Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Part 3 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Davy went, and stood not upon the order of his going.

Chapter XIV

The Summons

Anne was sitting with Ruby Gillis in the Gillis' garden after the day
had crept lingeringly through it and was gone. It had been a warm,
smoky summer afternoon. The world was in a splendor of out-flowering.
The idle valleys were full of hazes. The woodways were pranked with
shadows and the fields with the purple of the asters.

Anne had given up a moonlight drive to the White Sands beach that
she might spend the evening with Ruby. She had so spent many
evenings that summer, although she often wondered what good it did
any one, and sometimes went home deciding that she could not go again.

Ruby grew paler as the summer waned; the White Sands school was
given up -- "her father thought it better that she shouldn't
teach till New Year's" -- and the fancy work she loved oftener
and oftener fell from hands grown too weary for it. But she was
always gay, always hopeful, always chattering and whispering of
her beaux, and their rivalries and despairs. It was this that
made Anne's visits hard for her. What had once been silly or
amusing was gruesome, now; it was death peering through a wilful
mask of life. Yet Ruby seemed to cling to her, and never let her
go until she had promised to come again soon. Mrs. Lynde
grumbled about Anne's frequent visits, and declared she would
catch consumption; even Marilla was dubious.

"Every time you go to see Ruby you come home looking tired out,"
she said.

"It's so very sad and dreadful," said Anne in a low tone. "Ruby
doesn't seem to realize her condition in the least. And yet I
somehow feel she needs help -- craves it -- and I want to give it
to her and can't. All the time I'm with her I feel as if I were
watching her struggle with an invisible foe -- trying to push it
back with such feeble resistance as she has. That is why I come
home tired."

But tonight Anne did not feel this so keenly. Ruby was strangely
quiet. She said not a word about parties and drives and dresses
and "fellows." She lay in the hammock, with her untouched work
beside her, and a white shawl wrapped about her thin shoulders.
Her long yellow braids of hair -- how Anne had envied those
beautiful braids in old schooldays! -- lay on either side of her.
She had taken the pins out -- they made her head ache, she said.
The hectic flush was gone for the time, leaving her pale and childlike.

The moon rose in the silvery sky, empearling the clouds
around her. Below, the pond shimmered in its hazy radiance.
Just beyond the Gillis homestead was the church, with the old
graveyard beside it. The moonlight shone on the white stones,
bringing them out in clear-cut relief against the dark trees behind.

"How strange the graveyard looks by moonlight!" said Ruby suddenly.
"How ghostly!" she shuddered. "Anne, it won't be long now before
I'll be lying over there. You and Diana and all the rest will be
going about, full of life -- and I'll be there -- in the old graveyard
-- dead!"

The surprise of it bewildered Anne. For a few moments she could not speak.

"You know it's so, don't you?" said Ruby insistently.

"Yes, I know," answered Anne in a low tone. "Dear Ruby, I know."

"Everybody knows it," said Ruby bitterly. "I know it -- I've
known it all summer, though I wouldn't give in. And, oh, Anne"
-- she reached out and caught Anne's hand pleadingly, impulsively
-- "I don't want to die. I'm AFRAID to die."

"Why should you be afraid, Ruby?" asked Anne quietly.

"Because -- because -- oh, I'm not afraid but that I'll go to
heaven, Anne. I'm a church member. But -- it'll be all so
different. I think -- and think -- and I get so frightened --
and -- and -- homesick. Heaven must be very beautiful, of course,
the Bible says so -- but, Anne, IT WON'T BE WHAT I'VE BEEN USED TO."

