Part 1 out of 5
ANNE OF AVONLEA
Lucy Maud Montgomery
my former teacher
HATTIE GORDON SMITH
in grateful remembrance of her
sympathy and encouragement
Flowers spring to blossom where she walks
The careful ways of duty,
Our hard, stiff lines of life with her
Are flowing curves of beauty.
I An Irate Neighbor
II Selling in Haste and Repenting at Leisure
III Mr. Harrison at Home
IV Different Opinions47
V A Full-fledged Schoolma'am
VI All Sorts and Conditions of Men. . .and women
VII The Pointing of Duty
VIII Marilla Adopts Twins
IX A Question of Color
X Davy in Search of a Sensation
XI Facts and Fancies
XII A Jonah Day
XIII A Golden Picnic
XIV A Danger Averted
XV The Beginning of Vacation
XVI The Substance of Things Hoped For
XVII A Chapter of Accidents
XVIII An Adventure on the Tory Road
XIX Just a Happy Day
XX The Way It Often Happens
XXI Sweet Miss Lavendar
XXII Odds and Ends
XXIII Miss Lavendar's Romance
XXIV A Prophet in His Own Country
XXV An Avonlea Scandal
XXVI Around the Bend
XXVII An Afternoon at the Stone House
XXVIII The Prince Comes Back to the Enchanted Palace
XXIX Poetry and Prose
XXX A Wedding at the Stone House
An Irate Neighbor
A tall, slim girl, "half-past sixteen," with serious gray eyes and hair
which her friends called auburn, had sat down on the broad red sandstone
doorstep of a Prince Edward Island farmhouse one ripe afternoon in August,
firmly resolved to construe so many lines of Virgil.
But an August afternoon, with blue hazes scarfing the harvest slopes,
little winds whispering elfishly in the poplars, and a dancing slendor
of red poppies outflaming against the dark coppice of young firs in a
corner of the cherry orchard, was fitter for dreams than dead languages.
The Virgil soon slipped unheeded to the ground, and Anne, her chin propped
on her clasped hands, and her eyes on the splendid mass of fluffy clouds
that were heaping up just over Mr. J. A. Harrison's house like a great
white mountain, was far away in a delicious world where a certain
schoolteacher was doing a wonderful work, shaping the destinies of
future statesmen, and inspiring youthful minds and hearts with high
and lofty ambitions.
To be sure, if you came down to harsh facts. . .which, it must be confessed,
Anne seldom did until she had to. . .it did not seem likely that there was
much promising material for celebrities in Avonlea school; but you could
never tell what might happen if a teacher used her influence for good.
Anne had certain rose-tinted ideals of what a teacher might accomplish
if she only went the right way about it; and she was in the midst of a
delightful scene, forty years hence, with a famous personage. . .just
exactly what he was to be famous for was left in convenient haziness,
but Anne thought it would be rather nice to have him a college president
or a Canadian premier. . .bowing low over her wrinkled hand and assuring
her that it was she who had first kindled his ambition, and that all his
success in life was due to the lessons she had instilled so long ago in
Avonlea school. This pleasant vision was shattered by a most unpleasant
A demure little Jersey cow came scuttling down the lane and five seconds
later Mr. Harrison arrived. . .if "arrived" be not too mild a term to
describe the manner of his irruption into the yard.
He bounced over the fence without waiting to open the gate, and angrily
confronted astonished Anne, who had risen to her feet and stood looking
at him in some bewilderment. Mr. Harrison was their new righthand
neighbor and she had never met him before, although she had seen him
once or twice.
In early April, before Anne had come home from Queen's, Mr. Robert Bell,
whose farm adjoined the Cuthbert place on the west, had sold out and
moved to Charlottetown. His farm had been bought by a certain Mr. J. A.
Harrison, whose name, and the fact that he was a New Brunswick man,
were all that was known about him. But before he had been a month in
Avonlea he had won the reputation of being an odd person. . ."a crank,"
Mrs. Rachel Lynde said. Mrs. Rachel was an outspoken lady, as those
of you who may have already made her acquaintance will remember.
Mr. Harrison was certainly different from other people. . .and that
is the essential characteristic of a crank, as everybody knows.
In the first place he kept house for himself and had publicly
stated that he wanted no fools of women around his diggings.
Feminine Avonlea took its revenge by the gruesome tales it related
about his house-keeping and cooking. He had hired little John
Henry Carter of White Sands and John Henry started the stories.
For one thing, there was never any stated time for meals in the
Harrison establishment. Mr. Harrison "got a bite" when he felt
hungry, and if John Henry were around at the time, he came in for a
share, but if he were not, he had to wait until Mr. Harrison's
next hungry spell. John Henry mournfully averred that he would
have starved to death if it wasn't that he got home on Sundays and
got a good filling up, and that his mother always gave him a basket
of "grub" to take back with him on Monday mornings.
As for washing dishes, Mr. Harrison never made any pretence of doing
it unless a rainy Sunday came. Then he went to work and washed them
all at once in the rainwater hogshead, and left them to drain dry.
Again, Mr. Harrison was "close." When he was asked to subscribe to
the Rev. Mr. Allan's salary he said he'd wait and see how many
dollars' worth of good he got out of his preaching first. . .he
didn't believe in buying a pig in a poke. And when Mrs. Lynde
went to ask for a contribution to missions. . .and incidentally to
see the inside of the house. . .he told her there were more
heathens among the old woman gossips in Avonlea than anywhere else
he knew of, and he'd cheerfully contribute to a mission for
Christianizing them if she'd undertake it. Mrs. Rachel got
herself away and said it was a mercy poor Mrs. Robert Bell was
safe in her grave, for it would have broken her heart to see the
state of her house in which she used to take so much pride.
"Why, she scrubbed the kitchen floor every second day," Mrs. Lynde
told Marilla Cuthbert indignantly, "and if you could see it now!
I had to hold up my skirts as I walked across it."
Finally, Mr. Harrison kept a parrot called Ginger. Nobody in
Avonlea had ever kept a parrot before; consequently that
proceeding was considered barely respectable. And such a parrot!
If you took John Henry Carter's word for it, never was such an
unholy bird. It swore terribly. Mrs. Carter would have taken
John Henry away at once if she had been sure she could get another
place for him. Besides, Ginger had bitten a piece right out of the
back of John Henry's neck one day when he had stooped down too near
the cage. Mrs. Carter showed everybody the mark when the luckless
John Henry went home on Sundays.
All these things flashed through Anne's mind as Mr. Harrison stood,
quite speechless with wrath apparently, before her. In his
most amiable mood Mr. Harrison could not have been considered a
handsome man; he was short and fat and bald; and now, with his
round face purple with rage and his prominent blue eyes almost
sticking out of his head, Anne thought he was really the ugliest
person she had ever seen.
All at once Mr. Harrison found his voice.
"I'm not going to put up with this," he spluttered, "not a day longer,
do you hear, miss. Bless my soul, this is the third time, miss. . .
the third time! Patience has ceased to be a virtue, miss.
I warned your aunt the last time not to let it occur again. . .
and she's let it. . .she's done it. . .what does she mean by it,
that is what I want to know. That is what I'm here about, miss."
"Will you explain what the trouble is?" asked Anne, in her most
dignified manner. She had been practicing it considerably of late
to have it in good working order when school began; but it had no
apparent effect on the irate J. A. Harrison.
"Trouble, is it? Bless my soul, trouble enough, I should think.
The trouble is, miss, that I found that Jersey cow of your aunt's
in my oats again, not half an hour ago. The third time, mark you.
I found her in last Tuesday and I found her in yesterday. I came
here and told your aunt not to let it occur again. She has let it
occur again. Where's your aunt, miss? I just want to see her for
a minute and give her a piece of my mind. . .a piece of J. A.
Harrison's mind, miss."
"If you mean Miss Marilla Cuthbert, she is not my aunt, and she has
gone down to East Grafton to see a distant relative of hers who is
very ill," said Anne, with due increase of dignity at every word.
"I am very sorry that my cow should have broken into your oats. . .
she is my cow and not Miss Cuthbert's. . .Matthew gave her to me three
years ago when she was a little calf and he bought her from Mr. Bell."
"Sorry, miss! Sorry isn't going to help matters any. You'd better
go and look at the havoc that animal has made in my oats. . .trampled
them from center to circumference, miss."
"I am very sorry," repeated Anne firmly, "but perhaps if you kept your
fences in better repair Dolly might not have broken in. It is your
part of the line fence that separates your oatfield from our pasture and
I noticed the other day that it was not in very good condition."
"My fence is all right," snapped Mr. Harrison, angrier than ever
at this carrying of the war into the enemy's country. "The jail
fence couldn't keep a demon of a cow like that out. And I can tell
you, you redheaded snippet, that if the cow is yours, as you say,
you'd be better employed in watching her out of other people's
grain than in sitting round reading yellowcovered novels,". . .with
a scathing glance at the innocent tan-colored Virgil by Anne's feet.
Something at that moment was red besides Anne's hair. . .which had
always been a tender point with her.
"I'd rather have red hair than none at all, except a little fringe
round my ears," she flashed.
The shot told, for Mr. Harrison was really very sensitive about
his bald head. His anger choked him up again and he could only
glare speechlessly at Anne, who recovered her temper and followed
up her advantage.
"I can make allowance for you, Mr. Harrison, because I have an
imagination. I can easily imagine how very trying it must be to
find a cow in your oats and I shall not cherish any hard feelings
against you for the things you've said. I promise you that Dolly
shall never break into your oats again. I give you my word of
honor on THAT point."
"Well, mind you she doesn't," muttered Mr. Harrison in a somewhat
subdued tone; but he stamped off angrily enough and Anne heard him
growling to himself until he was out of earshot.
Grievously disturbed in mind, Anne marched across the yard and
shut the naughty Jersey up in the milking pen.
"She can't possibly get out of that unless she tears the fence down,"
she reflected. "She looks pretty quiet now. I daresay she
has sickened herself on those oats. I wish I'd sold her to Mr.
Shearer when he wanted her last week, but I thought it was just as
well to wait until we had the auction of the stock and let them all
go together. I believe it is true about Mr. Harrison being a crank.
Certainly there's nothing of the kindred spirit about HIM."
Anne had always a weather eye open for kindred spirits.
Marilla Cuthbert was driving into the yard as Anne returned from
the house, and the latter flew to get tea ready. They discussed
the matter at the tea table.
"I'll be glad when the auction is over," said Marilla. "It is too
much responsibility having so much stock about the place and
nobody but that unreliable Martin to look after them. He has never
come back yet and he promised that he would certainly be back last
night if I'd give him the day off to go to his aunt's funeral. I
don't know how many aunts he has got, I am sure. That's the fourth
that's died since he hired here a year ago. I'll be more than
thankful when the crop is in and Mr. Barry takes over the farm.
