Part 5 out of 5
complained of my grammar when I proposed to her. It wasn't an
overly tactful thing to say. A woman would forgive a man for
beating her sooner than for hinting she was too much pleased to
get him. Well, we bickered along like that and it wasn't exactly
pleasant, but we might have got used to each other after a spell if
it hadn't been for Ginger. Ginger was the rock we split on at
last. Emily didn't like parrots and she couldn't stand Ginger's
profane habits of speech. I was attached to the bird for my
brother the sailor's sake. My brother the sailor was a pet of
mine when we were little tads and he'd sent Ginger to me when he
was dying. I didn't see any sense in getting worked up over his
swearing. There's nothing I hate worse'n profanity in a human
being, but in a parrot, that's just repeating what it's heard with
no more understanding of it than I'd have of Chinese, allowances
might be made. But Emily couldn't see it that way. Women ain't
logical. She tried to break Ginger of swearing but she hadn't any
better success than she had in trying to make me stop saying `I
seen' and `them things.' Seemed as if the more she tried the worse
Ginger got, same as me.
"Well, things went on like this, both of us getting raspier, till
the CLIMAX came. Emily invited our minister and his wife to tea,
and another minister and HIS wife that was visiting them. I'd
promised to put Ginger away in some safe place where nobody would
hear him. . .Emily wouldn't touch his cage with a ten-foot pole
. . . and I meant to do it, for I didn't want the ministers to hear
anything unpleasant in my house. But it slipped my mind. . .Emily
was worrying me so much about clean collars and grammar that it
wasn't any wonder. . .and I never thought of that poor parrot till
we sat down to tea. Just as minister number one was in the very
middle of saying grace, Ginger, who was on the veranda outside the
dining room window, lifted up HIS voice. The gobbler had come
into view in the yard and the sight of a gobbler always had an
unwholesome effect on Ginger. He surpassed himself that time.
You can smile, Anne, and I don't deny I've chuckled some over it
since myself, but at the time I felt almost as much mortified as Emily.
I went out and carried Ginger to the barn. I can't say I enjoyed
the meal. I knew by the look of Emily that there was trouble
brewing for Ginger and James A. When the folks went away I
started for the cow pasture and on the way I did some thinking.
I felt sorry for Emily and kind of fancied I hadn't been so thoughtful
of her as I might; and besides, I wondered if the ministers would
think that Ginger had learned his vocabulary from me. The long and
short of it was, I decided that Ginger would have to be mercifully
disposed of and when I'd druv the cows home I went in to tell Emily so.
But there was no Emily and there was a letter on the table. . .just
according to the rule in story books. Emily writ that I'd have to
choose between her and Ginger; she'd gone back to her own house and
there she would stay till I went and told her I'd got rid of that parrot.
"I was all riled up, Anne, and I said she might stay till doomsday if
she waited for that; and I stuck to it. I packed up her belongings
and sent them after her. It made an awful lot of talk . . .Scottsford
was pretty near as bad as Avonlea for gossip. . .and everybody
sympathized with Emily. It kept me all cross and cantankerous
and I saw I'd have to get out or I'd never have any peace.
I concluded I'd come to the Island. I'd been here when I was
a boy and I liked it; but Emily had always said she wouldn't
live in a place where folks were scared to walk out after dark for
fear they'd fall off the edge. So, just to be contrary, I moved
over here. And that's all there is to it. I hadn't ever heard a
word from or about Emily till I come home from the back field
Saturday and found her scrubbing the floor but with the first
decent dinner I'd had since she left me all ready on the table.
She told me to eat it first and then we'd talk. . .by which I
concluded that Emily had learned some lessons about getting along
with a man. So she's here and she's going to stay. . .seeing that
Ginger's dead and the Island's some bigger than she thought.
There's Mrs. Lynde and her now. No, don't go, Anne. Stay and get
acquainted with Emily. She took quite a notion to you Saturday. . .
wanted to know who that handsome redhaired girl was at the next house."
Mrs. Harrison welcomed Anne radiantly and insisted on her staying to tea.
"James A. has been telling me all about you and how kind you've been,
making cakes and things for him," she said. "I want to get acquainted
with all my new neighbors just as soon as possible. Mrs. Lynde is a
lovely woman, isn't she? So friendly."
When Anne went home in the sweet June dusk, Mrs. Harrison went with her
across the fields where the fireflies were lighting their starry lamps.
"I suppose," said Mrs. Harrison confidentially, "that James A. has told
you our story?"
"Then I needn't tell it, for James A. is a just man and he would
tell the truth. The blame was far from being all on his side.
I can see that now. I wasn't back in my own house an hour before I
wished I hadn't been so hasty but I wouldn't give in. I see now that
I expected too much of a man. And I was real foolish to mind his
bad grammar. It doesn't matter if a man does use bad grammar so
long as he is a good provider and doesn't go poking round the pantry
to see how much sugar you've used in a week. I feel that James A.
and I are going to be real happy now. I wish I knew who `Observer'
is, so that I could thank him. I owe him a real debt of gratitude."
Anne kept her own counsel and Mrs. Harrison never knew that her
gratitude found its way to its object. Anne felt rather bewildered
over the far-reaching consequences of those foolish "notes." They
had reconciled a man to his wife and made the reputation of a prophet.
Mrs. Lynde was in the Green Gables kitchen. She had been telling
the whole story to Marilla.
"Well, and how do you like Mrs. Harrison?" she asked Anne.
"Very much. I think she's a real nice little woman."
"That's exactly what she is," said Mrs. Rachel with emphasis,
"and as I've just been sayin' to Marilla, I think we ought all
to overlook Mr. Harrison's peculiarities for her sake and try to
make her feel at home here, that's what. Well, I must get back.
Thomas'll be wearying for me. I get out a little since Eliza came
and he's seemed a lot better these past few days, but I never like
to be long away from him. I hear Gilbert Blythe has resigned from
White Sands. He'll be off to college in the fall, I suppose."
Mrs. Rachel looked sharply at Anne, but Anne was bending over a sleepy
Davy nodding on the sofa and nothing was to be read in her face.
She carried Davy away, her oval girlish cheek pressed against his
curly yellow head. As they went up the stairs Davy flung a tired
arm about Anne's neck and gave her a warm hug and a sticky kiss.
"You're awful nice, Anne. Milty Boulter wrote on his slate today
and showed it to Jennie Sloane,
"`Roses red and vi'lets blue,
Sugar's sweet, and so are you"
and that 'spresses my feelings for you ezackly, Anne."
Around the Bend
Thomas Lynde faded out of life as quietly and unobtrusively as he
had lived it. His wife was a tender, patient, unwearied nurse.
Sometimes Rachel had been a little hard on her Thomas in health,
when his slowness or meekness had provoked her; but when he became
ill no voice could be lower, no hand more gently skillful, no vigil
"You've been a good wife to me, Rachel," he once said simply, when
she was sitting by him in the dusk, holding his thin, blanched old
hand in her work-hardened one. "A good wife. I'm sorry I ain't
leaving you better off; but the children will look after you.
They're all smart, capable children, just like their mother.
A good mother. . .a good woman. . . ."
He had fallen asleep then, and the next morning, just as the white
dawn was creeping up over the pointed firs in the hollow, Marilla
went softly into the east gable and wakened Anne.
"Anne, Thomas Lynde is gone. . .their hired boy just brought the word.
I'm going right down to Rachel."
On the day after Thomas Lynde's funeral Marilla went about Green Gables
with a strangely preoccupied air. Occasionally she looked at Anne,
seemed on the point of saying something, then shook her head and
buttoned up her mouth. After tea she went down to see Mrs. Rachel;
and when she returned she went to the east gable, where Anne was
correcting school exercises.
"How is Mrs. Lynde tonight?" asked the latter.
"She's feeling calmer and more composed," answered Marilla, sitting
down on Anne's bed. . .a proceeding which betokened some unusual
mental excitement, for in Marilla's code of household ethics to
sit on a bed after it was made up was an unpardonable offense.
"But she's very lonely. Eliza had to go home today. . .her son
isn't well and she felt she couldn't stay any longer."
"When I've finished these exercises I'll run down and chat awhile
with Mrs. Lynde," said Anne. "I had intended to study some Latin
composition tonight but it can wait."
"I suppose Gilbert Blythe is going to college in the fall," said
Marilla jerkily. "How would you like to go too, Anne?"
Anne looked up in astonishment.
"I would like it, of course, Marilla. But it isn't possible."
"I guess it can be made possible. I've always felt that you should go.
I've never felt easy to think you were giving it all up on my account."
"But Marilla, I've never been sorry for a moment that I stayed home.
I've been so happy. . .Oh, these past two years have just been delightful."
"Oh, yes, I know you've been contented enough. But that isn't the
question exactly. You ought to go on with your education. You've
saved enough to put you through one year at Redmond and the money the
stock brought in will do for another year. . .and there's scholarships
and things you might win."
"Yes, but I can't go, Marilla. Your eyes are better, of course;
but I can't leave you alone with the twins. They need so much
"I won't be alone with them. That's what I meant to discuss with you.
I had a long talk with Rachel tonight. Anne, she's feeling dreadful
bad over a good many things. She's not left very well off. It seems
they mortgaged the farm eight years ago to give the youngest boy a
start when he went west; and they've never been able to pay much more
than the interest since. And then of course Thomas' illness has cost
a good deal, one way or another. The farm will have to be sold and Rachel
thinks there'll be hardly anything left after the bills are settled.
She says she'll have to go and live with Eliza and it's breaking her
heart to think of leaving Avonlea. A woman of her age doesn't make
new friends and interests easy. And, Anne, as she talked about it
the thought came to me that I would ask her to come and live with me,
but I thought I ought to talk it over with you first before I said
anything to her. If I had Rachel living with me you could go to college.
How do you feel about it?"
"I feel. . .as if. . .somebody. . .had handed me. . .the moon. . .and I
didn't know. . .exactly. . .what to do. . .with it," said Anne dazedly.
"But as for asking Mrs. Lynde to come here, that is for you to decide,
Marilla. Do you think. . .are you sure. . .you would like it? Mrs. Lynde
is a good woman and a kind neighbor, but. . .but. . ."
"But she's got her faults, you mean to say? Well, she has, of course;
but I think I'd rather put up with far worse faults than see Rachel
go away from Avonlea. I'd miss her terrible. She's the only close
friend I've got here and I'd be lost without her. We've been neighbors
for forty-five years and we've never had a quarrel. . .though we came
rather near it that time you flew at Mrs. Rachel for calling you homely
and redhaired. Do you remember, Anne?"
"I should think I do," said Anne ruefully. "People don't forget
things like that. How I hated poor Mrs. Rachel at that moment!"
"And then that `apology' you made her. Well, you were a handful,
in all conscience, Anne. I did feel so puzzled and bewildered how
to manage you. Matthew understood you better."
