any other man in Avonlea Mrs. Rachel, deftly putting this
and that together, might have given a pretty good guess as to both
questions. But Matthew so rarely went from home that it must be
something pressing and unusual which was taking him; he was the shyest
man alive and hated to have to go among strangers or to any place where
he might have to talk. Matthew, dressed up with a white collar and
driving in a buggy, was something that didn’t happen often. Mrs.
Rachel, ponder as she might, could make nothing of it and her
afternoon’s enjoyment was spoiled.

“I’ll just step over to Green Gables after tea and find out from
Marilla where he’s gone and why,” the worthy woman finally concluded.
“He doesn’t generally go to town this time of year and he _never_
visits; if he’d run out of turnip seed he wouldn’t dress up and take
the buggy to go for more; he wasn’t driving fast enough to be going for
a doctor. Yet something must have happened since last night to start
him off. I’m clean puzzled, that’s what, and I won’t know a minute’s
peace of mind or conscience until I know what has taken Matthew
Cuthbert out of Avonlea to-day.”

Accordingly after tea Mrs. Rachel set out; she had not far to go; the
big, rambling, orchard-embowered house where the Cuthberts lived was a
scant quarter of a mile up the road from Lynde’s Hollow. To be sure,
the long lane made it a good deal further. Matthew Cuthbert’s father,
as shy and silent as his son after him, had got as far away as he
possibly could from his fellow men without actually retreating into the
woods when he founded his homestead. Green Gables was built at the
furthest edge of his cleared land and there it was to this day, barely
visible from the main road along which all the other Avonlea houses
were so sociably situated. Mrs. Rachel Lynde did not call living in
such a place _living_ at all.

“It’s just _staying_, that’s what,” she said as she stepped along the
deep-rutted, grassy lane bordered with wild rose bushes. “It’s no
wonder Matthew and Marilla are both a little odd, living away back here
by themselves. Trees aren’t much company, though dear knows if they
were there’d be enough of them. I’d ruther look at people. To be sure,
they seem contented enough; but then, I suppose, they’re used to it. A
body can get used to anything, even to being hanged, as the Irishman
said.”

With this Mrs. Rachel stepped out of the lane into the backyard of
Green Gables. Very green and neat and precise was that yard, set about
on one side with great patriarchal willows and on the other with prim
Lombardies. Not a stray stick nor stone was to be seen, for Mrs. Rachel
would have seen it if there had been. Privately she was of the opinion
that Marilla Cuthbert swept that yard over as often as she swept her
house. One could have eaten a meal off the ground without overbrimming
the proverbial peck of dirt.

Mrs. Rachel rapped smartly at the kitchen door and stepped in when
bidden to do so. The kitchen at Green Gables was a cheerful
apartment—or would have been cheerful if it had not been so painfully
clean as to give it something of the appearance of an unused parlour.
Its windows looked east and west; through the west one, looking out on
the back yard, came a flood of mellow June sunlight; but the east one,
whence you got a glimpse of the bloom white cherry-trees in the left
orchard and nodding, slender birches down in the hollow by the brook,
was greened over by a tangle of vines. Here sat Marilla Cuthbert, when
she sat at all, always slightly distrustful of sunshine, which seemed
to her too dancing and irresponsible a thing for a world which was
meant to be taken seriously; and here she sat now, knitting, and the
table behind her was laid for supper.

Mrs. Rachel, before she had fairly closed the door, had taken mental
note of everything that was on that table. There were three plates
laid, so that Marilla must be expecting some one home with Matthew to
tea; but the dishes were every-day dishes and there was only crab-apple
preserves and one kind of cake, so that the expected company could not
be any particular company. Yet what of Matthew’s white collar and the
sorrel mare? Mrs. Rachel was getting fairly dizzy with this unusual
mystery about quiet, unmysterious Green Gables.

“Good evening, Rachel,” Marilla said briskly. “This is a real fine
evening, isn’t it? Won’t you sit down? How are all your folks?”

Something that for lack of any other name might be called friendship
existed and always had existed between Marilla Cuthbert and Mrs.
Rachel, in spite of—or perhaps because of—their dissimilarity.

Marilla was a tall, thin woman, with angles and without curves; her
dark hair showed some gray streaks and was always twisted up in a hard
little knot behind with two wire hairpins stuck aggressively through
it. She looked like a woman of narrow experience and rigid conscience,
which she was; but there was a saving something about her mouth which,
if it had been ever so slightly developed, might have been considered
indicative of a sense of humour.

“We’re all pretty well,” said Mrs. Rachel. “I was kind of afraid _you_
weren’t, though, when I saw Matthew starting off to-day. I thought
maybe he was going to the doctor’s.”

Marilla’s lips twitched understandingly. She had expected Mrs. Rachel
up; she had known that the sight of Matthew jaunting off so
unaccountably would be too much for her neighbour’s curiosity.

“Oh, no, I’m quite well although I had a bad headache yesterday,” she
said. “Matthew went to Bright River. We’re getting a little boy from an
orphan asylum in Nova Scotia and he’s coming on the train to-night.”

If Marilla had said that Matthew had gone to Bright River to meet a
kangaroo from Australia Mrs. Rachel could not have been more
astonished. She was actually stricken dumb for five seconds. It was
unsupposable that Marilla was making fun of her, but Mrs. Rachel was
almost forced to suppose it.

“Are you in earnest, Marilla?” she demanded when voice returned to her.

“Yes, of course,” said Marilla, as if getting boys from orphan asylums
in Nova Scotia were part of the usual spring work on any well-regulated
Avonlea farm instead of being an unheard of innovation.

Mrs. Rachel felt that she had received a severe mental jolt. She
thought in exclamation points. A boy! Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert of
all people adopting a boy! From an orphan asylum! Well, the world was
certainly turning upside down! She would be surprised at nothing after
this! Nothing!

“What on earth put such a notion into your head?” she demanded
disapprovingly.

This had been done without her advice being asked, and must perforce be
disapproved.

“Well, we’ve been thinking about it for some time—all winter in fact,”
returned Marilla. “Mrs. Alexander Spencer was up here one day before
Christmas and she said she was going to get a little girl from the
asylum over in Hopetown in the spring. Her cousin lives there and Mrs.
Spencer has visited her and knows all about it. So Matthew and I have
talked it over off and on ever since. We thought we’d get a boy.
Matthew is getting up in years, you know—he’s sixty—and he isn’t so
spry as he once was. His heart troubles him a good deal. And you know
how desperate hard it’s got to be to get hired help. There’s never
anybody to be had but those stupid, half-grown little French boys; and
as soon as you do get one broke into your ways and taught something
he’s up and off to the lobster canneries or the States. At first
Matthew suggested getting a Barnado boy. But I said ‘no’ flat to that.
‘They may be all right—I’m not saying they’re not—but no London street
Arabs for me,’ I said. ‘Give me a native born at least. There’ll be a
risk, no matter who we get. But I’ll feel easier in my mind and sleep
sounder at nights if we get a born Canadian.’ So in the end we decided
to ask Mrs. Spencer to pick us out one when she went over to get her
little girl. We heard last week she was going, so we sent her word by
Richard Spencer’s folks at Carmody to bring us a smart, likely boy of
about ten or eleven. We decided that would be the best age—old enough
to be of some use in doing chores right off and young enough to be
trained up proper. We mean to give him a good home and schooling. We
had a telegram from Mrs. Alexander Spencer to-day—the mail-man brought
it from the station—saying they were coming on the five-thirty train
to-night. So Matthew went to Bright River to meet him. Mrs. Spencer
will drop him off there. Of course she goes on to White Sands station
herself.”

Mrs. Rachel prided herself on always speaking her mind; she proceeded
to speak it now, having adjusted her mental attitude to this amazing
piece of news.

“Well, Marilla, I’ll just tell you plain that I think you’re doing a
mighty foolish thing—a risky thing, that’s what. You don’t know what
you’re getting. You’re bringing a strange child into your house and
home and you don’t know a single thing about him nor what his
disposition is like nor what sort of parents he had nor how he’s likely
to turn out. Why, it was only last week I read in the paper how a man
and his wife up west of the Island took a boy out of an orphan asylum
and he set fire to the house at night—set it _on purpose_, Marilla—and
nearly burnt them to a crisp in their beds. And I know another case
where an adopted boy used to suck the eggs—they couldn’t break him of
it. If you had asked my advice in the matter—which you didn’t do,
Marilla—I’d have said for mercy’s sake not to think of such a thing,
that’s what.”

This Job’s comforting seemed neither to offend nor alarm Marilla. She
knitted steadily on.

“I don’t deny there’s something in what you say, Rachel. I’ve had some
qualms myself. But Matthew was terrible set on it. I could see that, so
I gave in. It’s so seldom Matthew sets his mind on anything that when
he does I always feel it’s my duty to give in. And as for the risk,
there’s risks in pretty near everything a body does in this world.
There’s risks in people’s having children of their own if it comes to
that—they don’t always turn out well. And then Nova Scotia is right
close to the Island. It isn’t as if we were getting him from England or
the States. He can’t be much different from ourselves.”

“Well, I hope it will turn out all right,” said Mrs. Rachel in a tone
that plainly indicated her painful doubts. “Only don’t say I didn’t
warn you if he burns Green Gables down or puts strychnine in the well—I
heard of a case over in New Brunswick where an orphan asylum child did
that and the whole family died in fearful agonies. Only, it was a girl
in that instance.”

“Well, we’re not getting a girl,” said Marilla, as if poisoning wells
were a purely feminine accomplishment and not to be dreaded in the case
of a boy. “I’d never dream of taking a girl to bring up. I wonder at
Mrs. Alexander Spencer for doing it. But there, _she_ wouldn’t shrink
from adopting a whole orphan asylum if she took it into her head.”

Mrs. Rachel would have liked to stay until Matthew came home with his
imported orphan. But reflecting that it would be a good two hours at
least before his arrival she concluded to go up the road to Robert
Bell’s and tell them the news. It would certainly make a sensation
second to none, and Mrs. Rachel dearly loved to make a sensation. So
she took herself away, somewhat to Marilla’s relief, for the latter
felt her doubts and fears reviving under the influence of Mrs. Rachel’s
pessimism.

“Well, of all things that ever were or will be!” ejaculated Mrs. Rachel
when she was safely out in the lane. “It does really seem as if I must
be dreaming. Well, I’m sorry for that poor young one and no mistake.
Matthew and Marilla don’t know anything about children and they’ll
expect him to be wiser and steadier than his own grandfather, if so
be’s he ever had a grandfather, which is doubtful. It seems uncanny to
think of a child at Green Gables somehow; there’s never been one there,
for Matthew and Marilla were grown up when the new house was built—if
they ever _were_ children, which is hard to believe when one looks at
them. I wouldn’t be in that orphan’s shoes for anything. My, but I pity
him, that’s what.”

So said Mrs. Rachel to the wild rose bushes out of the fulness of her
heart; but if she could have seen the child who was waiting patiently
at the Bright River station at that very moment her pity would have
been still deeper and more profound.



CHAPTER II.

MATTHEW CUTHBERT IS SURPRISED


Matthew Cuthbert and the sorrel mare jogged comfortably over the eight
miles to Bright River. It was a pretty road, running along between snug
farmsteads, with now and again a bit of balsamy fir wood to drive
through or a hollow where wild plums hung out their filmy bloom. The
air was sweet with the breath of many apple orchards and the meadows
sloped away in the distance to horizon mists of pearl and purple; while

    “The little birds sang as if it were
    The one day of summer in all the year.”

Matthew enjoyed the drive after his own fashion, except during the
moments when he met women and had to nod to them—for in Prince Edward
Island you are supposed to nod to all and sundry you meet on the road
whether you know them or not.

Matthew dreaded all women except Marilla and Mrs. Rachel; he had an
uncomfortable feeling that the mysterious creatures were secretly
laughing at him. He may have been quite right in thinking so, for he
was an odd-looking personage, with an ungainly figure and long
iron-gray hair that touched his stooping shoulders, and a full, soft
brown beard which he had worn ever since he was twenty. In fact, he had
looked at twenty very much as he looked at sixty, lacking a little of
the grayness.

When he reached Bright River there was no sign of any train; he thought
he was too early, so he tied his horse in the yard of the small Bright
River hotel and went over to the station-house. The long platform was
almost deserted; the only living creature in sight being a girl who was
sitting on a pile of shingles at the extreme end. Matthew, barely
noting that it _was_ a girl, sidled past her as quickly as possible
without looking at her. Had he looked he could hardly have failed to
notice the tense rigidity and expectation of her attitude and
expression. She was sitting there waiting for something or somebody
and, since sitting and waiting was the only thing to do just then, she
sat and waited with all her might and main.

Matthew encountered the station-master locking up the ticket-office
preparatory to going home for supper, and asked him if the five-thirty
train would soon be along.

“The five-thirty train has been in and gone half an hour ago,” answered
that brisk official. “But there was a passenger dropped off for you—a
little girl. She’s sitting out there on the shingles. I asked her to go
into the ladies’ waiting-room, but she informed me gravely that she
preferred to stay outside. ‘There was more scope for imagination,’ she
said. She’s a case, I should say.”

“I’m not expecting a girl,” said Matthew blankly. “It’s a boy I’ve come
for. He should be here. Mrs. Alexander Spencer was to bring him over
from Nova Scotia for me.”

The station-master whistled.

“Guess there’s some mistake,” he said. “Mrs. Spencer came off the train
with that girl and gave her into my charge. Said you and your sister
were adopting her from an orphan asylum and that you would be along for
her presently. That’s all _I_ know about it—and I haven’t got any more
orphans concealed hereabouts.”

“I don’t understand,” said Matthew helplessly, wishing that Marilla was
at hand to cope with the situation.

“Well, you’d better question the girl,” said the station-master
carelessly. “I dare say she’ll be able to explain—she’s got a tongue of
her own, that’s certain. Maybe they were out of boys of the brand you
wanted.”

He walked jauntily away, being hungry, and the unfortunate Matthew was
left to do that which was harder for him than bearding a lion in its
den—walk up to a girl—a strange girl—an orphan girl—and demand of her
why she wasn’t a boy. Matthew groaned in spirit as he turned about and
shuffled gently down the platform towards her.

She had been watching him ever since he had passed her and she had her
eyes on him now. Matthew was not looking at her and would not have seen
what she was really like if he had been, but an ordinary observer would
have seen this:

A child of about eleven, garbed in a very short, very tight, very ugly
dress of yellowish gray wincey. She wore a faded brown sailor hat and
beneath the hat, extending down her back, were two braids of very
thick, decidedly red hair. Her face was small, white and thin, also
much freckled; her mouth was large and so were her eyes, that looked
green in some lights and moods and gray in others.

So far, the ordinary observer; an extraordinary observer might have
seen that the chin was very pointed and pronounced; that the big eyes
were full of spirit and vivacity; that the mouth was sweet-lipped and
expressive; that the forehead was broad and full; in short, our
discerning extraordinary observer might have concluded that no
commonplace soul inhabited the body of this stray woman-child of whom
shy Matthew Cuthbert was so ludicrously afraid.

Matthew, however, was spared the ordeal of speaking first, for as soon
as she concluded that he was coming to her she stood up, grasping with
one thin brown hand the handle of a shabby, old-fashioned carpet-bag;
the other she held out to him.

“I suppose you are Mr. Matthew Cuthbert of Green Gables?” she said in a
peculiarly clear, sweet voice. “I’m very glad to see you. I was
beginning to be afraid you weren’t coming for me and I was imagining
all the things that might have happened to prevent you. I had made up
my mind that if you didn’t come for me to-night I’d go down the track
to that big wild cherry-tree at the bend, and climb up into it to stay
all night. I wouldn’t be a bit afraid, and it would be lovely to sleep
in a wild cherry-tree all white with bloom in the moonshine, don’t you
think? You could imagine you were dwelling in marble halls, couldn’t
you? And I was quite sure you would come for me in the morning, if you
didn’t to-night.”

Matthew had taken the scrawny little hand awkwardly in his; then and
there he decided what to do. He could not tell this child with the
glowing eyes that there had been a mistake; he would take her home and
let Marilla do that. She couldn’t be left at Bright River anyhow, no
matter what mistake had been made, so all questions and explanations
might as well be deferred until he was safely back at Green Gables.

“I’m sorry I was late,” he said shyly. “Come along. The horse is over
in the yard. Give me your bag.”

“Oh, I can carry it,” the child responded cheerfully. “It isn’t heavy.
I’ve got all my worldly goods in it, but it isn’t heavy. And if it
isn’t carried in just a certain way the handle pulls out—so I’d better
keep it because I know the exact knack of it. It’s an extremely old
carpet-bag. Oh, I’m very glad you’ve come, even if it would have been
nice to sleep in a wild cherry-tree. We’ve got to drive a long piece,
haven’t we? Mrs. Spencer said it was eight miles. I’m glad because I
love driving. Oh, it seems so wonderful that I’m going to live with you
and belong to you. I’ve never belonged to anybody—not really. But the
asylum was the worst. I’ve only been in it four months, but that was
enough. I don’t suppose you ever were an orphan in an asylum, so you
can’t possibly understand what it is like. It’s worse than anything you
could imagine. Mrs. Spencer said it was wicked of me to talk like that,
but I didn’t mean to be wicked. It’s so easy to be wicked without
knowing it, isn’t it? They were good, you know—the asylum people. But
there is so little scope for the imagination in an asylum—only just in
the other orphans. It _was_ pretty interesting to imagine things about
them—to imagine that perhaps the girl who sat next to you was really
the daughter of a belted earl, who had been stolen away from her
parents in her infancy by a cruel nurse who died before she could
confess. I used to lie awake at nights and imagine things like that,
because I didn’t have time in the day. I guess that’s why I’m so thin—I
_am_ dreadful thin, ain’t I? There isn’t a pick on my bones. I do love
to imagine I’m nice and plump, with dimples in my elbows.”

With this Matthew’s companion stopped talking, partly because she was
out of breath and partly because they had reached the buggy. Not
another word did she say until they had left the village and were
driving down a steep little hill, the road part of which had been cut
so deeply into the soft soil that the banks, fringed with blooming wild
cherry-trees and slim white birches, were several feet above their
heads.

The child put out her hand and broke off a branch of wild plum that
brushed against the side of the buggy.

“Isn’t that beautiful? What did that tree, leaning out from the bank,
all white and lacy, make you think of?” she asked.

“Well now, I dunno,” said Matthew.

“Why, a bride, of course—a bride all in white with a lovely misty veil.
I’ve never seen one, but I can imagine what she would look like. I
don’t ever expect to be a bride myself. I’m so homely nobody will ever
want to marry me—unless it might be a foreign missionary. I suppose a
foreign missionary mightn’t be very particular. But I do hope that some
day I shall have a white dress. That is my highest ideal of earthly
bliss. I just love pretty clothes. And I’ve never had a pretty dress in
my life that I can remember—but of course it’s all the more to look
forward to, isn’t it? And then I can imagine that I’m dressed
gorgeously. This morning when I left the asylum I felt so ashamed
because I had to wear this horrid old wincey dress. All the orphans had
to wear them, you know. A merchant in Hopeton last winter donated three
hundred yards of wincey to the asylum. Some people said it was because
he couldn’t sell it, but I’d rather believe that it was out of the
kindness of his heart, wouldn’t you? When we got on the train I felt as
if everybody must be looking at me and pitying me. But I just went to
work and imagined that I had on the most beautiful pale blue silk
dress—because when you _are_ imagining you might as well imagine
something worth while—and a big hat all flowers and nodding plumes, and
a gold watch, and kid gloves and boots. I felt cheered up right away
and I enjoyed my trip to the Island with all my might. I wasn’t a bit
sick coming over in the boat. Neither was Mrs. Spencer, although she
generally is. She said she hadn’t time to get sick, watching to see
that I didn’t fall overboard. She said she never saw the beat of me for
prowling about. But if it kept her from being seasick it’s a mercy I
did prowl, isn’t it? And I wanted to see everything that was to be seen
on that boat, because I didn’t know whether I’d ever have another
opportunity. Oh, there are a lot more cherry-trees all in bloom! This
Island is the bloomiest place. I just love it already, and I’m so glad
I’m going to live here. I’ve always heard that Prince Edward Island was
the prettiest place in the world, and I used to imagine I was living
here, but I never really expected I would. It’s delightful when your
imaginations come true, isn’t it? But those red roads are so funny.
When we got into the train at Charlottetown and the red roads began to
flash past I asked Mrs. Spencer what made them red and she said she
didn’t know and for pity’s sake not to ask her any more questions. She
said I must have asked her a thousand already. I suppose I had, too,
but how are you going to find out about things if you don’t ask
questions? And what _does_ make the roads red?”

“Well now, I dunno,” said Matthew.

“Well, that is one of the things to find out sometime. Isn’t it
splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It
just makes me feel glad to be alive—it’s such an interesting world. It
wouldn’t be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would
it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there? But am I
talking too much? People are always telling me I do. Would you rather I
didn’t talk? If you say so I’ll stop. I _can_ stop when I make up my
mind to it, although it’s difficult.”

Matthew, much to his own surprise, was enjoying himself. Like most
quiet folks he liked talkative people when they were willing to do the
talking themselves and did not expect him to keep up his end of it. But
he had never expected to enjoy the society of a little girl. Women were
bad enough in all conscience, but little girls were worse. He detested
the way they had of sidling past him timidly, with side-wise glances,
as if they expected him to gobble them up at a mouthful if they
ventured to say a word. This was the Avonlea type of well-bred little
girl. But this freckled witch was very different, and although he found
it rather difficult for his slower intelligence to keep up with her
brisk mental processes he thought that he “kind of liked her chatter.”
So he said as shyly as usual:

“Oh, you can talk as much as you like. I don’t mind.”

“Oh, I’m so glad. I know you and I are going to get along together
fine. It’s such a relief to talk when one wants to and not be told that
children should be seen and not heard. I’ve had that said to me a
million times if I have once. And people laugh at me because I use big
words. But if you have big ideas you have to use big words to express
them, haven’t you?”

“Well now, that seems reasonable,” said Matthew.

“Mrs. Spencer said that my tongue must be hung in the middle. But it
isn’t—it’s firmly fastened at one end. Mrs. Spencer said your place was
named Green Gables. I asked her all about it. And she said there were
trees all around it. I was gladder than ever. I just love trees. And
there weren’t any at all about the asylum, only a few poor weeny-teeny
things out in front with little whitewashed cagey things about them.
They just looked like orphans themselves, those trees did. It used to
make me want to cry to look at them. I used to say to them, ‘Oh, you
_poor_ little things! If you were out in a great big woods with other
trees all around you and little mosses and Junebells growing over your
roots and a brook not far away and birds singing in your branches, you
could grow, couldn’t you? But you can’t where you are. I know just
exactly how you feel, little trees.’ I felt sorry to leave them behind
this morning. You do get so attached to things like that, don’t you? Is
there a brook anywhere near Green Gables? I forgot to ask Mrs. Spencer
that.”

“Well now, yes, there’s one right below the house.”

“Fancy! It’s always been one of my dreams to live near a brook. I never
expected I would, though. Dreams don’t often come true, do they?
Wouldn’t it be nice if they did? But just now I feel pretty nearly
perfectly happy. I can’t feel exactly perfectly happy because—well,
what colour would you call this?”

She twitched one of her long glossy braids over her thin shoulder and
held it up before Matthew’s eyes. Matthew was not used to deciding on
the tints of ladies’ tresses, but in this case there couldn’t be much
doubt.

“It’s red, ain’t it?” he said.

The girl let the braid drop back with a sigh that seemed to come from
her very toes and to exhale forth all the sorrows of the ages.

“Yes, it’s red,” she said resignedly. “Now you see why I can’t be
perfectly happy. Nobody could who had red hair. I don’t mind the other
things so much—the freckles and the green eyes and my skinniness. I can
imagine them away. I can imagine that I have a beautiful rose-leaf
complexion and lovely starry violet eyes. But I _cannot_ imagine that
red hair away. I do my best. I think to myself, ‘Now my hair is a
glorious black, black as the raven’s wing.’ But all the time I _know_
it is just plain red, and it breaks my heart. It will be my lifelong
sorrow. I read of a girl once in a novel who had a lifelong sorrow, but
it wasn’t red hair. Her hair was pure gold rippling back from her
alabaster brow. What is an alabaster brow? I never could find out. Can
you tell me?”

“Well now, I’m afraid I can’t,” said Matthew, who was getting a little
dizzy. He felt as he had once felt in his rash youth when another boy
had enticed him on the merry-go-round at a picnic.

“Well, whatever it was it must have been something nice because she was
divinely beautiful. Have you ever imagined what it must feel like to be
divinely beautiful?”

“Well now, no, I haven’t,” confessed Matthew ingenuously.

“I have, often. Which would you rather be if you had the
choice—divinely beautiful or dazzlingly clever or angelically good?”

“Well now, I—I don’t know exactly.”

“Neither do I. I can never decide. But it doesn’t make much real
difference for it isn’t likely I’ll ever be either. It’s certain I’ll
never be angelically good. Mrs. Spencer says—oh, Mr. Cuthbert! Oh, Mr.
Cuthbert!! Oh, Mr. Cuthbert!!!”

That was not what Mrs. Spencer had said; neither had the child tumbled
out of the buggy nor had Matthew done anything astonishing. They had
simply rounded a curve in the road and found themselves in the “Avenue.”

The “Avenue,” so called by the Newbridge people, was a stretch of road
four or five hundred yards long, completely arched over with huge,
wide-spreading apple-trees, planted years ago by an eccentric old
farmer. Overhead was one long canopy of snowy fragrant bloom. Below the
boughs the air was full of a purple twilight and far ahead a glimpse of
painted sunset sky shone like a great rose window at the end of a
cathedral aisle.

Its beauty seemed to strike the child dumb. She leaned back in the
buggy, her thin hands clasped before her, her face lifted rapturously
to the white splendour above. Even when they had passed out and were
driving down the long slope to Newbridge she never moved or spoke.
Still with rapt face she gazed afar into the sunset west, with eyes
that saw visions trooping splendidly across that glowing background.
Through Newbridge, a bustling little village where dogs barked at them
and small boys hooted and curious faces peered from the windows, they
drove, still in silence. When three more miles had dropped away behind
them the child had not spoken. She could keep silence, it was evident,
as energetically as she could talk.

“I guess you’re feeling pretty tired and hungry,” Matthew ventured at
last, accounting for her long visitation of dumbness with the only
reason he could think of. “But we haven’t very far to go now—only
another mile.”

She came out of her reverie with a deep sigh and looked at him with the
dreamy gaze of a soul that had been wondering afar, star-led.

“Oh, Mr. Cuthbert,” she whispered, “that place we came through—that
white place—what was it?”

“Well now, you must mean the Avenue,” said Matthew after a few moments’
profound reflection. “It is a kind of pretty place.”

“Pretty? Oh, _pretty_ doesn’t seem the right word to use. Nor
beautiful, either. They don’t go far enough. Oh, it was
wonderful—wonderful. It’s the first thing I ever saw that couldn’t be
improved upon by imagination. It just satisfied me here”—she put one
hand on her breast—“it made a queer funny ache and yet it was a
pleasant ache. Did you ever have an ache like that, Mr. Cuthbert?”

“Well now, I just can’t recollect that I ever had.”

“I have it lots of times—whenever I see anything royally beautiful. But
they shouldn’t call that lovely place the Avenue. There is no meaning
in a name like that. They should call it—let me see—the White Way of
Delight. Isn’t that a nice imaginative name? When I don’t like the name
of a place or a person I always imagine a new one and always think of
them so. There was a girl at the asylum whose name was Hepzibah
Jenkins, but I always imagined her as Rosalia DeVere. Other people may
call that place the Avenue, but I shall always call it the White Way of
Delight. Have we really only another mile to go before we get home? I’m
glad and I’m sorry. I’m sorry because this drive has been so pleasant
and I’m always sorry when pleasant things end. Something still
pleasanter may come after, but you can never be sure. And it’s so often
the case that it isn’t pleasanter. That has been my experience anyhow.
But I’m glad to think of getting home. You see, I’ve never had a real
home since I can remember. It gives me that pleasant ache again just to
think of coming to a really truly home. Oh, isn’t that pretty!”

They had driven over the crest of a hill. Below them was a pond,
looking almost like a river so long and winding was it. A bridge
spanned it midway and from there to its lower end, where an amber-hued
belt of sand-hills shut it in from the dark blue gulf beyond, the water
was a glory of many shifting hues—the most spiritual shadings of crocus
and rose and ethereal green, with other elusive tintings for which no
name has ever been found. Above the bridge the pond ran up into
fringing groves of fir and maple and lay all darkly translucent in
their wavering shadows. Here and there a wild plum leaned out from the
bank like a white-clad girl tiptoeing to her own reflection. From the
marsh at the head of the pond came the clear, mournfully-sweet chorus
of the frogs. There was a little gray house peering around a white
apple orchard on a slope beyond and, although it was not yet quite
dark, a light was shining from one of its windows.

“That’s Barry’s pond,” said Matthew.

“Oh, I don’t like that name, either. I shall call it—let me see—the
Lake of Shining Waters. Yes, that is the right name for it. I know
because of the thrill. When I hit on a name that suits exactly it gives
me a thrill. Do things ever give you a thrill?”

Matthew ruminated.

“Well now, yes. It always kind of gives me a thrill to see them ugly
white grubs that spade up in the cucumber beds. I hate the look of
them.”

“Oh, I don’t think that can be exactly the same kind of a thrill. Do
you think it can? There doesn’t seem to be much connection between
grubs and lakes of shining waters, does there? But why do other people
call it Barry’s pond?”

“I reckon because Mr. Barry lives up there in that house. Orchard
Slope’s the name of his place. If it wasn’t for that big bush behind it
you could see Green Gables from here. But we have to go over the bridge
and round by the road, so it’s near half a mile further.”

“Has Mr. Barry any little girls? Well, not so very little either—about
my size.”

“He’s got one about eleven. Her name is Diana.”

“Oh!” with a long indrawing of breath. “What a perfectly lovely name!”

“Well now, I dunno. There’s something dreadful heathenish about it,
seems to me. I’d ruther Jane or Mary or some sensible name like that.
But when Diana was born there was a schoolmaster boarding there and
they gave him the naming of her and he called her Diana.”

“I wish there had been a schoolmaster like that around when _I_ was
born, then. Oh, here we are at the bridge. I’m going to shut my eyes
tight. I’m always afraid going over bridges. I can’t help imagining
that perhaps, just as we get to the middle, they’ll crumple up like a
jack-knife and nip us. So I shut my eyes. But I always have to open
them for all when I think we’re getting near the middle. Because, you
see, if the bridge _did_ crumple up I’d want to _see_ it crumple. What
a jolly rumble it makes! I always like the rumble part of it. Isn’t it
splendid there are so many things to like in this world? There, we’re
over. Now I’ll look back. Good night, dear Lake of Shining Waters. I
always say good night to the things I love, just as I would to people.
I think they like it. That water looks as if it was smiling at me.”

When they had driven up the further hill and around a corner Matthew
said:

“We’re pretty near home now. That’s Green Gables over—”

“Oh, don’t tell me,” she interrupted breathlessly, catching at his
partially raised arm and shutting her eyes that she might not see his
gesture. “Let me guess. I’m sure I’ll guess right.”

She opened her eyes and looked about her. They were on the crest of a
hill. The sun had set some time since, but the landscape was still
clear in the mellow afterlight. To the west a dark church spire rose up
against a marigold sky. Below was a little valley and beyond a long,
gently-rising slope with snug farmsteads scattered along it. From one
to another the child’s eyes darted, eager and wistful. At last they
lingered on one away to the left, far back from the road, dimly white
with blossoming trees in the twilight of the surrounding woods. Over
it, in the stainless southwest sky, a great crystal-white star was
shining like a lamp of guidance and promise.

“That’s it, isn’t it?” she said, pointing.

Matthew slapped the reins on the sorrel’s back delightedly.

“Well now, you’ve guessed it! But I reckon Mrs. Spencer described it
so’s you could tell.”

“No, she didn’t—really she didn’t. All she said might just as well have
been about most of those other places. I hadn’t any real idea what it
looked like. But just as soon as I saw it I felt it was home. Oh, it
seems as if I must be in a dream. Do you know, my arm must be black and
blue from the elbow up, for I’ve pinched myself so many times to-day.
Every little while a horrible sickening feeling would come over me and
I’d be so afraid it was all a dream. Then I’d pinch myself to see if it
was real—until suddenly I remembered that even supposing it was only a
dream I’d better go on dreaming as long as I could; so I stopped
pinching. But it _is_ real and we’re nearly home.”

With a sigh of rapture she relapsed into silence. Matthew stirred
uneasily. He felt glad that it would be Marilla and not he who would
have to tell this waif of the world that the home she longed for was
not to be hers after all. They drove over Lynde’s Hollow, where it was
already quite dark, but not so dark that Mrs. Rachel could not see them
from her window vantage, and up the hill and into the long lane of
Green Gables. By the time they arrived at the house Matthew was
shrinking from the approaching revelation with an energy he did not
understand. It was not of Marilla or himself he was thinking or of the
trouble this mistake was probably going to make for them, but of the
child’s disappointment. When he thought of that rapt light being
quenched in her eyes he had an uncomfortable feeling that he was going
to assist at murdering something—much the same feeling that came over
him when he had to kill a lamb or calf or any other innocent little
creature.

The yard was quite dark as they turned into it and the poplar leaves
were rustling silkily all round it.

“Listen to the trees talking in their sleep,” she whispered, as he
lifted her to the ground. “What nice dreams they must have!”

Then, holding tightly to the carpet-bag which contained “all her
worldly goods,” she followed him into the house.



CHAPTER III.

MARILLA CUTHBERT IS SURPRISED

[Illustration: “‘Matthew Cuthbert, who’s that?’ she ejaculated.”]

Marilla came briskly forward as Matthew opened the door. But when her
eyes fell on the odd little figure in the stiff, ugly dress, with the
long braids of red hair and the eager, luminous eyes, she stopped short
in amazement.

