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"Yes," agreed Anne gaily, "but I'm going to put Davy to bed first.
He insists on that."

"You bet," said Davy, as they went along the hall. "I want somebody
to say my prayers to again. It's no fun saying them alone."

"You don't say them alone, Davy. God is always with you to hear you."

"Well, I can't see Him," objected Davy. "I want to pray to somebody
I can see, but I WON'T say them to Mrs. Lynde or Marilla, there now!"

Nevertheless, when Davy was garbed in his gray flannel nighty, he
did not seem in a hurry to begin. He stood before Anne,
shuffling one bare foot over the other, and looked undecided.

"Come, dear, kneel down," said Anne.

Davy came and buried his head in Anne's lap, but he did not kneel down.

"Anne," he said in a muffled voice. "I don't feel like praying after all.
I haven't felt like it for a week now. I -- I DIDN'T pray last night nor
the night before."

"Why not, Davy?" asked Anne gently.

"You -- you won't be mad if I tell you?" implored Davy.

Anne lifted the little gray-flannelled body on her knee and
cuddled his head on her arm.

"Do I ever get `mad' when you tell me things, Davy?"

"No-o-o, you never do. But you get sorry, and that's worse.
You'll be awful sorry when I tell you this, Anne -- and you'll
be 'shamed of me, I s'pose."

"Have you done something naughty, Davy, and is that why you can't
say your prayers?"

"No, I haven't done anything naughty -- yet. But I want to do it."

"What is it, Davy?"

"I -- I want to say a bad word, Anne," blurted out Davy, with a
desperate effort. "I heard Mr. Harrison's hired boy say it one
day last week, and ever since I've been wanting to say it ALL the
time -- even when I'm saying my prayers."

"Say it then, Davy."

Davy lifted his flushed face in amazement.

"But, Anne, it's an AWFUL bad word."

"SAY IT!"

Davy gave her another incredulous look, then in a low voice he
said the dreadful word. The next minute his face was burrowing
against her.

"Oh, Anne, I'll never say it again -- never. I'll never WANT to
say it again. I knew it was bad, but I didn't s'pose it was so
-- so -- I didn't s'pose it was like THAT."

"No, I don't think you'll ever want to say it again, Davy -- or
think it, either. And I wouldn't go about much with Mr. Harrison's
hired boy if I were you."

"He can make bully war-whoops," said Davy a little regretfully.

"But you don't want your mind filled with bad words, do you, Davy
-- words that will poison it and drive out all that is good and manly?"

"No," said Davy, owl-eyed with introspection.

"Then don't go with those people who use them. And now do you
feel as if you could say your prayers, Davy?"

"Oh, yes," said Davy, eagerly wriggling down on his knees, "I can
say them now all right. I ain't scared now to say `if I should
die before I wake,' like I was when I was wanting to say that word."

Probably Anne and Diana did empty out their souls to each other
that night, but no record of their confidences has been preserved.
They both looked as fresh and bright-eyed at breakfast as only
youth can look after unlawful hours of revelry and confession.
There had been no snow up to this time, but as Diana crossed
the old log bridge on her homeward way the white flakes were
beginning to flutter down over the fields and woods, russet
and gray in their dreamless sleep. Soon the far-away slopes
and hills were dim and wraith-like through their gauzy scarfing,
as if pale autumn had flung a misty bridal veil over her hair
and was waiting for her wintry bridegroom. So they had a white
Christmas after all, and a very pleasant day it was. In the
forenoon letters and gifts came from Miss Lavendar and Paul;
Anne opened them in the cheerful Green Gables kitchen, which was
filled with what Davy, sniffing in ecstasy, called "pretty smells."

"Miss Lavendar and Mr. Irving are settled in their new home now,"
reported Anne. "I am sure Miss Lavendar is perfectly happy --
I know it by the general tone of her letter -- but there's a
note from Charlotta the Fourth. She doesn't like Boston at all,
and she is fearfully homesick. Miss Lavendar wants me to go
through to Echo Lodge some day while I'm home and light a fire to
air it, and see that the cushions aren't getting moldy. I think
I'll get Diana to go over with me next week, and we can spend the
evening with Theodora Dix. I want to see Theodora. By the way,
is Ludovic Speed still going to see her?"

"They say so," said Marilla, "and he's likely to continue it.
Folks have given up expecting that that courtship will ever
arrive anywhere."

"I'd hurry him up a bit, if I was Theodora, that's what," said
Mrs. Lynde. And there is not the slightest doubt but that she would.

There was also a characteristic scrawl from Philippa, full of
Alec and Alonzo, what they said and what they did, and how they
looked when they saw her.

"But I can't make up my mind yet which to marry," wrote Phil.
"I do wish you had come with me to decide for me. Some one
will have to. When I saw Alec my heart gave a great thump and I
thought, `He might be the right one.' And then, when Alonzo came,
thump went my heart again. So that's no guide, though it should be,
according to all the novels I've ever read. Now, Anne, YOUR heart
wouldn't thump for anybody but the genuine Prince Charming, would it?
There must be something radically wrong with mine. But I'm having a
perfectly gorgeous time. How I wish you were here! It's snowing
today, and I'm rapturous. I was so afraid we'd have a green
Christmas and I loathe them. You know, when Christmas is a dirty
grayey-browney affair, looking as if it had been left over a hundred
years ago and had been in soak ever since, it is called a GREEN Christmas!
Don't ask me why. As Lord Dundreary says, `there are thome thingth no
fellow can underthtand.'

"Anne, did you ever get on a street car and then discover that you
hadn't any money with you to pay your fare? I did, the other day.
It's quite awful. I had a nickel with me when I got on the car.
I thought it was in the left pocket of my coat. When I got
settled down comfortably I felt for it. It wasn't there.
I had a cold chill. I felt in the other pocket. Not there.
I had another chill. Then I felt in a little inside pocket.
All in vain. I had two chills at once.

"I took off my gloves, laid them on the seat, and went over all
my pockets again. It was not there. I stood up and shook myself,
and then looked on the floor. The car was full of people, who
were going home from the opera, and they all stared at me, but
I was past caring for a little thing like that.

"But I could not find my fare. I concluded I must have put it in
my mouth and swallowed it inadvertently.

"I didn't know what to do. Would the conductor, I wondered, stop
the car and put me off in ignominy and shame? Was it possible
that I could convince him that I was merely the victim of my own
absentmindedness, and not an unprincipled creature trying to
obtain a ride upon false pretenses? How I wished that Alec
or Alonzo were there. But they weren't because I wanted them.
If I HADN'T wanted them they would have been there by the dozen.
And I couldn't decide what to say to the conductor when he came
around. As soon as I got one sentence of explanation mapped out
in my mind I felt nobody could believe it and I must compose
another. It seemed there was nothing to do but trust in
Providence, and for all the comfort that gave me I might as well
have been the old lady who, when told by the captain during a
storm that she must put her trust in the Almighty exclaimed,
`Oh, Captain, is it as bad as that?'

"Just at the conventional moment, when all hope had fled, and
the conductor was holding out his box to the passenger next to me,
I suddenly remembered where I had put that wretched coin of the realm.
I hadn't swallowed it after all. I meekly fished it out of the
index finger of my glove and poked it in the box. I smiled at
everybody and felt that it was a beautiful world."

The visit to Echo Lodge was not the least pleasant of many
pleasant holiday outings. Anne and Diana went back to it by the
old way of the beech woods, carrying a lunch basket with them.
Echo Lodge, which had been closed ever since Miss Lavendar's
wedding, was briefly thrown open to wind and sunshine once more,
and firelight glimmered again in the little rooms. The perfume
of Miss Lavendar's rose bowl still filled the air. It was hardly
possible to believe that Miss Lavendar would not come tripping in
presently, with her brown eyes a-star with welcome, and that
Charlotta the Fourth, blue of bow and wide of smile, would not
pop through the door. Paul, too, seemed hovering around, with
his fairy fancies.

"It really makes me feel a little bit like a ghost revisiting the
old time glimpses of the moon," laughed Anne. "Let's go out and
see if the echoes are at home. Bring the old horn. It is still
behind the kitchen door."

The echoes were at home, over the white river, as silver-clear
and multitudinous as ever; and when they had ceased to answer the
girls locked up Echo Lodge again and went away in the perfect
half hour that follows the rose and saffron of a winter sunset.

Chapter VIII

Anne's First Proposal

The old year did not slip away in a green twilight, with a
pinky-yellow sunset. Instead, it went out with a wild, white
bluster and blow. It was one of the nights when the storm-wind
hurtles over the frozen meadows and black hollows, and moans
around the eaves like a lost creature, and drives the snow
sharply against the shaking panes.

"Just the sort of night people like to cuddle down between their
blankets and count their mercies," said Anne to Jane Andrews, who
had come up to spend the afternoon and stay all night. But when
they were cuddled between their blankets, in Anne's little porch
room, it was not her mercies of which Jane was thinking.

"Anne," she said very solemnly, "I want to tell you something. May I"

Anne was feeling rather sleepy after the party Ruby Gillis had
given the night before. She would much rather have gone to sleep
than listen to Jane's confidences, which she was sure would bore her.
She had no prophetic inkling of what was coming. Probably Jane was
engaged, too; rumor averred that Ruby Gillis was engaged to the
Spencervale schoolteacher, about whom all the girls were said
to be quite wild.

"I'll soon be the only fancy-free maiden of our old quartet,"
thought Anne, drowsily. Aloud she said, "Of course."

"Anne," said Jane, still more solemnly, "what do you think of my
brother Billy?"

Anne gasped over this unexpected question, and floundered
helplessly in her thoughts. Goodness, what DID she think of
Billy Andrews? She had never thought ANYTHING about him --
round-faced, stupid, perpetually smiling, good-natured Billy
Andrews. Did ANYBODY ever think about Billy Andrews?

"I -- I don't understand, Jane," she stammered. "What do you
mean -- exactly?"

"Do you like Billy?" asked Jane bluntly.

