Monday, November 19, 2012

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES


     ANNE OF GREEN GABLES

                  By Lucy Maud Montgomery



Table of Contents

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




ANNE OF GREEN GABLES




CHAPTER I. Mrs. Rachel Lynde is Surprised


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

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

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

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

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

"I'll just step over to Green Gables after tea and find out from Marilla
where he's gone and why," the worthy woman finally concluded. "He
doesn't generally go to town this time of year and he NEVER visits; if
he'd run out of turnip seed he wouldn't dress up and take the buggy to
go for more; he wasn't driving fast enough to be going for a doctor.
Yet something must have happened since last night to start him off. I'm
clean puzzled, that's what, and I won't know a minute's peace of mind or
conscience until I know what has taken Matthew Cuthbert out of Avonlea
today."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We're all pretty well," said Mrs. Rachel. "I was kind of afraid YOU
weren't, though, when I saw Matthew starting off today. I thought maybe
he was going to the doctor's."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




CHAPTER II. Matthew Cuthbert is surprised


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The stationmaster whistled.

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

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

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

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

She had been watching him ever since he had passed her and she had her
eyes on him now. Matthew was not looking at her and would not have seen
what she was really like if he had been, but an ordinary observer would
have seen this: A child of about eleven, garbed in a very short, very
tight, very ugly dress of yellowish-gray wincey. She wore a faded brown
sailor hat and beneath the hat, extending down her back, were two braids
of very thick, decidedly red hair. Her face was small, white and thin,
also much freckled; her mouth was large and so were her eyes, which
looked green in some lights and moods and gray in others.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Well now, I dunno," said Matthew.

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

"Well now, I dunno," said Matthew.

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

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

"Oh, you can talk as much as you like. I don't mind."

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

"Well now, that seems reasonable," said Matthew.

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

"Well now, yes, there's one right below the house."

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

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

"It's red, ain't it?" he said.

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

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

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

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

"Well now, no, I haven't," confessed Matthew ingenuously.

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

"Well now, I--I don't know exactly."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Oh, Mr. Cuthbert," she whispered, "that place we came through--that
white place--what was it?"

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

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

"Well now, I just can't recollect that I ever had."

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

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

"That's Barry's pond," said Matthew.

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

Matthew ruminated.

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

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

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

"Has Mr. Barry any little girls? Well, not so very little either--about
my size."

"He's got one about eleven. Her name is Diana."

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

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

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

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

"We're pretty near home now. That's Green Gables over--"

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

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

"That's it, isn't it?" she said, pointing.

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

"Well now, you've guessed it! But I reckon Mrs. Spencer described it
so's you could tell."

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

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

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

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

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




CHAPTER III. Marilla Cuthbert is Surprised


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

"Matthew Cuthbert, who's that?" she ejaculated. "Where is the boy?"

"There wasn't any boy," said Matthew wretchedly. "There was only HER."

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

"No boy! But there MUST have been a boy," insisted Marilla. "We sent
word to Mrs. Spencer to bring a boy."

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

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

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

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

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

"Well, well, there's no need to cry so about it."

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

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

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

The child hesitated for a moment.

"Will you please call me Cordelia?" she said eagerly.

"CALL you Cordelia? Is that your name?"

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

"I don't know what on earth you mean. If Cordelia isn't your name, what
is?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You're not eating anything," said Marilla sharply, eying her as if it
were a serious shortcoming. Anne sighed.

"I can't. I'm in the depths of despair. Can you eat when you are in the
depths of despair?"

"I've never been in the depths of despair, so I can't say," responded
Marilla.

"Weren't you? Well, did you ever try to IMAGINE you were in the depths
of despair?"

"No, I didn't."

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

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

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

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

"I suppose you have a nightgown?" she questioned.

Anne nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"How can you call it a GOOD night when you know it must be the very
worst night I've ever had?" she said reproachfully.

Then she dived down into invisibility again.

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

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

"Yes, I suppose so," said Matthew reluctantly.

"You SUPPOSE so! Don't you know it?"

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

"Matthew Cuthbert, you don't mean to say you think we ought to keep
her!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I'm not suffering for company," said Marilla shortly. "And I'm not
going to keep her."

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

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




CHAPTER IV. Morning at Green Gables


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It's time you were dressed," she said curtly.

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

Anne stood up and drew a long breath.

"Oh, isn't it wonderful?" she said, waving her hand comprehensively at
the good world outside.

"It's a big tree," said Marilla, "and it blooms great, but the fruit
don't amount to much never--small and wormy."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Can you wash dishes right?" asked Marilla distrustfully.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What's the matter now?" demanded Marilla.

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

"That's the apple-scented geranium."

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

"Goodness, I don't care. But where on earth is the sense of naming a
geranium?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




CHAPTER V. Anne's History


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

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

Anne sighed.

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

"I don't see where the comforting comes in myself," said Marilla.

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

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

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

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

"Oh, what I KNOW about myself isn't really worth telling," said Anne
eagerly. "If you'll only let me tell you what I IMAGINE about myself
you'll think it ever so much more interesting."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




CHAPTER VI. Marilla Makes Up Her Mind


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

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

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

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

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

"She certainly did, Miss Cuthbert," corroborated Flora Jane earnestly.

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

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

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

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

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

"Well, I'll go in and we'll talk the matter over," she said.

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

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

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

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

"How old are you and what's your name?" she demanded.

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

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

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

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

"I suppose it'll have to," said Mrs. Blewett ungraciously.

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

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

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

"I'd rather go back to the asylum than go to live with her," said Anne
passionately. "She looks exactly like a--like a gimlet."

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

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

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

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

"I wouldn't give a dog I liked to that Blewett woman," said Matthew with
unusual vim.

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

Matthew's shy face was a glow of delight.

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

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

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

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

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




CHAPTER VII. Anne Says Her Prayers


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

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

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

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

"I never say any prayers," announced Anne.

Marilla looked horrified astonishment.

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

"'God is a spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable, in His being,
wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth,'" responded Anne
promptly and glibly.

Marilla looked rather relieved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You must kneel down," said Marilla in embarrassment.

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

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

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

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

"Well, I'll do my best," promised Anne, burying her face in Marilla's
lap. "Gracious heavenly Father--that's the way the ministers say it in
church, so I suppose it's all right in private prayer, isn't it?" she
interjected, lifting her head for a moment.

   "Gracious heavenly Father, I thank Thee for the White
   Way of Delight and the Lake of Shining Waters and Bonny
   and the Snow Queen. I'm really extremely grateful for
   them. And that's all the blessings I can think of just
   now to thank Thee for. As for the things I want,
   they're so numerous that it would take a great deal of
   time to name them all so I will only mention the two
   most important. Please let me stay at Green Gables;
   and please let me be good-looking when I grow up.
   I remain,
                    "Yours respectfully,
                       Anne Shirley.

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

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

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

"I--I don't suppose it will," said Marilla. "Go to sleep now like a good
child. Good night."

"I can only say good night tonight with a clear conscience," said Anne,
cuddling luxuriously down among her pillows.

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

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




CHAPTER VIII. Anne's Bringing-up Is Begun


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

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

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

"You haven't scalded the dishcloth in clean hot water as I told you to
do," said Marilla immovably. "Just go and do it before you ask any more
questions, Anne."

Anne went and attended to the dishcloth. Then she returned to Marilla
and fastened imploring eyes of the latter's face. "Well," said Marilla,
unable to find any excuse for deferring her explanation longer, "I
suppose I might as well tell you. Matthew and I have decided to keep
you--that is, if you will try to be a good little girl and show yourself
grateful. Why, child, whatever is the matter?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"No. I'm not your aunt and I don't believe in calling people names that
don't belong to them."

"But we could imagine you were my aunt."

"I couldn't," said Marilla grimly.

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

"No."

"Oh!" Anne drew a long breath. "Oh, Miss--Marilla, how much you miss!"

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

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

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

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

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

Anne came back to earth with a start.

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

"Anne," said Marilla, wondering why she had not broken into this speech
long before, "you shouldn't talk that way. It's irreverent--positively
irreverent."

Anne's eyes marveled.

"Why, I felt just as reverent as could be. I'm sure I didn't mean to be
irreverent."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"A--a what kind of friend?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Oh, I know it pretty nearly all now--all but just the last line."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Anne blew a couple of airy kisses from her fingertips past the cherry
blossoms and then, with her chin in her hands, drifted luxuriously out
on a sea of daydreams.




CHAPTER IX. Mrs. Rachel Lynde Is Properly Horrified


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

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

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

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

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

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

"I've been hearing some surprising things about you and Matthew."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Anne!" exclaimed Marilla in consternation.

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

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

Stamp! Stamp!

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

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

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

"Well, I don't envy you your job bringing THAT up, Marilla," said Mrs.
Rachel with unspeakable solemnity.

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

"You shouldn't have twitted her about her looks, Rachel."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Anne," she said not ungently.

No answer.

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

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

"This is a nice way for you to behave. Anne! Aren't you ashamed of
yourself?"

"She hadn't any right to call me ugly and redheaded," retorted Anne,
evasive and defiant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I shall have to stay here forever then," said Anne mournfully, "because
I can't tell Mrs. Lynde I'm sorry I said those things to her. How can
I? I'm NOT sorry. I'm sorry I've vexed you; but I'm GLAD I told her just
what I did. It was a great satisfaction. I can't say I'm sorry when I'm
not, can I? I can't even IMAGINE I'm sorry."

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

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




CHAPTER X. Anne's Apology


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anne smiled wanly.

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

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

Matthew recollected that he must say what he had come to say without
loss of time, lest Marilla return prematurely. "Well now, Anne, don't
you think you'd better do it and have it over with?" he whispered.
"It'll have to be done sooner or later, you know, for Marilla's a
dreadful deter-mined woman--dreadful determined, Anne. Do it right off,
I say, and have it over."

"Do you mean apologize to Mrs. Lynde?"

"Yes--apologize--that's the very word," said Matthew eagerly. "Just
smooth it over so to speak. That's what I was trying to get at."

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

"Well now, of course I do. It's terrible lonesome downstairs without
you. Just go and smooth things over--that's a good girl."

"Very well," said Anne resignedly. "I'll tell Marilla as soon as she
comes in I've repented."

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

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

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

"Well?" she said, going into the hall.

"I'm sorry I lost my temper and said rude things, and I'm willing to go
and tell Mrs. Lynde so."

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

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

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

"I'm imagining out what I must say to Mrs. Lynde," answered Anne
dreamily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




CHAPTER XI. Anne's Impressions of Sunday-School


"Well, how do you like them?" said Marilla.

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

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

"I'll imagine that I like them," said Anne soberly.

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

"Yes."

"Then why don't you like them?"

"They're--they're not--pretty," said Anne reluctantly.

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

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

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

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

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

Anne clasped her hands and looked at the dresses.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I didn't like it a bit. It was horrid."

"Anne Shirley!" said Marilla rebukingly.

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

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

"You shouldn't have done anything of the sort. You should have listened
to Mr. Bell."

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

"Not out loud, I hope," said Marilla anxiously.

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

"You shouldn't have been thinking about your sleeves in Sunday school.
You should have been attending to the lesson. I hope you knew it."

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

   "'Quick as the slaughtered squadrons fell
   In Midian's evil day.'

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

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




CHAPTER XII. A Solemn Vow and Promise


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

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

"Oh. I know pink and yellow aren't becoming to me," began Anne.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anne WAS trembling. Her face was pale and tense.

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

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

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

"Yes, this is Anne Shirley," said Marilla.

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

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

"How are you?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diana laughed. Diana always laughed before she spoke.

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

"Will you swear to be my friend forever and ever?" demanded Anne
eagerly.

Diana looked shocked.

"Why it's dreadfully wicked to swear," she said rebukingly.

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

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

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

"Well, I don't mind doing that," agreed Diana, relieved. "How do you do
it?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER XIII. The Delights of Anticipation


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

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

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

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

"Two o'clock--but isn't it splendid about the picnic, Marilla? Please
can I go? Oh, I've never been to a picnic--I've dreamed of picnics, but
I've never--"

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

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

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

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

"Well, it needn't prey any longer. I'll bake you a basket."

"Oh, you dear good Marilla. Oh, you are so kind to me. Oh, I'm so much
obliged to you."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




CHAPTER XIV. Anne's Confession


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

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

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

"Did you touch it?" said Marilla sternly.

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

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

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

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

"I did put it back," said Anne quickly--pertly, Marilla thought. "I
don't just remember whether I stuck it on the pincushion or laid it in
the china tray. But I'm perfectly certain I put it back."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"No, I'll finish shelling them myself. Do as I bid you."

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

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

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

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

"You're sure it hasn't fell down behind the bureau?" was the only
suggestion he could offer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"But the picnic is tomorrow, Marilla," cried Anne. "You won't keep me
from going to that, will you? You'll just let me out for the afternoon,
won't you? Then I'll stay here as long as you like AFTERWARDS
cheerfully. But I MUST go to the picnic."

"You'll not go to picnics nor anywhere else until you've confessed,
Anne."

"Oh, Marilla," gasped Anne.

But Marilla had gone out and shut the door.

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

"Marilla, I'm ready to confess."

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

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

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

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

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

"Picnic, indeed! You'll go to no picnic today, Anne Shirley. That shall
be your punishment. And it isn't half severe enough either for what
you've done!"

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

Marilla disengaged Anne's clinging hands stonily.

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

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

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

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

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

"Come down to your dinner, Anne."

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

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

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

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

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

"Well, she's having it now" retorted Marilla.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anne flew up like a rocket.

"Oh, Marilla, isn't it too late?"

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

"Oh, Marilla," exclaimed Anne, flying to the washstand. "Five minutes
ago I was so miserable I was wishing I'd never been born and now I
wouldn't change places with an angel!"

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

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

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

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




CHAPTER XV. A Tempest in the School Teapot


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I guess Gilbert Blythe will be in school today," said Diana. "He's been
visiting his cousins over in New Brunswick all summer and he only came
home Saturday night. He's AW'FLY handsome, Anne. And he teases the girls
something terrible. He just torments our lives out."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"No, it isn't," said Anne, feminine to the core. "I'd rather be pretty
than clever. And I hate Charlie Sloane, I can't bear a boy with goggle
eyes. If anyone wrote my name up with his I'd never GET over it, Diana
Barry. But it IS nice to keep head of your class."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I think your Gilbert Blythe IS handsome," confided Anne to Diana,
"but I think he's very bold. It isn't good manners to wink at a strange
girl."

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

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

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

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

"Carrots! Carrots!"

Then Anne looked at him with a vengeance!

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

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

And then--thwack! Anne had brought her slate down on Gilbert's head and
cracked it--slate not head--clear across.

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

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

"Anne Shirley, what does this mean?" he said angrily. Anne returned no
answer. It was asking too much of flesh and blood to expect her to tell
before the whole school that she had been called "carrots." Gilbert it
was who spoke up stoutly.

"It was my fault Mr. Phillips. I teased her."

Mr. Phillips paid no heed to Gilbert.

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

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

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

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

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

"I'm awfully sorry I made fun of your hair, Anne," he whispered
contritely. "Honest I am. Don't be mad for keeps, now."

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

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

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

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

"There's a great deal of difference between being called a crow and
being called carrots," said Anne with dignity. "Gilbert Blythe has hurt
my feelings EXCRUCIATINGLY, Diana."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Yes, sir," said Anne slowly "but I didn't suppose you really meant it."

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

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

To Anne, this was as the end of all things. It was bad enough to be
singled out for punishment from among a dozen equally guilty ones; it
was worse still to be sent to sit with a boy, but that that boy should
be Gilbert Blythe was heaping insult on injury to a degree utterly
unbearable. Anne felt that she could not bear it and it would be of
no use to try. Her whole being seethed with shame and anger and
humiliation.

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

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

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

"I am not coming back to school any more," said Anne. Diana gasped and
stared at Anne to see if she meant it.

"Will Marilla let you stay home?" she asked.

"She'll have to," said Anne. "I'll NEVER go to school to that man
again."

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

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

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

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

"Nonsense," said Marilla.

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

"Insulted fiddlesticks! You'll go to school tomorrow as usual."

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

Marilla saw something remarkably like unyielding stubbornness looking
out of Anne's small face. She understood that she would have trouble in
overcoming it; but she re-solved wisely to say nothing more just then.
"I'll run down and see Rachel about it this evening," she thought.
"There's no use reasoning with Anne now. She's too worked up and I've
an idea she can be awful stubborn if she takes the notion. Far as I can
make out from her story, Mr. Phillips has been carrying matters with a
rather high hand. But it would never do to say so to her. I'll just talk
it over with Rachel. She's sent ten children to school and she ought to
know something about it. She'll have heard the whole story, too, by this
time."

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

"I suppose you know what I've come about," she said, a little
shamefacedly.

Mrs. Rachel nodded.

"About Anne's fuss in school, I reckon," she said. "Tillie Boulter was
in on her way home from school and told me about it." "I don't know
what to do with her," said Marilla. "She declares she won't go back to
school. I never saw a child so worked up. I've been expecting trouble
ever since she started to school. I knew things were going too smooth to
last. She's so high strung. What would you advise, Rachel?"

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

"Then you really think I'd better let her stay home," said Marilla in
amazement.

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

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

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

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

"Whatever's the matter now, Anne?" she asked.

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

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

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




CHAPTER XVI. Diana Is Invited to Tea with Tragic Results


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

Anne reveled in the world of color about her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"She is very well, thank you. I suppose Mr. Cuthbert is hauling potatoes
to the LILY SANDS this afternoon, is he?" said Diana, who had ridden
down to Mr. Harmon Andrews's that morning in Matthew's cart.

"Yes. Our potato crop is very good this year. I hope your father's crop
is good too."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"That's awfully nice raspberry cordial, Anne," she said. "I didn't know
raspberry cordial was so nice."

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

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

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

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

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

"I'm--I'm awful sick," she said, a little thickly. "I--I--must go right
home."

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

"I must go home," repeated Diana, stupidly but determinedly.

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

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

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

"I'm awful dizzy," said Diana.

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

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

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

No answer from Anne save more tears and stormier sobs!

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

Anne sat up, tragedy personified.

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

Marilla stared in blank amazement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What do you want?" she said stiffly.

Anne clasped her hands.

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

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

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

Anne's lips quivered.

"Won't you let me see Diana just once to say farewell?" she implored.

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

Anne went back to Green Gables calm with despair.

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER XVII. A New Interest in Life

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

"Your mother hasn't relented?" she gasped.

Diana shook her head mournfully.

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

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

"Indeed I will," sobbed Diana, "and I'll never have another bosom
friend--I don't want to have. I couldn't love anybody as I love you."

"Oh, Diana," cried Anne, clasping her hands, "do you LOVE me?"

"Why, of course I do. Didn't you know that?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I don't think there is much fear of your dying of grief as long as you
can talk, Anne," said Marilla unsympathetically.

The following Monday Anne surprised Marilla by coming down from her room
with her basket of books on her arm and hip and her lips primmed up into
a line of determination.

"I'm going back to school," she announced. "That is all there is left
in life for me, now that my friend has been ruthlessly torn from me. In
school I can look at her and muse over days departed."

"You'd better muse over your lessons and sums," said Marilla, concealing
her delight at this development of the situation. "If you're going back
to school I hope we'll hear no more of breaking slates over people's
heads and such carryings on. Behave yourself and do just what your
teacher tells you."

"I'll try to be a model pupil," agreed Anne dolefully. "There won't be
much fun in it, I expect. Mr. Phillips said Minnie Andrews was a model
pupil and there isn't a spark of imagination or life in her. She is
just dull and poky and never seems to have a good time. But I feel so
depressed that perhaps it will come easy to me now. I'm going round by
the road. I couldn't bear to go by the Birch Path all alone. I should
weep bitter tears if I did."

Anne was welcomed back to school with open arms. Her imagination had
been sorely missed in games, her voice in the singing and her dramatic
ability in the perusal aloud of books at dinner hour. Ruby Gillis
smuggled three blue plums over to her during testament reading; Ella May
MacPherson gave her an enormous yellow pansy cut from the covers of a
floral catalogue--a species of desk decoration much prized in Avonlea
school. Sophia Sloane offered to teach her a perfectly elegant new
pattern of knit lace, so nice for trimming aprons. Katie Boulter gave
her a perfume bottle to keep slate water in, and Julia Bell copied
carefully on a piece of pale pink paper scalloped on the edges the
following effusion:


  When twilight drops her curtain down
  And pins it with a star
  Remember that you have a friend
  Though she may wander far.


"It's so nice to be appreciated," sighed Anne rapturously to Marilla
that night.

The girls were not the only scholars who "appreciated" her. When Anne
went to her seat after dinner hour--she had been told by Mr. Phillips to
sit with the model Minnie Andrews--she found on her desk a big luscious
"strawberry apple." Anne caught it up all ready to take a bite when she
remembered that the only place in Avonlea where strawberry apples grew
was in the old Blythe orchard on the other side of the Lake of Shining
Waters. Anne dropped the apple as if it were a red-hot coal and
ostentatiously wiped her fingers on her handkerchief. The apple lay
untouched on her desk until the next morning, when little Timothy
Andrews, who swept the school and kindled the fire, annexed it as one
of his perquisites. Charlie Sloane's slate pencil, gorgeously bedizened
with striped red and yellow paper, costing two cents where ordinary
pencils cost only one, which he sent up to her after dinner hour, met
with a more favorable reception. Anne was graciously pleased to accept
it and rewarded the donor with a smile which exalted that infatuated
youth straightway into the seventh heaven of delight and caused him to
make such fearful errors in his dictation that Mr. Phillips kept him in
after school to rewrite it.

But as,


  The Caesar's pageant shorn of Brutus' bust
  Did but of Rome's best son remind her more,


so the marked absence of any tribute or recognition from Diana Barry who
was sitting with Gertie Pye embittered Anne's little triumph.

"Diana might just have smiled at me once, I think," she mourned to
Marilla that night. But the next morning a note most fearfully and
wonderfully twisted and folded, and a small parcel were passed across to
Anne.

Dear Anne (ran the former)


Mother says I'm not to play with you or talk to you even in school. It
isn't my fault and don't be cross at me, because I love you as much
as ever. I miss you awfully to tell all my secrets to and I don't like
Gertie Pye one bit. I made you one of the new bookmarkers out of red
tissue paper. They are awfully fashionable now and only three girls in
school know how to make them. When you look at it remember

Your true friend

Diana Barry.


Anne read the note, kissed the bookmark, and dispatched a prompt reply
back to the other side of the school.


My own darling Diana:--

Of course I am not cross at you because you have to obey your mother.
Our spirits can commune. I shall keep your lovely present forever.
Minnie Andrews is a very nice little girl--although she has no
imagination--but after having been Diana's busum friend I cannot be
Minnie's. Please excuse mistakes because my spelling isn't very good
yet, although much improoved.

Yours until death us do part

Anne or Cordelia Shirley.


P.S. I shall sleep with your letter under my pillow tonight. A. OR C.S.


Marilla pessimistically expected more trouble since Anne had again begun
to go to school. But none developed. Perhaps Anne caught something of
the "model" spirit from Minnie Andrews; at least she got on very well
with Mr. Phillips thenceforth. She flung herself into her studies heart
and soul, determined not to be outdone in any class by Gilbert Blythe.
The rivalry between them was soon apparent; it was entirely good natured
on Gilbert's side; but it is much to be feared that the same thing
cannot be said of Anne, who had certainly an unpraiseworthy tenacity for
holding grudges. She was as intense in her hatreds as in her loves. She
would not stoop to admit that she meant to rival Gilbert in schoolwork,
because that would have been to acknowledge his existence which Anne
persistently ignored; but the rivalry was there and honors fluctuated
between them. Now Gilbert was head of the spelling class; now Anne, with
a toss of her long red braids, spelled him down. One morning Gilbert had
all his sums done correctly and had his name written on the blackboard
on the roll of honor; the next morning Anne, having wrestled wildly with
decimals the entire evening before, would be first. One awful day they
were ties and their names were written up together. It was almost as bad
as a take-notice and Anne's mortification was as evident as Gilbert's
satisfaction. When the written examinations at the end of each month
were held the suspense was terrible. The first month Gilbert came out
three marks ahead. The second Anne beat him by five. But her triumph was
marred by the fact that Gilbert congratulated her heartily before the
whole school. It would have been ever so much sweeter to her if he had
felt the sting of his defeat.

Mr. Phillips might not be a very good teacher; but a pupil so inflexibly
determined on learning as Anne was could hardly escape making progress
under any kind of teacher. By the end of the term Anne and Gilbert were
both promoted into the fifth class and allowed to begin studying the
elements of "the branches"--by which Latin, geometry, French, and
algebra were meant. In geometry Anne met her Waterloo.

"It's perfectly awful stuff, Marilla," she groaned. "I'm sure I'll never
be able to make head or tail of it. There is no scope for imagination in
it at all. Mr. Phillips says I'm the worst dunce he ever saw at it.
And Gil--I mean some of the others are so smart at it. It is extremely
mortifying, Marilla.

"Even Diana gets along better than I do. But I don't mind being beaten
by Diana. Even although we meet as strangers now I still love her with
an INEXTINGUISHABLE love. It makes me very sad at times to think about
her. But really, Marilla, one can't stay sad very long in such an
interesting world, can one?"



CHAPTER XVIII. Anne to the Rescue

ALL things great are wound up with all things little. At first glance
it might not seem that the decision of a certain Canadian Premier to
include Prince Edward Island in a political tour could have much or
anything to do with the fortunes of little Anne Shirley at Green Gables.
But it had.

It was a January the Premier came, to address his loyal supporters and
such of his nonsupporters as chose to be present at the monster mass
meeting held in Charlottetown. Most of the Avonlea people were on
Premier's side of politics; hence on the night of the meeting nearly
all the men and a goodly proportion of the women had gone to town thirty
miles away. Mrs. Rachel Lynde had gone too. Mrs. Rachel Lynde was a
red-hot politician and couldn't have believed that the political rally
could be carried through without her, although she was on the opposite
side of politics. So she went to town and took her husband--Thomas would
be useful in looking after the horse--and Marilla Cuthbert with her.
Marilla had a sneaking interest in politics herself, and as she thought
it might be her only chance to see a real live Premier, she promptly
took it, leaving Anne and Matthew to keep house until her return the
following day.

Hence, while Marilla and Mrs. Rachel were enjoying themselves hugely
at the mass meeting, Anne and Matthew had the cheerful kitchen at Green
Gables all to themselves. A bright fire was glowing in the old-fashioned
Waterloo stove and blue-white frost crystals were shining on the
windowpanes. Matthew nodded over a FARMERS' ADVOCATE on the sofa and
Anne at the table studied her lessons with grim determination, despite
sundry wistful glances at the clock shelf, where lay a new book that
Jane Andrews had lent her that day. Jane had assured her that it was
warranted to produce any number of thrills, or words to that effect, and
Anne's fingers tingled to reach out for it. But that would mean Gilbert
Blythe's triumph on the morrow. Anne turned her back on the clock shelf
and tried to imagine it wasn't there.

"Matthew, did you ever study geometry when you went to school?"

"Well now, no, I didn't," said Matthew, coming out of his doze with a
start.

"I wish you had," sighed Anne, "because then you'd be able to sympathize
with me. You can't sympathize properly if you've never studied it. It is
casting a cloud over my whole life. I'm such a dunce at it, Matthew."

"Well now, I dunno," said Matthew soothingly. "I guess you're all right
at anything. Mr. Phillips told me last week in Blair's store at Carmody
that you was the smartest scholar in school and was making rapid
progress. 'Rapid progress' was his very words. There's them as runs down
Teddy Phillips and says he ain't much of a teacher, but I guess he's all
right."

Matthew would have thought anyone who praised Anne was "all right."

"I'm sure I'd get on better with geometry if only he wouldn't change
the letters," complained Anne. "I learn the proposition off by heart and
then he draws it on the blackboard and puts different letters from what
are in the book and I get all mixed up. I don't think a teacher should
take such a mean advantage, do you? We're studying agriculture now and
I've found out at last what makes the roads red. It's a great comfort.
I wonder how Marilla and Mrs. Lynde are enjoying themselves. Mrs. Lynde
says Canada is going to the dogs the way things are being run at Ottawa
and that it's an awful warning to the electors. She says if women were
allowed to vote we would soon see a blessed change. What way do you
vote, Matthew?"

"Conservative," said Matthew promptly. To vote Conservative was part of
Matthew's religion.

"Then I'm Conservative too," said Anne decidedly. "I'm glad because
Gil--because some of the boys in school are Grits. I guess Mr. Phillips
is a Grit too because Prissy Andrews's father is one, and Ruby Gillis
says that when a man is courting he always has to agree with the girl's
mother in religion and her father in politics. Is that true, Matthew?"

"Well now, I dunno," said Matthew.

"Did you ever go courting, Matthew?"

"Well now, no, I dunno's I ever did," said Matthew, who had certainly
never thought of such a thing in his whole existence.

Anne reflected with her chin in her hands.

"It must be rather interesting, don't you think, Matthew? Ruby Gillis
says when she grows up she's going to have ever so many beaus on the
string and have them all crazy about her; but I think that would be too
exciting. I'd rather have just one in his right mind. But Ruby Gillis
knows a great deal about such matters because she has so many big
sisters, and Mrs. Lynde says the Gillis girls have gone off like hot
cakes. Mr. Phillips goes up to see Prissy Andrews nearly every evening.
He says it is to help her with her lessons but Miranda Sloane is
studying for Queen's too, and I should think she needed help a lot more
than Prissy because she's ever so much stupider, but he never goes to
help her in the evenings at all. There are a great many things in this
world that I can't understand very well, Matthew."

"Well now, I dunno as I comprehend them all myself," acknowledged
Matthew.

"Well, I suppose I must finish up my lessons. I won't allow myself to
open that new book Jane lent me until I'm through. But it's a terrible
temptation, Matthew. Even when I turn my back on it I can see it there
just as plain. Jane said she cried herself sick over it. I love a book
that makes me cry. But I think I'll carry that book into the sitting
room and lock it in the jam closet and give you the key. And you must
NOT give it to me, Matthew, until my lessons are done, not even if
I implore you on my bended knees. It's all very well to say resist
temptation, but it's ever so much easier to resist it if you can't get
the key. And then shall I run down the cellar and get some russets,
Matthew? Wouldn't you like some russets?"

"Well now, I dunno but what I would," said Matthew, who never ate
russets but knew Anne's weakness for them.

Just as Anne emerged triumphantly from the cellar with her plateful of
russets came the sound of flying footsteps on the icy board walk outside
and the next moment the kitchen door was flung open and in rushed Diana
Barry, white faced and breathless, with a shawl wrapped hastily around
her head. Anne promptly let go of her candle and plate in her surprise,
and plate, candle, and apples crashed together down the cellar ladder
and were found at the bottom embedded in melted grease, the next day,
by Marilla, who gathered them up and thanked mercy the house hadn't been
set on fire.

"Whatever is the matter, Diana?" cried Anne. "Has your mother relented
at last?"

"Oh, Anne, do come quick," implored Diana nervously. "Minnie May is
awful sick--she's got croup. Young Mary Joe says--and Father and Mother
are away to town and there's nobody to go for the doctor. Minnie May is
awful bad and Young Mary Joe doesn't know what to do--and oh, Anne, I'm
so scared!"

Matthew, without a word, reached out for cap and coat, slipped past
Diana and away into the darkness of the yard.

"He's gone to harness the sorrel mare to go to Carmody for the doctor,"
said Anne, who was hurrying on hood and jacket. "I know it as well as
if he'd said so. Matthew and I are such kindred spirits I can read his
thoughts without words at all."

"I don't believe he'll find the doctor at Carmody," sobbed Diana. "I
know that Dr. Blair went to town and I guess Dr. Spencer would go too.
Young Mary Joe never saw anybody with croup and Mrs. Lynde is away. Oh,
Anne!"

"Don't cry, Di," said Anne cheerily. "I know exactly what to do for
croup. You forget that Mrs. Hammond had twins three times. When you look
after three pairs of twins you naturally get a lot of experience. They
all had croup regularly. Just wait till I get the ipecac bottle--you
mayn't have any at your house. Come on now."

The two little girls hastened out hand in hand and hurried through
Lover's Lane and across the crusted field beyond, for the snow was too
deep to go by the shorter wood way. Anne, although sincerely sorry
for Minnie May, was far from being insensible to the romance of the
situation and to the sweetness of once more sharing that romance with a
kindred spirit.

The night was clear and frosty, all ebony of shadow and silver of snowy
slope; big stars were shining over the silent fields; here and there the
dark pointed firs stood up with snow powdering their branches and the
wind whistling through them. Anne thought it was truly delightful to go
skimming through all this mystery and loveliness with your bosom friend
who had been so long estranged.

Minnie May, aged three, was really very sick. She lay on the kitchen
sofa feverish and restless, while her hoarse breathing could be heard
all over the house. Young Mary Joe, a buxom, broad-faced French girl
from the creek, whom Mrs. Barry had engaged to stay with the children
during her absence, was helpless and bewildered, quite incapable of
thinking what to do, or doing it if she thought of it.

Anne went to work with skill and promptness.

"Minnie May has croup all right; she's pretty bad, but I've seen them
worse. First we must have lots of hot water. I declare, Diana, there
isn't more than a cupful in the kettle! There, I've filled it up, and,
Mary Joe, you may put some wood in the stove. I don't want to hurt your
feelings but it seems to me you might have thought of this before if
you'd any imagination. Now, I'll undress Minnie May and put her to bed
and you try to find some soft flannel cloths, Diana. I'm going to give
her a dose of ipecac first of all."

Minnie May did not take kindly to the ipecac but Anne had not brought up
three pairs of twins for nothing. Down that ipecac went, not only once,
but many times during the long, anxious night when the two little girls
worked patiently over the suffering Minnie May, and Young Mary Joe,
honestly anxious to do all she could, kept up a roaring fire and heated
more water than would have been needed for a hospital of croupy babies.

It was three o'clock when Matthew came with a doctor, for he had been
obliged to go all the way to Spencervale for one. But the pressing need
for assistance was past. Minnie May was much better and was sleeping
soundly.

"I was awfully near giving up in despair," explained Anne. "She got
worse and worse until she was sicker than ever the Hammond twins were,
even the last pair. I actually thought she was going to choke to death.
I gave her every drop of ipecac in that bottle and when the last dose
went down I said to myself--not to Diana or Young Mary Joe, because I
didn't want to worry them any more than they were worried, but I had
to say it to myself just to relieve my feelings--'This is the last
lingering hope and I fear, tis a vain one.' But in about three minutes
she coughed up the phlegm and began to get better right away. You must
just imagine my relief, doctor, because I can't express it in words. You
know there are some things that cannot be expressed in words."

"Yes, I know," nodded the doctor. He looked at Anne as if he were
thinking some things about her that couldn't be expressed in words.
Later on, however, he expressed them to Mr. and Mrs. Barry.

"That little redheaded girl they have over at Cuthbert's is as smart as
they make 'em. I tell you she saved that baby's life, for it would have
been too late by the time I got there. She seems to have a skill and
presence of mind perfectly wonderful in a child of her age. I never saw
anything like the eyes of her when she was explaining the case to me."

Anne had gone home in the wonderful, white-frosted winter morning, heavy
eyed from loss of sleep, but still talking unweariedly to Matthew as
they crossed the long white field and walked under the glittering fairy
arch of the Lover's Lane maples.

"Oh, Matthew, isn't it a wonderful morning? The world looks like
something God had just imagined for His own pleasure, doesn't it? Those
trees look as if I could blow them away with a breath--pouf! I'm so glad
I live in a world where there are white frosts, aren't you? And I'm so
glad Mrs. Hammond had three pairs of twins after all. If she hadn't I
mightn't have known what to do for Minnie May. I'm real sorry I was
ever cross with Mrs. Hammond for having twins. But, oh, Matthew, I'm so
sleepy. I can't go to school. I just know I couldn't keep my eyes open
and I'd be so stupid. But I hate to stay home, for Gil--some of
the others will get head of the class, and it's so hard to get up
again--although of course the harder it is the more satisfaction you
have when you do get up, haven't you?"

"Well now, I guess you'll manage all right," said Matthew, looking at
Anne's white little face and the dark shadows under her eyes. "You just
go right to bed and have a good sleep. I'll do all the chores."

Anne accordingly went to bed and slept so long and soundly that it
was well on in the white and rosy winter afternoon when she awoke and
descended to the kitchen where Marilla, who had arrived home in the
meantime, was sitting knitting.

"Oh, did you see the Premier?" exclaimed Anne at once. "What did he look
like Marilla?"