“Matthew Cuthbert, who’s that?” she ejaculated. “Where is the boy?”

“There wasn’t any boy,” said Matthew wretchedly. “There was only _her_.”

He nodded at the child, remembering that he had never even asked her
name.

“No boy! But there _must_ have been a boy,” insisted Marilla. “We sent
word to Mrs. Spencer to bring a boy.”

“Well, she didn’t. She brought _her_. I asked the station-master. And I
had to bring her home. She couldn’t be left there, no matter where the
mistake had come in.”

“Well, this is a pretty piece of business!” ejaculated Marilla.

During this dialogue the child had remained silent, her eyes roving
from one to the other, all the animation fading out of her face.
Suddenly she seemed to grasp the full meaning of what had been said.
Dropping her precious carpet-bag she sprang forward a step and clasped
her hands.

“You don’t want me!” she cried. “You don’t want me because I’m not a
boy! I might have expected it. Nobody ever did want me. I might have
known it was all too beautiful to last. I might have known nobody
really did want me. Oh, what shall I do? I’m going to burst into tears!”

Burst into tears she did. Sitting down on a chair by the table,
flinging her arms out upon it, and burying her face in them, she
proceeded to cry stormily. Marilla and Matthew looked at each other
deprecatingly across the stove. Neither of them knew what to say or do.
Finally Marilla stepped lamely into the breach.

“Well, well, there’s no need to cry so about it.”

“Yes, there _is_ need!” The child raised her head quickly, revealing a
tear-stained face and trembling lips. “_You_ would cry, too, if you
were an orphan and had come to a place you thought was going to be home
and found that they didn’t want you because you weren’t a boy. Oh, this
is the most _tragical_ thing that ever happened to me!”

Something like a reluctant smile, rather rusty from long disuse,
mellowed Marilla’s grim expression.

“Well, don’t cry any more. We’re not going to turn you out-of-doors
to-night. You’ll have to stay here until we investigate this affair.
What’s your name?”

The child hesitated for a moment.

“Will you please call me Cordelia?” she said eagerly.

“_Call_ you Cordelia! Is that your name?”

“No-o-o, it’s not exactly my name, but I would love to be called
Cordelia. It’s such a perfectly elegant name.”

“I don’t know what on earth you mean. If Cordelia isn’t your name, what
is?”

“Anne Shirley,” reluctantly faltered forth the owner of that name, “but
oh, please do call me Cordelia. It can’t matter much to you what you
call me if I’m only going to be here a little while, can it? And Anne
is such an unromantic name.”

“Unromantic fiddlesticks!” said the unsympathetic Marilla. “Anne is a
real good plain sensible name. You’ve no need to be ashamed of it.”

“Oh, I’m not ashamed of it,” explained Anne, “only I like Cordelia
better. I’ve always imagined that my name was Cordelia—at least, I
always have of late years. When I was young I used to imagine it was
Geraldine, but I like Cordelia better now. But if you call me Anne
please call me Anne spelled with an _e_.”

“What difference does it make how it’s spelled?” asked Marilla with
another rusty smile as she picked up the teapot.

“Oh, it makes _such_ a difference. It _looks_ so much nicer. When you
hear a name pronounced can’t you always see it in your mind, just as if
it was printed out? I can; and A-n-n looks dreadful, but A-n-n-e looks
so much more distinguished. If you’ll only call me Anne spelled with an
_e_ I shall try to reconcile myself to not being called Cordelia.”

“Very well, then, Anne spelled with an _e_, can you tell us how this
mistake came to be made? We sent word to Mrs. Spencer to bring us a
boy. Were there no boys at the asylum?”

“Oh, yes, there was an abundance of them. But Mrs. Spencer said
_distinctly_ that you wanted a girl about eleven years old. And the
matron said she thought I would do. You don’t know how delighted I was.
I couldn’t sleep all last night for joy. Oh,” she added reproachfully,
turning to Matthew, “why didn’t you tell me at the station that you
didn’t want me and leave me there? If I hadn’t seen the White Way of
Delight and the Lake of Shining Waters it wouldn’t be so hard.”

“What on earth does she mean?” demanded Marilla, staring at Matthew.

“She—she’s just referring to some conversation we had on the road,”
said Matthew hastily. “I’m going out to put the mare in, Marilla. Have
tea ready when I come back.”

“Did Mrs. Spencer bring anybody over besides you?” continued Marilla
when Matthew had gone out.

“She brought Lily Jones for herself. Lily is only five years old and
she is very beautiful. She has nut-brown hair. If I was very beautiful
and had nut-brown hair would you keep me?”

“No. We want a boy to help Matthew on the farm. A girl would be of no
use to us. Take off your hat. I’ll lay it and your bag on the hall
table.”

Anne took off her hat meekly. Matthew came back presently and they sat
down to supper. But Anne could not eat. In vain she nibbled at the
bread and butter and pecked at the crab-apple preserve out of the
little scalloped glass dish by her plate. She did not really make any
headway at all.

“You’re not eating anything,” said Marilla sharply, eying her as if it
were a serious shortcoming.

Anne sighed.

“I can’t. I’m in the depths of despair. Can you eat when you are in the
depths of despair?”

“I’ve never been in the depths of despair, so I can’t say,” responded
Marilla.

“Weren’t you? Well, did you ever try to _imagine_ you were in the
depths of despair?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Then I don’t think you can understand what it’s like. It’s a very
uncomfortable feeling indeed. When you try to eat a lump comes right up
in your throat and you can’t swallow anything, not even if it was a
chocolate caramel. I had one chocolate caramel once two years ago and
it was simply delicious. I’ve often dreamed since then that I had a lot
of chocolate caramels, but I always wake up just when I’m going to eat
them. I do hope you won’t be offended because I can’t eat. Everything
is extremely nice, but still I cannot eat.”

“I guess she’s tired,” said Matthew, who hadn’t spoken since his return
from the barn. “Best put her to bed, Marilla.”

Marilla had been wondering where Anne should be put to bed. She had
prepared a couch in the kitchen chamber for the desired and expected
boy. But, although it was neat and clean, it did not seem quite the
thing to put a girl there somehow. But the spare room was out of the
question for such a stray waif, so there remained only the east gable
room. Marilla lighted a candle and told Anne to follow her, which Anne
spiritlessly did, taking her hat and carpet-bag from the hall table as
she passed. The hall was fearsomely clean; the little gable chamber in
which she presently found herself seemed still cleaner.

Marilla set the candle on a three-legged, three-cornered table and
turned down the bedclothes.

“I suppose you have a nightgown?” she questioned.

Anne nodded.

“Yes, I have two. The matron of the asylum made them for me. They’re
fearfully skimpy. There is never enough to go around in an asylum, so
things are always skimpy—at least in a poor asylum like ours. I hate
skimpy night-dresses. But one can dream just as well in them as in
lovely trailing ones, with frills around the neck, that’s one
consolation.”

“Well, undress as quick as you can and go to bed. I’ll come back in a
few minutes for the candle. I daren’t trust you to put it out yourself.
You’d likely set the place on fire.”

When Marilla had gone Anne looked around her wistfully. The whitewashed
walls were so painfully bare and staring that she thought they must
ache over their own bareness. The floor was bare, too, except for a
round braided mat in the middle such as Anne had never seen before. In
one corner was the bed, a high, old-fashioned one, with four dark,
low-turned posts. In the other corner was the aforesaid three-cornered
table adorned with a fat, red velvet pincushion hard enough to turn the
point of the most adventurous pin. Above it hung a little six by eight
mirror. Midway between table and bed was the window, with an icy white
muslin frill over it, and opposite it was the wash-stand. The whole
apartment was of a rigidity not to be described in words, but which
sent a shiver to the very marrow of Anne’s bones. With a sob she
hastily discarded her garments, put on the skimpy nightgown and sprang
into bed where she burrowed face downward into the pillow and pulled
the clothes over her head. When Marilla came up for the light various
skimpy articles of raiment scattered most untidily over the floor and a
certain tempestuous appearance of the bed were the only indications of
any presence save her own.

She deliberately picked up Anne’s clothes, placed them neatly on a prim
yellow chair, and then, taking up the candle, went over to the bed.

“Good night,” she said, a little awkwardly, but not unkindly.

Anne’s white face and big eyes appeared over the bedclothes with a
startling suddenness.

“How can you call it a _good_ night when you know it must be the very
worst night I’ve ever had?” she said reproachfully.

Then she dived down into invisibility again.

Marilla went slowly down to the kitchen and proceeded to wash the
supper dishes. Matthew was smoking—a sure sign of perturbation of mind.
He seldom smoked, for Marilla set her face against it as a filthy
habit; but at certain times and seasons he felt driven to it and then
Marilla winked at the practice, realizing that a mere man must have
some vent for his emotions.

“Well, this is a pretty kettle of fish,” she said wrathfully. “This is
what comes of sending word instead of going ourselves. Robert Spencer’s
folks have twisted that message somehow. One of us will have to drive
over and see Mrs. Spencer to-morrow, that’s certain. This girl will
have to be sent back to the asylum.”

“Yes, I suppose so,” said Matthew reluctantly.

“You _suppose_ so! Don’t you know it?”

“Well now, she’s a real nice little thing, Marilla. It’s kind of a pity
to send her back when she’s so set on staying here.”

“Matthew Cuthbert, you don’t mean to say you think we ought to keep
her!”

Marilla’s astonishment could not have been greater if Matthew had
expressed a predilection for standing on his head.

“Well now, no, I suppose not—not exactly,” stammered Matthew,
uncomfortably driven into a corner for his precise meaning. “I
suppose—we could hardly be expected to keep her.”

“I should say not. What good would she be to us?”

“We might be some good to her,” said Matthew suddenly and unexpectedly.

“Matthew Cuthbert, I believe that child has bewitched you! I can see as
plain as plain that you want to keep her.”

“Well now, she’s a real interesting little thing,” persisted Matthew.
“You should have heard her talk coming from the station.”

“Oh, she can talk fast enough. I saw that at once. It’s nothing in her
favour, either. I don’t like children who have so much to say. I don’t
want an orphan girl and if I did she isn’t the style I’d pick out.
There’s something I don’t understand about her. No, she’s got to be
despatched straightway back to where she came from.”

“I could hire a French boy to help me,” said Matthew, “and she’d be
company for you.”

“I’m not suffering for company,” said Marilla shortly. “And I’m not
going to keep her.”

“Well now, it’s just as you say, of course, Marilla,” said Matthew
rising and putting his pipe away. “I’m going to bed.”

To bed went Matthew. And to bed, when she had put her dishes away, went
Marilla, frowning most resolutely. And up-stairs, in the east gable, a
lonely, heart-hungry, friendless child cried herself to sleep.



CHAPTER IV.

MORNING AT GREEN GABLES


It was broad daylight when Anne awoke and sat up in bed, staring
confusedly at the window through which a flood of cheery sunshine was
pouring and outside of which something white and feathery waved across
glimpses of blue sky.

For a moment she could not remember where she was. First came a
delightful thrill, as of something very pleasant; then a horrible
remembrance. This was Green Gables and they didn’t want her because she
wasn’t a boy!

But it was morning and, yes, it was a cherry-tree in full bloom outside
of her window. With a bound she was out of bed and across the floor.
She pushed up the sash—it went up stiffly and creakily, as if it hadn’t
been opened for a long time, which was the case; and it stuck so tight
that nothing was needed to hold it up.

Anne dropped on her knees and gazed out into the June morning, her eyes
glistening with delight. Oh, wasn’t it beautiful? Wasn’t it a lovely
place? Suppose she wasn’t really going to stay here! She would imagine
she was. There was scope for imagination here.

A huge cherry-tree grew outside, so close that its boughs tapped
against the house, and it was so thick-set with blossoms that hardly a
leaf was to be seen. On both sides of the house was a big orchard, one
of apple-trees and one of cherry-trees, also showered over with
blossoms; and their grass was all sprinkled with dandelions. In the
garden below were lilac-trees purple with flowers, and their dizzily
sweet fragrance drifted up to the window on the morning wind.

Below the garden a green field lush with clover sloped down to the
hollow where the brook ran and where scores of white birches grew,
upspringing airily out of an undergrowth suggestive of delightful
possibilities in ferns and mosses and woodsy things generally. Beyond
it was a hill, green and feathery with spruce and fir; there was a gap
in it where the gray gable end of the little house she had seen from
the other side of the Lake of Shining Waters was visible.

Off to the left were the big barns and beyond them, away down over
green, low-sloping fields, was a sparkling blue glimpse of sea.

Anne’s beauty-loving eyes lingered on it all, taking everything
greedily in; she had looked on so many unlovely places in her life,
poor child; but this was as lovely as anything she had ever dreamed.

She knelt there, lost to everything but the loveliness around her,
until she was startled by a hand on her shoulder. Marilla had come in
unheard by the small dreamer.

“It’s time you were dressed,” she said curtly.

Marilla really did not know how to talk to the child, and her
uncomfortable ignorance made her crisp and curt when she did not mean
to be.

Anne stood up and drew a long breath.

“Oh, isn’t it wonderful?” she said, waving her hand comprehensively at
the good world outside.

“It’s a big tree,” said Marilla, “and it blooms great, but the fruit
don’t amount to much never—small and wormy.”

“Oh, I don’t mean just the tree; of course it’s lovely—yes, it’s
_radiantly_ lovely—it blooms as if it meant it—but I meant everything,
the garden and the orchard and the brook and the woods, the whole big
dear world. Don’t you feel as if you just loved the world on a morning
like this? And I can hear the brook laughing all the way up here. Have
you ever noticed what cheerful things brooks are? They’re always
laughing. Even in winter-time I’ve heard them under the ice. I’m so
glad there’s a brook near Green Gables. Perhaps you think it doesn’t
make any difference to me when you’re not going to keep me, but it
does. I shall always like to remember that there is a brook at Green
Gables even if I never see it again. If there wasn’t a brook I’d be
_haunted_ by the uncomfortable feeling that there ought to be one. I’m
not in the depths of despair this morning. I never can be in the
morning. Isn’t it a splendid thing that there are mornings? But I feel
very sad. I’ve just been imagining that it was really me you wanted
after all and that I was to stay here for ever and ever. It was a great
comfort while it lasted. But the worst of imagining things is that the
time comes when you have to stop and that hurts.”

“You’d better get dressed and come down-stairs and never mind your
imaginings,” said Marilla as soon as she could get a word in edgewise.
“Breakfast is waiting. Wash your face and comb your hair. Leave the
window up and turn your bedclothes back over the foot of the bed. Be as
smart as you can.”

Anne could evidently be smart to some purpose for she was down-stairs
in ten minutes’ time, with her clothes neatly on, her hair brushed and
braided, her face washed, and a comfortable consciousness pervading her
soul that she had fulfilled all Marilla’s requirements. As a matter of
fact, however, she had forgotten to turn back the bedclothes.

“I’m pretty hungry this morning,” she announced, as she slipped into
the chair Marilla placed for her. “The world doesn’t seem such a
howling wilderness as it did last night. I’m so glad it’s a sunshiny
morning. But I like rainy mornings real well, too. All sorts of
mornings are interesting, don’t you think? You don’t know what’s going
to happen through the day, and there’s so much scope for imagination.
But I’m glad it’s not rainy to-day because it’s easier to be cheerful
and bear up under affliction on a sunshiny day. I feel that I have a
good deal to bear up under. It’s all very well to read about sorrows
and imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it’s not so
nice when you really come to have them, is it?”

“For pity’s sake hold your tongue,” said Marilla. “You talk entirely
too much for a little girl.”

Thereupon Anne held her tongue so obediently and thoroughly that her
continued silence made Marilla rather nervous, as if in the presence of
something not exactly natural. Matthew also held his tongue,—but this
at least was natural,—so that the meal was a very silent one.

As it progressed Anne became more and more abstracted, eating
mechanically, with her big eyes fixed unswervingly and unseeingly on
the sky outside the window. This made Marilla more nervous than ever;
she had an uncomfortable feeling that while this odd child’s body might
be there at the table her spirit was far away in some remote airy
cloudland, borne aloft on the wings of imagination. Who would want such
a child about the place?

Yet Matthew wished to keep her, of all unaccountable things! Marilla
felt that he wanted it just as much this morning as he had the night
before, and that he would go on wanting it. That was Matthew’s way—take
a whim into his head and cling to it with the most amazing silent
persistency—a persistency ten times more potent and effectual in its
very silence than if he had talked it out.

When the meal was ended Anne came out of her reverie and offered to
wash the dishes.

“Can you wash dishes right?” asked Marilla distrustfully.

“Pretty well. I’m better at looking after children, though. I’ve had so
much experience at that. It’s such a pity you haven’t any here for me
to look after.”

“I don’t feel as if I wanted any more children to look after than I’ve
got at present. _You_’re problem enough in all conscience. What’s to be
done with you I don’t know. Matthew is a most ridiculous man.”

“I think he’s lovely,” said Anne reproachfully. “He is so very
sympathetic. He didn’t mind how much I talked—he seemed to like it. I
felt that he was a kindred spirit as soon as ever I saw him.”

“You’re both queer enough, if that’s what you mean by kindred spirits,”
said Marilla with a sniff. “Yes, you may wash the dishes. Take plenty
of hot water, and be sure you dry them well. I’ve got enough to attend
to this morning for I’ll have to drive over to White Sands in the
afternoon and see Mrs. Spencer. You’ll come with me and we’ll settle
what’s to be done with you. After you’ve finished the dishes go
up-stairs and make your bed.”

Anne washed the dishes deftly enough, as Marilla, who kept a sharp eye
on the process, discerned. Later on she made her bed less successfully,
for she had never learned the art of wrestling with a feather tick. But
it was done somehow and smoothed down; and then Marilla, to get rid of
her, told her she might go out-of-doors and amuse herself until
dinnertime.

Anne flew to the door, face alight, eyes glowing. On the very threshold
she stopped short, wheeled about, came back and sat down by the table,
light and glow as effectually blotted out as if some one had clapped an
extinguisher on her.

“What’s the matter now?” demanded Marilla.

“I don’t dare go out,” said Anne, in the tone of a martyr relinquishing
all earthly joys. “If I can’t stay here there is no use in my loving
Green Gables. And if I go out there and get acquainted with all those
trees and flowers and the orchard and the brook I’ll not be able to
help loving it. It’s hard enough now, so I won’t make it any harder. I
want to go out so much—everything seems to be calling to me, ‘Anne,
Anne, come out to us. Anne, Anne, we want a playmate’—but it’s better
not. There is no use in loving things if you have to be torn from them,
is there? And it’s _so_ hard to keep from loving things, isn’t it? That
was why I was so glad when I thought I was going to live here. I
thought I’d have so many things to love and nothing to hinder me. But
that brief dream is over. I am resigned to my fate now, so I don’t
think I’ll go out for fear I’ll get unresigned again. What is the name
of that geranium on the window-sill, please?”

“That’s the apple-scented geranium.”

“Oh, I don’t mean that sort of a name. I mean just a name you gave it
yourself. Didn’t you give it a name? May I give it one then? May I call
it—let me see—Bonny would do—may I call it Bonny while I’m here? Oh, do
let me!”

“Goodness, I don’t care. But where on earth is the sense of naming a
geranium?”

“Oh, I like things to have handles even if they are only geraniums. It
makes them seem more like people. How do you know but that it hurts a
geranium’s feelings just to be called a geranium and nothing else? You
wouldn’t like to be called nothing but a woman all the time. Yes, I
shall call it Bonny. I named that cherry-tree outside my bedroom window
this morning. I called it Snow Queen because it was so white. Of
course, it won’t always be in blossom, but one can imagine that it is,
can’t one?”

“I never in all my life saw or heard anything to equal her,” muttered
Marilla, beating a retreat down cellar after potatoes. “She _is_ kind
of interesting, as Matthew says. I can feel already that I’m wondering
what on earth she’ll say next. She’ll be casting a spell over me, too.
She’s cast it over Matthew. That look he gave me when he went out said
everything he said or hinted last night over again. I wish he was like
other men and would talk things out. A body could answer back then and
argue him into reason. But what’s to be done with a man who just
_looks?_”

Anne had relapsed into reverie, with her chin in her hands and her eyes
on the sky, when Marilla returned from her cellar pilgrimage. There
Marilla left her until the early dinner was on the table.

“I suppose I can have the mare and buggy this afternoon, Matthew?” said
Marilla.

Matthew nodded and looked wistfully at Anne. Marilla intercepted the
look and said grimly:

“I’m going to drive over to White Sands and settle this thing. I’ll
take Anne with me and Mrs. Spencer will probably make arrangements to
send her back to Nova Scotia at once. I’ll set your tea out for you and
I’ll be home in time to milk the cows.”

Still Matthew said nothing and Marilla had a sense of having wasted
words and breath. There is nothing more aggravating than a man who
won’t talk back—unless it is a woman who won’t.

Matthew hitched the sorrel into the buggy in due time and Marilla and
Anne set off. Matthew opened the yard gate for them, and as they drove
slowly through, he said, to nobody in particular as it seemed:

“Little Jerry Buote from the Creek was here this morning, and I told
him I guessed I’d hire him for the summer.”

Marilla made no reply, but she hit the unlucky sorrel such a vicious
clip with the whip that the fat mare, unused to such treatment, whizzed
indignantly down the lane at an alarming pace. Marilla looked back once
as the buggy bounced along and saw that aggravating Matthew leaning
over the gate, looking wistfully after them.



CHAPTER V.

ANNE’S HISTORY


“Do you know,” said Anne confidentially, “I’ve made up my mind to enjoy
this drive. It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy
things if you make up your mind firmly that you will. Of course, you
must make it up _firmly_. I am not going to think about going back to
the asylum while we’re having our drive. I’m just going to think about
the drive. Oh, look, there’s one little early wild rose out! Isn’t it
lovely? Don’t you think it must be glad to be a rose? Wouldn’t it be
nice if roses could talk? I’m sure they could tell us such lovely
things. And isn’t pink the most bewitching colour in the world? I love
it, but I can’t wear it. Red-headed people can’t wear pink, not even in
imagination. Did you ever know of anybody whose hair was red when she
was young, but got to be another colour when she grew up?”

“No, I don’t know as I ever did,” said Marilla mercilessly, “and I
shouldn’t think it likely to happen in your case, either.”

Anne sighed.

“Well, that is another hope gone. My life is a perfect graveyard of
buried hopes. That’s a sentence I read in a book once, and I say it
over to comfort myself whenever I’m disappointed in anything.”

“I don’t see where the comforting comes in myself,” said Marilla.

“Why, because it sounds so nice and romantic, just as if I were a
heroine in a book, you know. I am so fond of romantic things, and a
graveyard full of buried hopes is about as romantic a thing as one can
imagine, isn’t it? I’m rather glad I have one. Are we going across the
Lake of Shining Waters to-day?”

“We’re not going over Barry’s pond, if that’s what you mean by your
Lake of Shining Waters. We’re going by the shore road.”

“Shore road sounds nice,” said Anne dreamily. “Is it as nice as it
sounds? Just when you said ‘shore road’ I saw it in a picture in my
mind, as quick as that! And White Sands is a pretty name, too; but I
don’t like it as well as Avonlea. Avonlea is a lovely name. It just
sounds like music. How far is it to White Sands?”

“It’s five miles; and as you’re evidently bent on talking you might as
well talk to some purpose by telling me what you know about yourself.”

“Oh, what I _know_ about myself isn’t really worth telling,” said Anne
eagerly. “If you’ll only let me tell you what I _imagine_ about myself
you’ll think it ever so much more interesting.”

“No, I don’t want any of your imaginings. Just you stick to bald facts.
Begin at the beginning. Where were you born and how old are you?”

“I was eleven last March,” said Anne, resigning herself to bald facts
with a little sigh. “And I was born in Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia. My
father’s name was Walter Shirley, and he was a teacher in the
Bolingbroke High School. My mother’s name was Bertha Shirley. Aren’t
Walter and Bertha lovely names? I’m so glad my parents had nice names.
It would be a real disgrace to have a father named—well, say Jedediah,
wouldn’t it?”

“I guess it doesn’t matter what a person’s name is as long as he
behaves himself,” said Marilla, feeling herself called upon to
inculcate a good and useful moral.

“Well, I don’t know.” Anne looked thoughtful. “I read in a book once
that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been
able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose _would_ be as nice if it was
called a thistle or a skunk cabbage. I suppose my father could have
been a good man even if he had been called Jedediah; but I’m sure it
would have been a cross. Well, my mother was a teacher in the High
School, too, but when she married father she gave up teaching, of
course. A husband was enough responsibility. Mrs. Thomas said that they
were a pair of babies and as poor as church mice. They went to live in
a weeny-teeny little yellow house in Bolingbroke. I’ve never seen that
house, but I’ve imagined it thousands of times. I think it must have
had honeysuckle over the parlour window and lilacs in the front yard
and lilies of the valley just inside the gate. Yes, and muslin curtains
in all the windows. Muslin curtains give a house such an air. I was
born in that house. Mrs. Thomas said I was the homeliest baby she ever
saw, I was so scrawny and tiny and nothing but eyes, but that mother
thought I was perfectly beautiful. I should think a mother would be a
better judge than a poor woman who came in to scrub, wouldn’t you? I’m
glad she was satisfied with me anyhow; I would feel so sad if I thought
I was a disappointment to her—because she didn’t live very long after
that, you see. She died of fever when I was just three months old. I do
wish she’d lived long enough for me to remember calling her mother. I
think it would be so sweet to say ‘mother,’ don’t you? And father died
four days afterwards from fever, too. That left me an orphan and folks
were at their wits’ end, so Mrs. Thomas said, what to do with me. You
see, nobody wanted me even then. It seems to be my fate. Father and
mother had both come from places far away and it was well known they
hadn’t any relatives living. Finally Mrs. Thomas said she’d take me,
though she was poor and had a drunken husband. She brought me up by
hand. Do you know if there is anything in being brought up by hand
that ought to make people who are brought up that way better than
other people? Because whenever I was naughty Mrs. Thomas would ask
me how I could be such a bad girl when she had brought me up by
hand—reproachful-like.

“Mr. and Mrs. Thomas moved away from Bolingbroke to Marysville, and I
lived with them until I was eight years old. I helped look after the
Thomas children—there were four of them younger than me—and I can tell
you they took a lot of looking after. Then Mr. Thomas was killed
falling under a train and his mother offered to take Mrs. Thomas and
the children, but she didn’t want me. Mrs. Thomas was at _her_ wits’
end, so she said, what to do with me. Then Mrs. Hammond from up the
river came down and said she’d take me, seeing I was handy with
children, and I went up the river to live with her in a little clearing
among the stumps. It was a very lonesome place. I’m sure I could never
have lived there if I hadn’t had an imagination. Mr. Hammond worked a
little saw-mill up there, and Mrs. Hammond had eight children. She had
twins three times. I like babies in moderation, but twins three times
in succession is _too much_. I told Mrs. Hammond so firmly, when the
last pair came. I used to get so dreadfully tired carrying them about.

“I lived up river with Mrs. Hammond over two years, and then Mr.
Hammond died and Mrs. Hammond broke up housekeeping. She divided her
children among her relatives and went to the States. I had to go to the
asylum at Hopeton, because nobody would take me. They didn’t want me at
the asylum, either; they said they were overcrowded as it was. But they
had to take me and I was there four months until Mrs. Spencer came.”

Anne finished up with another sigh, of relief this time. Evidently she
did not like talking about her experiences in a world that had not
wanted her.

“Did you ever go to school?” demanded Marilla, turning the sorrel mare
down the shore road.

“Not a great deal. I went a little the last year I stayed with Mrs.
Thomas. When I went up river we were so far from a school that I
couldn’t walk it in winter and there was vacation in summer, so I could
only go in the spring and fall. But of course I went while I was at the
asylum. I can read pretty well and I know ever so many pieces of poetry
off by heart—‘The Battle of Hohenlinden’ and ‘Edinburgh after Flodden,’
and ‘Bingen on the Rhine,’ and lots of the ‘Lady of the Lake’ and most
of ‘The Seasons,’ by James Thompson. Don’t you just love poetry that
gives you a crinkly feeling up and down your back? There is a piece in
the Fifth Reader—‘The Downfall of Poland’—that is just full of thrills.
Of course, I wasn’t in the Fifth Reader—I was only in the Fourth—but
the big girls used to lend me theirs to read.”

“Were those women—Mrs. Thomas and Mrs. Hammond—good to you?” asked
Marilla, looking at Anne out of the corner of her eye.

“O-o-o-h,” faltered Anne. Her sensitive little face suddenly flushed
scarlet and embarrassment sat on her brow. “Oh, they _meant_ to be—I
know they meant to be just as good and kind as possible. And when
people mean to be good to you, you don’t mind very much when they’re
not quite—always. They had a good deal to worry them, you know. It’s
very trying to have a drunken husband, you see; and it must be very
trying to have twins three times in succession, don’t you think? But I
feel sure they meant to be good to me.”

Marilla asked no more questions. Anne gave herself up to a silent
rapture over the shore road and Marilla guided the sorrel abstractedly
while she pondered deeply. Pity was suddenly stirring in her heart for
the child. What a starved, unloved life she had had—a life of drudgery
and poverty and neglect; for Marilla was shrewd enough to read between
the lines of Anne’s history and divine the truth. No wonder she had
been so delighted at the prospect of a real home. It was a pity she had
to be sent back. What if she, Marilla, should indulge Matthew’s
unaccountable whim and let her stay? He was set on it; and the child
seemed a nice, teachable little thing.

“She’s got too much to say,” thought Marilla, “but she might be trained
out of that. And there’s nothing rude or slangy in what she does say.
She’s ladylike. It’s likely her people were nice folks.”

The shore road was “woodsy and wild and lonesome.” On the right hand,
scrub firs, their spirits quite unbroken by long years of tussle with
the gulf winds, grew thickly. On the left were the steep red sandstone
cliffs, so near the track in places that a mare of less steadiness than
the sorrel might have tried the nerves of the people behind her. Down
at the base of the cliffs were heaps of surf-worn rocks or little sandy
coves inlaid with pebbles as with ocean jewels; beyond lay the sea,
shimmering and blue, and over it soared the gulls, their pinions
flashing silvery in the sunlight.

“Isn’t the sea wonderful?” said Anne, rousing from a long, wide-eyed
silence. “Once, when I lived in Marysville, Mr. Thomas hired an
express-wagon and took us all to spend the day at the shore ten miles
away. I enjoyed every moment of that day, even if I had to look after
the children all the time. I lived it over in happy dreams for years.
But this shore is nicer than the Marysville shore. Aren’t those gulls
splendid? Would you like to be a gull? I think I would—that is, if I
couldn’t be a human girl. Don’t you think it would be nice to wake up
at sunrise and swoop down over the water and away out over that lovely
blue all day; and then at night to fly back to one’s nest? Oh, I can
just imagine myself doing it. What big house is that just ahead,
please?”

“That’s the White Sands Hotel. Mr. Kirke runs it, but the season hasn’t
begun yet. There are heaps of Americans come there for the summer. They
think this shore is just about right.”

“I was afraid it might be Mrs. Spencer’s place,” said Anne mournfully.
“I don’t want to get there. Somehow, it will seem like the end of
everything.”



CHAPTER VI.

MARILLA MAKES UP HER MIND


Get there they did, however, in due season. Mrs. Spencer lived in a big
yellow house at White Sands Cove, and she came to the door with
surprise and welcome mingled on her benevolent face.

“Dear, dear,” she exclaimed, “you’re the last folks I was looking for
to-day, but I’m real glad to see you. You’ll put your horse in? And how
are you, Anne?”

“I’m as well as can be expected, thank you,” said Anne smilelessly. A
blight seemed to have descended on her.

“I suppose we’ll stay a little while to rest the mare,” said Marilla,
“but I promised Matthew I’d be home early. The fact is, Mrs. Spencer,
there’s been a queer mistake somewhere, and I’ve come over to see where
it is. We sent word, Matthew and I, for you to bring us a boy from the
asylum. We told your brother Robert to tell you we wanted a boy ten or
eleven years old.”

“Marilla Cuthbert, you don’t say so!” said Mrs. Spencer in distress.
“Why, Robert sent the word down by his daughter Nancy and she said you
wanted a girl—didn’t she, Flora Jane?” appealing to her daughter who
had come out to the steps.

“She certainly did, Miss Cuthbert,” corroborated Flora Jane earnestly.

“I’m dreadful sorry,” said Mrs. Spencer. “It is too bad; but it
certainly wasn’t my fault, you see, Miss Cuthbert. I did the best I
could and I thought I was following your instructions. Nancy is a
terrible flighty thing. I’ve often had to scold her well for her
heedlessness.”

“It was our own fault,” said Marilla resignedly. “We should have come
to you ourselves and not left an important message to be passed along
by word of mouth in that fashion. Anyhow, the mistake has been made and
the only thing to do now is to set it right. Can we send the child back
to the asylum? I suppose they’ll take her back, won’t they?”

“I suppose so,” said Mrs. Spencer thoughtfully, “but I don’t think it
will be necessary to send her back. Mrs. Peter Blewett was up here
yesterday, and she was saying to me how much she wished she’d sent by
me for a little girl to help her. Mrs. Peter has a large family, you
know, and she finds it hard to get help. Anne will be the very girl for
her. I call it positively providential.”

Marilla did not look as if she thought Providence had much to do with
the matter. Here was an unexpectedly good chance to get this unwelcome
orphan off her hands, and she did not even feel grateful for it.

She knew Mrs. Peter Blewett only by sight as a small, shrewish-faced
woman without an ounce of superfluous flesh on her bones. But she had
heard of her. “A terrible worker and driver,” Mrs. Peter was said to
be; and discharged servant girls told fearsome tales of her temper and
stinginess, and her family of pert, quarrelsome children. Marilla felt
a qualm of conscience at the thought of handing Anne over to her tender
mercies.

“Well, I’ll go in and we’ll talk the matter over,” she said.