"Why -- why -- yes, I like him, of course," gasped Anne,
wondering if she were telling the literal truth. Certainly she
did not DISlike Billy. But could the indifferent tolerance with
which she regarded him, when he happened to be in her range of
vision, be considered positive enough for liking? WHAT was Jane
trying to elucidate?

"Would you like him for a husband?" asked Jane calmly.

"A husband!" Anne had been sitting up in bed, the better to
wrestle with the problem of her exact opinion of Billy Andrews.
Now she fell flatly back on her pillows, the very breath gone
out of her. "Whose husband?"

"Yours, of course," answered Jane. "Billy wants to marry you.
He's always been crazy about you -- and now father has given him
the upper farm in his own name and there's nothing to prevent him
from getting married. But he's so shy he couldn't ask you
himself if you'd have him, so he got me to do it. I'd rather not
have, but he gave me no peace till I said I would, if I got a
good chance. What do you think about it, Anne?"

Was it a dream? Was it one of those nightmare things in which
you find yourself engaged or married to some one you hate or
don't know, without the slightest idea how it ever came about?
No, she, Anne Shirley, was lying there, wide awake, in her own bed,
and Jane Andrews was beside her, calmly proposing for her brother Billy.
Anne did not know whether she wanted to writhe or laugh; but she could
do neither, for Jane's feelings must not be hurt.

"I -- I couldn't marry Bill, you know, Jane," she managed to gasp.
"Why, such an idea never occurred to me -- never!"

"I don't suppose it did," agreed Jane. "Billy has always been far
too shy to think of courting. But you might think it over, Anne.
Billy is a good fellow. I must say that, if he is my brother.
He has no bad habits and he's a great worker, and you can depend
on him. `A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.' He told me to
tell you he'd be quite willing to wait till you got through college,
if you insisted, though he'd RATHER get married this spring before
the planting begins. He'd always be very good to you, I'm sure,
and you know, Anne, I'd love to have you for a sister."

"I can't marry Billy," said Anne decidedly. She had recovered
her wits, and was even feeling a little angry. It was all so
ridiculous. "There is no use thinking of it, Jane. I don't care
anything for him in that way, and you must tell him so."

"Well, I didn't suppose you would," said Jane with a resigned
sigh, feeling that she had done her best. "I told Billy I didn't
believe it was a bit of use to ask you, but he insisted. Well,
you've made your decision, Anne, and I hope you won't regret it."

Jane spoke rather coldly. She had been perfectly sure that the
enamored Billy had no chance at all of inducing Anne to marry him.
Nevertheless, she felt a little resentment that Anne Shirley,
who was, after all, merely an adopted orphan, without kith or kin,
should refuse her brother -- one of the Avonlea Andrews. Well,
pride sometimes goes before a fall, Jane reflected ominously.

Anne permitted herself to smile in the darkness over the idea
that she might ever regret not marrying Billy Andrews.

"I hope Billy won't feel very badly over it," she said nicely.

Jane made a movement as if she were tossing her head on her pillow.

"Oh, he won't break his heart. Billy has too much good sense for that.
He likes Nettie Blewett pretty well, too, and mother would rather he
married her than any one. She's such a good manager and saver.
I think, when Billy is once sure you won't have him, he'll take Nettie.
Please don't mention this to any one, will you, Anne?"

"Certainly not," said Anne, who had no desire whatever to publish
abroad the fact that Billy Andrews wanted to marry her, preferring her,
when all was said and done, to Nettie Blewett. Nettie Blewett!

"And now I suppose we'd better go to sleep," suggested Jane.

To sleep went Jane easily and speedily; but, though very unlike
MacBeth in most respects, she had certainly contrived to murder
sleep for Anne. That proposed-to damsel lay on a wakeful pillow
until the wee sma's, but her meditations were far from being romantic.
It was not, however, until the next morning that she had an opportunity
to indulge in a good laugh over the whole affair. When Jane had gone home
-- still with a hint of frost in voice and manner because Anne had declined
so ungratefully and decidedly the honor of an alliance with the House of
Andrews -- Anne retreated to the porch room, shut the door, and had her
laugh out at last.

"If I could only share the joke with some one!" she thought.
"But I can't. Diana is the only one I'd want to tell, and, even
if I hadn't sworn secrecy to Jane, I can't tell Diana things now.
She tells everything to Fred -- I know she does. Well, I've had
my first proposal. I supposed it would come some day -- but I
certainly never thought it would be by proxy. It's awfully funny
-- and yet there's a sting in it, too, somehow."

Anne knew quite well wherein the sting consisted, though she
did not put it into words. She had had her secret dreams of
the first time some one should ask her the great question.
And it had, in those dreams, always been very romantic and beautiful:
and the "some one" was to be very handsome and dark-eyed and
distinguished-looking and eloquent, whether he were Prince Charming
to be enraptured with "yes," or one to whom a regretful, beautifully
worded, but hopeless refusal must be given. If the latter, the
refusal was to be expressed so delicately that it would be next best
thing to acceptance, and he would go away, after kissing her hand,
assuring her of his unalterable, life-long devotion. And it would
always be a beautiful memory, to be proud of and a little sad about, also.

And now, this thrilling experience had turned out to be merely grotesque.
Billy Andrews had got his sister to propose for him because his father had
given him the upper farm; and if Anne wouldn't "have him" Nettie Blewett would.
There was romance for you, with a vengeance! Anne laughed -- and then sighed.
The bloom had been brushed from one little maiden dream. Would the painful
process go on until everything became prosaic and hum-drum?

Chapter IX

An Unwelcome Lover and a Welcome Friend

The second term at Redmond sped as quickly as had the first --
"actually whizzed away," Philippa said. Anne enjoyed it
thoroughly in all its phases -- the stimulating class rivalry,
the making and deepening of new and helpful friendships, the gay
little social stunts, the doings of the various societies of
which she was a member, the widening of horizons and interests.
She studied hard, for she had made up her mind to win the Thorburn
Scholarship in English. This being won, meant that she could
come back to Redmond the next year without trenching on Marilla's
small savings -- something Anne was determined she would not do.

Gilbert, too, was in full chase after a scholarship, but found
plenty of time for frequent calls at Thirty-eight, St. John's.
He was Anne's escort at nearly all the college affairs, and she
knew that their names were coupled in Redmond gossip. Anne raged
over this but was helpless; she could not cast an old friend like
Gilbert aside, especially when he had grown suddenly wise and
wary, as behooved him in the dangerous proximity of more than one
Redmond youth who would gladly have taken his place by the side
of the slender, red-haired coed, whose gray eyes were as alluring
as stars of evening. Anne was never attended by the crowd of
willing victims who hovered around Philippa's conquering march
through her Freshman year; but there was a lanky, brainy Freshie,
a jolly, little, round Sophomore, and a tall, learned Junior who
all liked to call at Thirty-eight, St. John's, and talk over
'ologies and 'isms, as well as lighter subjects, with Anne, in
the becushioned parlor of that domicile. Gilbert did not love
any of them, and he was exceedingly careful to give none of them
the advantage over him by any untimely display of his real
feelings Anne-ward. To her he had become again the boy-comrade
of Avonlea days, and as such could hold his own against any
smitten swain who had so far entered the lists against him.
As a companion, Anne honestly acknowledged nobody could be so
satisfactory as Gilbert; she was very glad, so she told herself,
that he had evidently dropped all nonsensical ideas -- though she
spent considerable time secretly wondering why.

Only one disagreeable incident marred that winter. Charlie Sloane,
sitting bolt upright on Miss Ada's most dearly beloved cushion,
asked Anne one night if she would promise "to become Mrs. Charlie
Sloane some day." Coming after Billy Andrews' proxy effort,
this was not quite the shock to Anne's romantic sensibilities
that it would otherwise have been; but it was certainly another
heart-rending disillusion. She was angry, too, for she felt that
she had never given Charlie the slightest encouragement to suppose
such a thing possible. But what could you expect of a Sloane,
as Mrs. Rachel Lynde would ask scornfully? Charlie's whole attitude,
tone, air, words, fairly reeked with Sloanishness. "He was conferring
a great honor -- no doubt whatever about that. And when Anne, utterly
insensible to the honor, refused him, as delicately and considerately
as she could -- for even a Sloane had feelings which ought not to be
unduly lacerated -- Sloanishness still further betrayed itself.
Charlie certainly did not take his dismissal as Anne's imaginary
rejected suitors did. Instead, he became angry, and showed it;
he said two or three quite nasty things; Anne's temper flashed up
mutinously and she retorted with a cutting little speech whose
keenness pierced even Charlie's protective Sloanishness and
reached the quick; he caught up his hat and flung himself out of
the house with a very red face; Anne rushed upstairs, falling twice
over Miss Ada's cushions on the way, and threw herself on her bed,
in tears of humiliation and rage. Had she actually stooped to
quarrel with a Sloane? Was it possible anything Charlie Sloane
could say had power to make her angry? Oh, this was degradation,
indeed -- worse even than being the rival of Nettie Blewett!

"I wish I need never see the horrible creature again," she sobbed
vindictively into her pillows.

She could not avoid seeing him again, but the outraged Charlie
took care that it should not be at very close quarters. Miss
Ada's cushions were henceforth safe from his depredations,
and when he met Anne on the street, or in Redmond's halls,
his bow was icy in the extreme. Relations between these two
old schoolmates continued to be thus strained for nearly a year!
Then Charlie transferred his blighted affections to a round,
rosy, snub-nosed, blue-eyed, little Sophomore who appreciated
them as they deserved, whereupon he forgave Anne and condescended
to be civil to her again; in a patronizing manner intended to
show her just what she had lost.

One day Anne scurried excitedly into Priscilla's room.

"Read that," she cried, tossing Priscilla a letter. "It's from
Stella -- and she's coming to Redmond next year -- and what do
you think of her idea? I think it's a perfectly splendid one,
if we can only carry it out. Do you suppose we can, Pris?"

"I'll be better able to tell you when I find out what it is,"
said Priscilla, casting aside a Greek lexicon and taking up
Stella's letter. Stella Maynard had been one of their chums at
Queen's Academy and had been teaching school ever since.