"Well, he never got to be Premier on account of his looks," said
Marilla. "Such a nose as that man had! But he can speak. I was proud of
being a Conservative. Rachel Lynde, of course, being a Liberal, had no
use for him. Your dinner is in the oven, Anne, and you can get yourself
some blue plum preserve out of the pantry. I guess you're hungry.
Matthew has been telling me about last night. I must say it was
fortunate you knew what to do. I wouldn't have had any idea myself, for
I never saw a case of croup. There now, never mind talking till you've
had your dinner. I can tell by the look of you that you're just full up
with speeches, but they'll keep."

Marilla had something to tell Anne, but she did not tell it just then
for she knew if she did Anne's consequent excitement would lift her
clear out of the region of such material matters as appetite or dinner.
Not until Anne had finished her saucer of blue plums did Marilla say:

"Mrs. Barry was here this afternoon, Anne. She wanted to see you, but I
wouldn't wake you up. She says you saved Minnie May's life, and she is
very sorry she acted as she did in that affair of the currant wine. She
says she knows now you didn't mean to set Diana drunk, and she hopes
you'll forgive her and be good friends with Diana again. You're to go
over this evening if you like for Diana can't stir outside the door
on account of a bad cold she caught last night. Now, Anne Shirley, for
pity's sake don't fly up into the air."

The warning seemed not unnecessary, so uplifted and aerial was Anne's
expression and attitude as she sprang to her feet, her face irradiated
with the flame of her spirit.

"Oh, Marilla, can I go right now--without washing my dishes? I'll wash
them when I come back, but I cannot tie myself down to anything so
unromantic as dishwashing at this thrilling moment."

"Yes, yes, run along," said Marilla indulgently. "Anne Shirley--are you
crazy? Come back this instant and put something on you. I might as well
call to the wind. She's gone without a cap or wrap. Look at her tearing
through the orchard with her hair streaming. It'll be a mercy if she
doesn't catch her death of cold."

Anne came dancing home in the purple winter twilight across the snowy
places. Afar in the southwest was the great shimmering, pearl-like
sparkle of an evening star in a sky that was pale golden and ethereal
rose over gleaming white spaces and dark glens of spruce. The tinkles
of sleigh bells among the snowy hills came like elfin chimes through
the frosty air, but their music was not sweeter than the song in Anne's
heart and on her lips.

"You see before you a perfectly happy person, Marilla," she announced.
"I'm perfectly happy--yes, in spite of my red hair. Just at present I
have a soul above red hair. Mrs. Barry kissed me and cried and said she
was so sorry and she could never repay me. I felt fearfully embarrassed,
Marilla, but I just said as politely as I could, 'I have no hard
feelings for you, Mrs. Barry. I assure you once for all that I did not
mean to intoxicate Diana and henceforth I shall cover the past with the
mantle of oblivion.' That was a pretty dignified way of speaking wasn't
it, Marilla?"

"I felt that I was heaping coals of fire on Mrs. Barry's head. And Diana
and I had a lovely afternoon. Diana showed me a new fancy crochet stitch
her aunt over at Carmody taught her. Not a soul in Avonlea knows it but
us, and we pledged a solemn vow never to reveal it to anyone else. Diana
gave me a beautiful card with a wreath of roses on it and a verse of
poetry:


      "If you love me as I love you
      Nothing but death can part us two.


"And that is true, Marilla. We're going to ask Mr. Phillips to let us sit
together in school again, and Gertie Pye can go with Minnie Andrews. We
had an elegant tea. Mrs. Barry had the very best china set out, Marilla,
just as if I was real company. I can't tell you what a thrill it gave
me. Nobody ever used their very best china on my account before. And we
had fruit cake and pound cake and doughnuts and two kinds of preserves,
Marilla. And Mrs. Barry asked me if I took tea and said 'Pa, why don't
you pass the biscuits to Anne?' It must be lovely to be grown up,
Marilla, when just being treated as if you were is so nice."

"I don't know about that," said Marilla, with a brief sigh.

"Well, anyway, when I am grown up," said Anne decidedly, "I'm always
going to talk to little girls as if they were too, and I'll never laugh
when they use big words. I know from sorrowful experience how that hurts
one's feelings. After tea Diana and I made taffy. The taffy wasn't very
good, I suppose because neither Diana nor I had ever made any before.
Diana left me to stir it while she buttered the plates and I forgot and
let it burn; and then when we set it out on the platform to cool the cat
walked over one plate and that had to be thrown away. But the making of
it was splendid fun. Then when I came home Mrs. Barry asked me to come
over as often as I could and Diana stood at the window and threw kisses
to me all the way down to Lover's Lane. I assure you, Marilla, that I
feel like praying tonight and I'm going to think out a special brand-new
prayer in honor of the occasion."



CHAPTER XIX. A Concert a Catastrophe and a Confession

"MARILLA, can I go over to see Diana just for a minute?" asked Anne,
running breathlessly down from the east gable one February evening.

"I don't see what you want to be traipsing about after dark for," said
Marilla shortly. "You and Diana walked home from school together and
then stood down there in the snow for half an hour more, your tongues
going the whole blessed time, clickety-clack. So I don't think you're
very badly off to see her again."

"But she wants to see me," pleaded Anne. "She has something very
important to tell me."

"How do you know she has?"

"Because she just signaled to me from her window. We have arranged a
way to signal with our candles and cardboard. We set the candle on the
window sill and make flashes by passing the cardboard back and forth. So
many flashes mean a certain thing. It was my idea, Marilla."

"I'll warrant you it was," said Marilla emphatically. "And the next
thing you'll be setting fire to the curtains with your signaling
nonsense."

"Oh, we're very careful, Marilla. And it's so interesting. Two flashes
mean, 'Are you there?' Three mean 'yes' and four 'no.' Five mean, 'Come
over as soon as possible, because I have something important to reveal.'
Diana has just signaled five flashes, and I'm really suffering to know
what it is."

"Well, you needn't suffer any longer," said Marilla sarcastically. "You
can go, but you're to be back here in just ten minutes, remember that."

Anne did remember it and was back in the stipulated time, although
probably no mortal will ever know just what it cost her to confine the
discussion of Diana's important communication within the limits of ten
minutes. But at least she had made good use of them.

"Oh, Marilla, what do you think? You know tomorrow is Diana's birthday.
Well, her mother told her she could ask me to go home with her from
school and stay all night with her. And her cousins are coming over from
Newbridge in a big pung sleigh to go to the Debating Club concert at
the hall tomorrow night. And they are going to take Diana and me to the
concert--if you'll let me go, that is. You will, won't you, Marilla? Oh,
I feel so excited."

"You can calm down then, because you're not going. You're better at home
in your own bed, and as for that club concert, it's all nonsense, and
little girls should not be allowed to go out to such places at all."

"I'm sure the Debating Club is a most respectable affair," pleaded Anne.

"I'm not saying it isn't. But you're not going to begin gadding about
to concerts and staying out all hours of the night. Pretty doings for
children. I'm surprised at Mrs. Barry's letting Diana go."

"But it's such a very special occasion," mourned Anne, on the verge of
tears. "Diana has only one birthday in a year. It isn't as if birthdays
were common things, Marilla. Prissy Andrews is going to recite 'Curfew
Must Not Ring Tonight.' That is such a good moral piece, Marilla, I'm
sure it would do me lots of good to hear it. And the choir are going to
sing four lovely pathetic songs that are pretty near as good as hymns.
And oh, Marilla, the minister is going to take part; yes, indeed, he is;
he's going to give an address. That will be just about the same thing as
a sermon. Please, mayn't I go, Marilla?"

"You heard what I said, Anne, didn't you? Take off your boots now and go
to bed. It's past eight."

"There's just one more thing, Marilla," said Anne, with the air of
producing the last shot in her locker. "Mrs. Barry told Diana that we
might sleep in the spare-room bed. Think of the honor of your little
Anne being put in the spare-room bed."

"It's an honor you'll have to get along without. Go to bed, Anne, and
don't let me hear another word out of you."

When Anne, with tears rolling over her cheeks, had gone sorrowfully
upstairs, Matthew, who had been apparently sound asleep on the lounge
during the whole dialogue, opened his eyes and said decidedly:

"Well now, Marilla, I think you ought to let Anne go."

"I don't then," retorted Marilla. "Who's bringing this child up,
Matthew, you or me?"

"Well now, you," admitted Matthew.

"Don't interfere then."

"Well now, I ain't interfering. It ain't interfering to have your own
opinion. And my opinion is that you ought to let Anne go."

"You'd think I ought to let Anne go to the moon if she took the notion,
I've no doubt" was Marilla's amiable rejoinder. "I might have let her
spend the night with Diana, if that was all. But I don't approve of this
concert plan. She'd go there and catch cold like as not, and have her
head filled up with nonsense and excitement. It would unsettle her for
a week. I understand that child's disposition and what's good for it
better than you, Matthew."

"I think you ought to let Anne go," repeated Matthew firmly. Argument
was not his strong point, but holding fast to his opinion certainly was.
Marilla gave a gasp of helplessness and took refuge in silence. The
next morning, when Anne was washing the breakfast dishes in the pantry,
Matthew paused on his way out to the barn to say to Marilla again:

"I think you ought to let Anne go, Marilla."

For a moment Marilla looked things not lawful to be uttered. Then she
yielded to the inevitable and said tartly:

"Very well, she can go, since nothing else'll please you."

Anne flew out of the pantry, dripping dishcloth in hand.

"Oh, Marilla, Marilla, say those blessed words again."

"I guess once is enough to say them. This is Matthew's doings and I
wash my hands of it. If you catch pneumonia sleeping in a strange bed or
coming out of that hot hall in the middle of the night, don't blame me,
blame Matthew. Anne Shirley, you're dripping greasy water all over the
floor. I never saw such a careless child."

"Oh, I know I'm a great trial to you, Marilla," said Anne repentantly.
"I make so many mistakes. But then just think of all the mistakes I
don't make, although I might. I'll get some sand and scrub up the spots
before I go to school. Oh, Marilla, my heart was just set on going to
that concert. I never was to a concert in my life, and when the other
girls talk about them in school I feel so out of it. You didn't know
just how I felt about it, but you see Matthew did. Matthew understands
me, and it's so nice to be understood, Marilla."

Anne was too excited to do herself justice as to lessons that morning in
school. Gilbert Blythe spelled her down in class and left her clear out
of sight in mental arithmetic. Anne's consequent humiliation was
less than it might have been, however, in view of the concert and the
spare-room bed. She and Diana talked so constantly about it all day that
with a stricter teacher than Mr. Phillips dire disgrace must inevitably
have been their portion.

Anne felt that she could not have borne it if she had not been going
to the concert, for nothing else was discussed that day in school. The
Avonlea Debating Club, which met fortnightly all winter, had had several
smaller free entertainments; but this was to be a big affair, admission
ten cents, in aid of the library. The Avonlea young people had been
practicing for weeks, and all the scholars were especially interested in
it by reason of older brothers and sisters who were going to take part.
Everybody in school over nine years of age expected to go, except Carrie
Sloane, whose father shared Marilla's opinions about small girls going
out to night concerts. Carrie Sloane cried into her grammar all the
afternoon and felt that life was not worth living.

For Anne the real excitement began with the dismissal of school and
increased therefrom in crescendo until it reached to a crash of positive
ecstasy in the concert itself. They had a "perfectly elegant tea;" and
then came the delicious occupation of dressing in Diana's little room
upstairs. Diana did Anne's front hair in the new pompadour style and
Anne tied Diana's bows with the especial knack she possessed; and they
experimented with at least half a dozen different ways of arranging
their back hair. At last they were ready, cheeks scarlet and eyes
glowing with excitement.

True, Anne could not help a little pang when she contrasted her plain
black tam and shapeless, tight-sleeved, homemade gray-cloth coat with
Diana's jaunty fur cap and smart little jacket. But she remembered in
time that she had an imagination and could use it.

Then Diana's cousins, the Murrays from Newbridge, came; they all crowded
into the big pung sleigh, among straw and furry robes. Anne reveled in
the drive to the hall, slipping along over the satin-smooth roads with
the snow crisping under the runners. There was a magnificent sunset, and
the snowy hills and deep-blue water of the St. Lawrence Gulf seemed to
rim in the splendor like a huge bowl of pearl and sapphire brimmed with
wine and fire. Tinkles of sleigh bells and distant laughter, that seemed
like the mirth of wood elves, came from every quarter.

"Oh, Diana," breathed Anne, squeezing Diana's mittened hand under the
fur robe, "isn't it all like a beautiful dream? Do I really look the
same as usual? I feel so different that it seems to me it must show in
my looks."

"You look awfully nice," said Diana, who having just received a
compliment from one of her cousins, felt that she ought to pass it on.
"You've got the loveliest color."

The program that night was a series of "thrills" for at least one
listener in the audience, and, as Anne assured Diana, every succeeding
thrill was thrillier than the last. When Prissy Andrews, attired in
a new pink-silk waist with a string of pearls about her smooth white
throat and real carnations in her hair--rumor whispered that the master
had sent all the way to town for them for her--"climbed the slimy
ladder, dark without one ray of light," Anne shivered in luxurious
sympathy; when the choir sang "Far Above the Gentle Daisies" Anne gazed
at the ceiling as if it were frescoed with angels; when Sam Sloane
proceeded to explain and illustrate "How Sockery Set a Hen" Anne laughed
until people sitting near her laughed too, more out of sympathy with her
than with amusement at a selection that was rather threadbare even in
Avonlea; and when Mr. Phillips gave Mark Antony's oration over the
dead body of Caesar in the most heart-stirring tones--looking at Prissy
Andrews at the end of every sentence--Anne felt that she could rise and
mutiny on the spot if but one Roman citizen led the way.

Only one number on the program failed to interest her. When Gilbert
Blythe recited "Bingen on the Rhine" Anne picked up Rhoda Murray's
library book and read it until he had finished, when she sat rigidly
stiff and motionless while Diana clapped her hands until they tingled.

It was eleven when they got home, sated with dissipation, but with the
exceeding sweet pleasure of talking it all over still to come. Everybody
seemed asleep and the house was dark and silent. Anne and Diana tiptoed
into the parlor, a long narrow room out of which the spare room opened.
It was pleasantly warm and dimly lighted by the embers of a fire in the
grate.

"Let's undress here," said Diana. "It's so nice and warm."

"Hasn't it been a delightful time?" sighed Anne rapturously. "It must
be splendid to get up and recite there. Do you suppose we will ever be
asked to do it, Diana?"

"Yes, of course, someday. They're always wanting the big scholars to
recite. Gilbert Blythe does often and he's only two years older than us.
Oh, Anne, how could you pretend not to listen to him? When he came to
the line,


           "THERE'S ANOTHER, not A SISTER,


he looked right down at you."

"Diana," said Anne with dignity, "you are my bosom friend, but I cannot
allow even you to speak to me of that person. Are you ready for bed?
Let's run a race and see who'll get to the bed first."

The suggestion appealed to Diana. The two little white-clad figures flew
down the long room, through the spare-room door, and bounded on the bed
at the same moment. And then--something--moved beneath them, there was a
gasp and a cry--and somebody said in muffled accents:

"Merciful goodness!"

Anne and Diana were never able to tell just how they got off that bed
and out of the room. They only knew that after one frantic rush they
found themselves tiptoeing shiveringly upstairs.

"Oh, who was it--WHAT was it?" whispered Anne, her teeth chattering with
cold and fright.

"It was Aunt Josephine," said Diana, gasping with laughter. "Oh, Anne,
it was Aunt Josephine, however she came to be there. Oh, and I know she
will be furious. It's dreadful--it's really dreadful--but did you ever
know anything so funny, Anne?"

"Who is your Aunt Josephine?"

"She's father's aunt and she lives in Charlottetown. She's awfully
old--seventy anyhow--and I don't believe she was EVER a little girl. We
were expecting her out for a visit, but not so soon. She's awfully prim
and proper and she'll scold dreadfully about this, I know. Well, we'll
have to sleep with Minnie May--and you can't think how she kicks."

Miss Josephine Barry did not appear at the early breakfast the next
morning. Mrs. Barry smiled kindly at the two little girls.

"Did you have a good time last night? I tried to stay awake until you
came home, for I wanted to tell you Aunt Josephine had come and that you
would have to go upstairs after all, but I was so tired I fell asleep. I
hope you didn't disturb your aunt, Diana."

Diana preserved a discreet silence, but she and Anne exchanged furtive
smiles of guilty amusement across the table. Anne hurried home after
breakfast and so remained in blissful ignorance of the disturbance which
presently resulted in the Barry household until the late afternoon, when
she went down to Mrs. Lynde's on an errand for Marilla.

"So you and Diana nearly frightened poor old Miss Barry to death last
night?" said Mrs. Lynde severely, but with a twinkle in her eye. "Mrs.
Barry was here a few minutes ago on her way to Carmody. She's feeling
real worried over it. Old Miss Barry was in a terrible temper when she
got up this morning--and Josephine Barry's temper is no joke, I can tell
you that. She wouldn't speak to Diana at all."

"It wasn't Diana's fault," said Anne contritely. "It was mine. I
suggested racing to see who would get into bed first."

"I knew it!" said Mrs. Lynde, with the exultation of a correct guesser.
"I knew that idea came out of your head. Well, it's made a nice lot of
trouble, that's what. Old Miss Barry came out to stay for a month, but
she declares she won't stay another day and is going right back to town
tomorrow, Sunday and all as it is. She'd have gone today if they could
have taken her. She had promised to pay for a quarter's music lessons
for Diana, but now she is determined to do nothing at all for such a
tomboy. Oh, I guess they had a lively time of it there this morning. The
Barrys must feel cut up. Old Miss Barry is rich and they'd like to keep
on the good side of her. Of course, Mrs. Barry didn't say just that to
me, but I'm a pretty good judge of human nature, that's what."

"I'm such an unlucky girl," mourned Anne. "I'm always getting into
scrapes myself and getting my best friends--people I'd shed my heart's
blood for--into them too. Can you tell me why it is so, Mrs. Lynde?"

"It's because you're too heedless and impulsive, child, that's what. You
never stop to think--whatever comes into your head to say or do you say
or do it without a moment's reflection."

"Oh, but that's the best of it," protested Anne. "Something just flashes
into your mind, so exciting, and you must out with it. If you stop to
think it over you spoil it all. Haven't you never felt that yourself,
Mrs. Lynde?"

No, Mrs. Lynde had not. She shook her head sagely.

"You must learn to think a little, Anne, that's what. The proverb you
need to go by is 'Look before you leap'--especially into spare-room
beds."

Mrs. Lynde laughed comfortably over her mild joke, but Anne remained
pensive. She saw nothing to laugh at in the situation, which to her
eyes appeared very serious. When she left Mrs. Lynde's she took her way
across the crusted fields to Orchard Slope. Diana met her at the kitchen
door.

"Your Aunt Josephine was very cross about it, wasn't she?" whispered
Anne.

"Yes," answered Diana, stifling a giggle with an apprehensive glance
over her shoulder at the closed sitting-room door. "She was fairly
dancing with rage, Anne. Oh, how she scolded. She said I was the
worst-behaved girl she ever saw and that my parents ought to be ashamed
of the way they had brought me up. She says she won't stay and I'm sure
I don't care. But Father and Mother do."

"Why didn't you tell them it was my fault?" demanded Anne.

"It's likely I'd do such a thing, isn't it?" said Diana with just scorn.
"I'm no telltale, Anne Shirley, and anyhow I was just as much to blame
as you."

"Well, I'm going in to tell her myself," said Anne resolutely.

Diana stared.

"Anne Shirley, you'd never! why--she'll eat you alive!"

"Don't frighten me any more than I am frightened," implored Anne. "I'd
rather walk up to a cannon's mouth. But I've got to do it, Diana. It
was my fault and I've got to confess. I've had practice in confessing,
fortunately."

"Well, she's in the room," said Diana. "You can go in if you want to. I
wouldn't dare. And I don't believe you'll do a bit of good."

With this encouragement Anne bearded the lion in its den--that is to
say, walked resolutely up to the sitting-room door and knocked faintly.
A sharp "Come in" followed.

Miss Josephine Barry, thin, prim, and rigid, was knitting fiercely by
the fire, her wrath quite unappeased and her eyes snapping through her
gold-rimmed glasses. She wheeled around in her chair, expecting to see
Diana, and beheld a white-faced girl whose great eyes were brimmed up
with a mixture of desperate courage and shrinking terror.

"Who are you?" demanded Miss Josephine Barry, without ceremony.

"I'm Anne of Green Gables," said the small visitor tremulously, clasping
her hands with her characteristic gesture, "and I've come to confess, if
you please."

"Confess what?"

"That it was all my fault about jumping into bed on you last night. I
suggested it. Diana would never have thought of such a thing, I am sure.
Diana is a very ladylike girl, Miss Barry. So you must see how unjust it
is to blame her."

"Oh, I must, hey? I rather think Diana did her share of the jumping at
least. Such carryings on in a respectable house!"

"But we were only in fun," persisted Anne. "I think you ought to forgive
us, Miss Barry, now that we've apologized. And anyhow, please forgive
Diana and let her have her music lessons. Diana's heart is set on her
music lessons, Miss Barry, and I know too well what it is to set your
heart on a thing and not get it. If you must be cross with anyone, be
cross with me. I've been so used in my early days to having people cross
at me that I can endure it much better than Diana can."

Much of the snap had gone out of the old lady's eyes by this time
and was replaced by a twinkle of amused interest. But she still said
severely:

"I don't think it is any excuse for you that you were only in fun.
Little girls never indulged in that kind of fun when I was young. You
don't know what it is to be awakened out of a sound sleep, after a long
and arduous journey, by two great girls coming bounce down on you."

"I don't KNOW, but I can IMAGINE," said Anne eagerly. "I'm sure it must
have been very disturbing. But then, there is our side of it too. Have
you any imagination, Miss Barry? If you have, just put yourself in
our place. We didn't know there was anybody in that bed and you nearly
scared us to death. It was simply awful the way we felt. And then we
couldn't sleep in the spare room after being promised. I suppose you are
used to sleeping in spare rooms. But just imagine what you would feel
like if you were a little orphan girl who had never had such an honor."

All the snap had gone by this time. Miss Barry actually laughed--a
sound which caused Diana, waiting in speechless anxiety in the kitchen
outside, to give a great gasp of relief.

"I'm afraid my imagination is a little rusty--it's so long since I used
it," she said. "I dare say your claim to sympathy is just as strong as
mine. It all depends on the way we look at it. Sit down here and tell me
about yourself."

"I am very sorry I can't," said Anne firmly. "I would like to, because
you seem like an interesting lady, and you might even be a kindred
spirit although you don't look very much like it. But it is my duty to
go home to Miss Marilla Cuthbert. Miss Marilla Cuthbert is a very kind
lady who has taken me to bring up properly. She is doing her best, but
it is very discouraging work. You must not blame her because I jumped on
the bed. But before I go I do wish you would tell me if you will forgive
Diana and stay just as long as you meant to in Avonlea."

"I think perhaps I will if you will come over and talk to me
occasionally," said Miss Barry.

That evening Miss Barry gave Diana a silver bangle bracelet and told the
senior members of the household that she had unpacked her valise.

"I've made up my mind to stay simply for the sake of getting better
acquainted with that Anne-girl," she said frankly. "She amuses me, and
at my time of life an amusing person is a rarity."

Marilla's only comment when she heard the story was, "I told you so."
This was for Matthew's benefit.

Miss Barry stayed her month out and over. She was a more agreeable guest
than usual, for Anne kept her in good humor. They became firm friends.

When Miss Barry went away she said:

"Remember, you Anne-girl, when you come to town you're to visit me and
I'll put you in my very sparest spare-room bed to sleep."

"Miss Barry was a kindred spirit, after all," Anne confided to Marilla.
"You wouldn't think so to look at her, but she is. You don't find it
right out at first, as in Matthew's case, but after a while you come
to see it. Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It's
splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world."




CHAPTER XX. A Good Imagination Gone Wrong


Spring had come once more to Green Gables--the beautiful capricious,
reluctant Canadian spring, lingering along through April and May in a
succession of sweet, fresh, chilly days, with pink sunsets and miracles
of resurrection and growth. The maples in Lover's Lane were red budded
and little curly ferns pushed up around the Dryad's Bubble. Away up in
the barrens, behind Mr. Silas Sloane's place, the Mayflowers blossomed
out, pink and white stars of sweetness under their brown leaves. All the
school girls and boys had one golden afternoon gathering them, coming
home in the clear, echoing twilight with arms and baskets full of
flowery spoil.

"I'm so sorry for people who live in lands where there are no
Mayflowers," said Anne. "Diana says perhaps they have something better,
but there couldn't be anything better than Mayflowers, could there,
Marilla? And Diana says if they don't know what they are like they don't
miss them. But I think that is the saddest thing of all. I think it
would be TRAGIC, Marilla, not to know what Mayflowers are like and NOT
to miss them. Do you know what I think Mayflowers are, Marilla? I think
they must be the souls of the flowers that died last summer and this
is their heaven. But we had a splendid time today, Marilla. We had our
lunch down in a big mossy hollow by an old well--such a ROMANTIC spot.
Charlie Sloane dared Arty Gillis to jump over it, and Arty did because
he wouldn't take a dare. Nobody would in school. It is very FASHIONABLE
to dare. Mr. Phillips gave all the Mayflowers he found to Prissy Andrews
and I heard him to say 'sweets to the sweet.' He got that out of a
book, I know; but it shows he has some imagination. I was offered some
Mayflowers too, but I rejected them with scorn. I can't tell you the
person's name because I have vowed never to let it cross my lips. We
made wreaths of the Mayflowers and put them on our hats; and when the
time came to go home we marched in procession down the road, two by two,
with our bouquets and wreaths, singing 'My Home on the Hill.' Oh, it was
so thrilling, Marilla. All Mr. Silas Sloane's folks rushed out to see us
and everybody we met on the road stopped and stared after us. We made a
real sensation."

"Not much wonder! Such silly doings!" was Marilla's response.

After the Mayflowers came the violets, and Violet Vale was empurpled
with them. Anne walked through it on her way to school with reverent
steps and worshiping eyes, as if she trod on holy ground.

"Somehow," she told Diana, "when I'm going through here I don't really
care whether Gil--whether anybody gets ahead of me in class or not. But
when I'm up in school it's all different and I care as much as ever.
There's such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is
why I'm such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would
be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn't be half so
interesting."

One June evening, when the orchards were pink blossomed again, when the
frogs were singing silverly sweet in the marshes about the head of the
Lake of Shining Waters, and the air was full of the savor of clover
fields and balsamic fir woods, Anne was sitting by her gable window.
She had been studying her lessons, but it had grown too dark to see the
book, so she had fallen into wide-eyed reverie, looking out past the
boughs of the Snow Queen, once more bestarred with its tufts of blossom.

In all essential respects the little gable chamber was unchanged. The
walls were as white, the pincushion as hard, the chairs as stiffly
and yellowly upright as ever. Yet the whole character of the room was
altered. It was full of a new vital, pulsing personality that seemed to
pervade it and to be quite independent of schoolgirl books and dresses
and ribbons, and even of the cracked blue jug full of apple blossoms
on the table. It was as if all the dreams, sleeping and waking, of its
vivid occupant had taken a visible although unmaterial form and had
tapestried the bare room with splendid filmy tissues of rainbow and
moonshine. Presently Marilla came briskly in with some of Anne's freshly
ironed school aprons. She hung them over a chair and sat down with
a short sigh. She had had one of her headaches that afternoon, and
although the pain had gone she felt weak and "tuckered out," as she
expressed it. Anne looked at her with eyes limpid with sympathy.

"I do truly wish I could have had the headache in your place, Marilla. I
would have endured it joyfully for your sake."

"I guess you did your part in attending to the work and letting me
rest," said Marilla. "You seem to have got on fairly well and made fewer
mistakes than usual. Of course it wasn't exactly necessary to starch
Matthew's handkerchiefs! And most people when they put a pie in the oven
to warm up for dinner take it out and eat it when it gets hot instead of
leaving it to be burned to a crisp. But that doesn't seem to be your way
evidently."

Headaches always left Marilla somewhat sarcastic.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," said Anne penitently. "I never thought about that
pie from the moment I put it in the oven till now, although I felt
INSTINCTIVELY that there was something missing on the dinner table. I
was firmly resolved, when you left me in charge this morning, not to
imagine anything, but keep my thoughts on facts. I did pretty well until
I put the pie in, and then an irresistible temptation came to me to
imagine I was an enchanted princess shut up in a lonely tower with a
handsome knight riding to my rescue on a coal-black steed. So that
is how I came to forget the pie. I didn't know I starched the
handkerchiefs. All the time I was ironing I was trying to think of a
name for a new island Diana and I have discovered up the brook. It's the
most ravishing spot, Marilla. There are two maple trees on it and the
brook flows right around it. At last it struck me that it would be
splendid to call it Victoria Island because we found it on the Queen's
birthday. Both Diana and I are very loyal. But I'm sorry about that pie
and the handkerchiefs. I wanted to be extra good today because it's an
anniversary. Do you remember what happened this day last year, Marilla?"

"No, I can't think of anything special."

"Oh, Marilla, it was the day I came to Green Gables. I shall never
forget it. It was the turning point in my life. Of course it wouldn't
seem so important to you. I've been here for a year and I've been so
happy. Of course, I've had my troubles, but one can live down troubles.
Are you sorry you kept me, Marilla?"

"No, I can't say I'm sorry," said Marilla, who sometimes wondered how
she could have lived before Anne came to Green Gables, "no, not exactly
sorry. If you've finished your lessons, Anne, I want you to run over and
ask Mrs. Barry if she'll lend me Diana's apron pattern."

"Oh--it's--it's too dark," cried Anne.

"Too dark? Why, it's only twilight. And goodness knows you've gone over
often enough after dark."

"I'll go over early in the morning," said Anne eagerly. "I'll get up at
sunrise and go over, Marilla."

"What has got into your head now, Anne Shirley? I want that pattern to
cut out your new apron this evening. Go at once and be smart too."

"I'll have to go around by the road, then," said Anne, taking up her hat
reluctantly.

"Go by the road and waste half an hour! I'd like to catch you!"

"I can't go through the Haunted Wood, Marilla," cried Anne desperately.

Marilla stared.

"The Haunted Wood! Are you crazy? What under the canopy is the Haunted
Wood?"

"The spruce wood over the brook," said Anne in a whisper.

"Fiddlesticks! There is no such thing as a haunted wood anywhere. Who
has been telling you such stuff?"

"Nobody," confessed Anne. "Diana and I just imagined the wood was
haunted. All the places around here are so--so--COMMONPLACE. We just got
this up for our own amusement. We began it in April. A haunted wood is
so very romantic, Marilla. We chose the spruce grove because it's so
gloomy. Oh, we have imagined the most harrowing things. There's a white
lady walks along the brook just about this time of the night and wrings
her hands and utters wailing cries. She appears when there is to be a
death in the family. And the ghost of a little murdered child haunts the
corner up by Idlewild; it creeps up behind you and lays its cold fingers
on your hand--so. Oh, Marilla, it gives me a shudder to think of it. And
there's a headless man stalks up and down the path and skeletons glower
at you between the boughs. Oh, Marilla, I wouldn't go through the
Haunted Wood after dark now for anything. I'd be sure that white things
would reach out from behind the trees and grab me."

"Did ever anyone hear the like!" ejaculated Marilla, who had
listened in dumb amazement. "Anne Shirley, do you mean to tell me you
believe all that wicked nonsense of your own imagination?"

"Not believe EXACTLY," faltered Anne. "At least, I don't believe it in
daylight. But after dark, Marilla, it's different. That is when ghosts
walk."

"There are no such things as ghosts, Anne."

"Oh, but there are, Marilla," cried Anne eagerly. "I know people who
have seen them. And they are respectable people. Charlie Sloane says
that his grandmother saw his grandfather driving home the cows one night
after he'd been buried for a year. You know Charlie Sloane's grandmother
wouldn't tell a story for anything. She's a very religious woman. And
Mrs. Thomas's father was pursued home one night by a lamb of fire with
its head cut off hanging by a strip of skin. He said he knew it was the
spirit of his brother and that it was a warning he would die within nine
days. He didn't, but he died two years after, so you see it was really
true. And Ruby Gillis says--"

"Anne Shirley," interrupted Marilla firmly, "I never want to hear you
talking in this fashion again. I've had my doubts about that imagination
of yours right along, and if this is going to be the outcome of it, I
won't countenance any such doings. You'll go right over to Barry's, and
you'll go through that spruce grove, just for a lesson and a warning to
you. And never let me hear a word out of your head about haunted woods
again."

Anne might plead and cry as she liked--and did, for her terror was very
real. Her imagination had run away with her and she held the spruce
grove in mortal dread after nightfall. But Marilla was inexorable. She
marched the shrinking ghost-seer down to the spring and ordered her
to proceed straightaway over the bridge and into the dusky retreats of
wailing ladies and headless specters beyond.

"Oh, Marilla, how can you be so cruel?" sobbed Anne. "What would you
feel like if a white thing did snatch me up and carry me off?"

"I'll risk it," said Marilla unfeelingly. "You know I always mean what I
say. I'll cure you of imagining ghosts into places. March, now."

Anne marched. That is, she stumbled over the bridge and went shuddering
up the horrible dim path beyond. Anne never forgot that walk. Bitterly
did she repent the license she had given to her imagination. The goblins
of her fancy lurked in every shadow about her, reaching out their cold,
fleshless hands to grasp the terrified small girl who had called them
into being. A white strip of birch bark blowing up from the hollow over
the brown floor of the grove made her heart stand still. The long-drawn
wail of two old boughs rubbing against each other brought out the
perspiration in beads on her forehead. The swoop of bats in the darkness
over her was as the wings of unearthly creatures. When she reached Mr.
William Bell's field she fled across it as if pursued by an army of
white things, and arrived at the Barry kitchen door so out of breath
that she could hardly gasp out her request for the apron pattern.
Diana was away so that she had no excuse to linger. The dreadful
return journey had to be faced. Anne went back over it with shut eyes,
preferring to take the risk of dashing her brains out among the boughs
to that of seeing a white thing. When she finally stumbled over the log
bridge she drew one long shivering breath of relief.

"Well, so nothing caught you?" said Marilla unsympathetically.

"Oh, Mar--Marilla," chattered Anne, "I'll b-b-be contt-tented with
c-c-commonplace places after this."




CHAPTER XXI. A New Departure in Flavorings


"Dear me, there is nothing but meetings and partings in this world, as
Mrs. Lynde says," remarked Anne plaintively, putting her slate and books
down on the kitchen table on the last day of June and wiping her red
eyes with a very damp handkerchief. "Wasn't it fortunate, Marilla, that
I took an extra handkerchief to school today? I had a presentiment that
it would be needed."

"I never thought you were so fond of Mr. Phillips that you'd require two
handkerchiefs to dry your tears just because he was going away," said
Marilla.

"I don't think I was crying because I was really so very fond of him,"
reflected Anne. "I just cried because all the others did. It was
Ruby Gillis started it. Ruby Gillis has always declared she hated Mr.
Phillips, but just as soon as he got up to make his farewell speech she
burst into tears. Then all the girls began to cry, one after the other.
I tried to hold out, Marilla. I tried to remember the time Mr. Phillips
made me sit with Gil--with a, boy; and the time he spelled my name
without an e on the blackboard; and how he said I was the worst dunce
he ever saw at geometry and laughed at my spelling; and all the times he
had been so horrid and sarcastic; but somehow I couldn't, Marilla, and I
just had to cry too. Jane Andrews has been talking for a month about how
glad she'd be when Mr. Phillips went away and she declared she'd never
shed a tear. Well, she was worse than any of us and had to borrow a
handkerchief from her brother--of course the boys didn't cry--because
she hadn't brought one of her own, not expecting to need it. Oh,
Marilla, it was heartrending. Mr. Phillips made such a beautiful
farewell speech beginning, 'The time has come for us to part.' It was
very affecting. And he had tears in his eyes too, Marilla. Oh, I felt
dreadfully sorry and remorseful for all the times I'd talked in school
and drawn pictures of him on my slate and made fun of him and Prissy.
I can tell you I wished I'd been a model pupil like Minnie Andrews. She
hadn't anything on her conscience. The girls cried all the way home from
school. Carrie Sloane kept saying every few minutes, 'The time has come
for us to part,' and that would start us off again whenever we were in
any danger of cheering up. I do feel dreadfully sad, Marilla. But one
can't feel quite in the depths of despair with two months' vacation
before them, can they, Marilla? And besides, we met the new minister and
his wife coming from the station. For all I was feeling so bad about Mr.
Phillips going away I couldn't help taking a little interest in a new
minister, could I? His wife is very pretty. Not exactly regally lovely,
of course--it wouldn't do, I suppose, for a minister to have a regally
lovely wife, because it might set a bad example. Mrs. Lynde says the
minister's wife over at Newbridge sets a very bad example because she
dresses so fashionably. Our new minister's wife was dressed in blue
muslin with lovely puffed sleeves and a hat trimmed with roses.
Jane Andrews said she thought puffed sleeves were too worldly for
a minister's wife, but I didn't make any such uncharitable remark,
Marilla, because I know what it is to long for puffed sleeves. Besides,
she's only been a minister's wife for a little while, so one should
make allowances, shouldn't they? They are going to board with Mrs. Lynde
until the manse is ready."