“And if there isn’t Mrs. Peter coming up the lane this blessed minute!”
exclaimed Mrs. Spencer, bustling her guests through the hall into the
parlour, where a deadly chill struck on them as if the air had been
strained so long through dark green, closely drawn blinds that it had
lost every particle of warmth it had ever possessed. “That is real
lucky, for we can settle the matter right away. Take the armchair, Miss
Cuthbert. Anne, you sit here on the ottoman and don’t wriggle. Let me
take your hats. Flora Jane, go out and put the kettle on. Good
afternoon, Mrs. Blewett. We were just saying how fortunate it was you
happened along. Let me introduce you two ladies. Mrs. Blewett, Miss
Cuthbert. Please excuse me for just a moment. I forgot to tell Flora
Jane to take the buns out of the oven.”

Mrs. Spencer whisked away, after pulling up the blinds. Anne, sitting
mutely on the ottoman, with her hands clasped tightly in her lap,
stared at Mrs. Blewett as one fascinated. Was she to be given into the
keeping of this sharp-faced, sharp-eyed woman? She felt a lump coming
up in her throat and her eyes smarted painfully. She was beginning to
be afraid she couldn’t keep the tears back when Mrs. Spencer returned,
flushed and beaming, quite capable of taking any and every difficulty,
physical, mental or spiritual, into consideration and settling it out
of hand.

“It seems there’s been a mistake about this little girl, Mrs. Blewett,”
she said. “I was under the impression that Mr. and Miss Cuthbert wanted
a little girl to adopt. I was certainly told so. But it seems it was a
boy they wanted. So if you’re still of the same mind you were
yesterday, I think she’ll be just the thing for you.”

Mrs. Blewett darted her eyes over Anne from head to foot.

“How old are you and what’s your name?” she demanded.

“Anne Shirley,” faltered the shrinking child, not daring to make any
stipulations regarding the spelling thereof, “and I’m eleven years old.”

“Humph! You don’t look as if there was much to you. But you’re wiry. I
don’t know but the wiry ones are the best after all. Well, if I take
you you’ll have to be a good girl, you know—good and smart and
respectful. I’ll expect you to earn your keep, and no mistake about
that. Yes, I suppose I might as well take her off your hands, Miss
Cuthbert. The baby’s awful fractious, and I’m clean worn out attending
to him. If you like I can take her right home now.”

Marilla looked at Anne and softened at sight of the child’s pale face
with its look of mute misery—the misery of a helpless little creature
who finds itself once more caught in the trap from which it had
escaped. Marilla felt an uncomfortable conviction that, if she denied
the appeal of that look, it would haunt her to her dying day. Moreover,
she did not fancy Mrs. Blewett. To hand a sensitive, “high-strung”
child over to such a woman! No, she could not take the responsibility
of doing that!

“Well, I don’t know,” she said slowly. “I didn’t say that Matthew and I
had absolutely decided that we wouldn’t keep her. In fact, I may say
that Matthew is disposed to keep her. I just came over to find out how
the mistake had occurred. I think I’d better take her home again and
talk it over with Matthew. I feel that I oughtn’t to decide on anything
without consulting him. If we make up our mind not to keep her we’ll
bring or send her over to you to-morrow night. If we don’t you may know
that she is going to stay with us. Will that suit you, Mrs. Blewett?”

“I suppose it’ll have to,” said Mrs. Blewett ungraciously.

During Marilla’s speech a sunrise had been dawning on Anne’s face.
First the look of despair faded out; then came a faint flush of hope;
her eyes grew deep and bright as morning stars. The child was quite
transfigured; and, a moment later, when Mrs. Spencer and Mrs. Blewett
went out in quest of a recipe the latter had come to borrow, she sprang
up and flew across the room to Marilla.

“Oh, Miss Cuthbert, did you really say that perhaps you would let me
stay at Green Gables?” she said, in a breathless whisper, as if
speaking aloud might shatter the glorious possibility. “Did you really
say it? Or did I only imagine that you did?”

“I think you’d better learn to control that imagination of yours, Anne,
if you can’t distinguish between what is real and what isn’t,” said
Marilla crossly. “Yes, you did hear me say just that and no more. It
isn’t decided yet and perhaps we will conclude to let Mrs. Blewett take
you after all. She certainly needs you much more than I do.”

“I’d rather go back to the asylum than go to live with her,” said Anne
passionately. “She looks exactly like a—like a gimlet.”

Marilla smothered a smile under the conviction that Anne must be
reproved for such a speech.

“A little girl like you should be ashamed of talking so about a lady
and a stranger,” she said severely. “Go back and sit down quietly and
hold your tongue and behave as a good girl should.”

“I’ll try to do and be anything you want me, if you’ll only keep me,”
said Anne, returning meekly to her ottoman.

When they arrived back at Green Gables that evening Matthew met them in
the lane. Marilla from afar had noted him prowling along it and guessed
his motive. She was prepared for the relief she read in his face when
he saw that she had at least brought Anne back with her. But she said
nothing to him, relative to the affair, until they were both out in the
yard behind the barn milking the cows. Then she briefly told him Anne’s
history and the result of the interview with Mrs. Spencer.

“I wouldn’t give a dog I liked to that Blewett woman,” said Matthew
with unusual vim.

“I don’t fancy her style myself,” admitted Marilla, “but it’s that or
keeping her ourselves, Matthew. And, since you seem to want her, I
suppose I’m willing—or have to be. I’ve been thinking over the idea
until I’ve got kind of used to it. It seems a sort of duty. I’ve never
brought up a child, especially a girl, and I dare say I’ll make a
terrible mess of it. But I’ll do my best. So far as I’m concerned,
Matthew, she may stay.”

Matthew’s shy face was a glow of delight.

“Well now, I reckoned you’d come to see it in that light, Marilla,” he
said. “She’s such an interesting little thing.”

“It’d be more to the point if you could say she was a useful little
thing,” retorted Marilla, “but I’ll make it my business to see she’s
trained to be that. And mind, Matthew, you’re not to go interfering
with my methods. Perhaps an old maid doesn’t know much about bringing
up a child, but I guess she knows more than an old bachelor. So you
just leave me to manage her. When I fail it’ll be time enough to put
your oar in.”

“There, there, Marilla, you can have your own way,” said Matthew
reassuringly. “Only be as good and kind to her as you can be without
spoiling her. I kind of think she’s one of the sort you can do anything
with if you only get her to love you.”

Marilla sniffed, to express her contempt for Matthew’s opinions
concerning anything feminine, and walked off to the dairy with the
pails.

“I won’t tell her to-night that she can stay,” she reflected, as she
strained the milk into the creamers. “She’d be so excited that she
wouldn’t sleep a wink. Marilla Cuthbert, you’re fairly in for it. Did
you ever suppose you’d see the day when you’d be adopting an orphan
girl? It’s surprising enough; but not so surprising as that Matthew
should be at the bottom of it, him that always seemed to have such a
mortal dread of little girls. Anyhow, we’ve decided on the experiment
and goodness only knows what will come of it.”



CHAPTER VII.

ANNE SAYS HER PRAYERS


When Marilla took Anne up to bed that night she said stiffly:

“Now, Anne, I noticed last night that you threw your clothes all about
the floor when you took them off. That is a very untidy habit, and I
can’t allow it at all. As soon as you take off any article of clothing
fold it neatly and place it on the chair. I haven’t any use at all for
little girls who aren’t neat.”

“I was so harrowed up in my mind last night that I didn’t think about
my clothes at all,” said Anne. “I’ll fold them nicely to-night. They
always made us do that at the asylum. Half the time, though, I’d
forget, I’d be in such a hurry to get into bed nice and quiet and
imagine things.”

“You’ll have to remember a little better if you stay here,” admonished
Marilla. “There, that looks something like. Say your prayers now and
get into bed.”

“I never say any prayers,” announced Anne.

Marilla looked horrified astonishment.

“Why, Anne, what do you mean? Were you never taught to say your
prayers? God always wants little girls to say their prayers. Don’t you
know who God is, Anne?”

“‘God is a spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable, in His being,
wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth,’” responded Anne
promptly and glibly.

Marilla looked rather relieved.

“So you do know something then, thank goodness! You’re not quite a
heathen. Where did you learn that?”

“Oh, at the asylum Sunday-school. They made us learn the whole
catechism. I liked it pretty well. There’s something splendid about
some of the words. ‘Infinite, eternal and unchangeable.’ Isn’t that
grand? It has such a roll to it—just like a big organ playing. You
couldn’t quite call it poetry, I suppose, but it sounds a lot like it,
doesn’t it?”

“We’re not talking about poetry, Anne—we are talking about saying your
prayers. Don’t you know it’s a terrible wicked thing not to say your
prayers every night? I’m afraid you are a very bad little girl.”

“You’d find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair,” said
Anne reproachfully. “People who haven’t red hair don’t know what
trouble is. Mrs. Thomas told me that God made my hair red _on purpose_,
and I’ve never cared about Him since. And anyhow I’d always be too
tired at night to bother saying prayers. People who have to look after
twins can’t be expected to say their prayers. Now, do you honestly
think they can?”

Marilla decided that Anne’s religious training must be begun at once.
Plainly there was no time to be lost.

“You must say your prayers while you are under my roof, Anne.”

“Why, of course, if you want me to,” assented Anne cheerfully. “I’d do
anything to oblige you. But you’ll have to tell me what to say for this
once. After I get into bed I’ll imagine out a real nice prayer to say
always. I believe that it will be quite interesting, now that I come to
think of it.”

“You must kneel down,” said Marilla in embarrassment.

Anne knelt at Marilla’s knee and looked up gravely.

“Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I’ll
tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or
into the deep, deep woods, and I’d look up into the sky—up—up—up—into
that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness.
And then I’d just _feel_ a prayer. Well, I’m ready. What am I to say?”

Marilla felt more embarrassed than ever. She had intended to teach Anne
the childish classic, “Now I lay me down to sleep.” But she had, as I
have told you, the glimmerings of a sense of humour—which is simply
another name for a sense of the fitness of things; and it suddenly
occurred to her that that simple little prayer, sacred to white-robed
childhood lisping at motherly knees, was entirely unsuited to this
freckled witch of a girl who knew and cared nothing about God’s love,
since she had never had it translated to her through the medium of
human love.

“You’re old enough to pray for yourself, Anne,” she said finally. “Just
thank God for your blessings and ask Him humbly for the things you
want.”

“Well, I’ll do my best,” promised Anne, burying her face in Marilla’s
lap. “Gracious heavenly Father—that’s the way the ministers say it in
church, so I suppose it’s all right in a private prayer, isn’t it?” she
interjected, lifting her head for a moment. “Gracious heavenly Father,
I thank Thee for the White Way of Delight and the Lake of Shining
Waters and Bonny and the Snow Queen. I’m really extremely grateful for
them. And that’s all the blessings I can think of just now to thank
Thee for. As for the things I want, they’re so numerous that it would
take a great deal of time to name them all, so I will only mention the
two most important. Please let me stay at Green Gables; and please let
me be good-looking when I grow up. I remain,

                                “Yours respectfully,
                                    “Anne Shirley.

“There, did I do it all right?” she asked eagerly, getting up. “I could
have made it much more flowery if I’d had a little more time to think
it over.”

Poor Marilla was only preserved from complete collapse by remembering
that it was not irreverence, but simply spiritual ignorance on the part
of Anne that was responsible for this extraordinary petition. She
tucked the child up in bed, mentally vowing that she should be taught a
prayer the very next day, and was leaving the room with the light when
Anne called her back.

“I’ve just thought of it now. I should have said ‘Amen’ in place of
‘yours respectfully,’ shouldn’t I?—the way the ministers do. I’d
forgotten it, but I felt a prayer should be finished off in some way,
so I put in the other. Do you suppose it will make any difference?”

“I—I don’t suppose it will,” said Marilla. “Go to sleep now like a good
child. Good night.”

“I can say good night to-night with a clear conscience,” said Anne,
cuddling luxuriously down among her pillows.

Marilla retreated to the kitchen, set the candle firmly on the table,
and glared at Matthew.

“Matthew Cuthbert, it’s about time somebody adopted that child and
taught her something. She’s next door to a perfect heathen. Will you
believe that she never said a prayer in her life till to-night? I’ll
send to the manse to-morrow and borrow the Peep of Day series, that’s
what I’ll do. And she shall go to Sunday-school just as soon as I can
get some suitable clothes made for her. I foresee that I shall have my
hands full. Well, well, we can’t get through this world without our
share of trouble. I’ve had a pretty easy life of it so far, but my time
has come at last and I suppose I’ll just have to make the best of it.”



CHAPTER VIII.

ANNE’S BRINGING-UP IS BEGUN


For reasons best known to herself, Marilla did not tell Anne that she
was to stay at Green Gables until the next afternoon. During the
forenoon she kept the child busy with various tasks and watched over
her with a keen eye while she did them. By noon she had concluded that
Anne was smart and obedient, willing to work and quick to learn; her
most serious shortcoming seemed to be a tendency to fall into
day-dreams in the middle of a task and forget all about it until such
time as she was sharply recalled to earth by a reprimand or a
catastrophe.

When Anne had finished washing the dinner dishes she suddenly
confronted Marilla with the air and expression of one desperately
determined to learn the worst. Her thin little body trembled from head
to foot; her face flushed and her eyes dilated until they were almost
black; she clasped her hands tightly and said in an imploring voice:

“Oh, please, Miss Cuthbert, won’t you tell me if you are going to send
me away or not? I’ve tried to be patient all the morning, but I really
feel that I cannot bear not knowing any longer. It’s a dreadful
feeling. Please tell me.”

“You haven’t scalded the dish-cloth in clean hot water as I told you to
do,” said Marilla immovably. “Just go and do it before you ask any more
questions, Anne.”

Anne went and attended to the dish-cloth. Then she returned to Marilla
and fastened imploring eyes on the latter’s face.

“Well,” said Marilla, unable to find any excuse for deferring her
explanation longer, “I suppose I might as well tell you. Matthew and I
have decided to keep you—that is, if you will try to be a good little
girl and show yourself grateful. Why, child, whatever is the matter?”

“I’m crying,” said Anne in a tone of bewilderment. “I can’t think why.
I’m glad as glad can be. Oh, _glad_ doesn’t seem the right word at all.
I was glad about the White Way and the cherry blossoms—but this! Oh,
it’s something more than glad. I’m so happy. I’ll try to be so good. It
will be up-hill work, I expect, for Mrs. Thomas often told me I was
desperately wicked. However, I’ll do my very best. But can you tell me
why I’m crying?”

“I suppose it’s because you’re all excited and worked up,” said Marilla
disapprovingly. “Sit down on that chair and try to calm yourself. I’m
afraid you both cry and laugh far too easily. Yes, you can stay here
and we will try to do right by you. You must go to school; but it’s
only a fortnight till vacation so it isn’t worth while for you to start
before it opens again in September.”

“What am I to call you?” asked Anne. “Shall I always say Miss Cuthbert?
Can I call you Aunt Marilla?”

“No; you’ll call me just plain Marilla. I’m not used to being called
Miss Cuthbert and it would make me nervous.”

“It sounds awfully disrespectful to say just Marilla,” protested Anne.

“I guess there’ll be nothing disrespectful in it if you’re careful to
speak respectfully. Everybody, young and old, in Avonlea calls me
Marilla except the minister. He says Miss Cuthbert—when he thinks of
it.”

“I’d love to call you Aunt Marilla,” said Anne wistfully. “I’ve never
had an aunt or any relation at all—not even a grandmother. It would
make me feel as if I really belonged to you. Can’t I call you Aunt
Marilla?”

“No. I’m not your aunt and I don’t believe in calling people names that
don’t belong to them.”

“But we could imagine you were my aunt.”

“I couldn’t,” said Marilla grimly.

“Do you never imagine things different from what they really are?”
asked Anne wide-eyed.

“No.”

“Oh!” Anne drew a long breath. “Oh, Miss—Marilla, how much you miss!”

“I don’t believe in imagining things different from what they really
are,” retorted Marilla. “When the Lord puts us in certain circumstances
He doesn’t mean for us to imagine them away. And that reminds me. Go
into the sitting-room, Anne—be sure your feet are clean and don’t let
any flies in—and bring me out the illustrated card that’s on the
mantelpiece. The Lord’s Prayer is on it and you’ll devote your spare
time this afternoon to learning it off by heart. There’s to be no more
of such praying as I heard last night.”

“I suppose I was very awkward,” said Anne apologetically, “but then,
you see, I’d never had any practice. You couldn’t really expect a
person to pray very well the first time she tried, could you? I thought
out a splendid prayer after I went to bed, just as I promised you I
would. It was nearly as long as a minister’s and so poetical. But would
you believe it? I couldn’t remember one word when I woke up this
morning. And I’m afraid I’ll never be able to think out another one as
good. Somehow, things never are so good when they’re thought out a
second time. Have you ever noticed that?”

“Here is something for you to notice, Anne. When I tell you to do a
thing I want you to obey me at once and not stand stock-still and
discourse about it. Just you go and do as I bid you.”

Anne promptly departed for the sitting-room across the hall; she failed
to return; after waiting ten minutes Marilla laid down her knitting and
marched after her with a grim expression. She found Anne standing
motionless before a picture hanging on the wall between the two
windows, with her hands clasped behind her, her face uplifted, and her
eyes astar with dreams. The white and green light strained through
apple-trees and clustering vines outside fell over the rapt little
figure with a half-unearthly radiance.

“Anne, whatever are you thinking of?” demanded Marilla sharply.

Anne came back to earth with a start.

“That,” she said, pointing to the picture—a rather vivid chromo
entitled, “Christ Blessing Little Children”—“and I was just imagining I
was one of them—that I was the little girl in the blue dress, standing
off by herself in the corner as if she didn’t belong to anybody, like
me. She looks lonely and sad, don’t you think? I guess she hadn’t any
father or mother of her own. But she wanted to be blessed, too, so she
just crept shyly up on the outside of the crowd, hoping nobody would
notice her—except Him. I’m sure I know just how she felt. Her heart
must have beat and her hands must have got cold, like mine did when I
asked you if I could stay. She was afraid He mightn’t notice her. But
it’s likely He did, don’t you think? I’ve been trying to imagine it all
out—her edging a little nearer all the time until she was quite close
to Him; and then He would look at her and put His hand on her hair and
oh, such a thrill of joy as would run over her! But I wish the artist
hadn’t painted Him so sorrowful-looking. All His pictures are like
that, if you’ve noticed. But I don’t believe He could really have
looked so sad or the children would have been afraid of Him.”

“Anne,” said Marilla, wondering why she had not broken into this speech
long before, “you shouldn’t talk that way. It’s irreverent—positively
irreverent.”

Anne’s eyes marvelled.

“Why, I felt just as reverent as could be. I’m sure I didn’t mean to be
irreverent.”

“Well, I don’t suppose you did—but it doesn’t sound right to talk so
familiarly about such things. And another thing, Anne, when I send you
after something you’re to bring it at once and not fall into mooning
and imagining before pictures. Remember that. Take that card and come
right to the kitchen. Now, sit down in the corner and learn that prayer
off by heart.”

Anne set the card up against the jugful of apple blossoms she had
brought in to decorate the dinner table—Marilla had eyed that
decoration askance, but had said nothing—propped her chin on her hands,
and fell to studying it intently for several silent minutes.

“I like this,” she announced at length. “It’s beautiful. I’ve heard it
before—I heard the superintendent of the asylum Sunday-school say it
over once. But I didn’t like it then. He had such a cracked voice and
he prayed it so mournfully. I really felt sure he thought praying was a
disagreeable duty. This isn’t poetry, but it makes me feel just the
same way poetry does. ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy
name.’ That is just like a line of music. Oh, I’m so glad you thought
of making me learn this, Miss—Marilla.”

“Well, learn it and hold your tongue,” said Marilla shortly.

Anne tipped the vase of apple blossoms near enough to bestow a soft
kiss on a pink-cupped bud, and then studied diligently for some moments
longer.

“Marilla,” she demanded presently, “do you think that I shall ever have
a bosom friend in Avonlea?”

“A—a what kind of a friend?”

“A bosom friend—an intimate friend, you know—a really kindred spirit to
whom I can confide my inmost soul. I’ve dreamed of meeting her all my
life. I never really supposed I would, but so many of my loveliest
dreams have come true all at once that perhaps this one will, too. Do
you think it’s possible?”

“Diana Barry lives over at Orchard Slope and she’s about your age.
She’s a very nice little girl, and perhaps she will be a playmate for
you when she comes home. She’s visiting her aunt over at Carmody just
now. You’ll have to be careful how you behave yourself, though. Mrs.
Barry is a very particular woman. She won’t let Diana play with any
little girl who isn’t nice and good.”

Anne looked at Marilla through the apple blossoms, her eyes aglow with
interest.

“What is Diana like? Her hair isn’t red, is it? Oh, I hope not. It’s
bad enough to have red hair myself, but I positively couldn’t endure it
in a bosom friend.”

“Diana is a very pretty little girl. She has black eyes and hair and
rosy cheeks. And she is good and smart, which is better than being
pretty.”

Marilla was as fond of morals as the Duchess in Wonderland, and was
firmly convinced that one should be tacked on to every remark made to a
child who was being brought up.

But Anne waved the moral inconsequently aside and seized only on the
delightful possibilities before it.

“Oh, I’m so glad she’s pretty. Next to being beautiful oneself—and
that’s impossible in my case—it would be best to have a beautiful bosom
friend. When I lived with Mrs. Thomas she had a bookcase in her
sitting-room with glass doors. There weren’t any books in it; Mrs.
Thomas kept her best china and her preserves there—when she had any
preserves to keep. One of the doors was broken. Mr. Thomas smashed it
one night when he was slightly intoxicated. But the other was whole and
I used to pretend that my reflection in it was another little girl who
lived in it. I called her Katie Maurice, and we were very intimate. I
used to talk to her by the hour, especially on Sunday, and tell her
everything. Katie was the comfort and consolation of my life. We used
to pretend that the bookcase was enchanted and that if I only knew the
spell I could open the door and step right into the room where Katie
Maurice lived, instead of into Mrs. Thomas’ shelves of preserves and
china. And then Katie Maurice would have taken me by the hand and led
me out into a wonderful place, all flowers and sunshine and fairies,
and we would have lived there happy for ever after. When I went to live
with Mrs. Hammond it just broke my heart to leave Katie Maurice. She
felt it dreadfully, too, I know she did, for she was crying when she
kissed me good-bye through the bookcase door. There was no bookcase at
Mrs. Hammond’s. But just up the river a little way from the house there
was a long green little valley, and the loveliest echo lived there. It
echoed back every word you said, even if you didn’t talk a bit loud. So
I imagined that it was a little girl called Violetta and we were great
friends and I loved her almost as well as I loved Katie Maurice—not
quite, but almost, you know. The night before I went to the asylum I
said good-bye to Violetta, and oh, her good-bye came back to me in such
sad, sad tones. I had become so attached to her that I hadn’t the heart
to imagine a bosom friend at the asylum, even if there had been any
scope for imagination there.”

“I think it’s just as well there wasn’t,” said Marilla drily. “I don’t
approve of such goings-on. You seem to half believe your own
imaginations. It will be well for you to have a real live friend to put
such nonsense out of your head. But don’t let Mrs. Barry hear you
talking about your Katie Maurices and your Violettas or she’ll think
you tell stories.”

“Oh, I won’t. I couldn’t talk of them to everybody—their memories are
too sacred for that. But I thought I’d like to have you know about
them. Oh, look, here’s a big bee just tumbled out of an apple blossom.
Just think what a lovely place to live—in an apple blossom! Fancy going
to sleep in it when the wind was rocking it. If I wasn’t a human girl I
think I’d like to be a bee and live among the flowers.”

“Yesterday you wanted to be a sea-gull,” sniffed Marilla. “I think you
are very fickle-minded. I told you to learn that prayer and not talk.
But it seems impossible for you to stop talking if you’ve got anybody
that will listen to you. So go up to your room and learn it.”

“Oh, I know it pretty nearly all now—all but just the last line.”

“Well, never mind, do as I tell you. Go to your room and finish
learning it well, and stay there until I call you down to help me get
tea.”

“Can I take the apple blossoms with me for company?” pleaded Anne.

“No; you don’t want your room cluttered up with flowers. You should
have left them on the tree in the first place.”

“I did feel a little that way, too,” said Anne. “I kind of felt I
shouldn’t shorten their lovely lives by picking them— I wouldn’t want
to be picked if I were an apple blossom. But the temptation was
_irresistible_. What do you do when you meet with an irresistible
temptation?”

“Anne, did you hear me tell you to go to your room?”

Anne sighed, retreated to the east gable, and sat down in a chair by
the window.

“There—I know this prayer. I learned that last sentence coming
up-stairs. Now I’m going to imagine things into this room so that
they’ll always stay imagined. The floor is covered with a white velvet
carpet with pink roses all over it and there are pink silk curtains at
the windows. The walls are hung with gold and silver brocade tapestry.
The furniture is mahogany. I never saw any mahogany, but it does sound
_so_ luxurious. This is a couch all heaped with gorgeous silken
cushions, pink and blue and crimson and gold, and I am reclining
gracefully on it. I can see my reflection in that splendid big mirror
hanging on the wall. I am tall and regal, clad in a gown of trailing
white lace, with a pearl cross on my breast and pearls in my hair. My
hair is of midnight darkness and my skin is a clear ivory pallor. My
name is the Lady Cordelia Fitzgerald. No, it isn’t—I can’t make _that_
seem real.”

She danced up to the little looking-glass and peered into it. Her
pointed freckled face and solemn gray eyes peered back at her.

“You’re only Anne of Green Gables,” she said earnestly, “and I see you,
just as you are looking now, whenever I try to imagine I’m the Lady
Cordelia. But it’s a million times nicer to be Anne of Green Gables
than Anne of nowhere in particular, isn’t it?”

She bent forward, kissed her reflection affectionately, and betook
herself to the open window.

“Dear Snow Queen, good afternoon. And good afternoon, dear birches down
in the hollow. And good afternoon, dear gray house up on the hill. I
wonder if Diana is to be my bosom friend. I hope she will, and I shall
love her very much. But I must never quite forget Katie Maurice and
Violetta. They would feel so hurt if I did and I’d hate to hurt
anybody’s feelings, even a little bookcase girl’s or a little echo
girl’s. I must be careful to remember them and send them a kiss every
day.”

Anne blew a couple of airy kisses from her finger-tips past the cherry
blossoms and then, with her chin in her hands, drifted luxuriously out
on a sea of day-dreams.



CHAPTER IX.

MRS. RACHEL LYNDE IS PROPERLY HORRIFIED


Anne had been a fortnight at Green Gables before Mrs. Lynde arrived to
inspect her. Mrs. Rachel, to do her justice, was not to blame for this.
A severe and unseasonable attack of grippe had confined that good lady
to her house ever since the occasion of her last visit to Green Gables.
Mrs. Rachel was not often sick and had a well-defined contempt for
people who were; but grippe, she asserted, was like no other illness on
earth and could only be interpreted as one of the special visitations
of Providence. As soon as her doctor allowed her to put her foot
out-of-doors she hurried up to Green Gables, bursting with curiosity to
see Matthew’s and Marilla’s orphan, concerning whom all sorts of
stories and suppositions had gone abroad in Avonlea.

Anne had made good use of every waking moment of that fortnight.
Already she was acquainted with every tree and shrub about the place.
She had discovered that a lane opened out below the apple orchard and
ran up through a belt of woodland; and she had explored it to its
furthest end in all its delicious vagaries of brook and bridge, fir
coppice and wild cherry arch, corners thick with fern, and branching
byways of maple and mountain ash.

She had made friends with the spring down in the hollow—that wonderful
deep, clear icy-cold spring; it was set about with smooth red
sandstones and rimmed in by great palm-like clumps of water fern; and
beyond it was a log bridge over the brook.

That bridge led Anne’s dancing feet up over a wooded hill beyond, where
perpetual twilight reigned under the straight, thick-growing firs and
spruces; the only flowers there were myriads of delicate “June bells,”
those shyest and sweetest of woodland blooms, and a few pale, aerial
starflowers, like the spirits of last year’s blossoms. Gossamers
glimmered like threads of silver among the trees and the fir boughs and
tassels seemed to utter friendly speech.

All these raptured voyages of exploration were made in the odd
half-hours which she was allowed for play, and Anne talked Matthew and
Marilla half-deaf over her discoveries. Not that Matthew complained, to
be sure; he listened to it all with a wordless smile of enjoyment on
his face; Marilla permitted the “chatter” until she found herself
becoming too interested in it, whereupon she always promptly quenched
Anne by a curt command to hold her tongue.

Anne was out in the orchard when Mrs. Rachel came, wandering at her own
sweet will through the lush, tremulous grasses splashed with ruddy
evening sunshine; so that good lady had an excellent chance to talk her
illness fully over, describing every ache and pulse-beat with such
evident enjoyment that Marilla thought even grippe must bring its
compensations. When details were exhausted Mrs. Rachel introduced the
real reason of her call.

“I’ve been hearing some surprising things about you and Matthew.”

“I don’t suppose you are any more surprised than I am myself,” said
Marilla. “I’m getting over my surprise now.”

“It was too bad there was such a mistake,” said Mrs. Rachel
sympathetically. “Couldn’t you have sent her back?”

“I suppose we could, but we decided not to. Matthew took a fancy to
her. And I must say I like her myself—although I admit she has her
faults. The house seems a different place already. She’s a real bright
little thing.”

Marilla said more than she had intended to say when she began, for she
read disapproval in Mrs. Rachel’s expression.

“It’s a great responsibility you’ve taken on yourself,” said that lady
gloomily, “especially when you’ve never had any experience with
children. You don’t know much about her or her real disposition, I
suppose, and there’s no guessing how a child like that will turn out.
But I don’t want to discourage you I’m sure, Marilla.”

“I’m not feeling discouraged,” was Marilla’s dry response. “When I make
up my mind to do a thing it stays made up. I suppose you’d like to see
Anne. I’ll call her in.”

Anne came running in presently, her face sparkling with the delight of
her orchard rovings; but, abashed at finding herself in the unexpected
presence of a stranger, she halted confusedly inside the door. She
certainly was an odd-looking little creature in the short tight wincey
dress she had worn from the asylum, below which her thin legs seemed
ungracefully long. Her freckles were more numerous and obtrusive than
ever; the wind had ruffled her hatless hair into over-brilliant
disorder; it had never looked redder than at that moment.

“Well, they didn’t pick you for your looks, that’s sure and certain,”
was Mrs. Rachel Lynde’s emphatic comment. Mrs. Rachel was one of those
delightful and popular people who pride themselves on speaking their
mind without fear or favour. “She’s terrible skinny and homely,
Marilla. Come here, child, and let me have a look at you. Lawful heart,
did any one ever see such freckles? And hair as red as carrots! Come
here, child, I say.”

Anne “came there,” but not exactly as Mrs. Rachel expected. With one
bound she crossed the kitchen floor and stood before Mrs. Rachel, her
face scarlet with anger, her lips quivering, and her whole slender form
trembling from head to foot.

“I hate you,” she cried in a choked voice, stamping her foot on the
floor. “I hate you—I hate you—I hate you—” a louder stamp with each
assertion of hatred. “How dare you call me skinny and ugly? How dare
you say I’m freckled and red-headed? You are a rude, impolite,
unfeeling woman!”

[Illustration: “‘I hate you,’ she cried in a choked voice, stamping
her foot on the floor.”]

“Anne!” exclaimed Marilla in consternation.

But Anne continued to face Mrs. Rachel undauntedly, head up, eyes
blazing, hands clenched, passionate indignation exhaling from her like
an atmosphere.

“How dare you say such things about me?” she repeated vehemently. “How
would you like to have such things said about you? How would you like
to be told that you are fat and clumsy and probably hadn’t a spark of
imagination in you? I don’t care if I do hurt your feelings by saying
so! I hope I hurt them. You have hurt mine worse than they were ever
hurt before even by Mrs. Thomas’ intoxicated husband. And I’ll _never_
forgive you for it, never, never!”

Stamp! Stamp!

“Did anybody ever see such a temper!” exclaimed the horrified Mrs.
Rachel.

“Anne, go to your room and stay there until I come up,” said Marilla,
recovering her powers of speech with difficulty.

Anne, bursting into tears, rushed to the hall door, slammed it until
the tins on the porch wall outside rattled in sympathy, and fled
through the hall and up the stairs like a whirlwind. A subdued slam
above told that the door of the east gable had been shut with equal
vehemence.

“Well, I don’t envy you your job bringing _that_ up, Marilla,” said
Mrs. Rachel with unspeakable solemnity.

Marilla opened her lips to say she knew not what of apology or
deprecation. What she did say was a surprise to herself then and ever
afterwards.

“You shouldn’t have twitted her about her looks, Rachel.”

“Marilla Cuthbert, you don’t mean to say that you are upholding her in
such a terrible display of temper as we’ve just seen?” demanded Mrs.
Rachel indignantly.

“No,” said Marilla slowly, “I’m not trying to excuse her. She’s been
very naughty and I’ll have to give her a talking to about it. But we
must make allowances for her. She’s never been taught what is right.
And you _were_ too hard on her, Rachel.”

Marilla could not help tacking on that last sentence, although she was
again surprised at herself for doing it. Mrs. Rachel got up with an air
of offended dignity.

“Well, I see that I’ll have to be very careful what I say after this,
Marilla, since the fine feelings of orphans, brought from goodness
knows where, have to be considered before anything else. Oh, no, I’m
not vexed—don’t worry yourself. I’m too sorry for you to leave any room
for anger in my mind. You’ll have your own troubles with that child.
But if you’ll take my advice—which I suppose you won’t do, although
I’ve brought up ten children and buried two—you’ll do that ‘talking to’
you mention with a fair-sized birch switch. I should think _that_ would
be the most effective language for that kind of a child. Her temper
matches her hair I guess. Well, good evening, Marilla. I hope you’ll
come down to see me often as usual. But you can’t expect me to visit
here again in a hurry, if I’m liable to be flown at and insulted in
such a fashion. It’s something new in _my_ experience.”

Whereat Mrs. Rachel swept out and away—if a fat woman who always
waddled _could_ be said to sweep away—and Marilla with a very solemn
face betook herself to the east gable.