"Matthew understood everything," said Anne softly, as she always
spoke of him.
"Well, I think it could be managed so that Rachel and I wouldn't
clash at all. It always seemed to me that the reason two women
can't get along in one house is that they try to share the same
kitchen and get in each other's way. Now, if Rachel came here,
she could have the north gable for her bedroom and the spare room
for a kitchen as well as not, for we don't really need a spare room
at all. She could put her stove there and what furniture she wanted
to keep, and be real comfortable and independent. She'll have enough
to live on of course...her children'll see to that...so all I'd be
giving her would be house room. Yes, Anne, far as I'm concerned
I'd like it."
"Then ask her," said Anne promptly. "I'd be very sorry myself to
see Mrs. Rachel go away."
"And if she comes," continued Marilla, "You can go to college as well
as not. She'll be company for me and she'll do for the twins what I
can't do, so there's no reason in the world why you shouldn't go."
Anne had a long meditation at her window that night. Joy and regret
struggled together in her heart. She had come at last. . .suddenly
and unexpectedly. . .to the bend in the road; and college was around it,
with a hundred rainbow hopes and visions; but Anne realized as well that
when she rounded that curve she must leave many sweet things behind. . .
all the little simple duties and interests which had grown so dear to her
in the last two years and which she had glorified into beauty and delight
by the enthusiasm she had put into them. She must give up her school. . .
and she loved every one of her pupils, even the stupid and naughty ones.
The mere thought of Paul Irving made her wonder if Redmond were such a
name to conjure with after all.
"I've put out a lot of little roots these two years," Anne told the moon,
"and when I'm pulled up they're going to hurt a great deal. But it's best
to go, I think, and, as Marilla says, there's no good reason why I shouldn't.
I must get out all my ambitions and dust them."
Anne sent in her resignation the next day; and Mrs. Rachel, after
a heart to heart talk with Marilla, gratefully accepted the offer
of a home at Green Gables. She elected to remain in her own house
for the summer, however; the farm was not to be sold until the fall
and there were many arrangements to be made.
"I certainly never thought of living as far off the road as Green Gables,"
sighed Mrs. Rachel to herself. "But really, Green Gables doesn't seem as
out of the world as it used to do. . .Anne has lots of company and the
twins make it real lively. And anyhow, I'd rather live at the bottom
of a well than leave Avonlea."
These two decisions being noised abroad speedily ousted the arrival
of Mrs. Harrison in popular gossip. Sage heads were shaken over
Marilla Cuthbert's rash step in asking Mrs. Rachel to live with her.
People opined that they wouldn't get on together. They were both
"too fond of their own way," and many doleful predictions were made,
none of which disturbed the parties in question at all. They had
come to a clear and distinct understanding of the respective duties
and rights of their new arrangements and meant to abide by them.
"I won't meddle with you nor you with me," Mrs. Rachel had said decidedly,
"and as for the twins, I'll be glad to do all I can for them; but I won't
undertake to answer Davy's questions, that's what. I'm not an encyclopedia,
neither am I a Philadelphia lawyer. You'll miss Anne for that."
"Sometimes Anne's answers were about as queer as Davy's questions,"
said Marilla drily. "The twins will miss her and no mistake; but
her future can't be sacrificed to Davy's thirst for information.
When he asks questions I can't answer I'll just tell him children
should be seen and not heard. That was how I was brought up,
and I don't know but what it was just as good a way as all these
new-fangled notions for training children."
"Well, Anne's methods seem to have worked fairly well with Davy,"
said Mrs. Lynde smilingly. "He is a reformed character, that's what."
"He isn't a bad little soul," conceded Marilla. "I never expected to get
as fond of those children as I have. Davy gets round you somehow . . .and
Dora is a lovely child, although she is. . .kind of. . .well, kind of. . ."
"Monotonous? Exactly," supplied Mrs. Rachel. "Like a book where every
page is the same, that's what. Dora will make a good, reliable woman but
she'll never set the pond on fire. Well, that sort of folks are comfortable
to have round, even if they're not as interesting as the other kind."
Gilbert Blythe was probably the only person to whom the news of
Anne's resignation brought unmixed pleasure. Her pupils looked
upon it as a sheer catastrophe. Annetta Bell had hysterics when
she went home. Anthony Pye fought two pitched and unprovoked
battles with other boys by way of relieving his feelings. Barbara
Shaw cried all night. Paul Irving defiantly told his grandmother
that she needn't expect him to eat any porridge for a week.
"I can't do it, Grandma," he said. "I don't really know if I can
eat ANYTHING. I feel as if there was a dreadful lump in my throat.
I'd have cried coming home from school if Jake Donnell hadn't been
watching me. I believe I will cry after I go to bed. It wouldn't
show on my eyes tomorrow, would it? And it would be such a relief.
But anyway, I can't eat porridge. I'm going to need all my strength
of mind to bear up against this, Grandma, and I won't have any left
to grapple with porridge. Oh Grandma, I don't know what I'll do when
my beautiful teacher goes away. Milty Boulter says he bets Jane Andrews
will get the school. I suppose Miss Andrews is very nice. But I know
she won't understand things like Miss Shirley."
Diana also took a very pessimistic view of affairs.
"It will be horribly lonesome here next winter," she mourned, one twilight
when the moonlight was raining "airy silver" through the cherry boughs
and filling the east gable with a soft, dream-like radiance in which
the two girls sat and talked, Anne on her low rocker by the window,
Diana sitting Turkfashion on the bed. "You and Gilbert will be gone
. . .and the Allans too. They are going to call Mr. Allan to
Charlottetown and of course he'll accept. It's too mean. We'll
be vacant all winter, I suppose, and have to listen to a long
string of candidates. . .and half of them won't be any good."
"I hope they won't call Mr. Baxter from East Grafton here, anyhow,"
said Anne decidedly. "He wants the call but he does preach such
gloomy sermons. Mr. Bell says he's a minister of the old school,
but Mrs. Lynde says there's nothing whatever the matter with him
but indigestion. His wife isn't a very good cook, it seems, and
Mrs. Lynde says that when a man has to eat sour bread two weeks
out of three his theology is bound to get a kink in it somewhere.
Mrs. Allan feels very badly about going away. She says everybody
has been so kind to her since she came here as a bride that she
feels as if she were leaving lifelong friends. And then, there's
the baby's grave, you know. She says she doesn't see how she can
go away and leave that. . .it was such a little mite of a thing
and only three months old, and she says she is afraid it will miss
its mother, although she knows better and wouldn't say so to Mr. Allan
for anything. She says she has slipped through the birch grove back
of the manse nearly every night to the graveyard and sung a little
lullaby to it. She told me all about it last evening when I was
up putting some of those early wild roses on Matthew's grave.
I promised her that as long as I was in Avonlea I would put flowers
on the baby's grave and when I was away I felt sure that. . ."
"That I would do it," supplied Diana heartily. "Of course I will.
And I'll put them on Matthew's grave too, for your sake, Anne."
"Oh, thank you. I meant to ask you to if you would. And on little
Hester Gray's too? Please don't forget hers. Do you know, I've
thought and dreamed so much about little Hester Gray that she has
become strangely real to me. I think of her, back there in her
little garden in that cool, still, green corner; and I have a fancy
that if I could steal back there some spring evening, just at the
magic time 'twixt light and dark, and tiptoe so softly up the beech
hill that my footsteps could not frighten her, I would find the
garden just as it used to be, all sweet with June lilies and early
roses, with the tiny house beyond it all hung with vines; and
little Hester Gray would be there, with her soft eyes, and the wind
ruffling her dark hair, wandering about, putting her fingertips
under the chins of the lilies and whispering secrets with the roses;
and I would go forward, oh, so softly, and hold out my hands and
say to her, `Little Hester Gray, won't you let me be your playmate,
for I love the roses too?' And we would sit down on the old bench
and talk a little and dream a little, or just be beautifully silent
together. And then the moon would rise and I would look around me
. . .and there would be no Hester Gray and no little vine-hung house,
and no roses. . .only an old waste garden starred with June lilies amid the
grasses, and the wind sighing, oh, so sorrowfully in the cherry trees. And
I would not know whether it had been real or if I had just imagined it all."
Diana crawled up and got her back against the headboard of the bed.
When your companion of twilight hour said such spooky things it was
just as well not to be able to fancy there was anything behind you.
"I'm afraid the Improvement Society will go down when you and
Gilbert are both gone," she remarked dolefully.
"Not a bit of fear of it," said Anne briskly, coming back from
dreamland to the affairs of practical life. "It is too firmly
established for that, especially since the older people are
becoming so enthusiastic about it. Look what they are doing this
summer for their lawns and lanes. Besides, I'll be watching for
hints at Redmond and I'll write a paper for it next winter and
send it over. Don't take such a gloomy view of things, Diana.
And don't grudge me my little hour of gladness and jubilation now.
Later on, when I have to go away, I'll feel anything but glad."
"It's all right for you to be glad. . .you're going to college and
you'll have a jolly time and make heaps of lovely new friends."
"I hope I shall make new friends," said Anne thoughtfully.
"The possibilities of making new friends help to make life very
fascinating. But no matter how many friends I make they'll never
be as dear to me as the old ones. . .especially a certain girl
with black eyes and dimples. Can you guess who she is, Diana?"
"But there'll be so many clever girls at Redmond," sighed Diana,
"and I'm only a stupid little country girl who says `I seen'
sometimes. . .though I really know better when I stop to think.
Well, of course these past two years have really been too pleasant
to last. I know SOMEBODY who is glad you are going to Redmond anyhow.
Anne, I'm going to ask you a question. . .a serious question. Don't be
vexed and do answer seriously. Do you care anything for Gilbert?"
"Ever so much as a friend and not a bit in the way you mean," said Anne
calmly and decidedly; she also thought she was speaking sincerely.
Diana sighed. She wished, somehow, that Anne had answered differently.
"Don't you mean EVER to be married, Anne?"
"Perhaps. . .some day. . .when I meet the right one," said Anne,
smiling dreamily up at the moonlight.
"But how can you be sure when you do meet the right one?" persisted Diana.
"Oh, I should know him. . .SOMETHING would tell me. You know what my
ideal is, Diana."
"But people's ideals change sometimes."
"Mine won't. And I COULDN'T care for any man who didn't fulfill it."
"What if you never meet him?"
"Then I shall die an old maid," was the cheerful response. "I daresay
it isn't the hardest death by any means."
