Part 4 out of 5
say my prayers any more. I'm going to give up trying to be good,
'cause no matter how good I am you'd like Paul Irving better.
So I might as well be bad and have the fun of it."
"I don't like Paul Irving BETTER," said Anne seriously. "I like
you just as well, only in a different way."
"But I want you to like me the same way," pouted Davy.
"You can't like different people the same way. You don't like Dora
and me the same way, do you?"
Davy sat up and reflected.
"No. . .o. . .o," he admitted at last, "I like Dora because she's
my sister but I like you because you're YOU."
"And I like Paul because he is Paul and Davy because he is Davy,"
said Anne gaily.
"Well, I kind of wish I'd said my prayers then," said Davy, convinced
by this logic. "But it's too much bother getting out now to say them.
I'll say them twice over in the morning, Anne. Won't that do as well?"
No, Anne was positive it would not do as well. So Davy scrambled
out and knelt down at her knee. When he had finished his devotions
he leaned back on his little, bare, brown heels and looked up at her.
"Anne, I'm gooder than I used to be."
"Yes, indeed you are, Davy," said Anne, who never hesitated to give
credit where credit was due.
"I KNOW I'm gooder," said Davy confidently, "and I'll tell you how
I know it. Today Marilla give me two pieces of bread and jam, one
for me and one for Dora. One was a good deal bigger than the other
and Marilla didn't say which was mine. But I give the biggest
piece to Dora. That was good of me, wasn't it?"
"Very good, and very manly, Davy."
"Of course," admitted Davy, "Dora wasn't very hungry and she only et
half her slice and then she give the rest to me. But I didn't know
she was going to do that when I give it to her, so I WAS good, Anne."
In the twilight Anne sauntered down to the Dryad's Bubble and saw
Gilbert Blythe coming down through the dusky Haunted Wood. She had
a sudden realization that Gilbert was a schoolboy no longer. And
how manly he looked -- the tall, frank-faced fellow, with the
clear, straightforward eyes and the broad shoulders. Anne thought
Gilbert was a very handsome lad, even though he didn't look at all
like her ideal man. She and Diana had long ago decided what kind
of a man they admired and their tastes seemed exactly similar. He
must be very tall and distinguished looking, with melancholy,
inscrutable eyes, and a melting, sympathetic voice. There was
nothing either melancholy or inscrutable in Gilbert's physiognomy,
but of course that didn't matter in friendship!
Gilbert stretched himself out on the ferns beside the Bubble and
looked approvingly at Anne. If Gilbert had been asked to describe
his ideal woman the description would have answered point for point
to Anne, even to those seven tiny freckles whose obnoxious presence
still continued to vex her soul. Gilbert was as yet little more
than a boy; but a boy has his dreams as have others, and in
Gilbert's future there was always a girl with big, limpid gray
eyes, and a face as fine and delicate as a flower. He had made up
his mind, also, that his future must be worthy of its goddess.
Even in quiet Avonlea there were temptations to be met and faced.
White Sands youth were a rather "fast" set, and Gilbert was popular
wherever he went. But he meant to keep himself worthy of Anne's
friendship and perhaps some distant day her love; and he watched
over word and thought and deed as jealously as if her clear eyes
were to pass in judgment on it. She held over him the unconscious
influence that every girl, whose ideals are high and pure, wields
over her friends; an influence which would endure as long as she
was faithful to those ideals and which she would as certainly lose
if she were ever false to them. In Gilbert's eyes Anne's greatest
charm was the fact that she never stooped to the petty practices of
so many of the Avonlea girls -- the small jealousies, the little
deceits and rivalries, the palpable bids for favor. Anne held
herself apart from all this, not consciously or of design, but
simply because anything of the sort was utterly foreign to her
transparent, impulsive nature, crystal clear in its motives and
But Gilbert did not attempt to put his thoughts into words, for he
had already too good reason to know that Anne would mercilessly and
frostily nip all attempts at sentiment in the bud -- or laugh at him,
which was ten times worse.
"You look like a real dryad under that birch tree," he said teasingly.
"I love birch trees," said Anne, laying her cheek against the creamy
satin of the slim bole, with one of the pretty, caressing gestures
that came so natural to her.
"Then you'll be glad to hear that Mr. Major Spencer has decided
to set out a row of white birches all along the road front of
his farm, by way of encouraging the A.V.I.S.," said Gilbert.
"He was talking to me about it today. Major Spencer is the most
progressive and public-spirited man in Avonlea. And Mr. William
Bell is going to set out a spruce hedge along his road front and up
his lane. Our Society is getting on splendidly, Anne. It is past
the experimental stage and is an accepted fact. The older folks
are beginning to take an interest in it and the White Sands people
are talking of starting one too. Even Elisha Wright has come
around since that day the Americans from the hotel had the picnic
at the shore. They praised our roadsides so highly and said they
were so much prettier than in any other part of the Island. And
when, in due time, the other farmers follow Mr. Spencer's good
example and plant ornamental trees and hedges along their road
fronts Avonlea will be the prettiest settlement in the province."
"The Aids are talking of taking up the graveyard," said Anne, "and I
hope they will, because there will have to be a subscription for that,
and it would be no use for the Society to try it after the hall affair.
But the Aids would never have stirred in the matter if the Society
hadn't put it into their thoughts unofficially. Those trees we
planted on the church grounds are flourishing, and the trustees
have promised me that they will fence in the school grounds next year.
If they do I'll have an arbor day and every scholar shall plant a tree;
and we'll have a garden in the corner by the road."
"We've succeeded in almost all our plans so far, except in getting the old
Boulter house removed," said Gilbert, "and I've given THAT up in despair.
Levi won't have it taken down just to vex us. There's a contrary streak
in all the Boulters and it's strongly developed in him."
"Julia Bell wants to send another committee to him, but I think the
better way will just be to leave him severely alone," said Anne sagely.
"And trust to Providence, as Mrs. Lynde says," smiled Gilbert.
"Certainly, no more committees. They only aggravate him.
Julia Bell thinks you can do anything, if you only have a committee
to attempt it. Next spring, Anne, we must start an agitation for
nice lawns and grounds. We'll sow good seed betimes this winter.
I've a treatise here on lawns and lawnmaking and I'm going to prepare
a paper on the subject soon. Well, I suppose our vacation is almost
over. School opens Monday. Has Ruby Gillis got the Carmody school?"
"Yes; Priscilla wrote that she had taken her own home school, so
the Carmody trustees gave it to Ruby. I'm sorry Priscilla is not
coming back, but since she can't I'm glad Ruby has got the school.
She will be home for Saturdays and it will seem like old times,
to have her and Jane and Diana and myself all together again."
Marilla, just home from Mrs. Lynde's, was sitting on the back
porch step when Anne returned to the house.
"Rachel and I have decided to have our cruise to town tomorrow,"
she said. "Mr. Lynde is feeling better this week and Rachel wants
to go before he has another sick spell."
"I intend to get up extra early tomorrow morning, for I've ever so
much to do," said Anne virtuously. "For one thing, I'm going to
shift the feathers from my old bedtick to the new one. I ought to
have done it long ago but I've just kept putting it off. . .
it's such a detestable task. It's a very bad habit to put off
disagreeable things, and I never mean to again, or else I can't
comfortably tell my pupils not to do it. That would be inconsistent.
Then I want to make a cake for Mr. Harrison and finish my paper
on gardens for the A.V.I.S., and write Stella, and wash and starch
my muslin dress, and make Dora's new apron."
"You won't get half done," said Marilla pessimistically. "I never yet
planned to do a lot of things but something happened to prevent me."
The Way It Often Happens
Anne rose betimes the next morning and blithely greeted the fresh day,
when the banners of the sunrise were shaken triumphantly across the
pearly skies. Green Gables lay in a pool of sunshine, flecked with
the dancing shadows of poplar and willow. Beyond the land was
Mr. Harrison's wheatfield, a great, windrippled expanse of pale gold.
The world was so beautiful that Anne spent ten blissful minutes
hanging idly over the garden gate drinking the loveliness in.
After breakfast Marilla made ready for her journey. Dora was to go
with her, having been long promised this treat.
"Now, Davy, you try to be a good boy and don't bother Anne," she
straitly charged him. "If you are good I'll bring you a striped
candy cane from town."
For alas, Marilla had stooped to the evil habit of bribing people
to be good!
"I won't be bad on purpose, but s'posen I'm bad zacksidentally?"
Davy wanted to know.
"You'll have to guard against accidents," admonished Marilla.
"Anne, if Mr. Shearer comes today get a nice roast and some steak.
If he doesn't you'll have to kill a fowl for dinner tomorrow."
"I'm not going to bother cooking any dinner for just Davy and myself today,"
she said. "That cold ham bone will do for noon lunch and I'll have some
steak fried for you when you come home at night."
"I'm going to help Mr. Harrison haul dulse this morning," announced Davy.
"He asked me to, and I guess he'll ask me to dinner too. Mr. Harrison is
an awful kind man. He's a real sociable man. I hope I'll be like him
when I grow up. I mean BEHAVE like him. . .I don't want to LOOK like him.
But I guess there's no danger, for Mrs. Lynde says I'm a very handsome child.
Do you s'pose it'll last, Anne? I want to know"
"I daresay it will," said Anne gravely. "You ARE a handsome boy, Davy,"
. . .Marilla looked volumes of disapproval. . ."but you must live up to
it and be just as nice and gentlemanly as you look to be."
"And you told Minnie May Barry the other day, when you found her crying
'cause some one said she was ugly, that if she was nice and kind and
loving people wouldn't mind her looks," said Davy discontentedly.
"Seems to me you can't get out of being good in this world for
some reason or 'nother. You just HAVE to behave."
"Don't you want to be good?" asked Marilla, who had learned a great
deal but had not yet learned the futility of asking such questions.
"Yes, I want to be good but not TOO good," said Davy cautiously.
"You don't have to be very good to be a Sunday School superintendent.
Mr. Bell's that, and he's a real bad man."
"Indeed he's not," said Marila indignantly.
"He is. . .he says he is himself," asseverated Davy. "He said it
when he prayed in Sunday School last Sunday. He said he was a vile
worm and a miserable sinner and guilty of the blackest 'niquity.
What did he do that was so bad, Marilla? Did he kill anybody?
Or steal the collection cents? I want to know."
Fortunately Mrs. Lynde came driving up the lane at this moment and
Marilla made off, feeling that she had escaped from the snare of
the fowler, and wishing devoutly that Mr. Bell were not quite so
highly figurative in his public petitions, especially in the
hearing of small boys who were always "wanting to know."
Anne, left alone in her glory, worked with a will. The floor was
swept, the beds made, the hens fed, the muslin dress washed and
hung out on the line. Then Anne prepared for the transfer of
feathers. She mounted to the garret and donned the first old dress
that came to hand. . .a navy blue cashmere she had worn at
fourteen. It was decidedly on the short side and as "skimpy" as
the notable wincey Anne had worn upon the occasion of her debut at
Green Gables; but at least it would not be materially injured by
down and feathers. Anne completed her toilet by tying a big red
and white spotted handkerchief that had belonged to Matthew over
her head, and, thus accoutred, betook herself to the kitchen
chamber, whither Marilla, before her departure, had helped her
carry the feather bed.