Through Anne's mind drifted an intrusive recollection of a funny
story she had heard Philippa Gordon tell -- the story of some old
man who had said very much the same thing about the world to come.
It had sounded funny then -- she remembered how she and
Priscilla had laughed over it. But it did not seem in the
least humorous now, coming from Ruby's pale, trembling lips.
It was sad, tragic -- and true! Heaven could not be what Ruby had
been used to. There had been nothing in her gay, frivolous life,
her shallow ideals and aspirations, to fit her for that great change,
or make the life to come seem to her anything but alien and
unreal and undesirable. Anne wondered helplessly what she could
say that would help her. Could she say anything? "I think, Ruby,"
she began hesitatingly -- for it was difficult for Anne to speak
to any one of the deepest thoughts of her heart, or the new
ideas that had vaguely begun to shape themselves in her mind,
concerning the great mysteries of life here and hereafter,
superseding her old childish conceptions, and it was hardest of
all to speak of them to such as Ruby Gillis -- "I think, perhaps,
we have very mistaken ideas about heaven -- what it is and what
it holds for us. I don't think it can be so very different from
life here as most people seem to think. I believe we'll just go
on living, a good deal as we live here -- and be OURSELVES just
the same -- only it will be easier to be good and to -- follow
the highest. All the hindrances and perplexities will be taken
away, and we shall see clearly. Don't be afraid, Ruby."

"I can't help it," said Ruby pitifully. "Even if what you say
about heaven is true -- and you can't be sure -- it may be only
that imagination of yours -- it won't be JUST the same. It CAN'T be.
I want to go on living HERE. I'm so young, Anne. I haven't had
my life. I've fought so hard to live -- and it isn't any use
-- I have to die -- and leave EVERYTHING I care for." Anne sat
in a pain that was almost intolerable. She could not tell
comforting falsehoods; and all that Ruby said was so horribly
true. She WAS leaving everything she cared for. She had laid up
her treasures on earth only; she had lived solely for the little
things of life -- the things that pass -- forgetting the great
things that go onward into eternity, bridging the gulf between
the two lives and making of death a mere passing from one
dwelling to the other -- from twilight to unclouded day. God
would take care of her there -- Anne believed -- she would learn
-- but now it was no wonder her soul clung, in blind helplessness,
to the only things she knew and loved.

Ruby raised herself on her arm and lifted up her bright, beautiful
blue eyes to the moonlit skies.

"I want to live," she said, in a trembling voice. "I want to
live like other girls. I -- I want to be married, Anne -- and --
and -- have little children. You know I always loved babies, Anne.
I couldn't say this to any one but you. I know you understand.
And then poor Herb -- he -- he loves me and I love him, Anne.
The others meant nothing to me, but HE does -- and if I could
live I would be his wife and be so happy. Oh, Anne, it's hard."

Ruby sank back on her pillows and sobbed convulsively. Anne
pressed her hand in an agony of sympathy -- silent sympathy,
which perhaps helped Ruby more than broken, imperfect words could
have done; for presently she grew calmer and her sobs ceased.

"I'm glad I've told you this, Anne," she whispered. "It has
helped me just to say it all out. I've wanted to all summer --
every time you came. I wanted to talk it over with you -- but
I COULDN'T. It seemed as if it would make death so SURE if I
SAID I was going to die, or if any one else said it or hinted it.
I wouldn't say it, or even think it. In the daytime, when people
were around me and everything was cheerful, it wasn't so hard to
keep from thinking of it. But in the night, when I couldn't sleep
-- it was so dreadful, Anne. I couldn't get away from it then.
Death just came and stared me in the face, until I got so frightened
I could have screamed.

"But you won't be frightened any more, Ruby, will you? You'll be brave,
and believe that all is going to be well with you."

"I'll try. I'll think over what you have said, and try to believe it.
And you'll come up as often as you can, won't you, Anne?"

"Yes, dear."

"It -- it won't be very long now, Anne. I feel sure of that.
And I'd rather have you than any one else. I always liked you
best of all the girls I went to school with. You were never
jealous, or mean, like some of them were. Poor Em White was up
to see me yesterday. You remember Em and I were such chums for
three years when we went to school? And then we quarrelled the
time of the school concert. We've never spoken to each other
since. Wasn't it silly? Anything like that seems silly NOW.
But Em and I made up the old quarrel yesterday. She said she'd
have spoken years ago, only she thought I wouldn't. And I never
spoke to her because I was sure she wouldn't speak to me. Isn't
it strange how people misunderstand each other, Anne?"