"Oh, I suppose the dying would be easy enough; it's the living an
old maid I shouldn't like," said Diana, with no intention of being
humorous. "Although I wouldn't mind being an old maid VERY much if
I could be one like Miss Lavendar. But I never could be. When I'm
forty-five I'll be horribly fat. And while there might be some
romance about a thin old maid there couldn't possibly be any about
a fat one. Oh, mind you, Nelson Atkins proposed to Ruby Gillis
three weeks ago. Ruby told me all about it. She says she never
had any intention of taking him, because any one who married him
will have to go in with the old folks; but Ruby says that he made
such a perfectly beautiful and romantic proposal that it simply
swept her off her feet. But she didn't want to do anything rash so
she asked for a week to consider; and two days later she was at a
meeting of the Sewing Circle at his mother's and there was a book
called `The Complete Guide to Etiquette,' lying on the parlor
table. Ruby said she simply couldn't describe her feelings when in
a section of it headed, `The Deportment of Courtship and Marriage,'
she found the very proposal Nelson had made, word for word. She
went home and wrote him a perfectly scathing refusal; and she says
his father and mother have taken turns watching him ever since for
fear he'll drown himself in the river; but Ruby says they needn't
be afraid; for in the Deportment of Courtship and Marriage it told
how a rejected lover should behave and there's nothing about
drowning in THAT. And she says Wilbur Blair is literally pining
away for her but she's perfectly helpless in the matter."
Anne made an impatient movement.
"I hate to say it. . .it seems so disloyal. . .but, well, I don't
like Ruby Gillis now. I liked her when we went to school and
Queen's together. . .though not so well as you and Jane of course.
But this last year at Carmody she seems so different. . .so. . .so. . ."
"I know," nodded Diana. "It's the Gillis coming out in her. . .
she can't help it. Mrs. Lynde says that if ever a Gillis girl
thought about anything but the boys she never showed it in her
walk and conversation. She talks about nothing but boys and what
compliments they pay her, and how crazy they all are about her at
Carmody. And the strange thing is, they ARE, too. . ." Diana
admitted this somewhat resentfully. "Last night when I saw her in
Mr. Blair's store she whispered to me that she'd just made a new `mash.'
I wouldn't ask her who it was, because I knew she was dying to BE asked.
Well, it's what Ruby always wanted, I suppose. You remember even when
she was little she always said she meant to have dozens of beaus when she
grew up and have the very gayest time she could before she settled down.
She's so different from Jane, isn't she? Jane is such a nice, sensible,
"Dear old Jane is a jewel," agreed Anne, "but," she added, leaning
forward to bestow a tender pat on the plump, dimpled little hand
hanging over her pillow, "there's nobody like my own Diana after all.
Do you remember that evening we first met, Diana, and `swore'
eternal friendship in your garden? We've kept that `oath,' I
think. . .we've never had a quarrel nor even a coolness. I shall
never forget the thrill that went over me the day you told me you
loved me. I had had such a lonely, starved heart all through my
childhood. I'm just beginning to realize how starved and lonely it
really was. Nobody cared anything for me or wanted to be bothered
with me. I should have been miserable if it hadn't been for that
strange little dream-life of mine, wherein I imagined all the
friends and love I craved. But when I came to Green Gables
everything was changed. And then I met you. You don't know what
your friendship meant to me. I want to thank you here and now,
dear, for the warm and true affection you've always given me."
"And always, always will," sobbed Diana. "I shall NEVER love anybody
. . .any GIRL. . .half as well as I love you. And if I ever do marry
and have a little girl of my own I'm going to name her ANNE."
An Afternoon at the Stone House
"Where are you going, all dressed up, Anne?" Davy wanted to know.
"You look bully in that dress."
Anne had come down to dinner in a new dress of pale green muslin
. . .the first color she had worn since Matthew's death. It became
her perfectly, bringing out all the delicate, flower-like tints of
her face and the gloss and burnish of her hair.
"Davy, how many times have I told you that you mustn't use that word,"
she rebuked. "I'm going to Echo Lodge."
"Take me with you," entreated Davy.
"I would if I were driving. But I'm going to walk and it's too far
for your eight-year-old legs. Besides, Paul is going with me and I
fear you don't enjoy yourself in his company."
"Oh, I like Paul lots better'n I did," said Davy, beginning to make
fearful inroads into his pudding. "Since I've got pretty good
myself I don't mind his being gooder so much. If I can keep
on I'll catch up with him some day, both in legs and goodness.
'Sides, Paul's real nice to us second primer boys in school.
He won't let the other big boys meddle with us and he shows us
lots of games."
"How came Paul to fall into the brook at noon hour yesterday?"
asked Anne. "I met him on the playground, such a dripping figure
that I sent him promptly home for clothes without waiting to find
out what had happened."
"Well, it was partly a zacksident," explained Davy. "He stuck
his head in on purpose but the rest of him fell in zacksidentally.
We was all down at the brook and Prillie Rogerson got mad at Paul
about something. . .she's awful mean and horrid anyway, if she IS
pretty. . .and said that his grandmother put his hair up in curl
rags every night. Paul wouldn't have minded what she said, I guess,
but Gracie Andrews laughed, and Paul got awful red, 'cause Gracie's
his girl, you know. He's CLEAN GONE on her. . .brings her flowers
and carries her books as far as the shore road. He got as red as
a beet and said his grandmother didn't do any such thing and his
hair was born curly. And then he laid down on the bank and stuck
his head right into the spring to show them. Oh, it wasn't the
spring we drink out of. . ." seeing a horrified look on Marilla's
face. . ."it was the little one lower down. But the bank's awful
slippy and Paul went right in. I tell you he made a bully splash.
Oh, Anne, Anne, I didn't mean to say that. . .it just slipped out
before I thought. He made a SPLENDID splash. But he looked so
funny when he crawled out, all wet and muddy. The girls laughed
more'n ever, but Gracie didn't laugh. She looked sorry. Gracie's
a nice girl but she's got a snub nose. When I get big enough to
have a girl I won't have one with a snub nose. . .I'll pick one
with a pretty nose like yours, Anne."
"A boy who makes such a mess of syrup all over his face when he is eating
his pudding will never get a girl to look at him," said Marilla severely.
"But I'll wash my face before I go courting," protested Davy,
trying to improve matters by rubbing the back of his hand over the
smears. "And I'll wash behind my ears too, without being told.
I remembered to this morning, Marilla. I don't forget half as often
as I did. But. . ." and Davy sighed. . ."there's so many corners
about a fellow that it's awful hard to remember them all. Well, if
I can't go to Miss Lavendar's I'll go over and see Mrs. Harrison.
Mrs. Harrison's an awful nice woman, I tell you. She keeps a jar
of cookies in her pantry a-purpose for little boys, and she always
gives me the scrapings out of a pan she's mixed up a plum cake in.
A good many plums stick to the sides, you see. Mr. Harrison was
always a nice man, but he's twice as nice since he got married over
again. I guess getting married makes folks nicer. Why don't YOU
get married, Marilla? I want to know."
Marilla's state of single blessedness had never been a sore point
with her, so she answered amiably, with an exchange of significant looks
with Anne, that she supposed it was because nobody would have her.
"But maybe you never asked anybody to have you," protested Davy.
"Oh, Davy," said Dora primly, shocked into speaking without being spoken to,
"it's the MEN that have to do the asking."
"I don't know why they have to do it ALWAYS," grumbled Davy.
"Seems to me everything's put on the men in this world.
Can I have some more pudding, Marilla?"
"You've had as much as was good for you," said Marilla; but she
gave him a moderate second helping.
"I wish people could live on pudding. Why can't they, Marilla?
I want to know."
"Because they'd soon get tired of it."
"I'd like to try that for myself," said skeptical Davy. "But I
guess it's better to have pudding only on fish and company days
than none at all. They never have any at Milty Boulter's.
Milty says when company comes his mother gives them cheese and cuts
it herself. . .one little bit apiece and one over for manners."
"If Milty Boulter talks like that about his mother at least you
needn't repeat it," said Marilla severely.
"Bless my soul,". . .Davy had picked this expression up from
Mr. Harrison and used it with great gusto. . ."Milty meant it
as a compelment. He's awful proud of his mother, cause folks
say she could scratch a living on a rock."
"I. . .I suppose them pesky hens are in my pansy bed again,"
said Marilla, rising and going out hurriedly.
The slandered hens were nowhere near the pansy bed and Marilla did
not even glance at it. Instead, she sat down on the cellar hatch
and laughed until she was ashamed of herself.
When Anne and Paul reached the stone house that afternoon they
found Miss Lavendar and Charlotta the Fourth in the garden,
weeding, raking, clipping, and trimming as if for dear life.
Miss Lavendar herself, all gay and sweet in the frills and laces
she loved, dropped her shears and ran joyously to meet her guests,
while Charlotta the Fourth grinned cheerfully.
"Welcome, Anne. I thought you'd come today. You belong to the
afternoon so it brought you. Things that belong together are sure
to come together. What a lot of trouble that would save some
people if they only knew it. But they don't. . .and so they waste
beautiful energy moving heaven and earth to bring things together
that DON'T belong. And you, Paul. . .why, you've grown! You're
half a head taller than when you were here before."
"Yes, I've begun to grow like pigweed in the night, as Mrs. Lynde says,"
said Paul, in frank delight over the fact. "Grandma says it's the
porridge taking effect at last. Perhaps it is. Goodness knows. . ."
Paul sighed deeply. . ."I've eaten enough to make anyone grow.
I do hope, now that I've begun, I'll keep on till I'm as tall as father.
He is six feet, you know, Miss Lavendar."
Yes, Miss Lavendar did know; the flush on her pretty cheeks
deepened a little; she took Paul's hand on one side and Anne's
on the other and walked to the house in silence.
"Is it a good day for the echoes, Miss Lavendar?" queried Paul anxiously.
The day of his first visit had been too windy for echoes and Paul had
been much disappointed.
"Yes, just the best kind of a day," answered Miss Lavendar, rousing
herself from her reverie. "But first we are all going to have
something to eat. I know you two folks didn't walk all the way
back here through those beechwoods without getting hungry, and
Charlotta the Fourth and I can eat any hour of the day. . .we have
such obliging appetites. So we'll just make a raid on the pantry.
Fortunately it's lovely and full. I had a presentiment that I was
going to have company today and Charlotta the Fourth and I prepared."
"I think you are one of the people who always have nice things in
their pantry," declared Paul. "Grandma's like that too. But she
doesn't approve of snacks between meals. I wonder," he added
meditatively, "if I OUGHT to eat them away from home when I know
she doesn't approve."
"Oh, I don't think she would disapprove after you have had a
long walk. That makes a difference," said Miss Lavendar,
exchanging amused glances with Anne over Paul's brown curls.
"I suppose that snacks ARE extremely unwholesome. That is why
we have them so often at Echo Lodge. We. . .Charlotta the Fourth
and I. . .live in defiance of every known law of diet. We eat all
sorts of indigestible things whenever we happen to think of it,
by day or night; and we flourish like green bay trees. We are always
intending to reform. When we read any article in a paper warning
us against something we like we cut it out and pin it up on the
kitchen wall so that we'll remember it. But we never can somehow
. . .until after we've gone and eaten that very thing. Nothing has
ever killed us yet; but Charlotta the Fourth has been known to have
bad dreams after we had eaten doughnuts and mince pie and fruit
cake before we went to bed."