A cracked mirror hung by the chamber window and in an unlucky
moment Anne looked into it. There were those seven freckles on her
nose, more rampant than ever, or so it seemed in the glare of light
from the unshaded window.
"Oh, I forgot to rub that lotion on last night," she thought.
"I'd better run down to the pantry and do it now."
Anne had already suffered many things trying to remove those freckles.
On one occasion the entire skin had peeled off her nose but the
freckles remained. A few days previously she had found a recipe
for a freckle lotion in a magazine and, as the ingredients were
within her reach, she straightway compounded it, much to the disgust
of Marilla, who thought that if Providence had placed freckles on
your nose it was your bounden duty to leave them there.
Anne scurried down to the pantry, which, always dim from the big
willow growing close to the window, was now almost dark by reason
of the shade drawn to exclude flies. Anne caught the bottle
containing the lotion from the shelf and copiously anointed her
nose therewith by means of a little sponge sacred to the purpose.
This important duty done, she returned to her work. Any one who
has ever shifted feathers from one tick to another will not need to
be told that when Anne finished she was a sight to behold. Her
dress was white with down and fluff, and her front hair, escaping from
under the handkerchief, was adorned with a veritable halo of feathers.
At this auspicious moment a knock sounded at the kitchen door.
"That must be Mr. Shearer," thought Anne. "I'm in a dreadful mess
but I'll have to run down as I am, for he's always in a hurry."
Down flew Anne to the kitchen door. If ever a charitable floor did
open to swallow up a miserable, befeathered damsel the Green Gables
porch floor should promptly have engulfed Anne at that moment.
On the doorstep were standing Priscilla Grant, golden and fair
in silk attire, a short, stout gray-haired lady in a tweed suit,
and another lady, tall stately, wonderfully gowned, with a
beautiful, highbred face and large, black-lashed violet eyes,
whom Anne "instinctively felt," as she would have said in her
earlier days, to be Mrs. Charlotte E. Morgan.
In the dismay of the moment one thought stood out from the
confusion of Anne's mind and she grasped at it as at the proverbial
straw. All Mrs. Morgan's heroines were noted for "rising to the
occasion." No matter what their troubles were, they invariably rose
to the occasion and showed their superiority over all ills of time,
space, and quantity. Anne therefore felt it was HER duty to rise
to the occasion and she did it, so perfectly that Priscilla
afterward declared she never admired Anne Shirley more than
at that moment. No matter what her outraged feelings were
she did not show them. She greeted Priscilla and was introduced
to her companions as calmly and composedly as if she had been
arrayed in purple and fine linen. To be sure, it was somewhat
of a shock to find that the lady she had instinctively felt
to be Mrs. Morgan was not Mrs. Morgan at all, but an unknown
Mrs. Pendexter, while the stout little gray-haired woman was
Mrs. Morgan; but in the greater shock the lesser lost its power.
Anne ushered her guests to the spare room and thence into the parlor,
where she left them while she hastened out to help Priscilla
unharness her horse.
"It's dreadful to come upon you so unexpectedly as this,"
apologized Priscilla, "but I did not know till last night that we
were coming. Aunt Charlotte is going away Monday and she had
promised to spend today with a friend in town. But last night her
friend telephoned to her not to come because they were quarantined
for scarlet fever. So I suggested we come here instead, for I knew
you were longing to see her. We called at the White Sands Hotel and
brought Mrs. Pendexter with us. She is a friend of aunt's and lives
in New York and her husband is a millionaire. We can't stay very long,
for Mrs. Pendexter has to be back at the hotel by five o'clock."
Several times while they were putting away the horse Anne caught
Priscilla looking at her in a furtive, puzzled way.
"She needn't stare at me so," Anne thought a little resentfully.
"If she doesn't KNOW what it is to change a feather bed she might
When Priscilla had gone to the parlor, and before Anne could escape
upstairs, Diana walked into the kitchen. Anne caught her astonished
friend by the arm.
"Diana Barry, who do you suppose is in that parlor at this very
moment? Mrs. Charlotte E. Morgan. . .and a New York millionaire's
wife. . .and here I am like THIS. . .and NOT A THING IN THE HOUSE
FOR DINNER BUT A COLD HAM BONE, Diana!"
By this time Anne had become aware that Diana was staring at her
in precisely the same bewildered fashion as Priscilla had done.
It was really too much.
"Oh, Diana, don't look at me so," she implored. "YOU, at least,
must know that the neatest person in the world couldn't empty
feathers from one tick into another and remain neat in the process."
"It. . .it. . .isn't the feathers," hesitated Diana. "It's. . .
it's. . .your nose, Anne."
"My nose? Oh, Diana, surely nothing has gone wrong with it!"
Anne rushed to the little looking glass over the sink. One glance
revealed the fatal truth. Her nose was a brilliant scarlet!
Anne sat down on the sofa, her dauntless spirit subdued at last.
"What is the matter with it?" asked Diana, curiosity overcoming delicacy.
"I thought I was rubbing my freckle lotion on it, but I must have
used that red dye Marilla has for marking the pattern on her rugs,"
was the despairing response. "What shall I do?"
"Wash it off," said Diana practically.
"Perhaps it won't wash off. First I dye my hair; then I dye my nose.
Marilla cut my hair off when I dyed it but that remedy would hardly be
practicable in this case. Well, this is another punishment for vanity
and I suppose I deserve it. . .though there's not much comfort in THAT.
It is really almost enough to make one believe in ill-luck, though Mrs.
Lynde says there is no such thing, because everything is foreordained."
Fortunately the dye washed off easily and Anne, somewhat consoled,
betook herself to the east gable while Diana ran home. Presently
Anne came down again, clothed and in her right mind. The muslin
dress she had fondly hoped to wear was bobbing merrily about on the
line outside, so she was forced to content herself with her black
lawn. She had the fire on and the tea steeping when Diana
returned; the latter wore HER muslin, at least, and carried a
covered platter in her hand.
"Mother sent you this," she said, lifting the cover and displaying
a nicely carved and jointed chicken to Anne's greatful eyes.
The chicken was supplemented by light new bread, excellent butter
and cheese, Marilla's fruit cake and a dish of preserved plums,
floating in their golden syrup as in congealed summer sunshine.
There was a big bowlful of pink-and-white asters also, by way of
decoration; yet the spread seemed very meager beside the elaborate
one formerly prepared for Mrs. Morgan.
Anne's hungry guests, however, did not seem to think anything was
lacking and they ate the simple viands with apparent enjoyment.
But after the first few moments Anne thought no more of what was
or was not on her bill of fare. Mrs. Morgan's appearance might be
somewhat disappointing, as even her loyal worshippers had been
forced to admit to each other; but she proved to be a delightful
conversationalist. She had traveled extensively and was an
excellent storyteller. She had seen much of men and women, and
crystalized her experiences into witty little sentences and
epigrams which made her hearers feel as if they were listening to
one of the people in clever books. But under all her sparkle there
was a strongly felt undercurrent of true, womanly sympathy and
kindheartedness which won affection as easily as her brilliancy won
admiration. Nor did she monopolize the conversation. She could
draw others out as skillfully and fully as she could talk herself,
and Anne and Diana found themselves chattering freely to her. Mrs.
Pendexter said little; she merely smiled with her lovely eyes and lips,
and ate chicken and fruit cake and preserves with such exquisite grace
that she conveyed the impression of dining on ambrosia and honeydew.
But then, as Anne said to Diana later on, anybody so divinely beautiful
as Mrs. Pendexter didn't need to talk; it was enough for her just to LOOK.
After dinner they all had a walk through Lover's Lane and Violet
Vale and the Birch Path, then back through the Haunted Wood to the
Dryad's Bubble, where they sat down and talked for a delightful
last half hour. Mrs. Morgan wanted to know how the Haunted Wood
came by its name, and laughed until she cried when she heard the
story and Anne's dramatic account of a certain memorable walk
through it at the witching hour of twilight.
"It has indeed been a feast of reason and flow of soul, hasn't it?"
said Anne, when her guests had gone and she and Diana were alone again.
"I don't know which I enjoyed more. . .listening to Mrs. Morgan or
gazing at Mrs. Pendexter. I believe we had a nicer time than if
we'd known they were coming and been cumbered with much serving.
You must stay to tea with me, Diana, and we'll talk it all over."
"Priscilla says Mrs. Pendexter's husband's sister is married to an
English earl; and yet she took a second helping of the plum preserves,"
said Diana, as if the two facts were somehow incompatible.
"I daresay even the English earl himself wouldn't have turned up his
aristocratic nose at Marilla's plum preserves," said Anne proudly.
Anne did not mention the misfortune which had befallen HER nose when she
related the day's history to Marilla that evening. But she took the
bottle of freckle lotion and emptied it out of the window.
"I shall never try any beautifying messes again," she said, darkly
resolute. "They may do for careful, deliberate people; but for
anyone so hopelessly given over to making mistakes as I seem to be
it's tempting fate to meddle with them."
Sweet Miss Lavendar
School opened and Anne returned to her work, with fewer theories but
considerably more experience. She had several new pupils, six- and
seven-year-olds just venturing, round-eyed, into a world of wonder.
Among them were Davy and Dora. Davy sat with Milty Boulter, who had been
going to school for a year and was therefore quite a man of the world.
Dora had made a compact at Sunday School the previous Sunday to sit
with Lily Sloane; but Lily Sloane not coming the first day, she was
temporarily assigned to Mirabel Cotton, who was ten years old and
therefore, in Dora's eyes, one of the "big girls."
"I think school is great fun," Davy told Marilla when he got home
that night. "You said I'd find it hard to sit still and I did. . .
you mostly do tell the truth, I notice. . .but you can wriggle
your legs about under the desk and that helps a lot. It's splendid
to have so many boys to play with. I sit with Milty Boulter and
he's fine. He's longer than me but I'm wider. It's nicer to sit
in the back seats but you can't sit there till your legs grow long
enough to touch the floor. Milty drawed a picture of Anne on his
slate and it was awful ugly and I told him if he made pictures of
Anne like that I'd lick him at recess. I thought first I'd draw
one of him and put horns and a tail on it, but I was afraid it
would hurt his feelings, and Anne says you should never hurt
anyone's feelings. It seems it's dreadful to have your feelings
hurt. It's better to knock a boy down than hurt his feelings if
you MUST do something. Milty said he wasn't scared of me but he'd
just as soon call it somebody else to 'blige me, so he rubbed out
Anne's name and printed Barbara Shaw's under it. Milty doesn't
like Barbara 'cause she calls him a sweet little boy and once she
patted him on his head."
Dora said primly that she liked school; but she was very quiet,
even for her; and when at twilight Marilla bade her go upstairs to
bed she hesitated and began to cry.