If Marilla, in going down to Mrs. Lynde's that evening, was actuated by
any motive save her avowed one of returning the quilting frames she had
borrowed the preceding winter, it was an amiable weakness shared by most
of the Avonlea people. Many a thing Mrs. Lynde had lent, sometimes
never expecting to see it again, came home that night in charge of the
borrowers thereof. A new minister, and moreover a minister with a wife,
was a lawful object of curiosity in a quiet little country settlement
where sensations were few and far between.

Old Mr. Bentley, the minister whom Anne had found lacking in
imagination, had been pastor of Avonlea for eighteen years. He was a
widower when he came, and a widower he remained, despite the fact that
gossip regularly married him to this, that, or the other one, every year
of his sojourn. In the preceding February he had resigned his charge and
departed amid the regrets of his people, most of whom had the affection
born of long intercourse for their good old minister in spite of his
shortcomings as an orator. Since then the Avonlea church had enjoyed a
variety of religious dissipation in listening to the many and various
candidates and "supplies" who came Sunday after Sunday to preach on
trial. These stood or fell by the judgment of the fathers and mothers
in Israel; but a certain small, red-haired girl who sat meekly in the
corner of the old Cuthbert pew also had her opinions about them and
discussed the same in full with Matthew, Marilla always declining from
principle to criticize ministers in any shape or form.

"I don't think Mr. Smith would have done, Matthew" was Anne's final
summing up. "Mrs. Lynde says his delivery was so poor, but I think his
worst fault was just like Mr. Bentley's--he had no imagination. And Mr.
Terry had too much; he let it run away with him just as I did mine in
the matter of the Haunted Wood. Besides, Mrs. Lynde says his theology
wasn't sound. Mr. Gresham was a very good man and a very religious man,
but he told too many funny stories and made the people laugh in church;
he was undignified, and you must have some dignity about a minister,
mustn't you, Matthew? I thought Mr. Marshall was decidedly attractive;
but Mrs. Lynde says he isn't married, or even engaged, because she made
special inquiries about him, and she says it would never do to have
a young unmarried minister in Avonlea, because he might marry in the
congregation and that would make trouble. Mrs. Lynde is a very farseeing
woman, isn't she, Matthew? I'm very glad they've called Mr. Allan. I
liked him because his sermon was interesting and he prayed as if he
meant it and not just as if he did it because he was in the habit of it.
Mrs. Lynde says he isn't perfect, but she says she supposes we couldn't
expect a perfect minister for seven hundred and fifty dollars a year,
and anyhow his theology is sound because she questioned him thoroughly
on all the points of doctrine. And she knows his wife's people and they
are most respectable and the women are all good housekeepers. Mrs. Lynde
says that sound doctrine in the man and good housekeeping in the woman
make an ideal combination for a minister's family."

The new minister and his wife were a young, pleasant-faced couple, still
on their honeymoon, and full of all good and beautiful enthusiasms for
their chosen lifework. Avonlea opened its heart to them from the start.
Old and young liked the frank, cheerful young man with his high ideals,
and the bright, gentle little lady who assumed the mistress-ship of the
manse. With Mrs. Allan Anne fell promptly and wholeheartedly in love.
She had discovered another kindred spirit.

"Mrs. Allan is perfectly lovely," she announced one Sunday afternoon.
"She's taken our class and she's a splendid teacher. She said right away
she didn't think it was fair for the teacher to ask all the questions,
and you know, Marilla, that is exactly what I've always thought. She
said we could ask her any question we liked and I asked ever so many.
I'm good at asking questions, Marilla."

"I believe you" was Marilla's emphatic comment.

"Nobody else asked any except Ruby Gillis, and she asked if there was
to be a Sunday-school picnic this summer. I didn't think that was a
very proper question to ask because it hadn't any connection with the
lesson--the lesson was about Daniel in the lions' den--but Mrs. Allan
just smiled and said she thought there would be. Mrs. Allan has a
lovely smile; she has such EXQUISITE dimples in her cheeks. I wish I had
dimples in my cheeks, Marilla. I'm not half so skinny as I was when I
came here, but I have no dimples yet. If I had perhaps I could influence
people for good. Mrs. Allan said we ought always to try to influence
other people for good. She talked so nice about everything. I never knew
before that religion was such a cheerful thing. I always thought it
was kind of melancholy, but Mrs. Allan's isn't, and I'd like to be a
Christian if I could be one like her. I wouldn't want to be one like Mr.
Superintendent Bell."

"It's very naughty of you to speak so about Mr. Bell," said Marilla
severely. "Mr. Bell is a real good man."

"Oh, of course he's good," agreed Anne, "but he doesn't seem to get any
comfort out of it. If I could be good I'd dance and sing all day because
I was glad of it. I suppose Mrs. Allan is too old to dance and sing and
of course it wouldn't be dignified in a minister's wife. But I can just
feel she's glad she's a Christian and that she'd be one even if she
could get to heaven without it."

"I suppose we must have Mr. and Mrs. Allan up to tea someday soon," said
Marilla reflectively. "They've been most everywhere but here. Let me
see. Next Wednesday would be a good time to have them. But don't say a
word to Matthew about it, for if he knew they were coming he'd find some
excuse to be away that day. He'd got so used to Mr. Bentley he didn't
mind him, but he's going to find it hard to get acquainted with a new
minister, and a new minister's wife will frighten him to death."

"I'll be as secret as the dead," assured Anne. "But oh, Marilla, will
you let me make a cake for the occasion? I'd love to do something for
Mrs. Allan, and you know I can make a pretty good cake by this time."

"You can make a layer cake," promised Marilla.

Monday and Tuesday great preparations went on at Green Gables.
Having the minister and his wife to tea was a serious and important
undertaking, and Marilla was determined not to be eclipsed by any of
the Avonlea housekeepers. Anne was wild with excitement and delight. She
talked it all over with Diana Tuesday night in the twilight, as they
sat on the big red stones by the Dryad's Bubble and made rainbows in the
water with little twigs dipped in fir balsam.

"Everything is ready, Diana, except my cake which I'm to make in the
morning, and the baking-powder biscuits which Marilla will make just
before teatime. I assure you, Diana, that Marilla and I have had a busy
two days of it. It's such a responsibility having a minister's family to
tea. I never went through such an experience before. You should just see
our pantry. It's a sight to behold. We're going to have jellied chicken
and cold tongue. We're to have two kinds of jelly, red and yellow, and
whipped cream and lemon pie, and cherry pie, and three kinds of cookies,
and fruit cake, and Marilla's famous yellow plum preserves that she
keeps especially for ministers, and pound cake and layer cake, and
biscuits as aforesaid; and new bread and old both, in case the minister
is dyspeptic and can't eat new. Mrs. Lynde says ministers are dyspeptic,
but I don't think Mr. Allan has been a minister long enough for it to
have had a bad effect on him. I just grow cold when I think of my layer
cake. Oh, Diana, what if it shouldn't be good! I dreamed last night that
I was chased all around by a fearful goblin with a big layer cake for a
head."

"It'll be good, all right," assured Diana, who was a very comfortable
sort of friend. "I'm sure that piece of the one you made that we had for
lunch in Idlewild two weeks ago was perfectly elegant."

"Yes; but cakes have such a terrible habit of turning out bad just
when you especially want them to be good," sighed Anne, setting a
particularly well-balsamed twig afloat. "However, I suppose I shall
just have to trust to Providence and be careful to put in the flour. Oh,
look, Diana, what a lovely rainbow! Do you suppose the dryad will come
out after we go away and take it for a scarf?"

"You know there is no such thing as a dryad," said Diana. Diana's mother
had found out about the Haunted Wood and had been decidedly angry over
it. As a result Diana had abstained from any further imitative flights
of imagination and did not think it prudent to cultivate a spirit of
belief even in harmless dryads.

"But it's so easy to imagine there is," said Anne. "Every night before
I go to bed, I look out of my window and wonder if the dryad is really
sitting here, combing her locks with the spring for a mirror. Sometimes
I look for her footprints in the dew in the morning. Oh, Diana, don't
give up your faith in the dryad!"

Wednesday morning came. Anne got up at sunrise because she was too
excited to sleep. She had caught a severe cold in the head by reason of
her dabbling in the spring on the preceding evening; but nothing short
of absolute pneumonia could have quenched her interest in culinary
matters that morning. After breakfast she proceeded to make her cake.
When she finally shut the oven door upon it she drew a long breath.

"I'm sure I haven't forgotten anything this time, Marilla. But do you
think it will rise? Just suppose perhaps the baking powder isn't good? I
used it out of the new can. And Mrs. Lynde says you can never be sure of
getting good baking powder nowadays when everything is so adulterated.
Mrs. Lynde says the Government ought to take the matter up, but she says
we'll never see the day when a Tory Government will do it. Marilla, what
if that cake doesn't rise?"

"We'll have plenty without it" was Marilla's unimpassioned way of
looking at the subject.

The cake did rise, however, and came out of the oven as light and
feathery as golden foam. Anne, flushed with delight, clapped it together
with layers of ruby jelly and, in imagination, saw Mrs. Allan eating it
and possibly asking for another piece!

"You'll be using the best tea set, of course, Marilla," she said. "Can I
fix the table with ferns and wild roses?"

"I think that's all nonsense," sniffed Marilla. "In my opinion it's the
eatables that matter and not flummery decorations."

"Mrs. Barry had HER table decorated," said Anne, who was not entirely
guiltless of the wisdom of the serpent, "and the minister paid her an
elegant compliment. He said it was a feast for the eye as well as the
palate."

"Well, do as you like," said Marilla, who was quite determined not to
be surpassed by Mrs. Barry or anybody else. "Only mind you leave enough
room for the dishes and the food."

Anne laid herself out to decorate in a manner and after a fashion that
should leave Mrs. Barry's nowhere. Having abundance of roses and ferns
and a very artistic taste of her own, she made that tea table such a
thing of beauty that when the minister and his wife sat down to it they
exclaimed in chorus over it loveliness.

"It's Anne's doings," said Marilla, grimly just; and Anne felt that Mrs.
Allan's approving smile was almost too much happiness for this world.

Matthew was there, having been inveigled into the party only goodness
and Anne knew how. He had been in such a state of shyness and
nervousness that Marilla had given him up in despair, but Anne took him
in hand so successfully that he now sat at the table in his best clothes
and white collar and talked to the minister not uninterestingly.
He never said a word to Mrs. Allan, but that perhaps was not to be
expected.

All went merry as a marriage bell until Anne's layer cake was passed.
Mrs. Allan, having already been helped to a bewildering variety,
declined it. But Marilla, seeing the disappointment on Anne's face, said
smilingly:

"Oh, you must take a piece of this, Mrs. Allan. Anne made it on purpose
for you."

"In that case I must sample it," laughed Mrs. Allan, helping herself to
a plump triangle, as did also the minister and Marilla.

Mrs. Allan took a mouthful of hers and a most peculiar expression
crossed her face; not a word did she say, however, but steadily ate away
at it. Marilla saw the expression and hastened to taste the cake.

"Anne Shirley!" she exclaimed, "what on earth did you put into that
cake?"

"Nothing but what the recipe said, Marilla," cried Anne with a look of
anguish. "Oh, isn't it all right?"

"All right! It's simply horrible. Mr. Allan, don't try to eat it. Anne,
taste it yourself. What flavoring did you use?"

"Vanilla," said Anne, her face scarlet with mortification after tasting
the cake. "Only vanilla. Oh, Marilla, it must have been the baking
powder. I had my suspicions of that bak--"

"Baking powder fiddlesticks! Go and bring me the bottle of vanilla you
used."

Anne fled to the pantry and returned with a small bottle partially
filled with a brown liquid and labeled yellowly, "Best Vanilla."

Marilla took it, uncorked it, smelled it.

"Mercy on us, Anne, you've flavored that cake with ANODYNE LINIMENT. I
broke the liniment bottle last week and poured what was left into an
old empty vanilla bottle. I suppose it's partly my fault--I should have
warned you--but for pity's sake why couldn't you have smelled it?"

Anne dissolved into tears under this double disgrace.

"I couldn't--I had such a cold!" and with this she fairly fled to the
gable chamber, where she cast herself on the bed and wept as one who
refuses to be comforted.

Presently a light step sounded on the stairs and somebody entered the
room.

"Oh, Marilla," sobbed Anne, without looking up, "I'm disgraced forever.
I shall never be able to live this down. It will get out--things always
do get out in Avonlea. Diana will ask me how my cake turned out and I
shall have to tell her the truth. I shall always be pointed at as the
girl who flavored a cake with anodyne liniment. Gil--the boys in school
will never get over laughing at it. Oh, Marilla, if you have a spark
of Christian pity don't tell me that I must go down and wash the dishes
after this. I'll wash them when the minister and his wife are gone, but
I cannot ever look Mrs. Allan in the face again. Perhaps she'll think I
tried to poison her. Mrs. Lynde says she knows an orphan girl who tried
to poison her benefactor. But the liniment isn't poisonous. It's meant
to be taken internally--although not in cakes. Won't you tell Mrs. Allan
so, Marilla?"

"Suppose you jump up and tell her so yourself," said a merry voice.

Anne flew up, to find Mrs. Allan standing by her bed, surveying her with
laughing eyes.

"My dear little girl, you mustn't cry like this," she said, genuinely
disturbed by Anne's tragic face. "Why, it's all just a funny mistake
that anybody might make."

"Oh, no, it takes me to make such a mistake," said Anne forlornly. "And
I wanted to have that cake so nice for you, Mrs. Allan."

"Yes, I know, dear. And I assure you I appreciate your kindness and
thoughtfulness just as much as if it had turned out all right. Now,
you mustn't cry any more, but come down with me and show me your flower
garden. Miss Cuthbert tells me you have a little plot all your own. I
want to see it, for I'm very much interested in flowers."

Anne permitted herself to be led down and comforted, reflecting that it
was really providential that Mrs. Allan was a kindred spirit. Nothing
more was said about the liniment cake, and when the guests went away
Anne found that she had enjoyed the evening more than could have been
expected, considering that terrible incident. Nevertheless, she sighed
deeply.

"Marilla, isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no
mistakes in it yet?"

"I'll warrant you'll make plenty in it," said Marilla. "I never saw your
beat for making mistakes, Anne."

"Yes, and well I know it," admitted Anne mournfully. "But have you ever
noticed one encouraging thing about me, Marilla? I never make the same
mistake twice."

"I don't know as that's much benefit when you're always making new
ones."

"Oh, don't you see, Marilla? There must be a limit to the mistakes one
person can make, and when I get to the end of them, then I'll be through
with them. That's a very comforting thought."

"Well, you'd better go and give that cake to the pigs," said Marilla.
"It isn't fit for any human to eat, not even Jerry Boute."




CHAPTER XXII. Anne is Invited Out to Tea


"And what are your eyes popping out of your head about. Now?" asked
Marilla, when Anne had just come in from a run to the post office. "Have
you discovered another kindred spirit?" Excitement hung around Anne like
a garment, shone in her eyes, kindled in every feature. She had come
dancing up the lane, like a wind-blown sprite, through the mellow
sunshine and lazy shadows of the August evening.

"No, Marilla, but oh, what do you think? I am invited to tea at the
manse tomorrow afternoon! Mrs. Allan left the letter for me at the post
office. Just look at it, Marilla. 'Miss Anne Shirley, Green Gables.'
That is the first time I was ever called 'Miss.' Such a thrill as it
gave me! I shall cherish it forever among my choicest treasures."

"Mrs. Allan told me she meant to have all the members of her
Sunday-school class to tea in turn," said Marilla, regarding the
wonderful event very coolly. "You needn't get in such a fever over it.
Do learn to take things calmly, child."

For Anne to take things calmly would have been to change her nature. All
"spirit and fire and dew," as she was, the pleasures and pains of life
came to her with trebled intensity. Marilla felt this and was vaguely
troubled over it, realizing that the ups and downs of existence would
probably bear hardly on this impulsive soul and not sufficiently
understanding that the equally great capacity for delight might more
than compensate. Therefore Marilla conceived it to be her duty to drill
Anne into a tranquil uniformity of disposition as impossible and alien
to her as to a dancing sunbeam in one of the brook shallows. She did not
make much headway, as she sorrowfully admitted to herself. The downfall
of some dear hope or plan plunged Anne into "deeps of affliction." The
fulfillment thereof exalted her to dizzy realms of delight. Marilla had
almost begun to despair of ever fashioning this waif of the world into
her model little girl of demure manners and prim deportment. Neither
would she have believed that she really liked Anne much better as she
was.

Anne went to bed that night speechless with misery because Matthew had
said the wind was round northeast and he feared it would be a rainy day
tomorrow. The rustle of the poplar leaves about the house worried her,
it sounded so like pattering raindrops, and the full, faraway roar of
the gulf, to which she listened delightedly at other times, loving its
strange, sonorous, haunting rhythm, now seemed like a prophecy of storm
and disaster to a small maiden who particularly wanted a fine day. Anne
thought that the morning would never come.

But all things have an end, even nights before the day on which you are
invited to take tea at the manse. The morning, in spite of Matthew's
predictions, was fine and Anne's spirits soared to their highest.
"Oh, Marilla, there is something in me today that makes me just love
everybody I see," she exclaimed as she washed the breakfast dishes.
"You don't know how good I feel! Wouldn't it be nice if it could last? I
believe I could be a model child if I were just invited out to tea every
day. But oh, Marilla, it's a solemn occasion too. I feel so anxious.
What if I shouldn't behave properly? You know I never had tea at a
manse before, and I'm not sure that I know all the rules of etiquette,
although I've been studying the rules given in the Etiquette Department
of the Family Herald ever since I came here. I'm so afraid I'll do
something silly or forget to do something I should do. Would it be
good manners to take a second helping of anything if you wanted to VERY
much?"

"The trouble with you, Anne, is that you're thinking too much about
yourself. You should just think of Mrs. Allan and what would be nicest
and most agreeable to her," said Marilla, hitting for once in her life
on a very sound and pithy piece of advice. Anne instantly realized this.

"You are right, Marilla. I'll try not to think about myself at all."

Anne evidently got through her visit without any serious breach of
"etiquette," for she came home through the twilight, under a great,
high-sprung sky gloried over with trails of saffron and rosy cloud, in
a beatified state of mind and told Marilla all about it happily, sitting
on the big red-sandstone slab at the kitchen door with her tired curly
head in Marilla's gingham lap.

A cool wind was blowing down over the long harvest fields from the rims
of firry western hills and whistling through the poplars. One clear star
hung over the orchard and the fireflies were flitting over in Lover's
Lane, in and out among the ferns and rustling boughs. Anne watched them
as she talked and somehow felt that wind and stars and fireflies were
all tangled up together into something unutterably sweet and enchanting.

"Oh, Marilla, I've had a most FASCINATING time. I feel that I have not
lived in vain and I shall always feel like that even if I should never
be invited to tea at a manse again. When I got there Mrs. Allan met me
at the door. She was dressed in the sweetest dress of pale-pink organdy,
with dozens of frills and elbow sleeves, and she looked just like a
seraph. I really think I'd like to be a minister's wife when I grow up,
Marilla. A minister mightn't mind my red hair because he wouldn't be
thinking of such worldly things. But then of course one would have to
be naturally good and I'll never be that, so I suppose there's no use in
thinking about it. Some people are naturally good, you know, and others
are not. I'm one of the others. Mrs. Lynde says I'm full of original
sin. No matter how hard I try to be good I can never make such a success
of it as those who are naturally good. It's a good deal like geometry,
I expect. But don't you think the trying so hard ought to count for
something? Mrs. Allan is one of the naturally good people. I love her
passionately. You know there are some people, like Matthew and Mrs.
Allan that you can love right off without any trouble. And there are
others, like Mrs. Lynde, that you have to try very hard to love. You
know you OUGHT to love them because they know so much and are such
active workers in the church, but you have to keep reminding yourself of
it all the time or else you forget. There was another little girl at the
manse to tea, from the White Sands Sunday school. Her name was Laurette
Bradley, and she was a very nice little girl. Not exactly a kindred
spirit, you know, but still very nice. We had an elegant tea, and I
think I kept all the rules of etiquette pretty well. After tea Mrs.
Allan played and sang and she got Lauretta and me to sing too.
Mrs. Allan says I have a good voice and she says I must sing in the
Sunday-school choir after this. You can't think how I was thrilled at
the mere thought. I've longed so to sing in the Sunday-school choir,
as Diana does, but I feared it was an honor I could never aspire to.
Lauretta had to go home early because there is a big concert in the
White Sands Hotel tonight and her sister is to recite at it. Lauretta
says that the Americans at the hotel give a concert every fortnight in
aid of the Charlottetown hospital, and they ask lots of the White
Sands people to recite. Lauretta said she expected to be asked herself
someday. I just gazed at her in awe. After she had gone Mrs. Allan and I
had a heart-to-heart talk. I told her everything--about Mrs. Thomas and
the twins and Katie Maurice and Violetta and coming to Green Gables and
my troubles over geometry. And would you believe it, Marilla? Mrs.
Allan told me she was a dunce at geometry too. You don't know how that
encouraged me. Mrs. Lynde came to the manse just before I left, and what
do you think, Marilla? The trustees have hired a new teacher and it's
a lady. Her name is Miss Muriel Stacy. Isn't that a romantic name? Mrs.
Lynde says they've never had a female teacher in Avonlea before and she
thinks it is a dangerous innovation. But I think it will be splendid
to have a lady teacher, and I really don't see how I'm going to live
through the two weeks before school begins. I'm so impatient to see
her."




CHAPTER XXIII. Anne Comes to Grief in an Affair of Honor


Anne had to live through more than two weeks, as it happened. Almost a
month having elapsed since the liniment cake episode, it was high time
for her to get into fresh trouble of some sort, little mistakes, such as
absentmindedly emptying a pan of skim milk into a basket of yarn balls
in the pantry instead of into the pigs' bucket, and walking clean over
the edge of the log bridge into the brook while wrapped in imaginative
reverie, not really being worth counting.

A week after the tea at the manse Diana Barry gave a party.

"Small and select," Anne assured Marilla. "Just the girls in our class."

They had a very good time and nothing untoward happened until after tea,
when they found themselves in the Barry garden, a little tired of all
their games and ripe for any enticing form of mischief which might
present itself. This presently took the form of "daring."

Daring was the fashionable amusement among the Avonlea small fry just
then. It had begun among the boys, but soon spread to the girls, and all
the silly things that were done in Avonlea that summer because the doers
thereof were "dared" to do them would fill a book by themselves.

First of all Carrie Sloane dared Ruby Gillis to climb to a certain point
in the huge old willow tree before the front door; which Ruby Gillis,
albeit in mortal dread of the fat green caterpillars with which said
tree was infested and with the fear of her mother before her eyes if she
should tear her new muslin dress, nimbly did, to the discomfiture of the
aforesaid Carrie Sloane. Then Josie Pye dared Jane Andrews to hop on her
left leg around the garden without stopping once or putting her right
foot to the ground; which Jane Andrews gamely tried to do, but gave out
at the third corner and had to confess herself defeated.

Josie's triumph being rather more pronounced than good taste permitted,
Anne Shirley dared her to walk along the top of the board fence which
bounded the garden to the east. Now, to "walk" board fences requires
more skill and steadiness of head and heel than one might suppose who
has never tried it. But Josie Pye, if deficient in some qualities
that make for popularity, had at least a natural and inborn gift, duly
cultivated, for walking board fences. Josie walked the Barry fence with
an airy unconcern which seemed to imply that a little thing like that
wasn't worth a "dare." Reluctant admiration greeted her exploit, for
most of the other girls could appreciate it, having suffered many things
themselves in their efforts to walk fences. Josie descended from her
perch, flushed with victory, and darted a defiant glance at Anne.

Anne tossed her red braids.

"I don't think it's such a very wonderful thing to walk a little, low,
board fence," she said. "I knew a girl in Marysville who could walk the
ridgepole of a roof."

"I don't believe it," said Josie flatly. "I don't believe anybody could
walk a ridgepole. YOU couldn't, anyhow."

"Couldn't I?" cried Anne rashly.

"Then I dare you to do it," said Josie defiantly. "I dare you to climb
up there and walk the ridgepole of Mr. Barry's kitchen roof."

Anne turned pale, but there was clearly only one thing to be done. She
walked toward the house, where a ladder was leaning against the kitchen
roof. All the fifth-class girls said, "Oh!" partly in excitement, partly
in dismay.

"Don't you do it, Anne," entreated Diana. "You'll fall off and be
killed. Never mind Josie Pye. It isn't fair to dare anybody to do
anything so dangerous."

"I must do it. My honor is at stake," said Anne solemnly. "I shall walk
that ridgepole, Diana, or perish in the attempt. If I am killed you are
to have my pearl bead ring."

Anne climbed the ladder amid breathless silence, gained the ridgepole,
balanced herself uprightly on that precarious footing, and started to
walk along it, dizzily conscious that she was uncomfortably high up
in the world and that walking ridgepoles was not a thing in which your
imagination helped you out much. Nevertheless, she managed to take
several steps before the catastrophe came. Then she swayed, lost her
balance, stumbled, staggered, and fell, sliding down over the sun-baked
roof and crashing off it through the tangle of Virginia creeper
beneath--all before the dismayed circle below could give a simultaneous,
terrified shriek.

If Anne had tumbled off the roof on the side up which she had ascended
Diana would probably have fallen heir to the pearl bead ring then and
there. Fortunately she fell on the other side, where the roof extended
down over the porch so nearly to the ground that a fall therefrom was
a much less serious thing. Nevertheless, when Diana and the other
girls had rushed frantically around the house--except Ruby Gillis, who
remained as if rooted to the ground and went into hysterics--they found
Anne lying all white and limp among the wreck and ruin of the Virginia
creeper.

"Anne, are you killed?" shrieked Diana, throwing herself on her knees
beside her friend. "Oh, Anne, dear Anne, speak just one word to me and
tell me if you're killed."

To the immense relief of all the girls, and especially of Josie Pye,
who, in spite of lack of imagination, had been seized with horrible
visions of a future branded as the girl who was the cause of Anne
Shirley's early and tragic death, Anne sat dizzily up and answered
uncertainly:

"No, Diana, I am not killed, but I think I am rendered unconscious."

"Where?" sobbed Carrie Sloane. "Oh, where, Anne?" Before Anne could
answer Mrs. Barry appeared on the scene. At sight of her Anne tried to
scramble to her feet, but sank back again with a sharp little cry of
pain.

"What's the matter? Where have you hurt yourself?" demanded Mrs. Barry.

"My ankle," gasped Anne. "Oh, Diana, please find your father and ask him
to take me home. I know I can never walk there. And I'm sure I couldn't
hop so far on one foot when Jane couldn't even hop around the garden."

Marilla was out in the orchard picking a panful of summer apples when
she saw Mr. Barry coming over the log bridge and up the slope, with Mrs.
Barry beside him and a whole procession of little girls trailing after
him. In his arms he carried Anne, whose head lay limply against his
shoulder.

At that moment Marilla had a revelation. In the sudden stab of fear that
pierced her very heart she realized what Anne had come to mean to her.
She would have admitted that she liked Anne--nay, that she was very fond
of Anne. But now she knew as she hurried wildly down the slope that Anne
was dearer to her than anything else on earth.

"Mr. Barry, what has happened to her?" she gasped, more white and shaken
than the self-contained, sensible Marilla had been for many years.

Anne herself answered, lifting her head.

"Don't be very frightened, Marilla. I was walking the ridgepole and I
fell off. I expect I have sprained my ankle. But, Marilla, I might have
broken my neck. Let us look on the bright side of things."

"I might have known you'd go and do something of the sort when I let you
go to that party," said Marilla, sharp and shrewish in her very relief.
"Bring her in here, Mr. Barry, and lay her on the sofa. Mercy me, the
child has gone and fainted!"

It was quite true. Overcome by the pain of her injury, Anne had one more
of her wishes granted to her. She had fainted dead away.

Matthew, hastily summoned from the harvest field, was straightway
dispatched for the doctor, who in due time came, to discover that the
injury was more serious than they had supposed. Anne's ankle was broken.

That night, when Marilla went up to the east gable, where a white-faced
girl was lying, a plaintive voice greeted her from the bed.

"Aren't you very sorry for me, Marilla?"

"It was your own fault," said Marilla, twitching down the blind and
lighting a lamp.

"And that is just why you should be sorry for me," said Anne, "because
the thought that it is all my own fault is what makes it so hard. If I
could blame it on anybody I would feel so much better. But what would
you have done, Marilla, if you had been dared to walk a ridgepole?"

"I'd have stayed on good firm ground and let them dare away. Such
absurdity!" said Marilla.

Anne sighed.

"But you have such strength of mind, Marilla. I haven't. I just felt
that I couldn't bear Josie Pye's scorn. She would have crowed over me
all my life. And I think I have been punished so much that you needn't
be very cross with me, Marilla. It's not a bit nice to faint, after all.
And the doctor hurt me dreadfully when he was setting my ankle. I won't
be able to go around for six or seven weeks and I'll miss the new lady
teacher. She won't be new any more by the time I'm able to go to school.
And Gil--everybody will get ahead of me in class. Oh, I am an afflicted
mortal. But I'll try to bear it all bravely if only you won't be cross
with me, Marilla."

"There, there, I'm not cross," said Marilla. "You're an unlucky child,
there's no doubt about that; but as you say, you'll have the suffering
of it. Here now, try and eat some supper."

"Isn't it fortunate I've got such an imagination?" said Anne. "It will
help me through splendidly, I expect. What do people who haven't any
imagination do when they break their bones, do you suppose, Marilla?"

Anne had good reason to bless her imagination many a time and oft during
the tedious seven weeks that followed. But she was not solely dependent
on it. She had many visitors and not a day passed without one or more of
the schoolgirls dropping in to bring her flowers and books and tell her
all the happenings in the juvenile world of Avonlea.

"Everybody has been so good and kind, Marilla," sighed Anne happily,
on the day when she could first limp across the floor. "It isn't very
pleasant to be laid up; but there is a bright side to it, Marilla. You
find out how many friends you have. Why, even Superintendent Bell came
to see me, and he's really a very fine man. Not a kindred spirit, of
course; but still I like him and I'm awfully sorry I ever criticized his
prayers. I believe now he really does mean them, only he has got into
the habit of saying them as if he didn't. He could get over that if he'd
take a little trouble. I gave him a good broad hint. I told him how hard
I tried to make my own little private prayers interesting. He told me
all about the time he broke his ankle when he was a boy. It does seem
so strange to think of Superintendent Bell ever being a boy. Even my
imagination has its limits, for I can't imagine THAT. When I try to
imagine him as a boy I see him with gray whiskers and spectacles, just
as he looks in Sunday school, only small. Now, it's so easy to imagine
Mrs. Allan as a little girl. Mrs. Allan has been to see me fourteen
times. Isn't that something to be proud of, Marilla? When a minister's
wife has so many claims on her time! She is such a cheerful person to
have visit you, too. She never tells you it's your own fault and she
hopes you'll be a better girl on account of it. Mrs. Lynde always told
me that when she came to see me; and she said it in a kind of way that
made me feel she might hope I'd be a better girl but didn't really
believe I would. Even Josie Pye came to see me. I received her as
politely as I could, because I think she was sorry she dared me to walk
a ridgepole. If I had been killed she would had to carry a dark burden
of remorse all her life. Diana has been a faithful friend. She's been
over every day to cheer my lonely pillow. But oh, I shall be so glad
when I can go to school for I've heard such exciting things about the
new teacher. The girls all think she is perfectly sweet. Diana says she
has the loveliest fair curly hair and such fascinating eyes. She dresses
beautifully, and her sleeve puffs are bigger than anybody else's in
Avonlea. Every other Friday afternoon she has recitations and everybody
has to say a piece or take part in a dialogue. Oh, it's just glorious to
think of it. Josie Pye says she hates it but that is just because Josie
has so little imagination. Diana and Ruby Gillis and Jane Andrews are
preparing a dialogue, called 'A Morning Visit,' for next Friday. And the
Friday afternoons they don't have recitations Miss Stacy takes them
all to the woods for a 'field' day and they study ferns and flowers
and birds. And they have physical culture exercises every morning and
evening. Mrs. Lynde says she never heard of such goings on and it all
comes of having a lady teacher. But I think it must be splendid and I
believe I shall find that Miss Stacy is a kindred spirit."

"There's one thing plain to be seen, Anne," said Marilla, "and that is
that your fall off the Barry roof hasn't injured your tongue at all."




CHAPTER XXIV. Miss Stacy and Her Pupils Get Up a Concert


It was October again when Anne was ready to go back to school--a
glorious October, all red and gold, with mellow mornings when the
valleys were filled with delicate mists as if the spirit of autumn had
poured them in for the sun to drain--amethyst, pearl, silver, rose, and
smoke-blue. The dews were so heavy that the fields glistened like cloth
of silver and there were such heaps of rustling leaves in the hollows of
many-stemmed woods to run crisply through. The Birch Path was a canopy
of yellow and the ferns were sear and brown all along it. There was a
tang in the very air that inspired the hearts of small maidens tripping,
unlike snails, swiftly and willingly to school; and it WAS jolly to
be back again at the little brown desk beside Diana, with Ruby Gillis
nodding across the aisle and Carrie Sloane sending up notes and Julia
Bell passing a "chew" of gum down from the back seat. Anne drew a long
breath of happiness as she sharpened her pencil and arranged her picture
cards in her desk. Life was certainly very interesting.

In the new teacher she found another true and helpful friend. Miss Stacy
was a bright, sympathetic young woman with the happy gift of winning and
holding the affections of her pupils and bringing out the best that was
in them mentally and morally. Anne expanded like a flower under this
wholesome influence and carried home to the admiring Matthew and the
critical Marilla glowing accounts of schoolwork and aims.

"I love Miss Stacy with my whole heart, Marilla. She is so ladylike
and she has such a sweet voice. When she pronounces my name I feel
INSTINCTIVELY that she's spelling it with an E. We had recitations
this afternoon. I just wish you could have been there to hear me recite
'Mary, Queen of Scots.' I just put my whole soul into it. Ruby Gillis
told me coming home that the way I said the line, 'Now for my father's
arm,' she said, 'my woman's heart farewell,' just made her blood run
cold."

"Well now, you might recite it for me some of these days, out in the
barn," suggested Matthew.

"Of course I will," said Anne meditatively, "but I won't be able to do
it so well, I know. It won't be so exciting as it is when you have a
whole schoolful before you hanging breathlessly on your words. I know I
won't be able to make your blood run cold."

"Mrs. Lynde says it made HER blood run cold to see the boys climbing to
the very tops of those big trees on Bell's hill after crows' nests last
Friday," said Marilla. "I wonder at Miss Stacy for encouraging it."

"But we wanted a crow's nest for nature study," explained Anne. "That
was on our field afternoon. Field afternoons are splendid, Marilla.
And Miss Stacy explains everything so beautifully. We have to write
compositions on our field afternoons and I write the best ones."

"It's very vain of you to say so then. You'd better let your teacher say
it."

"But she DID say it, Marilla. And indeed I'm not vain about it. How can
I be, when I'm such a dunce at geometry? Although I'm really beginning
to see through it a little, too. Miss Stacy makes it so clear. Still,
I'll never be good at it and I assure you it is a humbling reflection.
But I love writing compositions. Mostly Miss Stacy lets us choose
our own subjects; but next week we are to write a composition on some
remarkable person. It's hard to choose among so many remarkable people
who have lived. Mustn't it be splendid to be remarkable and have
compositions written about you after you're dead? Oh, I would dearly
love to be remarkable. I think when I grow up I'll be a trained nurse
and go with the Red Crosses to the field of battle as a messenger of
mercy. That is, if I don't go out as a foreign missionary. That would
be very romantic, but one would have to be very good to be a missionary,
and that would be a stumbling block. We have physical culture exercises
every day, too. They make you graceful and promote digestion."