"Grandma lets me have a glass of milk and a slice of bread and butter
before I go to bed; and on Sunday nights she puts jam on the bread,"
said Paul. "So I'm always glad when it's Sunday night. . . for more
reasons than one. Sunday is a very long day on the shore road.
Grandma says it's all too short for her and that father never found
Sundays tiresome when he was a little boy. It wouldn't seem so long
if I could talk to my rock people but I never do that because Grandma
doesn't approve of it on Sundays. I think a good deal; but I'm afraid
my thoughts are worldly. Grandma says we should never think anything
but religious thoughts on Sundays. But teacher here said once that
every really beautiful thought was religious, no matter what it was about,
or what day we thought it on. But I feel sure Grandma thinks that sermons
and Sunday School lessons are the only things you can think truly
religious thoughts about. And when it comes to a difference of opinion
between Grandma and teacher I don't know what to do. In my heart". . .
Paul laid his hand on his breast and raised very serious blue eyes to
Miss Lavendar's immediately sympathetic face. . ."I agree with teacher.
But then, you see, Grandma has brought father up HER way and made a
brilliant success of him; and teacher has never brought anybody up yet,
though she's helping with Davy and Dora. But you can't tell how they'll
turn out till they ARE grown up. So sometimes I feel as if it might be
safer to go by Grandma's opinions."
"I think it would," agreed Anne solemnly. "Anyway, I daresay that
if your Grandma and I both got down to what we really do mean,
under our different ways of expressing it, we'd find out we both
meant much the same thing. You'd better go by her way of expressing it,
since it's been the result of experience. We'll have to wait until we see
how the twins do turn out before we can be sure that my way is equally good."
After lunch they went back to the garden, where Paul made the acquaintance
of the echoes, to his wonder and delight, while Anne and Miss Lavendar sat
on the stone bench under the poplar and talked.
"So you are going away in the fall?" said Miss Lavendar wistfully.
"I ought to be glad for your sake, Anne. . .but I'm horribly,
selfishly sorry. I shall miss you so much. Oh, sometimes, I think
it is of no use to make friends. They only go out of your life
after awhile and leave a hurt that is worse than the emptiness
before they came."
"That sounds like something Miss Eliza Andrews might say but never
Miss Lavendar," said Anne. "NOTHING is worse than emptiness. . .and
I'm not going out of your life. There are such things as letters and
vacations. Dearest, I'm afraid you're looking a little pale and tired."
"Oh. . .hoo. . .hoo. . .hoo," went Paul on the dyke, where he had been
making noises diligently. . .not all of them melodious in the making,
but all coming back transmuted into the very gold and silver of sound
by the fairy alchemists over the river. Miss Lavendar made an
impatient movement with her pretty hands.
"I'm just tired of everything. . .even of the echoes. There is nothing
in my life but echoes. . .echoes of lost hopes and dreams and joys.
They're beautiful and mocking. Oh Anne, it's horrid of me to talk
like this when I have company. It's just that I'm getting old and
it doesn't agree with me. I know I'll be fearfully cranky by the
time I'm sixty. But perhaps all I need is a course of blue pills."
At this moment Charlotta the Fourth, who had disappeared after lunch,
returned, and announced that the northeast corner of Mr. John Kimball's
pasture was red with early strawberries, and wouldn't Miss Shirley
like to go and pick some.
"Early strawberries for tea!" exclaimed Miss Lavendar. "Oh, I'm
not so old as I thought. . .and I don't need a single blue pill!
Girls, when you come back with your strawberries we'll have tea out
here under the silver poplar. I'll have it all ready for you with
Anne and Charlotta the Fourth accordingly betook themselves back to
Mr. Kimball's pasture, a green remote place where the air was as
soft as velvet and fragrant as a bed of violets and golden as amber.
"Oh, isn't it sweet and fresh back here?" breathed Anne. "I just
feel as if I were drinking in the sunshine."
"Yes, ma'am, so do I. That's just exactly how I feel too, ma'am,"
agreed Charlotta the Fourth, who would have said precisely the same
thing if Anne had remarked that she felt like a pelican of the
wilderness. Always after Anne had visited Echo Lodge Charlotta the
Fourth mounted to her little room over the kitchen and tried before
her looking glass to speak and look and move like Anne. Charlotta
could never flatter herself that she quite succeeded; but practice
makes perfect, as Charlotta had learned at school, and she fondly
hoped that in time she might catch the trick of that dainty uplift
of chin, that quick, starry outflashing of eyes, that fashion of
walking as if you were a bough swaying in the wind. It seemed so
easy when you watched Anne. Charlotta the Fourth admired Anne
wholeheartedly. It was not that she thought her so very handsome.
Diana Barry's beauty of crimson cheek and black curls was much more
to Charlotta the Fourth's taste than Anne's moonshine charm of
luminous gray eyes and the pale, everchanging roses of her cheeks.
"But I'd rather look like you than be pretty," she told Anne sincerely.
Anne laughed, sipped the honey from the tribute, and cast away the sting.
She was used to taking her compliments mixed. Public opinion never
agreed on Anne's looks. People who had heard her called handsome
met her and were disappointed. People who had heard her called
plain saw her and wondered where other people's eyes were. Anne
herself would never believe that she had any claim to beauty.
When she looked in the glass all she saw was a little pale face
with seven freckles on the nose thereof. Her mirror never revealed
to her the elusive, ever-varying play of feeling that came and went
over her features like a rosy illuminating flame, or the charm of
dream and laughter alternating in her big eyes.
While Anne was not beautiful in any strictly defined sense of the
word she possessed a certain evasive charm and distinction of
appearance that left beholders with a pleasurable sense of
satisfaction in that softly rounded girlhood of hers, with all its
strongly felt potentialities. Those who knew Anne best felt,
without realizing that they felt it, that her greatest attraction
was the aura of possibility surrounding her. . .the power of
future development that was in her. She seemed to walk in an
atmosphere of things about to happen.
As they picked, Charlotta the Fourth confided to Anne her fears
regarding Miss Lavendar. The warm-hearted little handmaiden was
honestly worried over her adored mistress' condition.
"Miss Lavendar isn't well, Miss Shirley, ma'am. I'm sure she isn't,
though she never complains. She hasn't seemed like herself this
long while, ma'am. . .not since that day you and Paul were here
together before. I feel sure she caught cold that night, ma'am.
After you and him had gone she went out and walked in the garden
for long after dark with nothing but a little shawl on her.
There was a lot of snow on the walks and I feel sure she got a
chill, ma'am. Ever since then I've noticed her acting tired and
lonesome like. She don't seem to take an interest in anything, ma'am.
She never pretends company's coming, nor fixes up for it, nor nothing,
ma'am. It's only when you come she seems to chirk up a bit. And the
worst sign of all, Miss Shirley, ma'am. . ." Charlotta the Fourth
lowered her voice as if she were about to tell some exceedingly
weird and awful symptom indeed. . ."is that she never gets cross
now when I breaks things. Why, Miss Shirley, ma'am, yesterday I
bruk her green and yaller bowl that's always stood on the bookcase.
Her grandmother brought it out from England and Miss Lavendar was
awful choice of it. I was dusting it just as careful, Miss Shirley,
ma'am, and it slipped out, so fashion, afore I could grab holt of it,
and bruk into about forty millyun pieces. I tell you I was sorry
and scared. I thought Miss Lavendar would scold me awful, ma'am;
and I'd ruther she had than take it the way she did. She just
come in and hardly looked at it and said, `It's no matter, Charlotta.
Take up the pieces and throw them away.' Just like that, Miss Shirley,
ma'am. . .`take up the pieces and throw them away,' as if it wasn't
her grandmother's bowl from England. Oh, she isn't well and I feel
awful bad about it. She's got nobody to look after her but me."
Charlotta the Fourth's eyes brimmed up with tears. Anne patted the
little brown paw holding the cracked pink cup sympathetically.
"I think Miss Lavendar needs a change, Charlotta. She stays here
alone too much. Can't we induce her to go away for a little trip?"
Charlotta shook her head, with its rampant bows, disconsolately.
"I don't think so, Miss Shirley, ma'am. Miss Lavendar hates visiting.
She's only got three relations she ever visits and she says she
just goes to see them as a family duty. Last time when she come
home she said she wasn't going to visit for family duty no more.
`I've come home in love with loneliness, Charlotta,' she says to me,
`and I never want to stray from my own vine and fig tree again.
My relations try so hard to make an old lady of me and it has
a bad effect on me.' Just like that, Miss Shirley, ma'am.
'It has a very bad effect on me.' So I don't think it would
do any good to coax her to go visiting."
"We must see what can be done," said Anne decidedly, as she put
the last possible berry in her pink cup. "Just as soon as I have
my vacation I'll come through and spend a whole week with you.
We'll have a picnic every day and pretend all sorts of interesting
things, and see if we can't cheer Miss Lavendar up."
"That will be the very thing, Miss Shirley, ma'am," exclaimed Charlotta
the Fourth in rapture. She was glad for Miss Lavendar's sake and for
her own too. With a whole week in which to study Anne constantly
she would surely be able to learn how to move and behave like her.
When the girls got back to Echo Lodge they found that Miss Lavendar
and Paul had carried the little square table out of the kitchen to
the garden and had everything ready for tea. Nothing ever tasted
so delicious as those strawberries and cream, eaten under a great
blue sky all curdled over with fluffy little white clouds, and in
the long shadows of the wood with its lispings and its murmurings.
After tea Anne helped Charlotta wash the dishes in the kitchen,
while Miss Lavendar sat on the stone bench with Paul and heard
all about his rock people. She was a good listener, this sweet
Miss Lavendar, but just at the last it struck Paul that she had
suddenly lost interest in the Twin Sailors.
"Miss Lavendar, why do you look at me like that?" he asked gravely.
"How do I look, Paul?"
"Just as if you were looking through me at somebody I put you in mind of,"
said Paul, who had such occasional flashes of uncanny insight that it
wasn't quite safe to have secrets when he was about.
"You do put me in mind of somebody I knew long ago," said Miss Lavendar
"When you were young?"
"Yes, when I was young. Do I seem very old to you, Paul?"
"Do you know, I can't make up my mind about that," said Paul
confidentially. "Your hair looks old. . .I never knew a young
person with white hair. But your eyes are as young as my beautiful
teacher's when you laugh. I tell you what, Miss Lavendar". . .
Paul's voice and face were as solemn as a judge's. . ."I think you
would make a splendid mother. You have just the right look in
your eyes. . . the look my little mother always had. I think
it's a pity you haven't any boys of your own."