We'll have to keep Dolly shut up in the pen till Martin comes,
for she must be put in the back pasture and the fences there have
to be fixed. I declare, it is a world of trouble, as Rachel says.
Here's poor Mary Keith dying and what is to become of those two
children of hers is more than I know. She has a brother in British
Columbia and she has written to him about them, but she hasn't
heard from him yet."
"What are the children like? How old are they?"
"Six past. . .they're twins."
"Oh, I've always been especially interested in twins ever since
Mrs. Hammond had so many," said Anne eagerly. "Are they pretty?"
"Goodness, you couldn't tell. . .they were too dirty. Davy had
been out making mud pies and Dora went out to call him in. Davy
pushed her headfirst into the biggest pie and then, because she
cried, he got into it himself and wallowed in it to show her it was
nothing to cry about. Mary said Dora was really a very good child
but that Davy was full of mischief. He has never had any bringing
up you might say. His father died when he was a baby and Mary has
been sick almost ever since."
"I'm always sorry for children that have no bringing up," said
Anne soberly. "You know _I_ hadn't any till you took me in hand.
I hope their uncle will look after them. Just what relation is
Mrs. Keith to you?"
"Mary? None in the world. It was her husband. . .he was
our third cousin. There's Mrs. Lynde coming through the yard.
I thought she'd be up to hear about Mary"
"Don't tell her about Mr. Harrison and the cow," implored Anne.
Marilla promised; but the promise was quite unnecessary,
for Mrs. Lynde was no sooner fairly seated than she said,
"I saw Mr. Harrison chasing your Jersey out of his oats today when
I was coming home from Carmody. I thought he looked pretty mad.
Did he make much of a rumpus?"
Anne and Marilla furtively exchanged amused smiles. Few things in
Avonlea ever escaped Mrs. Lynde. It was only that morning Anne had said,
"If you went to your own room at midnight, locked the door, pulled
down the blind, and SNEEZED, Mrs. Lynde would ask you the next day
how your cold was!"
"I believe he did," admitted Marilla. "I was away. He gave Anne a
piece of his mind."
"I think he is a very disagreeable man," said Anne, with a
resentful toss of her ruddy head.
"You never said a truer word," said Mrs. Rachel solemnly. "I knew
there'd be trouble when Robert Bell sold his place to a New Brunswick
man, that's what. I don't know what Avonlea is coming to, with so
many strange people rushing into it. It'll soon not be safe to go
to sleep in our beds."
"Why, what other strangers are coming in?" asked Marilla.
"Haven't you heard? Well, there's a family of Donnells, for one
thing. They've rented Peter Sloane's old house. Peter has hired
the man to run his mill. They belong down east and nobody knows
anything about them. Then that shiftless Timothy Cotton family are
going to move up from White Sands and they'll simply be a burden on
the public. He is in consumption. . .when he isn't stealing. . .
and his wife is a slack-twisted creature that can't turn her hand
to a thing. She washes her dishes SITTING DOWN. Mrs. George Pye
has taken her husband's orphan nephew, Anthony Pye. He'll be going
to school to you, Anne, so you may expect trouble, that's what.
And you'll have another strange pupil, too. Paul Irving is coming
from the States to live with his grandmother. You remember his
father, Marilla. . .Stephen Irving, him that jilted Lavendar Lewis
over at Grafton?"
"I don't think he jilted her. There was a quarrel. . .I suppose
there was blame on both sides."
"Well, anyway, he didn't marry her, and she's been as queer as
possible ever since, they say. . .living all by herself in that
little stone house she calls Echo Lodge. Stephen went off to the
States and went into business with his uncle and married a Yankee.
He's never been home since, though his mother has been up to see
him once or twice. His wife died two years ago and he's sending
the boy home to his mother for a spell. He's ten years old and I
don't know if he'll be a very desirable pupil. You can never tell
about those Yankees."
Mrs Lynde looked upon all people who had the misfortune to be born
or brought up elsewhere than in Prince Edward Island with a decided
can-any-good-thing-come-out-of-Nazareth air. They MIGHT be good
people, of course; but you were on the safe side in doubting it.
She had a special prejudice against "Yankees." Her husband had been
cheated out of ten dollars by an employer for whom he had once
worked in Boston and neither angels nor principalities nor powers
could have convinced Mrs. Rachel that the whole United States was
not responsible for it.
"Avonlea school won't be the worse for a little new blood," said
Marilla drily, "and if this boy is anything like his father he'll
be all right. Steve Irving was the nicest boy that was ever raised
in these parts, though some people did call him proud. I should
think Mrs. Irving would be very glad to have the child. She has
been very lonesome since her husband died."
"Oh, the boy may be well enough, but he'll be different from
Avonlea children," said Mrs. Rachel, as if that clinched the matter.
Mrs. Rachel's opinions concerning any person, place, or thing,
were always warranted to wear. "What's this I hear about
your going to start up a Village Improvement Society, Anne?"
"I was just talking it over with some of the girls and boys at the
last Debating Club," said Anne, flushing. "They thought it would
be rather nice. . .and so do Mr. and Mrs. Allan. Lots of villages
have them now."
"Well, you'll get into no end of hot water if you do. Better leave
it alone, Anne, that's what. People don't like being improved."
"Oh, we are not going to try to improve the PEOPLE. It is Avonlea
itself. There are lots of things which might be done to make it
prettier. For instance, if we could coax Mr. Levi Boulter to pull
down that dreadful old house on his upper farm wouldn't that be an
"It certainly would," admitted Mrs. Rachel. "That old ruin has
been an eyesore to the settlement for years. But if you Improvers
can coax Levi Boulter to do anything for the public that he isn't
to be paid for doing, may I be there to see and hear the process,
that's what. I don't want to discourage you, Anne, for there may
be something in your idea, though I suppose you did get it out of
some rubbishy Yankee magazine; but you'll have your hands full with
your school and I advise you as a friend not to bother with your
improvements, that's what. But there, I know you'll go ahead with
it if you've set your mind on it. You were always one to carry a
thing through somehow."
Something about the firm outlines of Anne's lips told that Mrs.
Rachel was not far astray in this estimate. Anne's heart was
bent on forming the Improvement Society. Gilbert Blythe, who
was to teach in White Sands but would always be home from
Friday night to Monday morning, was enthusiastic about it;
and most of the other folks were willing to go in for anything
that meant occasional meetings and consequently some "fun."
As for what the "improvements" were to be, nobody had any very
clear idea except Anne and Gilbert. They had talked them over
and planned them out until an ideal Avonlea existed in their minds,
if nowhere else.
Mrs. Rachel had still another item of news.
"They've given the Carmody school to a Priscilla Grant. Didn't you
go to Queen's with a girl of that name, Anne?"
"Yes, indeed. Priscilla to teach at Carmody! How perfectly
lovely!" exclaimed Anne, her gray eyes lighting up until they
looked like evening stars, causing Mrs. Lynde to wonder anew if
she would ever get it settled to her satisfaction whether Anne
Shirley were really a pretty girl or not.
Selling in Haste and
Repenting at Leisure
Anne drove over to Carmody on a shopping expedition the next
afternoon and took Diana Barry with her. Diana was, of course,
a pledged member of the Improvement Society, and the two girls
talked about little else all the way to Carmody and back.
"The very first thing we ought to do when we get started is to have
that hall painted," said Diana, as they drove past the Avonlea hall,
a rather shabby building set down in a wooded hollow, with spruce trees
hooding it about on all sides. "It's a disgraceful looking place and
we must attend to it even before we try to get Mr. Levi Boulder to pull
his house down. Father says we'll never succeed in DOING that. Levi
Boulter is too mean to spend the time it would take."
"Perhaps he'll let the boys take it down if they promise to haul the
boards and split them up for him for kindling wood," said Anne hopefully.
"We must do our best and be content to go slowly at first. We can't
expect to improve everything all at once. We'll have to educate
public sentiment first, of course."
Diana wasn't exactly sure what educating public sentiment meant;
but it sounded fine and she felt rather proud that she was going to
belong to a society with such an aim in view.
"I thought of something last night that we could do, Anne.
You know that three-cornered piece of ground where the roads from
Carmody and Newbridge and White Sands meet? It's all grown over
with young spruce; but wouldn't it be nice to have them all cleared
out, and just leave the two or three birch trees that are on it?"
"Splendid," agreed Anne gaily. "And have a rustic seat put under
the birches. And when spring comes we'll have a flower-bed made
in the middle of it and plant geraniums."
"Yes; only we'll have to devise some way of getting old Mrs. Hiram
Sloane to keep her cow off the road, or she'll eat our geraniums
up," laughed Diana. "I begin to see what you mean by educating
public sentiment, Anne. There's the old Boulter house now. Did
you ever see such a rookery? And perched right close to the road
too. An old house with its windows gone always makes me think of
something dead with its eyes picked out."
"I think an old, deserted house is such a sad sight," said Anne
dreamily. "It always seems to me to be thinking about its past
and mourning for its old-time joys. Marilla says that a large
family was raised in that old house long ago, and that it was a real
pretty place, with a lovely garden and roses climbing all over it.
It was full of little children and laughter and songs; and now it
is empty, and nothing ever wanders through it but the wind. How
lonely and sorrowful it must feel! Perhaps they all come back on
moonlit nights. . .the ghosts of the little children of long ago
and the roses and the songs. . .and for a little while the old
house can dream it is young and joyous again."
Diana shook her head.
"I never imagine things like that about places now, Anne. Don't
you remember how cross mother and Marilla were when we imagined
ghosts into the Haunted Wood? To this day I can't go through that
bush comfortably after dark; and if I began imagining such things
about the old Boulter house I'd be frightened to pass it too.
Besides, those children aren't dead. They're all grown up and
doing well. . .and one of them is a butcher. And flowers and
songs couldn't have ghosts anyhow."
Anne smothered a little sigh. She loved Diana dearly and they had
always been good comrades. But she had long ago learned that when she
wandered into the realm of fancy she must go alone. The way to it was
by an enchanted path where not even her dearest might follow her.
A thunder-shower came up while the girls were at Carmody; it did
not last long, however, and the drive home, through lanes where the
raindrops sparkled on the boughs and little leafy valleys where the
drenched ferns gave out spicy odors, was delightful. But just as
they turned into the Cuthbert lane Anne saw something that spoiled
the beauty of the landscape for her.
Before them on the right extended Mr. Harrison's broad, gray-green
field of late oats, wet and luxuriant; and there, standing squarely
in the middle of it, up to her sleek sides in the lush growth, and
blinking at them calmly over the intervening tassels, was a Jersey cow!