"Most of the trouble in life comes from misunderstanding, I think,"
said Anne. "I must go now, Ruby. It's getting late -- and you
shouldn't be out in the damp."

"You'll come up soon again."

"Yes, very soon. And if there's anything I can do to help you
I'll be so glad."

"I know. You HAVE helped me already. Nothing seems quite so
dreadful now. Good night, Anne."

"Good night, dear."

Anne walked home very slowly in the moonlight. The evening had
changed something for her. Life held a different meaning, a
deeper purpose. On the surface it would go on just the same; but
the deeps had been stirred. It must not be with her as with poor
butterfly Ruby. When she came to the end of one life it must not
be to face the next with the shrinking terror of something wholly
different -- something for which accustomed thought and ideal and
aspiration had unfitted her. The little things of life, sweet
and excellent in their place, must not be the things lived for;
the highest must be sought and followed; the life of heaven must
be begun here on earth.

That good night in the garden was for all time. Anne never saw
Ruby in life again. The next night the A.V.I.S. gave a farewell
party to Jane Andrews before her departure for the West. And,
while light feet danced and bright eyes laughed and merry tongues
chattered, there came a summons to a soul in Avonlea that might
not be disregarded or evaded. The next morning the word went
from house to house that Ruby Gillis was dead. She had died in
her sleep, painlessly and calmly, and on her face was a smile --
as if, after all, death had come as a kindly friend to lead her
over the threshold, instead of the grisly phantom she had dreaded.

Mrs. Rachel Lynde said emphatically after the funeral that Ruby
Gillis was the handsomest corpse she ever laid eyes on. Her
loveliness, as she lay, white-clad, among the delicate flowers
that Anne had placed about her, was remembered and talked of for
years in Avonlea. Ruby had always been beautiful; but her beauty
had been of the earth, earthy; it had had a certain insolent
quality in it, as if it flaunted itself in the beholder's eye;
spirit had never shone through it, intellect had never refined it.
But death had touched it and consecrated it, bringing out delicate
modelings and purity of outline never seen before -- doing what life
and love and great sorrow and deep womanhood joys might have done
for Ruby. Anne, looking down through a mist of tears, at her old
playfellow, thought she saw the face God had meant Ruby to have,
and remembered it so always.

Mrs. Gillis called Anne aside into a vacant room before the
funeral procession left the house, and gave her a small packet.

"I want you to have this," she sobbed. "Ruby would have liked you
to have it. It's the embroidered centerpiece she was working at.
It isn't quite finished -- the needle is sticking in it just where
her poor little fingers put it the last time she laid it down, the
afternoon before she died."

"There's always a piece of unfinished work left," said Mrs. Lynde,
with tears in her eyes. "But I suppose there's always some one
to finish it."

"How difficult it is to realize that one we have always known
can really be dead," said Anne, as she and Diana walked home.
"Ruby is the first of our schoolmates to go. One by one, sooner
or later, all the rest of us must follow."

"Yes, I suppose so," said Diana uncomfortably. She did not
want to talk of that. She would have preferred to have discussed
the details of the funeral -- the splendid white velvet casket
Mr. Gillis had insisted on having for Ruby -- "the Gillises must
always make a splurge, even at funerals," quoth Mrs. Rachel Lynde
-- Herb Spencer's sad face, the uncontrolled, hysteric grief of
one of Ruby's sisters -- but Anne would not talk of these things.
She seemed wrapped in a reverie in which Diana felt lonesomely
that she had neither lot nor part.

"Ruby Gillis was a great girl to laugh," said Davy suddenly.
"Will she laugh as much in heaven as she did in Avonlea, Anne?
I want to know."

"Yes, I think she will," said Anne.

"Oh, Anne," protested Diana, with a rather shocked smile.

"Well, why not, Diana?" asked Anne seriously. "Do you think
we'll never laugh in heaven?"

"Oh -- I -- I don't know" floundered Diana. "It doesn't seem
just right, somehow. You know it's rather dreadful to laugh in
church."

"But heaven won't be like church -- all the time," said Anne.