On the way up-stairs she pondered uneasily as to what she ought to do.
She felt no little dismay over the scene that had just been enacted.
How unfortunate that Anne should have displayed such temper before Mrs.
Rachel Lynde, of all people! Then Marilla suddenly became aware of an
uncomfortable and rebuking consciousness that she felt more humiliation
over this than sorrow over the discovery of such a serious defect in
Anne’s disposition. And how was she to punish her? The amiable
suggestion of the birch switch—to the efficiency of which all of Mrs.
Rachel’s own children could have borne smarting testimony—did not
appeal to Marilla. She did not believe she could whip a child. No, some
other method of punishment must be found to bring Anne to a proper
realization of the enormity of her offence.

Marilla found Anne face downward on her bed, crying bitterly, quite
oblivious of muddy boots on a clean counterpane.

“Anne,” she said, not ungently.

No answer.

“Anne,” with greater severity, “get off that bed this minute and listen
to what I have to say to you.”

Anne squirmed off the bed and sat rigidly on a chair beside it, her
face swollen and tear-stained and her eyes fixed stubbornly on the
floor.

“This is a nice way for you to behave, Anne! Aren’t you ashamed of
yourself?”

“She hadn’t any right to call me ugly and red-headed,” retorted Anne,
evasive and defiant.

“You hadn’t any right to fly into such a fury and talk the way you did
to her, Anne. I was ashamed of you—thoroughly ashamed of you. I wanted
you to behave nicely to Mrs. Lynde, and instead of that you have
disgraced me. I’m sure I don’t know why you should lose your temper
like that just because Mrs. Lynde said you were red-haired and homely.
You say it yourself often enough.”

“Oh, but there’s such a difference between saying a thing yourself and
hearing other people say it,” wailed Anne. “You may know a thing is so,
but you can’t help hoping other people don’t quite think it is. I
suppose you think I have an awful temper, but I couldn’t help it. When
she said those things something just rose right up in me and choked me.
I _had_ to fly out at her.”

“Well, you made a fine exhibition of yourself I must say. Mrs. Lynde
will have a nice story to tell about you everywhere—and she’ll tell it,
too. It was a dreadful thing for you to lose your temper like that,
Anne.”

“Just imagine how you would feel if somebody told you to your face that
you were skinny and ugly,” pleaded Anne tearfully.

An old remembrance suddenly rose up before Marilla. She had been a very
small child when she had heard one aunt say of her to another, “What a
pity she is such a dark, homely little thing.” Marilla was every day of
fifty before the sting had gone out of that memory.

“I don’t say that I think Mrs. Lynde was exactly right in saying what
she did to you, Anne,” she admitted in a softer tone. “Rachel is too
outspoken. But that is no excuse for such behaviour on your part. She
was a stranger and an elderly person and my visitor—all three very good
reasons why you should have been respectful to her. You were rude and
saucy and”—Marilla had a saving inspiration of punishment—“you must go
to her and tell her you are very sorry for your bad temper and ask her
to forgive you.”

“I can never do that,” said Anne determinedly and darkly. “You can
punish me in any way you like, Marilla. You can shut me up in a dark,
damp dungeon inhabited by snakes and toads and feed me only on bread
and water and I shall not complain. But I cannot ask Mrs. Lynde to
forgive me.”

“We’re not in the habit of shutting people up in dark, damp dungeons,”
said Marilla drily, “especially as they’re rather scarce in Avonlea.
But apologize to Mrs. Lynde you must and shall and you’ll stay here in
your room until you can tell me you’re willing to do it.”

“I shall have to stay here for ever then,” said Anne mournfully,
“because I can’t tell Mrs. Lynde I’m sorry I said those things to her.
How can I? I’m _not_ sorry. I’m sorry I’ve vexed you; but I’m _glad_ I
told her just what I did. It was a great satisfaction. I can’t say I’m
sorry when I’m not, can I? I can’t even _imagine_ I’m sorry.”

“Perhaps your imagination will be in better working order by the
morning,” said Marilla, rising to depart. “You’ll have the night to
think over your conduct in and come to a better frame of mind. You said
you would try to be a very good girl if we kept you at Green Gables,
but I must say it hasn’t seemed very much like it this evening.”

Leaving this Parthian shaft to rankle in Anne’s stormy bosom, Marilla
descended to the kitchen, grievously troubled in mind and vexed in
soul. She was as angry with herself as with Anne, because, whenever she
recalled Mrs. Rachel’s dumfounded countenance her lips twitched with
amusement and she felt a most reprehensible desire to laugh.



CHAPTER X.

ANNE’S APOLOGY


Marilla said nothing to Matthew about the affair that evening; but when
Anne proved still refractory the next morning an explanation had to be
made to account for her absence from the breakfast-table. Marilla told
Matthew the whole story, taking pains to impress him with a due sense
of the enormity of Anne’s behaviour.

“It’s a good thing Rachel Lynde got a calling down; she’s a meddlesome
old gossip,” was Matthew’s consolatory rejoinder.

“Matthew Cuthbert, I’m astonished at you. You know that Anne’s
behaviour was dreadful, and yet you take her part! I suppose you’ll be
saying next thing that she oughtn’t to be punished at all.”

“Well now—no—not exactly,” said Matthew uneasily. “I reckon she ought
to be punished a little. But don’t be too hard on her, Marilla.
Recollect she hasn’t ever had any one to teach her right. You’re—you’re
going to give her something to eat, aren’t you?”

“When did you ever hear of me starving people into good behaviour?”
demanded Marilla indignantly. “She’ll have her meals regular, and I’ll
carry them up to her myself. But she’ll stay up there until she’s
willing to apologize to Mrs. Lynde, and that’s final, Matthew.”

Breakfast, dinner, and supper were very silent meals—for Anne still
remained obdurate. After each meal Marilla carried a well-filled tray
to the east gable and brought it down later on not noticeably depleted.
Matthew eyed its last descent with a troubled eye. Had Anne eaten
anything at all?

When Marilla went out that evening to bring the cows from the back
pasture, Matthew, who had been hanging about the barns and watching,
slipped into the house with the air of a burglar and crept up-stairs.
As a general thing Matthew gravitated between the kitchen and the
little bedroom off the hall where he slept; once in a while he ventured
uncomfortably into the parlour or sitting-room when the minister came
to tea. But he had never been up-stairs in his own house since the
spring he helped Marilla paper the spare bedroom, and that was four
years ago.

He tiptoed along the hall and stood for several minutes outside the
door of the east gable before he summoned courage to tap on it with his
fingers and then open the door to peep in.

Anne was sitting on the yellow chair by the window, gazing mournfully
out into the garden. Very small and unhappy she looked, and Matthew’s
heart smote him. He softly closed the door and tiptoed over to her.

“Anne,” he whispered, as if afraid of being overheard, “how are you
making it, Anne?”

Anne smiled wanly.

“Pretty well. I imagine a good deal, and that helps to pass the time.
Of course, it’s rather lonesome. But then, I may as well get used to
that.”

Anne smiled again, bravely facing the long years of solitary
imprisonment before her.

Matthew recollected that he must say what he had come to say without
loss of time, lest Marilla return prematurely.

“Well now, Anne, don’t you think you’d better do it and have it over
with?” he whispered. “It’ll have to be done sooner or later, you know,
for Marilla’s a dreadful determined woman—dreadful determined, Anne. Do
it right off, I say, and have it over.”

“Do you mean apologize to Mrs. Lynde?”

“Yes—apologize—that’s the very word,” said Matthew eagerly. “Just
smooth it over so to speak. That’s what I was trying to get at.”

“I suppose I could do it to oblige you,” said Anne thoughtfully. “It
would be true enough to say I am sorry, because I _am_ sorry now. I
wasn’t a bit sorry last night. I was mad clear through, and I stayed
mad all night. I know I did because I woke up three times and I was
just furious every time. But this morning it was all over. I wasn’t in
a temper any more—and it left a dreadful sort of goneness, too. I felt
so ashamed of myself. But I just couldn’t think of going and telling
Mrs. Lynde so. It would be so humiliating. I made up my mind I’d stay
shut up here for ever rather than do that. But still—I’d do anything
for you—if you really want me to—”

“Well now, of course I do. It’s terrible lonesome down-stairs without
you. Just go and smooth it over—that’s a good girl.”

“Very well,” said Anne resignedly. “I’ll tell Marilla as soon as she
comes in that I’ve repented.”

“That’s right—that’s right, Anne. But don’t tell Marilla I said
anything about it. She might think I was putting my oar in and I
promised not to do that.”

“Wild horses won’t drag the secret from me,” promised Anne solemnly.
“How would wild horses drag a secret from a person anyhow?”

But Matthew was gone, scared at his own success. He fled hastily to the
remotest corner of the horse pasture lest Marilla should suspect what
he had been up to. Marilla herself, upon her return to the house, was
agreeably surprised to hear a plaintive voice calling, “Marilla,” over
the banisters.

“Well?” she said, going into the hall.

“I’m sorry I lost my temper and said rude things, and I’m willing to go
and tell Mrs. Lynde so.”

“Very well.” Marilla’s crispness gave no sign of her relief. She had
been wondering what under the canopy she should do if Anne did not give
in. “I’ll take you down after milking.”

Accordingly, after milking, behold Marilla and Anne walking down the
lane, the former erect and triumphant, the latter drooping and
dejected. But half-way down Anne’s dejection vanished as if by
enchantment. She lifted her head and stepped lightly along, her eyes
fixed on the sunset sky and an air of subdued exhilaration about her.
Marilla beheld the change disapprovingly. This was no meek penitent
such as it behooved her to take into the presence of the offended Mrs.
Lynde.

“What are you thinking of, Anne?” she asked sharply.

“I’m imagining out what I must say to Mrs. Lynde,” answered Anne
dreamily.

This was satisfactory—or should have been so. But Marilla could not rid
herself of the notion that something in her scheme of punishment was
going askew. Anne had no business to look so rapt and radiant.

Rapt and radiant Anne continued until they were in the very presence of
Mrs. Lynde, who was sitting knitting by her kitchen window. Then the
radiance vanished. Mournful penitence appeared on every feature. Before
a word was spoken Anne suddenly went down on her knees before the
astonished Mrs. Rachel and held out her hands beseechingly.

“Oh, Mrs. Lynde, I am so extremely sorry,” she said with a quiver in
her voice. “I could never express all my sorrow, no, not if I used up a
whole dictionary. You must just imagine it. I behaved terribly to
you—and I’ve disgraced the dear friends, Matthew and Marilla, who have
let me stay at Green Gables although I’m not a boy. I’m a dreadfully
wicked and ungrateful girl, and I deserve to be punished and cast out
by respectable people for ever. It was very wicked of me to fly into a
temper because you told me the truth. It _was_ the truth; every word
you said was true. My hair is red and I’m freckled and skinny and ugly.
What I said to you was true, too, but I shouldn’t have said it. Oh,
Mrs. Lynde, please, please, forgive me. If you refuse it will be a
lifelong sorrow to me. You wouldn’t like to inflict a lifelong sorrow
on a poor little orphan girl, would you, even if she had a dreadful
temper? Oh, I am sure you wouldn’t. Please say you forgive me, Mrs.
Lynde.”

Anne clasped her hands together, bowed her head, and waited for the
word of judgment.

There was no mistaking her sincerity—it breathed in every tone of her
voice. Both Marilla and Mrs. Lynde recognized its unmistakable ring.
But the former understood in dismay that Anne was actually enjoying her
valley of humiliation—was revelling in the thoroughness of her
abasement. Where was the wholesome punishment upon which she, Marilla,
had plumed herself? Anne had turned it into a species of positive
pleasure.

Good Mrs. Lynde, not being overburdened with perception, did not see
this. She only perceived that Anne had made a very thorough apology and
all resentment vanished from her kindly, if somewhat officious, heart.

“There, there, get up, child,” she said heartily. “Of course I forgive
you. I guess I was a little too hard on you, anyway. But I’m such an
outspoken person. You just mustn’t mind me, that’s what. It can’t be
denied your hair is terrible red; but I knew a girl once—went to school
with her, in fact—whose hair was every mite as red as yours when she
was young, but when she grew up it darkened to a real handsome auburn.
I wouldn’t be a mite surprised if yours did, too—not a mite.”

“Oh, Mrs. Lynde!” Anne drew a long breath as she rose to her feet. “You
have given me a hope. I shall always feel that you are a benefactor.
Oh, I could endure anything if I only thought my hair would be a
handsome auburn when I grew up. It would be so much easier to be good
if one’s hair was a handsome auburn, don’t you think? And now may I go
out into your garden and sit on that bench under the apple-trees while
you and Marilla are talking? There is so much more scope for
imagination out there.”

“Laws, yes, run along, child. And you can pick a bouquet of them white
June lilies over in the corner if you like.”

As the door closed behind Anne Mrs. Lynde got briskly up to light a
lamp.

“She’s a real odd little thing. Take this chair, Marilla; it’s easier
than the one you’ve got; I just keep that for the hired boy to sit on.
Yes, she certainly is an odd child, but there is something kind of
taking about her after all. I don’t feel so surprised at you and
Matthew keeping her as I did—nor so sorry for you, either. She may turn
out all right. Of course, she has a queer way of expressing herself—a
little too—well, too kind of forcible, you know; but she’ll likely get
over that now that she’s come to live among civilized folks. And then,
her temper’s pretty quick, I guess; but there’s one comfort, a child
that has a quick temper, just blaze up and cool down, ain’t never
likely to be sly or deceitful. Preserve me from a sly child, that’s
what. On the whole, Marilla, I kind of like her.”

When Marilla went home Anne came out of the fragrant twilight of the
orchard with a sheaf of white narcissi in her hands.

“I apologized pretty well, didn’t I?” she said proudly as they went
down the lane. “I thought since I had to do it I might as well do it
thoroughly.”

“You did it thoroughly, all right enough,” was Marilla’s comment.
Marilla was dismayed at finding herself inclined to laugh over the
recollection. She had also an uneasy feeling that she ought to scold
Anne for apologizing so well; but then, that was ridiculous! She
compromised with her conscience by saying severely:

“I hope you won’t have occasion to make many more such apologies. I
hope you’ll try to control your temper now, Anne.”

“That wouldn’t be so hard if people wouldn’t twit me about my looks,”
said Anne with a sigh. “I don’t get cross about other things; but I’m
_so_ tired of being twitted about my hair and it just makes me boil
right over. Do you suppose my hair will really be a handsome auburn
when I grow up?”

“You shouldn’t think so much about your looks, Anne. I’m afraid you are
a very vain little girl.”

“How can I be vain when I know I’m homely?” protested Anne. “I love
pretty things; and I hate to look in the glass and see something that
isn’t pretty. It makes me feel so sorrowful—just as I feel when I look
at any ugly thing. I pity it because it isn’t beautiful.”

“Handsome is as handsome does,” quoted Marilla.

“I’ve had that said to me before, but I have my doubts about it,”
remarked sceptical Anne, sniffing at her narcissi. “Oh, aren’t these
flowers sweet! It was lovely of Mrs. Lynde to give them to me. I have
no hard feelings against Mrs. Lynde now. It gives you a lovely,
comfortable feeling to apologize and be forgiven, doesn’t it? Aren’t
the stars bright to-night? If you could live in a star, which one would
you pick? I’d like that lovely clear big one away over there above that
dark hill.”

“Anne, do hold your tongue,” said Marilla, thoroughly worn out trying
to follow the gyrations of Anne’s thoughts.

Anne said no more until they turned into their own lane. A little gypsy
wind came down it to meet them, laden with the spicy perfume of young
dew-wet ferns. Far up in the shadows a cheerful light gleamed out
through the trees from the kitchen at Green Gables. Anne suddenly came
close to Marilla and slipped her hand into the older woman’s hard palm.

“It’s lovely to be going home and know it’s home,” she said. “I love
Green Gables already, and I never loved any place before. No place ever
seemed like home. Oh, Marilla, I’m so happy. I could pray right now and
not find it a bit hard.”

Something warm and pleasant welled up in Marilla’s heart at touch of
that thin little hand in her own—a throb of the maternity she had
missed, perhaps. Its very unaccustomedness and sweetness disturbed her.
She hastened to restore her sensations to their normal calm by
inculcating a moral.

“If you’ll be a good girl you’ll always be happy, Anne. And you should
never find it hard to say your prayers.”

“Saying one’s prayers isn’t exactly the same thing as praying,” said
Anne meditatively. “But I’m going to imagine that I’m the wind that is
blowing up there in those tree-tops. When I get tired of the trees I’ll
imagine I’m gently waving down here in the ferns—and then I’ll fly over
to Mrs. Lynde’s garden and set the flowers dancing—and then I’ll go
with one great swoop over the clover field—and then I’ll blow over the
Lake of Shining Waters and ripple it all up into little sparkling
waves. Oh, there’s so much scope for imagination in a wind! So I’ll not
talk any more just now, Marilla.”

“Thanks be to goodness for that,” breathed Marilla in devout relief.



CHAPTER XI.

ANNE’S IMPRESSIONS OF SUNDAY-SCHOOL


“Well, how do you like them?” said Marilla.

Anne was standing in the gable-room, looking solemnly at three new
dresses spread out on the bed. One was of snuffy coloured gingham which
Marilla had been tempted to buy from a peddler the preceding summer
because it looked so serviceable; one was of black-and-white checked
sateen which she had picked up at a bargain counter in the winter; and
one was a stiff print of an ugly blue shade which she had purchased
that week at a Carmody store.

She had made them up herself, and they were all made alike—plain skirts
fulled tightly to plain waists, with sleeves as plain as waist and
skirt and tight as sleeves could be.

“I’ll imagine that I like them,” said Anne soberly.

“I don’t want you to imagine it,” said Marilla, offended. “Oh, I can
see you don’t like the dresses! What is the matter with them? Aren’t
they neat and clean and new?”

“Yes.”

“Then why don’t you like them?”

“They’re—they’re not—pretty,” said Anne reluctantly.

“Pretty!” Marilla sniffed. “I didn’t trouble my head about getting
pretty dresses for you. I don’t believe in pampering vanity, Anne, I’ll
tell you that right off. Those dresses are good, sensible, serviceable
dresses, without any frills or furbelows about them, and they’re all
you’ll get this summer. The brown gingham and the blue print will do
you for school when you begin to go. The sateen is for church and
Sunday-school. I’ll expect you to keep them neat and clean and not to
tear them. I should think you’d be grateful to get most anything after
those skimpy wincey things you’ve been wearing.”

“Oh, I _am_ grateful,” protested Anne. “But I’d be ever so much
gratefuller if—if you’d made just one of them with puffed sleeves.
Puffed sleeves are so fashionable now. It would give me such a thrill,
Marilla, just to wear a dress with puffed sleeves.”

“Well, you’ll have to do without your thrill. I hadn’t any material to
waste on puffed sleeves. I think they are ridiculous-looking things
anyhow. I prefer the plain, sensible ones.”

“But I’d rather look ridiculous when everybody else does than plain and
sensible all by myself,” persisted Anne mournfully.

“Trust you for that! Well, hang those dresses carefully up in your
closet, and then sit down and learn the Sunday-school lesson. I got a
quarterly from Mr. Bell for you and you’ll go to Sunday-school
to-morrow,” said Marilla, disappearing down-stairs in high dudgeon.

Anne clasped her hands and looked at the dresses.

“I did hope there would be a white one with puffed sleeves,” she
whispered disconsolately. “I prayed for one, but I didn’t much expect
it on that account. I didn’t suppose God would have time to bother
about a little orphan girl’s dress. I knew I’d just have to depend on
Marilla for it. Well, fortunately I can imagine that one of them is of
snow-white muslin with lovely lace frills and three-puffed sleeves.”

The next morning warnings of a sick headache prevented Marilla from
going to Sunday-school with Anne.

“You’ll have to go down and call for Mrs. Lynde, Anne,” she said.
“She’ll see that you get into the right class. Now, mind you behave
yourself properly. Stay to preaching afterwards and ask Mrs. Lynde to
show you our pew. Here’s a cent for collection. Don’t stare at people
and don’t fidget. I shall expect you to tell me the text when you come
home.”

Anne started off irreproachably, arrayed in the stiff black-and-white
sateen, which, while decent as regards length and certainly not open to
the charge of skimpiness, contrived to emphasize every corner and angle
of her thin figure. Her hat was a little, flat, glossy, new sailor, the
extreme plainness of which had likewise much disappointed Anne, who had
permitted herself secret visions of ribbon and flowers. The latter,
however, were supplied before Anne reached the main road, for, being
confronted half-way down the lane with a golden frenzy of wind-stirred
buttercups and a glory of wild roses, Anne promptly and liberally
garlanded her hat with a heavy wreath of them. Whatever other people
might have thought of the result it satisfied Anne, and she tripped
gaily down the road, holding her ruddy head with its decoration of pink
and yellow very proudly.

When she reached Mrs. Lynde’s house she found that lady gone. Nothing
daunted Anne proceeded onward to the church alone. In the porch she
found a crowd of little girls, all more or less gaily attired in whites
and blues and pinks, and all staring with curious eyes at this stranger
in their midst, with her extraordinary head adornment. Avonlea little
girls had already heard queer stories about Anne; Mrs. Lynde said she
had an awful temper; Jerry Buote, the hired boy at Green Gables, said
she talked all the time to herself or to the trees and flowers like a
crazy girl. They looked at her and whispered to each other behind their
quarterlies. Nobody made any friendly advances, then or later on when
the opening exercises were over and Anne found herself in Miss
Rogerson’s class.

[Illustration: “They looked at her and whispered to each other.”]

Miss Rogerson was a middle-aged lady who had taught a Sunday-school
class for twenty years. Her method of teaching was to ask the printed
questions from the quarterly and look sternly over its edge at the
particular little girl she thought ought to answer the question. She
looked very often at Anne, and Anne, thanks to Marilla’s drilling,
answered promptly; but it may be questioned if she understood very much
about either question or answer.

She did not think she liked Miss Rogerson, and she felt very miserable;
every other little girl in the class had puffed sleeves. Anne felt that
life was really not worth living without puffed sleeves.

“Well, how did you like Sunday-school?” Marilla wanted to know when
Anne came home. Her wreath having faded, Anne had discarded it in the
lane, so Marilla was spared the knowledge of that for a time.

“I didn’t like it a bit. It was horrid.”

“Anne Shirley!” said Marilla rebukingly.

Anne sat down on the rocker with a long sigh, kissed one of Bonny’s
leaves, and waved her hand to a blossoming fuchsia.

“They might have been lonesome while I was away,” she explained. “And
now about the Sunday-school. I behaved well, just as you told me. Mrs.
Lynde was gone, but I went right on myself. I went into the church,
with a lot of other little girls, and I sat in the corner of a pew by
the window while the opening exercises went on. Mr. Bell made an
awfully long prayer. I would have been dreadfully tired before he got
through if I hadn’t been sitting by that window. But it looked right
out on the Lake of Shining Waters, so I just gazed at that and imagined
all sorts of splendid things.”

“You shouldn’t have done anything of the sort. You should have listened
to Mr. Bell.”

“But he wasn’t talking to me,” protested Anne. “He was talking to God
and he didn’t seem to be very much interested in it, either. I think he
thought God was too far off to make it worth while. I said a little
prayer myself, though. There was a long row of white birches hanging
over the lake and the sunshine fell down through them, ’way, ’way down,
deep into the water. Oh, Marilla, it was like a beautiful dream! It
gave me a thrill and I just said, ‘Thank you for it, God,’ two or three
times.”

“Not out loud, I hope,” said Marilla anxiously.

“Oh, no, just under my breath. Well, Mr. Bell did get through at last
and they told me to go into the class-room with Miss Rogerson’s class.
There were nine other girls in it. They all had puffed sleeves. I tried
to imagine mine were puffed, too, but I couldn’t. Why couldn’t I? It
was as easy as could be to imagine they were puffed when I was alone in
the east gable, but it was awfully hard there among the others who had
really truly puffs.”

“You shouldn’t have been thinking about your sleeves in Sunday-school.
You should have been attending to the lesson. I hope you knew it.”

“Oh, yes; and I answered a lot of questions. Miss Rogerson asked ever
so many. I don’t think it was fair for her to do all the asking. There
were lots I wanted to ask her, but I didn’t like to because I didn’t
think she was a kindred spirit. Then all the other little girls recited
a paraphrase. She asked me if I knew any. I told her I didn’t, but I
could recite, ‘The Dog at His Master’s Grave’ if she liked. That’s in
the Third Royal Reader. It isn’t a really truly religious piece of
poetry, but it’s so sad and melancholy that it might as well be. She
said it wouldn’t do and she told me to learn the nineteenth paraphrase
for next Sunday. I read it over in church afterwards and it’s splendid.
There are two lines in particular that just thrill me.

    “‘Quick as the slaughtered squadrons fell
    In Midian’s evil day.’

“I don’t know what ‘squadrons’ means nor ‘Midian,’ either, but it
sounds _so_ tragical. I can hardly wait until next Sunday to recite it.
I’ll practise it all the week. After Sunday-school I asked Miss
Rogerson—because Mrs. Lynde was too far away—to show me your pew. I sat
just as still as I could and the text was Revelations, third chapter,
second and third verses. It was a very long text. If I was a minister
I’d pick the short, snappy ones. The sermon was awfully long, too. I
suppose the minister had to match it to the text. I didn’t think he was
a bit interesting. The trouble with him seems to be that he hasn’t
enough imagination. I didn’t listen to him very much. I just let my
thoughts run and I thought of the most surprising things.”

Marilla felt helplessly that all this should be sternly reproved, but
she was hampered by the undeniable fact that some of the things Anne
had said, especially about the minister’s sermons and Mr. Bell’s
prayers, were what she herself had really thought deep down in her
heart for years, but had never given expression to. It almost seemed to
her that those secret, unuttered, critical thoughts had suddenly taken
visible and accusing shape and form in the person of this outspoken
morsel of neglected humanity.



CHAPTER XII.

A SOLEMN VOW AND PROMISE


It was not until the next Friday that Marilla heard the story of the
flower-wreathed hat. She came home from Mrs. Lynde’s and called Anne to
account.

“Anne, Mrs. Rachel says you went to church last Sunday with your hat
rigged out ridiculous with roses and buttercups. What on earth put you
up to such a caper? A pretty-looking object you must have been!”

“Oh, I know pink and yellow aren’t becoming to me,” began Anne.

“Becoming fiddlesticks! It was putting flowers on your hat at all, no
matter what colour they were, that was ridiculous. You are the most
aggravating child!”

“I don’t see why it’s any more ridiculous to wear flowers on your hat
than on your dress,” protested Anne. “Lots of little girls there had
bouquets pinned on their dresses. What was the difference?”

Marilla was not to be drawn from the safe concrete into dubious paths
of the abstract.

“Don’t answer me back like that, Anne. It was very silly of you to do
such a thing. Never let me catch you at such a trick again. Mrs. Rachel
says she thought she would sink through the floor when she saw you come
in all rigged out like that. She couldn’t get near enough to tell you
to take them off till it was too late. She says people talked about it
something dreadful. Of course they would think I had no better sense
than to let you go decked out like that.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” said Anne, tears welling into her eyes. “I never
thought you’d mind. The roses and buttercups were so sweet and pretty I
thought they’d look lovely on my hat. Lots of the little girls had
artificial flowers on their hats. I’m afraid I’m going to be a dreadful
trial to you. Maybe you’d better send me back to the asylum. That would
be terrible; I don’t think I could endure it; most likely I would go
into consumption; I’m so thin as it is, you see. But that would be
better than being a trial to you.”

“Nonsense,” said Marilla, vexed at herself for having made the child
cry. “I don’t want to send you back to the asylum, I’m sure. All I want
is that you should behave like other little girls and not make yourself
ridiculous. Don’t cry any more. I’ve got some news for you. Diana Barry
came home this afternoon. I’m going up to see if I can borrow a skirt
pattern from Mrs. Barry, and if you like you can come with me and get
acquainted with Diana.”

Anne rose to her feet, with clasped hands, the tears still glistening
on her cheeks; the dish-towel she had been hemming slipped unheeded to
the floor.

“Oh, Marilla, I’m frightened—now that it has come I’m actually
frightened. What if she shouldn’t like me! It would be the most
tragical disappointment of my life.”

“Now, don’t get into a fluster. And I do wish you wouldn’t use such
long words. It sounds so funny in a little girl. I guess Diana’ll like
you well enough. It’s her mother you’ve got to reckon with. If she
doesn’t like you it won’t matter how much Diana does. If she has heard
about your outburst to Mrs. Lynde and going to church with buttercups
round your hat I don’t know what she’ll think of you. You must be
polite and well-behaved, and don’t make any of your startling speeches.
For pity’s sake, if the child isn’t actually trembling!”

Anne _was_ trembling. Her face was pale and tense.

“Oh, Marilla, you’d be excited, too, if you were going to meet a little
girl you hoped to be your bosom friend and whose mother mightn’t like
you,” she said as she hastened to get her hat.

They went over to Orchard Slope by the short cut across the brook and
up the firry hill grove. Mrs. Barry came to the kitchen door in answer
to Marilla’s knock. She was a tall, black-eyed, black-haired woman,
with a very resolute mouth. She had the reputation of being very strict
with her children.

“How do you do, Marilla?” she said cordially. “Come in. And this is the
little girl you have adopted, I suppose?”

“Yes, this is Anne Shirley,” said Marilla.

“Spelled with an _e_,” gasped Anne, who, tremulous and excited as she
was, was determined there should be no misunderstanding on that
important point.

Mrs. Barry, not hearing or not comprehending, merely shook hands and
said kindly:

“How are you?”

“I am well in body although considerably rumpled up in spirit, thank
you, ma’am,” said Anne gravely. Then aside to Marilla in an audible
whisper, “There wasn’t anything startling in that, was there, Marilla?”

Diana was sitting on the sofa, reading a book which she dropped when
the callers entered. She was a very pretty little girl, with her
mother’s black eyes and hair, and rosy cheeks, and the merry expression
which was her inheritance from her father.

“This is my little girl, Diana,” said Mrs. Barry. “Diana, you might
take Anne out into the garden and show her your flowers. It will be
better for you than straining your eyes over that book. She reads
entirely too much—” this to Marilla as the little girls went out—“and I
can’t prevent her, for her father aids and abets her. She’s always
poring over a book. I’m glad she has the prospect of a playmate—perhaps
it will take her more out-of-doors.”

Outside in the garden, which was full of mellow sunset light streaming
through the dark old firs to the west of it, stood Anne and Diana,
gazing bashfully at one another over a clump of gorgeous tiger lilies.

The Barry garden was a bowery wilderness of flowers which would have
delighted Anne’s heart at any time less fraught with destiny. It was
encircled by huge old willows and tall firs, beneath which flourished
flowers that loved the shade. Prim, right-angled paths, neatly bordered
with clam-shells, intersected it like moist red ribbons and in the beds
between old-fashioned flowers ran riot. There were rosy bleeding-hearts
and great splendid crimson peonies; white, fragrant narcissi and
thorny, sweet Scotch roses; pink and blue and white columbines and
lilac-tinted Bouncing Bets; clumps of southernwood and ribbon grass and
mint; purple Adam-and-Eve, daffodils, and masses of sweet clover white
with its delicate, fragrant, feathery sprays; scarlet lightning that
shot its fiery lances over prim white musk-flowers; a garden it was
where sunshine lingered and bees hummed, and winds, beguiled into
loitering, purred and rustled.

“Oh, Diana,” said Anne at last, clasping her hands and speaking almost
in a whisper, “do you think—oh, do you think you can like me a
little—enough to be my bosom friend?”

Diana laughed. Diana always laughed before she spoke.

“Why, I guess so,” she said frankly. “I’m awfully glad you’ve come to
live at Green Gables. It will be jolly to have somebody to play with.
There isn’t any other girl who lives near enough to play with, and I’ve
no sisters big enough.”

“Will you swear to be my friend for ever and ever?” demanded Anne
eagerly.

Diana looked shocked.

“Why, it’s dreadfully wicked to swear,” she said rebukingly.

“Oh no, not my kind of swearing. There are two kinds, you know.”

“I never heard of but one kind,” said Diana doubtfully.

“There really is another. Oh, it isn’t wicked at all. It just means
vowing and promising solemnly.”

“Well, I don’t mind doing that,” agreed Diana, relieved. “How do you do
it?”

“We must join hands—so,” said Anne gravely. “It ought to be over
running water. We’ll just imagine this path is running water. I’ll
repeat the oath first. I solemnly swear to be faithful to my bosom
friend, Diana Barry, as long as the sun and moon shall endure. Now you
say it and put my name in.”

Diana repeated the “oath” with a laugh fore and aft. Then she said:

“You’re a queer girl, Anne. I heard before that you were queer. But I
believe I’m going to like you real well.”

When Marilla and Anne went home Diana went with them as far as the log
bridge. The two little girls walked with their arms about each other.
At the brook they parted with many promises to spend the next afternoon
together.

“Well, did you find Diana a kindred spirit?” asked Marilla as they went
up through the garden of Green Gables.

“Oh, yes,” sighed Anne, blissfully unconscious of any sarcasm on
Marilla’s part. “Oh, Marilla, I’m the happiest girl on Prince Edward
Island this very moment. I assure you I’ll say my prayers with a right
good-will to-night. Diana and I are going to build a playhouse in Mr.
William Bell’s birch grove to-morrow. Can I have those broken pieces of
china that are out in the wood-shed? Diana’s birthday is in February
and mine is in March. Don’t you think that is a very strange
coincidence? Diana is going to lend me a book to read. She says it’s
perfectly splendid and tremenjusly exciting. She’s going to show me a
place back in the woods where rice lilies grow. Don’t you think Diana
has got very soulful eyes? I wish I had soulful eyes. Diana is going to
teach me to sing a song called ‘Nelly in the Hazel Dell.’ She’s going
to give me a picture to put up in my room; it’s a perfectly beautiful
picture, she says—a lovely lady in a pale blue silk dress. A
sewing-machine agent gave it to her. I wish I had something to give
Diana. I’m an inch taller than Diana, but she is ever so much fatter;
she says she’d like to be thin because it’s so much more graceful, but
I’m afraid she only said it to soothe my feelings. We’re going to the
shore some day to gather shells. We have agreed to call the spring down
by the log bridge the Dryad’s Bubble. Isn’t that a perfectly elegant
name? I read a story once about a spring called that. A dryad is a sort
of grown-up fairy, I think.”