"But I'm going to give it up, Anne dear," she wrote, "and go to
college next year. As I took the third year at Queen's I can
enter the Sophomore year. I'm tired of teaching in a back
country school. Some day I'm going to write a treatise on
`The Trials of a Country Schoolmarm.' It will be a harrowing bit
of realism. It seems to be the prevailing impression that we live
in clover, and have nothing to do but draw our quarter's salary.
My treatise shall tell the truth about us. Why, if a week should
pass without some one telling me that I am doing easy work for
big pay I would conclude that I might as well order my ascension
robe `immediately and to onct.' `Well, you get your money easy,'
some rate-payer will tell me, condescendingly. `All you have to
do is to sit there and hear lessons.' I used to argue the matter
at first, but I'm wiser now. Facts are stubborn things, but
as some one has wisely said, not half so stubborn as fallacies.
So I only smile loftily now in eloquent silence. Why, I have nine
grades in my school and I have to teach a little of everything,
from investigating the interiors of earthworms to the study of
the solar system. My youngest pupil is four -- his mother sends
him to school to `get him out of the way' -- and my oldest twenty
-- it `suddenly struck him' that it would be easier to go to
school and get an education than follow the plough any longer.
In the wild effort to cram all sorts of research into six hours a
day I don't wonder if the children feel like the little boy who
was taken to see the biograph. `I have to look for what's coming
next before I know what went last,' he complained. I feel like
that myself.

"And the letters I get, Anne! Tommy's mother writes me that
Tommy is not coming on in arithmetic as fast as she would like.
He is only in simple reduction yet, and Johnny Johnson is in
fractions, and Johnny isn't half as smart as her Tommy, and she
can't understand it. And Susy's father wants to know why Susy
can't write a letter without misspelling half the words, and
Dick's aunt wants me to change his seat, because that bad Brown
boy he is sitting with is teaching him to say naughty words.

"As to the financial part -- but I'll not begin on that. Those
whom the gods wish to destroy they first make country schoolmarms!

"There, I feel better, after that growl. After all, I've enjoyed
these past two years. But I'm coming to Redmond.

"And now, Anne, I've a little plan. You know how I loathe boarding.
I've boarded for four years and I'm so tired of it. I don't feel like
enduring three years more of it.

Now, why can't you and Priscilla and I club together, rent
a little house somewhere in Kingsport, and board ourselves?
It would be cheaper than any other way. Of course, we would
have to have a housekeeper and I have one ready on the spot.
You've heard me speak of Aunt Jamesina? She's the sweetest
aunt that ever lived, in spite of her name. She can't help that!
She was called Jamesina because her father, whose name was James,
was drowned at sea a month before she was born. I always call her
Aunt Jimsie. Well, her only daughter has recently married and
gone to the foreign mission field. Aunt Jamesina is left alone
in a great big house, and she is horribly lonesome. She will
come to Kingsport and keep house for us if we want her, and I
know you'll both love her. The more I think of the plan the more
I like it. We could have such good, independent times.

"Now, if you and Priscilla agree to it, wouldn't it be a good
idea for you, who are on the spot, to look around and see if you
can find a suitable house this spring? That would be better than
leaving it till the fall. If you could get a furnished one so
much the better, but if not, we can scare up a few sticks of
finiture between us and old family friends with attics. Anyhow,
decide as soon as you can and write me, so that Aunt Jamesina
will know what plans to make for next year."

"I think it's a good idea," said Priscilla.

"So do I," agreed Anne delightedly. "Of course, we have a nice
boardinghouse here, but, when all's said and done, a boardinghouse
isn't home. So let's go house-hunting at once, before exams come on."

"I'm afraid it will be hard enough to get a really suitable house,"
warned Priscilla. "Don't expect too much, Anne. Nice houses in
nice localities will probably be away beyond our means. We'll likely
have to content ourselves with a shabby little place on some street
whereon live people whom to know is to be unknown, and make life
inside compensate for the outside."

Accordingly they went house-hunting, but to find just what
they wanted proved even harder than Priscilla had feared.
Houses there were galore, furnished and unfurnished; but one
was too big, another too small; this one too expensive, that
one too far from Redmond. Exams were on and over; the last
week of the term came and still their "house o'dreams," as
Anne called it, remained a castle in the air.

"We shall have to give up and wait till the fall, I suppose," said
Priscilla wearily, as they rambled through the park on one of April's
darling days of breeze and blue, when the harbor was creaming and
shimmering beneath the pearl-hued mists floating over it. "We may
find some shack to shelter us then; and if not, boardinghouses we
shall have always with us."

"I'm not going to worry about it just now, anyway, and spoil this
lovely afternoon," said Anne, gazing around her with delight.
The fresh chill air was faintly charged with the aroma of pine
balsam, and the sky above was crystal clear and blue -- a great
inverted cup of blessing. "Spring is singing in my blood today,
and the lure of April is abroad on the air. I'm seeing visions
and dreaming dreams, Pris. That's because the wind is from the
west. I do love the west wind. It sings of hope and gladness,
doesn't it? When the east wind blows I always think of sorrowful
rain on the eaves and sad waves on a gray shore. When I get old
I shall have rheumatism when the wind is east."

"And isn't it jolly when you discard furs and winter garments
for the first time and sally forth, like this, in spring attire?"
laughed Priscilla. "Don't you feel as if you had been made over new?"

"Everything is new in the spring," said Anne. "Springs themselves
are always so new, too. No spring is ever just like any other spring.
It always has something of its own to be its own peculiar sweetness.
See how green the grass is around that little pond, and how the willow
buds are bursting."

"And exams are over and gone -- the time of Convocation will come
soon -- next Wednesday. This day next week we'll be home."

"I'm glad," said Anne dreamily. "There are so many things I want
to do. I want to sit on the back porch steps and feel the breeze
blowing down over Mr. Harrison's fields. I want to hunt ferns
in the Haunted Wood and gather violets in Violet Vale. Do you
remember the day of our golden picnic, Priscilla? I want to hear
the frogs singing and the poplars whispering. But I've learned
to love Kingsport, too, and I'm glad I'm coming back next fall.
If I hadn't won the Thorburn I don't believe I could have. I
COULDN'T take any of Marilla's little hoard."

"If we could only find a house!" sighed Priscilla. "Look over
there at Kingsport, Anne -- houses, houses everywhere, and not
one for us."

"Stop it, Pris. `The best is yet to be.' Like the old Roman,
we'll find a house or build one. On a day like this there's
no such word as fail in my bright lexicon."

They lingered in the park until sunset, living in the amazing
miracle and glory and wonder of the springtide; and they went
home as usual, by way of Spofford Avenue, that they might have
the delight of looking at Patty's Place.

"I feel as if something mysterious were going to happen right
away -- `by the pricking of my thumbs,' " said Anne, as they went
up the slope. "It's a nice story-bookish feeling. Why -- why --
why! Priscilla Grant, look over there and tell me if it's true,
or am I seein' things?"

Priscilla looked. Anne's thumbs and eyes had not deceived her.
Over the arched gateway of Patty's Place dangled a little, modest
sign. It said "To Let, Furnished. Inquire Within."

"Priscilla," said Anne, in a whisper, "do you suppose it's
possible that we could rent Patty's Place?"

"No, I don't," averred Priscilla. "It would be too good to be
true. Fairy tales don't happen nowadays. I won't hope, Anne.
The disappointment would be too awful to bear. They're sure to
want more for it than we can afford. Remember, it's on Spofford
Avenue."

"We must find out anyhow," said Anne resolutely. "It's too late
to call this evening, but we'll come tomorrow. Oh, Pris, if we
can get this darling spot! I've always felt that my fortunes
were linked with Patty's Place, ever since I saw it first."

Chapter X

Patty's Place

The next evening found them treading resolutely the herring-bone
walk through the tiny garden. The April wind was filling the
pine trees with its roundelay, and the grove was alive with robins
-- great, plump, saucy fellows, strutting along the paths.
The girls rang rather timidly, and were admitted by a grim and
ancient handmaiden. The door opened directly into a large
living-room, where by a cheery little fire sat two other ladies,
both of whom were also grim and ancient. Except that one looked
to be about seventy and the other fifty, there seemed little
difference between them. Each had amazingly big, light-blue eyes
behind steel-rimmed spectacles; each wore a cap and a gray shawl;
each was knitting without haste and without rest; each rocked
placidly and looked at the girls without speaking; and just
behind each sat a large white china dog, with round green spots
all over it, a green nose and green ears. Those dogs captured
Anne's fancy on the spot; they seemed like the twin guardian
deities of Patty's Place.

For a few minutes nobody spoke. The girls were too nervous to
find words, and neither the ancient ladies nor the china dogs
seemed conversationally inclined. Anne glanced about the room.
What a dear place it was! Another door opened out of it directly
into the pine grove and the robins came boldly up on the very step.
The floor was spotted with round, braided mats, such as Marilla
made at Green Gables, but which were considered out of date
everywhere else, even in Avonlea. And yet here they were on
Spofford Avenue! A big, polished grandfather's clock ticked
loudly and solemnly in a corner. There were delightful little
cupboards over the mantelpiece, behind whose glass doors gleamed
quaint bits of china. The walls were hung with old prints and
silhouettes. In one corner the stairs went up, and at the first
low turn was a long window with an inviting seat. It was all
just as Anne had known it must be.

By this time the silence had grown too dreadful, and Priscilla
nudged Anne to intimate that she must speak.

"We -- we -- saw by your sign that this house is to let," said Anne
faintly, addressing the older lady, who was evidently Miss Patty Spofford.

"Oh, yes," said Miss Patty. "I intended to take that sign down today."

"Then -- then we are too late," said Anne sorrowfully. "You've let it
to some one else?"

"No, but we have decided not to let it at all."

"Oh, I'm so sorry," exclaimed Anne impulsively. "I love this place so.
I did hope we could have got it."