"I have a little dream boy, Paul."
"Oh, have you really? How old is he?"
"About your age I think. He ought to be older because I dreamed
him long before you were born. But I'll never let him get any
older than eleven or twelve; because if I did some day he might
grow up altogether and then I'd lose him."
"I know," nodded Paul. "That's the beauty of dream-people. . .they
stay any age you want them. You and my beautiful teacher and me
myself are the only folks in the world that I know of that have
dream-people. Isn't it funny and nice we should all know each
other? But I guess that kind of people always find each other out.
Grandma never has dream-people and Mary Joe thinks I'm wrong in the
upper story because I have them. But I think it's splendid to have them.
YOU know, Miss Lavendar. Tell me all about your little dream-boy."
"He has blue eyes and curly hair. He steals in and wakens me with
a kiss every morning. Then all day he plays here in the garden. . .
and I play with him. Such games as we have. We run races and talk
with the echoes; and I tell him stories. And when twilight comes. . ."
"I know," interrupted Paul eagerly. "He comes and sits beside you. . .
SO. . .because of course at twelve he'd be too big to climb into your lap
. . .and lays his head on your shoulder. . .SO. . .and you put your arms
about him and hold him tight, tight, and rest your cheek on his head. . .
yes, that's the very way. Oh, you DO know, Miss Lavendar."
Anne found the two of them there when she came out of the stone house,
and something in Miss Lavendar's face made her hate to disturb them.
"I'm afraid we must go, Paul, if we want to get home before dark.
Miss Lavendar, I'm going to invite myself to Echo Lodge for a whole
week pretty soon."
"If you come for a week I'll keep you for two," threatened Miss Lavendar.
The Prince Comes Back to the Enchanted Palace
The last day of school came and went. A triumphant
"semi-annual examination" was held and Anne's pupils
acquitted themselves splendidly. At the close they gave
her an address and a writing desk. All the girls and ladies
present cried, and some of the boys had it cast up to them
later on that they cried too, although they always denied it.
Mrs. Harmon Andrews, Mrs. Peter Sloane, and Mrs. William Bell
walked home together and talked things over.
"I do think it is such a pity Anne is leaving when the children seem
so much attached to her," sighed Mrs. Peter Sloane, who had a habit
of sighing over everything and even finished off her jokes that way.
"To be sure," she added hastily, "we all know we'll have a good
teacher next year too."
"Jane will do her duty, I've no doubt," said Mrs. Andrews rather stiffly.
"I don't suppose she'll tell the children quite so many fairy tales or
spend so much time roaming about the woods with them. But she has her
name on the Inspector's Roll of Honor and the Newbridge people are in
a terrible state over her leaving."
"I'm real glad Anne is going to college," said Mrs. Bell.
"She has always wanted it and it will be a splendid thing for her."
"Well, I don't know." Mrs. Andrews was determined not to agree fully
with anybody that day. "I don't see that Anne needs any more education.
She'll probably be marrying Gilbert Blythe, if his infatuation for her
lasts till he gets through college, and what good will Latin and Greek
do her then? If they taught you at college how to manage a man there
might be some sense in her going."
Mrs. Harmon Andrews, so Avonlea gossip whispered, had never
learned how to manage her "man," and as a result the Andrews
household was not exactly a model of domestic happiness.
"I see that the Charlottetown call to Mr. Allan is up before the
Presbytery," said Mrs. Bell. "That means we'll be losing him soon,
"They're not going before September," said Mrs. Sloane. "It will
be a great loss to the community. . .though I always did think
that Mrs. Allan dressed rather too gay for a minister's wife.
But we are none of us perfect. Did you notice how neat and snug
Mr. Harrison looked today? I never saw such a changed man. He goes
to church every Sunday and has subscribed to the salary."
"Hasn't that Paul Irving grown to be a big boy?" said Mrs. Andrews.
"He was such a mite for his age when he came here. I declare I
hardly knew him today. He's getting to look a lot like his father."
"He's a smart boy," said Mrs. Bell.
"He's smart enough, but". . .Mrs. Andrews lowered her voice. . ."I
believe he tells queer stories. Gracie came home from school one
day last week with the greatest rigmarole he had told her about
people who lived down at the shore. . .stories there couldn't be a
word of truth in, you know. I told Gracie not to believe them,
and she said Paul didn't intend her to. But if he didn't what did
he tell them to her for?"
"Anne says Paul is a genius," said Mrs. Sloane.
"He may be. You never know what to expect of them Americans,"
said Mrs. Andrews. Mrs. Andrews' only acquaintance with the word
"genius" was derived from the colloquial fashion of calling any
eccentric individual "a queer genius." She probably thought,
with Mary Joe, that it meant a person with something wrong
in his upper story.
Back in the schoolroom Anne was sitting alone at her desk, as she
had sat on the first day of school two years before, her face
leaning on her hand, her dewy eyes looking wistfully out of the
window to the Lake of Shining Waters. Her heart was so wrung over
the parting with her pupils that for a moment college had lost all
its charm. She still felt the clasp of Annetta Bell's arms about
her neck and heard the childish wail, "I'll NEVER love any teacher
as much as you, Miss Shirley, never, never."
For two years she had worked earnestly and faithfully, making many
mistakes and learning from them. She had had her reward. She had
taught her scholars something, but she felt that they had taught
her much more. . .lessons of tenderness, self-control, innocent
wisdom, lore of childish hearts. Perhaps she had not succeeded in
"inspiring" any wonderful ambitions in her pupils, but she had
taught them, more by her own sweet personality than by all her
careful precepts, that it was good and necessary in the years that
were before them to live their lives finely and graciously, holding
fast to truth and courtesy and kindness, keeping aloof from all
that savored of falsehood and meanness and vulgarity. They were,
perhaps, all unconscious of having learned such lessons; but they
would remember and practice them long after they had forgotten the
capital of Afghanistan and the dates of the Wars of the Roses.
"Another chapter in my life is closed," said Anne aloud, as she
locked her desk. She really felt very sad over it; but the romance
in the idea of that "closed chapter" did comfort her a little.
Anne spent a fortnight at Echo Lodge early in her vacation and
everybody concerned had a good time.
She took Miss Lavendar on a shopping expedition to town and persuaded
her to buy a new organdy dress; then came the excitement of cutting
and making it together, while the happy Charlotta the Fourth basted
and swept up clippings. Miss Lavendar had complained that she could
not feel much interest in anything, but the sparkle came back to her
eyes over her pretty dress.
"What a foolish, frivolous person I must be," she sighed.
"I'm wholesomely ashamed to think that a new dress. . .
even it is a forget-me-not organdy. . .should exhilarate me so,
when a good conscience and an extra contribution to Foreign Missions
couldn't do it."
Midway in her visit Anne went home to Green Gables for a day to mend
the twins' stockings and settle up Davy's accumulated store of questions.
In the evening she went down to the shore road to see Paul Irving.
As she passed by the low, square window of the Irving sitting room
she caught a glimpse of Paul on somebody's lap; but the next moment
he came flying through the hall.
"Oh, Miss Shirley," he cried excitedly, "you can't think what
has happened! Something so splendid. Father is here. . .
just think of that! Father is here! Come right in. Father,
this is my beautiful teacher. YOU know, father."
Stephen Irving came forward to meet Anne with a smile. He was a
tall, handsome man of middle age, with iron-gray hair, deep-set,
dark blue eyes, and a strong, sad face, splendidly modeled about
chin and brow. Just the face for a hero of romance, Anne thought
with a thrill of intense satisfaction. It was so disappointing to
meet someone who ought to be a hero and find him bald or stooped,
or otherwise lacking in manly beauty. Anne would have thought it
dreadful if the object of Miss Lavendar's romance had not looked
"So this is my little son's `beautiful teacher,' of whom I have
heard so much," said Mr. Irving with a hearty handshake. "Paul's
letters have been so full of you, Miss Shirley, that I feel as if I
were pretty well acquainted with you already. I want to thank you
for what you have done for Paul. I think that your influence has
been just what he needed. Mother is one of the best and dearest of
women; but her robust, matter-of-fact Scotch common sense could not
always understand a temperament like my laddie's. What was lacking in
her you have supplied. Between you, I think Paul's training in these
two past years has been as nearly ideal as a motherless boy's could be."
Everybody likes to be appreciated. Under Mr. Irving's praise
Anne's face "burst flower like into rosy bloom," and the busy,
weary man of the world, looking at her, thought he had never seen a
fairer, sweeter slip of girlhood than this little "down east"
schoolteacher with her red hair and wonderful eyes.
Paul sat between them blissfully happy.
"I never dreamed father was coming," he said radiantly. "Even Grandma
didn't know it. It was a great surprise. As a general thing. . ."
Paul shook his brown curls gravely. . ."I don't like to be surprised.
You lose all the fun of expecting things when you're surprised.
But in a case like this it is all right. Father came last night
after I had gone to bed. And after Grandma and Mary Joe had stopped
being surprised he and Grandma came upstairs to look at me, not meaning
to wake me up till morning. But I woke right up and saw father.
I tell you I just sprang at him."
"With a hug like a bear's," said Mr. Irving, putting his arms
around Paul's shoulder smilingly. "I hardly knew my boy, he had
grown so big and brown and sturdy."
"I don't know which was the most pleased to see father, Grandma or I,"
continued Paul. "Grandma's been in kitchen all day making the things
father likes to eat. She wouldn't trust them to Mary Joe, she says.
That's HER way of showing gladness. _I_ like best just to sit and
talk to father. But I'm going to leave you for a little while now
if you'll excuse me. I must get the cows for Mary Joe. That is one
of my daily duties."
When Paul had scampered away to do his "daily duty" Mr. Irving
talked to Anne of various matters. But Anne felt that he was
thinking of something else underneath all the time. Presently it
came to the surface.
"In Paul's last letter he spoke of going with you to visit an old. . .
friend of mine. . .Miss Lewis at the stone house in Grafton.
Do you know her well?"
"Yes, indeed, she is a very dear friend of mine," was Anne's demure
reply, which gave no hint of the sudden thrill that tingled over
her from head to foot at Mr. Irving's question. Anne "felt
instinctively" that romance was peeping at her around a corner.
Mr. Irving rose and went to the window, looking out on a great,
golden, billowing sea where a wild wind was harping. For a few
moments there was silence in the little dark-walled room. Then he
turned and looked down into Anne's sympathetic face with a smile,
"I wonder how much you know," he said.
"I know all about it," replied Anne promptly. "You see," she explained
hastily, "Miss Lavendar and I are very intimate. She wouldn't tell
things of such a sacred nature to everybody. We are kindred spirits."
"Yes, I believe you are. Well, I am going to ask a favor of you.
I would like to go and see Miss Lavendar if she will let me. Will
you ask her if I may come?"