Anne dropped the reins and stood up with a tightening of the lips
that boded no good to the predatory quadruped. Not a word said she,
but she climbed nimbly down over the wheels, and whisked across the
fence before Diana understood what had happened.
"Anne, come back," shrieked the latter, as soon as she found
her voice. "You'll ruin your dress in that wet grain. . .ruin it.
She doesn't hear me! Well, she'll never get that cow out by herself.
I must go and help her, of course."
Anne was charging through the grain like a mad thing. Diana hopped
briskly down, tied the horse securely to a post, turned the skirt
of her pretty gingham dress over her shoulders, mounted the fence,
and started in pursuit of her frantic friend. She could run faster
than Anne, who was hampered by her clinging and drenched skirt, and
soon overtook her. Behind them they left a trail that would break
Mr. Harrison's heart when he should see it.
"Anne, for mercy's sake, stop," panted poor Diana. "I'm right out
of breath and you are wet to the skin."
"I must. . .get. . .that cow. . .out. . .before. . .Mr. Harrison.
. .sees her," gasped Anne. "I don't. . .care. . .if I'm. . .drowned
. . .if we. . .can. . .only. . .do that."
But the Jersey cow appeared to see no good reason for being hustled
out of her luscious browsing ground. No sooner had the two breathless
girls got near her than she turned and bolted squarely for the opposite
corner of the field.
"Head her off," screamed Anne. "Run, Diana, run."
Diana did run. Anne tried to, and the wicked Jersey went around
the field as if she were possessed. Privately, Diana thought she was.
It was fully ten minutes before they headed her off and drove her
through the corner gap into the Cuthbert lane.
There is no denying that Anne was in anything but an angelic temper
at that precise moment. Nor did it soothe her in the least to
behold a buggy halted just outside the lane, wherein sat Mr.
Shearer of Carmody and his son, both of whom wore a broad smile.
"I guess you'd better have sold me that cow when I wanted to buy
her last week, Anne," chuckled Mr. Shearer.
"I'll sell her to you now, if you want her," said her flushed and
disheveled owner. "You may have her this very minute."
"Done. I'll give you twenty for her as I offered before, and Jim
here can drive her right over to Carmody. She'll go to town with
the rest of the shipment this evening. Mr. Reed of Brighton wants
a Jersey cow."
Five minutes later Jim Shearer and the Jersey cow were marching up
the road, and impulsive Anne was driving along the Green Gables
lane with her twenty dollars.
"What will Marilla say?" asked Diana.
"Oh, she won't care. Dolly was my own cow and it isn't likely
she'd bring more than twenty dollars at the auction. But oh dear,
if Mr. Harrison sees that grain he will know she has been in
again, and after my giving him my word of honor that I'd never let
it happen! Well, it has taught me a lesson not to give my word of
honor about cows. A cow that could jump over or break through our
milk-pen fence couldn't be trusted anywhere."
Marilla had gone down to Mrs. Lynde's, and when she returned knew
all about Dolly's sale and transfer, for Mrs. Lynde had seen most
of the transaction from her window and guessed the rest.
"I suppose it's just as well she's gone, though you DO do things in
a dreadful headlong fashion, Anne. I don't see how she got out of
the pen, though. She must have broken some of the boards off."
"I didn't think of looking," said Anne, "but I'll go and see now.
Martin has never come back yet. Perhaps some more of his aunts
have died. I think it's something like Mr. Peter Sloane and the
octogenarians. The other evening Mrs. Sloane was reading a
newspaper and she said to Mr. Sloane, `I see here that another
octogenarian has just died. What is an octogenarian, Peter?' And
Mr. Sloane said he didn't know, but they must be very sickly
creatures, for you never heard tell of them but they were dying.
That's the way with Martin's aunts."
"Martin's just like all the rest of those French," said Marilla in disgust.
"You can't depend on them for a day." Marilla was looking over Anne's
Carmody purchases when she heard a shrill shriek in the barnyard.
A minute later Anne dashed into the kitchen, wringing her hands.
"Anne Shirley, what's the matter now?"
"Oh, Marilla, whatever shall I do? This is terrible. And it's all
my fault. Oh, will I EVER learn to stop and reflect a little
before doing reckless things? Mrs. Lynde always told me I would do
something dreadful some day, and now I've done it!"
"Anne, you are the most exasperating girl! WHAT is it you've done?"
"Sold Mr. Harrison's Jersey cow. . .the one he bought from Mr. Bell
. . .to Mr. Shearer! Dolly is out in the milking pen this very minute."
"Anne Shirley, are you dreaming?"
"I only wish I were. There's no dream about it, though it's very
like a nightmare. And Mr. Harrison's cow is in Charlottetown by
this time. Oh, Marilla, I thought I'd finished getting into scrapes,
and here I am in the very worst one I ever was in in my life.
What can I do?"
"Do? There's nothing to do, child, except go and see Mr. Harrison
about it. We can offer him our Jersey in exchange if he doesn't
want to take the money. She is just as good as his."
"I'm sure he'll be awfully cross and disagreeable about it, though,"
"I daresay he will. He seems to be an irritable sort of a man.
I'll go and explain to him if you like."
"No, indeed, I'm not as mean as that," exclaimed Anne. "This is all
my fault and I'm certainly not going to let you take my punishment.
I'll go myself and I'll go at once. The sooner it's over the better,
for it will be terribly humiliating."
Poor Anne got her hat and her twenty dollars and was passing out
when she happened to glance through the open pantry door. On the
table reposed a nut cake which she had baked that morning. . .a
particularly toothsome concoction iced with pink icing and adorned
with walnuts. Anne had intended it for Friday evening, when the
youth of Avonlea were to meet at Green Gables to organize the
Improvement Society. But what were they compared to the justly
offended Mr. Harrison? Anne thought that cake ought to soften the
heart of any man, especially one who had to do his own cooking, and
she promptly popped it into a box. She would take it to Mr. Harrison
as a peace offering.
"That is, if he gives me a chance to say anything at all," she
thought ruefully, as she climbed the lane fence and started on a
short cut across the fields, golden in the light of the dreamy
August evening. "I know now just how people feel who are being led
Mr. Harrison at Home
Mr. Harrison's house was an old-fashioned, low-eaved, whitewashed
structure, set against a thick spruce grove.
Mr. Harrison himself was sitting on his vineshaded veranda, in his
shirt sleeves, enjoying his evening pipe. When he realized who was
coming up the path he sprang suddenly to his feet, bolted into the
house, and shut the door. This was merely the uncomfortable result
of his surprise, mingled with a good deal of shame over his outburst
of temper the day before. But it nearly swept the remnant of her
courage from Anne's heart.
"If he's so cross now what will he be when he hears what I've
done," she reflected miserably, as she rapped at the door.
But Mr. Harrison opened it, smiling sheepishly, and invited her
to enter in a tone quite mild and friendly, if somewhat nervous.
He had laid aside his pipe and donned his coat; he offered Anne a very
dusty chair very politely, and her reception would have passed off
pleasantly enough if it had not been for the telltale of a parrot who
was peering through the bars of his cage with wicked golden eyes.
No sooner had Anne seated herself than Ginger exclaimed,
"Bless my soul, what's that redheaded snippet coming here for?"
It would be hard to say whose face was the redder, Mr. Harrison's
"Don't you mind that parrot," said Mr. Harrison, casting a furious
glance at Ginger. "He's. . .he's always talking nonsense. I got
him from my brother who was a sailor. Sailors don't always use the
choicest language, and parrots are very imitative birds."
"So I should think," said poor Anne, the remembrance of her errand
quelling her resentment. She couldn't afford to snub Mr. Harrison
under the circumstances, that was certain. When you had just sold
a man's Jersey cow offhand, without his knowledge or consent
you must not mind if his parrot repeated uncomplimentary things.
Nevertheless, the "redheaded snippet" was not quite so meek as she
might otherwise have been.
"I've come to confess something to you, Mr. Harrison," she said
resolutely. "It's. . .it's about. . .that Jersey cow"
"Bless my soul," exclaimed Mr. Harrison nervously, "has she gone
and broken into my oats again? Well, never mind. . .never mind if
she has. It's no difference. . .none at all. I. . .I was too
hasty yesterday, that's a fact. Never mind if she has."
"Oh, if it were only that," sighed Anne. "But it's ten times
worse. I don't..."
"Bless my soul, do you mean to say she's got into my wheat?"
"No. . .no. . .not the wheat. But. . ."
"Then it's the cabbages! She's broken into my cabbages that I was
raising for Exhibition, hey?"
"It's NOT the cabbages, Mr. Harrison. I'll tell you everything. . .
that is what I came for -- but please don't interrupt me. It makes
me so nervous. Just let me tell my story and don't say anything
till I get through -- and then no doubt you'll say plenty,"
Anne concluded, but in thought only.
"I won't say another word," said Mr. Harrison, and he didn't. But
Ginger was not bound by any contract of silence and kept ejaculating,
"Redheaded snippet" at intervals until Anne felt quite wild.
"I shut my Jersey cow up in our pen yesterday. This morning I went
to Carmody and when I came back I saw a Jersey cow in your oats.
Diana and I chased her out and you can't imagine what a hard time
we had. I was so dreadfully wet and tired and vexed -- and Mr.
Shearer came by that very minute and offered to buy the cow. I
sold her to him on the spot for twenty dollars. It was wrong of me.
I should have waited and consulted Marilla, of course. But I'm
dreadfully given to doing things without thinking -- everybody
who knows me will tell you that. Mr. Shearer took the cow right
away to ship her on the afternoon train."
"Redheaded snippet," quoted Ginger in a tone of profound contempt.
At this point Mr. Harrison arose and, with an expression that would
have struck terror into any bird but a parrot, carried Ginger's cage
into an adjoining room and shut the door. Ginger shrieked, swore,
and otherwise conducted himself in keeping with his reputation,
but finding himself left alone, relapsed into sulky silence.
"Excuse me and go on," said Mr. Harrison, sitting down again.
"My brother the sailor never taught that bird any manners."
"I went home and after tea I went out to the milking pen. Mr.
Harrison,". . .Anne leaned forward, clasping her hands with her
old childish gesture, while her big gray eyes gazed imploringly
into Mr. Harrison's embarrassed face. . ."I found my cow still
shut up in the pen. It was YOUR cow I had sold to Mr. Shearer."
"Bless my soul," exclaimed Mr. Harrison, in blank amazement at
this unlooked-for conclusion. "What a VERY extraordinary thing!"
"Oh, it isn't in the least extraordinary that I should be getting
myself and other people into scrapes," said Anne mournfully.