"Promote fiddlesticks!" said Marilla, who honestly thought it was all
nonsense.

But all the field afternoons and recitation Fridays and physical culture
contortions paled before a project which Miss Stacy brought forward in
November. This was that the scholars of Avonlea school should get up
a concert and hold it in the hall on Christmas Night, for the laudable
purpose of helping to pay for a schoolhouse flag. The pupils one and
all taking graciously to this plan, the preparations for a program
were begun at once. And of all the excited performers-elect none was so
excited as Anne Shirley, who threw herself into the undertaking heart
and soul, hampered as she was by Marilla's disapproval. Marilla thought
it all rank foolishness.

"It's just filling your heads up with nonsense and taking time that
ought to be put on your lessons," she grumbled. "I don't approve of
children's getting up concerts and racing about to practices. It makes
them vain and forward and fond of gadding."

"But think of the worthy object," pleaded Anne. "A flag will cultivate a
spirit of patriotism, Marilla."

"Fudge! There's precious little patriotism in the thoughts of any of
you. All you want is a good time."

"Well, when you can combine patriotism and fun, isn't it all right? Of
course it's real nice to be getting up a concert. We're going to have
six choruses and Diana is to sing a solo. I'm in two dialogues--'The
Society for the Suppression of Gossip' and 'The Fairy Queen.' The boys
are going to have a dialogue too. And I'm to have two recitations,
Marilla. I just tremble when I think of it, but it's a nice thrilly kind
of tremble. And we're to have a tableau at the last--'Faith, Hope and
Charity.' Diana and Ruby and I are to be in it, all draped in white with
flowing hair. I'm to be Hope, with my hands clasped--so--and my eyes
uplifted. I'm going to practice my recitations in the garret. Don't be
alarmed if you hear me groaning. I have to groan heartrendingly in one
of them, and it's really hard to get up a good artistic groan, Marilla.
Josie Pye is sulky because she didn't get the part she wanted in
the dialogue. She wanted to be the fairy queen. That would have been
ridiculous, for who ever heard of a fairy queen as fat as Josie? Fairy
queens must be slender. Jane Andrews is to be the queen and I am to be
one of her maids of honor. Josie says she thinks a red-haired fairy is
just as ridiculous as a fat one, but I do not let myself mind what Josie
says. I'm to have a wreath of white roses on my hair and Ruby Gillis
is going to lend me her slippers because I haven't any of my own. It's
necessary for fairies to have slippers, you know. You couldn't imagine
a fairy wearing boots, could you? Especially with copper toes? We are
going to decorate the hall with creeping spruce and fir mottoes with
pink tissue-paper roses in them. And we are all to march in two by two
after the audience is seated, while Emma White plays a march on the
organ. Oh, Marilla, I know you are not so enthusiastic about it as I am,
but don't you hope your little Anne will distinguish herself?"

"All I hope is that you'll behave yourself. I'll be heartily glad when
all this fuss is over and you'll be able to settle down. You are simply
good for nothing just now with your head stuffed full of dialogues and
groans and tableaus. As for your tongue, it's a marvel it's not clean
worn out."

Anne sighed and betook herself to the back yard, over which a young new
moon was shining through the leafless poplar boughs from an apple-green
western sky, and where Matthew was splitting wood. Anne perched herself
on a block and talked the concert over with him, sure of an appreciative
and sympathetic listener in this instance at least.

"Well now, I reckon it's going to be a pretty good concert. And I
expect you'll do your part fine," he said, smiling down into her eager,
vivacious little face. Anne smiled back at him. Those two were the best
of friends and Matthew thanked his stars many a time and oft that he had
nothing to do with bringing her up. That was Marilla's exclusive duty;
if it had been his he would have been worried over frequent conflicts
between inclination and said duty. As it was, he was free to, "spoil
Anne"--Marilla's phrasing--as much as he liked. But it was not such a
bad arrangement after all; a little "appreciation" sometimes does quite
as much good as all the conscientious "bringing up" in the world.




CHAPTER XXV. Matthew Insists on Puffed Sleeves


Matthew was having a bad ten minutes of it. He had come into the
kitchen, in the twilight of a cold, gray December evening, and had sat
down in the woodbox corner to take off his heavy boots, unconscious of
the fact that Anne and a bevy of her schoolmates were having a practice
of "The Fairy Queen" in the sitting room. Presently they came trooping
through the hall and out into the kitchen, laughing and chattering
gaily. They did not see Matthew, who shrank bashfully back into the
shadows beyond the woodbox with a boot in one hand and a bootjack in the
other, and he watched them shyly for the aforesaid ten minutes as they
put on caps and jackets and talked about the dialogue and the concert.
Anne stood among them, bright eyed and animated as they; but Matthew
suddenly became conscious that there was something about her different
from her mates. And what worried Matthew was that the difference
impressed him as being something that should not exist. Anne had a
brighter face, and bigger, starrier eyes, and more delicate features
than the other; even shy, unobservant Matthew had learned to take note
of these things; but the difference that disturbed him did not consist
in any of these respects. Then in what did it consist?

Matthew was haunted by this question long after the girls had gone, arm
in arm, down the long, hard-frozen lane and Anne had betaken herself
to her books. He could not refer it to Marilla, who, he felt, would be
quite sure to sniff scornfully and remark that the only difference she
saw between Anne and the other girls was that they sometimes kept their
tongues quiet while Anne never did. This, Matthew felt, would be no
great help.

He had recourse to his pipe that evening to help him study it out, much
to Marilla's disgust. After two hours of smoking and hard reflection
Matthew arrived at a solution of his problem. Anne was not dressed like
the other girls!

The more Matthew thought about the matter the more he was convinced that
Anne never had been dressed like the other girls--never since she had
come to Green Gables. Marilla kept her clothed in plain, dark dresses,
all made after the same unvarying pattern. If Matthew knew there was
such a thing as fashion in dress it was as much as he did; but he was
quite sure that Anne's sleeves did not look at all like the sleeves the
other girls wore. He recalled the cluster of little girls he had seen
around her that evening--all gay in waists of red and blue and pink
and white--and he wondered why Marilla always kept her so plainly and
soberly gowned.

Of course, it must be all right. Marilla knew best and Marilla was
bringing her up. Probably some wise, inscrutable motive was to be served
thereby. But surely it would do no harm to let the child have one pretty
dress--something like Diana Barry always wore. Matthew decided that
he would give her one; that surely could not be objected to as an
unwarranted putting in of his oar. Christmas was only a fortnight off.
A nice new dress would be the very thing for a present. Matthew, with a
sigh of satisfaction, put away his pipe and went to bed, while Marilla
opened all the doors and aired the house.

The very next evening Matthew betook himself to Carmody to buy the
dress, determined to get the worst over and have done with it. It would
be, he felt assured, no trifling ordeal. There were some things Matthew
could buy and prove himself no mean bargainer; but he knew he would be
at the mercy of shopkeepers when it came to buying a girl's dress.

After much cogitation Matthew resolved to go to Samuel Lawson's store
instead of William Blair's. To be sure, the Cuthberts always had gone to
William Blair's; it was almost as much a matter of conscience with them
as to attend the Presbyterian church and vote Conservative. But William
Blair's two daughters frequently waited on customers there and Matthew
held them in absolute dread. He could contrive to deal with them when he
knew exactly what he wanted and could point it out; but in such a matter
as this, requiring explanation and consultation, Matthew felt that he
must be sure of a man behind the counter. So he would go to Lawson's,
where Samuel or his son would wait on him.

Alas! Matthew did not know that Samuel, in the recent expansion of his
business, had set up a lady clerk also; she was a niece of his wife's
and a very dashing young person indeed, with a huge, drooping pompadour,
big, rolling brown eyes, and a most extensive and bewildering smile. She
was dressed with exceeding smartness and wore several bangle bracelets
that glittered and rattled and tinkled with every movement of her hands.
Matthew was covered with confusion at finding her there at all; and
those bangles completely wrecked his wits at one fell swoop.

"What can I do for you this evening, Mr. Cuthbert?" Miss Lucilla Harris
inquired, briskly and ingratiatingly, tapping the counter with both
hands.

"Have you any--any--any--well now, say any garden rakes?" stammered
Matthew.

Miss Harris looked somewhat surprised, as well she might, to hear a man
inquiring for garden rakes in the middle of December.

"I believe we have one or two left over," she said, "but they're
upstairs in the lumber room. I'll go and see." During her absence
Matthew collected his scattered senses for another effort.

When Miss Harris returned with the rake and cheerfully inquired:
"Anything else tonight, Mr. Cuthbert?" Matthew took his courage in
both hands and replied: "Well now, since you suggest it, I might as
well--take--that is--look at--buy some--some hayseed."

Miss Harris had heard Matthew Cuthbert called odd. She now concluded
that he was entirely crazy.

"We only keep hayseed in the spring," she explained loftily. "We've none
on hand just now."

"Oh, certainly--certainly--just as you say," stammered unhappy
Matthew, seizing the rake and making for the door. At the threshold he
recollected that he had not paid for it and he turned miserably back.
While Miss Harris was counting out his change he rallied his powers for
a final desperate attempt.

"Well now--if it isn't too much trouble--I might as well--that is--I'd
like to look at--at--some sugar."

"White or brown?" queried Miss Harris patiently.

"Oh--well now--brown," said Matthew feebly.

"There's a barrel of it over there," said Miss Harris, shaking her
bangles at it. "It's the only kind we have."

"I'll--I'll take twenty pounds of it," said Matthew, with beads of
perspiration standing on his forehead.

Matthew had driven halfway home before he was his own man again. It had
been a gruesome experience, but it served him right, he thought, for
committing the heresy of going to a strange store. When he reached
home he hid the rake in the tool house, but the sugar he carried in to
Marilla.

"Brown sugar!" exclaimed Marilla. "Whatever possessed you to get so
much? You know I never use it except for the hired man's porridge or
black fruit cake. Jerry's gone and I've made my cake long ago. It's not
good sugar, either--it's coarse and dark--William Blair doesn't usually
keep sugar like that."

"I--I thought it might come in handy sometime," said Matthew, making
good his escape.

When Matthew came to think the matter over he decided that a woman was
required to cope with the situation. Marilla was out of the question.
Matthew felt sure she would throw cold water on his project at once.
Remained only Mrs. Lynde; for of no other woman in Avonlea would Matthew
have dared to ask advice. To Mrs. Lynde he went accordingly, and that
good lady promptly took the matter out of the harassed man's hands.

"Pick out a dress for you to give Anne? To be sure I will. I'm going to
Carmody tomorrow and I'll attend to it. Have you something particular in
mind? No? Well, I'll just go by my own judgment then. I believe a nice
rich brown would just suit Anne, and William Blair has some new gloria
in that's real pretty. Perhaps you'd like me to make it up for her, too,
seeing that if Marilla was to make it Anne would probably get wind of it
before the time and spoil the surprise? Well, I'll do it. No, it isn't
a mite of trouble. I like sewing. I'll make it to fit my niece, Jenny
Gillis, for she and Anne are as like as two peas as far as figure goes."

"Well now, I'm much obliged," said Matthew, "and--and--I dunno--but I'd
like--I think they make the sleeves different nowadays to what they used
to be. If it wouldn't be asking too much I--I'd like them made in the
new way."

"Puffs? Of course. You needn't worry a speck more about it, Matthew.
I'll make it up in the very latest fashion," said Mrs. Lynde. To herself
she added when Matthew had gone:

"It'll be a real satisfaction to see that poor child wearing something
decent for once. The way Marilla dresses her is positively ridiculous,
that's what, and I've ached to tell her so plainly a dozen times. I've
held my tongue though, for I can see Marilla doesn't want advice and she
thinks she knows more about bringing children up than I do for all
she's an old maid. But that's always the way. Folks that has brought up
children know that there's no hard and fast method in the world that'll
suit every child. But them as never have think it's all as plain and
easy as Rule of Three--just set your three terms down so fashion, and
the sum'll work out correct. But flesh and blood don't come under the
head of arithmetic and that's where Marilla Cuthbert makes her mistake.
I suppose she's trying to cultivate a spirit of humility in Anne by
dressing her as she does; but it's more likely to cultivate envy and
discontent. I'm sure the child must feel the difference between her
clothes and the other girls'. But to think of Matthew taking notice of
it! That man is waking up after being asleep for over sixty years."

Marilla knew all the following fortnight that Matthew had something on
his mind, but what it was she could not guess, until Christmas Eve, when
Mrs. Lynde brought up the new dress. Marilla behaved pretty well on the
whole, although it is very likely she distrusted Mrs. Lynde's diplomatic
explanation that she had made the dress because Matthew was afraid Anne
would find out about it too soon if Marilla made it.

"So this is what Matthew has been looking so mysterious over and
grinning about to himself for two weeks, is it?" she said a little
stiffly but tolerantly. "I knew he was up to some foolishness. Well, I
must say I don't think Anne needed any more dresses. I made her three
good, warm, serviceable ones this fall, and anything more is sheer
extravagance. There's enough material in those sleeves alone to make a
waist, I declare there is. You'll just pamper Anne's vanity, Matthew,
and she's as vain as a peacock now. Well, I hope she'll be satisfied
at last, for I know she's been hankering after those silly sleeves ever
since they came in, although she never said a word after the first. The
puffs have been getting bigger and more ridiculous right along; they're
as big as balloons now. Next year anybody who wears them will have to go
through a door sideways."

Christmas morning broke on a beautiful white world. It had been a very
mild December and people had looked forward to a green Christmas; but
just enough snow fell softly in the night to transfigure Avonlea. Anne
peeped out from her frosted gable window with delighted eyes. The firs
in the Haunted Wood were all feathery and wonderful; the birches
and wild cherry trees were outlined in pearl; the plowed fields were
stretches of snowy dimples; and there was a crisp tang in the air that
was glorious. Anne ran downstairs singing until her voice reechoed
through Green Gables.

"Merry Christmas, Marilla! Merry Christmas, Matthew! Isn't it a lovely
Christmas? I'm so glad it's white. Any other kind of Christmas doesn't
seem real, does it? I don't like green Christmases. They're not
green--they're just nasty faded browns and grays. What makes people call
them green? Why--why--Matthew, is that for me? Oh, Matthew!"

Matthew had sheepishly unfolded the dress from its paper swathings and
held it out with a deprecatory glance at Marilla, who feigned to be
contemptuously filling the teapot, but nevertheless watched the scene
out of the corner of her eye with a rather interested air.

Anne took the dress and looked at it in reverent silence. Oh, how pretty
it was--a lovely soft brown gloria with all the gloss of silk; a skirt
with dainty frills and shirrings; a waist elaborately pintucked in the
most fashionable way, with a little ruffle of filmy lace at the neck.
But the sleeves--they were the crowning glory! Long elbow cuffs, and
above them two beautiful puffs divided by rows of shirring and bows of
brown-silk ribbon.

"That's a Christmas present for you, Anne," said Matthew shyly.
"Why--why--Anne, don't you like it? Well now--well now."

For Anne's eyes had suddenly filled with tears.

"Like it! Oh, Matthew!" Anne laid the dress over a chair and clasped
her hands. "Matthew, it's perfectly exquisite. Oh, I can never thank you
enough. Look at those sleeves! Oh, it seems to me this must be a happy
dream."

"Well, well, let us have breakfast," interrupted Marilla. "I must say,
Anne, I don't think you needed the dress; but since Matthew has got it
for you, see that you take good care of it. There's a hair ribbon Mrs.
Lynde left for you. It's brown, to match the dress. Come now, sit in."

"I don't see how I'm going to eat breakfast," said Anne rapturously.
"Breakfast seems so commonplace at such an exciting moment. I'd rather
feast my eyes on that dress. I'm so glad that puffed sleeves are still
fashionable. It did seem to me that I'd never get over it if they went
out before I had a dress with them. I'd never have felt quite satisfied,
you see. It was lovely of Mrs. Lynde to give me the ribbon too. I feel
that I ought to be a very good girl indeed. It's at times like this I'm
sorry I'm not a model little girl; and I always resolve that I will
be in future. But somehow it's hard to carry out your resolutions when
irresistible temptations come. Still, I really will make an extra effort
after this."

When the commonplace breakfast was over Diana appeared, crossing the
white log bridge in the hollow, a gay little figure in her crimson
ulster. Anne flew down the slope to meet her.

"Merry Christmas, Diana! And oh, it's a wonderful Christmas. I've
something splendid to show you. Matthew has given me the loveliest
dress, with SUCH sleeves. I couldn't even imagine any nicer."

"I've got something more for you," said Diana breathlessly. "Here--this
box. Aunt Josephine sent us out a big box with ever so many things in
it--and this is for you. I'd have brought it over last night, but it
didn't come until after dark, and I never feel very comfortable coming
through the Haunted Wood in the dark now."

Anne opened the box and peeped in. First a card with "For the Anne-girl
and Merry Christmas," written on it; and then, a pair of the daintiest
little kid slippers, with beaded toes and satin bows and glistening
buckles.

"Oh," said Anne, "Diana, this is too much. I must be dreaming."

"I call it providential," said Diana. "You won't have to borrow Ruby's
slippers now, and that's a blessing, for they're two sizes too big for
you, and it would be awful to hear a fairy shuffling. Josie Pye would
be delighted. Mind you, Rob Wright went home with Gertie Pye from the
practice night before last. Did you ever hear anything equal to that?"

All the Avonlea scholars were in a fever of excitement that day, for the
hall had to be decorated and a last grand rehearsal held.

The concert came off in the evening and was a pronounced success. The
little hall was crowded; all the performers did excellently well, but
Anne was the bright particular star of the occasion, as even envy, in
the shape of Josie Pye, dared not deny.

"Oh, hasn't it been a brilliant evening?" sighed Anne, when it was all
over and she and Diana were walking home together under a dark, starry
sky.

"Everything went off very well," said Diana practically. "I guess we
must have made as much as ten dollars. Mind you, Mr. Allan is going to
send an account of it to the Charlottetown papers."

"Oh, Diana, will we really see our names in print? It makes me thrill to
think of it. Your solo was perfectly elegant, Diana. I felt prouder than
you did when it was encored. I just said to myself, 'It is my dear bosom
friend who is so honored.'"

"Well, your recitations just brought down the house, Anne. That sad one
was simply splendid."

"Oh, I was so nervous, Diana. When Mr. Allan called out my name I really
cannot tell how I ever got up on that platform. I felt as if a million
eyes were looking at me and through me, and for one dreadful moment I
was sure I couldn't begin at all. Then I thought of my lovely puffed
sleeves and took courage. I knew that I must live up to those sleeves,
Diana. So I started in, and my voice seemed to be coming from ever so
far away. I just felt like a parrot. It's providential that I practiced
those recitations so often up in the garret, or I'd never have been able
to get through. Did I groan all right?"

"Yes, indeed, you groaned lovely," assured Diana.

"I saw old Mrs. Sloane wiping away tears when I sat down. It was
splendid to think I had touched somebody's heart. It's so romantic
to take part in a concert, isn't it? Oh, it's been a very memorable
occasion indeed."

"Wasn't the boys' dialogue fine?" said Diana. "Gilbert Blythe was just
splendid. Anne, I do think it's awful mean the way you treat Gil. Wait
till I tell you. When you ran off the platform after the fairy dialogue
one of your roses fell out of your hair. I saw Gil pick it up and put
it in his breast pocket. There now. You're so romantic that I'm sure you
ought to be pleased at that."

"It's nothing to me what that person does," said Anne loftily. "I simply
never waste a thought on him, Diana."

That night Marilla and Matthew, who had been out to a concert for the
first time in twenty years, sat for a while by the kitchen fire after
Anne had gone to bed.

"Well now, I guess our Anne did as well as any of them," said Matthew
proudly.

"Yes, she did," admitted Marilla. "She's a bright child, Matthew. And
she looked real nice too. I've been kind of opposed to this concert
scheme, but I suppose there's no real harm in it after all. Anyhow, I
was proud of Anne tonight, although I'm not going to tell her so."

"Well now, I was proud of her and I did tell her so 'fore she went
upstairs," said Matthew. "We must see what we can do for her some of
these days, Marilla. I guess she'll need something more than Avonlea
school by and by."

"There's time enough to think of that," said Marilla. "She's only
thirteen in March. Though tonight it struck me she was growing quite a
big girl. Mrs. Lynde made that dress a mite too long, and it makes Anne
look so tall. She's quick to learn and I guess the best thing we can do
for her will be to send her to Queen's after a spell. But nothing need
be said about that for a year or two yet."

"Well now, it'll do no harm to be thinking it over off and on," said
Matthew. "Things like that are all the better for lots of thinking
over."




CHAPTER XXVI. The Story Club Is Formed


Junior Avonlea found it hard to settle down to humdrum existence
again. To Anne in particular things seemed fearfully flat, stale, and
unprofitable after the goblet of excitement she had been sipping for
weeks. Could she go back to the former quiet pleasures of those faraway
days before the concert? At first, as she told Diana, she did not really
think she could.

"I'm positively certain, Diana, that life can never be quite the
same again as it was in those olden days," she said mournfully, as if
referring to a period of at least fifty years back. "Perhaps after a
while I'll get used to it, but I'm afraid concerts spoil people for
everyday life. I suppose that is why Marilla disapproves of them.
Marilla is such a sensible woman. It must be a great deal better to be
sensible; but still, I don't believe I'd really want to be a sensible
person, because they are so unromantic. Mrs. Lynde says there is no
danger of my ever being one, but you can never tell. I feel just now
that I may grow up to be sensible yet. But perhaps that is only because
I'm tired. I simply couldn't sleep last night for ever so long. I just
lay awake and imagined the concert over and over again. That's one
splendid thing about such affairs--it's so lovely to look back to them."

Eventually, however, Avonlea school slipped back into its old groove
and took up its old interests. To be sure, the concert left traces. Ruby
Gillis and Emma White, who had quarreled over a point of precedence in
their platform seats, no longer sat at the same desk, and a promising
friendship of three years was broken up. Josie Pye and Julia Bell did
not "speak" for three months, because Josie Pye had told Bessie Wright
that Julia Bell's bow when she got up to recite made her think of a
chicken jerking its head, and Bessie told Julia. None of the Sloanes
would have any dealings with the Bells, because the Bells had declared
that the Sloanes had too much to do in the program, and the Sloanes had
retorted that the Bells were not capable of doing the little they had to
do properly. Finally, Charlie Sloane fought Moody Spurgeon MacPherson,
because Moody Spurgeon had said that Anne Shirley put on airs about
her recitations, and Moody Spurgeon was "licked"; consequently Moody
Spurgeon's sister, Ella May, would not "speak" to Anne Shirley all the
rest of the winter. With the exception of these trifling frictions, work
in Miss Stacy's little kingdom went on with regularity and smoothness.

The winter weeks slipped by. It was an unusually mild winter, with so
little snow that Anne and Diana could go to school nearly every day by
way of the Birch Path. On Anne's birthday they were tripping lightly
down it, keeping eyes and ears alert amid all their chatter, for Miss
Stacy had told them that they must soon write a composition on "A
Winter's Walk in the Woods," and it behooved them to be observant.

"Just think, Diana, I'm thirteen years old today," remarked Anne in an
awed voice. "I can scarcely realize that I'm in my teens. When I woke
this morning it seemed to me that everything must be different. You've
been thirteen for a month, so I suppose it doesn't seem such a novelty
to you as it does to me. It makes life seem so much more interesting.
In two more years I'll be really grown up. It's a great comfort to think
that I'll be able to use big words then without being laughed at."

"Ruby Gillis says she means to have a beau as soon as she's fifteen,"
said Diana.

"Ruby Gillis thinks of nothing but beaus," said Anne disdainfully.
"She's actually delighted when anyone writes her name up in a
take-notice for all she pretends to be so mad. But I'm afraid that is an
uncharitable speech. Mrs. Allan says we should never make uncharitable
speeches; but they do slip out so often before you think, don't they? I
simply can't talk about Josie Pye without making an uncharitable speech,
so I never mention her at all. You may have noticed that. I'm trying to
be as much like Mrs. Allan as I possibly can, for I think she's perfect.
Mr. Allan thinks so too. Mrs. Lynde says he just worships the ground she
treads on and she doesn't really think it right for a minister to
set his affections so much on a mortal being. But then, Diana, even
ministers are human and have their besetting sins just like everybody
else. I had such an interesting talk with Mrs. Allan about besetting
sins last Sunday afternoon. There are just a few things it's proper
to talk about on Sundays and that is one of them. My besetting sin is
imagining too much and forgetting my duties. I'm striving very hard
to overcome it and now that I'm really thirteen perhaps I'll get on
better."

"In four more years we'll be able to put our hair up," said Diana.
"Alice Bell is only sixteen and she is wearing hers up, but I think
that's ridiculous. I shall wait until I'm seventeen."

"If I had Alice Bell's crooked nose," said Anne decidedly, "I
wouldn't--but there! I won't say what I was going to because it was
extremely uncharitable. Besides, I was comparing it with my own nose and
that's vanity. I'm afraid I think too much about my nose ever since I
heard that compliment about it long ago. It really is a great comfort to
me. Oh, Diana, look, there's a rabbit. That's something to remember for
our woods composition. I really think the woods are just as lovely in
winter as in summer. They're so white and still, as if they were asleep
and dreaming pretty dreams."

"I won't mind writing that composition when its time comes," sighed
Diana. "I can manage to write about the woods, but the one we're to
hand in Monday is terrible. The idea of Miss Stacy telling us to write a
story out of our own heads!"

"Why, it's as easy as wink," said Anne.

"It's easy for you because you have an imagination," retorted Diana,
"but what would you do if you had been born without one? I suppose you
have your composition all done?"

Anne nodded, trying hard not to look virtuously complacent and failing
miserably.

"I wrote it last Monday evening. It's called 'The Jealous Rival; or In
Death Not Divided.' I read it to Marilla and she said it was stuff and
nonsense. Then I read it to Matthew and he said it was fine. That is
the kind of critic I like. It's a sad, sweet story. I just cried like
a child while I was writing it. It's about two beautiful maidens called
Cordelia Montmorency and Geraldine Seymour who lived in the same village
and were devotedly attached to each other. Cordelia was a regal brunette
with a coronet of midnight hair and duskly flashing eyes. Geraldine was
a queenly blonde with hair like spun gold and velvety purple eyes."

"I never saw anybody with purple eyes," said Diana dubiously.

"Neither did I. I just imagined them. I wanted something out of the
common. Geraldine had an alabaster brow too. I've found out what an
alabaster brow is. That is one of the advantages of being thirteen. You
know so much more than you did when you were only twelve."

"Well, what became of Cordelia and Geraldine?" asked Diana, who was
beginning to feel rather interested in their fate.

"They grew in beauty side by side until they were sixteen. Then Bertram
DeVere came to their native village and fell in love with the fair
Geraldine. He saved her life when her horse ran away with her in a
carriage, and she fainted in his arms and he carried her home three
miles; because, you understand, the carriage was all smashed up. I found
it rather hard to imagine the proposal because I had no experience to
go by. I asked Ruby Gillis if she knew anything about how men proposed
because I thought she'd likely be an authority on the subject, having so
many sisters married. Ruby told me she was hid in the hall pantry when
Malcolm Andres proposed to her sister Susan. She said Malcolm told Susan
that his dad had given him the farm in his own name and then said, 'What
do you say, darling pet, if we get hitched this fall?' And Susan said,
'Yes--no--I don't know--let me see'--and there they were, engaged as
quick as that. But I didn't think that sort of a proposal was a very
romantic one, so in the end I had to imagine it out as well as I could.
I made it very flowery and poetical and Bertram went on his knees,
although Ruby Gillis says it isn't done nowadays. Geraldine accepted
him in a speech a page long. I can tell you I took a lot of trouble
with that speech. I rewrote it five times and I look upon it as my
masterpiece. Bertram gave her a diamond ring and a ruby necklace
and told her they would go to Europe for a wedding tour, for he was
immensely wealthy. But then, alas, shadows began to darken over their
path. Cordelia was secretly in love with Bertram herself and when
Geraldine told her about the engagement she was simply furious,
especially when she saw the necklace and the diamond ring. All her
affection for Geraldine turned to bitter hate and she vowed that she
should never marry Bertram. But she pretended to be Geraldine's friend
the same as ever. One evening they were standing on the bridge over a
rushing turbulent stream and Cordelia, thinking they were alone, pushed
Geraldine over the brink with a wild, mocking, 'Ha, ha, ha.' But Bertram
saw it all and he at once plunged into the current, exclaiming, 'I
will save thee, my peerless Geraldine.' But alas, he had forgotten he
couldn't swim, and they were both drowned, clasped in each other's arms.
Their bodies were washed ashore soon afterwards. They were buried in the
one grave and their funeral was most imposing, Diana. It's so much
more romantic to end a story up with a funeral than a wedding. As for
Cordelia, she went insane with remorse and was shut up in a lunatic
asylum. I thought that was a poetical retribution for her crime."

"How perfectly lovely!" sighed Diana, who belonged to Matthew's school
of critics. "I don't see how you can make up such thrilling things out
of your own head, Anne. I wish my imagination was as good as yours."

"It would be if you'd only cultivate it," said Anne cheeringly. "I've
just thought of a plan, Diana. Let you and me have a story club all our
own and write stories for practice. I'll help you along until you can
do them by yourself. You ought to cultivate your imagination, you know.
Miss Stacy says so. Only we must take the right way. I told her about
the Haunted Wood, but she said we went the wrong way about it in that."

This was how the story club came into existence. It was limited to Diana
and Anne at first, but soon it was extended to include Jane Andrews
and Ruby Gillis and one or two others who felt that their imaginations
needed cultivating. No boys were allowed in it--although Ruby Gillis
opined that their admission would make it more exciting--and each member
had to produce one story a week.

"It's extremely interesting," Anne told Marilla. "Each girl has to read
her story out loud and then we talk it over. We are going to keep them
all sacredly and have them to read to our descendants. We each write
under a nom-de-plume. Mine is Rosamond Montmorency. All the girls
do pretty well. Ruby Gillis is rather sentimental. She puts too much
lovemaking into her stories and you know too much is worse than too
little. Jane never puts any because she says it makes her feel so silly
when she had to read it out loud. Jane's stories are extremely sensible.
Then Diana puts too many murders into hers. She says most of the time
she doesn't know what to do with the people so she kills them off to get
rid of them. I mostly always have to tell them what to write about, but
that isn't hard for I've millions of ideas."

"I think this story-writing business is the foolishest yet," scoffed
Marilla. "You'll get a pack of nonsense into your heads and waste time
that should be put on your lessons. Reading stories is bad enough but
writing them is worse."

"But we're so careful to put a moral into them all, Marilla," explained
Anne. "I insist upon that. All the good people are rewarded and all
the bad ones are suitably punished. I'm sure that must have a wholesome
effect. The moral is the great thing. Mr. Allan says so. I read one of
my stories to him and Mrs. Allan and they both agreed that the moral was
excellent. Only they laughed in the wrong places. I like it better when
people cry. Jane and Ruby almost always cry when I come to the pathetic
parts. Diana wrote her Aunt Josephine about our club and her Aunt
Josephine wrote back that we were to send her some of our stories. So
we copied out four of our very best and sent them. Miss Josephine Barry
wrote back that she had never read anything so amusing in her life. That
kind of puzzled us because the stories were all very pathetic and almost
everybody died. But I'm glad Miss Barry liked them. It shows our club
is doing some good in the world. Mrs. Allan says that ought to be our
object in everything. I do really try to make it my object but I forget
so often when I'm having fun. I hope I shall be a little like Mrs. Allan
when I grow up. Do you think there is any prospect of it, Marilla?"

"I shouldn't say there was a great deal" was Marilla's encouraging
answer. "I'm sure Mrs. Allan was never such a silly, forgetful little
girl as you are."

"No; but she wasn't always so good as she is now either," said Anne
seriously. "She told me so herself--that is, she said she was a dreadful
mischief when she was a girl and was always getting into scrapes. I felt
so encouraged when I heard that. Is it very wicked of me, Marilla,
to feel encouraged when I hear that other people have been bad and
mischievous? Mrs. Lynde says it is. Mrs. Lynde says she always feels
shocked when she hears of anyone ever having been naughty, no matter how
small they were. Mrs. Lynde says she once heard a minister confess that
when he was a boy he stole a strawberry tart out of his aunt's pantry
and she never had any respect for that minister again. Now, I wouldn't
have felt that way. I'd have thought that it was real noble of him to
confess it, and I'd have thought what an encouraging thing it would be
for small boys nowadays who do naughty things and are sorry for them
to know that perhaps they may grow up to be ministers in spite of it.
That's how I'd feel, Marilla."

"The way I feel at present, Anne," said Marilla, "is that it's high time
you had those dishes washed. You've taken half an hour longer than
you should with all your chattering. Learn to work first and talk
afterwards."




CHAPTER XXVII. Vanity and Vexation of Spirit


Marilla, walking home one late April evening from an Aid meeting,
realized that the winter was over and gone with the thrill of delight
that spring never fails to bring to the oldest and saddest as well as to
the youngest and merriest. Marilla was not given to subjective analysis
of her thoughts and feelings. She probably imagined that she was
thinking about the Aids and their missionary box and the new carpet
for the vestry room, but under these reflections was a harmonious
consciousness of red fields smoking into pale-purply mists in the
declining sun, of long, sharp-pointed fir shadows falling over the
meadow beyond the brook, of still, crimson-budded maples around a
mirrorlike wood pool, of a wakening in the world and a stir of hidden
pulses under the gray sod. The spring was abroad in the land and
Marilla's sober, middle-aged step was lighter and swifter because of its
deep, primal gladness.

Her eyes dwelt affectionately on Green Gables, peering through its
network of trees and reflecting the sunlight back from its windows in
several little coruscations of glory. Marilla, as she picked her steps
along the damp lane, thought that it was really a satisfaction to know
that she was going home to a briskly snapping wood fire and a table
nicely spread for tea, instead of to the cold comfort of old Aid meeting
evenings before Anne had come to Green Gables.

Consequently, when Marilla entered her kitchen and found the fire black
out, with no sign of Anne anywhere, she felt justly disappointed and
irritated. She had told Anne to be sure and have tea ready at five
o'clock, but now she must hurry to take off her second-best dress and
prepare the meal herself against Matthew's return from plowing.

"I'll settle Miss Anne when she comes home," said Marilla grimly, as
she shaved up kindlings with a carving knife and with more vim than was
strictly necessary. Matthew had come in and was waiting patiently for
his tea in his corner. "She's gadding off somewhere with Diana, writing
stories or practicing dialogues or some such tomfoolery, and never
thinking once about the time or her duties. She's just got to be pulled
up short and sudden on this sort of thing. I don't care if Mrs. Allan
does say she's the brightest and sweetest child she ever knew. She may
be bright and sweet enough, but her head is full of nonsense and there's
never any knowing what shape it'll break out in next. Just as soon as
she grows out of one freak she takes up with another. But there! Here I
am saying the very thing I was so riled with Rachel Lynde for saying at
the Aid today. I was real glad when Mrs. Allan spoke up for Anne, for
if she hadn't I know I'd have said something too sharp to Rachel before
everybody. Anne's got plenty of faults, goodness knows, and far be it
from me to deny it. But I'm bringing her up and not Rachel Lynde, who'd
pick faults in the Angel Gabriel himself if he lived in Avonlea. Just
the same, Anne has no business to leave the house like this when I told
her she was to stay home this afternoon and look after things. I must
say, with all her faults, I never found her disobedient or untrustworthy
before and I'm real sorry to find her so now."

"Well now, I dunno," said Matthew, who, being patient and wise and,
above all, hungry, had deemed it best to let Marilla talk her wrath
out unhindered, having learned by experience that she got through
with whatever work was on hand much quicker if not delayed by untimely
argument. "Perhaps you're judging her too hasty, Marilla. Don't call her
untrustworthy until you're sure she has disobeyed you. Mebbe it can all
be explained--Anne's a great hand at explaining."

"She's not here when I told her to stay," retorted Marilla. "I reckon
she'll find it hard to explain THAT to my satisfaction. Of course I knew
you'd take her part, Matthew. But I'm bringing her up, not you."

It was dark when supper was ready, and still no sign of Anne, coming
hurriedly over the log bridge or up Lover's Lane, breathless and
repentant with a sense of neglected duties. Marilla washed and put away
the dishes grimly. Then, wanting a candle to light her way down the
cellar, she went up to the east gable for the one that generally stood
on Anne's table. Lighting it, she turned around to see Anne herself
lying on the bed, face downward among the pillows.

"Mercy on us," said astonished Marilla, "have you been asleep, Anne?"