Then did Miss Patty lay down her knitting, take off her specs,
rub them, put them on again, and for the first time look at Anne
as at a human being. The other lady followed her example so
perfectly that she might as well have been a reflection in a mirror.

"You LOVE it," said Miss Patty with emphasis. "Does that mean
that you really LOVE it? Or that you merely like the looks of it?
The girls nowadays indulge in such exaggerated statements that one
never can tell what they DO mean. It wasn't so in my young days.
THEN a girl did not say she LOVED turnips, in just the same tone
as she might have said she loved her mother or her Savior."

Anne's conscience bore her up.

"I really do love it," she said gently. "I've loved it ever since
I saw it last fall. My two college chums and I want to keep house
next year instead of boarding, so we are looking for a little place
to rent; and when I saw that this house was to let I was so happy."

"If you love it, you can have it," said Miss Patty. "Maria and I
decided today that we would not let it after all, because we did
not like any of the people who have wanted it. We don't HAVE to
let it. We can afford to go to Europe even if we don't let it.
It would help us out, but not for gold will I let my home pass
into the possession of such people as have come here and looked
at it. YOU are different. I believe you do love it and will be
good to it. You can have it."

"If -- if we can afford to pay what you ask for it," hesitated Anne.

Miss Patty named the amount required. Anne and Priscilla looked
at each other. Priscilla shook her head.

"I'm afraid we can't afford quite so much," said Anne, choking
back her disappointment. "You see, we are only college girls
and we are poor."

"What were you thinking you could afford?" demanded Miss Patty,
ceasing not to knit.

Anne named her amount. Miss Patty nodded gravely.

"That will do. As I told you, it is not strictly necessary that
we should let it at all. We are not rich, but we have enough to
go to Europe on. I have never been in Europe in my life, and never
expected or wanted to go. But my niece there, Maria Spofford, has
taken a fancy to go. Now, you know a young person like Maria can't
go globetrotting alone."

"No -- I -- I suppose not," murmured Anne, seeing that Miss Patty
was quite solemnly in earnest.

"Of course not. So I have to go along to look after her. I expect to
enjoy it, too; I'm seventy years old, but I'm not tired of living yet.
I daresay I'd have gone to Europe before if the idea had occurred to me.
We shall be away for two years, perhaps three. We sail in June and we
shall send you the key, and leave all in order for you to take
possession when you choose. We shall pack away a few things we
prize especially, but all the rest will be left."

"Will you leave the china dogs?" asked Anne timidly.

"Would you like me to?"

"Oh, indeed, yes. They are delightful."

A pleased expression came into Miss Patty's face.

"I think a great deal of those dogs," she said proudly. "They are
over a hundred years old, and they have sat on either side of this
fireplace ever since my brother Aaron brought them from London
fifty years ago. Spofford Avenue was called after my brother Aaron."

"A fine man he was," said Miss Maria, speaking for the first time.
"Ah, you don't see the like of him nowadays."

"He was a good uncle to you, Maria," said Miss Patty, with evident emotion.
"You do well to remember him."

"I shall always remember him," said Miss Maria solemnly. "I can see him,
this minute, standing there before that fire, with his hands under his
coat-tails, beaming on us."

Miss Maria took out her handkerchief and wiped her eyes; but Miss Patty
came resolutely back from the regions of sentiment to those of business.

"I shall leave the dogs where they are, if you will promise to be
very careful of them," she said. "Their names are Gog and Magog.
Gog looks to the right and Magog to the left. And there's just
one thing more. You don't object, I hope, to this house being
called Patty's Place?"

"No, indeed. We think that is one of the nicest things about it."

"You have sense, I see," said Miss Patty in a tone of great satisfaction.
"Would you believe it? All the people who came here to rent the house
wanted to know if they couldn't take the name off the gate during their
occupation of it. I told them roundly that the name went with the house.
This has been Patty's Place ever since my brother Aaron left it to me in
his will, and Patty's Place it shall remain until I die and Maria dies.
After that happens the next possessor can call it any fool name he likes,"
concluded Miss Patty, much as she might have said, "After that -- the deluge."
"And now, wouldn't you like to go over the house and see it all before we
consider the bargain made?"

Further exploration still further delighted the girls. Besides the
big living-room, there was a kitchen and a small bedroom downstairs.
Upstairs were three rooms, one large and two small. Anne took an
especial fancy to one of the small ones, looking out into the big pines,
and hoped it would be hers. It was papered in pale blue and had a
little, old-timey toilet table with sconces for candles. There was
a diamond-paned window with a seat under the blue muslin frills that
would be a satisfying spot for studying or dreaming.

"It's all so delicious that I know we are going to wake up and find
it a fleeting vision of the night," said Priscilla as they went away.

"Miss Patty and Miss Maria are hardly such stuff as dreams are
made of," laughed Anne. "Can you fancy them `globe-trotting' --
especially in those shawls and caps?"

"I suppose they'll take them off when they really begin to trot,"
said Priscilla, "but I know they'll take their knitting with
them everywhere. They simply couldn't be parted from it.
They will walk about Westminster Abbey and knit, I feel sure.
Meanwhile, Anne, we shall be living in Patty's Place -- and on
Spofford Avenue. I feel like a millionairess even now."

"I feel like one of the morning stars that sang for joy," said Anne.

Phil Gordon crept into Thirty-eight, St. John's, that night and
flung herself on Anne's bed.

"Girls, dear, I'm tired to death. I feel like the man without a country --
or was it without a shadow? I forget which. Anyway, I've been packing up."

"And I suppose you are worn out because you couldn't decide which
things to pack first, or where to put them," laughed Priscilla.

"E-zackly. And when I had got everything jammed in somehow, and
my landlady and her maid had both sat on it while I locked it, I
discovered I had packed a whole lot of things I wanted for
Convocation at the very bottom. I had to unlock the old thing
and poke and dive into it for an hour before I fished out what I
wanted. I would get hold of something that felt like what I was
looking for, and I'd yank it up, and it would be something else.
No, Anne, I did NOT swear."

"I didn't say you did."

"Well, you looked it. But I admit my thoughts verged on the profane.
And I have such a cold in the head -- I can do nothing but sniffle,
sigh and sneeze. Isn't that alliterative agony for you? Queen Anne,
do say something to cheer me up."

"Remember that next Thursday night, you'll be back in the land of
Alec and Alonzo," suggested Anne.

Phil shook her head dolefully.

"More alliteration. No, I don't want Alec and Alonzo when I have
a cold in the head. But what has happened you two? Now that I look
at you closely you seem all lighted up with an internal iridescence.
Why, you're actually SHINING! What's up?"

"We are going to live in Patty's Place next winter," said Anne triumphantly.
"Live, mark you, not board! We've rented it, and Stella Maynard is coming,
and her aunt is going to keep house for us."

Phil bounced up, wiped her nose, and fell on her knees before Anne.

"Girls -- girls -- let me come, too. Oh, I'll be so good. If
there's no room for me I'll sleep in the little doghouse in the
orchard -- I've seen it. Only let me come."

"Get up, you goose."

"I won't stir off my marrow bones till you tell me I can live
with you next winter."

Anne and Priscilla looked at each other. Then Anne said slowly,
"Phil dear, we'd love to have you. But we may as well speak plainly.
I'm poor -- Pris is poor -- Stella Maynard is poor -- our housekeeping
will have to be very simple and our table plain. You'd have to live as
we would. Now, you are rich and your boardinghouse fare attests the fact."

"Oh, what do I care for that?" demanded Phil tragically.
"Better a dinner of herbs where your chums are than a stalled ox
in a lonely boardinghouse. Don't think I'm ALL stomach, girls.
I'll be willing to live on bread and water -- with just a LEETLE
jam -- if you'll let me come."

"And then," continued Anne, "there will be a good deal of work to be done.
Stella's aunt can't do it all. We all expect to have our chores to do.
Now, you -- "

"Toil not, neither do I spin," finished Philippa. "But I'll learn
to do things. You'll only have to show me once. I CAN make my
own bed to begin with. And remember that, though I can't cook,
I CAN keep my temper. That's something. And I NEVER growl about
the weather. That's more. Oh, please, please! I never wanted
anything so much in my life -- and this floor is awfully hard."

"There's just one more thing," said Priscilla resolutely.
"You, Phil, as all Redmond knows, entertain callers almost every
evening. Now, at Patty's Place we can't do that. We have decided
that we shall be at home to our friends on Friday evenings only.
If you come with us you'll have to abide by that rule."

"Well, you don't think I'll mind that, do you? Why, I'm glad of it.
I knew I should have had some such rule myself, but I hadn't
enough decision to make it or stick to it. When I can shuffle
off the responsibility on you it will be a real relief. If you
won't let me cast in my lot with you I'll die of the disappointment
and then I'll come back and haunt you. I'll camp on the very doorstep
of Patty's Place and you won't be able to go out or come in without
falling over my spook."

Again Anne and Priscilla exchanged eloquent looks.

"Well," said Anne, "of course we can't promise to take you until
we've consulted with Stella; but I don't think she'll object,
and, as far as we are concerned, you may come and glad welcome."

"If you get tired of our simple life you can leave us, and no
questions asked," added Priscilla.

Phil sprang up, hugged them both jubilantly, and went on her way
rejoicing.

"I hope things will go right," said Priscilla soberly.

"We must MAKE them go right," avowed Anne. "I think Phil will
fit into our 'appy little 'ome very well."

"Oh, Phil's a dear to rattle round with and be chums. And, of course,
the more there are of us the easier it will be on our slim purses.
But how will she be to live with? You have to summer and winter with
any one before you know if she's LIVABLE or not."

"Oh, well, we'll all be put to the test, as far as that goes.
And we must quit us like sensible folk, living and let live.
Phil isn't selfish, though she's a little thoughtless, and I
believe we will all get on beautifully in Patty's Place."