"I'm. . .I'm frightened," she sobbed. "I. . .I don't want to go
upstairs alone in the dark."
"What notion have you got into your head now?" demanded Marilla.
"I'm sure you've gone to bed alone all summer and never been
Dora still continued to cry, so Anne picked her up, cuddled her
sympathetically, and whispered,
"Tell Anne all about it, sweetheart. What are you frightened of?"
"Of. . .of Mirabel Cotton's uncle," sobbed Dora. "Mirabel Cotton told
me all about her family today in school. Nearly everybody in her
family has died. . .all her grandfathers and grandmothers and ever
so many uncles and aunts. They have a habit of dying, Mirabel says.
Mirabel's awful proud of having so many dead relations, and she told
me what they all died of, and what they said, and how they looked in
their coffins. And Mirabel says one of her uncles was seen walking
around the house after he was buried. Her mother saw him. I don't
mind the rest so much but I can't help thinking about that uncle."
Anne went upstairs with Dora and sat by her until she fell asleep.
The next day Mirabel Cotton was kept in at recess and "gently but
firmly" given to understand that when you were so unfortunate as to
possess an uncle who persisted in walking about houses after he had
been decently interred it was not in good taste to talk about that
eccentric gentleman to your deskmate of tender years. Mirabel
thought this very harsh. The Cottons had not much to boast of.
How was she to keep up her prestige among her schoolmates if she
were forbidden to make capital out of the family ghost?
September slipped by into a gold and crimson graciousness of October.
One Friday evening Diana came over.
"I'd a letter from Ella Kimball today, Anne, and she wants us to go over
to tea tomorrow afternoon to meet her cousin, Irene Trent, from town.
But we can't get one of our horses to go, for they'll all be in use
tomorrow, and your pony is lame. . .so I suppose we can't go."
"Why can't we walk?" suggested Anne. "If we go straight back
through the woods we'll strike the West Grafton road not far from
the Kimball place. I was through that way last winter and I know
the road. It's no more than four miles and we won't have to walk
home, for Oliver Kimball will be sure to drive us. He'll be only
too glad of the excuse, for he goes to see Carrie Sloane and they
say his father will hardly ever let him have a horse."
It was accordingly arranged that they should walk, and the
following afternoon they set out, going by way of Lover's Lane to
the back of the Cuthbert farm, where they found a road leading into
the heart of acres of glimmering beech and maple woods, which were
all in a wondrous glow of flame and gold, lying in a great purple
stillness and peace.
"It's as if the year were kneeling to pray in a vast cathedral full
of mellow stained light, isn't it?" said Anne dreamily. "It doesn't
seem right to hurry through it, does it? It seems irreverent,
like running in a church."
"We MUST hurry though," said Diana, glancing at her watch.
"We've left ourselves little enough time as it is."
"Well, I'll walk fast but don't ask me to talk," said Anne, quickening
her pace. "I just want to drink the day's loveliness in. . .I feel as
if she were holding it out to my lips like a cup of airy wine and
I'll take a sip at every step."
Perhaps it was because she was so absorbed in "drinking it in" that
Anne took the left turning when they came to a fork in the road.
She should have taken the right, but ever afterward she counted it
the most fortunate mistake of her life. They came out finally to a
lonely, grassy road, with nothing in sight along it but ranks of
"Why, where are we?" exclaimed Diana in bewilderment. "This isn't
the West Grafton road."
"No, it's the base line road in Middle Grafton," said Anne, rather
shamefacedly. "I must have taken the wrong turning at the fork.
I don't know where we are exactly, but we must be all of three miles
from Kimballs' still."
"Then we can't get there by five, for it's half past four now,"
said Diana, with a despairing look at her watch. "We'll arrive
after they have had their tea, and they'll have all the bother of
getting ours over again."
"We'd better turn back and go home," suggested Anne humbly.
But Diana, after consideration, vetoed this.
"No, we may as well go and spend the evening, since we
have come this far"
A few yards further on the girls came to a place where
the road forked again.
"Which of these do we take?" asked Diana dubiously.
Anne shook her head.
"I don't know and we can't afford to make any more mistakes. Here
is a gate and a lane leading right into the wood. There must be a
house at the other side. Let us go down and inquire."
"What a romantic old lane this it," said Diana, as they walked
along its twists and turns. It ran under patriarchal old firs
whose branches met above, creating a perpetual gloom in which
nothing except moss could grow. On either hand were brown wood
floors, crossed here and there by fallen lances of sunlight.
All was very still and remote, as if the world and the cares
of the world were far away.
"I feel as if we were walking through an enchanted forest," said
Anne in a hushed tone. "Do you suppose we'll ever find our way
back to the real world again, Diana? We shall presently come to a
palace with a spellbound princess in it, I think."
Around the next turn they came in sight, not indeed of a palace,
but of a little house almost as surprising as a palace would have
been in this province of conventional wooden farmhouses, all as
much alike in general characteristics as if they had grown from the
same seed. Anne stopped short in rapture and Diana exclaimed,
"Oh, I know where we are now. That is the little stone house where
Miss Lavendar Lewis lives. . .Echo Lodge, she calls it, I think.
I've often heard of it but I've never seen it before. Isn't it a
"It's the sweetest, prettiest place I ever saw or imagined," said
Anne delightedly. "It looks like a bit out of a story book or a dream."
The house was a low-eaved structure built of undressed blocks of
red Island sandstone, with a little peaked roof out of which peered
two dormer windows, with quaint wooden hoods over them, and two
great chimneys. The whole house was covered with a luxuriant
growth of ivy, finding easy foothold on the rough stonework and
turned by autumn frosts to most beautiful bronze and wine-red tints.
Before the house was an oblong garden into which the lane gate
where the girls were standing opened. The house bounded it on
one side; on the three others it was enclosed by an old stone dyke,
so overgrown with moss and grass and ferns that it looked like a high,
green bank. On the right and left the tall, dark spruces spread
their palm-like branches over it; but below it was a little meadow,
green with clover aftermath, sloping down to the blue loop of the
Grafton River. No other house or clearing was in sight. . .nothing
but hills and valleys covered with feathery young firs.
"I wonder what sort of a person Miss Lewis is," speculated Diana as
they opened the gate into the garden. "They say she is very peculiar."
"She'll be interesting then," said Anne decidedly. "Peculiar people
are always that at least, whatever else they are or are not.
Didn't I tell you we would come to an enchanted palace?
I knew the elves hadn't woven magic over that lane for nothing."
"But Miss Lavendar Lewis is hardly a spellbound princess," laughed
Diana. "She's an old maid. . .she's forty-five and quite gray,
"Oh, that's only part of the spell," asserted Anne confidently.
"At heart she's young and beautiful still. . .and if we only knew
how to unloose the spell she would step forth radiant and fair again.
But we don't know how. . .it's always and only the prince who knows that
. . .and Miss Lavendar's prince hasn't come yet. Perhaps some fatal
mischance has befallen him. . .though THAT'S against the law of all
"I'm afraid he came long ago and went away again," said Diana.
"They say she used to be engaged to Stephan Irving. . .Paul's
father. . .when they were young. But they quarreled and parted."
"Hush," warned Anne. "The door is open."
The girls paused in the porch under the tendrils of ivy and knocked
at the open door. There was a patter of steps inside and a rather
odd little personage presented herself. . .a girl of about
fourteen, with a freckled face, a snub nose, a mouth so wide that
it did really seem as if it stretched "from ear to ear," and two
long braids of fair hair tied with two enormous bows of blue ribbon.
"Is Miss Lewis at home?" asked Diana.
"Yes, ma'am. Come in, ma'am. I'll tell Miss Lavendar you're here,
ma'am. She's upstairs, ma'am."
With this the small handmaiden whisked out of sight and the girls,
left alone, looked about them with delighted eyes. The interior of
this wonderful little house was quite as interesting as its exterior.
The room had a low ceiling and two square, small-paned windows,
curtained with muslin frills. All the furnishings were old-fashioned,
but so well and daintily kept that the effect was delicious.
But it must be candidly admitted that the most attractive feature,
to two healthy girls who had just tramped four miles through autumn air,
was a table, set out with pale blue china and laden with delicacies,
while little golden-hued ferns scattered over the cloth gave it what
Anne would have termed "a festal air."
"Miss Lavendar must be expecting company to tea," she whispered.
"There are six places set. But what a funny little girl she has.
She looked like a messenger from pixy land. I suppose she could
have told us the road, but I was curious to see Miss Lavendar.
S. . .s. . .sh, she's coming."
And with that Miss Lavendar Lewis was standing in the doorway.
The girls were so surprised that they forgot good manners and
simply stared. They had unconsciously been expecting to see
the usual type of elderly spinster as known to their experience
. . .a rather angular personage, with prim gray hair and spectacles.
Nothing more unlike Miss Lavendar could possibly be imagined.
She was a little lady with snow-white hair beautifully wavy and
thick, and carefully arranged in becoming puffs and coils. Beneath
it was an almost girlish face, pink cheeked and sweet lipped, with
big soft brown eyes and dimples. . .actually dimples. She wore a
very dainty gown of cream muslin with pale-hued roses on it. . .a
gown which would have seemed ridiculously juvenile on most women of
her age, but which suited Miss Lavendar so perfectly that you never
thought about it at all.
"Charlotta the Fourth says that you wished to see me," she said,
in a voice that matched her appearance.
"We wanted to ask the right road to West Grafton," said Diana.
"We are invited to tea at Mr. Kimball's, but we took the wrong path
coming through the woods and came out to the base line instead of the
West Grafton road. Do we take the right or left turning at your gate?"
"The left," said Miss Lavendar, with a hesitating glance at her tea table.
Then she exclaimed, as if in a sudden little burst of resolution,
"But oh, won't you stay and have tea with me? Please, do.
Mr. Kimball's will have tea over before you get there.
And Charlotta the Fourth and I will be so glad to have you."
Diana looked mute inquiry at Anne.
"We'd like to stay," said Anne promptly, for she had made up her mind that
she wanted to know more of this surprising Miss Lavendar, "if it won't
inconvenience you. But you are expecting other guests, aren't you?"
Miss Lavendar looked at her tea table again, and blushed.
"I know you'll think me dreadfully foolish," she said. "I AM
foolish. . .and I'm ashamed of it when I'm found out, but never
unless I AM found out. I'm not expecting anybody. . .I was just
pretending I was. You see, I was so lonely. I love company. . .
that is, the right kind of company. . .but so few people ever
come here because it is so far out of the way. Charlotta the
Fourth was lonely too. So I just pretended I was going to have a
tea party. I cooked for it. . .and decorated the table for it. . .
and set it with my mother's wedding china . . .and I dressed up
for it." Diana secretly thought Miss Lavendar quite as peculiar as
report had pictured her. The idea of a woman of forty-five
playing at having a tea party, just as if she were a little girl!
But Anne of the shining eyes exclaimed joyfuly, "Oh, do YOU imagine
That "too" revealed a kindred spirit to Miss Lavendar.