"No," was the muffled reply.

"Are you sick then?" demanded Marilla anxiously, going over to the bed.

Anne cowered deeper into her pillows as if desirous of hiding herself
forever from mortal eyes.

"No. But please, Marilla, go away and don't look at me. I'm in the
depths of despair and I don't care who gets head in class or writes the
best composition or sings in the Sunday-school choir any more. Little
things like that are of no importance now because I don't suppose I'll
ever be able to go anywhere again. My career is closed. Please, Marilla,
go away and don't look at me."

"Did anyone ever hear the like?" the mystified Marilla wanted to know.
"Anne Shirley, whatever is the matter with you? What have you done? Get
right up this minute and tell me. This minute, I say. There now, what is
it?"

Anne had slid to the floor in despairing obedience.

"Look at my hair, Marilla," she whispered.

Accordingly, Marilla lifted her candle and looked scrutinizingly at
Anne's hair, flowing in heavy masses down her back. It certainly had a
very strange appearance.

"Anne Shirley, what have you done to your hair? Why, it's GREEN!"

Green it might be called, if it were any earthly color--a queer,
dull, bronzy green, with streaks here and there of the original red
to heighten the ghastly effect. Never in all her life had Marilla seen
anything so grotesque as Anne's hair at that moment.

"Yes, it's green," moaned Anne. "I thought nothing could be as bad as
red hair. But now I know it's ten times worse to have green hair. Oh,
Marilla, you little know how utterly wretched I am."

"I little know how you got into this fix, but I mean to find out," said
Marilla. "Come right down to the kitchen--it's too cold up here--and
tell me just what you've done. I've been expecting something queer for
some time. You haven't got into any scrape for over two months, and I
was sure another one was due. Now, then, what did you do to your hair?"

"I dyed it."

"Dyed it! Dyed your hair! Anne Shirley, didn't you know it was a wicked
thing to do?"

"Yes, I knew it was a little wicked," admitted Anne. "But I thought it
was worth while to be a little wicked to get rid of red hair. I counted
the cost, Marilla. Besides, I meant to be extra good in other ways to
make up for it."

"Well," said Marilla sarcastically, "if I'd decided it was worth while
to dye my hair I'd have dyed it a decent color at least. I wouldn't have
dyed it green."

"But I didn't mean to dye it green, Marilla," protested Anne dejectedly.
"If I was wicked I meant to be wicked to some purpose. He said it would
turn my hair a beautiful raven black--he positively assured me that it
would. How could I doubt his word, Marilla? I know what it feels like
to have your word doubted. And Mrs. Allan says we should never suspect
anyone of not telling us the truth unless we have proof that they're
not. I have proof now--green hair is proof enough for anybody. But I
hadn't then and I believed every word he said IMPLICITLY."

"Who said? Who are you talking about?"

"The peddler that was here this afternoon. I bought the dye from him."

"Anne Shirley, how often have I told you never to let one of those
Italians in the house! I don't believe in encouraging them to come
around at all."

"Oh, I didn't let him in the house. I remembered what you told me, and I
went out, carefully shut the door, and looked at his things on the step.
Besides, he wasn't an Italian--he was a German Jew. He had a big box
full of very interesting things and he told me he was working hard to
make enough money to bring his wife and children out from Germany. He
spoke so feelingly about them that it touched my heart. I wanted to buy
something from him to help him in such a worthy object. Then all at once
I saw the bottle of hair dye. The peddler said it was warranted to dye
any hair a beautiful raven black and wouldn't wash off. In a trice I
saw myself with beautiful raven-black hair and the temptation was
irresistible. But the price of the bottle was seventy-five cents and I
had only fifty cents left out of my chicken money. I think the peddler
had a very kind heart, for he said that, seeing it was me, he'd sell it
for fifty cents and that was just giving it away. So I bought it, and as
soon as he had gone I came up here and applied it with an old hairbrush
as the directions said. I used up the whole bottle, and oh, Marilla,
when I saw the dreadful color it turned my hair I repented of being
wicked, I can tell you. And I've been repenting ever since."

"Well, I hope you'll repent to good purpose," said Marilla severely,
"and that you've got your eyes opened to where your vanity has led you,
Anne. Goodness knows what's to be done. I suppose the first thing is to
give your hair a good washing and see if that will do any good."

Accordingly, Anne washed her hair, scrubbing it vigorously with soap and
water, but for all the difference it made she might as well have been
scouring its original red. The peddler had certainly spoken the truth
when he declared that the dye wouldn't wash off, however his veracity
might be impeached in other respects.

"Oh, Marilla, what shall I do?" questioned Anne in tears. "I can never
live this down. People have pretty well forgotten my other mistakes--the
liniment cake and setting Diana drunk and flying into a temper with
Mrs. Lynde. But they'll never forget this. They will think I am not
respectable. Oh, Marilla, 'what a tangled web we weave when first we
practice to deceive.' That is poetry, but it is true. And oh, how Josie
Pye will laugh! Marilla, I CANNOT face Josie Pye. I am the unhappiest
girl in Prince Edward Island."

Anne's unhappiness continued for a week. During that time she went
nowhere and shampooed her hair every day. Diana alone of outsiders knew
the fatal secret, but she promised solemnly never to tell, and it may
be stated here and now that she kept her word. At the end of the week
Marilla said decidedly:

"It's no use, Anne. That is fast dye if ever there was any. Your hair
must be cut off; there is no other way. You can't go out with it looking
like that."

Anne's lips quivered, but she realized the bitter truth of Marilla's
remarks. With a dismal sigh she went for the scissors.

"Please cut it off at once, Marilla, and have it over. Oh, I feel that
my heart is broken. This is such an unromantic affliction. The girls in
books lose their hair in fevers or sell it to get money for some good
deed, and I'm sure I wouldn't mind losing my hair in some such fashion
half so much. But there is nothing comforting in having your hair cut
off because you've dyed it a dreadful color, is there? I'm going to weep
all the time you're cutting it off, if it won't interfere. It seems such
a tragic thing."

Anne wept then, but later on, when she went upstairs and looked in the
glass, she was calm with despair. Marilla had done her work thoroughly
and it had been necessary to shingle the hair as closely as possible.
The result was not becoming, to state the case as mildly as may be. Anne
promptly turned her glass to the wall.

"I'll never, never look at myself again until my hair grows," she
exclaimed passionately.

Then she suddenly righted the glass.

"Yes, I will, too. I'd do penance for being wicked that way. I'll look
at myself every time I come to my room and see how ugly I am. And I
won't try to imagine it away, either. I never thought I was vain about
my hair, of all things, but now I know I was, in spite of its being
red, because it was so long and thick and curly. I expect something will
happen to my nose next."

Anne's clipped head made a sensation in school on the following Monday,
but to her relief nobody guessed the real reason for it, not even Josie
Pye, who, however, did not fail to inform Anne that she looked like a
perfect scarecrow.

"I didn't say anything when Josie said that to me," Anne confided
that evening to Marilla, who was lying on the sofa after one of her
headaches, "because I thought it was part of my punishment and I ought
to bear it patiently. It's hard to be told you look like a scarecrow
and I wanted to say something back. But I didn't. I just swept her one
scornful look and then I forgave her. It makes you feel very virtuous
when you forgive people, doesn't it? I mean to devote all my energies
to being good after this and I shall never try to be beautiful again. Of
course it's better to be good. I know it is, but it's sometimes so hard
to believe a thing even when you know it. I do really want to be good,
Marilla, like you and Mrs. Allan and Miss Stacy, and grow up to be a
credit to you. Diana says when my hair begins to grow to tie a black
velvet ribbon around my head with a bow at one side. She says she
thinks it will be very becoming. I will call it a snood--that sounds so
romantic. But am I talking too much, Marilla? Does it hurt your head?"

"My head is better now. It was terrible bad this afternoon, though.
These headaches of mine are getting worse and worse. I'll have to see
a doctor about them. As for your chatter, I don't know that I mind
it--I've got so used to it."

Which was Marilla's way of saying that she liked to hear it.




CHAPTER XXVIII. An Unfortunate Lily Maid


"OF course you must be Elaine, Anne," said Diana. "I could never have
the courage to float down there."

"Nor I," said Ruby Gillis, with a shiver. "I don't mind floating down
when there's two or three of us in the flat and we can sit up. It's fun
then. But to lie down and pretend I was dead--I just couldn't. I'd die
really of fright."

"Of course it would be romantic," conceded Jane Andrews, "but I know I
couldn't keep still. I'd be popping up every minute or so to see where I
was and if I wasn't drifting too far out. And you know, Anne, that would
spoil the effect."

"But it's so ridiculous to have a redheaded Elaine," mourned Anne. "I'm
not afraid to float down and I'd love to be Elaine. But it's ridiculous
just the same. Ruby ought to be Elaine because she is so fair and has
such lovely long golden hair--Elaine had 'all her bright hair streaming
down,' you know. And Elaine was the lily maid. Now, a red-haired person
cannot be a lily maid."

"Your complexion is just as fair as Ruby's," said Diana earnestly, "and
your hair is ever so much darker than it used to be before you cut it."

"Oh, do you really think so?" exclaimed Anne, flushing sensitively with
delight. "I've sometimes thought it was myself--but I never dared to ask
anyone for fear she would tell me it wasn't. Do you think it could be
called auburn now, Diana?"

"Yes, and I think it is real pretty," said Diana, looking admiringly at
the short, silky curls that clustered over Anne's head and were held in
place by a very jaunty black velvet ribbon and bow.

They were standing on the bank of the pond, below Orchard Slope, where
a little headland fringed with birches ran out from the bank; at its tip
was a small wooden platform built out into the water for the convenience
of fishermen and duck hunters. Ruby and Jane were spending the midsummer
afternoon with Diana, and Anne had come over to play with them.

Anne and Diana had spent most of their playtime that summer on and about
the pond. Idlewild was a thing of the past, Mr. Bell having ruthlessly
cut down the little circle of trees in his back pasture in the spring.
Anne had sat among the stumps and wept, not without an eye to the
romance of it; but she was speedily consoled, for, after all, as she and
Diana said, big girls of thirteen, going on fourteen, were too old for
such childish amusements as playhouses, and there were more fascinating
sports to be found about the pond. It was splendid to fish for trout
over the bridge and the two girls learned to row themselves about in the
little flat-bottomed dory Mr. Barry kept for duck shooting.

It was Anne's idea that they dramatize Elaine. They had studied
Tennyson's poem in school the preceding winter, the Superintendent of
Education having prescribed it in the English course for the Prince
Edward Island schools. They had analyzed and parsed it and torn it to
pieces in general until it was a wonder there was any meaning at all
left in it for them, but at least the fair lily maid and Lancelot and
Guinevere and King Arthur had become very real people to them, and Anne
was devoured by secret regret that she had not been born in Camelot.
Those days, she said, were so much more romantic than the present.

Anne's plan was hailed with enthusiasm. The girls had discovered that if
the flat were pushed off from the landing place it would drift down
with the current under the bridge and finally strand itself on another
headland lower down which ran out at a curve in the pond. They had often
gone down like this and nothing could be more convenient for playing
Elaine.

"Well, I'll be Elaine," said Anne, yielding reluctantly, for, although
she would have been delighted to play the principal character, yet
her artistic sense demanded fitness for it and this, she felt, her
limitations made impossible. "Ruby, you must be King Arthur and Jane
will be Guinevere and Diana must be Lancelot. But first you must be the
brothers and the father. We can't have the old dumb servitor because
there isn't room for two in the flat when one is lying down. We must
pall the barge all its length in blackest samite. That old black shawl
of your mother's will be just the thing, Diana."

The black shawl having been procured, Anne spread it over the flat and
then lay down on the bottom, with closed eyes and hands folded over her
breast.

"Oh, she does look really dead," whispered Ruby Gillis nervously,
watching the still, white little face under the flickering shadows of
the birches. "It makes me feel frightened, girls. Do you suppose it's
really right to act like this? Mrs. Lynde says that all play-acting is
abominably wicked."

"Ruby, you shouldn't talk about Mrs. Lynde," said Anne severely. "It
spoils the effect because this is hundreds of years before Mrs. Lynde
was born. Jane, you arrange this. It's silly for Elaine to be talking
when she's dead."

Jane rose to the occasion. Cloth of gold for coverlet there was none,
but an old piano scarf of yellow Japanese crepe was an excellent
substitute. A white lily was not obtainable just then, but the effect of
a tall blue iris placed in one of Anne's folded hands was all that could
be desired.

"Now, she's all ready," said Jane. "We must kiss her quiet brows
and, Diana, you say, 'Sister, farewell forever,' and Ruby, you say,
'Farewell, sweet sister,' both of you as sorrowfully as you possibly
can. Anne, for goodness sake smile a little. You know Elaine 'lay as
though she smiled.' That's better. Now push the flat off."

The flat was accordingly pushed off, scraping roughly over an old
embedded stake in the process. Diana and Jane and Ruby only waited long
enough to see it caught in the current and headed for the bridge before
scampering up through the woods, across the road, and down to the lower
headland where, as Lancelot and Guinevere and the King, they were to be
in readiness to receive the lily maid.

For a few minutes Anne, drifting slowly down, enjoyed the romance of her
situation to the full. Then something happened not at all romantic. The
flat began to leak. In a very few moments it was necessary for Elaine
to scramble to her feet, pick up her cloth of gold coverlet and pall
of blackest samite and gaze blankly at a big crack in the bottom of her
barge through which the water was literally pouring. That sharp stake at
the landing had torn off the strip of batting nailed on the flat. Anne
did not know this, but it did not take her long to realize that she was
in a dangerous plight. At this rate the flat would fill and sink long
before it could drift to the lower headland. Where were the oars? Left
behind at the landing!

Anne gave one gasping little scream which nobody ever heard; she was
white to the lips, but she did not lose her self-possession. There was
one chance--just one.

"I was horribly frightened," she told Mrs. Allan the next day, "and it
seemed like years while the flat was drifting down to the bridge and the
water rising in it every moment. I prayed, Mrs. Allan, most earnestly,
but I didn't shut my eyes to pray, for I knew the only way God could
save me was to let the flat float close enough to one of the bridge
piles for me to climb up on it. You know the piles are just old tree
trunks and there are lots of knots and old branch stubs on them. It was
proper to pray, but I had to do my part by watching out and right well
I knew it. I just said, 'Dear God, please take the flat close to a pile
and I'll do the rest,' over and over again. Under such circumstances you
don't think much about making a flowery prayer. But mine was answered,
for the flat bumped right into a pile for a minute and I flung the scarf
and the shawl over my shoulder and scrambled up on a big providential
stub. And there I was, Mrs. Allan, clinging to that slippery old pile
with no way of getting up or down. It was a very unromantic position,
but I didn't think about that at the time. You don't think much about
romance when you have just escaped from a watery grave. I said a
grateful prayer at once and then I gave all my attention to holding on
tight, for I knew I should probably have to depend on human aid to get
back to dry land."

The flat drifted under the bridge and then promptly sank in midstream.
Ruby, Jane, and Diana, already awaiting it on the lower headland, saw it
disappear before their very eyes and had not a doubt but that Anne
had gone down with it. For a moment they stood still, white as sheets,
frozen with horror at the tragedy; then, shrieking at the tops of
their voices, they started on a frantic run up through the woods, never
pausing as they crossed the main road to glance the way of the bridge.
Anne, clinging desperately to her precarious foothold, saw their flying
forms and heard their shrieks. Help would soon come, but meanwhile her
position was a very uncomfortable one.

The minutes passed by, each seeming an hour to the unfortunate lily
maid. Why didn't somebody come? Where had the girls gone? Suppose they
had fainted, one and all! Suppose nobody ever came! Suppose she grew so
tired and cramped that she could hold on no longer! Anne looked at the
wicked green depths below her, wavering with long, oily shadows, and
shivered. Her imagination began to suggest all manner of gruesome
possibilities to her.

Then, just as she thought she really could not endure the ache in her
arms and wrists another moment, Gilbert Blythe came rowing under the
bridge in Harmon Andrews's dory!

Gilbert glanced up and, much to his amazement, beheld a little white
scornful face looking down upon him with big, frightened but also
scornful gray eyes.

"Anne Shirley! How on earth did you get there?" he exclaimed.

Without waiting for an answer he pulled close to the pile and extended
his hand. There was no help for it; Anne, clinging to Gilbert Blythe's
hand, scrambled down into the dory, where she sat, drabbled and furious,
in the stern with her arms full of dripping shawl and wet crepe. It was
certainly extremely difficult to be dignified under the circumstances!

"What has happened, Anne?" asked Gilbert, taking up his oars. "We were
playing Elaine" explained Anne frigidly, without even looking at her
rescuer, "and I had to drift down to Camelot in the barge--I mean the
flat. The flat began to leak and I climbed out on the pile. The girls
went for help. Will you be kind enough to row me to the landing?"

Gilbert obligingly rowed to the landing and Anne, disdaining assistance,
sprang nimbly on shore.

"I'm very much obliged to you," she said haughtily as she turned away.
But Gilbert had also sprung from the boat and now laid a detaining hand
on her arm.

"Anne," he said hurriedly, "look here. Can't we be good friends? I'm
awfully sorry I made fun of your hair that time. I didn't mean to vex
you and I only meant it for a joke. Besides, it's so long ago. I think
your hair is awfully pretty now--honest I do. Let's be friends."

For a moment Anne hesitated. She had an odd, newly awakened
consciousness under all her outraged dignity that the half-shy,
half-eager expression in Gilbert's hazel eyes was something that was
very good to see. Her heart gave a quick, queer little beat. But the
bitterness of her old grievance promptly stiffened up her wavering
determination. That scene of two years before flashed back into her
recollection as vividly as if it had taken place yesterday. Gilbert had
called her "carrots" and had brought about her disgrace before the whole
school. Her resentment, which to other and older people might be as
laughable as its cause, was in no whit allayed and softened by time
seemingly. She hated Gilbert Blythe! She would never forgive him!

"No," she said coldly, "I shall never be friends with you, Gilbert
Blythe; and I don't want to be!"

"All right!" Gilbert sprang into his skiff with an angry color in his
cheeks. "I'll never ask you to be friends again, Anne Shirley. And I
don't care either!"

He pulled away with swift defiant strokes, and Anne went up the steep,
ferny little path under the maples. She held her head very high, but
she was conscious of an odd feeling of regret. She almost wished she had
answered Gilbert differently. Of course, he had insulted her terribly,
but still--! Altogether, Anne rather thought it would be a relief to
sit down and have a good cry. She was really quite unstrung, for the
reaction from her fright and cramped clinging was making itself felt.

Halfway up the path she met Jane and Diana rushing back to the pond in
a state narrowly removed from positive frenzy. They had found nobody at
Orchard Slope, both Mr. and Mrs. Barry being away. Here Ruby Gillis had
succumbed to hysterics, and was left to recover from them as best she
might, while Jane and Diana flew through the Haunted Wood and across the
brook to Green Gables. There they had found nobody either, for Marilla
had gone to Carmody and Matthew was making hay in the back field.

"Oh, Anne," gasped Diana, fairly falling on the former's neck
and weeping with relief and delight, "oh, Anne--we thought--you
were--drowned--and we felt like murderers--because we had made--you
be--Elaine. And Ruby is in hysterics--oh, Anne, how did you escape?"

"I climbed up on one of the piles," explained Anne wearily, "and Gilbert
Blythe came along in Mr. Andrews's dory and brought me to land."

"Oh, Anne, how splendid of him! Why, it's so romantic!" said Jane,
finding breath enough for utterance at last. "Of course you'll speak to
him after this."

"Of course I won't," flashed Anne, with a momentary return of her old
spirit. "And I don't want ever to hear the word 'romantic' again, Jane
Andrews. I'm awfully sorry you were so frightened, girls. It is all my
fault. I feel sure I was born under an unlucky star. Everything I do
gets me or my dearest friends into a scrape. We've gone and lost your
father's flat, Diana, and I have a presentiment that we'll not be
allowed to row on the pond any more."

Anne's presentiment proved more trustworthy than presentiments are apt
to do. Great was the consternation in the Barry and Cuthbert households
when the events of the afternoon became known.

"Will you ever have any sense, Anne?" groaned Marilla.

"Oh, yes, I think I will, Marilla," returned Anne optimistically. A good
cry, indulged in the grateful solitude of the east gable, had soothed
her nerves and restored her to her wonted cheerfulness. "I think my
prospects of becoming sensible are brighter now than ever."

"I don't see how," said Marilla.

"Well," explained Anne, "I've learned a new and valuable lesson today.
Ever since I came to Green Gables I've been making mistakes, and each
mistake has helped to cure me of some great shortcoming. The affair of
the amethyst brooch cured me of meddling with things that didn't belong
to me. The Haunted Wood mistake cured me of letting my imagination run
away with me. The liniment cake mistake cured me of carelessness in
cooking. Dyeing my hair cured me of vanity. I never think about my hair
and nose now--at least, very seldom. And today's mistake is going to
cure me of being too romantic. I have come to the conclusion that it is
no use trying to be romantic in Avonlea. It was probably easy enough in
towered Camelot hundreds of years ago, but romance is not appreciated
now. I feel quite sure that you will soon see a great improvement in me
in this respect, Marilla."

"I'm sure I hope so," said Marilla skeptically.

But Matthew, who had been sitting mutely in his corner, laid a hand on
Anne's shoulder when Marilla had gone out.

"Don't give up all your romance, Anne," he whispered shyly, "a little
of it is a good thing--not too much, of course--but keep a little of it,
Anne, keep a little of it."




CHAPTER XXIX. An Epoch in Anne's Life


Anne was bringing the cows home from the back pasture by way of Lover's
Lane. It was a September evening and all the gaps and clearings in the
woods were brimmed up with ruby sunset light. Here and there the lane
was splashed with it, but for the most part it was already quite shadowy
beneath the maples, and the spaces under the firs were filled with a
clear violet dusk like airy wine. The winds were out in their tops, and
there is no sweeter music on earth than that which the wind makes in the
fir trees at evening.

The cows swung placidly down the lane, and Anne followed them dreamily,
repeating aloud the battle canto from MARMION--which had also been part
of their English course the preceding winter and which Miss Stacy had
made them learn off by heart--and exulting in its rushing lines and the
clash of spears in its imagery. When she came to the lines


       The stubborn spearsmen still made good
       Their dark impenetrable wood,


she stopped in ecstasy to shut her eyes that she might the better fancy
herself one of that heroic ring. When she opened them again it was to
behold Diana coming through the gate that led into the Barry field and
looking so important that Anne instantly divined there was news to be
told. But betray too eager curiosity she would not.

"Isn't this evening just like a purple dream, Diana? It makes me so glad
to be alive. In the mornings I always think the mornings are best; but
when evening comes I think it's lovelier still."

"It's a very fine evening," said Diana, "but oh, I have such news, Anne.
Guess. You can have three guesses."

"Charlotte Gillis is going to be married in the church after all and
Mrs. Allan wants us to decorate it," cried Anne.

"No. Charlotte's beau won't agree to that, because nobody ever has been
married in the church yet, and he thinks it would seem too much like a
funeral. It's too mean, because it would be such fun. Guess again."

"Jane's mother is going to let her have a birthday party?"

Diana shook her head, her black eyes dancing with merriment.

"I can't think what it can be," said Anne in despair, "unless it's that
Moody Spurgeon MacPherson saw you home from prayer meeting last night.
Did he?"

"I should think not," exclaimed Diana indignantly. "I wouldn't be likely
to boast of it if he did, the horrid creature! I knew you couldn't guess
it. Mother had a letter from Aunt Josephine today, and Aunt Josephine
wants you and me to go to town next Tuesday and stop with her for the
Exhibition. There!"

"Oh, Diana," whispered Anne, finding it necessary to lean up against a
maple tree for support, "do you really mean it? But I'm afraid Marilla
won't let me go. She will say that she can't encourage gadding about.
That was what she said last week when Jane invited me to go with them
in their double-seated buggy to the American concert at the White Sands
Hotel. I wanted to go, but Marilla said I'd be better at home learning
my lessons and so would Jane. I was bitterly disappointed, Diana. I felt
so heartbroken that I wouldn't say my prayers when I went to bed. But I
repented of that and got up in the middle of the night and said them."

"I'll tell you," said Diana, "we'll get Mother to ask Marilla. She'll be
more likely to let you go then; and if she does we'll have the time
of our lives, Anne. I've never been to an Exhibition, and it's so
aggravating to hear the other girls talking about their trips. Jane and
Ruby have been twice, and they're going this year again."

"I'm not going to think about it at all until I know whether I can go
or not," said Anne resolutely. "If I did and then was disappointed, it
would be more than I could bear. But in case I do go I'm very glad my
new coat will be ready by that time. Marilla didn't think I needed a new
coat. She said my old one would do very well for another winter and
that I ought to be satisfied with having a new dress. The dress is very
pretty, Diana--navy blue and made so fashionably. Marilla always makes
my dresses fashionably now, because she says she doesn't intend to have
Matthew going to Mrs. Lynde to make them. I'm so glad. It is ever so
much easier to be good if your clothes are fashionable. At least, it is
easier for me. I suppose it doesn't make such a difference to naturally
good people. But Matthew said I must have a new coat, so Marilla
bought a lovely piece of blue broadcloth, and it's being made by a real
dressmaker over at Carmody. It's to be done Saturday night, and I'm
trying not to imagine myself walking up the church aisle on Sunday in
my new suit and cap, because I'm afraid it isn't right to imagine such
things. But it just slips into my mind in spite of me. My cap is so
pretty. Matthew bought it for me the day we were over at Carmody. It is
one of those little blue velvet ones that are all the rage, with gold
cord and tassels. Your new hat is elegant, Diana, and so becoming. When
I saw you come into church last Sunday my heart swelled with pride to
think you were my dearest friend. Do you suppose it's wrong for us to
think so much about our clothes? Marilla says it is very sinful. But it
is such an interesting subject, isn't it?"

Marilla agreed to let Anne go to town, and it was arranged that
Mr. Barry should take the girls in on the following Tuesday. As
Charlottetown was thirty miles away and Mr. Barry wished to go and
return the same day, it was necessary to make a very early start. But
Anne counted it all joy, and was up before sunrise on Tuesday morning.
A glance from her window assured her that the day would be fine, for
the eastern sky behind the firs of the Haunted Wood was all silvery
and cloudless. Through the gap in the trees a light was shining in the
western gable of Orchard Slope, a token that Diana was also up.

Anne was dressed by the time Matthew had the fire on and had the
breakfast ready when Marilla came down, but for her own part was much
too excited to eat. After breakfast the jaunty new cap and jacket were
donned, and Anne hastened over the brook and up through the firs to
Orchard Slope. Mr. Barry and Diana were waiting for her, and they were
soon on the road.

It was a long drive, but Anne and Diana enjoyed every minute of it. It
was delightful to rattle along over the moist roads in the early red
sunlight that was creeping across the shorn harvest fields. The air was
fresh and crisp, and little smoke-blue mists curled through the valleys
and floated off from the hills. Sometimes the road went through woods
where maples were beginning to hang out scarlet banners; sometimes it
crossed rivers on bridges that made Anne's flesh cringe with the old,
half-delightful fear; sometimes it wound along a harbor shore and passed
by a little cluster of weather-gray fishing huts; again it mounted to
hills whence a far sweep of curving upland or misty-blue sky could be
seen; but wherever it went there was much of interest to discuss. It was
almost noon when they reached town and found their way to "Beechwood."
It was quite a fine old mansion, set back from the street in a seclusion
of green elms and branching beeches. Miss Barry met them at the door
with a twinkle in her sharp black eyes.

"So you've come to see me at last, you Anne-girl," she said. "Mercy,
child, how you have grown! You're taller than I am, I declare. And
you're ever so much better looking than you used to be, too. But I dare
say you know that without being told."

"Indeed I didn't," said Anne radiantly. "I know I'm not so freckled as
I used to be, so I've much to be thankful for, but I really hadn't dared
to hope there was any other improvement. I'm so glad you think there is,
Miss Barry." Miss Barry's house was furnished with "great magnificence,"
as Anne told Marilla afterward. The two little country girls were rather
abashed by the splendor of the parlor where Miss Barry left them when
she went to see about dinner.

"Isn't it just like a palace?" whispered Diana. "I never was in Aunt
Josephine's house before, and I'd no idea it was so grand. I just wish
Julia Bell could see this--she puts on such airs about her mother's
parlor."

"Velvet carpet," sighed Anne luxuriously, "and silk curtains! I've
dreamed of such things, Diana. But do you know I don't believe I feel
very comfortable with them after all. There are so many things in this
room and all so splendid that there is no scope for imagination. That is
one consolation when you are poor--there are so many more things you can
imagine about."

Their sojourn in town was something that Anne and Diana dated from for
years. From first to last it was crowded with delights.

On Wednesday Miss Barry took them to the Exhibition grounds and kept
them there all day.

"It was splendid," Anne related to Marilla later on. "I never imagined
anything so interesting. I don't really know which department was the
most interesting. I think I liked the horses and the flowers and the
fancywork best. Josie Pye took first prize for knitted lace. I was
real glad she did. And I was glad that I felt glad, for it shows I'm
improving, don't you think, Marilla, when I can rejoice in Josie's
success? Mr. Harmon Andrews took second prize for Gravenstein apples
and Mr. Bell took first prize for a pig. Diana said she thought it was
ridiculous for a Sunday-school superintendent to take a prize in pigs,
but I don't see why. Do you? She said she would always think of it after
this when he was praying so solemnly. Clara Louise MacPherson took a
prize for painting, and Mrs. Lynde got first prize for homemade butter
and cheese. So Avonlea was pretty well represented, wasn't it? Mrs.
Lynde was there that day, and I never knew how much I really liked her
until I saw her familiar face among all those strangers. There
were thousands of people there, Marilla. It made me feel dreadfully
insignificant. And Miss Barry took us up to the grandstand to see
the horse races. Mrs. Lynde wouldn't go; she said horse racing was an
abomination and, she being a church member, thought it her bounden duty
to set a good example by staying away. But there were so many there I
don't believe Mrs. Lynde's absence would ever be noticed. I don't think,
though, that I ought to go very often to horse races, because they ARE
awfully fascinating. Diana got so excited that she offered to bet me
ten cents that the red horse would win. I didn't believe he would, but
I refused to bet, because I wanted to tell Mrs. Allan all about
everything, and I felt sure it wouldn't do to tell her that. It's always
wrong to do anything you can't tell the minister's wife. It's as good as
an extra conscience to have a minister's wife for your friend. And I was
very glad I didn't bet, because the red horse DID win, and I would have
lost ten cents. So you see that virtue was its own reward. We saw a man
go up in a balloon. I'd love to go up in a balloon, Marilla; it would
be simply thrilling; and we saw a man selling fortunes. You paid him ten
cents and a little bird picked out your fortune for you. Miss Barry gave
Diana and me ten cents each to have our fortunes told. Mine was that I
would marry a dark-complected man who was very wealthy, and I would go
across water to live. I looked carefully at all the dark men I saw after
that, but I didn't care much for any of them, and anyhow I suppose
it's too early to be looking out for him yet. Oh, it was a
never-to-be-forgotten day, Marilla. I was so tired I couldn't sleep at
night. Miss Barry put us in the spare room, according to promise. It
was an elegant room, Marilla, but somehow sleeping in a spare room isn't
what I used to think it was. That's the worst of growing up, and I'm
beginning to realize it. The things you wanted so much when you were a
child don't seem half so wonderful to you when you get them."

Thursday the girls had a drive in the park, and in the evening Miss
Barry took them to a concert in the Academy of Music, where a noted
prima donna was to sing. To Anne the evening was a glittering vision of
delight.

"Oh, Marilla, it was beyond description. I was so excited I couldn't
even talk, so you may know what it was like. I just sat in enraptured
silence. Madame Selitsky was perfectly beautiful, and wore white satin
and diamonds. But when she began to sing I never thought about anything
else. Oh, I can't tell you how I felt. But it seemed to me that it could
never be hard to be good any more. I felt like I do when I look up to
the stars. Tears came into my eyes, but, oh, they were such happy tears.
I was so sorry when it was all over, and I told Miss Barry I didn't see
how I was ever to return to common life again. She said she thought if
we went over to the restaurant across the street and had an ice cream
it might help me. That sounded so prosaic; but to my surprise I found
it true. The ice cream was delicious, Marilla, and it was so lovely and
dissipated to be sitting there eating it at eleven o'clock at night.
Diana said she believed she was born for city life. Miss Barry asked
me what my opinion was, but I said I would have to think it over very
seriously before I could tell her what I really thought. So I thought it
over after I went to bed. That is the best time to think things out. And
I came to the conclusion, Marilla, that I wasn't born for city life and
that I was glad of it. It's nice to be eating ice cream at brilliant
restaurants at eleven o'clock at night once in a while; but as a regular
thing I'd rather be in the east gable at eleven, sound asleep, but kind
of knowing even in my sleep that the stars were shining outside and that
the wind was blowing in the firs across the brook. I told Miss Barry
so at breakfast the next morning and she laughed. Miss Barry generally
laughed at anything I said, even when I said the most solemn things. I
don't think I liked it, Marilla, because I wasn't trying to be funny.
But she is a most hospitable lady and treated us royally."

Friday brought going-home time, and Mr. Barry drove in for the girls.

"Well, I hope you've enjoyed yourselves," said Miss Barry, as she bade
them good-bye.

"Indeed we have," said Diana.

"And you, Anne-girl?"

"I've enjoyed every minute of the time," said Anne, throwing her arms
impulsively about the old woman's neck and kissing her wrinkled cheek.
Diana would never have dared to do such a thing and felt rather aghast
at Anne's freedom. But Miss Barry was pleased, and she stood on her
veranda and watched the buggy out of sight. Then she went back into her
big house with a sigh. It seemed very lonely, lacking those fresh young
lives. Miss Barry was a rather selfish old lady, if the truth must
be told, and had never cared much for anybody but herself. She valued
people only as they were of service to her or amused her. Anne had
amused her, and consequently stood high in the old lady's good graces.
But Miss Barry found herself thinking less about Anne's quaint speeches
than of her fresh enthusiasms, her transparent emotions, her little
winning ways, and the sweetness of her eyes and lips.

"I thought Marilla Cuthbert was an old fool when I heard she'd adopted
a girl out of an orphan asylum," she said to herself, "but I guess she
didn't make much of a mistake after all. If I'd a child like Anne in the
house all the time I'd be a better and happier woman."

Anne and Diana found the drive home as pleasant as the drive
in--pleasanter, indeed, since there was the delightful consciousness of
home waiting at the end of it. It was sunset when they passed through
White Sands and turned into the shore road. Beyond, the Avonlea hills
came out darkly against the saffron sky. Behind them the moon was rising
out of the sea that grew all radiant and transfigured in her light.
Every little cove along the curving road was a marvel of dancing
ripples. The waves broke with a soft swish on the rocks below them, and
the tang of the sea was in the strong, fresh air.

"Oh, but it's good to be alive and to be going home," breathed Anne.

When she crossed the log bridge over the brook the kitchen light of
Green Gables winked her a friendly welcome back, and through the open
door shone the hearth fire, sending out its warm red glow athwart the
chilly autumn night. Anne ran blithely up the hill and into the kitchen,
where a hot supper was waiting on the table.

"So you've got back?" said Marilla, folding up her knitting.

"Yes, and oh, it's so good to be back," said Anne joyously. "I could
kiss everything, even to the clock. Marilla, a broiled chicken! You
don't mean to say you cooked that for me!"

"Yes, I did," said Marilla. "I thought you'd be hungry after such
a drive and need something real appetizing. Hurry and take off your
things, and we'll have supper as soon as Matthew comes in. I'm glad
you've got back, I must say. It's been fearful lonesome here without
you, and I never put in four longer days."

After supper Anne sat before the fire between Matthew and Marilla, and
gave them a full account of her visit.

"I've had a splendid time," she concluded happily, "and I feel that it
marks an epoch in my life. But the best of it all was the coming home."



CHAPTER XXX. The Queens Class Is Organized


Marilla laid her knitting on her lap and leaned back in her chair. Her
eyes were tired, and she thought vaguely that she must see about having
her glasses changed the next time she went to town, for her eyes had
grown tired very often of late.

It was nearly dark, for the full November twilight had fallen around
Green Gables, and the only light in the kitchen came from the dancing
red flames in the stove.

Anne was curled up Turk-fashion on the hearthrug, gazing into that
joyous glow where the sunshine of a hundred summers was being distilled
from the maple cordwood. She had been reading, but her book had slipped
to the floor, and now she was dreaming, with a smile on her parted lips.
Glittering castles in Spain were shaping themselves out of the mists and
rainbows of her lively fancy; adventures wonderful and enthralling
were happening to her in cloudland--adventures that always turned out
triumphantly and never involved her in scrapes like those of actual
life.