“Well, all I hope is you won’t talk Diana to death,” said Marilla. “But
remember this in all your planning, Anne. You’re not going to play all
the time nor most of it. You’ll have your work to do and it’ll have to
be done first.”

Anne’s cup of happiness was full, and Matthew caused it to overflow. He
had just got home from a trip to the store at Carmody, and he
sheepishly produced a small parcel from his pocket and handed it to
Anne, with a deprecatory look at Marilla.

“I heard you say you liked chocolate sweeties, so I got you some,” he
said.

“Humph,” sniffed Marilla. “It’ll ruin her teeth and stomach. There,
there, child, don’t look so dismal. You can eat those, since Matthew
has gone and got them. He’d better have brought you peppermints.
They’re wholesomer. Don’t sicken yourself eating them all at once now.”

“Oh, no, indeed, I won’t,” said Anne eagerly. “I’ll just eat one
to-night, Marilla. And I can give Diana half of them, can’t I? The
other half will taste twice as sweet to me if I give some to her. It’s
delightful to think I have something to give her.”

“I will say it for the child,” said Marilla when Anne had gone to her
gable, “she isn’t stingy. I’m glad, for of all faults I detest
stinginess in a child. Dear me, it’s only three weeks since she came,
and it seems as if she’d been here always. I can’t imagine the place
without her. Now, don’t be looking I-told-you-so, Matthew. That’s bad
enough in a woman, but it isn’t to be endured in a man. I’m perfectly
willing to own up that I’m glad I consented to keep the child and that
I’m getting fond of her, but don’t you rub it in, Matthew Cuthbert.”



CHAPTER XIII.

THE DELIGHTS OF ANTICIPATION


“It’s time Anne was in to do her sewing,” said Marilla, glancing at the
clock and then out into the yellow August afternoon where everything
drowsed in the heat. “She stayed playing with Diana more than half an
hour more’n I gave her leave to; and now she’s perched out there on the
woodpile talking to Matthew, nineteen to the dozen, when she knows
perfectly well that she ought to be at her work. And of course he’s
listening to her like a perfect ninny. I never saw such an infatuated
man. The more she talks and the odder the things she says, the more
he’s delighted evidently. Anne Shirley, you come right in here this
minute, do you hear me!”

A series of staccato taps on the west window brought Anne flying in
from the yard, eyes shining, cheeks faintly flushed with pink,
unbraided hair streaming behind her in a torrent of brightness.

“Oh, Marilla,” she exclaimed breathlessly, “there’s going to be a
Sunday-school picnic next week—in Mr. Harmon Andrews’ field, right near
the Lake of Shining Waters. And Mrs. Superintendent Bell and Mrs. Rachel
Lynde are going to make ice-cream—think of it, Marilla—_ice-cream!_
And oh, Marilla, can I go to it?”

“Just look at the clock, if you please, Anne. What time did I tell you
to come in?”

“Two o’clock—but isn’t it splendid about the picnic, Marilla? Please
can I go? Oh, I’ve never been to a picnic—I’ve dreamed of picnics, but
I’ve never—”

“Yes, I told you to come at two o’clock. And it’s a quarter to three.
I’d like to know why you didn’t obey me, Anne.”

“Why, I meant to, Marilla, as much as could be. But you have no idea
how fascinating Idlewild is. And then, of course, I had to tell Matthew
about the picnic. Matthew is such a sympathetic listener. Please can I
go?”

“You’ll have to learn to resist the fascination of
Idle-whatever-you-call-it. When I tell you to come in at a certain time
I mean that time and not half an hour later. And you needn’t stop to
discourse with sympathetic listeners on your way, either. As for the
picnic, of course you can go. You’re a Sunday-school scholar, and it’s
not likely I’d refuse to let you go when all the other little girls are
going.”

“But—but,” faltered Anne, “Diana says that everybody must take a basket
of things to eat. I can’t cook, as you know, Marilla, and—and—I don’t
mind going to a picnic without puffed sleeves so much, but I’d feel
terribly humiliated if I had to go without a basket. It’s been preying
on my mind ever since Diana told me.”

“Well, it needn’t prey any longer. I’ll bake you a basket.”

“Oh, you dear good Marilla. Oh, you are so kind to me. Oh, I’m so much
obliged to you.”

Getting through with her “ohs” Anne cast herself into Marilla’s arms
and rapturously kissed her sallow cheek. It was the first time in her
whole life that childish lips had voluntarily touched Marilla’s face.
Again that sudden sensation of startling sweetness thrilled her. She
was secretly vastly pleased at Anne’s impulsive caress, which was
probably the reason why she said brusquely:

“There, there, never mind your kissing nonsense. I’d sooner see you
doing strictly as you’re told. As for cooking, I mean to begin giving
you lessons in that some of these days. But you’re so feather-brained,
Anne, I’ve been waiting to see if you’d sober down a little and learn
to be steady before I begin. You’ve got to keep your wits about you in
cooking and not stop in the middle of things to let your thoughts rove
over all creation. Now, get out your patchwork and have your square
done before tea-time.”

“I do _not_ like patchwork,” said Anne dolefully, hunting out her
workbasket and sitting down before a little heap of red and white
diamonds with a sigh. “I think some kinds of sewing would be nice; but
there’s no scope for imagination in patchwork. It’s just one little
seam after another and you never seem to be getting anywhere. But of
course I’d rather be Anne of Green Gables sewing patchwork than Anne of
any other place with nothing to do but play. I wish time went as quick
sewing patches as it does when I’m playing with Diana, though. Oh, we
do have such elegant times, Marilla. I have to furnish most of the
imagination, but I’m well able to do that. Diana is simply perfect in
every other way. You know that little piece of land across the brook
that runs up between our farm and Mr. Barry’s. It belongs to Mr.
William Bell, and right in the corner there is a little ring of white
birch trees—the most romantic spot, Marilla. Diana and I have our
playhouse there. We call it Idlewild. Isn’t that a poetical name? I
assure you it took me some time to think it out. I stayed awake nearly
a whole night before I invented it. Then, just as I was dropping off to
sleep, it came like an inspiration. Diana was _enraptured_ when she
heard it. We have got our house fixed up elegantly. You must come and
see it, Marilla—won’t you? We have great big stones, all covered with
moss, for seats, and boards from tree to tree for shelves. And we have
all our dishes on them. Of course, they’re all broken but it’s the
easiest thing in the world to imagine that they are whole. There’s a
piece of a plate with a spray of red and yellow ivy on it that is
especially beautiful. We keep it in the parlour and we have the fairy
glass there, too. The fairy glass is as lovely as a dream. Diana found
it out in the woods behind their chicken house. It’s all full of
rainbows—just little young rainbows that haven’t grown big yet—and
Diana’s mother told her it was broken off a hanging lamp they once had.
But it’s nicer to imagine the fairies lost it one night when they had a
ball, so we call it the fairy glass. Matthew is going to make us a
table. Oh, we have named that little round pool over in Mr. Barry’s
field Willowmere. I got that name out of the book Diana lent me. That
was a thrilling book, Marilla. The heroine had five lovers. I’d be
satisfied with one, wouldn’t you? She was very handsome and she went
through great tribulations. She could faint as easy as anything. I’d
love to be able to faint, wouldn’t you, Marilla? It’s so romantic. But
I’m really very healthy for all I’m so thin. I believe I’m getting
fatter, though. Don’t you think I am? I look at my elbows every morning
when I get up to see if any dimples are coming. Diana is having a new
dress made with elbow sleeves. She is going to wear it to the picnic.
Oh, I do hope it will be fine next Wednesday. I don’t feel that I could
endure the disappointment if anything happened to prevent me from
getting to the picnic. I suppose I’d live through it, but I’m certain
it would be a lifelong sorrow. It wouldn’t matter if I got to a hundred
picnics in after years; they wouldn’t make up for missing this one.
They’re going to have boats on the Lake of Shining Waters—and ice-cream
as I told you. I have never tasted ice-cream. Diana tried to explain
what it was like, but I guess ice-cream is one of those things that are
beyond imagination.”

“Anne, you have talked even on for ten minutes by the clock,” said
Marilla. “Now, just for curiosity’s sake, see if you can hold your
tongue for the same length of time.”

Anne held her tongue as desired. But for the rest of the week she
talked picnic and thought picnic and dreamed picnic. On Saturday it
rained and she worked herself up into such a frantic state lest it
should keep on raining until and over Wednesday, that Marilla made her
sew an extra patchwork square by way of steadying her nerves.

On Sunday Anne confided to Marilla on the way home from church that she
grew actually cold all over with excitement when the minister announced
the picnic from the pulpit.

“Such a thrill as went up and down my back, Marilla! I don’t think I’d
ever really believed until then that there was honestly going to be a
picnic. I couldn’t help fearing I’d only imagined it. But when a
minister says a thing in the pulpit you just have to believe it.”

“You set your heart too much on things, Anne,” said Marilla with a
sigh. “I’m afraid there’ll be a great many disappointments in store for
you through life.”

“Oh, Marilla, looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them,”
exclaimed Anne. “You mayn’t get the things themselves; but nothing can
prevent you from having the fun of looking forward to them. Mrs. Lynde
says, ‘Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be
disappointed.’ But I think it would be worse to expect nothing than to
be disappointed.”

Marilla wore her amethyst brooch to church that day as usual. Marilla
always wore her amethyst brooch to church. She would have thought it
rather sacrilegious to leave it off—as bad as forgetting her Bible or
her collection dime. That amethyst brooch was Marilla’s most treasured
possession. A sea-faring uncle had given it to her mother who in turn
had bequeathed it to Marilla. It was an old-fashioned oval, containing
a braid of her mother’s hair, surrounded by a border of very fine
amethysts. Marilla knew too little about precious stones to realize how
fine the amethysts actually were; but she thought them very beautiful
and was always pleasantly conscious of their violet shimmer at her
throat, above her good brown satin dress, even although she could not
see it.

Anne had been smitten with delighted admiration when she first saw that
brooch.

“Oh, Marilla, it’s a perfectly elegant brooch. I don’t know how you can
pay attention to the sermon or the prayers when you have it on. _I_
couldn’t, I know. I think amethysts are just sweet. They are what I
used to think diamonds were like. Long ago, before I had ever seen a
diamond, I read about them and I tried to imagine what they would be
like. I thought they would be lovely glimmering purple stones. When I
saw a real diamond in a lady’s ring one day I was so disappointed I
cried. Of course, it was very lovely but it wasn’t my idea of a
diamond. Will you let me hold the brooch for one minute, Marilla? Do
you think amethysts can be the souls of good violets?”



CHAPTER XIV.

ANNE’S CONFESSION


On the Monday evening before the picnic Marilla came down from her room
with a troubled face.

“Anne,” she said to that small personage, who was shelling peas by the
spotless table and singing “Nelly of the Hazel Dell” with a vigour and
expression that did credit to Diana’s teaching, “did you see anything
of my amethyst brooch? I thought I stuck it in my pincushion when I
came home from church yesterday evening, but I can’t find it anywhere.”

“I—I saw it this afternoon when you were away at the Aid Society,” said
Anne, a little slowly. “I was passing your door when I saw it on the
cushion, so I went in to look at it.”

“Did you touch it?” said Marilla sternly.

“Y-e-e-s,” admitted Anne, “I took it up and I pinned it on my breast
just to see how it would look.”

“You had no business to do anything of the sort. It’s very wrong in a
little girl to meddle. You shouldn’t have gone into my room in the
first place and you shouldn’t have touched a brooch that didn’t belong
to you in the second. Where did you put it?”

“Oh, I put it back on the bureau. I hadn’t it on a minute. Truly, I
didn’t mean to meddle, Marilla. I didn’t think about its being wrong to
go in and try on the brooch; but I see now that it was and I’ll never
do it again. That’s one good thing about me. I never do the same
naughty thing twice.”

“You didn’t put it back,” said Marilla. “That brooch isn’t anywhere on
the bureau. You’ve taken it out or something, Anne.”

“I _did_ put it back,” said Anne quickly—pertly, Marilla thought. “I
don’t just remember whether I stuck it on the pincushion or laid it in
the china tray. But I’m perfectly certain I put it back.”

“I’ll go and have another look,” said Marilla, determining to be just.
“If you put that brooch back it’s there still. If it isn’t I’ll know
you didn’t, that’s all!”

Marilla went to her room and made a thorough search, not only over the
bureau but in every other place she thought the brooch might possibly
be. It was not to be found and she returned to the kitchen.

“Anne, the brooch is gone. By your own admission you were the last
person to handle it. Now, what have you done with it? Tell me the truth
at once. Did you take it out and lose it?”

“No, I didn’t,” said Anne solemnly, meeting Marilla’s angry gaze
squarely. “I never took the brooch out of your room and that is the
truth, if I was to be led to the block for it—although I’m not very
certain what a block is. So there, Marilla.”

Anne’s “so there” was only intended to emphasize her assertion, but
Marilla took it as a display of defiance.

“I believe you are telling me a falsehood, Anne,” she said sharply. “I
know you are. There now, don’t say anything more unless you are
prepared to tell the whole truth. Go to your room and stay there until
you are ready to confess.”

“Will I take the peas with me?” said Anne meekly.

“No, I’ll finish shelling them myself. Do as I bid you.”

When Anne had gone Marilla went about her evening tasks in a very
disturbed state of mind. She was worried about her valuable brooch.
What if Anne had lost it? And how wicked of the child to deny having
taken it, when anybody could see she must have! With such an innocent
face, too!

“I don’t know what I wouldn’t sooner have had happen,” thought Marilla,
as she nervously shelled the peas. “Of course, I don’t suppose she
meant to steal it or anything like that. She’s just taken it to play
with or help along that imagination of hers. She must have taken it,
that’s clear, for there hasn’t been a soul in that room since she was
in it, by her own story, until I went up to-night. And the brooch is
gone, there’s nothing surer. I suppose she has lost it and is afraid to
own up for fear she’ll be punished. It’s a dreadful thing to think she
tells falsehoods. It’s a far worse thing than her fit of temper. It’s a
fearful responsibility to have a child in your house you can’t trust.
Slyness and untruthfulness—that’s what she has displayed. I declare I
feel worse about that than about the brooch. If she’d only have told
the truth about it I wouldn’t mind so much.”

Marilla went to her room at intervals all through the evening and
searched for the brooch, without finding it. A bed-time visit to the
east gable produced no result. Anne persisted in denying that she knew
anything about the brooch but Marilla was only the more firmly
convinced that she did.

She told Matthew the story the next morning. Matthew was confounded and
puzzled; he could not so quickly lose faith in Anne but he had to admit
that circumstances were against her.

“You’re sure it hasn’t fell down behind the bureau?” was the only
suggestion he could offer.

“I’ve moved the bureau and I’ve taken out the drawers and I’ve looked
in every crack and cranny,” was Marilla’s positive answer. “The brooch
is gone and that child has taken it and lied about it. That’s the
plain, ugly truth, Matthew Cuthbert, and we might as well look it in
the face.”

“Well now, what are you going to do about it?” Matthew asked forlornly,
feeling secretly thankful that Marilla and not he had to deal with the
situation. He felt no desire to put his oar in this time.

“She’ll stay in her room until she confesses,” said Marilla grimly,
remembering the success of this method in the former case. “Then we’ll
see. Perhaps we’ll be able to find the brooch if she’ll only tell where
she took it; but in any case she’ll have to be severely punished,
Matthew.”

“Well now, you’ll have to punish her,” said Matthew, reaching for his
hat. “I’ve nothing to do with it, remember. You warned me off yourself.”

Marilla felt deserted by every one. She could not even go to Mrs. Lynde
for advice. She went up to the east gable with a very serious face and
left it with a face more serious still. Anne steadfastly refused to
confess. She persisted in asserting that she had not taken the brooch.
The child had evidently been crying and Marilla felt a pang of pity
which she sternly repressed. By night she was, as she expressed it,
“beat out.”

“You’ll stay in this room until you confess, Anne. You can make up your
mind to that,” she said firmly.

“But the picnic is to-morrow, Marilla,” cried Anne. “You won’t keep me
from going to that, will you? You’ll just let me out for the afternoon,
won’t you? Then I’ll stay here as long as you like afterwards
_cheerfully_. But I _must_ go to the picnic.”

“You’ll not go to picnics nor anywhere else until you’ve confessed,
Anne.”

“Oh, Marilla,” gasped Anne.

But Marilla had gone out and shut the door.

Wednesday morning dawned as bright and fair as if expressly made to
order for the picnic. Birds sang around Green Gables; the Madonna
lilies in the garden sent out whiffs of perfume that entered in on
viewless winds at every door and window, and wandered through halls and
rooms like spirits of benediction. The birches in the hollow waved
joyful hands as if watching for Anne’s usual morning greeting from the
east gable. But Anne was not at her window. When Marilla took her
breakfast up to her she found the child sitting primly on her bed, pale
and resolute, with tight-shut lips and gleaming eyes.

“Marilla, I’m ready to confess.”

“Ah!” Marilla laid down her tray. Once again her method had succeeded;
but her success was very bitter to her. “Let me hear what you have to
say then, Anne.”

“I took the amethyst brooch,” said Anne, as if repeating a lesson she
had learned. “I took it just as you said. I didn’t mean to take it when
I went in. But it did look so beautiful, Marilla, when I pinned it on
my breast that I was overcome by an irresistible temptation. I imagined
how perfectly thrilling it would be to take it to Idlewild and play I
was the Lady Cordelia Fitzgerald. It would be so much easier to imagine
I was the Lady Cordelia if I had a real amethyst brooch on. Diana and I
made necklaces of roseberries but what are roseberries compared to
amethysts? So I took the brooch. I thought I could put it back before
you came home. I went all the way around by the road to lengthen out
the time. When I was going over the bridge across the Lake of Shining
Waters I took the brooch off to have another look at it. Oh, how it did
shine in the sunlight! And then, when I was leaning over the bridge, it
just slipped through my fingers—so—and went down—down—down, all
purply-sparkling, and sank forevermore beneath the Lake of Shining
Waters. And that’s the best I can do at confessing, Marilla.”

Marilla felt hot anger surge up into her heart again. This child had
taken and lost her treasured amethyst brooch and now sat there calmly
reciting the details thereof without the least apparent compunction or
repentance.

“Anne, this is terrible,” she said, trying to speak calmly. “You are
the very wickedest girl I ever heard of.”

“Yes, I suppose I am,” agreed Anne tranquilly. “And I know I’ll have to
be punished. It’ll be your duty to punish me, Marilla. Won’t you please
get it over right off because I’d like to go to the picnic with nothing
on my mind.”

“Picnic, indeed! You’ll go to no picnic to-day, Anne Shirley. That
shall be your punishment. And it isn’t half severe enough either for
what you’ve done!”

“Not go to the picnic!” Anne sprang to her feet and clutched Marilla’s
hand. “But you _promised_ me I might! Oh, Marilla, I must go to the
picnic. That was why I confessed. Punish me any way you like but that.
Oh, Marilla, please, please, let me go to the picnic. Think of the
ice-cream! For anything you know I may never have a chance to taste
ice-cream again.”

Marilla disengaged Anne’s clinging hands stonily.

“You needn’t plead, Anne. You are not going to the picnic and that’s
final. No, not a word.”

Anne realized that Marilla was not to be moved. She clasped her hands
together, gave a piercing shriek, and then flung herself face downwards
on the bed, crying and writhing in an utter abandonment of
disappointment and despair.

“For the land’s sake!” gasped Marilla, hastening from the room. “I
believe the child is crazy. No child in her senses would behave as she
does. If she isn’t she’s utterly bad. Oh dear, I’m afraid Rachel was
right from the first. But I’ve put my hand to the plough and I won’t
look back.”

That was a dismal morning. Marilla worked fiercely and scrubbed the
porch floor and the dairy shelves when she could find nothing else to
do. Neither the shelves nor the porch needed it—but Marilla did. Then
she went out and raked the yard.

When dinner was ready she went to the stairs and called Anne. A
tear-stained face appeared, looking tragically over the banisters.

“Come down to your dinner, Anne.”

“I don’t want any dinner, Marilla,” said Anne sobbingly. “I couldn’t
eat anything. My heart is broken. You’ll feel remorse of conscience
some day, I expect, for breaking it, Marilla, but I forgive you.
Remember when the time comes that I forgive you. But please don’t ask
me to eat anything, especially boiled pork and greens. Boiled pork and
greens are so unromantic when one is in affliction.”

Exasperated Marilla returned to the kitchen and poured out her tale of
woe to Matthew, who, between his sense of justice and his unlawful
sympathy with Anne, was a miserable man.

“Well now, she shouldn’t have taken the brooch, Marilla, or told
stories about it,” he admitted, mournfully surveying his plateful of
unromantic pork and greens as if he, like Anne, thought it a food
unsuited to crises of feeling, “but she’s such a little thing—such an
interesting little thing. Don’t you think it’s pretty rough not to let
her go to the picnic when she’s so set on it?”

“Matthew Cuthbert, I’m amazed at you. I think I’ve let her off entirely
too easy. And she doesn’t appear to realize how wicked she’s been at
all—that’s what worries me most. If she’d really felt sorry it wouldn’t
be so bad. And you don’t seem to realize it, neither; you’re making
excuses for her all the time to yourself—I can see that.”

“Well now, she’s such a little thing,” feebly reiterated Matthew. “And
there should be allowances made, Marilla. You know she’s never had any
bringing up.”

“Well, she’s having it now,” retorted Marilla.

The retort silenced Matthew if it did not convince him. That dinner was
a very dismal meal. The only cheerful thing about it was Jerry Buote,
the hired boy, and Marilla resented his cheerfulness as a personal
insult.

When her dishes were washed and her bread sponge set and her hens fed
Marilla remembered that she had noticed a small rent in her best black
lace shawl when she had taken it off on Monday afternoon on returning
from the Ladies’ Aid. She would go and mend it.

The shawl was in a box in her trunk. As Marilla lifted it out, the
sunlight, falling through the vines that clustered thickly about the
window, struck upon something caught in the shawl—something that
glittered and sparkled in facets of violet light. Marilla snatched at
it with a gasp. It was the amethyst brooch, hanging to a thread of the
lace by its catch!

“Dear life and heart,” said Marilla blankly, “what does this mean?
Here’s my brooch safe and sound that I thought was at the bottom of
Barry’s pond. Whatever did that girl mean by saying she took it and
lost it? I declare I believe Green Gables is bewitched. I remember now
that when I took off my shawl Monday afternoon I laid it on the bureau
for a minute. I suppose the brooch got caught in it somehow. Well!”

Marilla betook herself to the east gable, brooch in hand. Anne had
cried herself out and was sitting dejectedly by the window.

“Anne Shirley,” said Marilla solemnly, “I’ve just found my brooch
hanging to my black lace shawl. Now I want to know what that rigmarole
you told me this morning meant.”

“Why, you said you’d keep me here until I confessed,” returned Anne
wearily, “and so I decided to confess because I was bound to get to the
picnic. I thought out a confession last night after I went to bed and
made it as interesting as I could. And I said it over and over so that
I wouldn’t forget it. But you wouldn’t let me go to the picnic after
all, so all my trouble was wasted.”

Marilla had to laugh in spite of herself. But her conscience pricked
her.

“Anne, you do beat all! But I was wrong—I see that now. I shouldn’t
have doubted your word when I’d never known you to tell a story. Of
course, it wasn’t right for you to confess to a thing you hadn’t
done—it was very wrong to do so. But I drove you to it. So if you’ll
forgive me, Anne, I’ll forgive you and we’ll start square again. And
now get yourself ready for the picnic.”

Anne flew up like a rocket.

“Oh, Marilla, isn’t it too late?”

“No, it’s only two o’clock. They won’t be more than well gathered yet
and it’ll be an hour before they have tea. Wash your face and comb your
hair and put on your gingham. I’ll fill a basket for you. There’s
plenty of stuff baked in the house. And I’ll get Jerry to hitch up the
sorrel and drive you down to the picnic ground.”

“Oh, Marilla,” exclaimed Anne, flying to the wash-stand. “Five minutes
ago I was so miserable I was wishing I’d never been born and now I
wouldn’t change places with an angel!”

That night a thoroughly happy, completely tired out Anne returned to
Green Gables in a state of beatification impossible to describe.

“Oh, Marilla, I’ve had a perfectly scrumptious time. Scrumptious is a
new word I learned to-day. I heard Mary Alice Bell use it. Isn’t it
very expressive? Everything was lovely. We had a splendid tea and then
Mr. Harmon Andrews took us all for a row on the Lake of Shining
Waters—six of us at a time. And Jane Andrews nearly fell overboard. She
was leaning out to pick water lilies and if Mr. Andrews hadn’t caught
her by her sash just in the nick of time she’d have fallen in and
prob’ly been drowned. I wish it had been me. It would have been such a
romantic experience to have been nearly drowned. It would be such a
thrilling tale to tell. And we had the ice-cream. Words fail me to
describe that ice-cream. Marilla, I assure you it was sublime.”

That evening Marilla told the whole story to Matthew over her stocking
basket.

“I’m willing to own up that I made a mistake,” she concluded candidly,
“but I’ve learned a lesson. I have to laugh when I think of Anne’s
‘confession,’ although I suppose I shouldn’t for it really was a
falsehood. But it doesn’t seem as bad as the other would have been,
somehow, and anyhow I’m responsible for it. That child is hard to
understand in some respects. But I believe she’ll turn out all right
yet. And there’s one thing certain, no house will ever be dull that
she’s in.”



CHAPTER XV.

A TEMPEST IN THE SCHOOL TEAPOT


“What a splendid day!” said Anne, drawing a long breath. “Isn’t it good
just to be alive on a day like this? I pity the people who aren’t born
yet for missing it. They may have good days, of course, but they can
never have this one. And it’s splendider still to have such a lovely
way to go to school by, isn’t it?”

“It’s a lot nicer than going round by the road; that is so dusty and
hot,” said Diana practically, peeping into her dinner basket and
mentally calculating if the three juicy, toothsome, raspberry tarts
reposing there were divided among ten girls how many bites each girl
would have.

The little girls of Avonlea school always pooled their lunches, and to
eat three raspberry tarts all alone or even to share them only with
one’s best chum would have forever and ever branded as “awful mean” the
girl who did it. And yet, when the tarts were divided among ten girls
you just got enough to tantalize you.

The way Anne and Diana went to school _was_ a pretty one. Anne thought
those walks to and from school with Diana couldn’t be improved upon
even by imagination. Going around by the main road would have been so
unromantic; but to go by Lover’s Lane and Willowmere and Violet Vale
and the Birch Path was romantic, if ever anything was.

Lover’s Lane opened out below the orchard at Green Gables and stretched
far up into the woods to the end of the Cuthbert farm. It was the way
by which the cows were taken to the back pasture and the wood hauled
home in winter. Anne had named it Lover’s Lane before she had been a
month at Green Gables.

“Not that lovers ever really walk there,” she explained to Marilla,
“but Diana and I are reading a perfectly magnificent book and there’s a
Lover’s Lane in it. So we want to have one, too. And it’s a very pretty
name, don’t you think? So romantic! We can imagine the lovers into it,
you know. I like that lane because you can think out loud there without
people calling you crazy.”

Anne, starting out alone in the morning, went down Lover’s Lane as far
as the brook. Here Diana met her, and the two little girls went on up
the lane under the leafy arch of maples—“maples are such sociable
trees,” said Anne; “they’re always rustling and whispering to
you,”—until they came to a rustic bridge. Then they left the lane and
walked through Mr. Barry’s back field and past Willowmere. Beyond
Willowmere came Violet Vale—a little green dimple in the shadow of Mr.
Andrew Bell’s big woods. “Of course there are no violets there now,”
Anne told Marilla, “but Diana says there are millions of them in
spring. Oh, Marilla, can’t you just imagine you see them? It actually
takes away my breath. I named it Violet Vale. Diana says she never saw
the beat of me for hitting on fancy names for places. It’s nice to be
clever at something, isn’t it? But Diana named the Birch Path. She
wanted to, so I let her; but I’m sure I could have found something more
poetical than plain Birch Path. Anybody can think of a name like that.
But the Birch Path is one of the prettiest places in the world,
Marilla.”

It was. Other people besides Anne thought so when they stumbled on it.
It was a little narrow, twisting path, winding down over a long hill
straight through Mr. Bell’s woods, where the light came down sifted
through so many emerald screens that it was as flawless as the heart of
a diamond. It was fringed in all its length with slim young birches,
white-stemmed and lissom boughed; ferns and starflowers and wild
lilies-of-the-valley and scarlet tufts of pigeon berries grew thickly
along it; and always there was a delightful spiciness in the air and
music of bird calls and the murmur and laugh of wood winds in the trees
overhead. Now and then you might see a rabbit skipping across the road
if you were quiet—which, with Anne and Diana, happened about once in a
blue moon. Down in the valley the path came out to the main road and
then it was just up the spruce hill to the school.

The Avonlea school was a whitewashed building, low in the eaves and
wide in the windows, furnished inside with comfortable substantial
old-fashioned desks that opened and shut, and were carved all over
their lids with the initials and hieroglyphics of three generations of
school-children. The schoolhouse was set back from the road and behind
it was a dusky fir wood and a brook where all the children put their
bottles of milk in the morning to keep cool and sweet until dinner hour.

Marilla had seen Anne start off to school on the first day of September
with many secret misgivings. Anne was such an odd girl. How would she
get on with the other children? And how on earth would she ever manage
to hold her tongue during school hours?

Things went better than Marilla feared, however. Anne came home that
evening in high spirits.

“I think I’m going to like school here,” she announced. “I don’t think
much of the master, though. He’s all the time curling his moustache and
making eyes at Prissy Andrews. Prissy is grown-up, you know. She’s
sixteen and she’s studying for the entrance examination into Queen’s
Academy at Charlottetown next year. Tillie Boulter says the master is
_dead gone_ on her. She’s got a beautiful complexion and curly brown
hair and she does it up so elegantly. She sits in the long seat at the
back and he sits there, too, most of the time—to explain her lessons,
he says. But Ruby Gillis says she saw him writing something on her
slate and when Prissy read it she blushed as red as a beet and giggled;
and Ruby Gillis says she doesn’t believe it had anything to do with the
lesson.”

“Anne Shirley, don’t let me hear you talking about your teacher in that
way again,” said Marilla sharply. “You don’t go to school to criticize
the master. I guess he can teach _you_ something and it’s your business
to learn. And I want you to understand right off that you are not to
come home telling tales about him. That is something I won’t encourage.
I hope you were a good girl.”

“Indeed I was,” said Anne comfortably. “It wasn’t so hard as you might
imagine, either. I sit with Diana. Our seat is right by the window and
we can look down to the Lake of Shining Waters. There are a lot of nice
girls in school and we had scrumptious fun playing at dinner time. It’s
so nice to have a lot of little girls to play with. But of course I
like Diana best and always will. I _adore_ Diana. I’m dreadfully far
behind the others. They’re all in the fifth book and I’m only in the
fourth. I feel that it’s kind of a disgrace. But there’s not one of
them has such an imagination as I have and I soon found that out. We
had reading and geography and Canadian History and dictation to-day.
Mr. Phillips said my spelling was disgraceful and he held up my slate
so that everybody could see it, all marked over. I felt so mortified,
Marilla; he might have been politer to a stranger, I think. Ruby Gillis
gave me an apple and Sophia Sloane lent me a lovely pink card with ‘May
I see you home?’ on it. I’m to give it back to her to-morrow. And
Tillie Boulter let me wear her bead ring all the afternoon. Can I have
some of those pearl beads off the old pincushion in the garret to make
myself a ring? And oh Marilla, Jane Andrews told me that Minnie
MacPherson told her that she heard Prissy Andrews tell Sara Gillis that
I had a very pretty nose. Marilla, that is the first compliment I have
ever had in my life and you can’t imagine what a strange feeling it
gave me. Marilla, have I really a pretty nose? I know you’ll tell me
the truth.”

“Your nose is well enough,” said Marilla shortly. Secretly she thought
Anne’s nose was a remarkably pretty one; but she had no intention of
telling her so.

That was three weeks ago and all had gone smoothly so far. And now,
this crisp September morning, Anne and Diana were tripping blithely
down the Birch Path, two of the happiest little girls in Avonlea.

“I guess Gilbert Blythe will be in school to-day,” said Diana. “He’s
been visiting his cousins over in New Brunswick all summer and he only
came home Saturday night. He’s _aw’fly_ handsome, Anne. And he teases
the girls something terrible. He just torments our lives out.”

Diana’s voice indicated that she rather liked having her life tormented
out than not.

“Gilbert Blythe?” said Anne. “Isn’t it his name that’s written up on
the porch wall with Julia Bell’s and a big ‘Take Notice’ over them?”

“Yes,” said Diana, tossing her head, “but I’m sure he doesn’t like
Julia Bell so very much. I’ve heard him say he studied the
multiplication table by her freckles.”

“Oh, don’t speak about freckles to me,” implored Anne. “It isn’t
delicate when I’ve got so many. But I do think that writing
take-notices up on the wall about the boys and girls is the silliest
ever. I should just like to see anybody dare to write my name up with a
boy’s. Not, of course,” she hastened to add, “that anybody would.”

Anne sighed. She didn’t want her name written up. But it was a little
humiliating to know that there was no danger of it.

“Nonsense,” said Diana, whose black eyes and glossy tresses had played
such havoc with the hearts of Avonlea schoolboys that her name figured
on the porch walls in half a dozen take-notices. “It’s only meant as a
joke. And don’t you be too sure your name won’t ever be written up.
Charlie Sloane is _dead gone_ on you. He told his mother—his _mother_,
mind you—that you were the smartest girl in school. That’s better than
being good-looking.”