"I hope it ain't," said Davy emphatically. "If it is I don't
want to go. Church is awful dull. Anyway, I don't mean to go
for ever so long. I mean to live to be a hundred years old, like
Mr. Thomas Blewett of White Sands. He says he's lived so long
'cause he always smoked tobacco and it killed all the germs.
Can I smoke tobacco pretty soon, Anne?"

"No, Davy, I hope you'll never use tobacco," said Anne absently.

"What'll you feel like if the germs kill me then?" demanded Davy.

Chapter XV

A Dream Turned Upside Down

"Just one more week and we go back to Redmond," said Anne.
She was happy at the thought of returning to work, classes
and Redmond friends. Pleasing visions were also being woven
around Patty's Place. There was a warm pleasant sense of home
in the thought of it, even though she had never lived there.

But the summer had been a very happy one, too -- a time of glad living
with summer suns and skies, a time of keen delight in wholesome things;
a time of renewing and deepening of old friendships; a time in which
she had learned to live more nobly, to work more patiently, to play
more heartily.

"All life lessons are not learned at college," she thought.
"Life teaches them everywhere."

But alas, the final week of that pleasant vacation was spoiled for Anne,
by one of those impish happenings which are like a dream turned upside down.

"Been writing any more stories lately?" inquired Mr. Harrison genially
one evening when Anne was taking tea with him and Mrs. Harrison.

"No," answered Anne, rather crisply.

"Well, no offense meant. Mrs. Hiram Sloane told me the other
day that a big envelope addressed to the Rollings Reliable Baking
Powder Company of Montreal had been dropped into the post office
box a month ago, and she suspicioned that somebody was trying for
the prize they'd offered for the best story that introduced the
name of their baking powder. She said it wasn't addressed in
your writing, but I thought maybe it was you."

"Indeed, no! I saw the prize offer, but I'd never dream of
competing for it. I think it would be perfectly disgraceful to
write a story to advertise a baking powder. It would be almost
as bad as Judson Parker's patent medicine fence."

So spake Anne loftily, little dreaming of the valley of
humiliation awaiting her. That very evening Diana popped into
the porch gable, bright-eyed and rosy cheeked, carrying a letter.

"Oh, Anne, here's a letter for you. I was at the office, so I
thought I'd bring it along. Do open it quick. If it is what I
believe it is I shall just be wild with delight." Anne, puzzled,
opened the letter and glanced over the typewritten contents.

Miss Anne Shirley,
Green Gables,
Avonlea, P.E. Island.

"DEAR MADAM: We have much pleasure in informing you that
your charming story `Averil's Atonement' has won the prize
of twenty-five dollars offered in our recent competition.
We enclose the check herewith. We are arranging for the
publication of the story in several prominent Canadian
newspapers, and we also intend to have it printed in
pamphlet form for distribution among our patrons.
Thanking you for the interest you have shown in
our enterprise, we remain,

Yours very truly,
THE ROLLINGS RELIABLE
BAKING POWDER Co."

"I don't understand," said Anne, blankly.

Diana clapped her hands.

"Oh, I KNEW it would win the prize -- I was sure of it.
_I_ sent your story into the competition, Anne."

"Diana -- Barry!"

"Yes, I did," said Diana gleefully, perching herself on the bed.
"When I saw the offer I thought of your story in a minute, and at
first I thought I'd ask you to send it in. But then I was afraid
you wouldn't -- you had so little faith left in it. So I just
decided I'd send the copy you gave me, and say nothing about it.
Then, if it didn't win the prize, you'd never know and you wouldn't
feel badly over it, because the stories that failed were not to be
returned, and if it did you'd have such a delightful surprise."

Diana was not the most discerning of mortals, but just at this
moment it struck her that Anne was not looking exactly overjoyed.
The surprise was there, beyond doubt -- but where was the delight?

"Why, Anne, you don't seem a bit pleased!" she exclaimed.

Anne instantly manufactured a smile and put it on.

"Of course I couldn't be anything but pleased over your unselfish
wish to give me pleasure," she said slowly. "But you know -- I'm
so amazed -- I can't realize it -- and I don't understand. There
wasn't a word in my story about -- about -- " Anne choked a little
over the word -- "baking powder."