Marilla looked at her with a tenderness that would never have been
suffered to reveal itself in any clearer light than that soft mingling
of fireshine and shadow. The lesson of a love that should display itself
easily in spoken word and open look was one Marilla could never learn.
But she had learned to love this slim, gray-eyed girl with an affection
all the deeper and stronger from its very undemonstrativeness. Her love
made her afraid of being unduly indulgent, indeed. She had an uneasy
feeling that it was rather sinful to set one's heart so intensely on any
human creature as she had set hers on Anne, and perhaps she performed a
sort of unconscious penance for this by being stricter and more critical
than if the girl had been less dear to her. Certainly Anne herself had
no idea how Marilla loved her. She sometimes thought wistfully that
Marilla was very hard to please and distinctly lacking in sympathy
and understanding. But she always checked the thought reproachfully,
remembering what she owed to Marilla.

"Anne," said Marilla abruptly, "Miss Stacy was here this afternoon when
you were out with Diana."

Anne came back from her other world with a start and a sigh.

"Was she? Oh, I'm so sorry I wasn't in. Why didn't you call me, Marilla?
Diana and I were only over in the Haunted Wood. It's lovely in the woods
now. All the little wood things--the ferns and the satin leaves and the
crackerberries--have gone to sleep, just as if somebody had tucked them
away until spring under a blanket of leaves. I think it was a little
gray fairy with a rainbow scarf that came tiptoeing along the last
moonlight night and did it. Diana wouldn't say much about that, though.
Diana has never forgotten the scolding her mother gave her about
imagining ghosts into the Haunted Wood. It had a very bad effect on
Diana's imagination. It blighted it. Mrs. Lynde says Myrtle Bell is a
blighted being. I asked Ruby Gillis why Myrtle was blighted, and Ruby
said she guessed it was because her young man had gone back on her. Ruby
Gillis thinks of nothing but young men, and the older she gets the worse
she is. Young men are all very well in their place, but it doesn't do to
drag them into everything, does it? Diana and I are thinking seriously
of promising each other that we will never marry but be nice old maids
and live together forever. Diana hasn't quite made up her mind though,
because she thinks perhaps it would be nobler to marry some wild,
dashing, wicked young man and reform him. Diana and I talk a great deal
about serious subjects now, you know. We feel that we are so much older
than we used to be that it isn't becoming to talk of childish matters.
It's such a solemn thing to be almost fourteen, Marilla. Miss Stacy took
all us girls who are in our teens down to the brook last Wednesday, and
talked to us about it. She said we couldn't be too careful what habits
we formed and what ideals we acquired in our teens, because by the time
we were twenty our characters would be developed and the foundation laid
for our whole future life. And she said if the foundation was shaky we
could never build anything really worth while on it. Diana and I talked
the matter over coming home from school. We felt extremely solemn,
Marilla. And we decided that we would try to be very careful indeed and
form respectable habits and learn all we could and be as sensible as
possible, so that by the time we were twenty our characters would be
properly developed. It's perfectly appalling to think of being twenty,
Marilla. It sounds so fearfully old and grown up. But why was Miss Stacy
here this afternoon?"

"That is what I want to tell you, Anne, if you'll ever give me a chance
to get a word in edgewise. She was talking about you."

"About me?" Anne looked rather scared. Then she flushed and exclaimed:

"Oh, I know what she was saying. I meant to tell you, Marilla, honestly
I did, but I forgot. Miss Stacy caught me reading Ben Hur in school
yesterday afternoon when I should have been studying my Canadian
history. Jane Andrews lent it to me. I was reading it at dinner hour,
and I had just got to the chariot race when school went in. I was simply
wild to know how it turned out--although I felt sure Ben Hur must win,
because it wouldn't be poetical justice if he didn't--so I spread the
history open on my desk lid and then tucked Ben Hur between the desk and
my knee. I just looked as if I were studying Canadian history, you know,
while all the while I was reveling in Ben Hur. I was so interested in it
that I never noticed Miss Stacy coming down the aisle until all at
once I just looked up and there she was looking down at me, so
reproachful-like. I can't tell you how ashamed I felt, Marilla,
especially when I heard Josie Pye giggling. Miss Stacy took Ben Hur
away, but she never said a word then. She kept me in at recess and
talked to me. She said I had done very wrong in two respects. First, I
was wasting the time I ought to have put on my studies; and secondly,
I was deceiving my teacher in trying to make it appear I was reading a
history when it was a storybook instead. I had never realized until that
moment, Marilla, that what I was doing was deceitful. I was shocked. I
cried bitterly, and asked Miss Stacy to forgive me and I'd never do such
a thing again; and I offered to do penance by never so much as looking
at Ben Hur for a whole week, not even to see how the chariot race turned
out. But Miss Stacy said she wouldn't require that, and she forgave me
freely. So I think it wasn't very kind of her to come up here to you
about it after all."

"Miss Stacy never mentioned such a thing to me, Anne, and its only your
guilty conscience that's the matter with you. You have no business to be
taking storybooks to school. You read too many novels anyhow. When I was
a girl I wasn't so much as allowed to look at a novel."

"Oh, how can you call Ben Hur a novel when it's really such a religious
book?" protested Anne. "Of course it's a little too exciting to be
proper reading for Sunday, and I only read it on weekdays. And I never
read ANY book now unless either Miss Stacy or Mrs. Allan thinks it is a
proper book for a girl thirteen and three-quarters to read. Miss Stacy
made me promise that. She found me reading a book one day called, The
Lurid Mystery of the Haunted Hall. It was one Ruby Gillis had lent me,
and, oh, Marilla, it was so fascinating and creepy. It just curdled the
blood in my veins. But Miss Stacy said it was a very silly, unwholesome
book, and she asked me not to read any more of it or any like it. I
didn't mind promising not to read any more like it, but it was AGONIZING
to give back that book without knowing how it turned out. But my love
for Miss Stacy stood the test and I did. It's really wonderful, Marilla,
what you can do when you're truly anxious to please a certain person."

"Well, I guess I'll light the lamp and get to work," said Marilla. "I
see plainly that you don't want to hear what Miss Stacy had to say.
You're more interested in the sound of your own tongue than in anything
else."

"Oh, indeed, Marilla, I do want to hear it," cried Anne contritely. "I
won't say another word--not one. I know I talk too much, but I am really
trying to overcome it, and although I say far too much, yet if you only
knew how many things I want to say and don't, you'd give me some credit
for it. Please tell me, Marilla."

"Well, Miss Stacy wants to organize a class among her advanced students
who mean to study for the entrance examination into Queen's. She intends
to give them extra lessons for an hour after school. And she came to ask
Matthew and me if we would like to have you join it. What do you think
about it yourself, Anne? Would you like to go to Queen's and pass for a
teacher?"

"Oh, Marilla!" Anne straightened to her knees and clasped her hands.
"It's been the dream of my life--that is, for the last six months, ever
since Ruby and Jane began to talk of studying for the Entrance. But I
didn't say anything about it, because I supposed it would be perfectly
useless. I'd love to be a teacher. But won't it be dreadfully expensive?
Mr. Andrews says it cost him one hundred and fifty dollars to put Prissy
through, and Prissy wasn't a dunce in geometry."

"I guess you needn't worry about that part of it. When Matthew and I
took you to bring up we resolved we would do the best we could for you
and give you a good education. I believe in a girl being fitted to earn
her own living whether she ever has to or not. You'll always have a home
at Green Gables as long as Matthew and I are here, but nobody knows what
is going to happen in this uncertain world, and it's just as well to be
prepared. So you can join the Queen's class if you like, Anne."

"Oh, Marilla, thank you." Anne flung her arms about Marilla's waist and
looked up earnestly into her face. "I'm extremely grateful to you and
Matthew. And I'll study as hard as I can and do my very best to be a
credit to you. I warn you not to expect much in geometry, but I think I
can hold my own in anything else if I work hard."

"I dare say you'll get along well enough. Miss Stacy says you are bright
and diligent." Not for worlds would Marilla have told Anne just what
Miss Stacy had said about her; that would have been to pamper vanity.
"You needn't rush to any extreme of killing yourself over your books.
There is no hurry. You won't be ready to try the Entrance for a year and
a half yet. But it's well to begin in time and be thoroughly grounded,
Miss Stacy says."

"I shall take more interest than ever in my studies now," said Anne
blissfully, "because I have a purpose in life. Mr. Allan says everybody
should have a purpose in life and pursue it faithfully. Only he says
we must first make sure that it is a worthy purpose. I would call it a
worthy purpose to want to be a teacher like Miss Stacy, wouldn't you,
Marilla? I think it's a very noble profession."

The Queen's class was organized in due time. Gilbert Blythe, Anne
Shirley, Ruby Gillis, Jane Andrews, Josie Pye, Charlie Sloane, and Moody
Spurgeon MacPherson joined it. Diana Barry did not, as her parents
did not intend to send her to Queen's. This seemed nothing short of a
calamity to Anne. Never, since the night on which Minnie May had had the
croup, had she and Diana been separated in anything. On the evening when
the Queen's class first remained in school for the extra lessons and
Anne saw Diana go slowly out with the others, to walk home alone through
the Birch Path and Violet Vale, it was all the former could do to keep
her seat and refrain from rushing impulsively after her chum. A lump
came into her throat, and she hastily retired behind the pages of her
uplifted Latin grammar to hide the tears in her eyes. Not for worlds
would Anne have had Gilbert Blythe or Josie Pye see those tears.

"But, oh, Marilla, I really felt that I had tasted the bitterness of
death, as Mr. Allan said in his sermon last Sunday, when I saw Diana go
out alone," she said mournfully that night. "I thought how splendid it
would have been if Diana had only been going to study for the Entrance,
too. But we can't have things perfect in this imperfect world, as Mrs.
Lynde says. Mrs. Lynde isn't exactly a comforting person sometimes, but
there's no doubt she says a great many very true things. And I think the
Queen's class is going to be extremely interesting. Jane and Ruby
are just going to study to be teachers. That is the height of their
ambition. Ruby says she will only teach for two years after she gets
through, and then she intends to be married. Jane says she will devote
her whole life to teaching, and never, never marry, because you are paid
a salary for teaching, but a husband won't pay you anything, and growls
if you ask for a share in the egg and butter money. I expect Jane speaks
from mournful experience, for Mrs. Lynde says that her father is a
perfect old crank, and meaner than second skimmings. Josie Pye says she
is just going to college for education's sake, because she won't have to
earn her own living; she says of course it is different with orphans who
are living on charity--THEY have to hustle. Moody Spurgeon is going to
be a minister. Mrs. Lynde says he couldn't be anything else with a name
like that to live up to. I hope it isn't wicked of me, Marilla, but
really the thought of Moody Spurgeon being a minister makes me laugh.
He's such a funny-looking boy with that big fat face, and his little
blue eyes, and his ears sticking out like flaps. But perhaps he will
be more intellectual looking when he grows up. Charlie Sloane says he's
going to go into politics and be a member of Parliament, but Mrs. Lynde
says he'll never succeed at that, because the Sloanes are all honest
people, and it's only rascals that get on in politics nowadays."

"What is Gilbert Blythe going to be?" queried Marilla, seeing that Anne
was opening her Caesar.

"I don't happen to know what Gilbert Blythe's ambition in life is--if he
has any," said Anne scornfully.

There was open rivalry between Gilbert and Anne now. Previously the
rivalry had been rather onesided, but there was no longer any doubt that
Gilbert was as determined to be first in class as Anne was. He was
a foeman worthy of her steel. The other members of the class tacitly
acknowledged their superiority, and never dreamed of trying to compete
with them.

Since the day by the pond when she had refused to listen to his plea
for forgiveness, Gilbert, save for the aforesaid determined rivalry,
had evinced no recognition whatever of the existence of Anne Shirley. He
talked and jested with the other girls, exchanged books and puzzles with
them, discussed lessons and plans, sometimes walked home with one or the
other of them from prayer meeting or Debating Club. But Anne Shirley
he simply ignored, and Anne found out that it is not pleasant to be
ignored. It was in vain that she told herself with a toss of her head
that she did not care. Deep down in her wayward, feminine little heart
she knew that she did care, and that if she had that chance of the Lake
of Shining Waters again she would answer very differently. All at
once, as it seemed, and to her secret dismay, she found that the old
resentment she had cherished against him was gone--gone just when she
most needed its sustaining power. It was in vain that she recalled every
incident and emotion of that memorable occasion and tried to feel
the old satisfying anger. That day by the pond had witnessed its last
spasmodic flicker. Anne realized that she had forgiven and forgotten
without knowing it. But it was too late.

And at least neither Gilbert nor anybody else, not even Diana, should
ever suspect how sorry she was and how much she wished she hadn't been
so proud and horrid! She determined to "shroud her feelings in deepest
oblivion," and it may be stated here and now that she did it, so
successfully that Gilbert, who possibly was not quite so indifferent as
he seemed, could not console himself with any belief that Anne felt his
retaliatory scorn. The only poor comfort he had was that she snubbed
Charlie Sloane, unmercifully, continually, and undeservedly.

Otherwise the winter passed away in a round of pleasant duties and
studies. For Anne the days slipped by like golden beads on the necklace
of the year. She was happy, eager, interested; there were lessons to be
learned and honor to be won; delightful books to read; new pieces to be
practiced for the Sunday-school choir; pleasant Saturday afternoons at
the manse with Mrs. Allan; and then, almost before Anne realized it,
spring had come again to Green Gables and all the world was abloom once
more.

Studies palled just a wee bit then; the Queen's class, left behind in
school while the others scattered to green lanes and leafy wood cuts and
meadow byways, looked wistfully out of the windows and discovered that
Latin verbs and French exercises had somehow lost the tang and zest they
had possessed in the crisp winter months. Even Anne and Gilbert lagged
and grew indifferent. Teacher and taught were alike glad when the term
was ended and the glad vacation days stretched rosily before them.

"But you've done good work this past year," Miss Stacy told them on the
last evening, "and you deserve a good, jolly vacation. Have the best
time you can in the out-of-door world and lay in a good stock of health
and vitality and ambition to carry you through next year. It will be the
tug of war, you know--the last year before the Entrance."

"Are you going to be back next year, Miss Stacy?" asked Josie Pye.

Josie Pye never scrupled to ask questions; in this instance the rest of
the class felt grateful to her; none of them would have dared to ask
it of Miss Stacy, but all wanted to, for there had been alarming rumors
running at large through the school for some time that Miss Stacy was
not coming back the next year--that she had been offered a position
in the grade school of her own home district and meant to accept. The
Queen's class listened in breathless suspense for her answer.

"Yes, I think I will," said Miss Stacy. "I thought of taking another
school, but I have decided to come back to Avonlea. To tell the truth,
I've grown so interested in my pupils here that I found I couldn't leave
them. So I'll stay and see you through."

"Hurrah!" said Moody Spurgeon. Moody Spurgeon had never been so carried
away by his feelings before, and he blushed uncomfortably every time he
thought about it for a week.

"Oh, I'm so glad," said Anne, with shining eyes. "Dear Stacy, it would
be perfectly dreadful if you didn't come back. I don't believe I could
have the heart to go on with my studies at all if another teacher came
here."

When Anne got home that night she stacked all her textbooks away in an
old trunk in the attic, locked it, and threw the key into the blanket
box.

"I'm not even going to look at a schoolbook in vacation," she told
Marilla. "I've studied as hard all the term as I possibly could and I've
pored over that geometry until I know every proposition in the first
book off by heart, even when the letters ARE changed. I just feel tired
of everything sensible and I'm going to let my imagination run riot for
the summer. Oh, you needn't be alarmed, Marilla. I'll only let it run
riot within reasonable limits. But I want to have a real good jolly time
this summer, for maybe it's the last summer I'll be a little girl. Mrs.
Lynde says that if I keep stretching out next year as I've done this
I'll have to put on longer skirts. She says I'm all running to legs and
eyes. And when I put on longer skirts I shall feel that I have to live
up to them and be very dignified. It won't even do to believe in fairies
then, I'm afraid; so I'm going to believe in them with all my whole
heart this summer. I think we're going to have a very gay vacation. Ruby
Gillis is going to have a birthday party soon and there's the Sunday
school picnic and the missionary concert next month. And Mr. Barry says
that some evening he'll take Diana and me over to the White Sands Hotel
and have dinner there. They have dinner there in the evening, you know.
Jane Andrews was over once last summer and she says it was a dazzling
sight to see the electric lights and the flowers and all the lady guests
in such beautiful dresses. Jane says it was her first glimpse into high
life and she'll never forget it to her dying day."

Mrs. Lynde came up the next afternoon to find out why Marilla had not
been at the Aid meeting on Thursday. When Marilla was not at Aid meeting
people knew there was something wrong at Green Gables.

"Matthew had a bad spell with his heart Thursday," Marilla explained,
"and I didn't feel like leaving him. Oh, yes, he's all right again now,
but he takes them spells oftener than he used to and I'm anxious about
him. The doctor says he must be careful to avoid excitement. That's easy
enough, for Matthew doesn't go about looking for excitement by any means
and never did, but he's not to do any very heavy work either and you
might as well tell Matthew not to breathe as not to work. Come and lay
off your things, Rachel. You'll stay to tea?"

"Well, seeing you're so pressing, perhaps I might as well, stay" said
Mrs. Rachel, who had not the slightest intention of doing anything else.

Mrs. Rachel and Marilla sat comfortably in the parlor while Anne got the
tea and made hot biscuits that were light and white enough to defy even
Mrs. Rachel's criticism.

"I must say Anne has turned out a real smart girl," admitted Mrs.
Rachel, as Marilla accompanied her to the end of the lane at sunset.
"She must be a great help to you."

"She is," said Marilla, "and she's real steady and reliable now. I used
to be afraid she'd never get over her featherbrained ways, but she has
and I wouldn't be afraid to trust her in anything now."

"I never would have thought she'd have turned out so well that first day
I was here three years ago," said Mrs. Rachel. "Lawful heart, shall I
ever forget that tantrum of hers! When I went home that night I says to
Thomas, says I, 'Mark my words, Thomas, Marilla Cuthbert'll live to
rue the step she's took.' But I was mistaken and I'm real glad of it. I
ain't one of those kind of people, Marilla, as can never be brought to
own up that they've made a mistake. No, that never was my way, thank
goodness. I did make a mistake in judging Anne, but it weren't no
wonder, for an odder, unexpecteder witch of a child there never was in
this world, that's what. There was no ciphering her out by the rules
that worked with other children. It's nothing short of wonderful how
she's improved these three years, but especially in looks. She's a real
pretty girl got to be, though I can't say I'm overly partial to that
pale, big-eyed style myself. I like more snap and color, like Diana
Barry has or Ruby Gillis. Ruby Gillis's looks are real showy. But
somehow--I don't know how it is but when Anne and them are together,
though she ain't half as handsome, she makes them look kind of common
and overdone--something like them white June lilies she calls narcissus
alongside of the big, red peonies, that's what."




CHAPTER XXXI. Where the Brook and River Meet


Anne had her "good" summer and enjoyed it wholeheartedly. She and Diana
fairly lived outdoors, reveling in all the delights that Lover's Lane
and the Dryad's Bubble and Willowmere and Victoria Island afforded.
Marilla offered no objections to Anne's gypsyings. The Spencervale
doctor who had come the night Minnie May had the croup met Anne at the
house of a patient one afternoon early in vacation, looked her over
sharply, screwed up his mouth, shook his head, and sent a message to
Marilla Cuthbert by another person. It was:

"Keep that redheaded girl of yours in the open air all summer and don't
let her read books until she gets more spring into her step."

This message frightened Marilla wholesomely. She read Anne's death
warrant by consumption in it unless it was scrupulously obeyed. As a
result, Anne had the golden summer of her life as far as freedom and
frolic went. She walked, rowed, berried, and dreamed to her heart's
content; and when September came she was bright-eyed and alert, with a
step that would have satisfied the Spencervale doctor and a heart full
of ambition and zest once more.

"I feel just like studying with might and main," she declared as she
brought her books down from the attic. "Oh, you good old friends, I'm
glad to see your honest faces once more--yes, even you, geometry. I've
had a perfectly beautiful summer, Marilla, and now I'm rejoicing as a
strong man to run a race, as Mr. Allan said last Sunday. Doesn't Mr.
Allan preach magnificent sermons? Mrs. Lynde says he is improving every
day and the first thing we know some city church will gobble him up
and then we'll be left and have to turn to and break in another green
preacher. But I don't see the use of meeting trouble halfway, do you,
Marilla? I think it would be better just to enjoy Mr. Allan while we
have him. If I were a man I think I'd be a minister. They can have
such an influence for good, if their theology is sound; and it must be
thrilling to preach splendid sermons and stir your hearers' hearts. Why
can't women be ministers, Marilla? I asked Mrs. Lynde that and she was
shocked and said it would be a scandalous thing. She said there might
be female ministers in the States and she believed there was, but thank
goodness we hadn't got to that stage in Canada yet and she hoped we
never would. But I don't see why. I think women would make splendid
ministers. When there is a social to be got up or a church tea or
anything else to raise money the women have to turn to and do the work.
I'm sure Mrs. Lynde can pray every bit as well as Superintendent Bell
and I've no doubt she could preach too with a little practice."

"Yes, I believe she could," said Marilla dryly. "She does plenty of
unofficial preaching as it is. Nobody has much of a chance to go wrong
in Avonlea with Rachel to oversee them."

"Marilla," said Anne in a burst of confidence, "I want to tell you
something and ask you what you think about it. It has worried me
terribly--on Sunday afternoons, that is, when I think specially about
such matters. I do really want to be good; and when I'm with you or Mrs.
Allan or Miss Stacy I want it more than ever and I want to do just what
would please you and what you would approve of. But mostly when I'm with
Mrs. Lynde I feel desperately wicked and as if I wanted to go and do the
very thing she tells me I oughtn't to do. I feel irresistibly tempted
to do it. Now, what do you think is the reason I feel like that? Do you
think it's because I'm really bad and unregenerate?"

Marilla looked dubious for a moment. Then she laughed.

"If you are I guess I am too, Anne, for Rachel often has that very
effect on me. I sometimes think she'd have more of an influence for
good, as you say yourself, if she didn't keep nagging people to do
right. There should have been a special commandment against nagging.
But there, I shouldn't talk so. Rachel is a good Christian woman and she
means well. There isn't a kinder soul in Avonlea and she never shirks
her share of work."

"I'm very glad you feel the same," said Anne decidedly. "It's so
encouraging. I shan't worry so much over that after this. But I dare say
there'll be other things to worry me. They keep coming up new all the
time--things to perplex you, you know. You settle one question and
there's another right after. There are so many things to be thought over
and decided when you're beginning to grow up. It keeps me busy all the
time thinking them over and deciding what is right. It's a serious thing
to grow up, isn't it, Marilla? But when I have such good friends as
you and Matthew and Mrs. Allan and Miss Stacy I ought to grow up
successfully, and I'm sure it will be my own fault if I don't. I feel
it's a great responsibility because I have only the one chance. If I
don't grow up right I can't go back and begin over again. I've grown two
inches this summer, Marilla. Mr. Gillis measured me at Ruby's party. I'm
so glad you made my new dresses longer. That dark-green one is so pretty
and it was sweet of you to put on the flounce. Of course I know it
wasn't really necessary, but flounces are so stylish this fall and Josie
Pye has flounces on all her dresses. I know I'll be able to study better
because of mine. I shall have such a comfortable feeling deep down in my
mind about that flounce."

"It's worth something to have that," admitted Marilla.

Miss Stacy came back to Avonlea school and found all her pupils eager
for work once more. Especially did the Queen's class gird up their loins
for the fray, for at the end of the coming year, dimly shadowing their
pathway already, loomed up that fateful thing known as "the Entrance,"
at the thought of which one and all felt their hearts sink into their
very shoes. Suppose they did not pass! That thought was doomed to
haunt Anne through the waking hours of that winter, Sunday afternoons
inclusive, to the almost entire exclusion of moral and theological
problems. When Anne had bad dreams she found herself staring miserably
at pass lists of the Entrance exams, where Gilbert Blythe's name was
blazoned at the top and in which hers did not appear at all.

But it was a jolly, busy, happy swift-flying winter. Schoolwork was
as interesting, class rivalry as absorbing, as of yore. New worlds of
thought, feeling, and ambition, fresh, fascinating fields of unexplored
knowledge seemed to be opening out before Anne's eager eyes.


      "Hills peeped o'er hill and Alps on Alps arose."


Much of all this was due to Miss Stacy's tactful, careful, broadminded
guidance. She led her class to think and explore and discover for
themselves and encouraged straying from the old beaten paths to a degree
that quite shocked Mrs. Lynde and the school trustees, who viewed all
innovations on established methods rather dubiously.

Apart from her studies Anne expanded socially, for Marilla, mindful of
the Spencervale doctor's dictum, no longer vetoed occasional outings.
The Debating Club flourished and gave several concerts; there were one
or two parties almost verging on grown-up affairs; there were sleigh
drives and skating frolics galore.

Betweentimes Anne grew, shooting up so rapidly that Marilla was
astonished one day, when they were standing side by side, to find the
girl was taller than herself.

"Why, Anne, how you've grown!" she said, almost unbelievingly. A sigh
followed on the words. Marilla felt a queer regret over Anne's inches.
The child she had learned to love had vanished somehow and here was this
tall, serious-eyed girl of fifteen, with the thoughtful brows and the
proudly poised little head, in her place. Marilla loved the girl as much
as she had loved the child, but she was conscious of a queer sorrowful
sense of loss. And that night, when Anne had gone to prayer meeting
with Diana, Marilla sat alone in the wintry twilight and indulged in the
weakness of a cry. Matthew, coming in with a lantern, caught her at it
and gazed at her in such consternation that Marilla had to laugh through
her tears.

"I was thinking about Anne," she explained. "She's got to be such a big
girl--and she'll probably be away from us next winter. I'll miss her
terrible."

"She'll be able to come home often," comforted Matthew, to whom Anne was
as yet and always would be the little, eager girl he had brought home
from Bright River on that June evening four years before. "The branch
railroad will be built to Carmody by that time."

"It won't be the same thing as having her here all the time," sighed
Marilla gloomily, determined to enjoy her luxury of grief uncomforted.
"But there--men can't understand these things!"

There were other changes in Anne no less real than the physical change.
For one thing, she became much quieter. Perhaps she thought all the
more and dreamed as much as ever, but she certainly talked less. Marilla
noticed and commented on this also.

"You don't chatter half as much as you used to, Anne, nor use half as
many big words. What has come over you?"

Anne colored and laughed a little, as she dropped her book and looked
dreamily out of the window, where big fat red buds were bursting out on
the creeper in response to the lure of the spring sunshine.

"I don't know--I don't want to talk as much," she said, denting her
chin thoughtfully with her forefinger. "It's nicer to think dear, pretty
thoughts and keep them in one's heart, like treasures. I don't like to
have them laughed at or wondered over. And somehow I don't want to use
big words any more. It's almost a pity, isn't it, now that I'm really
growing big enough to say them if I did want to. It's fun to be almost
grown up in some ways, but it's not the kind of fun I expected, Marilla.
There's so much to learn and do and think that there isn't time for big
words. Besides, Miss Stacy says the short ones are much stronger and
better. She makes us write all our essays as simply as possible. It was
hard at first. I was so used to crowding in all the fine big words I
could think of--and I thought of any number of them. But I've got used
to it now and I see it's so much better."

"What has become of your story club? I haven't heard you speak of it for
a long time."

"The story club isn't in existence any longer. We hadn't time for
it--and anyhow I think we had got tired of it. It was silly to be
writing about love and murder and elopements and mysteries. Miss Stacy
sometimes has us write a story for training in composition, but she
won't let us write anything but what might happen in Avonlea in our own
lives, and she criticizes it very sharply and makes us criticize our own
too. I never thought my compositions had so many faults until I began to
look for them myself. I felt so ashamed I wanted to give up altogether,
but Miss Stacy said I could learn to write well if I only trained myself
to be my own severest critic. And so I am trying to."

"You've only two more months before the Entrance," said Marilla. "Do you
think you'll be able to get through?"

Anne shivered.

"I don't know. Sometimes I think I'll be all right--and then I get
horribly afraid. We've studied hard and Miss Stacy has drilled us
thoroughly, but we mayn't get through for all that. We've each got a
stumbling block. Mine is geometry of course, and Jane's is Latin, and
Ruby and Charlie's is algebra, and Josie's is arithmetic. Moody Spurgeon
says he feels it in his bones that he is going to fail in English
history. Miss Stacy is going to give us examinations in June just as
hard as we'll have at the Entrance and mark us just as strictly, so
we'll have some idea. I wish it was all over, Marilla. It haunts me.
Sometimes I wake up in the night and wonder what I'll do if I don't
pass."

"Why, go to school next year and try again," said Marilla unconcernedly.

"Oh, I don't believe I'd have the heart for it. It would be such a
disgrace to fail, especially if Gil--if the others passed. And I get so
nervous in an examination that I'm likely to make a mess of it. I wish I
had nerves like Jane Andrews. Nothing rattles her."

Anne sighed and, dragging her eyes from the witcheries of the spring
world, the beckoning day of breeze and blue, and the green things
upspringing in the garden, buried herself resolutely in her book.
There would be other springs, but if she did not succeed in passing the
Entrance, Anne felt convinced that she would never recover sufficiently
to enjoy them.





CHAPTER XXXII. The Pass List Is Out


With the end of June came the close of the term and the close of Miss
Stacy's rule in Avonlea school. Anne and Diana walked home that
evening feeling very sober indeed. Red eyes and damp handkerchiefs bore
convincing testimony to the fact that Miss Stacy's farewell words must
have been quite as touching as Mr. Phillips's had been under similar
circumstances three years before. Diana looked back at the schoolhouse
from the foot of the spruce hill and sighed deeply.

"It does seem as if it was the end of everything, doesn't it?" she said
dismally.

"You oughtn't to feel half as badly as I do," said Anne, hunting vainly
for a dry spot on her handkerchief. "You'll be back again next winter,
but I suppose I've left the dear old school forever--if I have good
luck, that is."

"It won't be a bit the same. Miss Stacy won't be there, nor you nor Jane
nor Ruby probably. I shall have to sit all alone, for I couldn't bear
to have another deskmate after you. Oh, we have had jolly times, haven't
we, Anne? It's dreadful to think they're all over."

Two big tears rolled down by Diana's nose.

"If you would stop crying I could," said Anne imploringly. "Just as
soon as I put away my hanky I see you brimming up and that starts me off
again. As Mrs. Lynde says, 'If you can't be cheerful, be as cheerful as
you can.' After all, I dare say I'll be back next year. This is one
of the times I KNOW I'm not going to pass. They're getting alarmingly
frequent."

"Why, you came out splendidly in the exams Miss Stacy gave."

"Yes, but those exams didn't make me nervous. When I think of the real
thing you can't imagine what a horrid cold fluttery feeling comes round
my heart. And then my number is thirteen and Josie Pye says it's so
unlucky. I am NOT superstitious and I know it can make no difference.
But still I wish it wasn't thirteen."

"I do wish I was going in with you," said Diana. "Wouldn't we have
a perfectly elegant time? But I suppose you'll have to cram in the
evenings."

"No; Miss Stacy has made us promise not to open a book at all. She says
it would only tire and confuse us and we are to go out walking and not
think about the exams at all and go to bed early. It's good advice, but
I expect it will be hard to follow; good advice is apt to be, I think.
Prissy Andrews told me that she sat up half the night every night of her
Entrance week and crammed for dear life; and I had determined to sit up
AT LEAST as long as she did. It was so kind of your Aunt Josephine to
ask me to stay at Beechwood while I'm in town."

"You'll write to me while you're in, won't you?"

"I'll write Tuesday night and tell you how the first day goes," promised
Anne.

"I'll be haunting the post office Wednesday," vowed Diana.

Anne went to town the following Monday and on Wednesday Diana haunted
the post office, as agreed, and got her letter.


"Dearest Diana" [wrote Anne],

"Here it is Tuesday night and I'm writing this in the library at
Beechwood. Last night I was horribly lonesome all alone in my room and
wished so much you were with me. I couldn't "cram" because I'd promised
Miss Stacy not to, but it was as hard to keep from opening my history
as it used to be to keep from reading a story before my lessons were
learned.

"This morning Miss Stacy came for me and we went to the Academy, calling
for Jane and Ruby and Josie on our way. Ruby asked me to feel her hands
and they were as cold as ice. Josie said I looked as if I hadn't slept
a wink and she didn't believe I was strong enough to stand the grind
of the teacher's course even if I did get through. There are times and
seasons even yet when I don't feel that I've made any great headway in
learning to like Josie Pye!

"When we reached the Academy there were scores of students there from
all over the Island. The first person we saw was Moody Spurgeon sitting
on the steps and muttering away to himself. Jane asked him what on earth
he was doing and he said he was repeating the multiplication table over
and over to steady his nerves and for pity's sake not to interrupt
him, because if he stopped for a moment he got frightened and forgot
everything he ever knew, but the multiplication table kept all his facts
firmly in their proper place!

"When we were assigned to our rooms Miss Stacy had to leave us. Jane and
I sat together and Jane was so composed that I envied her. No need of
the multiplication table for good, steady, sensible Jane! I wondered if
I looked as I felt and if they could hear my heart thumping clear
across the room. Then a man came in and began distributing the English
examination sheets. My hands grew cold then and my head fairly whirled
around as I picked it up. Just one awful moment--Diana, I felt exactly
as I did four years ago when I asked Marilla if I might stay at Green
Gables--and then everything cleared up in my mind and my heart began
beating again--I forgot to say that it had stopped altogether!--for I
knew I could do something with THAT paper anyhow.

"At noon we went home for dinner and then back again for history in
the afternoon. The history was a pretty hard paper and I got dreadfully
mixed up in the dates. Still, I think I did fairly well today. But oh,
Diana, tomorrow the geometry exam comes off and when I think of it
it takes every bit of determination I possess to keep from opening my
Euclid. If I thought the multiplication table would help me any I would
recite it from now till tomorrow morning.

"I went down to see the other girls this evening. On my way I met Moody
Spurgeon wandering distractedly around. He said he knew he had failed in
history and he was born to be a disappointment to his parents and he
was going home on the morning train; and it would be easier to be a
carpenter than a minister, anyhow. I cheered him up and persuaded him to
stay to the end because it would be unfair to Miss Stacy if he didn't.
Sometimes I have wished I was born a boy, but when I see Moody Spurgeon
I'm always glad I'm a girl and not his sister.

"Ruby was in hysterics when I reached their boardinghouse; she had just
discovered a fearful mistake she had made in her English paper. When
she recovered we went uptown and had an ice cream. How we wished you had
been with us.

"Oh, Diana, if only the geometry examination were over! But there, as
Mrs. Lynde would say, the sun will go on rising and setting whether I
fail in geometry or not. That is true but not especially comforting. I
think I'd rather it didn't go on if I failed!

"Yours devotedly,

"Anne"


The geometry examination and all the others were over in due time and
Anne arrived home on Friday evening, rather tired but with an air of
chastened triumph about her. Diana was over at Green Gables when she
arrived and they met as if they had been parted for years.

"You old darling, it's perfectly splendid to see you back again. It
seems like an age since you went to town and oh, Anne, how did you get
along?"

"Pretty well, I think, in everything but the geometry. I don't know
whether I passed in it or not and I have a creepy, crawly presentiment
that I didn't. Oh, how good it is to be back! Green Gables is the
dearest, loveliest spot in the world."

"How did the others do?"

"The girls say they know they didn't pass, but I think they did pretty
well. Josie says the geometry was so easy a child of ten could do it!
Moody Spurgeon still thinks he failed in history and Charlie says he
failed in algebra. But we don't really know anything about it and won't
until the pass list is out. That won't be for a fortnight. Fancy living
a fortnight in such suspense! I wish I could go to sleep and never wake
up until it is over."

Diana knew it would be useless to ask how Gilbert Blythe had fared, so
she merely said:

"Oh, you'll pass all right. Don't worry."

"I'd rather not pass at all than not come out pretty well up on the
list," flashed Anne, by which she meant--and Diana knew she meant--that
success would be incomplete and bitter if she did not come out ahead of
Gilbert Blythe.