“No, it isn’t,” said Anne, feminine to the core. “I’d rather be pretty
than clever. And I hate Charlie Sloane. I can’t bear a boy with goggle
eyes. If any one wrote my name up with his I’d _never_ get over it,
Diana Barry. But it _is_ nice to keep head of your class.”

“You’ll have Gilbert in your class after this,” said Diana, “and he’s
used to being head of his class, I can tell you. He’s only in the
fourth book although he’s nearly fourteen. Four years ago his father
was sick and had to go out to Alberta for his health and Gilbert went
with him. They were there three years and Gil didn’t go to school
hardly any until they came back. You won’t find it so easy to keep head
after this, Anne.”

“I’m glad,” said Anne quickly. “I couldn’t really feel proud of keeping
head of little boys and girls of just nine or ten. I got up yesterday
spelling ‘ebullition.’ Josie Pye was head and, mind you, she peeped in
her book. Mr. Phillips didn’t see her—he was looking at Prissy
Andrews—but I did. I just swept her a look of freezing scorn and she
got as red as a beet and spelled it wrong after all.”

“Those Pye girls are cheats all round,” said Diana indignantly, as they
climbed the fence of the main road. “Gertie Pye actually went and put
her milk bottle in my place in the brook yesterday. Did you ever? I
don’t speak to her now.”

When Mr. Phillips was in the back of the room hearing Prissy Andrews’
Latin Diana whispered to Anne,

“That’s Gilbert Blythe sitting right across the aisle from you, Anne.
Just look at him and see if you don’t think he’s handsome.”

Anne looked accordingly. She had a good chance to do so, for the said
Gilbert Blythe was absorbed in stealthily pinning the long yellow braid
of Ruby Gillis, who sat in front of him, to the back of her seat. He
was a tall boy, with curly brown hair, roguish hazel eyes and a mouth
twisted into a teasing smile. Presently Ruby Gillis started up to take
a sum to the master; she fell back into her seat with a little shriek,
believing that her hair was pulled out by the roots. Everybody looked
at her and Mr. Phillips glared so sternly that Ruby began to cry.
Gilbert had whisked the pin out of sight and was studying his history
with the soberest face in the world; but when the commotion subsided he
looked at Anne and winked with inexpressible drollery.

“I think your Gilbert Blythe _is_ handsome,” confided Anne to Diana,
“but I think he’s very bold. It isn’t good manners to wink at a strange
girl.”

But it was not until the afternoon that things really began to happen.

Mr. Phillips was back in the corner explaining a problem in algebra to
Prissy Andrews and the rest of the scholars were doing pretty much as
they pleased, eating green apples, whispering, drawing pictures on
their slates, and driving crickets, harnessed to strings, up and down
the aisle. Gilbert Blythe was trying to make Anne Shirley look at him
and failing utterly, because Anne was at that moment totally oblivious,
not only of the very existence of Gilbert Blythe, but of every other
scholar in Avonlea school and of Avonlea school itself. With her chin
propped on her hands and her eyes fixed on the blue glimpse of the Lake
of Shining Waters that the west window afforded, she was far away in a
gorgeous dreamland, hearing and seeing nothing save her own wonderful
visions.

Gilbert Blythe wasn’t used to putting himself out to make a girl look
at him and meeting with failure. She _should_ look at him, that
red-haired Shirley girl with the little pointed chin and the big eyes
that weren’t like the eyes of any other girl in Avonlea school.

Gilbert reached across the aisle, picked up the end of Anne’s long red
braid, held it out at arm’s length and said in a piercing whisper,

“Carrots! Carrots!”

Then Anne looked at him with a vengeance!

She did more than look. She sprang to her feet, her bright fancies
fallen into cureless ruin. She flashed one indignant glance at Gilbert
from eyes whose angry sparkle was swiftly quenched in equally angry
tears.

“You mean, hateful boy!” she exclaimed passionately. “How dare you!”

And then—Thwack! Anne had brought her slate down on Gilbert’s head and
cracked it—slate, not head—clear across.

[Illustration: “Thwack! Anne had brought her slate down on Gilbert’s
head.”]

Avonlea school always enjoyed a scene. This was an especially enjoyable
one. Everybody said, “Oh” in horrified delight. Diana gasped. Ruby
Gillis, who was inclined to be hysterical, began to cry. Tommy Sloane
let his team of crickets escape him altogether while he stared
open-mouthed at the tableau.

Mr. Phillips stalked down the aisle and laid his hand heavily on Anne’s
shoulder.

“Anne Shirley, what does this mean?” he said angrily.

Anne returned no answer. It was asking too much of flesh and blood to
expect her to tell before the whole school that she had been called
“carrots.” Gilbert it was who spoke up stoutly.

“It was my fault, Mr. Phillips. I teased her.”

Mr. Phillips paid no heed to Gilbert.

“I am sorry to see a pupil of mine displaying such a temper and such a
vindictive spirit,” he said in a solemn tone, as if the mere fact of
being a pupil of his ought to root out all evil passions from the
hearts of small imperfect mortals. “Anne, go and stand on the platform
in front of the blackboard for the rest of the afternoon.”

Anne would have infinitely preferred a whipping to this punishment,
under which her sensitive spirit quivered as from a whiplash. With a
white, set face she obeyed. Mr. Phillips took a chalk crayon and wrote
on the blackboard above her head.

“Ann Shirley has a very bad temper. Ann Shirley must learn to control
her temper,” and then read it out loud so that even the primer class,
who couldn’t read writing, should understand it.

Anne stood there the rest of the afternoon with that legend above her.
She did not cry or hang her head. Anger was still too hot in her heart
for that and it sustained her amid all her agony of humiliation. With
resentful eyes and passion-red cheeks she confronted alike Diana’s
sympathetic gaze and Charlie Sloane’s indignant nods and Josie Pye’s
malicious smiles. As for Gilbert Blythe, she would not even look at
him. She would _never_ look at him again! She would never speak to him!!

When school was dismissed Anne marched out with her red head held high.
Gilbert Blythe tried to intercept her at the porch door.

“I’m awful sorry I made fun of your hair, Anne,” he whispered
contritely. “Honest I am. Don’t be mad for keeps, now.”

Anne swept by disdainfully, without look or sign of hearing. “Oh, how
could you, Anne?” breathed Diana as they went down the road, half
reproachfully, half admiringly. Diana felt that _she_ could never have
resisted Gilbert’s plea.

“I shall never forgive Gilbert Blythe,” said Anne firmly. “And Mr.
Phillips spelled my name without an _e_, too. The iron has entered into
my soul, Diana.”

Diana hadn’t the least idea what Anne meant but she understood it was
something terrible.

“You mustn’t mind Gilbert making fun of your hair,” she said
soothingly. “Why, he makes fun of all the girls. He laughs at mine
because it’s so black. He’s called me a crow a dozen times; and I never
heard him apologize for anything before, either.”

“There’s a great deal of difference between being called a crow and
being called carrots,” said Anne with dignity. “Gilbert Blythe has hurt
my feelings _excruciatingly_, Diana.”

It is possible the matter might have blown over without more
excruciation if nothing else had happened. But when things begin to
happen they are apt to keep on.

Avonlea scholars often spent noon hour picking gum in Mr. Bell’s spruce
grove over the hill and across his big pasture field. From there they
could keep an eye on Eben Wright’s house, where the master boarded.
When they saw Mr. Phillips emerging therefrom they ran for the
schoolhouse; but the distance being about three times longer than Mr.
Wright’s lane they were very apt to arrive there, breathless and
gasping, some three minutes too late.

On the following day Mr. Phillips was seized with one of his spasmodic
fits of reform and announced, before going home to dinner, that he
should expect to find all the scholars in their seats when he returned.
Any one who came in late would be punished.

All the boys and some of the girls went to Mr. Bell’s spruce grove as
usual, fully intending to stay only long enough to “pick a chew.” But
spruce groves are seductive and yellow nuts of gum beguiling; they
picked and loitered and strayed; and as usual the first thing that
recalled them to a sense of the flight of time was Jimmy Glover
shouting from the top of a patriarchal old spruce, “Master’s coming.”

The girls, who were on the ground, started first and managed to reach
the schoolhouse in time but without a second to spare. The boys, who
had to wriggle hastily down from the trees, were later; and Anne, who
had not been picking gum at all but was wandering happily in the far
end of the grove, waist deep among the bracken, singing softly to
herself, with a wreath of rice lilies on her hair as if she were some
wild divinity of the shadowy places, was latest of all. Anne could run
like a deer, however; run she did with the impish result that she
overtook the boys at the door and was swept into the schoolhouse among
them just as Mr. Phillips was in the act of hanging up his hat.

Mr. Phillips’ brief reforming energy was over; he didn’t want the
bother of punishing a dozen pupils; but it was necessary to do
something to save his word, so he looked about for a scapegoat and
found it in Anne, who had dropped into her seat, gasping for breath,
with her forgotten lily wreath hanging askew over one ear and giving
her a particularly rakish and dishevelled appearance.

“Anne Shirley, since you seem to be so fond of the boys’ company we
shall indulge your taste for it this afternoon,” he said sarcastically.
“Take those flowers out of your hair and sit with Gilbert Blythe.”

The other boys snickered. Diana, turning pale with pity, plucked the
wreath from Anne’s hair and squeezed her hand. Anne stared at the
master as if turned to stone.

“Did you hear what I said, Anne?” queried Mr. Phillips sternly.

“Yes, sir,” said Anne slowly, “but I didn’t suppose you really meant
it.”

“I assure you I did,”—still with the sarcastic inflection which all the
children, and Anne especially, hated. It flicked on the raw. “Obey me
at once.”

For a moment Anne looked as if she meant to disobey. Then, realizing
that there was no help for it, she rose haughtily, stepped across the
aisle, sat down beside Gilbert Blythe, and buried her face in her arms
on the desk. Ruby Gillis, who got a glimpse of it as it went down, told
the others going home from school that she’d “acksually never seen
anything like it—it was so white, with awful little red spots in it.”

To Anne, this was as the end of all things. It was bad enough to be
singled out for punishment from among a dozen equally guilty ones; it
was worse still to be sent to sit with a boy; but that that boy should
be Gilbert Blythe was heaping insult on injury to a degree utterly
unbearable. Anne felt that she could _not_ bear it and it would be of
no use to try. Her whole being seethed with shame and anger and
humiliation.

At first the other scholars looked and whispered and giggled and
nudged. But as Anne never lifted her head and as Gilbert worked
fractions as if his whole soul was absorbed in them and them only, they
soon returned to their own tasks and Anne was forgotten. When Mr.
Phillips called the history class out Anne should have gone; but Anne
did not move, and Mr. Phillips, who had been writing some verses “To
Priscilla” before he called the class, was thinking about an obstinate
rhyme still and never missed her. Once, when nobody was looking,
Gilbert took from his desk a little pink candy heart with a gold motto
on it, “You are sweet,” and slipped it under the curve of Anne’s arm.
Whereupon Anne arose, took the pink heart gingerly between the tips of
her fingers, dropped it on the floor, ground it to powder beneath her
heel, and resumed her position without deigning to bestow a glance on
Gilbert.

When school went out Anne marched to her desk, ostentatiously took out
everything therein, books and writing tablet, pen and ink, testament
and arithmetic, and piled them neatly on her cracked slate.

“What are you taking all those things home for, Anne?” Diana wanted to
know, as soon as they were out on the road. She had not dared to ask
the question before.

“I am not coming back to school any more,” said Anne.

Diana gasped and stared at Anne to see if she meant it.

“Will Marilla let you stay home?” she asked.

“She’ll have to,” said Anne. “I’ll _never_ go to school to that man
again.”

“Oh, Anne!” Diana looked as if she were ready to cry. “I do think
you’re mean. What shall I do? Mr. Phillips will make me sit with that
horrid Gertie Pye—I know he will because she is sitting alone. Do come
back, Anne.”

“I’d do almost anything in the world for you, Diana,” said Anne sadly.
“I’d let myself be torn limb from limb if it would do you any good. But
I can’t do this, so please don’t ask it. You harrow up my very soul.”

“Just think of all the fun you will miss,” mourned Diana. “We are going
to build the loveliest new house down by the brook; and we’ll be
playing ball next week and you’ve never played ball, Anne. It’s
tremenjusly exciting. And we’re going to learn a new song—Jane Andrews
is practising it up now; and Alice Andrews is going to bring a new
Pansy book next week and we’re all going to read it out loud, chapter
about, down by the brook. And you know you are so fond of reading out
loud, Anne.”

Nothing moved Anne in the least. Her mind was made up. She would not go
to school to Mr. Phillips again; she told Marilla so when she got home.

“Nonsense,” said Marilla.

“It isn’t nonsense at all,” said Anne, gazing at Marilla with solemn,
reproachful eyes. “Don’t you understand, Marilla? I’ve been insulted.”

“Insulted fiddlesticks! You’ll go to school to-morrow as usual.”

“Oh, no.” Anne shook her head gently. “I’m not going back, Marilla.
I’ll learn my lessons at home and I’ll be as good as I can be and hold
my tongue all the time if it’s possible at all. But I will not go back
to school I assure you.”

Marilla saw something remarkably like unyielding stubbornness looking
out of Anne’s small face. She understood that she would have trouble in
overcoming it; but she resolved wisely to say nothing more just then.

“I’ll run down and see Rachel about it this evening,” she thought.
“There’s no use reasoning with Anne now. She’s too worked up and I’ve
an idea she can be awful stubborn if she takes the notion. Far as I can
make out from her story, Mr. Phillips has been carrying matters with a
rather high hand. But it would never do to say so to her. I’ll just
talk it over with Rachel. She’s sent ten children to school and she
ought to know something about it. She’ll have heard the whole story,
too, by this time.”

Marilla found Mrs. Lynde knitting quilts as industriously and
cheerfully as usual.

“I suppose you know what I’ve come about,” she said, a little
shamefacedly.

Mrs. Rachel nodded.

“About Anne’s fuss in school, I reckon,” she said. “Tillie Boulter was
in on her way home from school and told me about it.”

“I don’t know what to do with her,” said Marilla. “She declares she
won’t go back to school. I never saw a child so worked up. I’ve been
expecting trouble ever since she started to school. I knew things were
going too smooth to last. She’s so high-strung. What would you advise,
Rachel?”

“Well, since you’ve asked my advice, Marilla,” said Mrs. Lynde
amiably—Mrs. Lynde dearly loved to be asked for advice—“I’d just humour
her a little at first, that’s what I’d do. It’s my belief that Mr.
Phillips was in the wrong. Of course, it doesn’t do to say so to the
children, you know. And of course he did right to punish her yesterday
for giving way to temper. But to-day it was different. The others who
were late should have been punished as well as Anne, that’s what. And I
don’t believe in making the girls sit with the boys for punishment. It
isn’t modest. Tillie Boulter was real indignant. She took Anne’s part
right through and said all the scholars did, too. Anne seems real
popular among them, somehow. I never thought she’d take with them so
well.”

“Then you really think I’d better let her stay home,” said Marilla in
amazement.

“Yes. That is, I wouldn’t say school to her again until she said it
herself. Depend upon it, Marilla, she’ll cool off in a week or so and
be ready enough to go back of her own accord, that’s what, while, if
you were to make her go back right off, dear knows what freak or
tantrum she’d take next and make more trouble than ever. The less fuss
made the better, in my opinion. She won’t miss much by not going to
school, as far as _that_ goes. Mr. Phillips isn’t any good at all as a
teacher. The order he keeps is scandalous, that’s what, and he neglects
the young fry and puts all his time on those big scholars he’s getting
ready for Queen’s. He’d never have got the school for another year if
his uncle hadn’t been a trustee—_the_ trustee, for he just leads the
other two around by the nose, that’s what. I declare, I don’t know what
education in this Island is coming to.”

Mrs. Rachel shook her head, as much as to say if she were only at the
head of the educational system of the Province things would be much
better managed.

Marilla took Mrs. Rachel’s advice and not another word was said to Anne
about going back to school. She learned her lessons at home, did her
chores, and played with Diana in the chilly purple autumn twilights;
but when she met Gilbert Blythe on the road or encountered him in
Sunday-school she passed him by with an icy contempt that was no whit
thawed by his evident desire to appease her. Even Diana’s efforts as a
peacemaker were of no avail. Anne had evidently made up her mind to
hate Gilbert Blythe to the end of life.

As much as she hated Gilbert, however, did she love Diana, with all the
love of her passionate little heart, equally intense in its likes and
dislikes. One evening Marilla, coming in from the orchard with a basket
of apples, found Anne sitting alone by the east window in the twilight,
crying bitterly.

“Whatever’s the matter now, Anne?” she asked.

“It’s about Diana,” sobbed Anne luxuriously. “I love Diana so, Marilla.
I cannot ever live without her. But I know very well when we grow up
that Diana will get married and go away and leave me. And oh, what
shall I do? I hate her husband—I just hate him furiously. I’ve been
imagining it all out—the wedding and everything—Diana dressed in snowy
garments, with a veil, and looking as beautiful and regal as a queen;
and me the bridesmaid, with a lovely dress, too, and puffed sleeves,
but with a breaking heart hid beneath my smiling face. And then bidding
Diana good-bye-e-e—” Here Anne broke down entirely and wept with
increasing bitterness.

Marilla turned quickly away to hide her twitching face; but it was no
use; she collapsed on the nearest chair and burst into such a hearty
and unusual peal of laughter that Matthew, crossing the yard outside,
halted in amazement. When had he heard Marilla laugh like that before?

“Well, Anne Shirley,” said Marilla as soon as she could speak, “if you
must borrow trouble, for pity’s sake borrow it handier home. I should
think you had an imagination, sure enough.”



CHAPTER XVI.

DIANA IS INVITED TO TEA WITH TRAGIC RESULTS


October was a beautiful month at Green Gables, when the birches in the
hollow turned as golden as sunshine and the maples behind the orchard
were royal crimson and the wild cherry-trees along the lane put on the
loveliest shades of dark red and bronzy green, while the fields sunned
themselves in aftermaths.

Anne revelled in the world of colour about her.

“Oh, Marilla,” she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in
with her arms full of gorgeous boughs, “I’m so glad I live in a world
where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from
September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t
they give you a thrill—several thrills? I’m going to decorate my room
with them.”

“Messy things,” said Marilla, whose æsthetic sense was not noticeably
developed. “You clutter up your room entirely too much with
out-of-doors stuff, Anne. Bedrooms were made to sleep in.”

“Oh, and dream in too, Marilla. And you know one can dream so much
better in a room where there are pretty things. I’m going to put these
boughs in the old blue jug and set them on my table.”

“Mind you don’t drop leaves all over the stairs then. I’m going to a
meeting of the Aid Society at Carmody this afternoon, Anne, and I won’t
likely be home before dark. You’ll have to get Matthew and Jerry their
supper, so mind you don’t forget to put the tea to draw until you sit
down at the table as you did last time.”

“It was dreadful of me to forget,” said Anne apologetically, “but that
was the afternoon I was trying to think of a name for Violet Vale and
it crowded other things out. Matthew was so good. He never scolded a
bit. He put the tea down himself and said we could wait awhile as well
as not. And I told him a lovely fairy story while we were waiting, so
he didn’t find the time long at all. It was a beautiful fairy story,
Marilla. I forgot the end of it, so I made up an end for it myself and
Matthew said he couldn’t tell where the join came in.”

“Matthew would think it all right, Anne, if you took a notion to get up
and have dinner in the middle of the night. But you keep your wits
about you this time. And—I don’t really know if I’m doing right—it may
make you more addle-pated than ever—but you can ask Diana to come over
and spend the afternoon with you and have tea here.”

“Oh, Marilla!” Anne clasped her hands. “How perfectly lovely! You _are_
able to imagine things after all or else you’d never have understood
how I’ve longed for that very thing. It will seem so nice and
grown-uppish. No fear of my forgetting to put the tea to draw when I
have company. Oh, Marilla, can I use the rosebud spray tea-set?”

“No, indeed! The rosebud tea-set! Well, what next? You know I never use
that except for the minister or the Aids. You’ll put down the old brown
tea-set. But you can open the little yellow crock of cherry preserves.
It’s time it was being used anyhow—I believe it’s beginning to work.
And you can cut some fruit-cake and have some of the cookies and snaps.”

“I can just imagine myself sitting down at the head of the table and
pouring out the tea,” said Anne, shutting her eyes ecstatically. “And
asking Diana if she takes sugar! I know she doesn’t but of course I’ll
ask her just as if I didn’t know. And then pressing her to take another
piece of fruit-cake and another helping of preserves. Oh, Marilla, it’s
a wonderful sensation just to think of it. Can I take her into the
spare room to lay off her hat when she comes? And then into the parlour
to sit?”

“No. The sitting-room will do for you and your company. But there’s a
bottle half full of raspberry cordial that was left over from the
church social the other night. It’s on the second shelf of the
sitting-room closet and you and Diana can have it if you like, and a
cooky to eat with it along in the afternoon, for I daresay Matthew’ll
be late coming in to tea since he’s hauling potatoes to the vessel.”

Anne flew down to the hollow, past the Dryad’s Bubble and up the spruce
path to Orchard Slope, to ask Diana to tea. As a result, just after
Marilla had driven off to Carmody, Diana came over, dressed in her
second best dress and looking exactly as it is proper to look when
asked out to tea. At other times she was wont to run into the kitchen
without knocking; but now she knocked primly at the front door. And
when Anne, dressed in _her_ second best, as primly opened it, both
little girls shook hands as gravely as if they had never met before.
This unnatural solemnity lasted until after Diana had been taken to the
east gable to lay off her hat and then had sat for ten minutes in the
sitting-room, toes in position.

“How is your mother?” inquired Anne politely, just as if she had not
seen Mrs. Barry picking apples that morning in excellent health and
spirits.

“She is very well, thank you. I suppose Mr. Cuthbert is hauling
potatoes to the _Lily Sands_ this afternoon, is he?” said Diana, who
had ridden down to Mr. Harmon Andrews’ that morning in Matthew’s cart.

“Yes. Our potato crop is very good this year. I hope your father’s
potato crop is good, too.”

“It is fairly good, thank you. Have you picked many of your apples yet?”

“Oh, ever so many,” said Anne, forgetting to be dignified and jumping
up quickly. “Let’s go out to the orchard and get some of the Red
Sweetings, Diana. Marilla says we can have all that are left on the
tree. Marilla is a very generous woman. She said we could have
fruit-cake and cherry preserves for tea. But it isn’t good manners to
tell your company what you are going to give them to eat, so I won’t
tell you what she said we could have to drink. Only it begins with an
_r_ and a _c_ and it’s a bright red colour. I love bright red drinks,
don’t you? They taste twice as good as any other colour.”

The orchard, with its great sweeping boughs that bent to the ground
with fruit, proved so delightful that the little girls spent most of
the afternoon in it, sitting in a grassy corner where the frost had
spared the green and the mellow autumn sunshine lingered warmly, eating
apples and talking as hard as they could. Diana had much to tell Anne
of what went on in school. She had to sit with Gertie Pye and she hated
it; Gertie squeaked her pencil all the time and it just made
her—Diana’s—blood run cold; Ruby Gillis had charmed all her warts away,
true’s you live, with a magic pebble that old Mary Joe from the Creek
gave her. You had to rub the warts with the pebble and then throw it
away over your left shoulder at the time of the new moon and the warts
would all go. Charlie Sloane’s name was written up with Em White’s on
the porch wall and Em White was _awful mad_ about it; Sam Boulter had
“sassed” Mr. Phillips in class and Mr. Phillips whipped him and Sam’s
father came down to the school and dared Mr. Phillips to lay a hand on
one of his children again; and Mattie Andrews had a new red hood and a
blue crossover with tassels on it and the airs she put on about it were
perfectly sickening; and Lizzie Wright didn’t speak to Mamie Wilson
because Mamie Wilson’s grown-up sister had cut out Lizzie Wright’s
grown-up sister with her beau; and everybody missed Anne so and wished
she’d come to school again; and Gilbert Blythe—

But Anne didn’t want to hear about Gilbert Blythe. She jumped up
hurriedly and said suppose they go in and have some raspberry cordial.

Anne looked on the second shelf of the room pantry but there was no
bottle of raspberry cordial there. Search revealed it away back on the
top shelf. Anne put it on a tray and set it on the table with a tumbler.

“Now, please help yourself, Diana,” she said politely. “I don’t believe
I’ll have any just now. I don’t feel as if I wanted any after all those
apples.”

Diana poured herself out a tumblerful, looked at its bright red hue
admiringly, and then sipped it daintily.

“That’s awfully nice raspberry cordial, Anne,” she said. “I didn’t know
raspberry cordial was so nice.”

“I’m real glad you like it. Take as much as you want. I’m going to run
out and stir the fire up. There are so many responsibilities on a
person’s mind when they’re keeping house, isn’t there?”

When Anne came back from the kitchen Diana was drinking her second
glassful of cordial; and, being entreated thereto by Anne, she offered
no particular objection to the drinking of a third. The tumblerfuls
were generous ones and the raspberry cordial was certainly very nice.

“The nicest I ever drank,” said Diana. “It’s ever so much nicer than
Mrs. Lynde’s although she brags of hers so much. It doesn’t taste a bit
like hers.”

“I should think Marilla’s raspberry cordial would prob’ly be much nicer
than Mrs. Lynde’s,” said Anne loyally. “Marilla is a famous cook. She
is trying to teach me to cook but I assure you, Diana, it is uphill
work. There’s so little scope for imagination in cookery. You just have
to go by rules. The last time I made a cake I forgot to put the flour
in. I was thinking the loveliest story about you and me, Diana. I
thought you were desperately ill with smallpox and everybody deserted
you, but I went boldly to your bedside and nursed you back to life; and
then I took the smallpox and died and I was buried under those poplar
trees in the graveyard and you planted a rosebush by my grave and
watered it with your tears; and you never, never forgot the friend of
your youth who sacrificed her life for you. Oh, it was such a pathetic
tale, Diana. The tears just rained down over my cheeks while I mixed
the cake. But I forgot the flour and the cake was a dismal failure.
Flour is so essential to cakes, you know. Marilla was very cross and I
don’t wonder. I’m a great trial to her. She was terribly mortified
about the pudding sauce last week. We had a plum pudding for dinner on
Tuesday and there was half the pudding and a pitcherful of sauce left
over. Marilla said there was enough for another dinner and told me to
set it on the pantry shelf and cover it. I meant to cover it just as
much as could be, Diana, but when I carried it in I was imagining I was
a nun—of course I’m a Protestant but I imagined I was a Catholic—taking
the veil to bury a broken heart in cloistered seclusion; and I forgot
all about covering the pudding sauce. I thought of it next morning and
ran to the pantry. Diana, fancy if you can my extreme horror at finding
a mouse drowned in that pudding sauce! I lifted the mouse out with a
spoon and threw it out in the yard and then I washed the spoon in three
waters. Marilla was out milking and I fully intended to ask her when
she came in if I’d give the sauce to the pigs; but when she did come in
I was imagining that I was a frost fairy going through the woods
turning the trees red and yellow, whichever they wanted to be, so I
never thought about the pudding sauce again and Marilla sent me out to
pick apples. Well, Mr. and Mrs. Chester Ross from Spencervale came here
that morning. You know they are very stylish people, especially Mrs.
Chester Ross. When Marilla called me in dinner was all ready and
everybody was at the table. I tried to be as polite and dignified as I
could be, for I wanted Mrs. Chester Ross to think I was a ladylike
little girl even if I wasn’t pretty. Everything went right until I saw
Marilla coming with the plum pudding in one hand and the pitcher of
pudding sauce, _warmed up_, in the other. Diana, that was a terrible
moment. I remembered everything and I just stood up in my place and
shrieked out, ‘Marilla, you mustn’t use that pudding sauce. There was a
mouse drowned in it. I forgot to tell you before.’ Oh, Diana, I shall
never forget that awful moment if I live to be a hundred. Mrs. Chester
Ross just _looked_ at me and I thought I would sink through the floor
with mortification. She is such a perfect housekeeper and fancy what
she must have thought of us. Marilla turned red as fire but she never
said a word—then. She just carried that sauce and pudding out and
brought in some strawberry preserves. She even offered me some, but I
couldn’t swallow a mouthful. It was like heaping coals of fire on my
head. After Mrs. Chester Ross went away Marilla gave me a dreadful
scolding. Why, Diana, what is the matter?”

Diana had stood up very unsteadily; then she sat down again, putting
her hands to her head.

“I’m—I’m awful sick,” she said, a little thickly. “I—I—must go right
home.”

“Oh, you mustn’t dream of going home without your tea,” cried Anne in
distress. “I’ll get it right off—I’ll go and put the tea down this very
minute.”

“I must go home,” repeated Diana, stupidly but determinedly.

“Let me get you a lunch anyhow,” implored Anne. “Let me give you a bit
of fruit-cake and some of the cherry preserves. Lie down on the sofa
for a little while and you’ll be better. Where do you feel bad?”

“I must go home,” said Diana, and that was all she would say. In vain
Anne pleaded.

“I never heard of company going home without tea,” she mourned. “Oh,
Diana, do you suppose that it’s possible you’re really taking the
smallpox? If you are I’ll go and nurse you, you can depend on that.
I’ll never forsake you. But I do wish you’d stay till after tea. Where
do you feel bad?”

“I’m awful dizzy,” said Diana.

And indeed, she walked very dizzily. Anne, with tears of disappointment
in her eyes, got Diana’s hat and went with her as far as the Barry yard
fence. Then she wept all the way back to Green Gables, where she
sorrowfully put the remainder of the raspberry cordial back into the
pantry and got tea ready for Matthew and Jerry, with all the zest gone
out of the performance.

The next day was Sunday and as the rain poured down in torrents from
dawn till dusk Anne did not stir abroad from Green Gables. Monday
afternoon Marilla sent her down to Mrs. Lynde’s on an errand. In a very
short space of time Anne came flying back up the lane, with tears
rolling down her cheeks. Into the kitchen she dashed and flung herself
face downward on the sofa in an agony.

“Whatever has gone wrong now, Anne?” queried Marilla in doubt and
dismay. “I do hope you haven’t gone and been saucy to Mrs. Lynde again.”

No answer from Anne save more tears and stormier sobs!

“Anne Shirley, when I ask you a question I want to be answered. Sit
right up this very minute and tell me what you are crying about.”

Anne sat up, tragedy personified.

“Mrs. Lynde was up to see Mrs. Barry to-day and Mrs. Barry was in an
awful state,” she wailed. “She says that I set Diana _drunk_ Saturday
and sent her home in a disgraceful condition. And she says I must be a
thoroughly bad, wicked little girl and she’s never, never going to let
Diana play with me again. Oh, Marilla, I’m just overcome with woe.”

Marilla stared in blank amazement.

“Set Diana drunk!” she said when she found her voice. “Anne, are you or
Mrs. Barry crazy? What on earth did you give her?”

“Not a thing but raspberry cordial,” sobbed Anne. “I never thought
raspberry cordial would set people drunk, Marilla,—not even if they
drank three big tumblerfuls as Diana did. Oh, it sounds so—so—like Mrs.
Thomas’ husband! But I didn’t mean to set her drunk.”

“Drunk fiddlesticks!” said Marilla, marching to the sitting-room
pantry. There on the shelf was a bottle which she at once recognized as
one containing some of her three year old homemade currant wine for
which she was celebrated in Avonlea, although certain of the stricter
sort, Mrs. Barry among them, disapproved strongly of it. And at the
same time Marilla recollected that she had put the bottle of raspberry
cordial down in the cellar instead of in the pantry as she had told
Anne.

She went back to the kitchen with the wine bottle in her hand. Her face
was twitching in spite of herself.

“Anne, you certainly have a genius for getting into trouble. You went
and gave Diana currant wine instead of raspberry cordial. Didn’t you
know the difference yourself?”

“I never tasted it,” said Anne. “I thought it was the cordial. I meant
to be so—so—hospitable. Diana got awfully sick and had to go home. Mrs.
Barry told Mrs. Lynde she was simply dead drunk. She just laughed silly
like when her mother asked her what was the matter and went to sleep
and slept for hours. Her mother smelled her breath and knew she was
drunk. She had a fearful headache all day yesterday. Mrs. Barry is so
indignant. She will never believe but what I did it on purpose.”

“I should think she would better punish Diana for being so greedy as to
drink three glassfuls of anything,” said Marilla shortly. “Why, three
of those big glasses would have made her sick even if it had only been
cordial. Well, this story will be a nice handle for those folks who are
so down on me for making currant wine, although I haven’t made any for
three years ever since I found out that the minister didn’t approve. I
just kept that bottle for sickness. There, there, child, don’t cry. I
can’t see as you were to blame although I’m sorry it happened so.”

“I must cry,” said Anne. “My heart is broken. The stars in their
courses fight against me, Marilla. Diana and I are parted forever. Oh,
Marilla, I little dreamed of this when first we swore our vows of
friendship.”

“Don’t be foolish, Anne. Mrs. Barry will think better of it when she
finds you’re not really to blame. I suppose she thinks you’ve done it
for a silly joke or something of that sort. You’d best go up this
evening and tell her how it was.”

“My courage fails me at the thought of facing Diana’s injured mother,”
sighed Anne. “I wish you’d go, Marilla. You’re so much more dignified
than I am. Likely she’d listen to you quicker than to me.”

“Well, I will,” said Marilla, reflecting that it would probably be the
wiser course. “Don’t cry any more, Anne. It will be all right.”

Marilla had changed her mind about its being all right by the time she
got back from Orchard Slope. Anne was watching for her coming and flew
to the porch door to meet her.

“Oh, Marilla, I know by your face that it’s been no use,” she said
sorrowfully. “Mrs. Barry won’t forgive me?”

“Mrs. Barry, indeed!” snapped Marilla. “Of all the unreasonable women I
ever saw she’s the worst. I told her it was all a mistake and you
weren’t to blame, but she just simply didn’t believe me. And she rubbed
it well in about my currant wine and how I’d always said it couldn’t
have the least effect on anybody. I just told her plainly that currant
wine wasn’t meant to be drunk three tumblerfuls at a time and that if a
child I had to do with was so greedy I’d sober her up with a right good
spanking.”