"I'm noted for that. You might suppose I'd have grown out of it
by this time. . .I'll be seventeen next March. . .but it seems
that I haven't. Mr. Harrison, is it too much to hope that you'll
forgive me? I'm afraid it's too late to get your cow back, but
here is the money for her. . .or you can have mine in exchange
if you'd rather. She's a very good cow. And I can't express how
sorry I am for it all."
"Tut, tut," said Mr. Harrison briskly, "don't say another word
about it, miss. It's of no consequence. . .no consequence whatever.
Accidents will happen. I'm too hasty myself sometimes, miss. . .
far too hasty. But I can't help speaking out just what I think and
folks must take me as they find me. If that cow had been in my cabbages
now. . .but never mind, she wasn't, so it's all right. I think I'd
rather have your cow in exchange, since you want to be rid of her."
"Oh, thank you, Mr. Harrison. I'm so glad you are not vexed.
I was afraid you would be."
"And I suppose you were scared to death to come here and tell me,
after the fuss I made yesterday, hey? But you mustn't mind me,
I'm a terrible outspoken old fellow, that's all. . .awful apt to
tell the truth, no matter if it is a bit plain."
"So is Mrs. Lynde," said Anne, before she could prevent herself.
"Who? Mrs. Lynde? Don't you tell me I'm like that old gossip,"
said Mr. Harrison irritably. "I'm not. . .not a bit. What have
you got in that box?"
"A cake," said Anne archly. In her relief at Mr. Harrison's
unexpected amiability her spirits soared upward feather-light.
"I brought it over for you. . .I thought perhaps you didn't
have cake very often."
"I don't, that's a fact, and I'm mighty fond of it, too. I'm much
obliged to you. It looks good on top. I hope it's good all the
"It is," said Anne, gaily confident. "I have made cakes in my time
that were NOT, as Mrs. Allan could tell you, but this one is all right.
I made it for the Improvement Society, but I can make another for them."
"Well, I'll tell you what, miss, you must help me eat it. I'll put
the kettle on and we'll have a cup of tea. How will that do?"
"Will you let me make the tea?" said Anne dubiously.
Mr. Harrison chuckled.
"I see you haven't much confidence in my ability to make tea.
You're wrong. . .I can brew up as good a jorum of tea as you ever
drank. But go ahead yourself. Fortunately it rained last Sunday,
so there's plenty of clean dishes."
Anne hopped briskly up and went to work. She washed the teapot in
several waters before she put the tea to steep. Then she swept the
stove and set the table, bringing the dishes out of the pantry.
The state of that pantry horrified Anne, but she wisely said
nothing. Mr. Harrison told her where to find the bread and butter
and a can of peaches. Anne adorned the table with a bouquet from
the garden and shut her eyes to the stains on the tablecloth. Soon
the tea was ready and Anne found herself sitting opposite Mr.
Harrison at his own table, pouring his tea for him, and chatting
freely to him about her school and friends and plans. She could
hardly believe the evidence of her senses.
Mr. Harrison had brought Ginger back, averring that the poor
bird would be lonesome; and Anne, feeling that she could forgive
everybody and everything, offered him a walnut. But Ginger's
feelings had been grievously hurt and he rejected all overtures of
friendship. He sat moodily on his perch and ruffled his feathers
up until he looked like a mere ball of green and gold.
"Why do you call him Ginger?" asked Anne, who liked appropriate names
and thought Ginger accorded not at all with such gorgeous plumage.
"My brother the sailor named him. Maybe it had some reference to
his temper. I think a lot of that bird though. . .you'd be
surprised if you knew how much. He has his faults of course.
That bird has cost me a good deal one way and another. Some
people object to his swearing habits but he can't be broken of them.
I've tried. . .other people have tried. Some folks have prejudices
against parrots. Silly, ain't it? I like them myself. Ginger's a
lot of company to me. Nothing would induce me to give that bird
up. . .nothing in the world, miss."
Mr. Harrison flung the last sentence at Anne as explosively as if
he suspected her of some latent design of persuading him to give
Ginger up. Anne, however, was beginning to like the queer, fussy,
fidgety little man, and before the meal was over they were quite
good friends. Mr. Harrison found out about the Improvement
Society and was disposed to approve of it.
"That's right. Go ahead. There's lots of room for improvement in
this settlement. . .and in the people too."
"Oh, I don't know," flashed Anne. To herself, or to her particular
cronies, she might admit that there were some small imperfections,
easily removable, in Avonlea and its inhabitants. But to hear a
practical outsider like Mr. Harrison saying it was an entirely
different thing. "I think Avonlea is a lovely place; and the
people in it are very nice, too."
"I guess you've got a spice of temper," commented Mr. Harrison,
surveying the flushed cheeks and indignant eyes opposite him.
"It goes with hair like yours, I reckon. Avonlea is a pretty
decent place or I wouldn't have located here; but I suppose
even you will admit that it has SOME faults?"
"I like it all the better for them," said loyal Anne. "I don't
like places or people either that haven't any faults. I think a
truly perfect person would be very uninteresting. Mrs. Milton White
says she never met a perfect person, but she's heard enough about one
. . .her husband's first wife. Don't you think it must be very
uncomfortable to be married to a man whose first wife was perfect?"
"It would be more uncomfortable to be married to the perfect wife,"
declared Mr. Harrison, with a sudden and inexplicable warmth.
When tea was over Anne insisted on washing the dishes, although Mr.
Harrison assured her that there were enough in the house to do for
weeks yet. She would dearly have loved to sweep the floor also,
but no broom was visible and she did not like to ask where it was
for fear there wasn't one at all.
"You might run across and talk to me once in a while," suggested
Mr. Harrison when she was leaving. "'Tisn't far and folks ought
to be neighborly. I'm kind of interested in that society of yours.
Seems to me there'll be some fun in it. Who are you going to
"We are not going to meddle with PEOPLE. . .it is only PLACES we
mean to improve," said Anne, in a dignified tone. She rather
suspected that Mr. Harrison was making fun of the project.
When she had gone Mr. Harrison watched her from the window. . .a
lithe, girlish shape, tripping lightheartedly across the fields in
the sunset afterglow.
"I'm a crusty, lonesome, crabbed old chap," he said aloud,
"but there's something about that little girl makes me feel young
again. . .and it's such a pleasant sensation I'd like to have it
repeated once in a while."
"Redheaded snippet," croaked Ginger mockingly.
Mr. Harrison shook his fist at the parrot.
"You ornery bird," he muttered, "I almost wish I'd wrung your neck
when my brother the sailor brought you home. Will you never be
done getting me into trouble?"
Anne ran home blithely and recounted her adventures to Marilla,
who had been not a little alarmed by her long absence and was
on the point of starting out to look for her.
"It's a pretty good world, after all, isn't it, Marilla?" concluded
Anne happily. "Mrs. Lynde was complaining the other day that it
wasn't much of a world. She said whenever you looked forward to
anything pleasant you were sure to be more or less disappointed
. . .perhaps that is true. But there is a good side to it too.
The bad things don't always come up to your expectations either
. . .they nearly always turn out ever so much better than you think.
I looked forward to a dreadfully unpleasant experience when I went
over to Mr. Harrison's tonight; and instead he was quite kind and
I had almost a nice time. I think we're going to be real good
friends if we make plenty of allowances for each other, and
everything has turned out for the best. But all the same, Marilla,
I shall certainly never again sell a cow before making sure to whom
she belongs. And I do NOT like parrots!"
One evening at sunset, Jane Andrews, Gilbert Blythe, and Anne Shirley
were lingering by a fence in the shadow of gently swaying spruce boughs,
where a wood cut known as the Birch Path joined the main road. Jane had
been up to spend the afternoon with Anne, who walked part of the way home
with her; at the fence they met Gilbert, and all three were now talking
about the fateful morrow; for that morrow was the first of September
and the schools would open. Jane would go to Newbridge and Gilbert
to White Sands.
"You both have the advantage of me," sighed Anne. "You're going to
teach children who don't know you, but I have to teach my own old
schoolmates, and Mrs. Lynde says she's afraid they won't respect me
as they would a stranger unless I'm very cross from the first.
But I don't believe a teacher should be cross. Oh, it seems to me
such a responsibility!"
"I guess we'll get on all right," said Jane comfortably. Jane
was not troubled by any aspirations to be an influence for good.
She meant to earn her salary fairly, please the trustees, and get
her name on the School Inspector's roll of honor. Further ambitions
Jane had none. "The main thing will be to keep order and a teacher
has to be a little cross to do that. If my pupils won't do as I tell
them I shall punish them."
"Give them a good whipping, of course."
"Oh, Jane, you wouldn't," cried Anne, shocked. "Jane, you COULDN'T!"
"Indeed, I could and would, if they deserved it," said Jane decidedly.
"I could NEVER whip a child," said Anne with equal decision.
"I don't believe in it AT ALL. Miss Stacy never whipped any of us
and she had perfect order; and Mr. Phillips was always whipping and
he had no order at all. No, if I can't get along without whipping
I shall not try to teach school. There are better ways of managing.
I shall try to win my pupils' affections and then they will WANT to
do what I tell them."
"But suppose they don't?" said practical Jane.
"I wouldn't whip them anyhow. I'm sure it wouldn't do any good.
Oh, don't whip your pupils, Jane dear, no matter what they do."
"What do you think about it, Gilbert?" demanded Jane. "Don't you
think there are some children who really need a whipping now and then?"
"Don't you think it's a cruel, barbarous thing to whip a child. . .
ANY child?" exclaimed Anne, her face flushing with earnestness.
"Well," said Gilbert slowly, torn between his real convictions and
his wish to measure up to Anne's ideal, "there's something to be
said on both sides. I don't believe in whipping children MUCH.
I think, as you say, Anne, that there are better ways of managing
as a rule, and that corporal punishment should be a last resort.
But on the other hand, as Jane says, I believe there is an occasional
child who can't be influenced in any other way and who, in short,
needs a whipping and would be improved by it. Corporal punishment
as a last resort is to be my rule."
Gilbert, having tried to please both sides, succeeded, as is usual
and eminently right, in pleasing neither. Jane tossed her head.
"I'll whip my pupils when they're naughty. It's the shortest and
easiest way of convincing them."
Anne gave Gilbert a disappointed glance.
"I shall never whip a child," she repeated firmly. "I feel sure it
isn't either right or necessary."
"Suppose a boy sauced you back when you told him to do something?"
"I'd keep him in after school and talk kindly and firmly to him,"
said Anne. "There is some good in every person if you can find it.