Chapter XI

The Round of Life

Anne was back in Avonlea with the luster of the Thorburn Scholarship
on her brow. People told her she hadn't changed much, in a tone
which hinted they were surprised and a little disappointed she hadn't.
Avonlea had not changed, either. At least, so it seemed at first.
But as Anne sat in the Green Gables pew, on the first Sunday after
her return, and looked over the congregation, she saw several little
changes which, all coming home to her at once, made her realize that
time did not quite stand still, even in Avonlea. A new minister was in
the pulpit. In the pews more than one familiar face was missing forever.
Old "Uncle Abe," his prophesying over and done with, Mrs. Peter Sloane,
who had sighed, it was to be hoped, for the last time, Timothy Cotton,
who, as Mrs. Rachel Lynde said "had actually managed to die at last
after practicing at it for twenty years," and old Josiah Sloane, whom
nobody knew in his coffin because he had his whiskers neatly trimmed,
were all sleeping in the little graveyard behind the church. And Billy
Andrews was married to Nettie Blewett! They "appeared out" that Sunday.
When Billy, beaming with pride and happiness, showed his be-plumed and
be-silked bride into the Harmon Andrews' pew, Anne dropped her lids to
hide her dancing eyes. She recalled the stormy winter night of the
Christmas holidays when Jane had proposed for Billy. He certainly
had not broken his heart over his rejection. Anne wondered if Jane
had also proposed to Nettie for him, or if he had mustered enough
spunk to ask the fateful question himself. All the Andrews family
seemed to share in his pride and pleasure, from Mrs. Harmon in the
pew to Jane in the choir. Jane had resigned from the Avonlea school
and intended to go West in the fall.

"Can't get a beau in Avonlea, that's what," said Mrs. Rachel Lynde
scornfully. "SAYS she thinks she'll have better health out West.
I never heard her health was poor before."

"Jane is a nice girl," Anne had said loyally. "She never tried
to attract attention, as some did."

"Oh, she never chased the boys, if that's what you mean," said
Mrs. Rachel. "But she'd like to be married, just as much as
anybody, that's what. What else would take her out West to some
forsaken place whose only recommendation is that men are plenty
and women scarce? Don't you tell me!"

But it was not at Jane, Anne gazed that day in dismay and surprise.
It was at Ruby Gillis, who sat beside her in the choir. What had
happened to Ruby? She was even handsomer than ever; but her blue
eyes were too bright and lustrous, and the color of her cheeks was
hectically brilliant; besides, she was very thin; the hands that
held her hymn-book were almost transparent in their delicacy.

"Is Ruby Gillis ill?" Anne asked of Mrs. Lynde, as they went
home from church.

"Ruby Gillis is dying of galloping consumption," said Mrs. Lynde
bluntly. "Everybody knows it except herself and her FAMILY.
They won't give in. If you ask THEM, she's perfectly well.
She hasn't been able to teach since she had that attack of
congestion in the winter, but she says she's going to teach
again in the fall, and she's after the White Sands school.
She'll be in her grave, poor girl, when White Sands school opens,
that's what."

Anne listened in shocked silence. Ruby Gillis, her old school-chum,
dying? Could it be possible? Of late years they had grown apart;
but the old tie of school-girl intimacy was there, and made itself
felt sharply in the tug the news gave at Anne's heartstrings.
Ruby, the brilliant, the merry, the coquettish! It was impossible
to associate the thought of her with anything like death. She had
greeted Anne with gay cordiality after church, and urged her to
come up the next evening.

"I'll be away Tuesday and Wednesday evenings," she had whispered
triumphantly. "There's a concert at Carmody and a party at White
Sands. Herb Spencer's going to take me. He's my LATEST. Be sure
to come up tomorrow. I'm dying for a good talk with you. I want
to hear all about your doings at Redmond."

Anne knew that Ruby meant that she wanted to tell Anne all about
her own recent flirtations, but she promised to go, and Diana
offered to go with her.

"I've been wanting to go to see Ruby for a long while," she told Anne,
when they left Green Gables the next evening, "but I really couldn't
go alone. It's so awful to hear Ruby rattling on as she does, and
pretending there is nothing the matter with her, even when she can
hardly speak for coughing. She's fighting so hard for her life,
and yet she hasn't any chance at all, they say."

The girls walked silently down the red, twilit road. The robins
were singing vespers in the high treetops, filling the golden air
with their jubilant voices. The silver fluting of the frogs came
from marshes and ponds, over fields where seeds were beginning to
stir with life and thrill to the sunshine and rain that had
drifted over them. The air was fragrant with the wild, sweet,
wholesome smell of young raspberry copses. White mists were
hovering in the silent hollows and violet stars were shining
bluely on the brooklands.

"What a beautiful sunset," said Diana. "Look, Anne, it's just like
a land in itself, isn't it? That long, low back of purple cloud
is the shore, and the clear sky further on is like a golden sea."

"If we could sail to it in the moonshine boat Paul wrote of in
his old composition -- you remember? -- how nice it would be,"
said Anne, rousing from her reverie. "Do you think we could find
all our yesterdays there, Diana -- all our old springs and
blossoms? The beds of flowers that Paul saw there are the roses
that have bloomed for us in the past?"

"Don't!" said Diana. "You make me feel as if we were old women
with everything in life behind us."

"I think I've almost felt as if we were since I heard about poor Ruby,"
said Anne. "If it is true that she is dying any other sad thing might
be true, too."

"You don't mind calling in at Elisha Wright's for a moment, do you?"
asked Diana. "Mother asked me to leave this little dish of jelly
for Aunt Atossa."

"Who is Aunt Atossa?"

"Oh, haven't you heard? She's Mrs. Samson Coates of Spencervale
-- Mrs. Elisha Wright's aunt. She's father's aunt, too. Her
husband died last winter and she was left very poor and lonely,
so the Wrights took her to live with them. Mother thought we
ought to take her, but father put his foot down. Live with Aunt
Atossa he would not."

"Is she so terrible?" asked Anne absently.

"You'll probably see what she's like before we can get away,"
said Diana significantly. "Father says she has a face like a
hatchet -- it cuts the air. But her tongue is sharper still."

Late as it was Aunt Atossa was cutting potato sets in the Wright
kitchen. She wore a faded old wrapper, and her gray hair was
decidedly untidy. Aunt Atossa did not like being "caught in a
kilter," so she went out of her way to be disagreeable.

"Oh, so you're Anne Shirley?" she said, when Diana introduced Anne.
"I've heard of you." Her tone implied that she had heard nothing good.
"Mrs. Andrews was telling me you were home. She said you had improved
a good deal."

There was no doubt Aunt Atossa thought there was plenty of room for
further improvement. She ceased not from cutting sets with much energy.

"Is it any use to ask you to sit down?" she inquired sarcastically.
"Of course, there's nothing very entertaining here for you. The rest
are all away."

"Mother sent you this little pot of rhubarb jelly," said Diana
pleasantly. "She made it today and thought you might like some."

"Oh, thanks," said Aunt Atossa sourly. "I never fancy your
mother's jelly -- she always makes it too sweet. However, I'll
try to worry some down. My appetite's been dreadful poor this
spring. I'm far from well," continued Aunt Atossa solemnly, "but
still I keep a-doing. People who can't work aren't wanted here.
If it isn't too much trouble will you be condescending enough
to set the jelly in the pantry? I'm in a hurry to get these spuds
done tonight. I suppose you two LADIES never do anything like this.
You'd be afraid of spoiling your hands."

"I used to cut potato sets before we rented the farm," smiled Anne.

"I do it yet," laughed Diana. "I cut sets three days last week.
Of course," she added teasingly, "I did my hands up in lemon
juice and kid gloves every night after it."

Aunt Atossa sniffed.

"I suppose you got that notion out of some of those silly
magazines you read so many of. I wonder your mother allows you.
But she always spoiled you. We all thought when George married
her she wouldn't be a suitable wife for him."

Aunt Atossa sighed heavily, as if all forebodings upon the
occasion of George Barry's marriage had been amply and darkly
fulfilled.

"Going, are you?" she inquired, as the girls rose. "Well, I
suppose you can't find much amusement talking to an old woman
like me. It's such a pity the boys ain't home."

"We want to run in and see Ruby Gillis a little while," explained Diana.

"Oh, anything does for an excuse, of course," said Aunt Atossa, amiably.
"Just whip in and whip out before you have time to say how-do decently.
It's college airs, I s'pose. You'd be wiser to keep away from Ruby Gillis.
The doctors say consumption's catching. I always knew Ruby'd get something,
gadding off to Boston last fall for a visit. People who ain't content to
stay home always catch something."

"People who don't go visiting catch things, too. Sometimes they even die,"
said Diana solemnly.

"Then they don't have themselves to blame for it," retorted Aunt Atossa
triumphantly. "I hear you are to be married in June, Diana."

"There is no truth in that report," said Diana, blushing.

"Well, don't put it off too long," said Aunt Atossa significantly.
"You'll fade soon -- you're all complexion and hair. And the Wrights
are terrible fickle. You ought to wear a hat, MISS SHIRLEY. Your nose
is freckling scandalous. My, but you ARE redheaded! Well, I s'pose
we're all as the Lord made us! Give Marilla Cuthbert my respects.
She's never been to see me since I come to Avonlea, but I s'pose I
oughtn't to complain. The Cuthberts always did think themselves
a cut higher than any one else round here."

"Oh, isn't she dreadful?" gasped Diana, as they escaped down the lane.

"She's worse than Miss Eliza Andrews," said Anne. "But then think
of living all your life with a name like Atossa! Wouldn't it sour
almost any one? She should have tried to imagine her name was Cordelia.
It might have helped her a great deal. It certainly helped me in the
days when I didn't like ANNE."

"Josie Pye will be just like her when she grows up," said Diana.
"Josie's mother and Aunt Atossa are cousins, you know. Oh, dear,
I'm glad that's over. She's so malicious -- she seems to put a
bad flavor in everything. Father tells such a funny story about her.
One time they had a minister in Spencervale who was a very good,
spiritual man but very deaf. He couldn't hear any ordinary
conversation at all. Well, they used to have a prayer meeting on
Sunday evenings, and all the church members present would get up
and pray in turn, or say a few words on some Bible verse. But
one evening Aunt Atossa bounced up. She didn't either pray or
preach. Instead, she lit into everybody else in the church and
gave them a fearful raking down, calling them right out by name
and telling them how they all had behaved, and casting up all the
quarrels and scandals of the past ten years. Finally she wound
up by saying that she was disgusted with Spencervale church and
she never meant to darken its door again, and she hoped a fearful
judgment would come upon it. Then she sat down out of breath,
and the minister, who hadn't heard a word she said, immediately
remarked, in a very devout voice, `amen! The Lord grant our dear
sister's prayer!' You ought to hear father tell the story."