"Oh, _I_ put that in," said Diana, reassured. "It was as easy as
wink -- and of course my experience in our old Story Club helped me.
You know the scene where Averil makes the cake? Well, I just stated
that she used the Rollings Reliable in it, and that was why it turned
out so well; and then, in the last paragraph, where PERCEVAL clasps
AVERIL in his arms and says, `Sweetheart, the beautiful coming years
will bring us the fulfilment of our home of dreams,' I added, `in which
we will never use any baking powder except Rollings Reliable.'"

"Oh," gasped poor Anne, as if some one had dashed cold water on her.

"And you've won the twenty-five dollars," continued Diana jubilantly.
"Why, I heard Priscilla say once that the Canadian Woman only pays
five dollars for a story!"

Anne held out the hateful pink slip in shaking fingers.

"I can't take it -- it's yours by right, Diana. You sent the
story in and made the alterations. I -- I would certainly never
have sent it. So you must take the check."

"I'd like to see myself," said Diana scornfully. "Why, what I
did wasn't any trouble. The honor of being a friend of the
prizewinner is enough for me. Well, I must go. I should have
gone straight home from the post office for we have company.
But I simply had to come and hear the news. I'm so glad for
your sake, Anne."

Anne suddenly bent forward, put her arms about Diana, and kissed
her cheek.

"I think you are the sweetest and truest friend in the world,
Diana," she said, with a little tremble in her voice, "and I
assure you I appreciate the motive of what you've done."

Diana, pleased and embarrassed, got herself away, and poor Anne,
after flinging the innocent check into her bureau drawer as if it
were blood-money, cast herself on her bed and wept tears of shame
and outraged sensibility. Oh, she could never live this down -- never!

Gilbert arrived at dusk, brimming over with congratulations,
for he had called at Orchard Slope and heard the news. But his
congratulations died on his lips at sight of Anne's face.

"Why, Anne, what is the matter? I expected to find you radiant
over winning Rollings Reliable prize. Good for you!"

"Oh, Gilbert, not you," implored Anne, in an ET-TU BRUTE tone.
"I thought YOU would understand. Can't you see how awful it is?"

"I must confess I can't. WHAT is wrong?"

"Everything," moaned Anne. "I feel as if I were disgraced forever.
What do you think a mother would feel like if she found her
child tattooed over with a baking powder advertisement?
I feel just the same. I loved my poor little story, and I
wrote it out of the best that was in me. And it is SACRILEGE to
have it degraded to the level of a baking powder advertisement.
Don't you remember what Professor Hamilton used to tell us in the
literature class at Queen's? He said we were never to write a
word for a low or unworthy motive, but always to cling to the
very highest ideals. What will he think when he hears I've
written a story to advertise Rollings Reliable? And, oh, when it
gets out at Redmond! Think how I'll be teased and laughed at!"

"That you won't," said Gilbert, wondering uneasily if it were
that confounded Junior's opinion in particular over which Anne
was worried. "The Reds will think just as I thought -- that you,
being like nine out of ten of us, not overburdened with worldly
wealth, had taken this way of earning an honest penny to help
yourself through the year. I don't see that there's anything low
or unworthy about that, or anything ridiculous either. One would
rather write masterpieces of literature no doubt -- but meanwhile
board and tuition fees have to be paid."

This commonsense, matter-of-fact view of the case cheered Anne a
little. At least it removed her dread of being laughed at,
though the deeper hurt of an outraged ideal remained.

Chapter XVI

Adjusted Relationships

"It's the homiest spot I ever saw -- it's homier than home,"
avowed Philippa Gordon, looking about her with delighted eyes.
They were all assembled at twilight in the big living-room at
Patty's Place -- Anne and Priscilla, Phil and Stella, Aunt Jamesina,
Rusty, Joseph, the Sarah-Cat, and Gog and Magog. The firelight
shadows were dancing over the walls; the cats were purring;
and a huge bowl of hothouse chrysanthemums, sent to Phil by one
of the victims, shone through the golden gloom like creamy moons.