It is a teacher's duty to find and develop it. That is what our
School Management professor at Queen's told us, you know. Do you
suppose you could find any good in a child by whipping him? It's
far more important to influence the children aright than it is even
to teach them the three R's, Professor Rennie says."
"But the Inspector examines them in the three R's, mind you, and he
won't give you a good report if they don't come up to his
standard," protested Jane.
"I'd rather have my pupils love me and look back to me in after years
as a real helper than be on the roll of honor," asserted Anne decidedly.
"Wouldn't you punish children at all, when they misbehaved?" asked
"Oh, yes, I suppose I shall have to, although I know I'll hate to
do it. But you can keep them in at recess or stand them on the
floor or give them lines to write."
"I suppose you won't punish the girls by making them sit with the boys?"
said Jane slyly.
Gilbert and Anne looked at each other and smiled rather foolishly.
Once upon a time, Anne had been made to sit with Gilbert for
punishment and sad and bitter had been the consequences thereof.
"Well, time will tell which is the best way," said Jane philosophically
as they parted.
Anne went back to Green Gables by way of Birch Path, shadowy,
rustling, fern-scented, through Violet Vale and past Willowmere,
where dark and light kissed each other under the firs, and down
through Lover's Lane. . .spots she and Diana had so named long
ago. She walked slowly, enjoying the sweetness of wood and field
and the starry summer twilight, and thinking soberly about the new
duties she was to take up on the morrow. When she reached the yard
at Green Gables Mrs. Lynde's loud, decided tones floated out through
the open kitchen window.
"Mrs. Lynde has come up to give me good advice about tomorrow,"
thought Anne with a grimace, "but I don't believe I'll go in.
Her advice is much like pepper, I think. . .excellent in small
quantities but rather scorching in her doses. I'll run over and
have a chat with Mr. Harrison instead."
This was not the first time Anne had run over and chatted with Mr.
Harrison since the notable affair of the Jersey cow. She had been
there several evenings and Mr. Harrison and she were very good
friends, although there were times and seasons when Anne found the
outspokenness on which he prided himself rather trying. Ginger
still continued to regard her with suspicion, and never failed to
greet her sarcastically as "redheaded snippet." Mr. Harrison had
tried vainly to break him of the habit by jumping excitedly up
whenever he saw Anne coming and exclaiming,
"Bless my soul, here's that pretty little girl again," or something
equally flattering. But Ginger saw through the scheme and scorned
it. Anne was never to know how many compliments Mr. Harrison paid
her behind her back. He certainly never paid her any to her face.
"Well, I suppose you've been back in the woods laying in a supply
of switches for tomorrow?" was his greeting as Anne came up the
"No, indeed," said Anne indignantly. She was an excellent target
for teasing because she always took things so seriously. "I shall
never have a switch in my school, Mr. Harrison. Of course, I shall
have to have a pointer, but I shall use it for pointing ONLY."
"So you mean to strap them instead? Well, I don't know but you're right.
A switch stings more at the time but the strap smarts longer, that's a fact."
"I shall not use anything of the sort. I'm not going to whip my pupils."
"Bless my soul," exclaimed Mr. Harrison in genuine astonishment,
"how do you lay out to keep order then?"
"I shall govern by affection, Mr. Harrison."
"It won't do," said Mr. Harrison, "won't do at all, Anne.
`Spare the rod and spoil the child.' When I went to school
the master whipped me regular every day because he said if
I wasn't in mischief just then I was plotting it."
"Methods have changed since your schooldays, Mr. Harrison."
"But human nature hasn't. Mark my words, you'll never manage the young
fry unless you keep a rod in pickle for them. The thing is impossible."
"Well, I'm going to try my way first," said Anne, who had a fairly strong
will of her own and was apt to cling very tenaciously to her theories.
"You're pretty stubborn, I reckon," was Mr. Harrison's way of
putting it. "Well, well, we'll see. Someday when you get riled
up. . .and people with hair like yours are desperate apt to get
riled. . .you'll forget all your pretty little notions and give
some of them a whaling. You're too young to be teaching anyhow
. . .far too young and childish."
Altogether, Anne went to bed that night in a rather pessimistic mood.
She slept poorly and was so pale and tragic at breakfast next morning
that Marilla was alarmed and insisted on making her take a cup of
scorching ginger tea. Anne sipped it patiently, although she could
not imagine what good ginger tea would do. Had it been some magic brew,
potent to confer age and experience, Anne would have swallowed a quart
of it without flinching.
"Marilla, what if I fail!"
"You'll hardly fail completely in one day and there's plenty more
days coming," said Marilla. "The trouble with you, Anne, is that
you'll expect to teach those children everything and reform all
their faults right off, and if you can't you'll think you've failed."
A Full-fledged Schoolma'am
When Anne reached the school that morning. . .for the first time
in her life she had traversed the Birch Path deaf and blind to its
beauties. . .all was quiet and still. The preceding teacher had
trained the children to be in their places at her arrival, and when
Anne entered the schoolroom she was confronted by prim rows of
"shining morning faces" and bright, inquisitive eyes. She hung up
her hat and faced her pupils, hoping that she did not look as
frightened and foolish as she felt and that they would not perceive
how she was trembling.
She had sat up until nearly twelve the preceding night composing a
speech she meant to make to her pupils upon opening the school.
She had revised and improved it painstakingly, and then she had
learned it off by heart. It was a very good speech and had some
very fine ideas in it, especially about mutual help and earnest
striving after knowledge. The only trouble was that she could not
now remember a word of it.
After what seemed to her a year. . .about ten seconds in reality
. . .she said faintly, "Take your Testaments, please," and sank
breathlessly into her chair under cover of the rustle and clatter
of desk lids that followed. While the children read their verses
Anne marshalled her shaky wits into order and looked over the
array of little pilgrims to the Grownup Land.
Most of them were, of course, quite well known to her. Her own
classmates had passed out in the preceding year but the rest had
all gone to school with her, excepting the primer class and ten
newcomers to Avonlea. Anne secretly felt more interest in these
ten than in those whose possibilities were already fairly well
mapped out to her. To be sure, they might be just as commonplace
as the rest; but on the other hand there MIGHT be a genius among
them. It was a thrilling idea.
Sitting by himself at a corner desk was Anthony Pye. He had a
dark, sullen little face, and was staring at Anne with a hostile
expression in his black eyes. Anne instantly made up her mind that
she would win that boy's affection and discomfit the Pyes utterly.
In the other corner another strange boy was sitting with Arty
Sloane. . .a jolly looking little chap, with a snub nose, freckled
face, and big, light blue eyes, fringed with whitish lashes. . .
probably the DonNELL boy; and if resemblance went for anything,
his sister was sitting across the aisle with Mary Bell. Anne
wondered what sort of mother the child had, to send her to school
dressed as she was. She wore a faded pink silk dress, trimmed with
a great deal of cotton lace, soiled white kid slippers, and silk
stockings. Her sandy hair was tortured into innumerable kinky and
unnatural curls, surmounted by a flamboyant bow of pink ribbon
bigger than her head. Judging from her expression she was very
well satisfied with herself.
A pale little thing, with smooth ripples of fine, silky,
fawn-colored hair flowing over her shoulders, must, Anne thought,
be Annetta Bell, whose parents had formerly lived in the Newbridge
school district, but, by reason of hauling their house fifty yards
north of its old site were now in Avonlea. Three pallid little
girls crowded into one seat were certainly Cottons; and there was
no doubt that the small beauty with the long brown curls and hazel
eyes, who was casting coquettish looks at Jack Gills over the edge
of her Testament, was Prillie Rogerson, whose father had recently
married a second wife and brought Prillie home from her grandmother's
in Grafton. A tall, awkward girl in a back seat, who seemed to have
too many feet and hands, Anne could not place at all, but later on
discovered that her name was Barbara Shaw and that she had come to
live with an Avonlea aunt. She was also to find that if Barbara
ever managed to walk down the aisle without falling over her own
or somebody else's feet the Avonlea scholars wrote the unusual
fact up on the porch wall to commemorate it.
But when Anne's eyes met those of the boy at the front desk facing
her own, a queer little thrill went over her, as if she had found
her genius. She knew this must be Paul Irving and that Mrs. Rachel
Lynde had been right for once when she prophesied that he would be
unlike the Avonlea children. More than that, Anne realized that he
was unlike other children anywhere, and that there was a soul
subtly akin to her own gazing at her out of the very dark blue eyes
that were watching her so intently.
She knew Paul was ten but he looked no more than eight. He had the
most beautiful little face she had ever seen in a child. . .
features of exquisite delicacy and refinement, framed in a halo of
chestnut curls. His mouth was delicious, being full without
pouting, the crimson lips just softly touching and curving into
finely finished little corners that narrowly escaped being dimpled.
He had a sober, grave, meditative expression, as if his spirit was
much older than his body; but when Anne smiled softly at him it
vanished in a sudden answering smile, which seemed an illumination
of his whole being, as if some lamp had suddenly kindled into flame
inside of him, irradiating him from top to toe. Best of all, it
was involuntary, born of no external effort or motive, but simply
the outflashing of a hidden personality, rare and fine and sweet.
With a quick interchange of smiles Anne and Paul were fast friends
forever before a word had passed between them.
The day went by like a dream. Anne could never clearly recall it
afterwards. It almost seemed as if it were not she who was
teaching but somebody else. She heard classes and worked sums and
set copies mechanically. The children behaved quite well; only two
cases of discipline occurred. Morley Andrews was caught driving a
pair of trained crickets in the aisle. Anne stood Morley on the
platform for an hour and. . .which Morley felt much more keenly. . .
confiscated his crickets. She put them in a box and on the way from
school set them free in Violet Vale; but Morley believed, then and ever
afterwards, that she took them home and kept them for her own amusement.
The other culprit was Anthony Pye, who poured the last drops of
water from his slate bottle down the back of Aurelia Clay's neck.
Anne kept Anthony in at recess and talked to him about what was
expected of gentlemen, admonishing him that they never poured water
down ladies' necks. She wanted all her boys to be gentlemen, she said.
Her little lecture was quite kind and touching; but unfortunately
Anthony remained absolutely untouched. He listened to her in silence,
with the same sullen expression, and whistled scornfully as he went out.
Anne sighed; and then cheered herself up by remembering that winning a
Pye's affections, like the building of Rome, wasn't the work of a day.
In fact, it was doubtful whether some of the Pyes had any affections
to win; but Anne hoped better things of Anthony, who looked as if he
might be a rather nice boy if one ever got behind his sullenness.
When school was dismissed and the children had gone Anne dropped
wearily into her chair. Her head ached and she felt woefully
discouraged. There was no real reason for discouragement, since
nothing very dreadful had occurred; but Anne was very tired and
inclined to believe that she would never learn to like teaching.