Would she not? Oh, indeed she would! Yes, this was romance, the very,
the real thing, with all the charm of rhyme and story and dream.
It was a little belated, perhaps, like a rose blooming in October
which should have bloomed in June; but none the less a rose,
all sweetness and fragrance, with the gleam of gold in its heart.
Never did Anne's feet bear her on a more willing errand than on
that walk through the beechwoods to Grafton the next morning.
She found Miss Lavendar in the garden. Anne was fearfully excited.
Her hands grew cold and her voice trembled.
"Miss Lavendar, I have something to tell you. . .something very important.
Can you guess what it is?"
Anne never supposed that Miss Lavendar could GUESS; but Miss Lavendar's
face grew very pale and Miss Lavendar said in a quiet, still voice,
from which all the color and sparkle that Miss Lavendar's voice usually
suggested had faded.
"Stephen Irving is home?"
"How did you know? Who told you?" cried Anne disappointedly,
vexed that her great revelation had been anticipated.
"Nobody. I knew that must be it, just from the way you spoke."
"He wants to come and see you," said Anne. "May I send him word
that he may?"
"Yes, of course," fluttered Miss Lavendar. "There is no reason why
he shouldn't. He is only coming as any old friend might."
Anne had her own opinion about that as she hastened into the house
to write a note at Miss Lavendar's desk.
"Oh, it's delightful to be living in a storybook," she thought gaily.
"It will come out all right of course. . .it must. . .and Paul will
have a mother after his own heart and everybody will be happy.
But Mr. Irving will take Miss Lavendar away. . .and dear knows
what will happen to the little stone house. . .and so there are
two sides to it, as there seems to be to everything in this world."
The important note was written and Anne herself carried it to the
Grafton post office, where she waylaid the mail carrier and asked
him to leave it at the Avonlea office.
"It's so very important," Anne assured him anxiously. The mail
carrier was a rather grumpy old personage who did not at all look
the part of a messenger of Cupid; and Anne was none too certain
that his memory was to be trusted. But he said he would do his
best to remember and she had to be contented with that.
Charlotta the Fourth felt that some mystery pervaded the stone
house that afternoon. . .a mystery from which she was excluded.
Miss Lavendar roamed about the garden in a distracted fashion.
Anne, too, seemed possessed by a demon of unrest, and walked to
and fro and went up and down. Charlotta the Fourth endured it
till patience ceased to be a virtue; then she confronted Anne
on the occasion of that romantic young person's third aimless
peregrination through the kitchen.
"Please, Miss Shirley, ma'am," said Charlotta the Fourth, with an
indignant toss of her very blue bows, "it's plain to be seen you
and Miss Lavendar have got a secret and I think, begging your
pardon if I'm too forward, Miss Shirley, ma'am, that it's real
mean not to tell me when we've all been such chums."
"Oh, Charlotta dear, I'd have told you all about it if it were my
secret. . .but it's Miss Lavendar's, you see. However, I'll tell
you this much. . .and if nothing comes of it you must never
breathe a word about it to a living soul. You see, Prince Charming
is coming tonight. He came long ago, but in a foolish moment went
away and wandered afar and forgot the secret of the magic pathway
to the enchanted castle, where the princess was weeping her
faithful heart out for him. But at last he remembered it again and
the princess is waiting still. . .because nobody but her own dear
prince could carry her off."
"Oh, Miss Shirley, ma'am, what is that in prose?" gasped the
"In prose, an old friend of Miss Lavendar's is coming to see her
"Do you mean an old beau of hers?" demanded the literal Charlotta.
"That is probably what I do mean. . .in prose," answered Anne gravely.
"It is Paul's father. . .Stephen Irving. And goodness knows what will
come of it, but let us hope for the best, Charlotta."
"I hope that he'll marry Miss Lavendar," was Charlotta's unequivocal response.
"Some women's intended from the start to be old maids, and I'm afraid I'm one
of them, Miss Shirley, ma'am, because I've awful little patience with the men.
But Miss Lavendar never was. And I've been awful worried, thinking what on
earth she'd do when I got so big I'd HAVE to go to Boston. There ain't any
more girls in our family and dear knows what she'd do if she got some
stranger that might laugh at her pretendings and leave things lying round
out of their place and not be willing to be called Charlotta the Fifth.
She might get someone who wouldn't be as unlucky as me in breaking dishes
but she'd never get anyone who'd love her better."
And the faithful little handmaiden dashed to the oven door with a sniff.
They went through the form of having tea as usual that night at
Echo Lodge; but nobody really ate anything. After tea Miss Lavendar
went to her room and put on her new forget-me-not organdy,
while Anne did her hair for her. Both were dreadfully excited;
but Miss Lavendar pretended to be very calm and indifferent.
"I must really mend that rent in the curtain tomorrow," she said
anxiously, inspecting it as if it were the only thing of any
importance just then. "Those curtains have not worn as well as
they should, considering the price I paid. Dear me, Charlotta
has forgotten to dust the stair railing AGAIN. I really MUST
speak to her about it."
Anne was sitting on the porch steps when Stephen Irving came down
the lane and across the garden.
"This is the one place where time stands still," he said, looking
around him with delighted eyes. "There is nothing changed about
this house or garden since I was here twenty-five years ago.
It makes me feel young again."
"You know time always does stand still in an enchanted palace," said Anne
seriously. "It is only when the prince comes that things begin to happen."
Mr. Irving smiled a little sadly into her uplifted face, all astar with
its youth and promise.
"Sometimes the prince comes too late," he said. He did not ask Anne to
translate her remark into prose. Like all kindred spirits he "understood."
"Oh, no, not if he is the real prince coming to the true princess,"
said Anne, shaking her red head decidedly, as she opened the parlor door.
When he had gone in she shut it tightly behind him and turned to confront
Charlotta the Fourth, who was in the hall, all "nods and becks and
"Oh, Miss Shirley, ma'am," she breathed, "I peeked from the kitchen
window. . .and he's awful handsome. . .and just the right age for
Miss Lavendar. And oh, Miss Shirley, ma'am, do you think it would
be much harm to listen at the door?"
"It would be dreadful, Charlotta," said Anne firmly, "so just you
come away with me out of the reach of temptation."
"I can't do anything, and it's awful to hang round just waiting," sighed
Charlotta. "What if he don't propose after all, Miss Shirley, ma'am?
You can never be sure of them men. My older sister, Charlotta the First,
thought she was engaged to one once. But it turned out HE had a
different opinion and she says she'll never trust one of them again.
And I heard of another case where a man thought he wanted one girl
awful bad when it was really her sister he wanted all the time.
When a man don't know his own mind, Miss Shirley, ma'am, how's
a poor woman going to be sure of it?"
"We'll go to the kitchen and clean the silver spoons," said Anne.
"That's a task which won't require much thinking fortunately. . .
for I COULDN'T think tonight. And it will pass the time."
It passed an hour. Then, just as Anne laid down the last shining spoon,
they heard the front door shut. Both sought comfort fearfully in each
"Oh, Miss Shirley, ma'am," gasped Charlotta, "if he's going away this
early there's nothing into it and never will be." They flew to the window.
Mr. Irving had no intention of going away. He and Miss Lavendar were
strolling slowly down the middle path to the stone bench.
"Oh, Miss Shirley, ma'am, he's got his arm around her waist,"
whispered Charlotta the Fourth delightedly. "He must have proposed
to her or she'd never allow it."
Anne caught Charlotta the Fourth by her own plump waist and danced
her around the kitchen until they were both out of breath.
"Oh, Charlotta," she cried gaily, "I'm neither a prophetess nor the
daughter of a prophetess but I'm going to make a prediction.
There'll be a wedding in this old stone house before the maple
leaves are red. Do you want that translated into prose, Charlotta?"
"No, I can understand that," said Charlotta. "A wedding ain't
poetry. Why, Miss Shirley, ma'am, you're crying! What for?"
"Oh, because it's all so beautiful. . .and story bookish. . .and
romantic. . .and sad," said Anne, winking the tears out of her
eyes. "It's all perfectly lovely. . .but there's a little sadness
mixed up in it too, somehow."
"Oh, of course there's a resk in marrying anybody," conceded
Charlotta the Fourth, "but, when all's said and done, Miss Shirley,
ma'am, there's many a worse thing than a husband."
Poetry and Prose
For the next month Anne lived in what, for Avonlea, might be called
a whirl of excitement. The preparation of her own modest outfit
for Redmond was of secondary importance. Miss Lavendar was getting
ready to be married and the stone house was the scene of endless
consultations and plannings and discussions, with Charlotta the Fourth
hovering on the outskirts of things in agitated delight and wonder.
Then the dressmaker came, and there was the rapture and wretchedness
of choosing fashions and being fitted. Anne and Diana spent half their
time at Echo Lodge and there were nights when Anne could not sleep for
wondering whether she had done right in advising Miss Lavendar to select
brown rather than navy blue for her traveling dress, and to have her
gray silk made princess.
Everybody concerned in Miss Lavendar's story was very happy.
Paul Irving rushed to Green Gables to talk the news over with
Anne as soon as his father had told him.
"I knew I could trust father to pick me out a nice little second mother,"
he said proudly. "It's a fine thing to have a father you can depend on,
teacher. I just love Miss Lavendar. Grandma is pleased, too. She says
she's real glad father didn't pick out an American for his second wife,
because, although it turned out all right the first time, such a thing
wouldn't be likely to happen twice. Mrs. Lynde says she thoroughly
approves of the match and thinks its likely Miss Lavendar will give
up her queer notions and be like other people, now that she's going to
be married. But I hope she won't give her queer notions up, teacher,
because I like them. And I don't want her to be like other people.
There are too many other people around as it is. YOU know, teacher."
Charlotta the Fourth was another radiant person.
"Oh, Miss Shirley, ma'am, it has all turned out so beautiful.
When Mr. Irving and Miss Lavendar come back from their tower
I'm to go up to Boston and live with them. . .and me only fifteen,
and the other girls never went till they were sixteen. Ain't
Mr. Irving splendid? He just worships the ground she treads on
and it makes me feel so queer sometimes to see the look in his eyes
when he's watching her. It beggars description, Miss Shirley, ma'am.
I'm awful thankful they're so fond of each other. It's the best way,
when all's said and done, though some folks can get along without it.
I've got an aunt who has been married three times and says she married
the first time for love and the last two times for strictly business,
and was happy with all three except at the times of the funerals.
But I think she took a resk, Miss Shirley, ma'am."
"Oh, it's all so romantic," breathed Anne to Marilla that night.
"If I hadn't taken the wrong path that day we went to Mr. Kimball's
I'd never have known Miss Lavendar; and if I hadn't met her I'd
never have taken Paul there. . .and he'd never have written to his
father about visiting Miss Lavendar just as Mr. Irving was starting for
San Francisco. Mr. Irving says whenever he got that letter he made
up his mind to send his partner to San Francisco and come here instead.