"Yes, I do," she confessed, boldly. "Of course it's silly in anybody
as old as I am. But what is the use of being an independent old maid
if you can't be silly when you want to, and when it doesn't hurt anybody?
A person must have some compensations. I don't believe I could live
at times if I didn't pretend things. I'm not often caught at it though,
and Charlotta the Fourth never tells. But I'm glad to be caught today,
for you have really come and I have tea all ready for you. Will you
go up to the spare room and take off your hats? It's the white door
at the head of the stairs. I must run out to the kitchen and see that
Charlotta the Fourth isn't letting the tea boil. Charlotta the Fourth
is a very good girl but she WILL let the tea boil."
Miss Lavendar tripped off to the kitchen on hospitable thoughts intent
and the girls found their way up to the spare room, an apartment as
white as its door, lighted by the ivy-hung dormer window and looking,
as Anne said, like the place where happy dreams grew.
"This is quite an adventure, isn't it?" said Diana. "And isn't
Miss Lavendar sweet, if she IS a little odd? She doesn't look a bit
like an old maid."
"She looks just as music sounds, I think," answered Anne.
When they went down Miss Lavendar was carrying in the teapot,
and behind her, looking vastly pleased, was Charlotta the Fourth,
with a plate of hot biscuits.
"Now, you must tell me your names," said Miss Lavendar. "I'm so
glad you are young girls. I love young girls. It's so easy to
pretend I'm a girl myself when I'm with them. I do hate". . .with
a little grimace. . ."to believe I'm old. Now, who are you. . .
just for convenience' sake? Diana Barry? And Anne Shirley? May I
pretend that I've known you for a hundred years and call you Anne
and Diana right away?"
"You, may" the girls said both together.
"Then just let's sit comfily down and eat everything," said Miss Lavendar
happily. "Charlotta, you sit at the foot and help with the chicken.
It is so fortunate that I made the sponge cake and doughnuts.
Of course, it was foolish to do it for imaginary guests. . .
I know Charlotta the Fourth thought so, didn't you, Charlotta?
But you see how well it has turned out. Of course they wouldn't have
been wasted, for Charlotta the Fourth and I could have eaten them
through time. But sponge cake is not a thing that improves with time."
That was a merry and memorable meal; and when it was over they all
went out to the garden, lying in the glamor of sunset.
"I do think you have the loveliest place here," said Diana,
looking round her admiringly.
"Why do you call it Echo Lodge?" asked Anne.
"Charlotta," said Miss Lavendar, "go into the house and bring out
the little tin horn that is hanging over the clock shelf."
Charlotta the Fourth skipped off and returned with the horn.
"Blow it, Charlotta," commanded Miss Lavendar.
Charlotta accordingly blew, a rather raucous, strident blast.
There was moment's stillness. . .and then from the woods over the
river came a multitude of fairy echoes, sweet, elusive, silvery,
as if all the "horns of elfland" were blowing against the sunset.
Anne and Diana exclaimed in delight.
"Now laugh, Charlotta. . .laugh loudly."
Charlotta, who would probably have obeyed if Miss Lavendar had told
her to stand on her head, climbed upon the stone bench and laughed
loud and heartily. Back came the echoes, as if a host of pixy
people were mimicking her laughter in the purple woodlands and
along the fir-fringed points.
"People always admire my echoes very much," said Miss Lavendar,
as if the echoes were her personal property. "I love them myself.
They are very good company. . .with a little pretending. On calm
evenings Charlotta the Fourth and I often sit out here and amuse
ourselves with them. Charlotta, take back the horn and hang it
carefully in its place."
"Why do you call her Charlotta the Fourth?" asked Diana, who was
bursting with curiosity on this point.
"Just to keep her from getting mixed up with other Charlottas in
my thoughts," said Miss Lavendar seriously. "They all look so much
alike there's no telling them apart. Her name isn't really
Charlotta at all. It is. . .let me see. . .what is it? I THINK
it's Leonora. . .yes, it IS Leonora. You see, it is this way.
When mother died ten years ago I couldn't stay here alone. . .
and I couldn't afford to pay the wages of a grown-up girl.
So I got little Charlotta Bowman to come and stay with me for
board and clothes. Her name really was Charlotta. . .she was
Charlotta the First. She was just thirteen. She stayed with me
till she was sixteen and then she went away to Boston, because she
could do better there. Her sister came to stay with me then.
Her name was Julietta. . .Mrs. Bowman had a weakness for fancy
names I think. . .but she looked so like Charlotta that I
kept calling her that all the time. . .and she didn't mind.
So I just gave up trying to remember her right name.
She was Charlotta the Second, and when she went away Evelina
came and she was Charlotta the Third. Now I have Charlotta
the Fourth; but when she is sixteen. . .she's fourteen now. . .
she will want to go to Boston too, and what I shall do then I
really do not know. Charlotta the Fourth is the last of the
Bowman girls, and the best. The other Charlottas always let
me see that they thought it silly of me to pretend things but
Charlotta the Fourth never does, no matter what she may really think.
I don't care what people think about me if they don't let me see it."
"Well," said Diana looking regretfully at the setting sun.
"I suppose we must go if we want to get to Mr. Kimball's before dark.
We've had a lovely time, Miss Lewis."
"Won't you come again to see me?" pleaded Miss Lavendar.
Tall Anne put her arm about the little lady.
"Indeed we shall," she promised. "Now that we have discovered you
we'll wear out our welcome coming to see you. Yes, we must go. . .
'we must tear ourselves away,' as Paul Irving says every time he
comes to Green Gables."
"Paul Irving?" There was a subtle change in Miss Lavendar's voice.
"Who is he? I didn't think there was anybody of that name in Avonlea."
Anne felt vexed at her own heedlessness. She had forgotten about
Miss Lavendar's old romance when Paul's name slipped out.
"He is a little pupil of mine," she explained slowly. "He came
from Boston last year to live with his grandmother, Mrs. Irving
of the shore road."
"Is he Stephen Irving's son?" Miss Lavendar asked, bending over her
namesake border so that her face was hidden.
"I'm going to give you girls a bunch of lavendar apiece," said Miss
Lavendar brightly, as if she had not heard the answer to her question.
"It's very sweet, don't you think? Mother always loved it.
She planted these borders long ago. Father named me Lavendar
because he was so fond of it. The very first time he saw mother
was when he visited her home in East Grafton with her brother. He
fell in love with her at first sight; and they put him in the spare
room bed to sleep and the sheets were scented with lavendar and he
lay awake all night and thought of her. He always loved the scent
of lavendar after that. . .and that was why he gave me the name.
Don't forget to come back soon, girls dear. We'll be looking for
you, Charlotta the Fourth and I."
She opened the gate under the firs for them to pass through. She looked
suddenly old and tired; the glow and radiance had faded from her face;
her parting smile was as sweet with ineradicable youth as ever, but when
the girls looked back from the first curve in the lane they saw her sitting
on the old stone bench under the silver poplar in the middle of the garden
with her head leaning wearily on her hand.
"She does look lonely," said Diana softly. "We must come often to see her."
"I think her parents gave her the only right and fitting name that
could possibly be given her," said Anne. "If they had been so
blind as to name her Elizabeth or Nellie or Muriel she must have
been called Lavendar just the same, I think. It's so suggestive of
sweetness and old-fashioned graces and `silk attire.' Now, my name
just smacks of bread and butter, patchwork and chores."
"Oh, I don't think so," said Diana. "Anne seems to me real stately
and like a queen. But I'd like Kerrenhappuch if it happened to be
your name. I think people make their names nice or ugly just by
what they are themselves. I can't bear Josie or Gertie for names
now but before I knew the Pye girls I thought them real pretty."
"That's a lovely idea, Diana," said Anne enthusiastically.
"Living so that you beautify your name, even if it wasn't
beautiful to begin with. . .making it stand in people's
thoughts for something so lovely and pleasant that they
never think of it by itself. Thank you, Diana."
Odds and Ends
"So you had tea at the stone house with Lavendar Lewis?" said Marilla
at the breakfast table next morning. "What is she like now?
It's over fifteen years since I saw her last. . .it was one
Sunday in Grafton church. I suppose she has changed a great deal.
Davy Keith, when you want something you can't reach, ask to have it
passed and don't spread yourself over the table in that fashion.
Did you ever see Paul Irving doing that when he was here to meals?"
"But Paul's arms are longer'n mine," brumbled Davy. "They've had
eleven years to grow and mine've only had seven. 'Sides, I DID ask,
but you and Anne was so busy talking you didn't pay any 'tention.
'Sides, Paul's never been here to any meal escept tea, and it's easier
to be p'lite at tea than at breakfast. You ain't half as hungry.
It's an awful long while between supper and breakfast. Now, Anne,
that spoonful ain't any bigger than it was last year and I'M ever
so much bigger."
"Of course, I don't know what Miss Lavendar used to look like but I
don't fancy somehow that she has changed a great deal," said Anne,
after she had helped Davy to maple syrup, giving him two spoonfuls
to pacify him. "Her hair is snow-white but her face is fresh and
almost girlish, and she has the sweetest brown eyes. . .such a
pretty shade of wood-brown with little golden glints in them. . .
and her voice makes you think of white satin and tinkling water
and fairy bells all mixed up together."
"She was reckoned a great beauty when she was a girl," said Marilla.
"I never knew her very well but I liked her as far as I did know her.
Some folks thought her peculiar even then. DAVY, if ever I catch you
at such a trick again you'll be made to wait for your meals till
everyone else is done, like the French."
Most conversations between Anne and Marilla in the presence of the
twins, were punctuated by these rebukes Davy-ward. In this instance,
Davy, sad to relate, not being able to scoop up the last drops of
his syrup with his spoon, had solved the difficulty by lifting his
plate in both hands and applying his small pink tongue to it.
Anne looked at him with such horrified eyes that the little
sinner turned red and said, half shamefacedly, half defiantly,
"There ain't any wasted that way."
"People who are different from other people are always called
peculiar," said Anne. "And Miss Lavendar is certainly different,
though it's hard to say just where the difference comes in.
Perhaps it is because she is one of those people who never grow old."
"One might as well grow old when all your generation do," said
Marilla, rather reckless of her pronouns. "If you don't, you don't
fit in anywhere. Far as I can learn Lavendar Lewis has just
dropped out of everything. She's lived in that out of the way
place until everybody has forgotten her. That stone house is one
of the oldest on the Island. Old Mr. Lewis built it eighty years
ago when he came out from England. Davy, stop joggling Dora's elbow.
Oh, I saw you! You needn't try to look innocent. What does make you
behave so this morning?"
"Maybe I got out of the wrong side of the bed," suggested Davy.
"Milty Boulter says if you do that things are bound to go wrong
with you all day. His grandmother told him. But which is the
right side? And what are you to do when your bed's against the
wall? I want to know."