Marilla whisked into the kitchen, grievously disturbed, leaving a very
much distracted little soul in the porch behind her. Presently Anne
stepped out bare-headed into the chill autumn dusk; very determinedly
and steadily she took her way down through the sere clover field over
the log bridge and up through the spruce grove, lighted by a pale
little moon hanging low over the western woods. Mrs. Barry, coming to
the door in answer to a timid knock, found a white-lipped, eager-eyed
suppliant on the doorstep.

Her face hardened. Mrs. Barry was a woman of strong prejudices and
dislikes, and her anger was of the cold, sullen sort which is always
hardest to overcome. To do her justice, she really believed Anne had
made Diana drunk out of sheer malice prepense, and she was honestly
anxious to preserve her little daughter from the contamination of
further intimacy with such a child.

“What do you want?” she said stiffly.

Anne clasped her hands.

“Oh, Mrs. Barry, please forgive me. I did not mean to—to—intoxicate
Diana. How could I? Just imagine if you were a poor little orphan girl
that kind people had adopted and you had just one bosom friend in all
the world. Do you think you would intoxicate her on purpose? I thought
it was only raspberry cordial. I was firmly convinced it was raspberry
cordial. Oh, please don’t say that you won’t let Diana play with me any
more. If you do you will cover my life with a dark cloud of woe.”

This speech, which would have softened good Mrs. Lynde’s heart in a
twinkling, had no effect on Mrs. Barry except to irritate her still
more. She was suspicious of Anne’s big words and dramatic gestures and
imagined that the child was making fun of her. So she said, coldly and
cruelly:

“I don’t think you are a fit little girl for Diana to associate with.
You’d better go home and behave yourself.”

Anne’s lip quivered.

“Won’t you let me see Diana just once to say farewell?” she implored.

“Diana has gone over to Carmody with her father,” said Mrs. Barry,
going in and shutting the door.

Anne went back to Green Gables calm with despair.

“My last hope is gone,” she told Marilla. “I went up and saw Mrs. Barry
myself and she treated me very insultingly. Marilla, I do _not_ think
she is a well-bred woman. There is nothing more to do except to pray
and I haven’t much hope that that’ll do much good because, Marilla, I
do not believe that God Himself can do very much with such an obstinate
person as Mrs. Barry.”

“Anne, you shouldn’t say such things,” rebuked Marilla, striving to
overcome that unholy tendency to laughter which she was dismayed to
find growing upon her. And indeed, when she told the whole story to
Matthew that night, she did laugh heartily over Anne’s tribulations.

But when she slipped into the east gable before going to bed and found
that Anne had cried herself to sleep an unaccustomed softness crept
into her face.

“Poor little soul,” she murmured, lifting a loose curl of hair from the
child’s tear-stained face. Then she bent down and kissed the flushed
cheek on the pillow.



CHAPTER XVII.

A NEW INTEREST IN LIFE


The next afternoon Anne, bending over her patchwork at the kitchen
window, happened to glance out and beheld Diana down by the Dryad’s
Bubble beckoning mysteriously. In a trice Anne was out of the house and
flying down to the hollow, astonishment and hope struggling in her
expressive eyes. But the hope faded when she saw Diana’s dejected
countenance.

“Your mother hasn’t relented?” she gasped.

Diana shook her head mournfully.

“No; and oh, Anne, she says I’m never to play with you again. I’ve
cried and cried and I told her it wasn’t your fault, but it wasn’t any
use. I had ever such a time coaxing her to let me come down and say
good-bye to you. She said I was only to stay ten minutes and she’s
timing me by the clock.”

“Ten minutes isn’t very long to say an eternal farewell in,” said Anne
tearfully. “Oh, Diana, will you promise faithfully never to forget me,
the friend of your youth, no matter what dearer friends may caress
thee?”

“Indeed I will,” sobbed Diana, “and I’ll never have another bosom
friend—I don’t want to have. I couldn’t love anybody as I love you.”

“Oh, Diana,” cried Anne, clasping her hands, “do you _love_ me?”

“Why, of course I do. Didn’t you know that?”

“No.” Anne drew a long breath. “I thought you _liked_ me of course, but
I never hoped you _loved_ me. Why, Diana, I didn’t think anybody could
love me. Nobody ever has loved me since I can remember. Oh, this is
wonderful! It’s a ray of light which will forever shine on the darkness
of a path severed from thee, Diana. Oh, just say it once again.”

“I love you devotedly, Anne,” said Diana stanchly, “and I always will,
you may be sure of that.”

“And I will always love thee, Diana,” said Anne, solemnly extending her
hand. “In the years to come thy memory will shine like a star over my
lonely life, as that last story we read together says. Diana, wilt thou
give me a lock of thy jet-black tresses in parting to treasure
forevermore?”

“Have you got anything to cut it with?” queried Diana, wiping away the
tears which Anne’s affecting accents had caused to flow afresh, and
returning to practicalities.

“Yes. I’ve got my patchwork scissors in my apron pocket fortunately,”
said Anne. She solemnly clipped one of Diana’s curls. “Fare thee well,
my beloved friend. Henceforth we must be as strangers though living
side by side. But my heart will ever be faithful to thee.”

Anne stood and watched Diana out of sight, mournfully waving her hand
to the latter whenever she turned to look back. Then she returned to
the house, not a little consoled for the time being by this romantic
parting.

“It is all over,” she informed Marilla. “I shall never have another
friend. I’m really worse off than ever before, for I haven’t Katie
Maurice and Violetta now. And even if I had it wouldn’t be the same.
Somehow, little dream girls are not satisfying after a real friend.
Diana and I had such an affecting farewell down by the spring. It will
be sacred in my memory forever. I used the most pathetic language I
could think of and said ‘thou’ and ‘thee.’ ‘Thou’ and ‘thee’ seem so
much more romantic than ‘you.’ Diana gave me a lock of her hair and I’m
going to sew it up in a little bag and wear it around my neck all my
life. Please see that it is buried with me, for I don’t believe I’ll
live very long. Perhaps when she sees me lying cold and dead before her
Mrs. Barry may feel remorse for what she has done and will let Diana
come to my funeral.”

“I don’t think there is much fear of your dying of grief as long as you
can talk, Anne,” said Marilla unsympathetically.

The following Monday Anne surprised Marilla by coming down from her
room with her basket of books on her arm and her lips primmed up into a
line of determination.

“I’m going back to school,” she announced. “That is all there is left
in life for me, now that my friend has been ruthlessly torn from me. In
school I can look at her and muse over days departed.”

“You’d better muse over your lessons and sums,” said Marilla,
concealing her delight at this development of the situation. “If you’re
going back to school I hope we’ll hear no more of breaking slates over
people’s heads and such carryings-on. Behave yourself and do just what
your teacher tells you.”

“I’ll try to be a model pupil,” agreed Anne dolefully. “There won’t be
much fun in it, I expect. Mr. Phillips said Minnie Andrews was a model
pupil and there isn’t a spark of imagination or life in her. She is
just dull and poky and never seems to have a good time. But I feel so
depressed that perhaps it will come easy to me now. I’m going round by
the road. I couldn’t bear to go by the Birch Path all alone. I should
weep bitter tears if I did.”

Anne was welcomed back to school with open arms. Her imagination had
been sorely missed in games, her voice in the singing, and her dramatic
ability in the perusal aloud of books at dinner hour. Ruby Gillis
smuggled three blue plums over to her during testament reading; Ella
May Macpherson gave her an enormous yellow pansy cut from the covers of
a floral catalogue—a species of desk decoration much prized in Avonlea
school. Sophia Sloane offered to teach her a perfectly elegant new
pattern of knit lace, _so_ nice for trimming aprons. Katie Boulter gave
her a perfume bottle to keep slate-water in and Julia Bell copied
carefully on a piece of pale pink paper, scalloped on the edges, the
following effusion:

    “TO ANNE

    “When twilight drops her curtain down
    And pins it with a star
    Remember that you have a friend
    Though she may wander far.”

“It’s so nice to be appreciated,” sighed Anne rapturously to Marilla
that night.

The girls were not the only scholars who “appreciated” her. When Anne
went to her seat after dinner hour—she had been told by Mr. Phillips to
sit with the model Minnie Andrews—she found on her desk a big luscious
“strawberry apple.” Anne caught it up all ready to take a bite, when
she remembered that the only place in Avonlea where strawberry apples
grew was in the old Blythe orchard on the other side of the Lake of
Shining Waters. Anne dropped the apple as if it were a red-hot coal and
ostentatiously wiped her fingers on her handkerchief. The apple lay
untouched on her desk until the next morning, when little Timothy
Andrews, who swept the school and kindled the fire, annexed it as one
of his perquisites. Charlie Sloane’s slate pencil, gorgeously bedizened
with striped red and yellow paper, costing two cents where ordinary
pencils cost only one, which he sent up to her after dinner hour, met
with a more favourable reception. Anne was graciously pleased to accept
it and rewarded the donor with a smile which exalted that infatuated
youth straightway into the seventh heaven of delight and caused him to
make such fearful errors in his dictation that Mr. Phillips kept him in
after school to rewrite it.

But as,

    “The Cæsar’s pageant shorn of Brutus’ bust
    Did but of Rome’s best son remind her more,”

so the marked absence of any tribute or recognition from Diana Barry,
who was sitting with Gertie Pye, embittered Anne’s little triumph.

“Diana might just have smiled at me once, I think,” she mourned to
Marilla that night. But the next morning a note, most fearfully and
wonderfully twisted and folded, and a small parcel, were passed across
to Anne.

“Dear Anne,” ran the former, “Mother says I’m not to play with you or
talk to you even in school. It isn’t my fault and don’t be cross at me,
because I love you as much as ever. I miss you awfully to tell all my
secrets to and I don’t like Gertie Pye one bit. I made you one of the
new bookmarkers out of red tissue paper. They are awfully fashionable
now and only three girls in school know how to make them. When you look
at it remember

                                “Your true friend,
                                    “Diana Barry.”

Anne read the note, kissed the bookmark, and despatched a prompt reply
back to the other side of the school.

“My own darling Diana:—

“Of course I am not cross at you because you have to obey your mother.
Our spirits can comune. I shall keep your lovely present forever.
Minnie Andrews is a very nice little girl—although she has no
imagination—but after having been Diana’s busum friend I cannot be
Minnie’s. Please excuse mistakes because my spelling isn’t very good
yet, although much improoved.

                                “Yours until death us do part,
                                    “Anne or Cordelia Shirley.

“P. S. I shall sleep with your letter under my pillow to-night.
                                    “A. or C. S.”

Marilla pessimistically expected more trouble since Anne had again
begun to go to school. But none developed. Perhaps Anne caught
something of the “model” spirit from Minnie Andrews; at least she got
on very well with Mr. Phillips thenceforth. She flung herself into her
studies heart and soul, determined not to be outdone in any class by
Gilbert Blythe. The rivalry between them was soon apparent; it was
entirely good-natured on Gilbert’s side; but it is much to be feared
that the same thing cannot be said of Anne, who had certainly an
unpraiseworthy tenacity for holding grudges. She was as intense in her
hatreds as in her loves. She would not stoop to admit that she meant to
rival Gilbert in school work, because that would have been to
acknowledge his existence which Anne persistently ignored; but the
rivalry was there and honours fluctuated between them. Now Gilbert was
head of the spelling class; now Anne, with a toss of her long red
braids, spelled him down. One morning Gilbert had all his sums done
correctly and had his name written on the blackboard on the roll of
honour; the next morning Anne, having wrestled wildly with decimals the
entire evening before, would be first. One awful day they were ties and
their names were written up together. It was almost as bad as a
“take-notice” and Anne’s mortification was as evident as Gilbert’s
satisfaction. When the written examinations at the end of each month
were held the suspense was terrible. The first month Gilbert came out
three marks ahead. The second Anne beat him by five. But her triumph
was marred by the fact that Gilbert congratulated her heartily before
the whole school. It would have been ever so much sweeter to her if he
had felt the sting of his defeat.

Mr. Phillips might not be a very good teacher; but a pupil so
inflexibly determined on learning as Anne was could hardly escape
making progress under any kind of a teacher. By the end of the term
Anne and Gilbert were both promoted into the fifth class and allowed to
begin studying the elements of “the branches”—by which Latin, geometry,
French and algebra were meant. In geometry Anne met her Waterloo.

“It’s perfectly awful stuff, Marilla,” she groaned. “I’m sure I’ll
never be able to make head or tail of it. There is no scope for
imagination in it at all. Mr. Phillips says I’m the worst dunce he ever
saw at it. And Gil—I mean some of the others are so smart at it. It is
extremely mortifying, Marilla. Even Diana gets along better than I do.
But I don’t mind being beaten by Diana. Even although we meet as
strangers now I still love her with an _inextinguishable_ love. It
makes me very sad at times to think about her. But really, Marilla, one
can’t stay sad very long in such an interesting world, can one?”



CHAPTER XVIII.

ANNE TO THE RESCUE


All things great are wound up with all things little. At first glance
it might not seem that the decision of a certain Canadian Premier to
include Prince Edward Island in a political tour could have much or
anything to do with the fortunes of little Anne Shirley at Green
Gables. But it had.

It was in January the Premier came, to address his loyal supporters and
such of his non-supporters as chose to be present at the monster mass
meeting held in Charlottetown. Most of the Avonlea people were on the
Premier’s side of politics; hence, on the night of the meeting nearly
all the men and a goodly proportion of the women had gone to town,
thirty miles away. Mrs. Rachel Lynde had gone too. Mrs. Rachel Lynde
was a red-hot politician and couldn’t have believed that the political
rally could be carried through without her, although she was on the
opposite side of politics. So she went to town and took her
husband—Thomas would be useful in looking after the horse—and Marilla
Cuthbert with her. Marilla had a sneaking interest in politics herself,
and as she thought it might be her only chance to see a real live
Premier, she promptly took it, leaving Anne and Matthew to keep house
until her return the following day.

Hence, while Marilla and Mrs. Rachel were enjoying themselves hugely at
the mass meeting, Anne and Matthew had the cheerful kitchen at Green
Gables all to themselves. A bright fire was glowing in the
old-fashioned Waterloo stove and blue-white frost crystals were shining
on the window-panes. Matthew nodded over a _Farmers’ Advocate_ on the
sofa and Anne at the table studied her lessons with grim determination,
despite sundry wistful glances at the clock shelf, where lay a new book
that Jane Andrews had lent her that day. Jane had assured her that it
was warranted to produce any number of thrills, or words to that
effect, and Anne’s fingers tingled to reach out for it. But that would
mean Gilbert Blythe’s triumph on the morrow. Anne turned her back on
the clock shelf and tried to imagine it wasn’t there.

“Matthew, did you ever study geometry when you went to school?”

“Well now, no, I didn’t,” said Matthew, coming out of his doze with a
start.

“I wish you had,” sighed Anne, “because then you’d be able to
sympathize with me. You can’t sympathize properly if you’ve never
studied it. It is casting a cloud over my whole life. I’m such a dunce
at it, Matthew.”

“Well now, I dunno,” said Matthew soothingly. “I guess you’re all right
at anything. Mr. Phillips told me last week in Blair’s store at Carmody
that you was the smartest scholar in school and was making rapid
progress. ‘Rapid progress’ was his very words. There’s them as runs
down Teddy Phillips and says he ain’t much of a teacher; but I guess
he’s all right.”

Matthew would have thought any one who praised Anne was “all right.”

“I’m sure I’d get on better with geometry if only he wouldn’t change
the letters,” complained Anne. “I learn the proposition off by heart,
and then he draws it on the blackboard and puts different letters from
what are in the book and I get all mixed up. I don’t think a teacher
should take such a mean advantage, do you? We’re studying agriculture
now and I’ve found out at last what makes the roads red. It’s a great
comfort. I wonder how Marilla and Mrs. Lynde are enjoying themselves.
Mrs. Lynde says Canada is going to the dogs the way things are being
run at Ottawa, and that it’s an awful warning to the electors. She says
if women were allowed to vote we would soon see a blessed change. What
way do you vote, Matthew?”

“Conservative,” said Matthew promptly. To vote Conservative was part of
Matthew’s religion.

“Then I’m Conservative too,” said Anne decidedly. “I’m glad, because
Gil— because some of the boys in school are Grits. I guess Mr. Phillips
is a Grit too, because Prissy Andrews’ father is one, and Ruby Gillis
says that when a man is courting he always has to agree with the girl’s
mother in religion and her father in politics. Is that true, Matthew?”

“Well now, I dunno,” said Matthew.

“Did you ever go courting, Matthew?”

“Well now, no, I dunno’s I ever did,” said Matthew, who had certainly
never thought of such a thing in his whole existence.

Anne reflected with her chin in her hands.

“It must be rather interesting, don’t you think, Matthew? Ruby Gillis
says when she grows up she’s going to have ever so many beaus on the
string and have them all crazy about her; but I think that would be too
exciting. I’d rather have just one in his right mind. But Ruby Gillis
knows a great deal about such matters because she has so many big
sisters, and Mrs. Lynde says the Gillis girls have gone off like hot
cakes. Mr. Phillips goes up to see Prissy Andrews nearly every evening.
He says it is to help her with her lessons, but Miranda Sloane is
studying for Queen’s, too, and I should think she needed help a lot
more than Prissy because she’s ever so much stupider, but he never goes
to help her in the evenings at all. There are a great many things in
this world that I can’t understand very well, Matthew.”

“Well now, I dunno as I comprehend them all myself,” acknowledged
Matthew.

“Well, I suppose I must finish up my lessons. I won’t allow myself to
open that new book Jane lent me until I’m through. But it’s a terrible
temptation, Matthew. Even when I turn my back on it I can see it there
just as plain. Jane said she cried herself sick over it. I love a book
that makes me cry. But I think I’ll carry that book into the
sitting-room and lock it in the jam closet and give you the key. And
you must _not_ give it to me, Matthew, until my lessons are done, not
even if I implore you on my bended knees. It’s all very well to say
resist temptation, but it’s ever so much easier to resist it if you
can’t get the key. And then shall I run down the cellar and get some
russets, Matthew? Wouldn’t you like some russets?”

“Well now, I dunno but what I would,” said Matthew, who never ate
russets but knew Anne’s weakness for them.

Just as Anne emerged triumphantly from the cellar with her plateful of
russets came the sound of flying footsteps on the icy board walk
outside and the next moment the kitchen door was flung open and in
rushed Diana Barry, white-faced and breathless, with a shawl wrapped
hastily around her head. Anne promptly let go of her candle and plate
in her surprise, and plate, candle, and apples crashed together down
the cellar ladder and were found at the bottom embedded in melted
grease, the next day, by Marilla, who gathered them up and thanked
mercy the house hadn’t been set on fire.

“Whatever is the matter, Diana?” cried Anne. “Has your mother relented
at last?”

“Oh, Anne, do come quick,” implored Diana nervously. “Minnie May is
awful sick—she’s got croup, Young Mary Joe says—and father and mother
are away to town and there’s nobody to go for the doctor. Minnie May is
awful bad and Young Mary Joe doesn’t know what to do—and oh, Anne, I’m
so scared!”

Matthew, without a word, reached out for cap and coat, slipped past
Diana and away into the darkness of the yard.

“He’s gone to harness the sorrel mare to go to Carmody for the doctor,”
said Anne, who was hurrying on hood and jacket. “I know it as well as
if he’d said so. Matthew and I are such kindred spirits I can read his
thoughts without words at all.”

“I don’t believe he’ll find the doctor at Carmody,” sobbed Diana. “I
know that Doctor Blair went to town and I guess Doctor Spencer would go
too, Young Mary Joe never saw anybody with croup and Mrs. Lynde is
away. Oh, Anne!”

“Don’t cry, Di,” said Anne cheerily. “I know exactly what to do for
croup. You forget that Mrs. Hammond had twins three times. When you
look after three pairs of twins you naturally get a lot of experience.
They all had croup regularly. Just wait till I get the ipecac
bottle—you mayn’t have any at your house. Come on now.”

The two little girls hastened out hand in hand and hurried through
Lovers’ Lane and across the crusted field beyond, for the snow was too
deep to go by the shorter wood way. Anne, although sincerely sorry for
Minnie May, was far from being insensible to the romance of the
situation and to the sweetness of once more sharing that romance with a
kindred spirit.

The night was clear and frosty, all ebony of shadow and silver of snowy
slope; big stars were shining over the silent fields; here and there
the dark pointed firs stood up with snow powdering their branches and
the wind whistling through them. Anne thought it was truly delightful
to go skimming through all this mystery and loveliness with your bosom
friend who had been so long estranged.

Minnie May, aged three, was really very sick. She lay on the kitchen
sofa, feverish and restless, while her hoarse breathing could be heard
all over the house. Young Mary Joe, a buxom, broad-faced French girl
from the Creek, whom Mrs. Barry had engaged to stay with the children
during her absence, was helpless and bewildered, quite incapable of
thinking what to do, or doing it if she thought of it.

Anne went to work with skill and promptness.

“Minnie May has croup all right; she’s pretty bad, but I’ve seen them
worse. First we must have lots of hot water. I declare, Diana, there
isn’t more than a cupful in the kettle! There, I’ve filled it up, and,
Mary Joe, you may put some wood in the stove. I don’t want to hurt your
feelings, but it seems to me you might have thought of this before if
you’d any imagination. Now, I’ll undress Minnie May and put her to bed,
and you try to find some soft flannel cloths, Diana. I’m going to give
her a dose of ipecac first of all.”

Minnie May did not take kindly to the ipecac, but Anne had not brought
up three pairs of twins for nothing. Down that ipecac went, not only
once, but many times during the long, anxious night when the two little
girls worked patiently over the suffering Minnie May, and Young Mary
Joe, honestly anxious to do all she could, kept on a roaring fire and
heated more water than would have been needed for a hospital of croupy
babies.

It was three o’clock when Matthew came with the doctor, for he had been
obliged to go all the way to Spencervale for one. But the pressing need
for assistance was past. Minnie May was much better and was sleeping
soundly.

“I was awfully near giving up in despair,” explained Anne. “She got
worse and worse until she was sicker than ever the Hammond twins were,
even the last pair. I actually thought she was going to choke to death.
I gave her every drop of ipecac in that bottle, and when the last dose
went down I said to myself—not to Diana or Young Mary Joe, because I
didn’t want to worry them any more than they were worried, but I had to
say it to myself just to relieve my feelings—‘This is the last
lingering hope and I fear ’tis a vain one.’ But in about three minutes
she coughed up the phlegm and began to get better right away. You must
just imagine my relief, doctor, because I can’t express it in words.
You know there are some things that cannot be expressed in words.”

“Yes, I know,” nodded the doctor. He looked at Anne as if he were
thinking some things about her that couldn’t be expressed in words.
Later on, however, he expressed them to Mr. and Mrs. Barry.

“That little red-headed girl they have over at Cuthbert’s is as smart
as they make ’em. I tell you she saved that baby’s life, for it would
have been too late by the time I got here. She seems to have a skill
and presence of mind perfectly wonderful in a child of her age. I never
saw anything like the eyes of her when she was explaining the case out
to me.”

Anne had gone home in the wonderful, white-frosted winter morning,
heavy-eyed from loss of sleep, but still talking unweariedly to Matthew
as they crossed the long white field and walked under the glittering
fairy arch of the Lovers’ Lane maples.

“Oh, Matthew, isn’t it a wonderful morning? The world looks like
something God had just imagined for His own pleasure, doesn’t it? Those
trees look as if I could blow them away with a breath—pouf! I’m so glad
I live in a world where there are white frosts, aren’t you? And I’m so
glad Mrs. Hammond had three pairs of twins after all. If she hadn’t I
mightn’t have known what to do for Minnie May. I’m real sorry I was
ever cross with Mrs. Hammond for having twins. But, oh, Matthew, I’m so
sleepy. I can’t go to school. I just know I couldn’t keep my eyes open
and I’d be so stupid. But I hate to stay home for Gil— some of the
others will get head of the class, and it’s so hard to get up
again—although of course the harder it is the more satisfaction you
have when you do get up, haven’t you?”

“Well now, I guess you’ll manage all right,” said Matthew, looking at
Anne’s white little face and the dark shadows under her eyes. “You just
go right to bed and have a good sleep. I’ll do all the chores.”

Anne accordingly went to bed and slept so long and soundly that it was
well on in the white and rosy winter afternoon when she awoke and
descended to the kitchen where Marilla, who had arrived home in the
meantime, was sitting knitting.

“Oh, did you see the Premier?” exclaimed Anne at once. “What did he
look like, Marilla?”

“Well, he never got to be Premier on account of his looks,” said
Marilla. “Such a nose as that man had! But he can speak. I was proud of
being a Conservative. Rachel Lynde, of course, being a Liberal, had no
use for him. Your dinner is in the oven, Anne; and you can get yourself
some blue plum preserve out of the pantry. I guess you’re hungry.
Matthew has been telling me about last night. I must say it was
fortunate you knew what to do. I wouldn’t have had any idea myself, for
I never saw a case of croup. There now, never mind talking till you’ve
had your dinner. I can tell by the look of you that you’re just full up
with speeches, but they’ll keep.”

Marilla had something to tell Anne, but she did not tell it just then,
for she knew if she did Anne’s consequent excitement would lift her
clear out of the region of such material matters as appetite or dinner.
Not until Anne had finished her saucer of blue plums did Marilla say:

“Mrs. Barry was here this afternoon, Anne. She wanted to see you, but I
wouldn’t wake you up. She says you saved Minnie May’s life, and she is
very sorry she acted as she did in that affair of the currant wine. She
says she knows now you didn’t mean to set Diana drunk, and she hopes
you’ll forgive her and be good friends with Diana again. You’re to go
over this evening if you like, for Diana can’t stir outside the door on
account of a bad cold she caught last night. Now, Anne Shirley, for
pity’s sake don’t fly clean up into the air.”

The warning seemed not unnecessary, so uplifted and aerial was Anne’s
expression and attitude as she sprang to her feet, her face irradiated
with the flame of her spirit.

“Oh, Marilla, can I go right now—without washing my dishes? I’ll wash
them when I come back, but I cannot tie myself down to anything so
unromantic as dish-washing at this thrilling moment.”

“Yes, yes, run along,” said Marilla indulgently. “Anne Shirley—are you
crazy? Come back this instant and put something on you. I might as well
call to the wind. She’s gone without a cap or wrap. Look at her tearing
through the orchard with her hair streaming. It’ll be a mercy if she
doesn’t catch her death of cold.”

Anne came dancing home in the purple winter twilight across the snowy
places. Afar in the southwest was the great shimmering, pearl-like
sparkle of an evening star in a sky that was pale golden and ethereal
rose over gleaming white spaces and dark glens of spruce. The tinkles
of sleigh-bells among the snowy hills came like elfin chimes through
the frosty air, but their music was not sweeter than the song in Anne’s
heart and on her lips.

“You see before you a perfectly happy person, Marilla,” she announced.
“I’m perfectly happy—yes, in spite of my red hair. Just at present I
have a soul above red hair. Mrs. Barry kissed me and cried and said she
was so sorry and she could never repay me. I felt fearfully
embarrassed, Marilla, but I just said as politely as I could, ‘I have
no hard feelings for you, Mrs. Barry. I assure you once for all that I
did not mean to intoxicate Diana and henceforth I shall cover the past
with the mantle of oblivion.’ That was a pretty dignified way of
speaking, wasn’t it, Marilla? I felt that I was heaping coals of fire
on Mrs. Barry’s head. And Diana and I had a lovely afternoon. Diana
showed me a new fancy crochet stitch her aunt over at Carmody taught
her. Not a soul in Avonlea knows it but us, and we pledged a solemn vow
never to reveal it to any one else. Diana gave me a beautiful card with
a wreath of roses on it and a verse of poetry:

    “‘If you love me as I love you
    Nothing but death can part us two.’

And that is true, Marilla. We’re going to ask Mr. Phillips to let us
sit together in school again, and Gertie Pye can go with Minnie
Andrews. We had an elegant tea. Mrs. Barry had the very best china set
out, Marilla, just as if I was real company. I can’t tell you what a
thrill it gave me. Nobody ever used their very best china on my account
before. And we had fruit-cake and pound-cake and doughnuts and two
kinds of preserves, Marilla. And Mrs. Barry asked me if I took tea and
said, ‘Pa, why don’t you pass the biscuits to Anne?’ It must be lovely
to be grown up, Marilla, when just being treated as if you were is so
nice.”

“I don’t know about that,” said Marilla with a brief sigh.

“Well, anyway, when I am grown up,” said Anne decidedly, “I’m always
going to talk to little girls as if they were, too, and I’ll never
laugh when they use big words. I know from sorrowful experience how
that hurts one’s feelings. After tea Diana and I made taffy. The taffy
wasn’t very good, I suppose because neither Diana nor I had ever made
any before. Diana left me to stir it while she buttered the plates and
I forgot and let it burn; and then when we set it out on the platform
to cool the cat walked over one plate and that had to be thrown away.
But the making of it was splendid fun. Then when I came home Mrs. Barry
asked me to come over as often as I could and Diana stood at the window
and threw kisses to me all the way down to Lovers’ Lane. I assure you,
Marilla, that I feel like praying to-night and I’m going to think out a
special brand-new prayer in honour of the occasion.”



CHAPTER XIX.

A CONCERT, A CATASTROPHE, AND A CONFESSION


“Marilla, can I go over to see Diana just for a minute?” asked Anne,
running breathlessly down from the east gable one February evening.

“I don’t see what you want to be traipsing about after dark for,” said
Marilla shortly. “You and Diana walked home from school together and
then stood down there in the snow for half an hour more, your tongues
going the whole blessed time, clickety-clack. So I don’t think you’re
very badly off to see her again.”

“But she wants to see me,” pleaded Anne. “She has something very
important to tell me.”

“How do you know she has?”

“Because she just signalled to me from her window. We have arranged a
way to signal with our candles and cardboard. We set the candle on the
window-sill and make flashes by passing the cardboard back and forth.
So many flashes mean a certain thing. It was my idea, Marilla.”

“I’ll warrant you it was,” said Marilla emphatically. “And the next
thing you’ll be setting fire to the curtains with your signalling
nonsense.”

“Oh, we’re very careful, Marilla. And it’s so interesting. Two flashes
mean, ‘Are you there?’ Three mean ‘yes’ and four ‘no.’ Five mean, ‘Come
over as soon as possible, because I have something important to
reveal.’ Diana has just signalled five flashes, and I’m really
suffering to know what it is.”

“Well, you needn’t suffer any longer,” said Marilla sarcastically. “You
can go, but you’re to be back here in just ten minutes, remember that.”

Anne did remember it and was back in the stipulated time, although
probably no mortal will ever know just what it cost her to confine the
discussion of Diana’s important communication within the limits of ten
minutes. But at least she had made good use of them.

“Oh, Marilla, what do you think? You know to-morrow is Diana’s
birthday. Well, her mother told her she could ask me to go home with
her from school and stay all night with her. And her cousins are coming
over from Newbridge in a big pung sleigh to go to the Debating Club
concert at the hall to-morrow night. And they are going to take Diana
and me to the concert—if you’ll let me go, that is. You will, won’t
you, Marilla? Oh, I feel so excited.”

“You can calm down then, because you’re not going. You’re better at
home in your own bed, and as for that Club concert, it’s all nonsense,
and little girls should not be allowed to go out to such places at all.”

“I’m sure the Debating Club is a most respectable affair,” pleaded Anne.

“I’m not saying it isn’t. But you’re not going to begin gadding about
to concerts and staying out all hours of the night. Pretty doings for
children. I’m surprised at Mrs. Barry’s letting Diana go.”

“But it’s such a very special occasion,” mourned Anne, on the verge of
tears. “Diana has only one birthday in a year. It isn’t as if birthdays
were common things, Marilla. Prissy Andrews is going to recite ‘Curfew
Must Not Ring To-night.’ That is such a good moral piece, Marilla, I’m
sure it would do me lots of good to hear it. And the choir are going to
sing four lovely pathetic songs that are pretty near as good as hymns.
And oh, Marilla, the minister is going to take part; yes, indeed, he
is; he’s going to give an address. That will be just about the same
thing as a sermon. Please, mayn’t I go, Marilla?”

“You heard what I said, Anne, didn’t you? Take off your boots now and
go to bed. It’s past eight.”

“There’s just one more thing, Marilla,” said Anne, with the air of
producing the last shot in her locker. “Mrs. Barry told Diana that we
might sleep in the spare-room bed. Think of the honour of your little
Anne being put in the spare-room bed.”

“It’s an honour you’ll have to get along without. Go to bed, Anne, and
don’t let me hear another word out of you.”

When Anne, with tears rolling over her cheeks, had gone sorrowfully
up-stairs, Matthew, who had been apparently sound asleep on the lounge
during the whole dialogue, opened his eyes and said decidedly:

“Well now, Marilla, I think you ought to let Anne go.”

“I don’t then,” retorted Marilla. “Who’s bringing this child up,
Matthew, you or me?”

“Well now, you,” admitted Matthew.

“Don’t interfere then.”

“Well now, I ain’t interfering. It ain’t interfering to have your own
opinion. And my opinion is that you ought to let Anne go.”

“You’d think I ought to let Anne go to the moon if she took the notion,
I’ve no doubt,” was Marilla’s amiable rejoinder. “I might have let her
spend the night with Diana, if that was all. But I don’t approve of
this concert plan. She’d go there and catch cold like as not, and have
her head filled up with nonsense and excitement. It would unsettle her
for a week. I understand that child’s disposition and what’s good for
it better than you, Matthew.”

“I think you ought to let Anne go,” repeated Matthew firmly. Argument
was not his strong point, but holding fast to his opinion certainly
was. Marilla gave a gasp of helplessness and took refuge in silence.
The next morning, when Anne was washing the breakfast dishes in the
pantry, Matthew paused on his way out to the barn to say to Marilla
again:

“I think you ought to let Anne go, Marilla.”

For a moment Marilla looked things not lawful to be uttered. Then she
yielded to the inevitable and said tartly:

“Very well, she can go, since nothing else’ll please you.”

Anne flew out of the pantry, dripping dish-cloth in hand.