And how terrible it would be to be doing something you didn't like
every day for. . .well, say forty years. Anne was of two minds
whether to have her cry out then and there, or wait till she was
safely in her own white room at home. Before she could decide
there was a click of heels and a silken swish on the porch floor,
and Anne found herself confronted by a lady whose appearance made
her recall a recent criticism of Mr. Harrison's on an overdressed
female he had seen in a Charlottetown store. "She looked like a
head-on collision between a fashion plate and a nightmare."
The newcomer was gorgeously arrayed in a pale blue summer silk,
puffed, frilled, and shirred wherever puff, frill, or shirring
could possibly be placed. Her head was surmounted by a huge white
chiffon hat, bedecked with three long but rather stringy ostrich
feathers. A veil of pink chiffon, lavishly sprinkled with huge
black dots, hung like a flounce from the hat brim to her shoulders
and floated off in two airy streamers behind her. She wore all the
jewelry that could be crowded on one small woman, and a very strong
odor of perfume attended her.
"I am Mrs. DonNELL. . .Mrs. H. B. DonNELL," announced this vision,
"and I have come in to see you about something Clarice Almira told
me when she came home to dinner today. It annoyed me EXCESSIVELY."
"I'm sorry," faltered Anne, vainly trying to recollect any incident
of the morning connected with the Donnell children.
"Clarice Almira told me that you pronounced our name DONnell. Now,
Miss Shirley, the correct pronunciation of our name is DonNELL. . .
accent on the last syllable. I hope you'll remember this in future."
"I'll try to," gasped Anne, choking back a wild desire to laugh.
"I know by experience that it's very unpleasant to have one's name
SPELLED wrong and I suppose it must be even worse to have it
"Certainly it is. And Clarice Almira also informed me that you
call my son Jacob."
"He told me his name was Jacob," protested Anne.
"I might well have expected that," said Mrs. H. B. Donnell, in a
tone which implied that gratitude in children was not to be looked
for in this degenerate age. "That boy has such plebeian tastes,
Miss Shirley. When he was born I wanted to call him St. Clair
. . .it sounds SO aristocratic, doesn't it? But his father
insisted he should be called Jacob after his uncle. I yielded,
because Uncle Jacob was a rich old bachelor. And what do you
think, Miss Shirley? When our innocent boy was five years old Uncle
Jacob actually went and got married and now he has three boys of
his own. Did you ever hear of such ingratitude? The moment the
invitation to the wedding. . .for he had the impertinence to send
us an invitation, Miss Shirley. . .came to the house I said, `No
more Jacobs for me, thank you.' From that day I called my son St.
Clair and St. Clair I am determined he shall be called. His father
obstinately continues to call him Jacob, and the boy himself
has a perfectly unaccountable preference for the vulgar name.
But St. Clair he is and St. Clair he shall remain. You will kindly
remember this, Miss Shirley, will you not? THANK you. I told
Clarice Almira that I was sure it was only a misunderstanding and
that a word would set it right. Donnell. . .accent on the last
syllable. . .and St. Clair. . .on no account Jacob. You'll remember?
When Mrs. H. B. DonNELL had skimmed away Anne locked the school
door and went home. At the foot of the hill she found Paul Irving
by the Birch Path. He held out to her a cluster of the dainty
little wild orchids which Avonlea children called "rice lillies."
"Please, teacher, I found these in Mr. Wright's field," he said
shyly, "and I came back to give them to you because I thought you
were the kind of lady that would like them, and because. . ." he
lifted his big beautiful eyes. . ."I like you, teacher."
"You darling," said Anne, taking the fragrant spikes. As if Paul's
words had been a spell of magic, discouragement and weariness
passed from her spirit, and hope upwelled in her heart like a
dancing fountain. She went through the Birch Path light-footedly,
attended by the sweetness of her orchids as by a benediction.
"Well, how did you get along?" Marilla wanted to know.
"Ask me that a month later and I may be able to tell you. I can't now
. . .I don't know myself. . .I'm too near it. My thoughts feel as if
they had been all stirred up until they were thick and muddy. The only
thing I feel really sure of having accomplished today is that I taught
Cliffie Wright that A is A. He never knew it before. Isn't it
something to have started a soul along a path that may end in
Shakespeare and Paradise Lost?"
Mrs. Lynde came up later on with more encouragement. That good
lady had waylaid the schoolchildren at her gate and demanded of
them how they liked their new teacher.
"And every one of them said they liked you splendid, Anne, except
Anthony Pye. I must admit he didn't. He said you `weren't any good,
just like all girl teachers.' There's the Pye leaven for you.
But never mind."
"I'm not going to mind," said Anne quietly, "and I'm going to make
Anthony Pye like me yet. Patience and kindness will surely win him."
"Well, you can never tell about a Pye," said Mrs. Rachel cautiously.
"They go by contraries, like dreams, often as not. As for that
DonNELL woman, she'll get no DonNELLing from me, I can assure you.
The name is DONnell and always has been. The woman is crazy, that's what.
She has a pug dog she calls Queenie and it has its meals at the table
along with the family, eating off a china plate. I'd be afraid of a
judgment if I was her. Thomas says Donnell himself is a sensible,
hard-working man, but he hadn't much gumption when he picked out a wife,
All Sorts and Conditions of Men. . .and women
A September day on Prince Edward Island hills; a crisp wind blowing
up over the sand dunes from the sea; a long red road, winding
through fields and woods, now looping itself about a corner of
thick set spruces, now threading a plantation of young maples with
great feathery sheets of ferns beneath them, now dipping down into
a hollow where a brook flashed out of the woods and into them again,
now basking in open sunshine between ribbons of golden-rod and
smoke-blue asters; air athrill with the pipings of myriads of crickets,
those glad little pensioners of the summer hills; a plump brown pony
ambling along the road; two girls behind him, full to the lips with
the simple, priceless joy of youth and life.
"Oh, this is a day left over from Eden, isn't it, Diana?". . .and
Anne sighed for sheer happiness. "The air has magic in it. Look
at the purple in the cup of the harvest valley, Diana. And oh, do
smell the dying fir! It's coming up from that little sunny hollow
where Mr. Eben Wright has been cutting fence poles. Bliss is it
on such a day to be alive; but to smell dying fir is very heaven.
That's two thirds Wordsworth and one third Anne Shirley. It
doesn't seem possible that there should be dying fir in heaven,
does it? And yet it doesn't seem to me that heaven would be quite
perfect if you couldn't get a whiff of dead fir as you went through
its woods. Perhaps we'll have the odor there without the death.
Yes, I think that will be the way. That delicious aroma must be the
souls of the firs. . .and of course it will be just souls in heaven."
"Trees haven't souls," said practical Diana, "but the smell of dead
fir is certainly lovely. I'm going to make a cushion and fill it
with fir needles. You'd better make one too, Anne."
"I think I shall. . .and use it for my naps. I'd be certain to
dream I was a dryad or a woodnymph then. But just this minute I'm
well content to be Anne Shirley, Avonlea schoolma'am, driving over
a road like this on such a sweet, friendly day."
"It's a lovely day but we have anything but a lovely task before us,"
sighed Diana. "Why on earth did you offer to canvass this road, Anne?
Almost all the cranks in Avonlea live along it, and we'll probably be
treated as if we were begging for ourselves. It's the very worst road
"That is why I chose it. Of course Gilbert and Fred would have
taken this road if we had asked them. But you see, Diana, I feel
myself responsible for the A.V.I.S., since I was the first to
suggest it, and it seems to me that I ought to do the most
disagreeable things. I'm sorry on your account; but you needn't
say a word at the cranky places. I'll do all the talking. . .
Mrs. Lynde would say I was well able to. Mrs. Lynde doesn't know
whether to approve of our enterprise or not. She inclines to,
when she remembers that Mr. and Mrs. Allan are in favor of it;
but the fact that village improvement societies first originated
in the States is a count against it. So she is halting between two
opinions and only success will justify us in Mrs. Lynde's eyes.
Priscilla is going to write a paper for our next Improvement meeting,
and I expect it will be good, for her aunt is such a clever writer and
no doubt it runs in the family. I shall never forget the thrill it gave
me when I found out that Mrs. Charlotte E. Morgan was Priscilla's aunt.
It seemed so wonderful that I was a friend of the girl whose aunt wrote
`Edgewood Days' and `The Rosebud Garden.'"
"Where does Mrs. Morgan live?"
"In Toronto. And Priscilla says she is coming to the Island for a
visit next summer, and if it is possible Priscilla is going to
arrange to have us meet her. That seems almost too good to be true
--but it's something pleasant to imagine after you go to bed."
The Avonlea Village Improvement Society was an organized fact.
Gilbert Blythe was president, Fred Wright vice-president, Anne
Shirley secretary, and Diana Barry treasurer. The "Improvers," as
they were promptly christened, were to meet once a fortnight at the
homes of the members. It was admitted that they could not expect
to affect many improvements so late in the season; but they meant
to plan the next summer's campaign, collect and discuss ideas,
write and read papers, and, as Anne said, educate the public
There was some disapproval, of course, and. . .which the Improvers
felt much more keenly. . .a good deal of ridicule. Mr. Elisha
Wright was reported to have said that a more appropriate name for
the organization would be Courting Club. Mrs. Hiram Sloane
declared she had heard the Improvers meant to plough up all the
roadsides and set them out with geraniums. Mr. Levi Boulter
warned his neighbors that the Improvers would insist that everybody
pull down his house and rebuild it after plans approved by the society.
Mr. James Spencer sent them word that he wished they would kindly
shovel down the church hill. Eben Wright told Anne that he wished
the Improvers could induce old Josiah Sloane to keep his whiskers trimmed.
Mr. Lawrence Bell said he would whitewash his barns if nothing else would
please them but he would NOT hang lace curtains in the cowstable windows.
Mr. Major Spencer asked Clifton Sloane, an Improver who drove the milk to
the Carmody cheese factory, if it was true that everybody would have to
have his milk-stand hand-painted next summer and keep an embroidered
centerpiece on it.
In spite of. . .or perhaps, human nature being what it is, because
of. . .this, the Society went gamely to work at the only improvement
they could hope to bring about that fall. At the second meeting,
in the Barry parlor, Oliver Sloane moved that they tart a subscription
to re-shingle and paint the hall; Julia Bell seconded it, with an
uneasy feeling that she was doing something not exactly ladylike.
Gilbert put the motion, it was carried unanimously, and Anne gravely
recorded it in her minutes. The next thing was to appoint a committee,
and Gertie Pye, determined not to let Julia Bell carry off all the laurels,
boldly moved that Miss Jane Andrews be chairman of said committee.