"I've always wondered what went wrong between Stephen Irving and
Lavendar Lewis," continued Marilla, ignoring Davy. "They were
certainly engaged twenty-five years ago and then all at once it was
broken off. I don't know what the trouble was but it must have
been something terrible, for he went away to the States and never
come home since."
"Perhaps it was nothing very dreadful after all. I think the
little things in life often make more trouble than the big things,"
said Anne, with one of those flashes of insight which experience
could not have bettered. "Marilla, please don't say anything about
my being at Miss Lavendar's to Mrs. Lynde. She'd be sure to ask a
hundred questions and somehow I wouldn't like it. . .nor Miss
Lavendar either if she knew, I feel sure."
"I daresay Rachel would be curious," admitted Marilla, "though she
hasn't as much time as she used to have for looking after other
people's affairs. She's tied home now on account of Thomas; and
she's feeling pretty downhearted, for I think she's beginning to
lose hope of his ever getting better. Rachel will be left pretty
lonely if anything happens to him, with all her children settled
out west, except Eliza in town; and she doesn't like her husband."
Marilla's pronouns slandered Eliza, who was very fond of her husband.
"Rachel says if he'd only brace up and exert his will power he'd
get better. But what is the use of asking a jellyfish to sit up
straight?" continued Marilla. "Thomas Lynde never had any will
power to exert. His mother ruled him till he married and then
Rachel carried it on. It's a wonder he dared to get sick without
asking her permission. But there, I shouldn't talk so. Rachel has
been a good wife to him. He'd never have amounted to anything
without her, that's certain. He was born to be ruled; and it's
well he fell into the hands of a clever, capable manager like Rachel.
He didn't mind her way. It saved him the bother of ever making up
his own mind about anything. Davy, do stop squirming like an eel."
"I've nothing else to do," protested Davy. "I can't eat any more,
and it's no fun watching you and Anne eat."
"Well, you and Dora go out and give the hens their wheat," said
Marilla. "And don't you try to pull any more feathers out of the
white rooster's tail either."
"I wanted some feathers for an Injun headdress," said Davy sulkily.
"Milty Boulter has a dandy one, made out of the feathers his mother
give him when she killed their old white gobbler. You might let me
have some. That rooster's got ever so many more'n he wants."
"You may have the old feather duster in the garret," said Anne,
"and I'll dye them green and red and yellow for you."
"You do spoil that boy dreadfully," said Marilla, when Davy, with a
radiant face, had followed prim Dora out. Marilla's education had
made great strides in the past six years; but she had not yet been
able to rid herself of the idea that it was very bad for a child to
have too many of its wishes indulged.
"All the boys of his class have Indian headdresses, and Davy wants
one too," said Anne. "_I_ know how it feels. . .I'll never forget how
I used to long for puffed sleeves when all the other girls had them.
And Davy isn't being spoiled. He is improving every day. Think what
a difference there is in him since he came here a year ago."
"He certainly doesn't get into as much mischief since he began to
go to school," acknowledged Marilla. "I suppose he works off the
tendency with the other boys. But it's a wonder to me we haven't
heard from Richard Keith before this. Never a word since last May."
"I'll be afraid to hear from him," sighed Anne, beginning to clear
away the dishes. "If a letter should come I'd dread opening it,
for fear it would tell us to send the twins to him."
A month later a letter did come. But it was not from Richard Keith.
A friend of his wrote to say that Richard Keith had died of consumption
a fortnight previously. The writer of the letter was the executor of
his will and by that will the sum of two thousand dollars was left to
Miss Marilla Cuthbert in trust for David and Dora Keith until they
came of age or married. In the meantime the interest was to be used
for their maintenance.
"It seems dreadful to be glad of anything in connection with a death,"
said Anne soberly. "I'm sorry for poor Mr. Keith; but I AM glad that
we can keep the twins."
"It's a very good thing about the money," said Marilla practically.
"I wanted to keep them but I really didn't see how I could afford
to do it, especially when they grew older. The rent of the farm
doesn't do any more than keep the house and I was bound that not a
cent of your money should be spent on them. You do far too much
for them as it is. Dora didn't need that new hat you bought her
any more than a cat needs two tails. But now the way is made clear
and they are provided for."
Davy and Dora were delighted when they heard that they were to live
at Green Gables, "for good." The death of an uncle whom they had
never seen could not weigh a moment in the balance against that.
But Dora had one misgiving.
"Was Uncle Richard buried?" she whispered to Anne.
"Yes, dear, of course."
"He. . .he. . .isn't like Mirabel Cotton's uncle, is he?" in a
still more agitated whisper. "He won't walk about houses after
being buried, will he, Anne?"
Miss Lavendar's Romance
"I think I'll take a walk through to Echo Lodge this evening," said Anne,
one Friday afternoon in December.
"It looks like snow," said Marilla dubiously.
"I'll be there before the snow comes and I mean to stay all night.
Diana can't go because she has company, and I'm sure Miss Lavendar will
be looking for me tonight. It's a whole fortnight since I was there."
Anne had paid many a visit to Echo Lodge since that October day.
Sometimes she and Diana drove around by the road; sometimes they
walked through the woods. When Diana could not go Anne went alone.
Between her and Miss Lavendar had sprung up one of those fervent,
helpful friendships possible only between a woman who has kept the
freshness of youth in her heart and soul, and a girl whose
imagination and intuition supplied the place of experience.
Anne had at last discovered a real "kindred spirit," while into
the little lady's lonely, sequestered life of dreams Anne and Diana
came with the wholesome joy and exhilaration of the outer existence,
which Miss Lavendar, "the world forgetting, by the world forgot,"
had long ceased to share; they brought an atmosphere of youth
and reality to the little stone house. Charlotta the Fourth
always greeted them with her very widest smile. . .and Charlotta's
smiles WERE fearfully wide. . .loving them for the sake of her
adored mistress as well as for their own. Never had there been
such "high jinks" held in the little stone house as were held there
that beautiful, late-lingering autumn, when November seemed October
over again, and even December aped the sunshine and hazes of summer.
But on this particular day it seemed as if December had remembered
that it was time for winter and had turned suddenly dull and
brooding, with a windless hush predictive of coming snow.
Nevertheless, Anne keenly enjoyed her walk through the great gray
maze of the beechlands; though alone she never found it lonely; her
imagination peopled her path with merry companions, and with these
she carried on a gay, pretended conversation that was wittier and
more fascinating than conversations are apt to be in real life,
where people sometimes fail most lamentably to talk up to the
requirements. In a "make believe" assembly of choice spirits
everybody says just the thing you want her to say and so gives you
the chance to say just what YOU want to say. Attended by this
invisible company, Anne traversed the woods and arrived at the fir
lane just as broad, feathery flakes began to flutter down softly.
At the first bend she came upon Miss Lavendar, standing under a
big, broad-branching fir. She wore a gown of warm, rich red, and
her head and shoulders were wrapped in a silvery gray silk shawl.
"You look like the queen of the fir wood fairies," called Anne merrily.
"I thought you would come tonight, Anne," said Miss Lavendar,
running forward. "And I'm doubly glad, for Charlotta the Fourth
is away. Her mother is sick and she had to go home for the night.
I should have been very lonely if you hadn't come. . .even the
dreams and the echoes wouldn't have been enough company. Oh, Anne,
how pretty you are," she added suddenly, looking up at the tall,
slim girl with the soft rose-flush of walking on her face. "How
pretty and how young! It's so delightful to be seventeen, isn't it?
I do envy you," concluded Miss Lavendar candidly.
"But you are only seventeen at heart," smiled Anne.
"No, I'm old. . .or rather middle-aged, which is far worse,"
sighed Miss Lavendar. "Sometimes I can pretend I'm not, but at
other times I realize it. And I can't reconcile myself to it as
most women seem to. I'm just as rebellious as I was when I
discovered my first gray hair. Now, Anne, don't look as if you
were trying to understand. Seventeen CAN'T understand. I'm going
to pretend right away that I am seventeen too, and I can do it, now
that you're here. You always bring youth in your hand like a gift.
We're going to have a jolly evening. Tea first. . .what do you
want for tea? We'll have whatever you like. Do think of something
nice and indigestible."
There were sounds of riot and mirth in the little stone house
that night. What with cooking and feasting and making candy and
laughing and "pretending," it is quite true that Miss Lavendar and
Anne comported themselves in a fashion entirely unsuited to the
dignity of a spinster of forty-five and a sedate schoolma'am.
Then, when they were tired, they sat down on the rug before the
grate in the parlor, lighted only by the soft fireshine and
perfumed deliciously by Miss Lavendar's open rose-jar on the mantel.
The wind had risen and was sighing and wailing around the eaves and
the snow was thudding softly against the windows, as if a hundred
storm sprites were tapping for entrance.
"I'm so glad you're here, Anne," said Miss Lavendar, nibbling at
her candy. "If you weren't I should be blue. . .very blue. . .
almost navy blue. Dreams and make-believes are all very well in
the daytime and the sunshine, but when dark and storm come they
fail to satisfy. One wants real things then. But you don't know
this. . .seventeen never knows it. At seventeen dreams DO satisfy
because you think the realities are waiting for you further on.
When I was seventeen, Anne, I didn't think forty-five would find me
a white-haired little old maid with nothing but dreams to fill my life."
"But you aren't an old maid," said Anne, smiling into Miss Lavendar's
wistful woodbrown eyes. "Old maids are BORN. . .they don't BECOME."
"Some are born old maids, some achieve old maidenhood, and some have
old maidenhood thrust upon them," parodied Miss Lavendar whimsically.
"You are one of those who have achieved it then," laughed Anne,
"and you've done it so beautifully that if every old maid were
like you they would come into the fashion, I think."
"I always like to do things as well as possible," said Miss
Lavendar meditatively, "and since an old maid I had to be I was
determined to be a very nice one. People say I'm odd; but it's
just because I follow my own way of being an old maid and refuse to
copy the traditional pattern. Anne, did anyone ever tell you
anything about Stephen Irving and me?"
"Yes," said Anne candidly, "I've heard that you and he were engaged once."
"So we were. . .twenty-five years ago. . .a lifetime ago. And we
were to have been married the next spring. I had my wedding
dress made, although nobody but mother and Stephen ever knew THAT.
We'd been engaged in a way almost all our lives, you might say.
When Stephen was a little boy his mother would bring him here when
she came to see my mother; and the second time he ever came. . .
he was nine and I was six. . .he told me out in the garden that
he had pretty well made up his mind to marry me when he grew up.
I remember that I said `Thank you'; and when he was gone I told
mother very gravely that there was a great weight off my mind,
because I wasn't frightened any more about having to be an old
maid. How poor mother laughed!"
"And what went wrong?" asked Anne breathlessly.
"We had just a stupid, silly, commonplace quarrel. So commonplace
that, if you'll believe me, I don't even remember just how it began.
I hardly know who was the more to blame for it. Stephen did really
begin it, but I suppose I provoked him by some foolishness of mine.
He had a rival or two, you see. I was vain and coquettish and liked
to tease him a little. He was a very high-strung, sensitive fellow.