"Speaking of stories, Diana," remarked Anne, in a significant,
confidential tone, "do you know that lately I have been wondering
if I could write a short story -- a story that would be good
enough to be published?"

"Why, of course you could," said Diana, after she had grasped the
amazing suggestion. "You used to write perfectly thrilling stories
years ago in our old Story Club."

"Well, I hardly meant one of that kind of stories," smiled Anne.
"I've been thinking about it a little of late, but I'm almost
afraid to try, for, if I should fail, it would be too humiliating."

"I heard Priscilla say once that all Mrs. Morgan's first stories
were rejected. But I'm sure yours wouldn't be, Anne, for it's
likely editors have more sense nowadays."

"Margaret Burton, one of the Junior girls at Redmond, wrote a
story last winter and it was published in the Canadian Woman.
I really do think I could write one at least as good."

"And will you have it published in the Canadian Woman?"

"I might try one of the bigger magazines first. It all depends
on what kind of a story I write."

"What is it to be about?"

"I don't know yet. I want to get hold of a good plot. I believe
this is very necessary from an editor's point of view. The only
thing I've settled on is the heroine's name. It is to be AVERIL
LESTER. Rather pretty, don't you think? Don't mention this to
any one, Diana. I haven't told anybody but you and Mr. Harrison.
HE wasn't very encouraging -- he said there was far too much
trash written nowadays as it was, and he'd expected something
better of me, after a year at college."

"What does Mr. Harrison know about it?" demanded Diana scornfully.

They found the Gillis home gay with lights and callers. Leonard
Kimball, of Spencervale, and Morgan Bell, of Carmody, were glaring
at each other across the parlor. Several merry girls had dropped in.
Ruby was dressed in white and her eyes and cheeks were very brilliant.
She laughed and chattered incessantly, and after the other girls had
gone she took Anne upstairs to display her new summer dresses.

"I've a blue silk to make up yet, but it's a little heavy for
summer wear. I think I'll leave it until the fall. I'm going
to teach in White Sands, you know. How do you like my hat?
That one you had on in church yesterday was real dinky.
But I like something brighter for myself. Did you notice
those two ridiculous boys downstairs? They've both come
determined to sit each other out. I don't care a single bit
about either of them, you know. Herb Spencer is the one I like.
Sometimes I really do think he's MR. RIGHT. At Christmas I
thought the Spencervale schoolmaster was that. But I found
out something about him that turned me against him. He nearly
went insane when I turned him down. I wish those two boys hadn't
come tonight. I wanted to have a nice good talk with you, Anne,
and tell you such heaps of things. You and I were always good
chums, weren't we?"

Ruby slipped her arm about Anne's waist with a shallow little laugh.
But just for a moment their eyes met, and, behind all the luster
of Ruby's, Anne saw something that made her heart ache.

"Come up often, won't you, Anne?" whispered Ruby. "Come alone --
I want you."

"Are you feeling quite well, Ruby?"

"Me! Why, I'm perfectly well. I never felt better in my life.
Of course, that congestion last winter pulled me down a little.
But just see my color. I don't look much like an invalid, I'm sure."

Ruby's voice was almost sharp. She pulled her arm away from Anne,
as if in resentment, and ran downstairs, where she was gayer than
ever, apparently so much absorbed in bantering her two swains that
Diana and Anne felt rather out of it and soon went away.

Chapter XII

"Averil's Atonement"

"What are you dreaming of, Anne?"

The two girls were loitering one evening in a fairy hollow of the
brook. Ferns nodded in it, and little grasses were green, and
wild pears hung finely-scented, white curtains around it.

Anne roused herself from her reverie with a happy sigh.

"I was thinking out my story, Diana."

"Oh, have you really begun it?" cried Diana, all alight with
eager interest in a moment.

"Yes, I have only a few pages written, but I have it all pretty
well thought out. I've had such a time to get a suitable plot.
None of the plots that suggested themselves suited a girl named
AVERIL."

"Couldn't you have changed her name?"

"No, the thing was impossible. I tried to, but I couldn't do it,
any more than I could change yours. AVERIL was so real to me
that no matter what other name I tried to give her I just thought
of her as AVERIL behind it all. But finally I got a plot that
matched her. Then came the excitement of choosing names for
all my characters. You have no idea how fascinating that is.
I've lain awake for hours thinking over those names. The hero's
name is PERCEVAL DALRYMPLE."

"Have you named ALL the characters?" asked Diana wistfully. "If
you hadn't I was going to ask you to let me name one -- just some
unimportant person. I'd feel as if I had a share in the story then."

"You may name the little hired boy who lived with the LESTERS,"
conceded Anne. "He is not very important, but he is the only one
left unnamed."

"Call him RAYMOND FITZOSBORNE," suggested Diana, who had a store
of such names laid away in her memory, relics of the old "Story
Club," which she and Anne and Jane Andrews and Ruby Gillis had
had in their schooldays.

Anne shook her head doubtfully.

"I'm afraid that is too aristocratic a name for a chore boy,
Diana. I couldn't imagine a Fitzosborne feeding pigs and picking
up chips, could you?"

Diana didn't see why, if you had an imagination at all, you
couldn't stretch it to that extent; but probably Anne knew best,
and the chore boy was finally christened ROBERT RAY, to be called
BOBBY should occasion require.

"How much do you suppose you'll get for it?" asked Diana.

But Anne had not thought about this at all. She was in pursuit
of fame, not filthy lucre, and her literary dreams were as yet
untainted by mercenary considerations.

"You'll let me read it, won't you?" pleaded Diana.

"When it is finished I'll read it to you and Mr. Harrison, and I
shall want you to criticize it SEVERELY. No one else shall see
it until it is published."

"How are you going to end it -- happily or unhappily?"

"I'm not sure. I'd like it to end unhappily, because that would
be so much more romantic. But I understand editors have a prejudice
against sad endings. I heard Professor Hamilton say once that nobody
but a genius should try to write an unhappy ending.

And," concluded Anne modestly, "I'm anything but a genius."

"Oh I like happy endings best. You'd better let him marry her,"
said Diana, who, especially since her engagement to Fred, thought
this was how every story should end.

"But you like to cry over stories?"

"Oh, yes, in the middle of them. But I like everything to come
right at last."

"I must have one pathetic scene in it," said Anne thoughtfully.
"I might let ROBERT RAY be injured in an accident and have a
death scene."

"No, you mustn't kill BOBBY off," declared Diana, laughing.
"He belongs to me and I want him to live and flourish. Kill
somebody else if you have to."

For the next fortnight Anne writhed or reveled, according to
mood, in her literary pursuits. Now she would be jubilant over a
brilliant idea, now despairing because some contrary character
would NOT behave properly. Diana could not understand this.

"MAKE them do as you want them to," she said.

"I can't," mourned Anne. "Averil is such an unmanageable heroine.
She WILL do and say things I never meant her to. Then that spoils
everything that went before and I have to write it all over again."

Finally, however, the story was finished, and Anne read it to
Diana in the seclusion of the porch gable. She had achieved her
"pathetic scene" without sacrificing ROBERT RAY, and she kept a
watchful eye on Diana as she read it. Diana rose to the occasion
and cried properly; but, when the end came, she looked a little
disappointed.

"Why did you kill MAURICE LENNOX?" she asked reproachfully.

"He was the villain," protested Anne. "He had to be punished."

"I like him best of them all," said unreasonable Diana.

"Well, he's dead, and he'll have to stay dead," said Anne,
rather resentfully. "If I had let him live he'd have gone
on persecuting AVERIL and PERCEVAL."

"Yes -- unless you had reformed him."

"That wouldn't have been romantic, and, besides, it would have
made the story too long."

"Well, anyway, it's a perfectly elegant story, Anne, and will
make you famous, of that I'm sure. Have you got a title for it?"

"Oh, I decided on the title long ago. I call it AVERIL'S
ATONEMENT. Doesn't that sound nice and alliterative? Now,
Diana, tell me candidly, do you see any faults in my story?"

"Well," hesitated Diana, "that part where AVERIL makes the cake
doesn't seem to me quite romantic enough to match the rest. It's
just what anybody might do. Heroines shouldn't do cooking, _I_ think."

"Why, that is where the humor comes in, and it's one of the best
parts of the whole story," said Anne. And it may be stated that
in this she was quite right.

Diana prudently refrained from any further criticism, but
Mr. Harrison was much harder to please. First he told her
there was entirely too much description in the story.

"Cut out all those flowery passages," he said unfeelingly.

Anne had an uncomfortable conviction that Mr. Harrison was right,
and she forced herself to expunge most of her beloved descriptions,
though it took three re-writings before the story could be pruned
down to please the fastidious Mr. Harrison.

"I've left out ALL the descriptions but the sunset," she said at last.
"I simply COULDN'T let it go. It was the best of them all."

"It hasn't anything to do with the story," said Mr. Harrison,
"and you shouldn't have laid the scene among rich city people.
What do you know of them? Why didn't you lay it right here in
Avonlea -- changing the name, of course, or else Mrs. Rachel
Lynde would probably think she was the heroine."

"Oh, that would never have done," protested Anne. "Avonlea is
the dearest place in the world, but it isn't quite romantic
enough for the scene of a story."

"I daresay there's been many a romance in Avonlea -- and many a
tragedy, too," said Mr. Harrison drily. "But your folks ain't
like real folks anywhere. They talk too much and use too
high-flown language. There's one place where that DALRYMPLE chap
talks even on for two pages, and never lets the girl get a word in
edgewise. If he'd done that in real life she'd have pitched him."