This motion being also duly seconded and carried, Jane returned
the compliment by appointing Gertie on the committee, along with
Gilbert, Anne, Diana, and Fred Wright. The committee chose their
routes in private conclave. Anne and Diana were told off for the
Newbridge road, Gilbert and Fred for the White Sands road, and Jane
and Gertie for the Carmody road.
"Because," explained Gilbert to Anne, as they walked home together
through the Haunted Wood, "the Pyes all live along that road and
they won't give a cent unless one of themselves canvasses them."
The next Saturday Anne and Diana started out. They drove to the end of
the road and canvassed homeward, calling first on the "Andrew girls."
"If Catherine is alone we may get something," said Diana, "but if
Eliza is there we won't."
Eliza was there. . .very much so. . .and looked even grimmer than
usual. Miss Eliza was one of those people who give you the
impression that life is indeed a vale of tears, and that a smile,
never to speak of a laugh, is a waste of nervous energy truly
reprehensible. The Andrew girls had been "girls" for fifty odd
years and seemed likely to remain girls to the end of their earthly
pilgrimage. Catherine, it was said, had not entirely given up hope,
but Eliza, who was born a pessimist, had never had any. They lived
in a little brown house built in a sunny corner scooped out of
Mark Andrew's beech woods. Eliza complained that it was terrible
hot in summer, but Catherine was wont to say it was lovely and
warm in winter.
Eliza was sewing patchwork, not because it was needed but simply as
a protest against the frivolous lace Catherine was crocheting.
Eliza listened with a frown and Catherine with a smile, as the
girls explained their errand. To be sure, whenever Catherine
caught Eliza's eye she discarded the smile in guilty confusion;
but it crept back the next moment.
"If I had money to waste," said Eliza grimly, "I'd burn it up and
have the fun of seeing a blaze maybe; but I wouldn't give it to
that hall, not a cent. It's no benefit to the settlement. . .just
a place for young folks to meet and carry on when they's better be
home in their beds."
"Oh, Eliza, young folks must have some amusement," protested
"I don't see the necessity. We didn't gad about to halls and
places when we were young, Catherine Andrews. This world is
getting worse every day"
"I think it's getting better," said Catherine firmly.
"YOU think!" Miss Eliza's voice expressed the utmost contempt.
"It doesn't signify what you THINK, Catherine Andrews. Facts
"Well, I always like to look on the bright side, Eliza."
"There isn't any bright side."
"Oh, indeed there is," cried Anne, who couldn't endure such heresy
in silence." Why, there are ever so many bright sides, Miss Andrews.
It's really a beautiful world."
"You won't have such a high opinion of it when you've lived as long
in it as I have," retorted Miss Eliza sourly, "and you won't be so
enthusiastic about improving it either. How is your mother, Diana?
Dear me, but she has failed of late. She looks terrible run down.
And how long is it before Marilla expects to be stone blind, Anne?"
"The doctor thinks her eyes will not get any worse if she is very
careful," faltered Anne.
Eliza shook her head.
"Doctors always talk like that just to keep people cheered up. I wouldn't
have much hope if I was her. It's best to be prepared for the worst."
"But oughtn't we be prepared for the best too?" pleaded Anne.
"It's just as likely to happen as the worst."
"Not in my experience, and I've fifty-seven years to set against
your sixteen," retorted Eliza. "Going, are you? Well, I hope this
new society of yours will be able to keep Avonlea from running any
further down hill but I haven't much hope of it."
Anne and Diana got themselves thankfully out, and drove away as
fast as the fat pony could go. As they rounded the curve below the
beech wood a plump figure came speeding over Mr. Andrews' pasture,
waving to them excitedly. It was Catherine Andrews and she was so
out of breath that she could hardly speak, but she thrust a couple
of quarters into Anne's hand.
"That's my contribution to painting the hall," she gasped. "I'd
like to give you a dollar but I don't dare take more from my egg
money for Eliza would find it out if I did. I'm real interested
in your society and I believe you're going to do a lot of good.
I'm an optimist. I HAVE to be, living with Eliza. I must hurry
back before she misses me. . .she thinks I'm feeding the hens.
I hope you'll have good luck canvassing, and don't be cast down over
what Eliza said. The world IS getting better. . .it certainly is."
The next house was Daniel Blair's.
"Now, it all depends on whether his wife is home or not," said Diana,
as they jolted along a deep-rutted lane. "If she is we won't get a cent.
Everybody says Dan Blair doesn't dare have his hair cut without asking
her permission; and it's certain she's very close, to state it moderately.
She says she has to be just before she's generous. But Mrs. Lynde says
she's so much `before' that generosity never catches up with her at all."
Anne related their experience at the Blair place to Marilla that evening.
"We tied the horse and then rapped at the kitchen door.
Nobody came but the door was open and we could hear somebody
in the pantry, going on dreadfully. We couldn't make out the words
but Diana says she knows they were swearing by the sound of them.
I can't believe that of Mr. Blair, for he is always so quiet and meek;
but at least he had great provocation, for Marilla, when that poor man
came to the door, red as a beet, with perspiration streaming down his
face, he had on one of his wife's big gingham aprons. `I can't get
this durned thing off,' he said, `for the strings are tied in a hard
knot and I can't bust 'em, so you'll have to excuse me, ladies.'
We begged him not to mention it and went in and sat down. Mr. Blair
sat down too; he twisted the apron around to his back and rolled it up,
but he did look so ashamed and worried that I felt sorry for him,
and Diana said she feared we had called at an inconvenient time.
`Oh, not at all,' said Mr. Blair, trying to smile. . .you know he
is always very polite. . .'I'm a little busy. . .getting ready to
bake a cake as it were. My wife got a telegram today that her
sister from Montreal is coming tonight and she's gone to the
train to meet her and left orders for me to make a cake for tea.
She writ out the recipe and told me what to do but I've clean forgot
half the directions already. And it says, "flavor according to taste."
What does that mean? How can you tell? And what if my taste doesn't
happen to be other people's taste? Would a tablespoon of vanilla be
enough for a small layer cake?"
"I felt sorrier than ever for the poor man. He didn't seem to be
in his proper sphere at all. I had heard of henpecked husbands and
now I felt that I saw one. It was on my lips to say, `Mr. Blair,
if you'll give us a subscription for the hall I'll mix up your cake
for you.' But I suddenly thought it wouldn't be neighborly to drive
too sharp a bargain with a fellow creature in distress. So I
offered to mix the cake for him without any conditions at all.
He just jumped at my offer. He said he'd been used to making his
own bread before he was married but he feared cake was beyond him,
and yet he hated to disappoint his wife. He got me another apron,
and Diana beat the eggs and I mixed the cake. Mr. Blair ran about
and got us the materials. He had forgotten all about his apron and
when he ran it streamed out behind him and Diana said she thought
she would die to see it. He said he could bake the cake all right.
. .he was used to that. . .and then he asked for our list and he
put down four dollars. So you see we were rewarded. But even if
he hadn't given a cent I'd always feel that we had done a truly
Christian act in helping him."
Theodore White's was the next stopping place. Neither Anne nor
Diana had ever been there before, and they had only a very slight
acquaintance with Mrs. Theodore, who was not given to hospitality.
Should they go to the back or front door? While they held a
whispered consultation Mrs. Theodore appeared at the front door
with an armful of newspapers. Deliberately she laid them down one
by one on the porch floor and the porch steps, and then down the
path to the very feet of her mystified callers.
"Will you please wipe your feet carefully on the grass and then
walk on these papers?" she said anxiously. "I've just swept
the house all over and I can't have any more dust tracked in.
The path's been real muddy since the rain yesterday."
"Don't you dare laugh," warned Anne in a whisper, as they marched
along the newspapers. "And I implore you, Diana, not to look at me,
no matter what she says, or I shall not be able to keep a sober face."
The papers extended across the hall and into a prim, fleckless parlor.
Anne and Diana sat down gingerly on the nearest chairs and explained
their errand. Mrs. White heard them politely, interrupting only twice,
once to chase out an adventurous fly, and once to pick up a tiny wisp
of grass that had fallen on the carpet from Anne's dress. Anne felt
wretchedly guilty; but Mrs. White subscribed two dollars and paid
the money down. . ."to prevent us from having to go back for it,"
Diana said when they got away. Mrs. White had the newspapers
gathered up before they had their horse untied and as they drove
out of the yard they saw her busily wielding a broom in the hall.
"I've always heard that Mrs. Theodore White was the neatest woman
alive and I'll believe it after this," said Diana, giving way to
her suppressed laughter as soon as it was safe.
"I am glad she has no children," said Anne solemnly. "It would be
dreadful beyond words for them if she had."
At the Spencers' Mrs. Isabella Spencer made them miserable by saying
something ill-natured about everyone in Avonlea. Mr. Thomas Boulter
refused to give anything because the hall, when it had been built,
twenty years before, hadn't been built on the site he recommended.
Mrs. Esther Bell, who was the picture of health, took half an hour
to detail all her aches and pains, and sadly put down fifty cents
because she wouldn't be there that time next year to do it. . .no,
she would be in her grave.
Their worst reception, however, was at Simon Fletcher's. When they
drove into the yard they saw two faces peering at them through the
porch window. But although they rapped and waited patiently and
persistently nobody came to the door. Two decidedly ruffled and
indignant girls drove away from Simon Fletcher's. Even Anne
admitted that she was beginning to feel discouraged. But the tide
turned after that. Several Sloane homesteads came next, where they
got liberal subscriptions, and from that to the end they fared well,
with only an occasional snub. Their last place of call was at
Robert Dickson's by the pond bridge. They stayed to tea here,
although they were nearly home, rather than risk offending Mrs.
Dickson, who had the reputation of being a very "touchy" woman.
While they were there old Mrs. James White called in.
"I've just been down to Lorenzo's," she announced. "He's the
proudest man in Avonlea this minute. What do you think? There's
a brand new boy there. . .and after seven girls that's quite an
event, I can tell you." Anne pricked up her ears, and when they
drove away she said.
"I'm going straight to Lorenzo White's."
"But he lives on the White Sands road and it's quite a distance out
of our, way" protested Diana. "Gilbert and Fred will canvass him."
"They are not going around until next Saturday and it will be too
late by then," said Anne firmly. "The novelty will be worn off.
Lorenzo White is dreadfully mean but he will subscribe to ANYTHING
just now. We mustn't let such a golden opportunity slip, Diana."
The result justified Anne's foresight. Mr. White met them in the yard,
beaming like the sun upon an Easter day. When Anne asked for a
subscription he agreed enthusiastically.