Well, we parted in a temper on both sides. But I thought it would all
come right; and it would have if Stephen hadn't come back too soon.
Anne, my dear, I'm sorry to say". . .Miss Lavendar dropped her voice
as if she were about to confess a predilection for murdering people,
"that I am a dreadfully sulky person. Oh, you needn't smile,. . .
it's only too true. I DO sulk; and Stephen came back before I had
finished sulking. I wouldn't listen to him and I wouldn't forgive him;
and so he went away for good. He was too proud to come again. And
then I sulked because he didn't come. I might have sent for him
perhaps, but I couldn't humble myself to do that. I was just as
proud as he was. . .pride and sulkiness make a very bad combination,
Anne. But I could never care for anybody else and I didn't want to.
I knew I would rather be an old maid for a thousand years than marry
anybody who wasn't Stephen Irving. Well, it all seems like a dream now,
of course. How sympathetic you look, Anne. . .as sympathetic as only
seventeen can look. But don't overdo it. I'm really a very happy,
contented little person in spite of my broken heart. My heart did break,
if ever a heart did, when I realized that Stephen Irving was not coming back.
But, Anne, a broken heart in real life isn't half as dreadful as it is
in books. It's a good deal like a bad tooth. . .though you won't
think THAT a very romantic simile. It takes spells of aching and
gives you a sleepless night now and then, but between times it lets
you enjoy life and dreams and echoes and peanut candy as if there
were nothing the matter with it. And now you're looking disappointed.
You don't think I'm half as interesting a person as you did five minutes
ago when you believed I was always the prey of a tragic memory bravely
hidden beneath external smiles. That's the worst. . .or the best. . .
of real life, Anne. It WON'T let you be miserable. It keeps on trying
to make you comfortable. . .and succeeding...even when you're determined
to be unhappy and romantic. Isn't this candy scrumptious? I've eaten
far more than is good for me already but I'm going to keep recklessly on."
After a little silence Miss Lavendar said abruptly,
"It gave me a shock to hear about Stephen's son that first day you
were here, Anne. I've never been able to mention him to you since,
but I've wanted to know all about him. What sort of a boy is he?"
"He is the dearest, sweetest child I ever knew, Miss Lavendar. . .
and he pretends things too, just as you and I do."
"I'd like to see him," said Miss Lavendar softly, as if talking to herself.
"I wonder if he looks anything like the little dream-boy who lives here
with me. . .MY little dream-boy."
"If you would like to see Paul I'll bring him through with me sometime,"
"I would like it. . .but not too soon. I want to get used to the thought.
There might be more pain than pleasure in it. . .if he looked too much
like Stephen. . .or if he didn't look enough like him. In a month's time
you may bring him."
Accordingly, a month later Anne and Paul walked through the woods
to the stone house, and met Miss Lavendar in the lane. She had
not been expecting them just then and she turned very pale.
"So this is Stephen's boy," she said in a low tone, taking Paul's
hand and looking at him as he stood, beautiful and boyish, in his
smart little fur coat and cap. "He. . .he is very like his father."
"Everybody says I'm a chip off the old block," remarked Paul,
quite at his ease.
Anne, who had been watching the little scene, drew a relieved breath.
She saw that Miss Lavendar and Paul had "taken" to each other, and
that there would be no constraint or stiffness. Miss Lavendar
was a very sensible person, in spite of her dreams and romance,
and after that first little betrayal she tucked her feelings
out of sight and entertained Paul as brightly and naturally
as if he were anybody's son who had come to see her.
They all had a jolly afternoon together and such a feast of fat
things by way of supper as would have made old Mrs. Irving hold up
her hands in horror, believing that Paul's digestion would be
ruined for ever.
"Come again, laddie," said Miss Lavendar, shaking hands with him
"You may kiss me if you like," said Paul gravely.
Miss Lavendar stooped and kissed him.
"How did you know I wanted to?" she whispered.
"Because you looked at me just as my little mother used to do
when she wanted to kiss me. As a rule, I don't like to be kissed.
Boys don't. You know, Miss Lewis. But I think I rather like to
have you kiss me. And of course I'll come to see you again.
I think I'd like to have you for a particular friend of mine,
if you don't object."
"I. . .I don't think I shall object," said Miss Lavendar.
She turned and went in very quickly; but a moment later she
was waving a gay and smiling good-bye to them from the window.
"I like Miss Lavendar," announced Paul, as they walked through the
beech woods. "I like the way she looked at me, and I like her
stone house, and I like Charlotta the Fourth. I wish Grandma
Irving had a Charlotta the Fourth instead of a Mary Joe. I feel
sure Charlotta the Fourth wouldn't think I was wrong in my upper
story when I told her what I think about things. Wasn't that a
splendid tea we had, teacher? Grandma says a boy shouldn't be
thinking about what he gets to eat, but he can't help it sometimes
when he is real hungry. YOU know, teacher. I don't think Miss
Lavendar would make a boy eat porridge for breakfast if he didn't
like it. She'd get things for him he did like. But of course". . .
Paul was nothing if not fair-minded. . ."that mightn't be very good
for him. It's very nice for a change though, teacher. YOU know."
A Prophet in His Own Country
One May day Avonlea folks were mildly excited over some "Avonlea Notes,"
signed "Observer," which appeared in the Charlottetown `Daily Enterprise.'
Gossip ascribed the authorship thereof to Charlie Sloane, partly because
the said Charlie had indulged in similar literary flights in times past,
and partly because one of the notes seemed to embody a sneer at Gilbert
Blythe. Avonlea juvenile society persisted in regarding Gilbert Blythe
and Charlie Sloane as rivals in the good graces of a certain damsel with
gray eyes and an imagination.
Gossip, as usual, was wrong. Gilbert Blythe, aided and abetted by
Anne, had written the notes, putting in the one about himself as a
blind. Only two of the notes have any bearing on this history:
"Rumor has it that there will be a wedding in our village ere the
daisies are in bloom. A new and highly respected citizen will lead
to the hymeneal altar one of our most popular ladies.
"Uncle Abe, our well-known weather prophet, predicts a violent
storm of thunder and lightning for the evening of the twenty-third
of May, beginning at seven o'clock sharp. The area of the storm
will extend over the greater part of the Province. People traveling
that evening will do well to take umbrellas and mackintoshes with them."
"Uncle Abe really has predicted a storm for sometime this spring,"
said Gilbert, "but do you suppose Mr. Harrison really does go to
see Isabella Andrews?"
"No," said Anne, laughing, "I'm sure he only goes to play checkers with
Mr. Harrison Andrews, but Mrs. Lynde says she knows Isabella Andrews
must be going to get married, she's in such good spirits this spring."
Poor old Uncle Abe felt rather indignant over the notes. He suspected
that "Observer" was making fun of him. He angrily denied having
assigned any particular date for his storm but nobody believed him.
Life in Avonlea continued on the smooth and even tenor of its way.
The "planting" was put in; the Improvers celebrated an Arbor Day.
Each Improver set out, or caused to be set out, five ornamental trees.
As the society now numbered forty members, this meant a total of
two hundred young trees. Early oats greened over the red fields;
apple orchards flung great blossoming arms about the farmhouses
and the Snow Queen adorned itself as a bride for her husband.
Anne liked to sleep with her window open and let the cherry
fragrance blow over her face all night. She thought it very
poetical. Marilla thought she was risking her life.
"Thanksgiving should be celebrated in the spring," said Anne
one evening to Marilla, as they sat on the front door steps and
listened to the silver-sweet chorus of the frogs. "I think it
would be ever so much better than having it in November when
everything is dead or asleep. Then you have to remember to be
thankful; but in May one simply can't help being thankful. . .
that they are alive, if for nothing else. I feel exactly as Eve
must have felt in the garden of Eden before the trouble began.
IS that grass in the hollow green or golden? It seems to me,
Marilla, that a pearl of a day like this, when the blossoms are
out and the winds don't know where to blow from next for sheer
crazy delight must be pretty near as good as heaven."
Marilla looked scandalized and glanced apprehensively around to
make sure the twins were not within earshot. They came around the
corner of the house just then.
"Ain't it an awful nice-smelling evening?" asked Davy, sniffing
delightedly as he swung a hoe in his grimy hands. He had been
working in his garden. That spring Marilla, by way of turning
Davy's passion for reveling in mud and clay into useful channels,
had given him and Dora a small plot of ground for a garden.
Both had eagerly gone to work in a characteristic fashion.
Dora planted, weeded, and watered carefully, systematically,
and dispassionately. As a result, her plot was already green
with prim, orderly little rows of vegetables and annuals.
Davy, however, worked with more zeal than discretion; he dug
and hoed and raked and watered and transplanted so energetically
that his seeds had no chance for their lives.
"How is your garden coming on, Davy-boy?" asked Anne.
"Kind of slow," said Davy with a sigh. "I don't know why the
things don't grow better. Milty Boulter says I must have
planted them in the dark of the moon and that's the whole trouble.
He says you must never sow seeds or kill pork or cut your hair or
do any 'portant thing in the wrong time of the moon. Is that true,
Anne? I want to know."
"Maybe if you didn't pull your plants up by the roots every other day
to see how they're getting on `at the other end,' they'd do better,"
said Marilla sarcastically.
"I only pulled six of them up," protested Davy. "I wanted to see
if there was grubs at the roots. Milty Boulter said if it wasn't
the moon's fault it must be grubs. But I only found one grub.
He was a great big juicy curly grub. I put him on a stone and got
another stone and smashed him flat. He made a jolly SQUISH I tell you.
I was sorry there wasn't more of them. Dora's garden was planted same
time's mine and her things are growing all right. It CAN'T be the moon,"
Davy concluded in a reflective tone.
"Marilla, look at that apple tree," said Anne." Why, the thing is human.
It is reaching out long arms to pick its own pink skirts daintily up and
provoke us to admiration."
"Those Yellow Duchess trees always bear well," said Marilla complacently.
"That tree'll be loaded this year. I'm real glad. . .they're great for pies."
But neither Marilla nor Anne nor anybody else was fated to make
pies out of Yellow Duchess apples that year.
The twenty-third of May came. . .an unseasonably warm day, as none
realized more keenly than Anne and her little beehive of pupils,
sweltering over fractions and syntax in the Avonlea schoolroom.
A hot breeze blew all the forenoon; but after noon hour it died away
into a heavy stillness. At half past three Anne heard a low rumble
of thunder. She promptly dismissed school at once, so that the
children might get home before the storm came.
As they went out to the playground Anne perceived a certain shadow
and gloom over the world in spite of the fact that the sun was
still shining brightly. Annetta Bell caught her hand nervously.
"Oh, teacher, look at that awful cloud!"
Anne looked and gave an exclamation of dismay. In the northwest a
mass of cloud, such as she had never in all her life beheld before,
was rapidly rolling up. It was dead black, save where its curled
and fringed edges showed a ghastly, livid white. There was
something about it indescribably menacing as it gloomed up in the
clear blue sky; now and again a bolt of lightning shot across it,
followed by a savage growl. It hung so low that it almost seemed
to be touching the tops of the wooded hills.