With this end in view Anne had strained every nerve during the
examinations. So had Gilbert. They had met and passed each other on the
street a dozen times without any sign of recognition and every time Anne
had held her head a little higher and wished a little more earnestly
that she had made friends with Gilbert when he asked her, and vowed a
little more determinedly to surpass him in the examination. She knew
that all Avonlea junior was wondering which would come out first; she
even knew that Jimmy Glover and Ned Wright had a bet on the question
and that Josie Pye had said there was no doubt in the world that Gilbert
would be first; and she felt that her humiliation would be unbearable if
she failed.

But she had another and nobler motive for wishing to do well. She wanted
to "pass high" for the sake of Matthew and Marilla--especially Matthew.
Matthew had declared to her his conviction that she "would beat the
whole Island." That, Anne felt, was something it would be foolish to
hope for even in the wildest dreams. But she did hope fervently that she
would be among the first ten at least, so that she might see Matthew's
kindly brown eyes gleam with pride in her achievement. That, she
felt, would be a sweet reward indeed for all her hard work and patient
grubbing among unimaginative equations and conjugations.

At the end of the fortnight Anne took to "haunting" the post office
also, in the distracted company of Jane, Ruby, and Josie, opening the
Charlottetown dailies with shaking hands and cold, sinkaway feelings
as bad as any experienced during the Entrance week. Charlie and Gilbert
were not above doing this too, but Moody Spurgeon stayed resolutely
away.

"I haven't got the grit to go there and look at a paper in cold blood,"
he told Anne. "I'm just going to wait until somebody comes and tells me
suddenly whether I've passed or not."

When three weeks had gone by without the pass list appearing Anne began
to feel that she really couldn't stand the strain much longer. Her
appetite failed and her interest in Avonlea doings languished.
Mrs. Lynde wanted to know what else you could expect with a Tory
superintendent of education at the head of affairs, and Matthew, noting
Anne's paleness and indifference and the lagging steps that bore her
home from the post office every afternoon, began seriously to wonder if
he hadn't better vote Grit at the next election.

But one evening the news came. Anne was sitting at her open window,
for the time forgetful of the woes of examinations and the cares of the
world, as she drank in the beauty of the summer dusk, sweet-scented with
flower breaths from the garden below and sibilant and rustling from the
stir of poplars. The eastern sky above the firs was flushed faintly pink
from the reflection of the west, and Anne was wondering dreamily if the
spirit of color looked like that, when she saw Diana come flying
down through the firs, over the log bridge, and up the slope, with a
fluttering newspaper in her hand.

Anne sprang to her feet, knowing at once what that paper contained. The
pass list was out! Her head whirled and her heart beat until it hurt
her. She could not move a step. It seemed an hour to her before Diana
came rushing along the hall and burst into the room without even
knocking, so great was her excitement.

"Anne, you've passed," she cried, "passed the VERY FIRST--you and
Gilbert both--you're ties--but your name is first. Oh, I'm so proud!"

Diana flung the paper on the table and herself on Anne's bed, utterly
breathless and incapable of further speech. Anne lighted the lamp,
oversetting the match safe and using up half a dozen matches before her
shaking hands could accomplish the task. Then she snatched up the paper.
Yes, she had passed--there was her name at the very top of a list of two
hundred! That moment was worth living for.

"You did just splendidly, Anne," puffed Diana, recovering sufficiently
to sit up and speak, for Anne, starry eyed and rapt, had not uttered a
word. "Father brought the paper home from Bright River not ten minutes
ago--it came out on the afternoon train, you know, and won't be here
till tomorrow by mail--and when I saw the pass list I just rushed over
like a wild thing. You've all passed, every one of you, Moody Spurgeon
and all, although he's conditioned in history. Jane and Ruby did pretty
well--they're halfway up--and so did Charlie. Josie just scraped through
with three marks to spare, but you'll see she'll put on as many airs as
if she'd led. Won't Miss Stacy be delighted? Oh, Anne, what does it feel
like to see your name at the head of a pass list like that? If it were
me I know I'd go crazy with joy. I am pretty near crazy as it is, but
you're as calm and cool as a spring evening."

"I'm just dazzled inside," said Anne. "I want to say a hundred things,
and I can't find words to say them in. I never dreamed of this--yes, I
did too, just once! I let myself think ONCE, 'What if I should come out
first?' quakingly, you know, for it seemed so vain and presumptuous to
think I could lead the Island. Excuse me a minute, Diana. I must run
right out to the field to tell Matthew. Then we'll go up the road and
tell the good news to the others."

They hurried to the hayfield below the barn where Matthew was coiling
hay, and, as luck would have it, Mrs. Lynde was talking to Marilla at
the lane fence.

"Oh, Matthew," exclaimed Anne, "I've passed and I'm first--or one of the
first! I'm not vain, but I'm thankful."

"Well now, I always said it," said Matthew, gazing at the pass list
delightedly. "I knew you could beat them all easy."

"You've done pretty well, I must say, Anne," said Marilla, trying to
hide her extreme pride in Anne from Mrs. Rachel's critical eye. But that
good soul said heartily:

"I just guess she has done well, and far be it from me to be backward in
saying it. You're a credit to your friends, Anne, that's what, and we're
all proud of you."

That night Anne, who had wound up the delightful evening with a serious
little talk with Mrs. Allan at the manse, knelt sweetly by her open
window in a great sheen of moonshine and murmured a prayer of gratitude
and aspiration that came straight from her heart. There was in it
thankfulness for the past and reverent petition for the future; and when
she slept on her white pillow her dreams were as fair and bright and
beautiful as maidenhood might desire.




CHAPTER XXXIII. The Hotel Concert


"Put on your white organdy, by all means, Anne," advised Diana
decidedly.

They were together in the east gable chamber; outside it was only
twilight--a lovely yellowish-green twilight with a clear-blue cloudless
sky. A big round moon, slowly deepening from her pallid luster into
burnished silver, hung over the Haunted Wood; the air was full of sweet
summer sounds--sleepy birds twittering, freakish breezes, faraway
voices and laughter. But in Anne's room the blind was drawn and the lamp
lighted, for an important toilet was being made.

The east gable was a very different place from what it had been on that
night four years before, when Anne had felt its bareness penetrate to
the marrow of her spirit with its inhospitable chill. Changes had crept
in, Marilla conniving at them resignedly, until it was as sweet and
dainty a nest as a young girl could desire.

The velvet carpet with the pink roses and the pink silk curtains of
Anne's early visions had certainly never materialized; but her dreams
had kept pace with her growth, and it is not probable she lamented
them. The floor was covered with a pretty matting, and the curtains that
softened the high window and fluttered in the vagrant breezes were of
pale-green art muslin. The walls, hung not with gold and silver brocade
tapestry, but with a dainty apple-blossom paper, were adorned with a few
good pictures given Anne by Mrs. Allan. Miss Stacy's photograph occupied
the place of honor, and Anne made a sentimental point of keeping fresh
flowers on the bracket under it. Tonight a spike of white lilies faintly
perfumed the room like the dream of a fragrance. There was no "mahogany
furniture," but there was a white-painted bookcase filled with books, a
cushioned wicker rocker, a toilet table befrilled with white muslin,
a quaint, gilt-framed mirror with chubby pink Cupids and purple grapes
painted over its arched top, that used to hang in the spare room, and a
low white bed.

Anne was dressing for a concert at the White Sands Hotel. The guests had
got it up in aid of the Charlottetown hospital, and had hunted out all
the available amateur talent in the surrounding districts to help it
along. Bertha Sampson and Pearl Clay of the White Sands Baptist choir
had been asked to sing a duet; Milton Clark of Newbridge was to give a
violin solo; Winnie Adella Blair of Carmody was to sing a Scotch ballad;
and Laura Spencer of Spencervale and Anne Shirley of Avonlea were to
recite.

As Anne would have said at one time, it was "an epoch in her life," and
she was deliciously athrill with the excitement of it. Matthew was in
the seventh heaven of gratified pride over the honor conferred on his
Anne and Marilla was not far behind, although she would have died rather
than admit it, and said she didn't think it was very proper for a lot
of young folks to be gadding over to the hotel without any responsible
person with them.

Anne and Diana were to drive over with Jane Andrews and her brother
Billy in their double-seated buggy; and several other Avonlea girls and
boys were going too. There was a party of visitors expected out from
town, and after the concert a supper was to be given to the performers.

"Do you really think the organdy will be best?" queried Anne anxiously.
"I don't think it's as pretty as my blue-flowered muslin--and it
certainly isn't so fashionable."

 "But it suits you ever so much better," said Diana. "It's so soft
and frilly and clinging. The muslin is stiff, and makes you look too
dressed up. But the organdy seems as if it grew on you."

Anne sighed and yielded. Diana was beginning to have a reputation for
notable taste in dressing, and her advice on such subjects was much
sought after. She was looking very pretty herself on this particular
night in a dress of the lovely wild-rose pink, from which Anne was
forever debarred; but she was not to take any part in the concert, so
her appearance was of minor importance. All her pains were bestowed upon
Anne, who, she vowed, must, for the credit of Avonlea, be dressed and
combed and adorned to the Queen's taste.

"Pull out that frill a little more--so; here, let me tie your sash; now
for your slippers. I'm going to braid your hair in two thick braids,
and tie them halfway up with big white bows--no, don't pull out a single
curl over your forehead--just have the soft part. There is no way you do
your hair suits you so well, Anne, and Mrs. Allan says you look like a
Madonna when you part it so. I shall fasten this little white house rose
just behind your ear. There was just one on my bush, and I saved it for
you."

"Shall I put my pearl beads on?" asked Anne. "Matthew brought me a
string from town last week, and I know he'd like to see them on me."

Diana pursed up her lips, put her black head on one side critically,
and finally pronounced in favor of the beads, which were thereupon tied
around Anne's slim milk-white throat.

"There's something so stylish about you, Anne," said Diana, with
unenvious admiration. "You hold your head with such an air. I suppose
it's your figure. I am just a dumpling. I've always been afraid of it,
and now I know it is so. Well, I suppose I shall just have to resign
myself to it."

"But you have such dimples," said Anne, smiling affectionately into the
pretty, vivacious face so near her own. "Lovely dimples, like little
dents in cream. I have given up all hope of dimples. My dimple-dream
will never come true; but so many of my dreams have that I mustn't
complain. Am I all ready now?"

"All ready," assured Diana, as Marilla appeared in the doorway, a gaunt
figure with grayer hair than of yore and no fewer angles, but with a
much softer face. "Come right in and look at our elocutionist, Marilla.
Doesn't she look lovely?"

Marilla emitted a sound between a sniff and a grunt.

"She looks neat and proper. I like that way of fixing her hair. But I
expect she'll ruin that dress driving over there in the dust and dew
with it, and it looks most too thin for these damp nights. Organdy's the
most unserviceable stuff in the world anyhow, and I told Matthew so when
he got it. But there is no use in saying anything to Matthew nowadays.
Time was when he would take my advice, but now he just buys things for
Anne regardless, and the clerks at Carmody know they can palm anything
off on him. Just let them tell him a thing is pretty and fashionable,
and Matthew plunks his money down for it. Mind you keep your skirt clear
of the wheel, Anne, and put your warm jacket on."

Then Marilla stalked downstairs, thinking proudly how sweet Anne looked,
with that


     "One moonbeam from the forehead to the crown"


and regretting that she could not go to the concert herself to hear her
girl recite.

"I wonder if it IS too damp for my dress," said Anne anxiously.

"Not a bit of it," said Diana, pulling up the window blind. "It's a
perfect night, and there won't be any dew. Look at the moonlight."

"I'm so glad my window looks east into the sunrising," said Anne, going
over to Diana. "It's so splendid to see the morning coming up over those
long hills and glowing through those sharp fir tops. It's new every
morning, and I feel as if I washed my very soul in that bath of earliest
sunshine. Oh, Diana, I love this little room so dearly. I don't know how
I'll get along without it when I go to town next month."

"Don't speak of your going away tonight," begged Diana. "I don't want to
think of it, it makes me so miserable, and I do want to have a good time
this evening. What are you going to recite, Anne? And are you nervous?"

"Not a bit. I've recited so often in public I don't mind at all now.
I've decided to give 'The Maiden's Vow.' It's so pathetic. Laura Spencer
is going to give a comic recitation, but I'd rather make people cry than
laugh."

"What will you recite if they encore you?"

"They won't dream of encoring me," scoffed Anne, who was not without her
own secret hopes that they would, and already visioned herself telling
Matthew all about it at the next morning's breakfast table. "There are
Billy and Jane now--I hear the wheels. Come on."

Billy Andrews insisted that Anne should ride on the front seat with him,
so she unwillingly climbed up. She would have much preferred to sit
back with the girls, where she could have laughed and chattered to her
heart's content. There was not much of either laughter or chatter
in Billy. He was a big, fat, stolid youth of twenty, with a round,
expressionless face, and a painful lack of conversational gifts. But he
admired Anne immensely, and was puffed up with pride over the prospect
of driving to White Sands with that slim, upright figure beside him.

Anne, by dint of talking over her shoulder to the girls and occasionally
passing a sop of civility to Billy--who grinned and chuckled and never
could think of any reply until it was too late--contrived to enjoy the
drive in spite of all. It was a night for enjoyment. The road was full
of buggies, all bound for the hotel, and laughter, silver clear, echoed
and reechoed along it. When they reached the hotel it was a blaze of
light from top to bottom. They were met by the ladies of the concert
committee, one of whom took Anne off to the performers' dressing room
which was filled with the members of a Charlottetown Symphony Club,
among whom Anne felt suddenly shy and frightened and countrified. Her
dress, which, in the east gable, had seemed so dainty and pretty, now
seemed simple and plain--too simple and plain, she thought, among all
the silks and laces that glistened and rustled around her. What were her
pearl beads compared to the diamonds of the big, handsome lady near her?
And how poor her one wee white rose must look beside all the hothouse
flowers the others wore! Anne laid her hat and jacket away, and shrank
miserably into a corner. She wished herself back in the white room at
Green Gables.

It was still worse on the platform of the big concert hall of the hotel,
where she presently found herself. The electric lights dazzled her eyes,
the perfume and hum bewildered her. She wished she were sitting down
in the audience with Diana and Jane, who seemed to be having a splendid
time away at the back. She was wedged in between a stout lady in pink
silk and a tall, scornful-looking girl in a white-lace dress. The stout
lady occasionally turned her head squarely around and surveyed Anne
through her eyeglasses until Anne, acutely sensitive of being so
scrutinized, felt that she must scream aloud; and the white-lace girl
kept talking audibly to her next neighbor about the "country bumpkins"
and "rustic belles" in the audience, languidly anticipating "such fun"
from the displays of local talent on the program. Anne believed that she
would hate that white-lace girl to the end of life.

Unfortunately for Anne, a professional elocutionist was staying at the
hotel and had consented to recite. She was a lithe, dark-eyed woman in a
wonderful gown of shimmering gray stuff like woven moonbeams, with gems
on her neck and in her dark hair. She had a marvelously flexible voice
and wonderful power of expression; the audience went wild over her
selection. Anne, forgetting all about herself and her troubles for the
time, listened with rapt and shining eyes; but when the recitation ended
she suddenly put her hands over her face. She could never get up and
recite after that--never. Had she ever thought she could recite? Oh, if
she were only back at Green Gables!

At this unpropitious moment her name was called. Somehow Anne--who did
not notice the rather guilty little start of surprise the white-lace
girl gave, and would not have understood the subtle compliment implied
therein if she had--got on her feet, and moved dizzily out to the front.
She was so pale that Diana and Jane, down in the audience, clasped each
other's hands in nervous sympathy.

Anne was the victim of an overwhelming attack of stage fright. Often as
she had recited in public, she had never before faced such an audience
as this, and the sight of it paralyzed her energies completely.
Everything was so strange, so brilliant, so bewildering--the rows of
ladies in evening dress, the critical faces, the whole atmosphere of
wealth and culture about her. Very different this from the plain benches
at the Debating Club, filled with the homely, sympathetic faces of
friends and neighbors. These people, she thought, would be merciless
critics. Perhaps, like the white-lace girl, they anticipated amusement
from her "rustic" efforts. She felt hopelessly, helplessly ashamed and
miserable. Her knees trembled, her heart fluttered, a horrible faintness
came over her; not a word could she utter, and the next moment she would
have fled from the platform despite the humiliation which, she felt,
must ever after be her portion if she did so.

But suddenly, as her dilated, frightened eyes gazed out over the
audience, she saw Gilbert Blythe away at the back of the room, bending
forward with a smile on his face--a smile which seemed to Anne at once
triumphant and taunting. In reality it was nothing of the kind. Gilbert
was merely smiling with appreciation of the whole affair in general and
of the effect produced by Anne's slender white form and spiritual face
against a background of palms in particular. Josie Pye, whom he had
driven over, sat beside him, and her face certainly was both triumphant
and taunting. But Anne did not see Josie, and would not have cared if
she had. She drew a long breath and flung her head up proudly, courage
and determination tingling over her like an electric shock. She WOULD
NOT fail before Gilbert Blythe--he should never be able to laugh at her,
never, never! Her fright and nervousness vanished; and she began her
recitation, her clear, sweet voice reaching to the farthest corner of
the room without a tremor or a break. Self-possession was fully restored
to her, and in the reaction from that horrible moment of powerlessness
she recited as she had never done before. When she finished there were
bursts of honest applause. Anne, stepping back to her seat, blushing
with shyness and delight, found her hand vigorously clasped and shaken
by the stout lady in pink silk.

"My dear, you did splendidly," she puffed. "I've been crying like a
baby, actually I have. There, they're encoring you--they're bound to
have you back!"

"Oh, I can't go," said Anne confusedly. "But yet--I must, or Matthew
will be disappointed. He said they would encore me."

"Then don't disappoint Matthew," said the pink lady, laughing.

Smiling, blushing, limpid eyed, Anne tripped back and gave a quaint,
funny little selection that captivated her audience still further. The
rest of the evening was quite a little triumph for her.

When the concert was over, the stout, pink lady--who was the wife of
an American millionaire--took her under her wing, and introduced her
to everybody; and everybody was very nice to her. The professional
elocutionist, Mrs. Evans, came and chatted with her, telling her that
she had a charming voice and "interpreted" her selections beautifully.
Even the white-lace girl paid her a languid little compliment. They had
supper in the big, beautifully decorated dining room; Diana and Jane
were invited to partake of this, also, since they had come with Anne,
but Billy was nowhere to be found, having decamped in mortal fear
of some such invitation. He was in waiting for them, with the team,
however, when it was all over, and the three girls came merrily out into
the calm, white moonshine radiance. Anne breathed deeply, and looked
into the clear sky beyond the dark boughs of the firs.

Oh, it was good to be out again in the purity and silence of the night!
How great and still and wonderful everything was, with the murmur of the
sea sounding through it and the darkling cliffs beyond like grim giants
guarding enchanted coasts.

"Hasn't it been a perfectly splendid time?" sighed Jane, as they drove
away. "I just wish I was a rich American and could spend my summer at
a hotel and wear jewels and low-necked dresses and have ice cream and
chicken salad every blessed day. I'm sure it would be ever so much
more fun than teaching school. Anne, your recitation was simply great,
although I thought at first you were never going to begin. I think it
was better than Mrs. Evans's."

"Oh, no, don't say things like that, Jane," said Anne quickly, "because
it sounds silly. It couldn't be better than Mrs. Evans's, you know, for
she is a professional, and I'm only a schoolgirl, with a little knack
of reciting. I'm quite satisfied if the people just liked mine pretty
well."

"I've a compliment for you, Anne," said Diana. "At least I think it
must be a compliment because of the tone he said it in. Part of it
was anyhow. There was an American sitting behind Jane and me--such a
romantic-looking man, with coal-black hair and eyes. Josie Pye says he
is a distinguished artist, and that her mother's cousin in Boston is
married to a man that used to go to school with him. Well, we heard
him say--didn't we, Jane?--'Who is that girl on the platform with the
splendid Titian hair? She has a face I should like to paint.' There now,
Anne. But what does Titian hair mean?"

"Being interpreted it means plain red, I guess," laughed Anne. "Titian
was a very famous artist who liked to paint red-haired women."

"DID you see all the diamonds those ladies wore?" sighed Jane. "They
were simply dazzling. Wouldn't you just love to be rich, girls?"

"We ARE rich," said Anne staunchly. "Why, we have sixteen years to our
credit, and we're happy as queens, and we've all got imaginations, more
or less. Look at that sea, girls--all silver and shadow and vision of
things not seen. We couldn't enjoy its loveliness any more if we had
millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds. You wouldn't change into any
of those women if you could. Would you want to be that white-lace girl
and wear a sour look all your life, as if you'd been born turning up
your nose at the world? Or the pink lady, kind and nice as she is, so
stout and short that you'd really no figure at all? Or even Mrs. Evans,
with that sad, sad look in her eyes? She must have been dreadfully
unhappy sometime to have such a look. You KNOW you wouldn't, Jane
Andrews!"

"I DON'T know--exactly," said Jane unconvinced. "I think diamonds would
comfort a person for a good deal."

"Well, I don't want to be anyone but myself, even if I go uncomforted by
diamonds all my life," declared Anne. "I'm quite content to be Anne of
Green Gables, with my string of pearl beads. I know Matthew gave me as
much love with them as ever went with Madame the Pink Lady's jewels."




CHAPTER XXXIV. A Queen's Girl


The next three weeks were busy ones at Green Gables, for Anne was
getting ready to go to Queen's, and there was much sewing to be done,
and many things to be talked over and arranged. Anne's outfit was
ample and pretty, for Matthew saw to that, and Marilla for once made
no objections whatever to anything he purchased or suggested. More--one
evening she went up to the east gable with her arms full of a delicate
pale green material.

"Anne, here's something for a nice light dress for you. I don't suppose
you really need it; you've plenty of pretty waists; but I thought maybe
you'd like something real dressy to wear if you were asked out anywhere
of an evening in town, to a party or anything like that. I hear that
Jane and Ruby and Josie have got 'evening dresses,' as they call them,
and I don't mean you shall be behind them. I got Mrs. Allan to help me
pick it in town last week, and we'll get Emily Gillis to make it for
you. Emily has got taste, and her fits aren't to be equaled."

"Oh, Marilla, it's just lovely," said Anne. "Thank you so much. I don't
believe you ought to be so kind to me--it's making it harder every day
for me to go away."

The green dress was made up with as many tucks and frills and shirrings
as Emily's taste permitted. Anne put it on one evening for Matthew's
and Marilla's benefit, and recited "The Maiden's Vow" for them in the
kitchen. As Marilla watched the bright, animated face and graceful
motions her thoughts went back to the evening Anne had arrived at Green
Gables, and memory recalled a vivid picture of the odd, frightened child
in her preposterous yellowish-brown wincey dress, the heartbreak looking
out of her tearful eyes. Something in the memory brought tears to
Marilla's own eyes.

"I declare, my recitation has made you cry, Marilla," said Anne gaily
stooping over Marilla's chair to drop a butterfly kiss on that lady's
cheek. "Now, I call that a positive triumph."

"No, I wasn't crying over your piece," said Marilla, who would have
scorned to be betrayed into such weakness by any poetry stuff. "I just
couldn't help thinking of the little girl you used to be, Anne. And
I was wishing you could have stayed a little girl, even with all your
queer ways. You've grown up now and you're going away; and you look so
tall and stylish and so--so--different altogether in that dress--as if
you didn't belong in Avonlea at all--and I just got lonesome thinking it
all over."

"Marilla!" Anne sat down on Marilla's gingham lap, took Marilla's lined
face between her hands, and looked gravely and tenderly into Marilla's
eyes. "I'm not a bit changed--not really. I'm only just pruned down and
branched out. The real ME--back here--is just the same. It won't make a
bit of difference where I go or how much I change outwardly; at heart I
shall always be your little Anne, who will love you and Matthew and dear
Green Gables more and better every day of her life."

Anne laid her fresh young cheek against Marilla's faded one, and reached
out a hand to pat Matthew's shoulder. Marilla would have given much just
then to have possessed Anne's power of putting her feelings into words;
but nature and habit had willed it otherwise, and she could only put her
arms close about her girl and hold her tenderly to her heart, wishing
that she need never let her go.

Matthew, with a suspicious moisture in his eyes, got up and went
out-of-doors. Under the stars of the blue summer night he walked
agitatedly across the yard to the gate under the poplars.

"Well now, I guess she ain't been much spoiled," he muttered, proudly.
"I guess my putting in my oar occasional never did much harm after all.
She's smart and pretty, and loving, too, which is better than all the
rest. She's been a blessing to us, and there never was a luckier mistake
than what Mrs. Spencer made--if it WAS luck. I don't believe it was any
such thing. It was Providence, because the Almighty saw we needed her, I
reckon."

The day finally came when Anne must go to town. She and Matthew drove
in one fine September morning, after a tearful parting with Diana and an
untearful practical one--on Marilla's side at least--with Marilla. But
when Anne had gone Diana dried her tears and went to a beach picnic at
White Sands with some of her Carmody cousins, where she contrived
to enjoy herself tolerably well; while Marilla plunged fiercely into
unnecessary work and kept at it all day long with the bitterest kind of
heartache--the ache that burns and gnaws and cannot wash itself away
in ready tears. But that night, when Marilla went to bed, acutely and
miserably conscious that the little gable room at the end of the
hall was untenanted by any vivid young life and unstirred by any soft
breathing, she buried her face in her pillow, and wept for her girl in
a passion of sobs that appalled her when she grew calm enough to reflect
how very wicked it must be to take on so about a sinful fellow creature.

Anne and the rest of the Avonlea scholars reached town just in time to
hurry off to the Academy. That first day passed pleasantly enough in a
whirl of excitement, meeting all the new students, learning to know the
professors by sight and being assorted and organized into classes. Anne
intended taking up the Second Year work being advised to do so by Miss
Stacy; Gilbert Blythe elected to do the same. This meant getting a
First Class teacher's license in one year instead of two, if they were
successful; but it also meant much more and harder work. Jane, Ruby,
Josie, Charlie, and Moody Spurgeon, not being troubled with the
stirrings of ambition, were content to take up the Second Class work.
Anne was conscious of a pang of loneliness when she found herself in
a room with fifty other students, not one of whom she knew, except the
tall, brown-haired boy across the room; and knowing him in the fashion
she did, did not help her much, as she reflected pessimistically.
Yet she was undeniably glad that they were in the same class; the old
rivalry could still be carried on, and Anne would hardly have known what
to do if it had been lacking.

"I wouldn't feel comfortable without it," she thought. "Gilbert looks
awfully determined. I suppose he's making up his mind, here and now, to
win the medal. What a splendid chin he has! I never noticed it before.
I do wish Jane and Ruby had gone in for First Class, too. I suppose I
won't feel so much like a cat in a strange garret when I get acquainted,
though. I wonder which of the girls here are going to be my friends.
It's really an interesting speculation. Of course I promised Diana that
no Queen's girl, no matter how much I liked her, should ever be as dear
to me as she is; but I've lots of second-best affections to bestow. I
like the look of that girl with the brown eyes and the crimson waist.
She looks vivid and red-rosy; there's that pale, fair one gazing out of
the window. She has lovely hair, and looks as if she knew a thing or two
about dreams. I'd like to know them both--know them well--well enough to
walk with my arm about their waists, and call them nicknames. But just
now I don't know them and they don't know me, and probably don't want to
know me particularly. Oh, it's lonesome!"

It was lonesomer still when Anne found herself alone in her hall bedroom
that night at twilight. She was not to board with the other girls, who
all had relatives in town to take pity on them. Miss Josephine Barry
would have liked to board her, but Beechwood was so far from the
Academy that it was out of the question; so Miss Barry hunted up a
boarding-house, assuring Matthew and Marilla that it was the very place
for Anne.

"The lady who keeps it is a reduced gentlewoman," explained Miss Barry.
"Her husband was a British officer, and she is very careful what sort
of boarders she takes. Anne will not meet with any objectionable persons
under her roof. The table is good, and the house is near the Academy, in
a quiet neighborhood."

All this might be quite true, and indeed, proved to be so, but it did
not materially help Anne in the first agony of homesickness that seized
upon her. She looked dismally about her narrow little room, with its
dull-papered, pictureless walls, its small iron bedstead and empty
book-case; and a horrible choke came into her throat as she thought of
her own white room at Green Gables, where she would have the pleasant
consciousness of a great green still outdoors, of sweet peas growing in
the garden, and moonlight falling on the orchard, of the brook below the
slope and the spruce boughs tossing in the night wind beyond it, of a
vast starry sky, and the light from Diana's window shining out through
the gap in the trees. Here there was nothing of this; Anne knew that
outside of her window was a hard street, with a network of telephone
wires shutting out the sky, the tramp of alien feet, and a thousand
lights gleaming on stranger faces. She knew that she was going to cry,
and fought against it.

"I WON'T cry. It's silly--and weak--there's the third tear splashing
down by my nose. There are more coming! I must think of something funny
to stop them. But there's nothing funny except what is connected with
Avonlea, and that only makes things worse--four--five--I'm going home
next Friday, but that seems a hundred years away. Oh, Matthew is nearly
home by now--and Marilla is at the gate, looking down the lane for
him--six--seven--eight--oh, there's no use in counting them! They're
coming in a flood presently. I can't cheer up--I don't WANT to cheer up.
It's nicer to be miserable!"

The flood of tears would have come, no doubt, had not Josie Pye appeared
at that moment. In the joy of seeing a familiar face Anne forgot that
there had never been much love lost between her and Josie. As a part of
Avonlea life even a Pye was welcome.

"I'm so glad you came up," Anne said sincerely.

"You've been crying," remarked Josie, with aggravating pity. "I suppose
you're homesick--some people have so little self-control in that
respect. I've no intention of being homesick, I can tell you. Town's too
jolly after that poky old Avonlea. I wonder how I ever existed there so
long. You shouldn't cry, Anne; it isn't becoming, for your nose and eyes
get red, and then you seem ALL red. I'd a perfectly scrumptious time in
the Academy today. Our French professor is simply a duck. His moustache
would give you kerwollowps of the heart. Have you anything eatable
around, Anne? I'm literally starving. Ah, I guessed likely Marilla'd
load you up with cake. That's why I called round. Otherwise I'd have
gone to the park to hear the band play with Frank Stockley. He boards
same place as I do, and he's a sport. He noticed you in class today, and
asked me who the red-headed girl was. I told him you were an orphan that
the Cuthberts had adopted, and nobody knew very much about what you'd
been before that."

Anne was wondering if, after all, solitude and tears were not more
satisfactory than Josie Pye's companionship when Jane and Ruby appeared,
each with an inch of Queen's color ribbon--purple and scarlet--pinned
proudly to her coat. As Josie was not "speaking" to Jane just then she
had to subside into comparative harmlessness.

"Well," said Jane with a sigh, "I feel as if I'd lived many moons since
the morning. I ought to be home studying my Virgil--that horrid old
professor gave us twenty lines to start in on tomorrow. But I simply
couldn't settle down to study tonight. Anne, methinks I see the
traces of tears. If you've been crying DO own up. It will restore my
self-respect, for I was shedding tears freely before Ruby came along. I
don't mind being a goose so much if somebody else is goosey, too. Cake?
You'll give me a teeny piece, won't you? Thank you. It has the real
Avonlea flavor."

Ruby, perceiving the Queen's calendar lying on the table, wanted to know
if Anne meant to try for the gold medal.

Anne blushed and admitted she was thinking of it.

"Oh, that reminds me," said Josie, "Queen's is to get one of the Avery
scholarships after all. The word came today. Frank Stockley told me--his
uncle is one of the board of governors, you know. It will be announced
in the Academy tomorrow."

An Avery scholarship! Anne felt her heart beat more quickly, and the
horizons of her ambition shifted and broadened as if by magic. Before
Josie had told the news Anne's highest pinnacle of aspiration had been
a teacher's provincial license, First Class, at the end of the year, and
perhaps the medal! But now in one moment Anne saw herself winning
the Avery scholarship, taking an Arts course at Redmond College, and
graduating in a gown and mortar board, before the echo of Josie's words
had died away. For the Avery scholarship was in English, and Anne felt
that here her foot was on native heath.

A wealthy manufacturer of New Brunswick had died and left part of his
fortune to endow a large number of scholarships to be distributed
among the various high schools and academies of the Maritime Provinces,
according to their respective standings. There had been much doubt
whether one would be allotted to Queen's, but the matter was settled at
last, and at the end of the year the graduate who made the highest mark
in English and English Literature would win the scholarship--two hundred
and fifty dollars a year for four years at Redmond College. No wonder
that Anne went to bed that night with tingling cheeks!

"I'll win that scholarship if hard work can do it," she resolved.
"Wouldn't Matthew be proud if I got to be a B.A.? Oh, it's delightful to
have ambitions. I'm so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to
be any end to them--that's the best of it. Just as soon as you attain
to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does
make life so interesting."




CHAPTER XXXV. The Winter at Queen's


Anne's homesickness wore off, greatly helped in the wearing by her
weekend visits home. As long as the open weather lasted the Avonlea
students went out to Carmody on the new branch railway every Friday
night. Diana and several other Avonlea young folks were generally on
hand to meet them and they all walked over to Avonlea in a merry party.
Anne thought those Friday evening gypsyings over the autumnal hills in
the crisp golden air, with the homelights of Avonlea twinkling beyond,
were the best and dearest hours in the whole week.

Gilbert Blythe nearly always walked with Ruby Gillis and carried her
satchel for her. Ruby was a very handsome young lady, now thinking
herself quite as grown up as she really was; she wore her skirts as long
as her mother would let her and did her hair up in town, though she had
to take it down when she went home. She had large, bright-blue eyes,
a brilliant complexion, and a plump showy figure. She laughed a great
deal, was cheerful and good-tempered, and enjoyed the pleasant things of
life frankly.

"But I shouldn't think she was the sort of girl Gilbert would like,"
whispered Jane to Anne. Anne did not think so either, but she would not
have said so for the Avery scholarship. She could not help thinking,
too, that it would be very pleasant to have such a friend as Gilbert
to jest and chatter with and exchange ideas about books and studies and
ambitions. Gilbert had ambitions, she knew, and Ruby Gillis did not seem
the sort of person with whom such could be profitably discussed.

There was no silly sentiment in Anne's ideas concerning Gilbert. Boys
were to her, when she thought about them at all, merely possible good
comrades. If she and Gilbert had been friends she would not have cared
how many other friends he had nor with whom he walked. She had a genius
for friendship; girl friends she had in plenty; but she had a vague
consciousness that masculine friendship might also be a good thing
to round out one's conceptions of companionship and furnish broader
standpoints of judgment and comparison. Not that Anne could have put her
feelings on the matter into just such clear definition. But she thought
that if Gilbert had ever walked home with her from the train, over the
crisp fields and along the ferny byways, they might have had many and
merry and interesting conversations about the new world that was opening
around them and their hopes and ambitions therein. Gilbert was a clever
young fellow, with his own thoughts about things and a determination to
get the best out of life and put the best into it. Ruby Gillis told Jane
Andrews that she didn't understand half the things Gilbert Blythe said;
he talked just like Anne Shirley did when she had a thoughtful fit on
and for her part she didn't think it any fun to be bothering about books
and that sort of thing when you didn't have to. Frank Stockley had lots
more dash and go, but then he wasn't half as good-looking as Gilbert and
she really couldn't decide which she liked best!

In the Academy Anne gradually drew a little circle of friends about
her, thoughtful, imaginative, ambitious students like herself. With the
"rose-red" girl, Stella Maynard, and the "dream girl," Priscilla Grant,
she soon became intimate, finding the latter pale spiritual-looking
maiden to be full to the brim of mischief and pranks and fun, while the
vivid, black-eyed Stella had a heartful of wistful dreams and fancies,
as aerial and rainbow-like as Anne's own.

After the Christmas holidays the Avonlea students gave up going home
on Fridays and settled down to hard work. By this time all the Queen's
scholars had gravitated into their own places in the ranks and
the various classes had assumed distinct and settled shadings of
individuality. Certain facts had become generally accepted. It was
admitted that the medal contestants had practically narrowed down
to three--Gilbert Blythe, Anne Shirley, and Lewis Wilson; the Avery
scholarship was more doubtful, any one of a certain six being a possible
winner. The bronze medal for mathematics was considered as good as
won by a fat, funny little up-country boy with a bumpy forehead and a
patched coat.

Ruby Gillis was the handsomest girl of the year at the Academy; in the
Second Year classes Stella Maynard carried off the palm for beauty, with
small but critical minority in favor of Anne Shirley. Ethel Marr was
admitted by all competent judges to have the most stylish modes
of hair-dressing, and Jane Andrews--plain, plodding, conscientious
Jane--carried off the honors in the domestic science course. Even Josie
Pye attained a certain preeminence as the sharpest-tongued young lady in
attendance at Queen's. So it may be fairly stated that Miss Stacy's old
pupils held their own in the wider arena of the academical course.