It was three weeks since they had considered themselves settled,
and already all believed the experiment would be a success. The
first fortnight after their return had been a pleasantly exciting
one; they had been busy setting up their household goods, organizing
their little establishment, and adjusting different opinions.

Anne was not over-sorry to leave Avonlea when the time came to
return to college. The last few days of her vacation had not
been pleasant. Her prize story had been published in the Island
papers; and Mr. William Blair had, upon the counter of his
store, a huge pile of pink, green and yellow pamphlets,
containing it, one of which he gave to every customer. He sent a
complimentary bundle to Anne, who promptly dropped them all in
the kitchen stove. Her humiliation was the consequence of her
own ideals only, for Avonlea folks thought it quite splendid
that she should have won the prize. Her many friends regarded
her with honest admiration; her few foes with scornful envy.
Josie Pye said she believed Anne Shirley had just copied the story;
she was sure she remembered reading it in a paper years before.
The Sloanes, who had found out or guessed that Charlie had been
"turned down," said they didn't think it was much to be proud of;
almost any one could have done it, if she tried. Aunt Atossa
told Anne she was very sorry to hear she had taken to writing
novels; nobody born and bred in Avonlea would do it; that was
what came of adopting orphans from goodness knew where, with
goodness knew what kind of parents. Even Mrs. Rachel Lynde was
darkly dubious about the propriety of writing fiction, though she
was almost reconciled to it by that twenty-five dollar check.

"It is perfectly amazing, the price they pay for such lies,
that's what," she said, half-proudly, half-severely.

All things considered, it was a relief when going-away time came.
And it was very jolly to be back at Redmond, a wise, experienced
Soph with hosts of friends to greet on the merry opening day.
Pris and Stella and Gilbert were there, Charlie Sloane, looking
more important than ever a Sophomore looked before, Phil, with
the Alec-and-Alonzo question still unsettled, and Moody Spurgeon
MacPherson. Moody Spurgeon had been teaching school ever since
leaving Queen's, but his mother had concluded it was high time
he gave it up and turned his attention to learning how to be a
minister. Poor Moody Spurgeon fell on hard luck at the very
beginning of his college career. Half a dozen ruthless Sophs,
who were among his fellow-boarders, swooped down upon him one
night and shaved half of his head. In this guise the luckless
Moody Spurgeon had to go about until his hair grew again. He
told Anne bitterly that there were times when he had his doubts
as to whether he was really called to be a minister.

Aunt Jamesina did not come until the girls had Patty's Place
ready for her. Miss Patty had sent the key to Anne, with a
letter in which she said Gog and Magog were packed in a box under
the spare-room bed, but might be taken out when wanted; in a
postscript she added that she hoped the girls would be careful
about putting up pictures. The living room had been newly
papered five years before and she and Miss Maria did not want any
more holes made in that new paper than was absolutely necessary.
For the rest she trusted everything to Anne.

How those girls enjoyed putting their nest in order! As Phil said,
it was almost as good as getting married. You had the fun of
homemaking without the bother of a husband. All brought something
with them to adorn or make comfortable the little house. Pris and
Phil and Stella had knick-knacks and pictures galore, which latter
they proceeded to hang according to taste, in reckless disregard
of Miss Patty's new paper.

"We'll putty the holes up when we leave, dear -- she'll never know,"
they said to protesting Anne.

Diana had given Anne a pine needle cushion and Miss Ada had given
both her and Priscilla a fearfully and wonderfully embroidered one.
Marilla had sent a big box of preserves, and darkly hinted at a
hamper for Thanksgiving, and Mrs. Lynde gave Anne a patchwork quilt
and loaned her five more.

"You take them," she said authoritatively. "They might as well be
in use as packed away in that trunk in the garret for moths to gnaw."