Mr. Harmon Andrews came clattering up the hill in his truck wagon,
urging his team of grays to their utmost speed. He pulled them to
a halt opposite the school.
"Guess Uncle Abe's hit it for once in his life, Anne," he shouted.
"His storm's coming a leetle ahead of time. Did ye ever see the
like of that cloud? Here, all you young ones, that are going my
way, pile in, and those that ain't scoot for the post office if
ye've more'n a quarter of a mile to go, and stay there till the
Anne caught Davy and Dora by the hands and flew down the hill,
along the Birch Path, and past Violet Vale and Willowmere, as fast
as the twins' fat legs could go. They reached Green Gables not a
moment too soon and were joined at the door by Marilla, who had been
hustling her ducks and chickens under shelter. As they dashed into
the kitchen the light seemed to vanish, as if blown out by some
mighty breath; the awful cloud rolled over the sun and a darkness
as of late twilight fell across the world. At the same moment,
with a crash of thunder and a blinding glare of lightning, the
hail swooped down and blotted the landscape out in one white fury.
Through all the clamor of the storm came the thud of torn branches
striking the house and the sharp crack of breaking glass. In three
minutes every pane in the west and north windows was broken and the
hail poured in through the apertures covering the floor with stones,
the smallest of which was as big as a hen's egg. For three quarters
of an hour the storm raged unabated and no one who underwent it ever
forgot it. Marilla, for once in her life shaken out of her composure
by sheer terror, knelt by her rocking chair in a corner of the kitchen,
gasping and sobbing between the deafening thunder peals. Anne, white
as paper, had dragged the sofa away from the window and sat on it with
a twin on either side. Davy at the first crash had howled, "Anne, Anne,
is it the Judgment Day? Anne, Anne, I never meant to be naughty," and
then had buried his face in Anne's lap and kept it there, his little
body quivering. Dora, somewhat pale but quite composed, sat with her
hand clasped in Anne's, quiet and motionless. It is doubtful if an
earthquake would have disturbed Dora.
Then, almost as suddenly as it began, the storm ceased. The hail
stopped, the thunder rolled and muttered away to the eastward, and
the sun burst out merry and radiant over a world so changed that it
seemed an absurd thing to think that a scant three quarters of an
hour could have effected such a transformation.
Marilla rose from her knees, weak and trembling, and dropped on her rocker.
Her face was haggard and she looked ten years older.
"Have we all come out of that alive?" she asked solemnly.
"You bet we have," piped Davy cheerfully, quite his own man again.
"I wasn't a bit scared either. . .only just at the first. It come on
a fellow so sudden. I made up my mind quick as a wink that I wouldn't
fight Teddy Sloane Monday as I'd promised; but now maybe I will.
Say, Dora, was you scared?"
"Yes, I was a little scared," said Dora primly, "but I held tight
to Anne's hand and said my prayers over and over again."
"Well, I'd have said my prayers too if I'd have thought of it,"
said Davy; "but," he added triumphantly, "you see I came through
just as safe as you for all I didn't say them."
Anne got Marilla a glassful of her potent currant wine. . .HOW
potent it was Anne, in her earlier days, had had all too good
reason to know. . .and then they went to the door to look out on
the strange scene.
Far and wide was a white carpet, knee deep, of hailstones; drifts
of them were heaped up under the eaves and on the steps. When,
three or four days later, those hailstones melted, the havoc they
had wrought was plainly seen, for every green growing thing in the
field or garden was cut off. Not only was every blossom stripped
from the apple trees but great boughs and branches were wrenched
away. And out of the two hundred trees set out by the Improvers by
far the greater number were snapped off or torn to shreds.
"Can it possibly be the same world it was an hour ago?" asked Anne,
dazedly. "It MUST have taken longer than that to play such havoc."
"The like of this has never been known in Prince Edward Island,"
said Marilla, "never. I remember when I was a girl there was a
bad storm, but it was nothing to this. We'll hear of terrible
destruction, you may be sure."
"I do hope none of the children were caught out in it," murmured
Anne anxiously. As it was discovered later, none of the children
had been, since all those who had any distance to go had taken Mr.
Andrews' excellent advice and sought refuge at the post office.
"There comes John Henry Carter," said Marilla.
John Henry came wading through the hailstones with a rather scared grin.
"Oh, ain't this awful, Miss Cuthbert? Mr. Harrison sent me over to
see if yous had come out all right."
"We're none of us killed," said Marilla grimly, "and none of the
buildings was struck. I hope you got off equally well."
"Yas'm. Not quite so well, ma'am. We was struck. The lightning
knocked over the kitchen chimbly and come down the flue and knocked
over Ginger's cage and tore a hole in the floor and went into the
"Was Ginger hurt?" queried Anne.
"Yas'm. He was hurt pretty bad. He was killed." Later on Anne
went over to comfort Mr. Harrison. She found him sitting by the
table, stroking Ginger's gay dead body with a trembling hand.
"Poor Ginger won't call you any more names, Anne," he said mournfully.
Anne could never have imagined herself crying on Ginger's account,
but the tears came into her eyes.
"He was all the company I had, Anne. . .and now he's dead. Well,
well, I'm an old fool to care so much. I'll let on I don't care.
I know you're going to say something sympathetic as soon as I
stop talking. . .but don't. If you did I'd cry like a baby.
Hasn't this been a terrible storm? I guess folks won't laugh
at Uncle Abe's predictions again. Seems as if all the storms
that he's been prophesying all his life that never happened came
all at once. Beats all how he struck the very day though, don't it?
Look at the mess we have here. I must hustle round and get some
boards to patch up that hole in the floor."
Avonlea folks did nothing the next day but visit each other and
compare damages. The roads were impassable for wheels by reason of
the hailstones, so they walked or rode on horseback. The mail came
late with ill tidings from all over the province. Houses had been
struck, people killed and injured; the whole telephone and
telegraph system had been disorganized, and any number of young
stock exposed in the fields had perished.
Uncle Abe waded out to the blacksmith's forge early in the morning
and spent the whole day there. It was Uncle Abe's hour of triumph
and he enjoyed it to the full. It would be doing Uncle Abe an
injustice to say that he was glad the storm had happened; but since
it had to be he was very glad he had predicted it. . .to the very
day, too. Uncle Abe forgot that he had ever denied setting the day.
As for the trifling discrepancy in the hour, that was nothing.
Gilbert arrived at Green Gables in the evening and found Marilla
and Anne busily engaged in nailing strips of oilcloth over the
"Goodness only knows when we'll get glass for them," said Marilla.
"Mr. Barry went over to Carmody this afternoon but not a pane
could he get for love or money. Lawson and Blair were cleaned out
by the Carmody people by ten o'clock. Was the storm bad at White
"I should say so. I was caught in the school with all the children
and I thought some of them would go mad with fright. Three of them
fainted, and two girls took hysterics, and Tommy Blewett did
nothing but shriek at the top of his voice the whole time."
"I only squealed once," said Davy proudly. "My garden was all
smashed flat," he continued mournfully, "but so was Dora's," he
added in a tone which indicated that there was yet balm in Gilead.
Anne came running down from the west gable.
"Oh, Gilbert, have you heard the news? Mr. Levi Boulter's old
house was struck and burned to the ground. It seems to me that I'm
dreadfully wicked to feel glad over THAT, when so much damage has
been done. Mr. Boulter says he believes the A.V.I.S. magicked up
that storm on purpose."
"Well, one thing is certain," said Gilbert, laughing, "`Observer'
has made Uncle Abe's reputation as a weather prophet. `Uncle Abe's
storm' will go down in local history. It is a most extraordinary
coincidence that it should have come on the very day we selected.
I actually have a half guilty feeling, as if I really had `magicked'
it up. We may as well rejoice over the old house being removed, for
there's not much to rejoice over where our young trees are concerned.
Not ten of them have escaped."
"Ah, well, we'll just have to plant them over again next spring,"
said Anne philosophically. "That is one good thing about this
world. . .there are always sure to be more springs."
An Avonlea Scandal
One blithe June morning, a fortnight after Uncle Abe's storm, Anne
came slowly through the Green Gables yard from the garden, carrying
in her hands two blighted stalks of white narcissus.
"Look, Marilla," she said sorroly, holding up the flowers before
the eyes of a grim lady, with her hair coifed in a green gingham
apron, who was going into the house with a plucked chicken, "these
are the only buds the storm spared. . .and even they are imperfect.
I'm so sorry. . .I wanted some for Matthew's grave. He was always
so fond of June lilies."
"I kind of miss them myself," admitted Marilla, "though it doesn't
seem right to lament over them when so many worse things have
happened. . .all the crops destroyed as well as the fruit."
"But people have sown their oats over again," said Anne comfortingly,
"and Mr. Harrison says he thinks if we have a good summer they will
come out all right though late. And my annuals are all coming up again
. . .but oh, nothing can replace the June lilies. Poor little Hester
Gray will have none either. I went all the way back to her garden
last night but there wasn't one. I'm sure she'll miss them."
"I don't think it's right for you to say such things, Anne, I
really don't," said Marilla severely. "Hester Gray has been dead
for thirty years and her spirit is in heaven. . .I hope."
"Yes, but I believe she loves and remembers her garden here still,"
said Anne. "I'm sure no matter how long I'd lived in heaven I'd like to
look down and see somebody putting flowers on my grave. If I had had a
garden here like Hester Gray's it would take me more than thirty years,
even in heaven, to forget being homesick for it by spells."
"Well, don't let the twins hear you talking like that," was Marilla's
feeble protest, as she carried her chicken into the house.
Anne pinned her narcissi on her hair and went to the lane gate,
where she stood for awhile sunning herself in the June brightness
before going in to attend to her Saturday morning duties. The world
was growing lovely again; old Mother Nature was doing her best
to remove the traces of the storm, and, though she was not to
succeed fully for many a moon, she was really accomplishing wonders.
"I wish I could just be idle all day today," Anne told a bluebird,
who was singing and swinging on a willow bough, "but a schoolma'am,
who is also helping to bring up twins, can't indulge in laziness,
birdie. How sweet you are singing, little bird. You are just
putting the feelings of my heart into song ever so much better than
I could myself. Why, who is coming?"
An express wagon was jolting up the lane, with two people on the
front seat and a big trunk behind. When it drew near Anne
recognized the driver as the son of the station agent at Bright
River; but his companion was a stranger. . .a scrap of a woman who
sprang nimbly down at the gate almost before the horse came to a
standstill. She was a very pretty little person, evidently nearer
fifty than forty, but with rosy cheeks, sparkling black eyes, and
shining black hair, surmounted by a wonderful beflowered and
beplumed bonnet. In spite of having driven eight miles over a
dusty road she was as neat as if she had just stepped out of the
"Is this where Mr. James A. Harrison lives?" she inquired briskly.
"No, Mr. Harrison lives over there," said Anne, quite lost in astonishment.