"I don't believe it," said Anne flatly. In her secret soul she
thought that the beautiful, poetical things said to AVERIL would
win any girl's heart completely. Besides, it was gruesome to hear
of AVERIL, the stately, queen-like AVERIL, "pitching" any one.
AVERIL "declined her suitors."

"Anyhow," resumed the merciless Mr. Harrison, "I don't see why
MAURICE LENNOX didn't get her. He was twice the man the other is.
He did bad things, but he did them. Perceval hadn't time for
anything but mooning."

"Mooning." That was even worse than "pitching!"

"MAURICE LENNOX was the villain," said Anne indignantly.
"I don't see why every one likes him better than PERCEVAL."

"Perceval is too good. He's aggravating. Next time you write
about a hero put a little spice of human nature in him."

"AVERIL couldn't have married MAURICE. He was bad."

"She'd have reformed him. You can reform a man; you can't reform
a jelly-fish, of course. Your story isn't bad -- it's kind of
interesting, I'll admit. But you're too young to write a story
that would be worth while. Wait ten years."

Anne made up her mind that the next time she wrote a story she
wouldn't ask anybody to criticize it. It was too discouraging.
She would not read the story to Gilbert, although she told him
about it.

"If it is a success you'll see it when it is published, Gilbert,
but if it is a failure nobody shall ever see it."

Marilla knew nothing about the venture. In imagination Anne saw
herself reading a story out of a magazine to Marilla, entrapping
her into praise of it -- for in imagination all things are
possible -- and then triumphantly announcing herself the author.

One day Anne took to the Post Office a long, bulky envelope,
addressed, with the delightful confidence of youth and
inexperience, to the very biggest of the "big" magazines.
Diana was as excited over it as Anne herself.

"How long do you suppose it will be before you hear from it?"
she asked.

"It shouldn't be longer than a fortnight. Oh, how happy and
proud I shall be if it is accepted!"

"Of course it will be accepted, and they will likely ask you to
send them more. You may be as famous as Mrs. Morgan some day,
Anne, and then how proud I'll be of knowing you," said Diana, who
possessed, at least, the striking merit of an unselfish
admiration of the gifts and graces of her friends.

A week of delightful dreaming followed, and then came a bitter awakening.
One evening Diana found Anne in the porch gable, with suspicious-looking
eyes. On the table lay a long envelope and a crumpled manuscript.

"Anne, your story hasn't come back?" cried Diana incredulously.

"Yes, it has," said Anne shortly.

"Well, that editor must be crazy. What reason did he give?"

"No reason at all. There is just a printed slip saying that it
wasn't found acceptable."

"I never thought much of that magazine, anyway," said Diana hotly.
"The stories in it are not half as interesting as those in the
Canadian Woman, although it costs so much more. I suppose
the editor is prejudiced against any one who isn't a Yankee.
Don't be discouraged, Anne. Remember how Mrs. Morgan's stories
came back. Send yours to the Canadian Woman."

"I believe I will," said Anne, plucking up heart. "And if it is
published I'll send that American editor a marked copy. But I'll
cut the sunset out. I believe Mr. Harrison was right."

Out came the sunset; but in spite of this heroic mutilation the
editor of the Canadian Woman sent Averil's Atonement back so
promptly that the indignant Diana declared that it couldn't have
been read at all, and vowed she was going to stop her subscription
immediately. Anne took this second rejection with the calmness of
despair. She locked the story away in the garret trunk where the
old Story Club tales reposed; but first she yielded to Diana's
entreaties and gave her a copy.

"This is the end of my literary ambitions," she said bitterly.

She never mentioned the matter to Mr. Harrison, but one evening
he asked her bluntly if her story had been accepted.

"No, the editor wouldn't take it," she answered briefly.

Mr. Harrison looked sidewise at the flushed, delicate profile.

"Well, I suppose you'll keep on writing them," he said encouragingly.

"No, I shall never try to write a story again," declared Anne, with
the hopeless finality of nineteen when a door is shut in its face.

"I wouldn't give up altogether," said Mr. Harrison reflectively. "I'd
write a story once in a while, but I wouldn't pester editors with it.
I'd write of people and places like I knew, and I'd make my characters
talk everyday English; and I'd let the sun rise and set in the usual
quiet way without much fuss over the fact. If I had to have villains
at all, I'd give them a chance, Anne -- I'd give them a chance.
There are some terrible bad men in the world, I suppose, but you'd
have to go a long piece to find them -- though Mrs. Lynde believes we're
all bad. But most of us have got a little decency somewhere in us.
Keep on writing, Anne."

"No. It was very foolish of me to attempt it. When I'm through
Redmond I'll stick to teaching. I can teach. I can't write stories."

"It'll be time for you to be getting a husband when you're
through Redmond," said Mr. Harrison. "I don't believe in
putting marrying off too long -- like I did."

Anne got up and marched home. There were times when Mr. Harrison
was really intolerable. "Pitching," "mooning," and "getting a
husband." Ow!!

Chapter XIII

The Way of Transgressors

Davy and Dora were ready for Sunday School. They were going alone,
which did not often happen, for Mrs. Lynde always attended Sunday School.
But Mrs. Lynde had twisted her ankle and was lame, so she was staying
home this morning. The twins were also to represent the family at church,
for Anne had gone away the evening before to spend Sunday with friends
in Carmody, and Marilla had one of her headaches.

Davy came downstairs slowly. Dora was waiting in the hall for him, having
been made ready by Mrs. Lynde. Davy had attended to his own preparations.
He had a cent in his pocket for the Sunday School collection, and a five-cent
piece for the church collection; he carried his Bible in one hand and his
Sunday School quarterly in the other; he knew his lesson and his Golden Text
and his catechism question perfectly. Had he not studied them -- perforce
-- in Mrs. Lynde's kitchen, all last Sunday afternoon? Davy, therefore,
should have been in a placid frame of mind. As a matter of fact, despite
text and catechism, he was inwardly as a ravening wolf.

Mrs. Lynde limped out of her kitchen as he joined Dora.

"Are you clean?" she demanded severely.

"Yes -- all of me that shows," Davy answered with a defiant scowl.

Mrs. Rachel sighed. She had her suspicions about Davy's neck
and ears. But she knew that if she attempted to make a personal
examination Davy would likely take to his heels and she could not
pursue him today.

"Well, be sure you behave yourselves," she warned them. "Don't walk
in the dust. Don't stop in the porch to talk to the other children.
Don't squirm or wriggle in your places. Don't forget the Golden Text.
Don't lose your collection or forget to put it in. Don't whisper at
prayer time, and don't forget to pay attention to the sermon."

Davy deigned no response. He marched away down the lane,
followed by the meek Dora. But his soul seethed within.
Davy had suffered, or thought he had suffered, many things at the
hands and tongue of Mrs. Rachel Lynde since she had come to Green
Gables, for Mrs. Lynde could not live with anybody, whether they
were nine or ninety, without trying to bring them up properly.
And it was only the preceding afternoon that she had interfered
to influence Marilla against allowing Davy to go fishing with the
Timothy Cottons. Davy was still boiling over this.

As soon as he was out of the lane Davy stopped and twisted his
countenance into such an unearthly and terrific contortion that Dora,
although she knew his gifts in that respect, was honestly alarmed lest
he should never in the world be able to get it straightened out again.

"Darn her," exploded Davy.

"Oh, Davy, don't swear," gasped Dora in dismay.

"`Darn' isn't swearing -- not real swearing. And I don't care
if it is," retorted Davy recklessly.

"Well, if you MUST say dreadful words don't say them on Sunday," pleaded Dora.

Davy was as yet far from repentance, but in his secret soul he felt that,
perhaps, he had gone a little too far.

"I'm going to invent a swear word of my own," he declared.

"God will punish you if you do," said Dora solemnly.

"Then I think God is a mean old scamp," retorted Davy. "Doesn't
He know a fellow must have some way of 'spressing his feelings?"

"Davy!!!" said Dora. She expected that Davy would be struck down
dead on the spot. But nothing happened.

"Anyway, I ain't going to stand any more of Mrs. Lynde's bossing,"
spluttered Davy. "Anne and Marilla may have the right to boss me,
but SHE hasn't. I'm going to do every single thing she told me not to do.
You watch me."

In grim, deliberate silence, while Dora watched him with the
fascination of horror, Davy stepped off the green grass of the
roadside, ankle deep into the fine dust which four weeks of
rainless weather had made on the road, and marched along in it,
shuffling his feet viciously until he was enveloped in a hazy cloud.

"That's the beginning," he announced triumphantly." And I'm
going to stop in the porch and talk as long as there's anybody
there to talk to. I'm going to squirm and wriggle and whisper,
and I'm going to say I don't know the Golden Text. And I'm going
to throw away both of my collections RIGHT NOW."

And Davy hurled cent and nickel over Mr. Barry's fence with
fierce delight.

"Satan made you do that," said Dora reproachfully.

"He didn't," cried Davy indignantly. "I just thought it out for myself.
And I've thought of something else. I'm not going to Sunday School or
church at all. I'm going up to play with the Cottons. They told me
yesterday they weren't going to Sunday School today, 'cause their mother
was away and there was nobody to make them. Come along, Dora, we'll have
a great time."

"I don't want to go," protested Dora.

"You've got to," said Davy. "If you don't come I'll tell Marilla
that Frank Bell kissed you in school last Monday."

"I couldn't help it. I didn't know he was going to," cried Dora,
blushing scarlet.

"Well, you didn't slap him or seem a bit cross," retorted Davy.
"I'll tell her THAT, too, if you don't come. We'll take the
short cut up this field."

"I'm afraid of those cows," protested poor Dora, seeing a
prospect of escape.

"The very idea of your being scared of those cows," scoffed Davy.
"Why, they're both younger than you."

"They're bigger," said Dora.

"They won't hurt you. Come along, now. This is great. When I
grow up I ain't going to bother going to church at all. I
believe I can get to heaven by myself."

"You'll go to the other place if you break the Sabbath day,"
said unhappy Dora, following him sorely against her will.