"Certain, certain. Just put me down for a dollar more than the
highest subscription you've got."
"That will be five dollars. . .Mr. Daniel Blair put down four,"
said Anne, half afraid. But Lorenzo did not flinch.
"Five it is. . .and here's the money on the spot. Now, I want you
to come into the house. There's something in there worth seeing. . .
something very few people have seen as yet. Just come in and pass
"What will we say if the baby isn't pretty?" whispered Diana in
trepidation as they followed the excited Lorenzo into the house.
"Oh, there will certainly be something else nice to say about it,"
said Anne easily. "There always is about a baby."
The baby WAS pretty, however, and Mr. White felt that he got his
five dollars' worth of the girls' honest delight over the plump
little newcomer. But that was the first, last, and only time that
Lorenzo White ever subscribed to anything.
Anne, tired as she was, made one more effort for the public weal
that night, slipping over the fields to interview Mr. Harrison, who
was as usual smoking his pipe on the veranda with Ginger beside him.
Strickly speaking he was on the Carmody road; but Jane and Gertie,
who were not acquainted with him save by doubtful report, had
nervously begged Anne to canvass him.
Mr. Harrison, however, flatly refused to subscribe a cent, and all
Anne's wiles were in vain.
"But I thought you approved of our society, Mr. Harrison," she mourned.
"So I do. . .so I do. . .but my approval doesn't go as deep as my
"A few more experiences such as I have had today would make me as
much of a pessimist as Miss Eliza Andrews," Anne told her
reflection in the east gable mirror at bedtime.
The Pointing of Duty
Anne leaned back in her chair one mild October evening and sighed.
She was sitting at a table covered with text books and exercises,
but the closely written sheets of paper before her had no apparent
connection with studies or school work.
"What is the matter?" asked Gilbert, who had arrived at the open
kitchen door just in time to hear the sigh.
Anne colored, and thrust her writing out of sight under some school
"Nothing very dreadful. I was just trying to write out some of my
thoughts, as Professor Hamilton advised me, but I couldn't get them
to please me. They seem so still and foolish directly they're written
down on white paper with black ink. Fancies are like shadows. . .
you can't cage them, they're such wayward, dancing things.
But perhaps I'll learn the secret some day if I keep on trying.
I haven't a great many spare moments, you know. By the time I
finish correcting school exercises and compositions, I don't
always feel like writing any of my own."
"You are getting on splendidly in school, Anne. All the children
like you," said Gilbert, sitting down on the stone step.
"No, not all. Anthony Pye doesn't and WON'T like me. What is worse,
he doesn't respect me. . .no, he doesn't. He simply holds me in
contempt and I don't mind confessing to you that it worries me miserably.
It isn't that he is so very bad. . .he is only rather mischievous, but
no worse than some of the others. He seldom disobeys me; but he obeys
with a scornful air of toleration as if it wasn't worthwhile disputing
the point or he would. . .and it has a bad effect on the others.
I've tried every way to win him but I'm beginning to fear I never shall.
I want to, for he's rather a cute little lad, if he IS a Pye, and I
could like him if he'd let me."
"Probably it's merely the effect of what he hears at home."
"Not altogether. Anthony is an independent little chap and makes
up his own mind about things. He has always gone to men before and
he says girl teachers are no good. Well, we'll see what patience
and kindness will do. I like overcoming difficulties and teaching
is really very interesting work. Paul Irving makes up for all that
is lacking in the others. That child is a perfect darling,
Gilbert, and a genius into the bargain. I'm persuaded the world
will hear of him some day," concluded Anne in a tone of conviction.
"I like teaching, too," said Gilbert. "It's good training, for one thing.
Why, Anne, I've learned more in the weeks I've been teaching the young the
ideas of White Sands than I learned in all the years I went to school myself.
We all seem to be getting on pretty well. The Newbridge people like Jane,
I hear; and I think White Sands is tolerably satisfied with your humble
servant. . .all except Mr. Andrew Spencer. I met Mrs. Peter Blewett on
my way home last night and she told me she thought it her duty to inform
me that Mr. Spencer didn't approve of my methods."
"Have you ever noticed," asked Anne reflectively, "that when people
say it is their duty to tell you a certain thing you may prepare
for something disagreeable? Why is it that they never seem to think
it a duty to tell you the pleasant things they hear about you?
Mrs. H. B. DonNELL called at the school again yesterday and told me
she thought it HER duty to inform me that Mrs. Harmon Andrew
didn't approve of my reading fairy tales to the children, and that
Mr. Rogerson thought Prillie wasn't coming on fast enough in
arithmetic. If Prillie would spend less time making eyes at the
boys over her slate she might do better. I feel quite sure that
Jack Gillis works her class sums for her, though I've never been
able to catch him red-handed."
"Have you succeeded in reconciling Mrs. DonNELL's hopeful son to
his saintly name?"
"Yes," laughed Anne, "but it was really a difficult task. At
first, when I called him `St. Clair' he would not take the least
notice until I'd spoken two or three times; and then, when the
other boys nudged him, he would look up with such an aggrieved air,
as if I'd called him John or Charlie and he couldn't be expected to
know I meant him. So I kept him in after school one night and
talked kindly to him. I told him his mother wished me to call him
St. Clair and I couldn't go against her wishes. He saw it when it
was all explained out. . .he's really a very reasonable little
fellow. . .and he said _I_ could call him St. Clair but that
he'd `lick the stuffing' out of any of the boys that tried it.
Of course, I had to rebuke him again for using such shocking language.
Since then _I_ call him St. Clair and the boys call him Jake and all
goes smoothly. He informs me that he means to be a carpenter, but
Mrs. DonNELL says I am to make a college professor out of him."
The mention of college gave a new direction to Gilbert's thoughts,
and they talked for a time of their plans and wishes. . .gravely,
earnestly, hopefully, as youth loves to talk, while the future is
yet an untrodden path full of wonderful possibilities.
Gilbert had finally made up his mind that he was going to be a doctor.
"It's a splendid profession," he said enthusiastically. "A fellow
has to fight something all through life. . .didn't somebody once
define man as a fighting animal?. . .and I want to fight disease
and pain and ignorance. . .which are all members one of another.
I want to do my share of honest, real work in the world, Anne. . .
add a little to the sum of human knowledge that all the good men
have been accumulating since it began. The folks who lived before
me have done so much for me that I want to show my gratitude by
doing something for the folks who will live after me. It seems to
me that is the only way a fellow can get square with his obligations
to the race."
"I'd like to add some beauty to life," said Anne dreamily. "I don't
exactly want to make people KNOW more. . .though I know that IS the
noblest ambition. . .but I'd love to make them have a pleasanter
time because of me. . .to have some little joy or happy thought
that would never have existed if I hadn't been born."
"I think you're fulfilling that ambition every day," said Gilbert
And he was right. Anne was one of the children of light by birthright.
After she had passed through a life with a smile or a word thrown
across it like a gleam of sunshine the owner of that life saw it,
for the time being at least, as hopeful and lovely and of good report.
Finally Gilbert rose regretfully.
"Well, I must run up to MacPhersons'. Moody Spurgeon came home
from Queen's today for Sunday and he was to bring me out a book
Professor Boyd is lending me."
"And I must get Marilla's tea. She went to see Mrs. Keith this
evening and she will soon be back."
Anne had tea ready when Marilla came home; the fire was crackling
cheerily, a vase of frost-bleached ferns and ruby-red maple leaves
adorned the table, and delectable odors of ham and toast pervaded
the air. But Marilla sank into her chair with a deep sigh.
"Are your eyes troubling you? Does your head ache?" queried
"No. I'm only tired. . .and worried. It's about Mary and those children
. . .Mary is worse. . .she can't last much longer. And as for the twins,
_I_ don't know what is to become of them."
"Hasn't their uncle been heard from?"
"Yes, Mary had a letter from him. He's working in a lumber camp
and `shacking it,' whatever that means. Anyway, he says he can't
possibly take the children till the spring. He expects to be
married then and will have a home to take them to; but he says
she must get some of the neighbors to keep them for the winter.
She says she can't bear to ask any of them. Mary never got on
any too well with the East Grafton people and that's a fact.
And the long and short of it is, Anne, that I'm sure Mary wants
me to take those children. . .she didn't say so but she LOOKED it."
"Oh!" Anne clasped her hands, all athrill with excitement.
"And of course you will, Marilla, won't you?"
"I haven't made up my mind," said Marilla rather tartly. "I don't
rush into things in your headlong way, Anne. Third cousinship is a
pretty slim claim. And it will be a fearful responsibility to have
two children of six years to look after. . .twins, at that."
Marilla had an idea that twins were just twice as bad as single children.
"Twins are very interesting. . .at least one pair of them," said Anne.
"It's only when there are two or three pairs that it gets monotonous.
And I think it would be real nice for you to have something to amuse
you when I'm away in school."
"I don't reckon there'd be much amusement in it. . .more worry and
bother than anything else, I should say. It wouldn't be so risky if
they were even as old as you were when I took you. I wouldn't mind
Dora so much. . .she seems good and quiet. But that Davy is a limb."
Anne was fond of children and her heart yearned over the Keith twins.
The remembrance of her own neglected childhood was very vivid with
her still. She knew that Marilla's only vulnerable point was her
stern devotion to what she believed to be her duty, and Anne
skillfully marshalled her arguments along this line.
"If Davy is naughty it's all the more reason why he should have
good training, isn't it, Marilla? If we don't take them we don't
know who will, nor what kind of influences may surround them.
Suppose Mrs. Keith's next door neighbors, the Sprotts, were to
take them. Mrs. Lynde says Henry Sprott is the most profane man
that ever lived and you can't believe a word his children say.
Wouldn't it be dreadful to have the twins learn anything like that?
Or suppose they went to the Wiggins'. Mrs. Lynde says that Mr.
Wiggins sells everything off the place that can be sold and brings
his family up on skim milk. You wouldn't like your relations to be
starved, even if they were only third cousins, would you? It seems
to me, Marilla, that it is our duty to take them."
"I suppose it is," assented Marilla gloomily. "I daresay I'll tell
Mary I'll take them. You needn't look so delighted, Anne. It will
mean a good deal of extra work for you. I can't sew a stitch on
account of my eyes, so you'll have to see to the making and mending
of their clothes. And you don't like sewing."
"I hate it," said Anne calmly, "but if you are willing to take
those children from a sense of duty surely I can do their sewing
from a sense of duty. It does people good to have to do things
they don't like. . .in moderation."
Marilla Adopts Twins
Mrs. Rachel Lynde was sitting at her kitchen window, knitting a
quilt, just as she had been sitting one evening several years
previously when Matthew Cuthbert had driven down over the hill with
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