“Oh, Marilla, Marilla, say those blessed words again.”

“I guess once is enough to say them. This is Matthew’s doings and I
wash my hands of it. If you catch pneumonia sleeping in a strange bed
or coming out of that hot hall in the middle of the night, don’t blame
me, blame Matthew. Anne Shirley, you’re dripping greasy water all over
the floor. I never saw such a careless child.”

“Oh, I know I’m a great trial to you, Marilla,” said Anne repentantly.
“I make so many mistakes. But then just think of all the mistakes I
don’t make, although I might. I’ll get some sand and scrub up the spots
before I go to school. Oh, Marilla, my heart was just set on going to
that concert. I never was to a concert in my life, and when the other
girls talk about them in school I feel so out of it. You didn’t know
just how I felt about it, but you see Matthew did. Matthew understands
me, and it’s so nice to be understood, Marilla.”

Anne was too excited to do herself justice as to lessons that morning
in school. Gilbert Blythe spelled her down in class and left her clear
out of sight in mental arithmetic. Anne’s consequent humiliation was
less than it might have been, however, in view of the concert and the
spare-room bed. She and Diana talked so constantly about it all day
that with a stricter teacher than Mr. Phillips dire disgrace must
inevitably have been their portion.

Anne felt that she could not have borne it if she had not been going to
the concert, for nothing else was discussed that day in school. The
Avonlea Debating Club, which met fortnightly all winter, had had
several smaller free entertainments; but this was to be a big affair,
admission ten cents, in aid of the library. The Avonlea young people
had been practising for weeks, and all the scholars were especially
interested in it by reason of older brothers and sisters who were going
to take part. Everybody in school over nine years of age expected to
go, except Carrie Sloane, whose father shared Marilla’s opinions about
small girls going out to night concerts. Carrie Sloane cried into her
grammar all the afternoon and felt that life was not worth living.

For Anne the real excitement began with the dismissal of school and
increased therefrom in crescendo until it reached to a crash of
positive ecstasy in the concert itself. They had a “perfectly elegant
tea;” and then came the delicious occupation of dressing in Diana’s
little room up-stairs. Diana did Anne’s front hair in the new pompadour
style and Anne tied Diana’s bows with the especial knack she possessed;
and they experimented with at least half a dozen different ways of
arranging their back hair. At last they were ready, cheeks scarlet and
eyes glowing with excitement.

True, Anne could not help a little pang when she contrasted her plain
black tam and shapeless, tight-sleeved, home-made gray cloth coat with
Diana’s jaunty fur cap and smart little jacket. But she remembered in
time that she had an imagination and could use it.

Then Diana’s cousins, the Murrays from Newbridge, came; they all
crowded into the big pung sleigh, among straw and furry robes. Anne
revelled in the drive to the hall, slipping along over the satin-smooth
roads with the snow crisping under the runners. There was a magnificent
sunset, and the snowy hills and deep blue water of the St. Lawrence
Gulf seemed to rim in the splendour like a huge bowl of pearl and
sapphire brimmed with wine and fire. Tinkles of sleigh-bells and
distant laughter, that seemed like the mirth of wood elves, came from
every quarter.

“Oh, Diana,” breathed Anne, squeezing Diana’s mittened hand under the
fur robe, “isn’t it all like a beautiful dream? Do I really look the
same as usual? I feel so different that it seems to me it must show in
my looks.”

“You look awfully nice,” said Diana, who having just received a
compliment from one of her cousins, felt that she ought to pass it on.
“You’ve got the loveliest colour.”

The programme that night was a series of “thrills” for at least one
listener in the audience, and, as Anne assured Diana, every succeeding
thrill was thrillier than the last. When Prissy Andrews, attired in a
new pink silk waist with a string of pearls about her smooth white
throat and real carnations in her hair—rumour whispered that the master
had sent all the way to town for them for her—“climbed the slimy
ladder, dark without one ray of light,” Anne shivered in luxurious
sympathy; when the choir sang “Far Above the Gentle Daisies” Anne gazed
at the ceiling as if it were frescoed with angels; when Sam Sloane
proceeded to explain and illustrate “How Sockery Set a Hen” Anne
laughed until people sitting near her laughed too, more out of sympathy
with her than with amusement at a selection that was rather threadbare
even in Avonlea; and when Mr. Phillips gave Mark Antony’s oration over
the dead body of Cæsar in the most heart-stirring tones—looking at
Prissy Andrews at the end of every sentence—Anne felt that she could
rise and mutiny on the spot if but one Roman citizen led the way.

Only one number on the programme failed to interest her. When Gilbert
Blythe recited “Bingen on the Rhine” Anne picked up Rhoda Murray’s
library book and read it until he had finished, when she sat rigidly
stiff and motionless while Diana clapped her hands until they tingled.

It was eleven when they got home, sated with dissipation, but with the
exceeding sweet pleasure of talking it all over still to come.
Everybody seemed asleep and the house was dark and silent. Anne and
Diana tiptoed into the parlour, a long narrow room out of which the
spare room opened. It was pleasantly warm and dimly lighted by the
embers of a fire in the grate.

“Let’s undress here,” said Diana. “It’s so nice and warm.”

“Hasn’t it been a delightful time?” sighed Anne rapturously. “It must
be splendid to get up and recite there. Do you suppose we will ever be
asked to do it, Diana?”

“Yes, of course, some day. They’re always wanting the big scholars to
recite. Gilbert Blythe does often and he’s only two years older than
us. Oh, Anne, how could you pretend not to listen to him? When he came
to the line,

    “‘There’s another, _not_ a sister,’

he looked right down at you.”

“Diana,” said Anne with dignity, “you are my bosom friend, but I cannot
allow even you to speak to me of that person. Are you ready for bed?
Let’s run a race and see who’ll get to the bed first.”

The suggestion appealed to Diana. The two little white-clad figures
flew down the long room, through the spare-room door, and bounded on
the bed at the same moment. And then—something—moved beneath them,
there was a gasp and a cry—and somebody said in muffled accents:

“Merciful goodness!”

Anne and Diana were never able to tell just how they got off that bed
and out of the room. They only knew that after one frantic rush they
found themselves tiptoeing shiveringly up-stairs.

“Oh, who was it—_what_ was it?” whispered Anne, her teeth chattering
with cold and fright.

“It was Aunt Josephine,” said Diana, gasping with laughter. “Oh, Anne,
it was Aunt Josephine, however she came to be there. Oh, and I know she
will be furious. It’s dreadful—it’s really dreadful—but did you ever
know anything so funny, Anne?”

“Who is your Aunt Josephine?”

“She’s father’s aunt and she lives in Charlottetown. She’s awfully
old—seventy anyhow—and I don’t believe she was _ever_ a little girl. We
were expecting her out for a visit, but not so soon. She’s awfully prim
and proper and she’ll scold dreadfully about this, I know. Well, we’ll
have to sleep with Minnie May—and you can’t think how she kicks.”

Miss Josephine Barry did not appear at the early breakfast the next
morning. Mrs. Barry smiled kindly at the two little girls.

“Did you have a good time last night? I tried to stay awake until you
came home, for I wanted to tell you Aunt Josephine had come and that
you would have to go up-stairs after all, but I was so tired I fell
asleep. I hope you didn’t disturb your aunt, Diana.”

Diana preserved a discreet silence, but she and Anne exchanged furtive
smiles of guilty amusement across the table. Anne hurried home after
breakfast and so remained in blissful ignorance of the disturbance
which presently resulted in the Barry household until the late
afternoon, when she went down to Mrs. Lynde’s on an errand for Marilla.

“So you and Diana nearly frightened poor old Miss Barry to death last
night?” said Mrs. Lynde severely, but with a twinkle in her eye. “Mrs.
Barry was here a few minutes ago on her way to Carmody. She’s feeling
real worried over it. Old Miss Barry was in a terrible temper when she
got up this morning—and Josephine Barry’s temper is no joke, I can tell
you that. She wouldn’t speak to Diana at all.”

“It wasn’t Diana’s fault,” said Anne contritely. “It was mine. I
suggested racing to see who would get into bed first.”

“I knew it!” said Mrs. Lynde with the exultation of a correct guesser.
“I knew that idea came out of your head. Well, it’s made a nice lot of
trouble, that’s what. Old Miss Barry came out to stay for a month, but
she declares she won’t stay another day and is going right back to town
to-morrow, Sunday and all as it is. She’d have gone to-day if they
could have taken her. She had promised to pay for a quarter’s music
lessons for Diana, but now she is determined to do nothing at all for
such a tomboy. Oh, I guess they had a lively time of it there this
morning. The Barrys must feel cut up. Old Miss Barry is rich and they’d
like to keep on the good side of her. Of course, Mrs. Barry didn’t say
just that to me, but I’m a pretty good judge of human nature, that’s
what.”

“I’m such an unlucky girl,” mourned Anne. “I’m always getting into
scrapes myself and getting my best friends—people I’d shed my heart’s
blood for—into them, too. Can you tell me why it is so, Mrs. Lynde?”

“It’s because you’re too heedless and impulsive, child, that’s what.
You never stop to think—whatever comes into your head to say or do you
say or do it without a moment’s reflection.”

“Oh, but that’s the best of it,” protested Anne. “Something just
flashes into your mind, so exciting, and you must out with it. If you
stop to think it over you spoil it all. Haven’t you never felt that
yourself, Mrs. Lynde?”

No, Mrs. Lynde had not. She shook her head sagely.

“You must learn to think a little, Anne, that’s what. The proverb you
need to go by is ‘Look before you leap’—especially into spare-room
beds.”

Mrs. Lynde laughed comfortably over her mild joke, but Anne remained
pensive. She saw nothing to laugh at in the situation, which to her
eyes appeared very serious. When she left Mrs. Lynde’s she took her way
across the crusted fields to Orchard Slope. Diana met her at the
kitchen door.

“Your Aunt Josephine was very cross about it, wasn’t she?” whispered
Anne.

“Yes,” answered Diana, stifling a giggle with an apprehensive glance
over her shoulder at the closed sitting-room door. “She was fairly
dancing with rage, Anne. Oh, how she scolded. She said I was the
worst-behaved girl she ever saw and that my parents ought to be ashamed
of the way they had brought me up. She says she won’t stay and I’m sure
I don’t care. But father and mother do.”

“Why didn’t you tell them it was my fault?” demanded Anne.

“It’s likely I’d do such a thing, isn’t it?” said Diana with just
scorn. “I’m no telltale, Anne Shirley, and anyhow I was just as much to
blame as you.”

“Well, I’m going in to tell her myself,” said Anne resolutely.

Diana stared.

“Anne Shirley, you’d never! why—she’ll eat you alive!”

“Don’t frighten me any more than I am frightened,” implored Anne. “I’d
rather walk up to a cannon’s mouth. But I’ve got to do it, Diana. It
was my fault and I’ve got to confess. I’ve had practice in confessing
fortunately.”

“Well, she’s in the room,” said Diana. “You can go in if you want to. I
wouldn’t dare. And I don’t believe you’ll do a bit of good.”

With this encouragement Anne bearded the lion in its den—that is to
say, walked resolutely up to the sitting-room door and knocked faintly.
A sharp “Come in” followed.

Miss Josephine Barry, thin, prim and rigid, was knitting fiercely by
the fire, her wrath quite unappeased and her eyes snapping through her
gold-rimmed glasses. She wheeled around in her chair, expecting to see
Diana, and beheld a white-faced girl whose great eyes were brimmed up
with a mixture of desperate courage and shrinking terror.

“Who are you?” demanded Miss Josephine Barry without ceremony.

“I’m Anne of Green Gables,” said the small visitor tremulously,
clasping her hands with her characteristic gesture, “and I’ve come to
confess, if you please.”

“Confess what?”

“That it was all my fault about jumping into bed on you last night. I
suggested it. Diana would never have thought of such a thing, I am
sure. Diana is a very lady-like girl, Miss Barry. So you must see how
unjust it is to blame her.”

“Oh, I must, hey? I rather think Diana did her share of the jumping at
least. Such carryings-on in a respectable house!”

“But we were only in fun,” persisted Anne. “I think you ought to
forgive us, Miss Barry, now that we’ve apologized. And anyhow, please
forgive Diana and let her have her music lessons. Diana’s heart is set
on her music lessons, Miss Barry, and I know too well what it is to set
your heart on a thing and not get it. If you must be cross with any
one, be cross with me. I’ve been so used in my early days to having
people cross at me that I can endure it much better than Diana can.”

Much of the snap had gone out of the old lady’s eyes by this time and
was replaced by a twinkle of amused interest. But she still said
severely:

“I don’t think it is any excuse for you that you were only in fun.
Little girls never indulged in that kind of fun when I was young. You
don’t know what it is to be awakened out of a sound sleep, after a long
and arduous journey, by two great girls coming bounce down on you.”

“I don’t _know_, but I can _imagine_,” said Anne eagerly. “I’m sure it
must have been very disturbing. But then, there is our side of it too.
Have you any imagination, Miss Barry? If you have, just put yourself in
our place. We didn’t know there was anybody in that bed and you nearly
scared us to death. It was simply awful the way we felt. And then we
couldn’t sleep in the spare room after being promised. I suppose you
are used to sleeping in spare rooms. But just imagine what you would
feel like if you were a little orphan girl who had never had such an
honour.”

All the snap had gone by this time. Miss Barry actually laughed—a sound
which caused Diana, waiting in speechless anxiety in the kitchen
outside, to give a great gasp of relief.

“I’m afraid my imagination is a little rusty—it’s so long since I used
it,” she said. “I dare say your claim to sympathy is just as strong as
mine. It all depends on the way we look at it. Sit down here and tell
me about yourself.”

“I am very sorry I can’t,” said Anne firmly. “I would like to, because
you seem like an interesting lady, and you might even be a kindred
spirit although you don’t look very much like it. But it is my duty to
go home to Miss Marilla Cuthbert. Miss Marilla Cuthbert is a very kind
lady who has taken me to bring up properly. She is doing her best, but
it is very discouraging work. You must not blame her because I jumped
on the bed. But before I go I do wish you would tell me if you will
forgive Diana and stay just as long as you meant to in Avonlea.”

“I think perhaps I will if you will come over and talk to me
occasionally,” said Miss Barry.

That evening Miss Barry gave Diana a silver bangle bracelet and told
the senior members of the household that she had unpacked her valise.

“I’ve made up my mind to stay simply for the sake of getting better
acquainted with that Anne-girl,” she said frankly. “She amuses me, and
at my time of life an amusing person is a rarity.”

Marilla’s only comment when she heard the story was, “I told you so.”
This was for Matthew’s benefit.

Miss Barry stayed her month out and over. She was a more agreeable
guest than usual, for Anne kept her in good humour. They became firm
friends.

When Miss Barry went away she said:

“Remember, you Anne-girl, when you come to town you’re to visit me and
I’ll put you in my very sparest spare-room bed to sleep.”

“Miss Barry was a kindred spirit, after all,” Anne confided to Marilla.
“You wouldn’t think so to look at her, but she is. You don’t find it
right out at first, as in Matthew’s case, but after awhile you come to
see it. Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s
splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”



CHAPTER XX.

A GOOD IMAGINATION GONE WRONG


Spring had come once more to Green Gables—the beautiful, capricious,
reluctant Canadian spring, lingering along through April and May in a
succession of sweet, fresh, chilly days, with pink sunsets and miracles
of resurrection and growth. The maples in Lovers’ Lane were red-budded
and little curly ferns pushed up around the Dryad’s Bubble. Away up in
the barrens, behind Mr. Silas Sloane’s place, the Mayflowers blossomed
out, pink and white stars of sweetness under their brown leaves. All
the school girls and boys had one golden afternoon gathering them,
coming home in the clear, echoing twilight with arms and baskets full
of flowery spoil.

“I’m so sorry for people who live in lands where there are no
Mayflowers,” said Anne. “Diana says perhaps they have something better,
but there couldn’t be anything better than Mayflowers, could there,
Marilla? And Diana says if they don’t know what they are like they
don’t miss them. But I think that is the saddest thing of all. I think
it would be _tragic_, Marilla, not to know what Mayflowers are like and
_not_ to miss them. Do you know what I think Mayflowers are, Marilla? I
think they must be the souls of the flowers that died last summer and
this is their heaven. But we had a splendid time to-day, Marilla. We
had our lunch down in a big mossy hollow by an old well—such a
_romantic_ spot. Charlie Sloane dared Arty Gillis to jump over it, and
Arty did because he wouldn’t take a dare. Nobody would in school. It is
very _fashionable_ to dare. Mr. Phillips gave all the Mayflowers he
found to Prissy Andrews and I heard him say ‘sweets to the sweet.’ He
got that out of a book, I know; but it shows he has some imagination. I
was offered some Mayflowers too, but I rejected them with scorn. I
can’t tell you the person’s name because I have vowed never to let it
cross my lips. We made wreaths of the Mayflowers and put them on our
hats; and when the time came to go home we marched in procession down
the road, two by two, with our bouquets and wreaths, singing ‘My Home
on the Hill.’ Oh, it was so thrilling, Marilla. All Mr. Silas Sloane’s
folks rushed out to see us and everybody we met on the road stopped and
stared after us. We made a real sensation.”

“Not much wonder! Such silly doings!” was Marilla’s response.

After the Mayflowers came the violets, and Violet Vale was empurpled
with them. Anne walked through it on her way to school with reverent
steps and worshipping eyes, as if she trod on holy ground.

“Somehow,” she told Diana, “when I’m going through here I don’t really
care whether Gil—whether anybody gets ahead of me in class or not. But
when I’m up in school it’s all different and I care as much as ever.
There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is
why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would
be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so
interesting.”

One June evening, when the orchards were pink-blossomed again, when the
frogs were singing silverly sweet in the marshes about the head of the
Lake of Shining Waters, and the air was full of the savour of clover
fields and balsamic fir woods, Anne was sitting by her gable window.
She had been studying her lessons, but it had grown too dark to see the
book, so she had fallen into wide-eyed reverie, looking out past the
boughs of the Snow Queen, once more bestarred with its tufts of blossom.

In all essential respects the little gable chamber was unchanged. The
walls were as white, the pincushion as hard, the chairs as stiffly and
yellowly upright as ever. Yet the whole character of the room was
altered. It was full of a new vital, pulsing personality that seemed to
pervade it and to be quite independent of schoolgirl books and dresses
and ribbons, and even of the cracked blue jug full of apple blossoms on
the table. It was as if all the dreams, sleeping and waking, of its
vivid occupant had taken a visible although immaterial form and had
tapestried the bare room with splendid filmy tissues of rainbow and
moonshine. Presently Marilla came briskly in with some of Anne’s
freshly ironed school aprons. She hung them over a chair and sat down
with a short sigh. She had had one of her headaches that afternoon, and
although the pain had gone she felt weak and “tuckered out,” as she
expressed it. Anne looked at her with eyes limpid with sympathy.

“I do truly wish I could have had the headache in your place, Marilla.
I would have endured it joyfully for your sake.”

“I guess you did your part in attending to the work and letting me
rest,” said Marilla. “You seem to have got on fairly well and made
fewer mistakes than usual. Of course it wasn’t exactly necessary to
starch Matthew’s handkerchiefs! And most people when they put a pie in
the oven to warm up for dinner take it out and eat it when it gets hot
instead of leaving it to be burned to a crisp. But that doesn’t seem to
be your way evidently.”

Headaches always left Marilla somewhat sarcastic.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” said Anne penitently. “I never thought about that
pie from the moment I put it in the oven till now, although I felt
_instinctively_ that there was something missing on the dinner table. I
was firmly resolved, when you left me in charge this morning, not to
imagine anything, but keep my thoughts on facts. I did pretty well
until I put the pie in, and then an irresistible temptation came to me
to imagine I was an enchanted princess shut up in a lonely tower with a
handsome knight riding to my rescue on a coal-black steed. So that is
how I came to forget the pie. I didn’t know I starched the
handkerchiefs. All the time I was ironing I was trying to think of a
name for a new island Diana and I have discovered up the brook. It’s
the most ravishing spot, Marilla. There are two maple-trees on it and
the brook flows right around it. At last it struck me that it would be
splendid to call it Victoria Island because we found it on the Queen’s
birthday. Both Diana and I are very loyal. But I’m very sorry about
that pie and the handkerchiefs. I wanted to be extra good to-day
because it’s an anniversary. Do you remember what happened this day
last year, Marilla?”

“No, I can’t think of anything special.”

“Oh, Marilla, it was the day I came to Green Gables. I shall never
forget it. It was the turning-point in my life. Of course it wouldn’t
seem so important to you. I’ve been here for a year and I’ve been so
happy. Of course, I’ve had my troubles, but one can live down troubles.
Are you sorry you kept me, Marilla?”

“No, I can’t say I’m sorry,” said Marilla, who sometimes wondered how
she could have lived before Anne came to Green Gables, “no, not exactly
sorry. If you’ve finished your lessons, Anne, I want you to run over
and ask Mrs. Barry if she’ll lend me Diana’s apron pattern.”

“Oh—it’s—it’s too dark,” cried Anne.

“Too dark? Why, it’s only twilight. And goodness knows you’ve gone over
often enough after dark.”

“I’ll go over early in the morning,” said Anne eagerly. “I’ll get up at
sunrise and go over, Marilla.”

“What has got into your head now, Anne Shirley? I want that pattern to
cut out your new apron this evening. Go at once and be smart, too.”

“I’ll have to go around by the road, then,” said Anne, taking up her
hat reluctantly.

“Go by the road and waste half an hour! I’d like to catch you!”

“I can’t go through the Haunted Wood, Marilla,” cried Anne desperately.

Marilla stared.

“The Haunted Wood! Are you crazy? What under the canopy is the Haunted
Wood?”

“The spruce wood over the brook,” said Anne in a whisper.

“Fiddlesticks! There is no such thing as a haunted wood anywhere. Who
has been telling you such stuff?”

“Nobody,” confessed Anne. “Diana and I just imagined the wood was
haunted. All the places around here are so—so—_commonplace_. We just
got this up for our own amusement. We began it in April. A haunted wood
is so very romantic, Marilla. We chose the spruce grove because it’s so
gloomy. Oh, we have imagined the most harrowing things. There’s a white
lady walks along the brook just about this time of the night and wrings
her hands and utters wailing cries. She appears when there is to be a
death in the family. And the ghost of a little murdered child haunts
the corner up by Idlewild; it creeps up behind you and lays its cold
fingers on your hand—so. Oh, Marilla, it gives me a shudder to think of
it. And there’s a headless man stalks up and down the path and
skeletons glower at you between the boughs. Oh, Marilla, I wouldn’t go
through the Haunted Wood after dark now for anything. I’d be sure that
white things would reach out from behind the trees and grab me.”

“Did ever any one hear the like!” ejaculated Marilla, who had listened
in dumb amazement. “Anne Shirley, do you mean to tell me you believe
all that wicked nonsense of your own imagination?”

“Not believe _exactly_,” faltered Anne. “At least, I don’t believe it
in daylight. But after dark, Marilla, it’s different. That is when
ghosts walk.”

“There are no such things as ghosts, Anne.”

“Oh, but there are, Marilla,” cried Anne eagerly. “I know people who
have seen them. And they are respectable people. Charlie Sloane says
that his grandmother saw his grandfather driving home the cows one
night after he’d been buried for a year. You know Charlie Sloane’s
grandmother wouldn’t tell a story for anything. She’s a very religious
woman. And Mrs. Thomas’ father was pursued home one night by a lamb of
fire with its head cut off hanging by a strip of skin. He said he knew
it was the spirit of his brother and that it was a warning he would die
within nine days. He didn’t, but he died two years after, so you see it
was really true. And Ruby Gillis says—”

“Anne Shirley,” interrupted Marilla firmly, “I never want to hear you
talking in this fashion again. I’ve had my doubts about that
imagination of yours right along, and if this is going to be the
outcome of it, I won’t countenance any such doings. You’ll go right
over to Barry’s, and you’ll go through that spruce grove, just for a
lesson and a warning to you. And never let me hear a word out of your
head about haunted woods again.”

Anne might plead and cry as she liked—and did, for her terror was very
real. Her imagination had run away with her and she held the spruce
grove in mortal dread after nightfall. But Marilla was inexorable. She
marched the shrinking ghostseer down to the spring and ordered her to
proceed straightway over the bridge and into the dusky retreats of
wailing ladies and headless spectres beyond.

“Oh, Marilla, how can you be so cruel?” sobbed Anne. “What would you
feel like if a white thing did snatch me up and carry me off?”

“I’ll risk it,” said Marilla unfeelingly. “You know I always mean what
I say. I’ll cure you of imagining ghosts into places. March, now.”

Anne marched. That is, she stumbled over the bridge and went shuddering
up the horrible dim path beyond. Anne never forgot that walk. Bitterly
did she repent the license she had given to her imagination. The
goblins of her fancy lurked in every shadow about her, reaching out
their cold, fleshless hands to grasp the terrified small girl who had
called them into being. A white strip of birch bark blowing up from the
hollow over the brown floor of the grove made her heart stand still.
The long-drawn wail of two old boughs rubbing against each other
brought out the perspiration in beads on her forehead. The swoop of
bats in the darkness over her was as the wings of unearthly creatures.
When she reached Mr. William Bell’s field she fled across it as if
pursued by an army of white things, and arrived at the Barry kitchen
door so out of breath that she could hardly gasp out her request for
the apron pattern. Diana was away so that she had no excuse to linger.
The dreadful return journey had to be faced. Anne went back over it
with shut eyes, preferring to take the risk of dashing her brains out
among the boughs to that of seeing a white thing. When she finally
stumbled over the log bridge she drew one long shivering breath of
relief.

“Well, so nothing caught you?” said Marilla unsympathetically.

“Oh, Mar—Marilla,” chattered Anne, “I’ll b-b-be cont-t-tented with
c-c-commonplace places after this.”



CHAPTER XXI.

A NEW DEPARTURE IN FLAVOURINGS


“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 to-day? 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
far-seeing 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 in their honeymoon, and full of all good and beautiful
enthusiasms for their chosen life-work. 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
whole-heartedly 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 some day 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 tea-time. 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 mostly 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 up 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 its 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. Mrs. Allan, don’t try to eat it.
Anne, taste it yourself. What flavouring 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 labelled yellowly, “Best Vanilla.”

Marilla took it, uncorked it, smelled it.

“Mercy on us, Anne, you’ve flavoured 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 for ever.
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 flavoured 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 to-morrow 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 Buote.”



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 to-morrow 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 for ever 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 fulfilment 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
to-morrow. The rustle of the poplar leaves about the house worried her,
it sounded so like pattering rain-drops, and the dull, 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 to-day 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 for 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 above the orchard and the fireflies were flitting over in
Lovers’ 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 Lauretta 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 honour I
could never aspire to. Lauretta had to go home early because there is a
big concert in the White Sands hotel to-night 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 some day. 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 HONOUR


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 absent-mindedly 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
ridge-pole of a roof.”

“I don’t believe it,” said Josie flatly. “I don’t believe anybody could
walk a ridge-pole. _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 ridge-pole of Mr. Barry’s kitchen roof.”

Anne turned pale, but there was clearly only one thing to be done. She
walked towards 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 honour is at stake,” said Anne solemnly. “I shall
walk that ridge-pole, 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 ridge-pole,
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 ridge-poles 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.

[Illustration: “Balanced herself uprightly on that precarious
footing.”]

If Anne had tumbled off the roof on the side up which she 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 to 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 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 ridge-pole 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
despatched 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 ridge-pole?”

“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 ridge-pole. If I had been killed she would have 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 school work 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 programme 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 practise 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 honour. 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 wood-box 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 wood-box 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 others; 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 is 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
up-stairs 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 to-night, 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 half-way 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 to-morrow 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 ploughed fields were
stretches of snowy dimples; and there was a crisp tang in the air that
was glorious. Anne ran down-stairs singing until her voice re-echoed
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 pin-tucked
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 honoured.’”

“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
practised 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 awhile 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 to-night, 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
up-stairs,” 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 to-night 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
far-away 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
awhile I’ll get used to it, but I’m afraid concerts spoil people for
every-day 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 quarrelled 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 programme, 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 to-day,” 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 any one 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 Andrews 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 I 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
love-making 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 has 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 any one 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
mirror-like 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 ploughing.

“I’ll settle Miss Anne when she comes home,” said Marilla grimly, as
she shaved up kindlings with a carving knife and 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 practising 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 to-day. 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 Lovers’ 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 down 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
for ever 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 any one 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 colour—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 colour 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 any one 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 pedlar 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 pedlar 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 pedlar
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
hair-brush as the directions said. I used up the whole bottle, and oh,
Marilla, when I saw the dreadful colour 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 pedlar 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
practise 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 colour, 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 up-stairs 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 red-headed 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
any one 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 crêpe 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 for ever,’ 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’ 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
crêpe. It was certainly extremely difficult to be dignified under the
circumstances!

[Illustration: “He pulled close to the pile and extended his hand.”]

“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 colour 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.

Half-way 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’ 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 to-day.
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 to-day’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 Lovers’
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 to-day, 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 heart-broken 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 harbour 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 afterwards. The two little country girls were rather
abashed by the splendour of the parlour 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
parlour.”

“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
fancy work 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 home-made
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 grand stand 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
awhile; 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 QUEEN’S 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 dull 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 hearth-rug, gazing into that
joyous glow where the sunshine of a hundred summers was being distilled
from the maple cord-wood. 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 for ever. 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. It just looked as if I were studying
Canadian history, you know, while all the while I was revelling 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 story-book 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 it’s only
your guilty conscience that’s the matter with you. You have no business
to be taking story-books 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 week-days. 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 Cæsar.

“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 honours to be won; delightful books to read; new pieces to
be practised 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 rumours
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 graded 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 Miss 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 text-books 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 school book 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 parlour 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 feather-brained 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 colour, like Diana
Barry has or Ruby Gillis. Ruby Gillis’ 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 whole-heartedly. She and
Diana fairly lived outdoors, revelling in all the delights that Lovers’
Lane and the Dryad’s Bubble and Willowmere and Victoria Island
afforded. Marilla offered no objections to Anne’s gipsyings. 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 red-headed 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 half-way, 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 drily. “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 sha’n’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. School work 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, broad-minded
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 coloured 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’s 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’ 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 for ever—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 were 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 to-day. But oh,
Diana, to-morrow 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 to-morrow 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 boarding-house; she had just
discovered a fearful mistake she had made in her English paper. When
she recovered we went up-town 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 colour 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 to-morrow 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 half-way 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 a delightful evening by 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 lustre into
burnished silver, hung over the Haunted Wood; the air was full of sweet
summer sounds—sleepy birds twittering, freakish breezes, far-away
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 honour, and Anne made a sentimental
point of keeping fresh flowers on the bracket under it. To-night 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 honour 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 for
ever 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 half-way 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 favour 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.”

[Illustration: “‘There’s something so stylish about you, Anne,’
said Diana.”]

“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 down-stairs, 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 to-night,” 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 re-echoed 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 hot-house 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 neighbour about the “country
bumpkins” and “rustic belles” in the audience, languidly anticipating
“such fun” from the displays of local talent on the programme. 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 marvellously 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 neighbours. 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’.”

“Oh, no, don’t say things like that, Jane,” said Anne quickly, “because
it sounds silly. It couldn’t be better than Mrs. Evans’, 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 stanchly. “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 any one 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 equalled.”

“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’re 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
a 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; and 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 neighbourhood.”

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
bookcase; 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 to-day. Our French professor is simply
a duck. His moustache would give you kerwollops 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 to-day, 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 colour 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 to-morrow. But I simply
couldn’t settle down to study to-night. 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 flavour.”

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 to-day. Frank Stockley told
me—his uncle is one of the board of governors, you know. It will be
announced in the Academy to-morrow.”

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, Class First, 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, all 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 her 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
week-end 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 gipsyings 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 a small but critical minority in favour 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 honours in the domestic science course. Even Josie
Pye attained a certain pre-eminence 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 vigour of her tongue in the least abated. But she never
sharpened the latter on Anne, who continued to be a prime favourite
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 May-time 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 to-morrow, 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 yourselves what it must look like over the purply-dark
beechwoods 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 no 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, Medallist!”

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 centre 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 to-morrow 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 co-educational 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 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 that 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 splendour 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 to-day, 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 odour 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
neighbours 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 parlour 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 to-night?”

“Thank you, Diana.” Anne looked earnestly into her friend’s face. “I
think you won’t misunderstand me when I say that 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 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 to-day, 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. To-day 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 understand your feeling. I
think we all experience the same thing. We resent the thought that
anything can please us when some one 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 rose-bush on Matthew’s grave
this afternoon,” said Anne dreamily. “I took a slip of the little white
Scotch rose-bush 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 of 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 to-morrow 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 flavour 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 young 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 yard
where she had been talking to a caller—a man whom Anne knew by sight as
John 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
cosy 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 odour 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 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 gave up the school just to oblige you, because 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 signalling 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 rose-bush. 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.”

Half-way 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 long
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.”

[Illustration: “‘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 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 joys 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.


THE END.



Transcriber’s Note:

  The spelling and hyphenation of the original text
  have been retained. In some cases, the spelling
  and hyphenation of the original text are inconsistent.

  In Chapter 17, there is a letter with three
  intentional misspellings, which are retained:
   - comune (instead of commune)
   - busum (instead of bosom)
   - improoving (instead of improving)

  Corrections have been applied to the following
  errors in the text:

  - Table of Contents, Ch. 1 and Ch. 9
        text: Rachael
  changed to: Rachel

  - Chapter 1.
        text: “Rachel Lynde’s husband—
  changed to: “Rachel Lynde’s husband”—

  - Chapter 8.
        text: echo lived there
  changed to: echo lived there.

  - Chapter 16.
        text: to forget, said Anne.
  changed to: to forget,” said Anne.

  - Chapter 20.
        text: did she resent the license
  changed to: did she repent the license

  - Chapter 32.
        text: Spurgeon stayed resolutely away
  changed to: Spurgeon stayed resolutely away.

  - Chapter 38.
        text: told her Thomas that night.
  changed to: told her Thomas that night,



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