But Davy was not scared -- yet. Hell was very far off, and the
delights of a fishing expedition with the Cottons were very near.
He wished Dora had more spunk. She kept looking back as if she
were going to cry every minute, and that spoiled a fellow's fun.
Hang girls, anyway. Davy did not say "darn" this time, even in thought.
He was not sorry -- yet -- that he had said it once, but it might be
as well not to tempt the Unknown Powers too far on one day.

The small Cottons were playing in their back yard, and hailed
Davy's appearance with whoops of delight. Pete, Tommy, Adolphus,
and Mirabel Cotton were all alone. Their mother and older
sisters were away. Dora was thankful Mirabel was there, at least.
She had been afraid she would be alone in a crowd of boys. Mirabel
was almost as bad as a boy -- she was so noisy and sunburned and reckless.
But at least she wore dresses.

"We've come to go fishing," announced Davy.

"Whoop," yelled the Cottons. They rushed away to dig worms at once,
Mirabel leading the van with a tin can. Dora could have sat down
and cried. Oh, if only that hateful Frank Bell had never kissed her!
Then she could have defied Davy, and gone to her beloved Sunday School.

They dared not, of course, go fishing on the pond, where they
would be seen by people going to church. They had to resort to
the brook in the woods behind the Cotton house. But it was full
of trout, and they had a glorious time that morning -- at least
the Cottons certainly had, and Davy seemed to have it. Not being
entirely bereft of prudence, he had discarded boots and stockings
and borrowed Tommy Cotton's overalls. Thus accoutered, bog and
marsh and undergrowth had no terrors for him. Dora was frankly
and manifestly miserable. She followed the others in their
peregrinations from pool to pool, clasping her Bible and
quarterly tightly and thinking with bitterness of soul of her
beloved class where she should be sitting that very moment,
before a teacher she adored. Instead, here she was roaming the
woods with those half-wild Cottons, trying to keep her boots clean
and her pretty white dress free from rents and stains. Mirabel
had offered the loan of an apron but Dora had scornfully refused.

The trout bit as they always do on Sundays. In an hour the
transgressors had all the fish they wanted, so they returned to
the house, much to Dora's relief. She sat primly on a hencoop in
the yard while the others played an uproarious game of tag; and
then they all climbed to the top of the pig-house roof and cut
their initials on the saddleboard. The flat-roofed henhouse and
a pile of straw beneath gave Davy another inspiration. They
spent a splendid half hour climbing on the roof and diving off
into the straw with whoops and yells.

But even unlawful pleasures must come to an end. When the rumble
of wheels over the pond bridge told that people were going home
from church Davy knew they must go. He discarded Tommy's overalls,
resumed his own rightful attire, and turned away from his string
of trout with a sigh. No use to think of taking them home.

"Well, hadn't we a splendid time?" he demanded defiantly, as they
went down the hill field.

"I hadn't," said Dora flatly. "And I don't believe you had --
really -- either," she added, with a flash of insight that was
not to be expected of her.

"I had so," cried Davy, but in the voice of one who doth protest too much.
"No wonder you hadn't -- just sitting there like a -- like a mule."

"I ain't going to, 'sociate with the Cottons," said Dora loftily.

"The Cottons are all right," retorted Davy. "And they have far better
times than we have. They do just as they please and say just what they
like before everybody. _I_'m going to do that, too, after this."

"There are lots of things you wouldn't dare say before everybody,"
averred Dora.

"No, there isn't."

"There is, too. Would you," demanded Dora gravely, "would you
say `tomcat' before the minister?"

This was a staggerer. Davy was not prepared for such a concrete
example of the freedom of speech. But one did not have to be
consistent with Dora.

"Of course not," he admitted sulkily.

"`Tomcat' isn't a holy word. I wouldn't mention such an animal
before a minister at all."

"But if you had to?" persisted Dora.

"I'd call it a Thomas pussy," said Davy.

"_I_ think `gentleman cat' would be more polite," reflected Dora.

"YOU thinking!" retorted Davy with withering scorn.

Davy was not feeling comfortable, though he would have died
before he admitted it to Dora. Now that the exhilaration of
truant delights had died away, his conscience was beginning to
give him salutary twinges. After all, perhaps it would have been
better to have gone to Sunday School and church. Mrs. Lynde
might be bossy; but there was always a box of cookies in her
kitchen cupboard and she was not stingy. At this inconvenient
moment Davy remembered that when he had torn his new school pants
the week before, Mrs. Lynde had mended them beautifully and
never said a word to Marilla about them.

But Davy's cup of iniquity was not yet full. He was to discover
that one sin demands another to cover it. They had dinner with
Mrs. Lynde that day, and the first thing she asked Davy was,

"Were all your class in Sunday School today?"

"Yes'm," said Davy with a gulp. "All were there -- 'cept one."

"Did you say your Golden Text and catechism?"

"Yes'm."

"Did you put your collection in?"

"Yes'm."

"Was Mrs. Malcolm MacPherson in church?"

"I don't know." This, at least, was the truth, thought wretched Davy.

"Was the Ladies' Aid announced for next week?"

"Yes'm" -- quakingly.

"Was prayer-meeting?"

"I -- I don't know."

"YOU should know. You should listen more attentively to the announcements.
What was Mr. Harvey's text?"

Davy took a frantic gulp of water and swallowed it and the last
protest of conscience together. He glibly recited an old Golden
Text learned several weeks ago. Fortunately Mrs. Lynde now
stopped questioning him; but Davy did not enjoy his dinner.

He could only eat one helping of pudding.

"What's the matter with you?" demanded justly astonished Mrs. Lynde.
"Are you sick?"

"No," muttered Davy.

"You look pale. You'd better keep out of the sun this afternoon,"
admonished Mrs. Lynde.

"Do you know how many lies you told Mrs. Lynde?" asked Dora
reproachfully, as soon as they were alone after dinner.

Davy, goaded to desperation, turned fiercely.

"I don't know and I don't care," he said. "You just shut up,
Dora Keith."

Then poor Davy betook himself to a secluded retreat behind the
woodpile to think over the way of transgressors.

Green Gables was wrapped in darkness and silence when Anne
reached home. She lost no time going to bed, for she was very
tired and sleepy. There had been several Avonlea jollifications
the preceding week, involving rather late hours. Anne's head was
hardly on her pillow before she was half asleep; but just then
her door was softly opened and a pleading voice said, "Anne."

Anne sat up drowsily.

"Davy, is that you? What is the matter?"

A white-clad figure flung itself across the floor and on to the bed.

"Anne," sobbed Davy, getting his arms about her neck. "I'm awful
glad you're home. I couldn't go to sleep till I'd told somebody."

"Told somebody what?"

"How mis'rubul I am."

"Why are you miserable, dear?"

"'Cause I was so bad today, Anne. Oh, I was awful bad --
badder'n I've ever been yet."

"What did you do?"

"Oh, I'm afraid to tell you. You'll never like me again, Anne.
I couldn't say my prayers tonight. I couldn't tell God what
I'd done. I was 'shamed to have Him know."

"But He knew anyway, Davy."

"That's what Dora said. But I thought p'raps He mightn't have
noticed just at the time. Anyway, I'd rather tell you first."

"WHAT is it you did?"

Out it all came in a rush.

"I run away from Sunday School -- and went fishing with the
Cottons -- and I told ever so many whoppers to Mrs. Lynde -- oh!
'most half a dozen -- and -- and -- I -- I said a swear word,
Anne -- a pretty near swear word, anyhow -- and I called God names."

There was silence. Davy didn't know what to make of it. Was
Anne so shocked that she never would speak to him again?

"Anne, what are you going to do to me?" he whispered.

"Nothing, dear. You've been punished already, I think."

"No, I haven't. Nothing's been done to me."

"You've been very unhappy ever since you did wrong, haven't you?"

"You bet!" said Davy emphatically.

"That was your conscience punishing you, Davy."

"What's my conscience? I want to know."

"It's something in you, Davy, that always tells you when you are
doing wrong and makes you unhappy if you persist in doing it.
Haven't you noticed that?"

"Yes, but I didn't know what it was. I wish I didn't have it.
I'd have lots more fun. Where is my conscience, Anne? I want to know.
Is it in my stomach?"

"No, it's in your soul," answered Anne, thankful for the
darkness, since gravity must be preserved in serious matters.

"I s'pose I can't get clear of it then," said Davy with a sigh.
"Are you going to tell Marilla and Mrs. Lynde on me, Anne?"

"No, dear, I'm not going to tell any one. You are sorry you were
naughty, aren't you?"

"You bet!"

"And you'll never be bad like that again."

"No, but -- " added Davy cautiously, "I might be bad some other way."

"You won't say naughty words, or run away on Sundays, or tell falsehoods
to cover up your sins?"

"No. It doesn't pay," said Davy.

"Well, Davy, just tell God you are sorry and ask Him to forgive you."

"Have YOU forgiven me, Anne?"

"Yes, dear."

"Then," said Davy joyously, "I don't care much whether God does or not."

"Davy!"

"Oh -- I'll ask Him -- I'll ask Him," said Davy quickly,
scrambling off the bed, convinced by Anne's tone that he must
have said something dreadful. "I don't mind asking Him, Anne.
-- Please, God, I'm awful sorry I behaved bad today and
I'll try to be good on Sundays always and please forgive me.
-- There now, Anne."

"Well, now, run off to bed like a good boy."

"All right. Say, I don't feel mis'rubul any more. I feel fine.
Good night."

"Good night."

Anne slipped down on her pillows with a sigh of relief. Oh --
how sleepy -- she was! In another second --

"Anne!" Davy was back again by her bed. Anne dragged her eyes open.

"What is it now, dear?" she asked, trying to keep a note of
impatience out of her voice.

"Anne, have you ever noticed how Mr. Harrison spits? Do you
s'pose, if I practice hard, I can learn to spit just like him?"

Anne sat up.

"Davy Keith," she said, "go straight to your bed and don't let me
catch you out of it again tonight! Go, now!"

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