He hadn't heard anything of Miss Lavendar for fifteen years. Somebody
had told him then that she was to be married and he thought she was and
never asked anybody anything about her. And now everything has come right.
And I had a hand in bringing it about. Perhaps, as Mrs. Lynde says,
everything is foreordained and it was bound to happen anyway. But even so,
it's nice to think one was an instrument used by predestination. Yes indeed,
it's very romantic."
"I can't see that it's so terribly romantic at all," said Marilla
rather crisply. Marilla thought Anne was too worked up about it
and had plenty to do with getting ready for college without "traipsing"
to Echo Lodge two days out of three helping Miss Lavendar. "In the
first place two young fools quarrel and turn sulky; then Steve Irving
goes to the States and after a spell gets married up there and is
perfectly happy from all accounts. Then his wife dies and after
a decent interval he thinks he'll come home and see if his first
fancy'll have him. Meanwhile, she's been living single, probably
because nobody nice enough came along to want her, and they meet and
agree to be married after all. Now, where is the romance in all that?"
"Oh, there isn't any, when you put it that way," gasped Anne,
rather as if somebody had thrown cold water over her. "I suppose
that's how it looks in prose. But it's very different if you look
at it through poetry. . .and _I_ think it's nicer. . ." Anne recovered
herself and her eyes shone and her cheeks flushed. . ."to look at
it through poetry."
Marilla glanced at the radiant young face and refrained from
further sarcastic comments. Perhaps some realization came to her
that after all it was better to have, like Anne, "the vision and
the faculty divine". . .that gift which the world cannot bestow or
take away, of looking at life through some transfiguring. . .or
revealing?. . .medium, whereby everything seemed apparelled in
celestial light, wearing a glory and a freshness not visible to
those who, like herself and Charlotta the Fourth, looked at things
only through prose.
"When's the wedding to be?" she asked after a pause.
"The last Wednesday in August. They are to be married in the
garden under the honeysuckle trellis. . .the very spot where
Mr. Irving proposed to her twenty-five years ago. Marilla, that
IS romantic, even in prose. There's to be nobody there except
Mrs. Irving and Paul and Gilbert and Diana and I, and Miss Lavendar's
cousins. And they will leave on the six o'clock train for a trip
to the Pacific coast. When they come back in the fall Paul and
Charlotta the Fourth are to go up to Boston to live with them.
But Echo Lodge is to be left just as it is. . .only of course they'll
sell the hens and cow, and board up the windows. . .and every summer
they're coming down to live in it. I'm so glad. It would have
hurt me dreadfully next winter at Redmond to think of that dear
stone house all stripped and deserted, with empty rooms. . .or far
worse still, with other people living in it. But I can think of it
now, just as I've always seen it, waiting happily for the summer to
bring life and laughter back to it again."
There was more romance in the world than that which had fallen
to the share of the middle-aged lovers of the stone house.
Anne stumbled suddenly on it one evening when she went over to
Orchard Slope by the wood cut and came out into the Barry garden.
Diana Barry and Fred Wright were standing together under the big willow.
Diana was leaning against the gray trunk, her lashes cast down on
very crimson cheeks. One hand was held by Fred, who stood with his
face bent toward her, stammering something in low earnest tones.
There were no other people in the world except their two selves at
that magic moment; so neither of them saw Anne, who, after one
dazed glance of comprehension, turned and sped noiselessly back
through the spruce wood, never stopping till she gained her own
gable room, where she sat breathlessly down by her window and tried
to collect her scattered wits.
"Diana and Fred are in love with each other," she gasped.
"Oh, it does seem so. . .so. . .so HOPELESSLY grown up."
Anne, of late, had not been without her suspicions that Diana was
proving false to the melancholy Byronic hero of her early dreams.
But as "things seen are mightier than things heard," or suspected,
the realization that it was actually so came to her with almost the
shock of perfect surprise. This was succeeded by a queer, little
lonely feeling. . .as if, somehow, Diana had gone forward into a
new world, shutting a gate behind her, leaving Anne on the outside.
"Things are changing so fast it almost frightens me," Anne thought,
a little sadly. "And I'm afraid that this can't help making some
difference between Diana and me. I'm sure I can't tell her all my
secrets after this. . .she might tell Fred. And what CAN she see
in Fred? He's very nice and jolly. . .but he's just Fred Wright."
It is always a very puzzling question. . .what can somebody see in
somebody else? But how fortunate after all that it is so, for if
everybody saw alike. . .well, in that case, as the old Indian said,
"Everybody would want my squaw." It was plain that Diana DID see
something in Fred Wright, however Anne's eyes might be holden.
Diana came to Green Gables the next evening, a pensive, shy young
lady, and told Anne the whole story in the dusky seclusion of the
east gable. Both girls cried and kissed and laughed.
"I'm so happy," said Diana, "but it does seem ridiculous to think
of me being engaged."
"What is it really like to be engaged?" asked Anne curiously.
"Well, that all depends on who you're engaged to," answered Diana,
with that maddening air of superior wisdom always assumed by those
who are engaged over those who are not. "It's perfectly lovely to
be engaged to Fred. . .but I think it would be simply horrid to be
engaged to anyone else."
"There's not much comfort for the rest of us in that, seeing that
there is only one Fred," laughed Anne.
"Oh, Anne, you don't understand," said Diana in vexation. "I didn't
mean THAT. . .it's so hard to explain. Never mind, you'll understand
sometime, when your own turn comes."
"Bless you, dearest of Dianas, I understand now. What is an imagination
for if not to enable you to peep at life through other people's eyes?"
"You must be my bridesmaid, you know, Anne. Promise me that. . .
wherever you may be when I'm married."
"I'll come from the ends of the earth if necessary," promised Anne solemnly.
"Of course, it won't be for ever so long yet," said Diana, blushing.
"Three years at the very least. . .for I'm only eighteen and mother
says no daughter of hers shall be married before she's twenty-one.
Besides, Fred's father is going to buy the Abraham Fletcher farm
for him and he says he's got to have it two thirds paid for before
he'll give it to him in his own name. But three years isn't any too
much time to get ready for housekeeping, for I haven't a speck of fancy
work made yet. But I'm going to begin crocheting doilies tomorrow.
Myra Gillis had thirty-seven doilies when she was married and I'm
determined I shall have as many as she had."
"I suppose it would be perfectly impossible to keep house with only
thirty-six doilies," conceded Anne, with a solemn face but dancing eyes.
Diana looked hurt.
"I didn't think you'd make fun of me, Anne," she said reproachfully.
"Dearest, I wasn't making fun of you," cried Anne repentantly.
"I was only teasing you a bit. I think you'll make the sweetest
little housekeeper in the world. And I think it's perfectly lovely
of you to be planning already for your home o'dreams."
Anne had no sooner uttered the phrase, "home o'dreams," than it
captivated her fancy and she immediately began the erection of one
of her own. It was, of course, tenanted by an ideal master, dark,
proud, and melancholy; but oddly enough, Gilbert Blythe persisted
in hanging about too, helping her arrange pictures, lay out gardens,
and accomplish sundry other tasks which a proud and melancholy hero
evidently considered beneath his dignity. Anne tried to banish
Gilbert's image from her castle in Spain but, somehow, he went
on being there, so Anne, being in a hurry, gave up the attempt
and pursued her aerial architecture with such success that her
"home o'dreams" was built and furnished before Diana spoke again.
"I suppose, Anne, you must think it's funny I should like Fred so
well when he's so different from the kind of man I've always said I
would marry. . .the tall, slender kind? But somehow I wouldn't
want Fred to be tall and slender. . .because, don't you see, he
wouldn't be Fred then. Of course," added Diana rather dolefully,
"we will be a dreadfully pudgy couple. But after all that's better
than one of us being short and fat and the other tall and lean,
like Morgan Sloane and his wife. Mrs. Lynde says it always makes
her think of the long and short of it when she sees them together."
"Well," said Anne to herself that night, as she brushed her hair
before her gilt framed mirror, "I am glad Diana is so happy and
satisfied. But when my turn comes. . .if it ever does. . .I do
hope there'll be something a little more thrilling about it. But
then Diana thought so too, once. I've heard her say time and again
she'd never get engaged any poky commonplace way. . .he'd HAVE to
do something splendid to win her. But she has changed. Perhaps
I'll change too. But I won't. . .and I'm determined I won't. Oh,
I think these engagements are dreadfully unsettling things when
they happen to your intimate friends."
A Wedding at the Stone House
The last week in August came. Miss Lavendar was to be married in it.
Two weeks later Anne and Gilbert would leave for Redmond College.
In a week's time Mrs. Rachel Lynde would move to Green Gables and
set up her lares and penates in the erstwhile spare room, which was
already prepared for her coming. She had sold all her superfluous
household plenishings by auction and was at present reveling in the
congenial occupation of helping the Allans pack up. Mr. Allan was
to preach his farewell sermon the next Sunday. The old order was
changing rapidly to give place to the new, as Anne felt with a
little sadness threading all her excitement and happiness.
"Changes ain't totally pleasant but they're excellent things,"
said Mr. Harrison philosophically. "Two years is about long
enough for things to stay exactly the same. If they stayed
put any longer they might grow mossy."
Mr. Harrison was smoking on his veranda. His wife had
self-sacrificingly told that he might smoke in the house
if he took care to sit by an open window. Mr. Harrison
rewarded this concession by going outdoors altogether to
smoke in fine weather, and so mutual goodwill reigned.
Anne had come over to ask Mrs. Harrison for some of her yellow dahlias.
She and Diana were going through to Echo Lodge that evening to help
Miss Lavendar and Charlotta the Fourth with their final preparations
for the morrow's bridal. Miss Lavendar herself never had dahlias;
she did not like them and they would not have suited the fine
retirement of her old-fashioned garden. But flowers of any kind
were rather scarce in Avonlea and the neighboring districts that summer,
thanks to Uncle Abe's storm; and Anne and Diana thought that a certain
old cream-colored stone jug, usually kept sacred to doughnuts, brimmed
over with yellow dahlias, would be just the thing to set in a dim angle
of the stone house stairs, against the dark background of red hall paper.
"I s'pose you'll be starting off for college in a fortnight's time?"
continued Mr. Harrison. "Well, we're going to miss you an awful lot,
Emily and me. To be sure, Mrs. Lynde'll be over there in your place.
There ain't nobody but a substitute can be found for them."
The irony of Mr. Harrison's tone is quite untransferable to paper.
In spite of his wife's intimacy with Mrs. Lynde, the best that could
be said of the relationship between her and Mr. Harrison even under
the new regime, was that they preserved an armed neutrality.
"Yes, I'm going," said Anne. "I'm very glad with my head. . .and
very sorry with my heart."