"Well, I DID think this place seemed too tidy. . .MUCH too tidy for James A.
to be living here, unless he has greatly changed since I knew him," chirped
the little lady. "Is it true that James A. is going to be married to some
woman living in this settlement?"
"No, oh no," cried Anne, flushing so guiltily that the stranger looked
curiously at her, as if she half suspected her of matrimonial designs on
"But I saw it in an Island paper," persisted the Fair Unknown. "A
friend sent a marked copy to me. . .friends are always so ready to
do such things. James A.'s name was written in over `new citizen.'"
"Oh, that note was only meant as a joke," gasped Anne. "Mr. Harrison
has no intention of marrying ANYBODY. I assure you he hasn't."
"I'm very glad to hear it," said the rosy lady, climbing nimbly back
to her seat in the wagon, "because he happens to be married already.
_I_ am his wife. Oh, you may well look surprised. I suppose he has
been masquerading as a bachelor and breaking hearts right and left.
Well, well, James A.," nodding vigorously over the fields at the
long white house, "your fun is over. I am here. . .though I wouldn't
have bothered coming if I hadn't thought you were up to some mischief.
I suppose," turning to Anne, "that parrot of his is as profane as ever?"
"His parrot. . .is dead. . .I THINK," gasped poor Anne, who
couldn't have felt sure of her own name at that precise moment.
"Dead! Everything will be all right then," cried the rosy lady
jubilantly. "I can manage James A. if that bird is out of the way."
With which cryptic utterance she went joyfully on her way and Anne
flew to the kitchen door to meet Marilla.
"Anne, who was that woman?"
"Marilla," said Anne solemnly, but with dancing eyes, "do I look as
if I were crazy?"
"Not more so than usual," said Marilla, with no thought of being sarcastic.
"Well then, do you think I am awake?"
"Anne, what nonsense has got into you? Who was that woman, I say?"
"Marilla, if I'm not crazy and not asleep she can't be such stuff as dreams
are made of. . .she must be real. Anyway, I'm sure I couldn't have
imagined such a bonnet. She says she is Mr. Harrison's wife, Marilla."
Marilla stared in her turn.
"His wife! Anne Shirley! Then what has he been passing himself off
as an unmarried man for?"
"I don't suppose he did, really," said Anne, trying to be just.
"He never said he wasn't married. People simply took it for
granted. Oh Marilla, what will Mrs. Lynde say to this?"
They found out what Mrs. Lynde had to say when she came up that
evening. Mrs. Lynde wasn't surprised! Mrs. Lynde had always
expected something of the sort! Mrs. Lynde had always known there
was SOMETHING about Mr. Harrison!
"To think of his deserting his wife!" she said indignantly.
"It's like something you'd read of in the States, but who
would expect such a thing to happen right here in Avonlea?"
"But we don't know that he deserted her," protested Anne,
determined to believe her friend innocent till he was proved
guilty. "We don't know the rights of it at all."
"Well, we soon will. I'm going straight over there," said Mrs.
Lynde, who had never learned that there was such a word as delicacy
in the dictionary. "I'm not supposed to know anything about her
arrival, and Mr. Harrison was to bring some medicine for Thomas
from Carmody today, so that will be a good excuse. I'll find out
the whole story and come in and tell you on the way back."
Mrs. Lynde rushed in where Anne had feared to tread. Nothing
would have induced the latter to go over to the Harrison place;
but she had her natural and proper share of curiosity and she
felt secretly glad that Mrs. Lynde was going to solve the mystery.
She and Marilla waited expectantly for that good lady's return, but
waited in vain. Mrs. Lynde did not revisit Green Gables that night.
Davy, arriving home at nine o'clock from the Boulter place, explained why.
"I met Mrs. Lynde and some strange woman in the Hollow," he said,
"and gracious, how they were talking both at once! Mrs. Lynde
said to tell you she was sorry it was too late to call tonight.
Anne, I'm awful hungry. We had tea at Milty's at four and I think
Mrs. Boulter is real mean. She didn't give us any preserves or cake
. . .and even the bread was skurce."
"Davy, when you go visiting you must never criticize anything you
are given to eat," said Anne solemnly. "It is very bad manners."
"All right. . .I'll only think it," said Davy cheerfully.
"Do give a fellow some supper, Anne."
Anne looked at Marilla, who followed her into the pantry and shut
the door cautiously.
"You can give him some jam on his bread, I know what tea at Levi
Boulter's is apt to be."
Davy took his slice of bread and jam with a sigh.
"It's a kind of disappointing world after all," he remarked.
"Milty has a cat that takes fits. . .she's took a fit regular
every day for three weeks. Milty says it's awful fun to watch her.
I went down today on purpose to see her have one but the mean old
thing wouldn't take a fit and just kept healthy as healthy, though
Milty and me hung round all the afternoon and waited. But never mind"
. . .Davy brightened up as the insidious comfort of the plum jam
stole into his soul. . ."maybe I'll see her in one sometime yet.
It doesn't seem likely she'd stop having them all at once when she's
been so in the habit of it, does it? This jam is awful nice."
Davy had no sorrows that plum jam could not cure.
Sunday proved so rainy that there was no stirring abroad; but by
Monday everybody had heard some version of the Harrison story. The
school buzzed with it and Davy came home, full of information.
"Marilla, Mr. Harrison has a new wife. . .well, not ezackly new,
but they've stopped being married for quite a spell, Milty says.
I always s'posed people had to keep on being married once they'd
begun, but Milty says no, there's ways of stopping if you can't agree.
Milty says one way is just to start off and leave your wife, and that's
what Mr. Harrison did. Milty says Mr. Harrison left his wife because
she throwed things at him. . .HARD things. . .and Arty Sloane says
it was because she wouldn't let him smoke, and Ned Clay says it
was 'cause she never let up scolding him. I wouldn't leave MY
wife for anything like that. I'd just put my foot down and say,
`Mrs. Davy, you've just got to do what'll please ME 'cause I'm a MAN.'
THAT'D settle her pretty quick I guess. But Annetta Clay says SHE left
HIM because he wouldn't scrape his boots at the door and she doesn't
blame her. I'm going right over to Mr. Harrison's this minute to see
what she's like."
Davy soon returned, somewhat cast down.
"Mrs. Harrison was away. . .she's gone to Carmody with Mrs. Rachel
Lynde to get new paper for the parlor. And Mr. Harrison said to
tell Anne to go over and see him `cause he wants to have a talk
with her. And say, the floor is scrubbed, and Mr. Harrison is
shaved, though there wasn't any preaching yesterday."
The Harrison kitchen wore a very unfamiliar look to Anne. The floor
was indeed scrubbed to a wonderful pitch of purity and so was every
article of furniture in the room; the stove was polished until she
could see her face in it; the walls were whitewashed and the window
panes sparkled in the sunlight. By the table sat Mr. Harrison in
his working clothes, which on Friday had been noted for sundry
rents and tatters but which were now neatly patched and brushed.
He was sprucely shaved and what little hair he had was carefully trimmed.
"Sit down, Anne, sit down," said Mr. Harrison in a tone but two
degrees removed from that which Avonlea people used at funerals.
"Emily's gone over to Carmody with Rachel Lynde. . .she's struck
up a lifelong friendship already with Rachel Lynde. Beats all how
contrary women are. Well, Anne, my easy times are over. . .all over.
It's neatness and tidiness for me for the rest of my natural life,
Mr. Harrison did his best to speak dolefully, but an irrepressible
twinkle in his eye betrayed him.
"Mr. Harrison, you are glad your wife is come back," cried Anne,
shaking her finger at him. "You needn't pretend you're not,
because I can see it plainly."
Mr. Harrison relaxed into a sheepish smile.
"Well. . .well. . .I'm getting used to it," he conceded. "I can't
say I was sorry to see Emily. A man really needs some protection
in a community like this, where he can't play a game of checkers
with a neighbor without being accused of wanting to marry that
neighbor's sister and having it put in the paper."
"Nobody would have supposed you went to see Isabella Andrews if you
hadn't pretended to be unmarried," said Anne severely.
"I didn't pretend I was. If anybody'd have asked me if I was
married I'd have said I was. But they just took it for granted.
I wasn't anxious to talk about the matter. . .I was feeling too
sore over it. It would have been nuts for Mrs. Rachel Lynde if
she had known my wife had left me, wouldn't it now?"
"But some people say that you left her."
"She started it, Anne, she started it. I'm going to tell you
the whole story, for I don't want you to think worse of me than I
deserve. . .nor of Emily neither. But let's go out on the veranda.
Everything is so fearful neat in here that it kind of makes me homesick.
I suppose I'll get used to it after awhile but it eases me up to look
at the yard. Emily hasn't had time to tidy it up yet."
As soon as they were comfortably seated on the veranda Mr. Harrison
began his tale of woe.
"I lived in Scottsford, New Brunswick, before I came here, Anne.
My sister kept house for me and she suited me fine; she was just
reasonably tidy and she let me alone and spoiled me. . .so Emily says.
But three years ago she died. Before she died she worried a lot about
what was to become of me and finally she got me to promise I'd get married.
She advised me to take Emily Scott because Emily had money of her own and was
a pattern housekeeper. I said, says I, `Emily Scott wouldn't look at me.'
`You ask her and see,' says my sister; and just to ease her mind I promised
her I would. . .and I did. And Emily said she'd have me. Never was so
surprised in my life, Anne. . .a smart pretty little woman like her and
an old fellow like me. I tell you I thought at first I was in luck.
Well, we were married and took a little wedding trip to St. John for
a fortnight and then we went home. We got home at ten o'clock at night,
and I give you my word, Anne, that in half an hour that woman was at
work housecleaning. Oh, I know you're thinking my house needed it. . .
you've got a very expressive face, Anne; your thoughts just come out
on it like print. . .but it didn't, not that bad. It had got pretty
mixed up while I was keeping bachelor's hall, I admit, but I'd got a
woman to come in and clean it up before I was married and there'd
been considerable painting and fixing done. I tell you if you
took Emily into a brand new white marble palace she'd be into the
scrubbing as soon as she could get an old dress on. Well, she
cleaned house till one o'clock that night and at four she was up
and at it again. And she kept on that way. . .far's I could see
she never stopped. It was scour and sweep and dust everlasting,
except on Sundays, and then she was just longing for Monday to
begin again. But it was her way of amusing herself and I could
have reconciled myself to it if she'd left me alone. But that she
wouldn't do. She'd set out to make me over but she hadn't caught
me young enough. I wasn't allowed to come into the house unless I
changed my boots for slippers at the door. I darsn't smoke a pipe
for my life unless I went to the barn. And I didn't use good
enough grammar. Emily'd been a schoolteacher in her early life and
she'd never got over it. Then she hated to see me eating with my
knife. Well, there it was, pick and nag everlasting. But I
s'pose, Anne, to be fair, _I_ was cantankerous too. I didn't
try to improve as I might have done. . .I just got cranky and
disagreeable when she found fault. I told her one day she hadn't
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