Anne worked hard and steadily. Her rivalry with Gilbert was as intense
as it had ever been in Avonlea school, although it was not known in the
class at large, but somehow the bitterness had gone out of it. Anne no
longer wished to win for the sake of defeating Gilbert; rather, for the
proud consciousness of a well-won victory over a worthy foeman. It
would be worth while to win, but she no longer thought life would be
insupportable if she did not.

In spite of lessons the students found opportunities for pleasant times.
Anne spent many of her spare hours at Beechwood and generally ate her
Sunday dinners there and went to church with Miss Barry. The latter was,
as she admitted, growing old, but her black eyes were not dim nor the
vigor of her tongue in the least abated. But she never sharpened the
latter on Anne, who continued to be a prime favorite with the critical
old lady.

"That Anne-girl improves all the time," she said. "I get tired of other
girls--there is such a provoking and eternal sameness about them. Anne
has as many shades as a rainbow and every shade is the prettiest while
it lasts. I don't know that she is as amusing as she was when she was
a child, but she makes me love her and I like people who make me love
them. It saves me so much trouble in making myself love them."

Then, almost before anybody realized it, spring had come; out in
Avonlea the Mayflowers were peeping pinkly out on the sere barrens where
snow-wreaths lingered; and the "mist of green" was on the woods and in
the valleys. But in Charlottetown harassed Queen's students thought and
talked only of examinations.

"It doesn't seem possible that the term is nearly over," said Anne.
"Why, last fall it seemed so long to look forward to--a whole winter
of studies and classes. And here we are, with the exams looming up next
week. Girls, sometimes I feel as if those exams meant everything, but
when I look at the big buds swelling on those chestnut trees and
the misty blue air at the end of the streets they don't seem half so
important."

Jane and Ruby and Josie, who had dropped in, did not take this view
of it. To them the coming examinations were constantly very important
indeed--far more important than chestnut buds or Maytime hazes. It was
all very well for Anne, who was sure of passing at least, to have her
moments of belittling them, but when your whole future depended on
them--as the girls truly thought theirs did--you could not regard them
philosophically.

"I've lost seven pounds in the last two weeks," sighed Jane. "It's no
use to say don't worry. I WILL worry. Worrying helps you some--it
seems as if you were doing something when you're worrying. It would be
dreadful if I failed to get my license after going to Queen's all winter
and spending so much money."

"_I_ don't care," said Josie Pye. "If I don't pass this year I'm coming
back next. My father can afford to send me. Anne, Frank Stockley says
that Professor Tremaine said Gilbert Blythe was sure to get the medal
and that Emily Clay would likely win the Avery scholarship."

"That may make me feel badly tomorrow, Josie," laughed Anne, "but just
now I honestly feel that as long as I know the violets are coming out
all purple down in the hollow below Green Gables and that little ferns
are poking their heads up in Lovers' Lane, it's not a great deal of
difference whether I win the Avery or not. I've done my best and I begin
to understand what is meant by the 'joy of the strife.' Next to trying
and winning, the best thing is trying and failing. Girls, don't talk
about exams! Look at that arch of pale green sky over those houses
and picture to yourself what it must look like over the purply-dark
beech-woods back of Avonlea."

"What are you going to wear for commencement, Jane?" asked Ruby
practically.

Jane and Josie both answered at once and the chatter drifted into a side
eddy of fashions. But Anne, with her elbows on the window sill, her soft
cheek laid against her clasped hands, and her eyes filled with visions,
looked out unheedingly across city roof and spire to that glorious dome
of sunset sky and wove her dreams of a possible future from the golden
tissue of youth's own optimism. All the Beyond was hers with its
possibilities lurking rosily in the oncoming years--each year a rose of
promise to be woven into an immortal chaplet.




CHAPTER XXXVI. The Glory and the Dream


On the morning when the final results of all the examinations were to be
posted on the bulletin board at Queen's, Anne and Jane walked down the
street together. Jane was smiling and happy; examinations were over
and she was comfortably sure she had made a pass at least; further
considerations troubled Jane not at all; she had no soaring ambitions
and consequently was not affected with the unrest attendant thereon. For
we pay a price for everything we get or take in this world; and although
ambitions are well worth having, they are not to be cheaply won, but
exact their dues of work and self-denial, anxiety and discouragement.
Anne was pale and quiet; in ten more minutes she would know who had
won the medal and who the Avery. Beyond those ten minutes there did not
seem, just then, to be anything worth being called Time.

"Of course you'll win one of them anyhow," said Jane, who couldn't
understand how the faculty could be so unfair as to order it otherwise.

"I have not hope of the Avery," said Anne. "Everybody says Emily Clay
will win it. And I'm not going to march up to that bulletin board and
look at it before everybody. I haven't the moral courage. I'm going
straight to the girls' dressing room. You must read the announcements
and then come and tell me, Jane. And I implore you in the name of our
old friendship to do it as quickly as possible. If I have failed just
say so, without trying to break it gently; and whatever you do DON'T
sympathize with me. Promise me this, Jane."

Jane promised solemnly; but, as it happened, there was no necessity for
such a promise. When they went up the entrance steps of Queen's they
found the hall full of boys who were carrying Gilbert Blythe around on
their shoulders and yelling at the tops of their voices, "Hurrah for
Blythe, Medalist!"

For a moment Anne felt one sickening pang of defeat and disappointment.
So she had failed and Gilbert had won! Well, Matthew would be sorry--he
had been so sure she would win.

And then!

Somebody called out:

"Three cheers for Miss Shirley, winner of the Avery!"

"Oh, Anne," gasped Jane, as they fled to the girls' dressing room amid
hearty cheers. "Oh, Anne I'm so proud! Isn't it splendid?"

And then the girls were around them and Anne was the center of a
laughing, congratulating group. Her shoulders were thumped and her hands
shaken vigorously. She was pushed and pulled and hugged and among it all
she managed to whisper to Jane:

"Oh, won't Matthew and Marilla be pleased! I must write the news home
right away."

Commencement was the next important happening. The exercises were held
in the big assembly hall of the Academy. Addresses were given, essays
read, songs sung, the public award of diplomas, prizes and medals made.

Matthew and Marilla were there, with eyes and ears for only one student
on the platform--a tall girl in pale green, with faintly flushed
cheeks and starry eyes, who read the best essay and was pointed out and
whispered about as the Avery winner.

"Reckon you're glad we kept her, Marilla?" whispered Matthew, speaking
for the first time since he had entered the hall, when Anne had finished
her essay.

"It's not the first time I've been glad," retorted Marilla. "You do like
to rub things in, Matthew Cuthbert."

Miss Barry, who was sitting behind them, leaned forward and poked
Marilla in the back with her parasol.

"Aren't you proud of that Anne-girl? I am," she said.

Anne went home to Avonlea with Matthew and Marilla that evening. She had
not been home since April and she felt that she could not wait another
day. The apple blossoms were out and the world was fresh and young.
Diana was at Green Gables to meet her. In her own white room, where
Marilla had set a flowering house rose on the window sill, Anne looked
about her and drew a long breath of happiness.

"Oh, Diana, it's so good to be back again. It's so good to see those
pointed firs coming out against the pink sky--and that white orchard and
the old Snow Queen. Isn't the breath of the mint delicious? And that tea
rose--why, it's a song and a hope and a prayer all in one. And it's GOOD
to see you again, Diana!"

"I thought you liked that Stella Maynard better than me," said
Diana reproachfully. "Josie Pye told me you did. Josie said you were
INFATUATED with her."

Anne laughed and pelted Diana with the faded "June lilies" of her
bouquet.

"Stella Maynard is the dearest girl in the world except one and you are
that one, Diana," she said. "I love you more than ever--and I've so many
things to tell you. But just now I feel as if it were joy enough to sit
here and look at you. I'm tired, I think--tired of being studious and
ambitious. I mean to spend at least two hours tomorrow lying out in the
orchard grass, thinking of absolutely nothing."

"You've done splendidly, Anne. I suppose you won't be teaching now that
you've won the Avery?"

"No. I'm going to Redmond in September. Doesn't it seem wonderful? I'll
have a brand new stock of ambition laid in by that time after three
glorious, golden months of vacation. Jane and Ruby are going to teach.
Isn't it splendid to think we all got through even to Moody Spurgeon and
Josie Pye?"

"The Newbridge trustees have offered Jane their school already," said
Diana. "Gilbert Blythe is going to teach, too. He has to. His father
can't afford to send him to college next year, after all, so he means
to earn his own way through. I expect he'll get the school here if Miss
Ames decides to leave."

Anne felt a queer little sensation of dismayed surprise. She had not
known this; she had expected that Gilbert would be going to Redmond
also. What would she do without their inspiring rivalry? Would not
work, even at a coeducational college with a real degree in prospect, be
rather flat without her friend the enemy?

The next morning at breakfast it suddenly struck Anne that Matthew was
not looking well. Surely he was much grayer than he had been a year
before.

"Marilla," she said hesitatingly when he had gone out, "is Matthew quite
well?"

"No, he isn't," said Marilla in a troubled tone. "He's had some real
bad spells with his heart this spring and he won't spare himself a mite.
I've been real worried about him, but he's some better this while back
and we've got a good hired man, so I'm hoping he'll kind of rest and
pick up. Maybe he will now you're home. You always cheer him up."

Anne leaned across the table and took Marilla's face in her hands.

"You are not looking as well yourself as I'd like to see you, Marilla.
You look tired. I'm afraid you've been working too hard. You must take
a rest, now that I'm home. I'm just going to take this one day off to
visit all the dear old spots and hunt up my old dreams, and then it will
be your turn to be lazy while I do the work."

Marilla smiled affectionately at her girl.

"It's not the work--it's my head. I've got a pain so often now--behind
my eyes. Doctor Spencer's been fussing with glasses, but they don't do
me any good. There is a distinguished oculist coming to the Island the
last of June and the doctor says I must see him. I guess I'll have to.
I can't read or sew with any comfort now. Well, Anne, you've done real
well at Queen's I must say. To take First Class License in one year and
win the Avery scholarship--well, well, Mrs. Lynde says pride goes before
a fall and she doesn't believe in the higher education of women at all;
she says it unfits them for woman's true sphere. I don't believe a word
of it. Speaking of Rachel reminds me--did you hear anything about the
Abbey Bank lately, Anne?"

"I heard it was shaky," answered Anne. "Why?"

"That is what Rachel said. She was up here one day last week and said
there was some talk about it. Matthew felt real worried. All we have
saved is in that bank--every penny. I wanted Matthew to put it in the
Savings Bank in the first place, but old Mr. Abbey was a great friend of
father's and he'd always banked with him. Matthew said any bank with him
at the head of it was good enough for anybody."

"I think he has only been its nominal head for many years," said
Anne. "He is a very old man; his nephews are really at the head of the
institution."

"Well, when Rachel told us that, I wanted Matthew to draw our money
right out and he said he'd think of it. But Mr. Russell told him
yesterday that the bank was all right."

Anne had her good day in the companionship of the outdoor world. She
never forgot that day; it was so bright and golden and fair, so free
from shadow and so lavish of blossom. Anne spent some of its rich hours
in the orchard; she went to the Dryad's Bubble and Willowmere and Violet
Vale; she called at the manse and had a satisfying talk with Mrs. Allan;
and finally in the evening she went with Matthew for the cows, through
Lovers' Lane to the back pasture. The woods were all gloried through
with sunset and the warm splendor of it streamed down through the hill
gaps in the west. Matthew walked slowly with bent head; Anne, tall and
erect, suited her springing step to his.

"You've been working too hard today, Matthew," she said reproachfully.
"Why won't you take things easier?"

"Well now, I can't seem to," said Matthew, as he opened the yard gate
to let the cows through. "It's only that I'm getting old, Anne, and keep
forgetting it. Well, well, I've always worked pretty hard and I'd rather
drop in harness."

"If I had been the boy you sent for," said Anne wistfully, "I'd be able
to help you so much now and spare you in a hundred ways. I could find it
in my heart to wish I had been, just for that."

"Well now, I'd rather have you than a dozen boys, Anne," said Matthew
patting her hand. "Just mind you that--rather than a dozen boys. Well
now, I guess it wasn't a boy that took the Avery scholarship, was it? It
was a girl--my girl--my girl that I'm proud of."

He smiled his shy smile at her as he went into the yard. Anne took the
memory of it with her when she went to her room that night and sat for a
long while at her open window, thinking of the past and dreaming of the
future. Outside the Snow Queen was mistily white in the moonshine;
the frogs were singing in the marsh beyond Orchard Slope. Anne always
remembered the silvery, peaceful beauty and fragrant calm of that night.
It was the last night before sorrow touched her life; and no life is
ever quite the same again when once that cold, sanctifying touch has
been laid upon it.




CHAPTER XXXVII. The Reaper Whose Name Is Death


"Matthew--Matthew--what is the matter? Matthew, are you sick?"

It was Marilla who spoke, alarm in every jerky word. Anne came through
the hall, her hands full of white narcissus,--it was long before Anne
could love the sight or odor of white narcissus again,--in time to hear
her and to see Matthew standing in the porch doorway, a folded paper
in his hand, and his face strangely drawn and gray. Anne dropped her
flowers and sprang across the kitchen to him at the same moment as
Marilla. They were both too late; before they could reach him Matthew
had fallen across the threshold.

"He's fainted," gasped Marilla. "Anne, run for Martin--quick, quick!
He's at the barn."

Martin, the hired man, who had just driven home from the post office,
started at once for the doctor, calling at Orchard Slope on his way to
send Mr. and Mrs. Barry over. Mrs. Lynde, who was there on an errand,
came too. They found Anne and Marilla distractedly trying to restore
Matthew to consciousness.

Mrs. Lynde pushed them gently aside, tried his pulse, and then laid her
ear over his heart. She looked at their anxious faces sorrowfully and
the tears came into her eyes.

"Oh, Marilla," she said gravely. "I don't think--we can do anything for
him."

"Mrs. Lynde, you don't think--you can't think Matthew is--is--" Anne
could not say the dreadful word; she turned sick and pallid.

"Child, yes, I'm afraid of it. Look at his face. When you've seen that
look as often as I have you'll know what it means."

Anne looked at the still face and there beheld the seal of the Great
Presence.

When the doctor came he said that death had been instantaneous and
probably painless, caused in all likelihood by some sudden shock. The
secret of the shock was discovered to be in the paper Matthew had held
and which Martin had brought from the office that morning. It contained
an account of the failure of the Abbey Bank.

The news spread quickly through Avonlea, and all day friends and
neighbors thronged Green Gables and came and went on errands of kindness
for the dead and living. For the first time shy, quiet Matthew Cuthbert
was a person of central importance; the white majesty of death had
fallen on him and set him apart as one crowned.

When the calm night came softly down over Green Gables the old house was
hushed and tranquil. In the parlor lay Matthew Cuthbert in his coffin,
his long gray hair framing his placid face on which there was a little
kindly smile as if he but slept, dreaming pleasant dreams. There were
flowers about him--sweet old-fashioned flowers which his mother had
planted in the homestead garden in her bridal days and for which Matthew
had always had a secret, wordless love. Anne had gathered them and
brought them to him, her anguished, tearless eyes burning in her white
face. It was the last thing she could do for him.

The Barrys and Mrs. Lynde stayed with them that night. Diana, going to
the east gable, where Anne was standing at her window, said gently:

"Anne dear, would you like to have me sleep with you tonight?"

"Thank you, Diana." Anne looked earnestly into her friend's face. "I
think you won't misunderstand me when I say I want to be alone. I'm not
afraid. I haven't been alone one minute since it happened--and I want to
be. I want to be quite silent and quiet and try to realize it. I can't
realize it. Half the time it seems to me that Matthew can't be dead; and
the other half it seems as if he must have been dead for a long time and
I've had this horrible dull ache ever since."

Diana did not quite understand. Marilla's impassioned grief, breaking
all the bounds of natural reserve and lifelong habit in its stormy rush,
she could comprehend better than Anne's tearless agony. But she went
away kindly, leaving Anne alone to keep her first vigil with sorrow.

Anne hoped that the tears would come in solitude. It seemed to her a
terrible thing that she could not shed a tear for Matthew, whom she had
loved so much and who had been so kind to her, Matthew who had walked
with her last evening at sunset and was now lying in the dim room below
with that awful peace on his brow. But no tears came at first, even when
she knelt by her window in the darkness and prayed, looking up to the
stars beyond the hills--no tears, only the same horrible dull ache of
misery that kept on aching until she fell asleep, worn out with the
day's pain and excitement.

In the night she awakened, with the stillness and the darkness about
her, and the recollection of the day came over her like a wave of
sorrow. She could see Matthew's face smiling at her as he had smiled
when they parted at the gate that last evening--she could hear his voice
saying, "My girl--my girl that I'm proud of." Then the tears came and
Anne wept her heart out. Marilla heard her and crept in to comfort her.

"There--there--don't cry so, dearie. It can't bring him back.
It--it--isn't right to cry so. I knew that today, but I couldn't help
it then. He'd always been such a good, kind brother to me--but God knows
best."

"Oh, just let me cry, Marilla," sobbed Anne. "The tears don't hurt me
like that ache did. Stay here for a little while with me and keep your
arm round me--so. I couldn't have Diana stay, she's good and kind and
sweet--but it's not her sorrow--she's outside of it and she couldn't
come close enough to my heart to help me. It's our sorrow--yours and
mine. Oh, Marilla, what will we do without him?"

"We've got each other, Anne. I don't know what I'd do if you weren't
here--if you'd never come. Oh, Anne, I know I've been kind of strict and
harsh with you maybe--but you mustn't think I didn't love you as well as
Matthew did, for all that. I want to tell you now when I can. It's never
been easy for me to say things out of my heart, but at times like this
it's easier. I love you as dear as if you were my own flesh and blood
and you've been my joy and comfort ever since you came to Green Gables."

Two days afterwards they carried Matthew Cuthbert over his homestead
threshold and away from the fields he had tilled and the orchards he had
loved and the trees he had planted; and then Avonlea settled back to its
usual placidity and even at Green Gables affairs slipped into their old
groove and work was done and duties fulfilled with regularity as before,
although always with the aching sense of "loss in all familiar things."
Anne, new to grief, thought it almost sad that it could be so--that
they COULD go on in the old way without Matthew. She felt something like
shame and remorse when she discovered that the sunrises behind the firs
and the pale pink buds opening in the garden gave her the old inrush of
gladness when she saw them--that Diana's visits were pleasant to her
and that Diana's merry words and ways moved her to laughter and
smiles--that, in brief, the beautiful world of blossom and love and
friendship had lost none of its power to please her fancy and thrill her
heart, that life still called to her with many insistent voices.

"It seems like disloyalty to Matthew, somehow, to find pleasure in
these things now that he has gone," she said wistfully to Mrs. Allan
one evening when they were together in the manse garden. "I miss him so
much--all the time--and yet, Mrs. Allan, the world and life seem very
beautiful and interesting to me for all. Today Diana said something
funny and I found myself laughing. I thought when it happened I could
never laugh again. And it somehow seems as if I oughtn't to."

"When Matthew was here he liked to hear you laugh and he liked to know
that you found pleasure in the pleasant things around you," said Mrs.
Allan gently. "He is just away now; and he likes to know it just the
same. I am sure we should not shut our hearts against the healing
influences that nature offers us. But I can understand your feeling.
I think we all experience the same thing. We resent the thought that
anything can please us when someone we love is no longer here to share
the pleasure with us, and we almost feel as if we were unfaithful to our
sorrow when we find our interest in life returning to us."

"I was down to the graveyard to plant a rosebush on Matthew's grave
this afternoon," said Anne dreamily. "I took a slip of the little white
Scotch rosebush his mother brought out from Scotland long ago; Matthew
always liked those roses the best--they were so small and sweet on
their thorny stems. It made me feel glad that I could plant it by his
grave--as if I were doing something that must please him in taking it
there to be near him. I hope he has roses like them in heaven. Perhaps
the souls of all those little white roses that he has loved so many
summers were all there to meet him. I must go home now. Marilla is all
alone and she gets lonely at twilight."

"She will be lonelier still, I fear, when you go away again to college,"
said Mrs. Allan.

Anne did not reply; she said good night and went slowly back to green
Gables. Marilla was sitting on the front door-steps and Anne sat down
beside her. The door was open behind them, held back by a big pink conch
shell with hints of sea sunsets in its smooth inner convolutions.

Anne gathered some sprays of pale-yellow honeysuckle and put them in
her hair. She liked the delicious hint of fragrance, as some aerial
benediction, above her every time she moved.

"Doctor Spencer was here while you were away," Marilla said. "He says
that the specialist will be in town tomorrow and he insists that I must
go in and have my eyes examined. I suppose I'd better go and have it
over. I'll be more than thankful if the man can give me the right kind
of glasses to suit my eyes. You won't mind staying here alone while I'm
away, will you? Martin will have to drive me in and there's ironing and
baking to do."

"I shall be all right. Diana will come over for company for me. I shall
attend to the ironing and baking beautifully--you needn't fear that I'll
starch the handkerchiefs or flavor the cake with liniment."

Marilla laughed.

"What a girl you were for making mistakes in them days, Anne. You were
always getting into scrapes. I did use to think you were possessed. Do
you mind the time you dyed your hair?"

"Yes, indeed. I shall never forget it," smiled Anne, touching the heavy
braid of hair that was wound about her shapely head. "I laugh a little
now sometimes when I think what a worry my hair used to be to me--but I
don't laugh MUCH, because it was a very real trouble then. I did suffer
terribly over my hair and my freckles. My freckles are really gone; and
people are nice enough to tell me my hair is auburn now--all but Josie
Pye. She informed me yesterday that she really thought it was redder
than ever, or at least my black dress made it look redder, and she asked
me if people who had red hair ever got used to having it. Marilla, I've
almost decided to give up trying to like Josie Pye. I've made what I
would once have called a heroic effort to like her, but Josie Pye won't
BE liked."

"Josie is a Pye," said Marilla sharply, "so she can't help being
disagreeable. I suppose people of that kind serve some useful purpose in
society, but I must say I don't know what it is any more than I know the
use of thistles. Is Josie going to teach?"

"No, she is going back to Queen's next year. So are Moody Spurgeon and
Charlie Sloane. Jane and Ruby are going to teach and they have both got
schools--Jane at Newbridge and Ruby at some place up west."

"Gilbert Blythe is going to teach too, isn't he?"

"Yes"--briefly.

"What a nice-looking fellow he is," said Marilla absently. "I saw him in
church last Sunday and he seemed so tall and manly. He looks a lot like
his father did at the same age. John Blythe was a nice boy. We used to
be real good friends, he and I. People called him my beau."

Anne looked up with swift interest.

"Oh, Marilla--and what happened?--why didn't you--"

"We had a quarrel. I wouldn't forgive him when he asked me to. I meant
to, after awhile--but I was sulky and angry and I wanted to punish him
first. He never came back--the Blythes were all mighty independent. But
I always felt--rather sorry. I've always kind of wished I'd forgiven him
when I had the chance."

"So you've had a bit of romance in your life, too," said Anne softly.

"Yes, I suppose you might call it that. You wouldn't think so to look at
me, would you? But you never can tell about people from their outsides.
Everybody has forgot about me and John. I'd forgotten myself. But it all
came back to me when I saw Gilbert last Sunday."





CHAPTER XXXVIII. The Bend in the road


Marilla went to town the next day and returned in the evening. Anne had
gone over to Orchard Slope with Diana and came back to find Marilla in
the kitchen, sitting by the table with her head leaning on her hand.
Something in her dejected attitude struck a chill to Anne's heart. She
had never seen Marilla sit limply inert like that.

"Are you very tired, Marilla?"

"Yes--no--I don't know," said Marilla wearily, looking up. "I suppose I
am tired but I haven't thought about it. It's not that."

"Did you see the oculist? What did he say?" asked Anne anxiously.

"Yes, I saw him. He examined my eyes. He says that if I give up all
reading and sewing entirely and any kind of work that strains the eyes,
and if I'm careful not to cry, and if I wear the glasses he's given me
he thinks my eyes may not get any worse and my headaches will be cured.
But if I don't he says I'll certainly be stone-blind in six months.
Blind! Anne, just think of it!"

For a minute Anne, after her first quick exclamation of dismay, was
silent. It seemed to her that she could NOT speak. Then she said
bravely, but with a catch in her voice:

"Marilla, DON'T think of it. You know he has given you hope. If you are
careful you won't lose your sight altogether; and if his glasses cure
your headaches it will be a great thing."

"I don't call it much hope," said Marilla bitterly. "What am I to live
for if I can't read or sew or do anything like that? I might as well
be blind--or dead. And as for crying, I can't help that when I get
lonesome. But there, it's no good talking about it. If you'll get me
a cup of tea I'll be thankful. I'm about done out. Don't say anything
about this to any one for a spell yet, anyway. I can't bear that folks
should come here to question and sympathize and talk about it."

When Marilla had eaten her lunch Anne persuaded her to go to bed. Then
Anne went herself to the east gable and sat down by her window in the
darkness alone with her tears and her heaviness of heart. How sadly
things had changed since she had sat there the night after coming home!
Then she had been full of hope and joy and the future had looked rosy
with promise. Anne felt as if she had lived years since then, but before
she went to bed there was a smile on her lips and peace in her heart.
She had looked her duty courageously in the face and found it a
friend--as duty ever is when we meet it frankly.

One afternoon a few days later Marilla came slowly in from the front
yard where she had been talking to a caller--a man whom Anne knew by
sight as Sadler from Carmody. Anne wondered what he could have been
saying to bring that look to Marilla's face.

"What did Mr. Sadler want, Marilla?"

Marilla sat down by the window and looked at Anne. There were tears in
her eyes in defiance of the oculist's prohibition and her voice broke as
she said:

"He heard that I was going to sell Green Gables and he wants to buy it."

"Buy it! Buy Green Gables?" Anne wondered if she had heard aright. "Oh,
Marilla, you don't mean to sell Green Gables!"

"Anne, I don't know what else is to be done. I've thought it all over.
If my eyes were strong I could stay here and make out to look after
things and manage, with a good hired man. But as it is I can't. I may
lose my sight altogether; and anyway I'll not be fit to run things. Oh,
I never thought I'd live to see the day when I'd have to sell my home.
But things would only go behind worse and worse all the time, till
nobody would want to buy it. Every cent of our money went in that bank;
and there's some notes Matthew gave last fall to pay. Mrs. Lynde advises
me to sell the farm and board somewhere--with her I suppose. It won't
bring much--it's small and the buildings are old. But it'll be enough
for me to live on I reckon. I'm thankful you're provided for with that
scholarship, Anne. I'm sorry you won't have a home to come to in your
vacations, that's all, but I suppose you'll manage somehow."

Marilla broke down and wept bitterly.

"You mustn't sell Green Gables," said Anne resolutely.

"Oh, Anne, I wish I didn't have to. But you can see for yourself. I
can't stay here alone. I'd go crazy with trouble and loneliness. And my
sight would go--I know it would."

"You won't have to stay here alone, Marilla. I'll be with you. I'm not
going to Redmond."

"Not going to Redmond!" Marilla lifted her worn face from her hands and
looked at Anne. "Why, what do you mean?"

"Just what I say. I'm not going to take the scholarship. I decided so
the night after you came home from town. You surely don't think I could
leave you alone in your trouble, Marilla, after all you've done for me.
I've been thinking and planning. Let me tell you my plans. Mr. Barry
wants to rent the farm for next year. So you won't have any bother over
that. And I'm going to teach. I've applied for the school here--but I
don't expect to get it for I understand the trustees have promised it to
Gilbert Blythe. But I can have the Carmody school--Mr. Blair told me
so last night at the store. Of course that won't be quite as nice or
convenient as if I had the Avonlea school. But I can board home and
drive myself over to Carmody and back, in the warm weather at least. And
even in winter I can come home Fridays. We'll keep a horse for that. Oh,
I have it all planned out, Marilla. And I'll read to you and keep you
cheered up. You sha'n't be dull or lonesome. And we'll be real cozy and
happy here together, you and I."

Marilla had listened like a woman in a dream.

"Oh, Anne, I could get on real well if you were here, I know. But I
can't let you sacrifice yourself so for me. It would be terrible."

"Nonsense!" Anne laughed merrily. "There is no sacrifice. Nothing could
be worse than giving up Green Gables--nothing could hurt me more. We
must keep the dear old place. My mind is quite made up, Marilla. I'm NOT
going to Redmond; and I AM going to stay here and teach. Don't you worry
about me a bit."

"But your ambitions--and--"

"I'm just as ambitious as ever. Only, I've changed the object of my
ambitions. I'm going to be a good teacher--and I'm going to save your
eyesight. Besides, I mean to study at home here and take a little
college course all by myself. Oh, I've dozens of plans, Marilla. I've
been thinking them out for a week. I shall give life here my best, and
I believe it will give its best to me in return. When I left Queen's my
future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought
I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I
don't know what lies around the bend, but I'm going to believe that the
best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend, Marilla. I wonder
how the road beyond it goes--what there is of green glory and
soft, checkered light and shadows--what new landscapes--what new
beauties--what curves and hills and valleys further on."

"I don't feel as if I ought to let you give it up," said Marilla,
referring to the scholarship.

"But you can't prevent me. I'm sixteen and a half, 'obstinate as a
mule,' as Mrs. Lynde once told me," laughed Anne. "Oh, Marilla, don't
you go pitying me. I don't like to be pitied, and there is no need
for it. I'm heart glad over the very thought of staying at dear Green
Gables. Nobody could love it as you and I do--so we must keep it."

"You blessed girl!" said Marilla, yielding. "I feel as if you'd given me
new life. I guess I ought to stick out and make you go to college--but
I know I can't, so I ain't going to try. I'll make it up to you though,
Anne."

When it became noised abroad in Avonlea that Anne Shirley had given up
the idea of going to college and intended to stay home and teach there
was a good deal of discussion over it. Most of the good folks, not
knowing about Marilla's eyes, thought she was foolish. Mrs. Allan did
not. She told Anne so in approving words that brought tears of pleasure
to the girl's eyes. Neither did good Mrs. Lynde. She came up one evening
and found Anne and Marilla sitting at the front door in the warm,
scented summer dusk. They liked to sit there when the twilight came down
and the white moths flew about in the garden and the odor of mint filled
the dewy air.

Mrs. Rachel deposited her substantial person upon the stone bench by the
door, behind which grew a row of tall pink and yellow hollyhocks, with a
long breath of mingled weariness and relief.

"I declare I'm getting glad to sit down. I've been on my feet all day,
and two hundred pounds is a good bit for two feet to carry round. It's
a great blessing not to be fat, Marilla. I hope you appreciate it. Well,
Anne, I hear you've given up your notion of going to college. I was
real glad to hear it. You've got as much education now as a woman can be
comfortable with. I don't believe in girls going to college with the men
and cramming their heads full of Latin and Greek and all that nonsense."

"But I'm going to study Latin and Greek just the same, Mrs. Lynde," said
Anne laughing. "I'm going to take my Arts course right here at Green
Gables, and study everything that I would at college."

Mrs. Lynde lifted her hands in holy horror.

"Anne Shirley, you'll kill yourself."

"Not a bit of it. I shall thrive on it. Oh, I'm not going to overdo
things. As 'Josiah Allen's wife,' says, I shall be 'mejum'. But I'll
have lots of spare time in the long winter evenings, and I've no
vocation for fancy work. I'm going to teach over at Carmody, you know."

"I don't know it. I guess you're going to teach right here in Avonlea.
The trustees have decided to give you the school."

"Mrs. Lynde!" cried Anne, springing to her feet in her surprise. "Why, I
thought they had promised it to Gilbert Blythe!"

"So they did. But as soon as Gilbert heard that you had applied for it
he went to them--they had a business meeting at the school last night,
you know--and told them that he withdrew his application, and suggested
that they accept yours. He said he was going to teach at White Sands. Of
course he knew how much you wanted to stay with Marilla, and I must
say I think it was real kind and thoughtful in him, that's what. Real
self-sacrificing, too, for he'll have his board to pay at White Sands,
and everybody knows he's got to earn his own way through college. So the
trustees decided to take you. I was tickled to death when Thomas came
home and told me."

"I don't feel that I ought to take it," murmured Anne. "I mean--I don't
think I ought to let Gilbert make such a sacrifice for--for me."

"I guess you can't prevent him now. He's signed papers with the White
Sands trustees. So it wouldn't do him any good now if you were to
refuse. Of course you'll take the school. You'll get along all right,
now that there are no Pyes going. Josie was the last of them, and a
good thing she was, that's what. There's been some Pye or other going to
Avonlea school for the last twenty years, and I guess their mission in
life was to keep school teachers reminded that earth isn't their home.
Bless my heart! What does all that winking and blinking at the Barry
gable mean?"

"Diana is signaling for me to go over," laughed Anne. "You know we keep
up the old custom. Excuse me while I run over and see what she wants."

Anne ran down the clover slope like a deer, and disappeared in the firry
shadows of the Haunted Wood. Mrs. Lynde looked after her indulgently.

"There's a good deal of the child about her yet in some ways."

"There's a good deal more of the woman about her in others," retorted
Marilla, with a momentary return of her old crispness.

But crispness was no longer Marilla's distinguishing characteristic. As
Mrs. Lynde told her Thomas that night.

"Marilla Cuthbert has got MELLOW. That's what."

Anne went to the little Avonlea graveyard the next evening to put fresh
flowers on Matthew's grave and water the Scotch rosebush. She lingered
there until dusk, liking the peace and calm of the little place,
with its poplars whose rustle was like low, friendly speech, and its
whispering grasses growing at will among the graves. When she finally
left it and walked down the long hill that sloped to the Lake of Shining
Waters it was past sunset and all Avonlea lay before her in a dreamlike
afterlight--"a haunt of ancient peace." There was a freshness in the
air as of a wind that had blown over honey-sweet fields of clover. Home
lights twinkled out here and there among the homestead trees. Beyond lay
the sea, misty and purple, with its haunting, unceasing murmur. The west
was a glory of soft mingled hues, and the pond reflected them all in
still softer shadings. The beauty of it all thrilled Anne's heart, and
she gratefully opened the gates of her soul to it.

"Dear old world," she murmured, "you are very lovely, and I am glad to
be alive in you."

Halfway down the hill a tall lad came whistling out of a gate before the
Blythe homestead. It was Gilbert, and the whistle died on his lips as he
recognized Anne. He lifted his cap courteously, but he would have passed
on in silence, if Anne had not stopped and held out her hand.

"Gilbert," she said, with scarlet cheeks, "I want to thank you for
giving up the school for me. It was very good of you--and I want you to
know that I appreciate it."

Gilbert took the offered hand eagerly.

"It wasn't particularly good of me at all, Anne. I was pleased to be
able to do you some small service. Are we going to be friends after
this? Have you really forgiven me my old fault?"

Anne laughed and tried unsuccessfully to withdraw her hand.

"I forgave you that day by the pond landing, although I didn't know
it. What a stubborn little goose I was. I've been--I may as well make a
complete confession--I've been sorry ever since."

"We are going to be the best of friends," said Gilbert, jubilantly. "We
were born to be good friends, Anne. You've thwarted destiny enough. I
know we can help each other in many ways. You are going to keep up your
studies, aren't you? So am I. Come, I'm going to walk home with you."

Marilla looked curiously at Anne when the latter entered the kitchen.

"Who was that came up the lane with you, Anne?"

"Gilbert Blythe," answered Anne, vexed to find herself blushing. "I met
him on Barry's hill."

"I didn't think you and Gilbert Blythe were such good friends that you'd
stand for half an hour at the gate talking to him," said Marilla with a
dry smile.

"We haven't been--we've been good enemies. But we have decided that it
will be much more sensible to be good friends in the future. Were we
really there half an hour? It seemed just a few minutes. But, you see,
we have five years' lost conversations to catch up with, Marilla."

Anne sat long at her window that night companioned by a glad content.
The wind purred softly in the cherry boughs, and the mint breaths came
up to her. The stars twinkled over the pointed firs in the hollow and
Diana's light gleamed through the old gap.

Anne's horizons had closed in since the night she had sat there after
coming home from Queen's; but if the path set before her feet was to be
narrow she knew that flowers of quiet happiness would bloom along it.
The joy of sincere work and worthy aspiration and congenial friendship
were to be hers; nothing could rob her of her birthright of fancy or her
ideal world of dreams. And there was always the bend in the road!

"'God's in his heaven, all's right with the world,'" whispered Anne
softly.