"I s'pose you'll be scooping up all the honors that are lying round
loose at Redmond."
"I may try for one or two of them," confessed Anne, "but I
don't care so much for things like that as I did two years ago.
What I want to get out of my college course is some knowledge of
the best way of living life and doing the most and best with it.
I want to learn to understand and help other people and myself."
Mr. Harrison nodded.
"That's the idea exactly. That's what college ought to be for,
instead of for turning out a lot of B.A.'s, so chock full of
book-learning and vanity that there ain't room for anything else.
You're all right. College won't be able to do you much harm,
Diana and Anne drove over to Echo Lodge after tea, taking with them
all the flowery spoil that several predatory expeditions in their
own and their neighbors' gardens had yielded. They found the stone
house agog with excitement. Charlotta the Fourth was flying around
with such vim and briskness that her blue bows seemed really to possess
the power of being everywhere at once. Like the helmet of Navarre,
Charlotta's blue bows waved ever in the thickest of the fray.
"Praise be to goodness you've come," she said devoutly, "for
there's heaps of things to do. . .and the frosting on that cake
WON'T harden. . .and there's all the silver to be rubbed up yet. . .
and the horsehair trunk to be packed. . .and the roosters for the
chicken salad are running out there beyant the henhouse yet,
crowing, Miss Shirley, ma'am. And Miss Lavendar ain't to be
trusted to do a thing. I was thankful when Mr. Irving came
a few minutes ago and took her off for a walk in the woods.
Courting's all right in its place, Miss Shirley, ma'am, but if
you try to mix it up with cooking and scouring everything's spoiled.
That's MY opinion, Miss Shirley, ma'am."
Anne and Diana worked so heartily that by ten o'clock even
Charlotta the Fourth was satisfied. She braided her hair in
innumerable plaits and took her weary little bones off to bed.
"But I'm sure I shan't sleep a blessed wink, Miss Shirley, ma'am,
for fear that something'll go wrong at the last minute. . .the cream
won't whip. . .or Mr. Irving'll have a stroke and not be able to come."
"He isn't in the habit of having strokes, is he?" asked Diana, the
dimpled corners of her mouth twitching. To Diana, Charlotta the Fourth
was, if not exactly a thing of beauty, certainly a joy forever.
"They're not things that go by habit," said Charlotta the Fourth
with dignity. "They just HAPPEN. . .and there you are. ANYBODY
can have a stroke. You don't have to learn how. Mr. Irving looks
a lot like an uncle of mine that had one once just as he was
sitting down to dinner one day. But maybe everything'll go all
right. In this world you've just got to hope for the best and
prepare for the worst and take whatever God sends."
"The only thing I'm worried about is that it won't be fine tomorrow,"
said Diana. "Uncle Abe predicted rain for the middle of the week,
and ever since the big storm I can't help believing there's a good
deal in what Uncle Abe says."
Anne, who knew better than Diana just how much Uncle Abe had to do
with the storm, was not much disturbed by this. She slept the
sleep of the just and weary, and was roused at an unearthly hour by
Charlotta the Fourth.
"Oh, Miss Shirley, ma'am, it's awful to call you so early," came
wailing through the keyhole, "but there's so much to do yet. . .and oh,
Miss Shirley, ma'am, I'm skeered it's going to rain and I wish
you'd get up and tell me you think it ain't." Anne flew to the
window, hoping against hope that Charlotta the Fourth was saying
this merely by way of rousing her effectually. But alas, the
morning did look unpropitious. Below the window Miss Lavendar's
garden, which should have been a glory of pale virgin sunshine, lay
dim and windless; and the sky over the firs was dark with moody clouds.
"Isn't it too mean!" said Diana.
"We must hope for the best," said Anne determinedly. "If it only
doesn't actually rain, a cool, pearly gray day like this would
really be nicer than hot sunshine."
"But it will rain," mourned Charlotta, creeping into the room, a
figure of fun, with her many braids wound about her head, the ends,
tied up with white thread, sticking out in all directions. "It'll
hold off till the last minute and then pour cats and dogs. And all
the folks will get sopping. . .and track mud all over the house. . .
and they won't be able to be married under the honeysuckle. . .and
it's awful unlucky for no sun to shine on a bride, say what you will,
Miss Shirley, ma'am. _I_ knew things were going too well to last."
Charlotta the Fourth seemed certainly to have borrowed a leaf out
of Miss Eliza Andrews' book.
It did not rain, though it kept on looking as if it meant to.
By noon the rooms were decorated, the table beautifully laid;
and upstairs was waiting a bride, "adorned for her husband."
"You do look sweet," said Anne rapturously.
"Lovely," echoed Diana.
"Everything's ready, Miss Shirley, ma'am, and nothing dreadful has
happened YET," was Charlotta's cheerful statement as she betook
herself to her little back room to dress. Out came all the braids;
the resultant rampant crinkliness was plaited into two tails and
tied, not with two bows alone, but with four, of brand-new ribbon,
brightly blue. The two upper bows rather gave the impression of
overgrown wings sprouting from Charlotta's neck, somewhat after the
fashion of Raphael's cherubs. But Charlotta the Fourth thought
them very beautiful, and after she had rustled into a white dress,
so stiffly starched that it could stand alone, she surveyed herself
in her glass with great satisfaction. . .a satisfaction which lasted
until she went out in the hall and caught a glimpse through the spare
room door of a tall girl in some softly clinging gown, pinning white,
star-like flowers on the smooth ripples of her ruddy hair.
"Oh, I'll NEVER be able to look like Miss Shirley," thought poor
Charlotta despairingly. "You just have to be born so, I guess. . .
don't seem's if any amount of practice could give you that AIR."
By one o'clock the guests had come, including Mr. and Mrs. Allan,
for Mr. Allan was to perform the ceremony in the absence of the
Grafton minister on his vacation. There was no formality about
the marriage. Miss Lavendar came down the stairs to meet her
bridegroom at the foot, and as he took her hand she lifted her big
brown eyes to his with a look that made Charlotta the Fourth, who
intercepted it, feel queerer than ever. They went out to the
honeysuckle arbor, where Mr. Allan was awaiting them. The guests
grouped themselves as they pleased. Anne and Diana stood by the
old stone bench, with Charlotta the Fourth between them, desperately
clutching their hands in her cold, tremulous little paws.
Mr. Allan opened his blue book and the ceremony proceeded. Just as
Miss Lavendar and Stephen Irving were pronounced man and wife a very
beautiful and symbolic thing happened. The sun suddenly burst through
the gray and poured a flood of radiance on the happy bride. Instantly
the garden was alive with dancing shadows and flickering lights.
"What a lovely omen," thought Anne, as she ran to kiss the bride.
Then the three girls left the rest of the guests laughing around
the bridal pair while they flew into the house to see that all was
in readiness for the feast.
"Thanks be to goodness, it's over, Miss Shirley, ma'am," breathed
Charlotta the Fourth, "and they're married safe and sound, no
matter what happens now. The bags of rice are in the pantry,
ma'am, and the old shoes are behind the door, and the cream for
whipping is on the sullar steps."
At half past two Mr. and Mrs. Irving left, and everybody went to
Bright River to see them off on the afternoon train. As Miss
Lavendar. . .I beg her pardon, Mrs. Irving. . .stepped from the
door of her old home Gilbert and the girls threw the rice and
Charlotta the Fourth hurled an old shoe with such excellent aim
that she struck Mr. Allan squarely on the head. But it was
reserved for Paul to give the prettiest send-off. He popped out of
the porch ringing furiously a huge old brass dinner bell which had
adorned the dining room mantel. Paul's only motive was to make a
joyful noise; but as the clangor died away, from point and curve
and hill across the river came the chime of "fairy wedding bells,"
ringing clearly, sweetly, faintly and more faint, as if Miss
Lavendar's beloved echoes were bidding her greeting and farewell.
And so, amid this benediction of sweet sounds, Miss Lavendar drove
away from the old life of dreams and make-believes to a fuller life
of realities in the busy world beyond.
Two hours later Anne and Charlotta the Fourth came down the lane again.
Gilbert had gone to West Grafton on an errand and Diana had to keep an
engagement at home. Anne and Charlotta had come back to put things in
order and lock up the little stone house. The garden was a pool of
late golden sunshine, with butterflies hovering and bees booming;
but the little house had already that indefinable air of desolation
which always follows a festivity.
"Oh dear me, don't it look lonesome?" sniffed Charlotta the Fourth,
who had been crying all the way home from the station. "A wedding
ain't much cheerfuller than a funeral after all, when it's all
over, Miss Shirley, ma'am."
A busy evening followed. The decorations had to be removed,
the dishes washed, the uneaten delicacies packed into a basket for
the delectation of Charlotta the Fourth's young brothers at home.
Anne would not rest until everything was in apple-pie order; after
Charlotta had gone home with her plunder Anne went over the still
rooms, feeling like one who trod alone some banquet hall deserted,
and closed the blinds. Then she locked the door and sat down under
the silver poplar to wait for Gilbert, feeling very tired but still
unweariedly thinking "long, long thoughts."
"What are you thinking of, Anne?" asked Gilbert, coming down the
walk. He had left his horse and buggy out at the road.
"Of Miss Lavendar and Mr. Irving," answered Anne dreamily. "Isn't
it beautiful to think how everything has turned out. . .how they
have come together again after all the years of separation and
"Yes, it's beautiful," said Gilbert, looking steadily down into
Anne's uplifted face, "but wouldn't it have been more beautiful still,
Anne, if there had been NO separation or misunderstanding. . .
if they had come hand in hand all the way through life, with no
memories behind them but those which belonged to each other?"
For a moment Anne's heart fluttered queerly and for the first time
her eyes faltered under Gilbert's gaze and a rosy flush stained the
paleness of her face. It was as if a veil that had hung before
her inner consciousness had been lifted, giving to her view a
revelation of unsuspected feelings and realities. Perhaps, after
all, romance did not come into one's life with pomp and blare, like
a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one's side like an
old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in
seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung
athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps. . .
perhaps. . .love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship,
as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath.
Then the veil dropped again; but the Anne who walked up the dark
lane was not quite the same Anne who had driven gaily down it the
evening before. The page of girlhood had been turned, as by an
unseen finger, and the page of womanhood was before her with all
its charm and mystery, its pain and gladness.
Gilbert wisely said nothing more; but in his silence he read the
history of the next four years in the light of Anne's remembered
blush. Four years of earnest, happy work. . .and then the guerdon
of a useful knowledge gained and a sweet heart won.
Behind them in the garden the little stone house brooded among the
shadows. It was lonely but not forsaken. It had not yet done with
dreams and laughter and the joy of life; there were to be future
summers for the little stone house; meanwhile, it could wait. And
over the river in purple durance the echoes bided their time.
Back to Full Books