No moths would ever have ventured near those quilts, for they
reeked of mothballs to such an extent that they had to be hung in
the orchard of Patty's Place a full fortnight before they could
be endured indoors. Verily, aristocratic Spofford Avenue had
rarely beheld such a display. The gruff old millionaire who
lived "next door" came over and wanted to buy the gorgeous red
and yellow "tulip-pattern" one which Mrs. Rachel had given Anne.
He said his mother used to make quilts like that, and by Jove, he
wanted one to remind him of her. Anne would not sell it, much to
his disappointment, but she wrote all about it to Mrs. Lynde.
That highly-gratified lady sent word back that she had one just
like it to spare, so the tobacco king got his quilt after all,
and insisted on having it spread on his bed, to the disgust of
his fashionable wife.

Mrs. Lynde's quilts served a very useful purpose that winter.
Patty's Place for all its many virtues, had its faults also.
It was really a rather cold house; and when the frosty nights
came the girls were very glad to snuggle down under Mrs. Lynde's
quilts, and hoped that the loan of them might be accounted unto
her for righteousness. Anne had the blue room she had coveted
at sight. Priscilla and Stella had the large one. Phil was
blissfully content with the little one over the kitchen; and
Aunt Jamesina was to have the downstairs one off the living-room.
Rusty at first slept on the doorstep.

Anne, walking home from Redmond a few days after her return,
became aware that the people that she met surveyed her with a
covert, indulgent smile. Anne wondered uneasily what was the
matter with her. Was her hat crooked? Was her belt loose?
Craning her head to investigate, Anne, for the first time,
saw Rusty.

Trotting along behind her, close to her heels, was quite the
most forlorn specimen of the cat tribe she had ever beheld.
The animal was well past kitten-hood, lank, thin, disreputable
looking. Pieces of both ears were lacking, one eye was
temporarily out of repair, and one jowl ludicrously swollen.
As for color, if a once black cat had been well and thoroughly
singed the result would have resembled the hue of this waif's
thin, draggled, unsightly fur.

Anne "shooed," but the cat would not "shoo." As long as she
stood he sat back on his haunches and gazed at her reproachfully
out of his one good eye; when she resumed her walk he followed.
Anne resigned herself to his company until she reached the gate
of Patty's Place, which she coldly shut in his face, fondly
supposing she had seen the last of him. But when, fifteen
minutes later, Phil opened the door, there sat the rusty-brown
cat on the step. More, he promptly darted in and sprang upon
Anne's lap with a half-pleading, half-triumphant "miaow."

"Anne," said Stella severely, "do you own that animal?"

"No, I do NOT," protested disgusted Anne. "The creature followed
me home from somewhere. I couldn't get rid of him. Ugh, get down.
I like decent cats reasonably well; but I don't like beasties of
your complexion."

Pussy, however, refused to get down. He coolly curled up in
Anne's lap and began to purr.

"He has evidently adopted you," laughed Priscilla.

"I won't BE adopted," said Anne stubbornly.

"The poor creature is starving," said Phil pityingly. "Why, his
bones are almost coming through his skin."

"Well, I'll give him a square meal and then he must return to
whence he came," said Anne resolutely.

The cat was fed and put out. In the morning he was still
on the doorstep. On the doorstep he continued to sit, bolting
in whenever the door was opened. No coolness of welcome had
the least effect on him; of nobody save Anne did he take the
least notice. Out of compassion the girls fed him; but when
a week had passed they decided that something must be done.
The cat's appearance had improved. His eye and cheek had
resumed their normal appearance; he was not quite so thin;
and he had been seen washing his face.

"But for all that we can't keep him," said Stella. "Aunt Jimsie
is coming next week and she will bring the Sarah-cat with her.

We can't keep two cats; and if we did this Rusty Coat would
fight all the time with the Sarah-cat. He's a fighter by nature.
He had a pitched battle last evening with the tobacco-king's cat
and routed him, horse, foot and artillery."

"We must get rid of him," agreed Anne, looking darkly at the
subject of their discussion, who was purring on the hearth rug
with an air of lamb-like meekness. "But the question is -- how?
How can four unprotected females get rid of a cat who won't be
got rid of?"

We must chloroform him," said Phil briskly. "That is the most
humane way."

"Who of us knows anything about chloroforming a cat?" demanded
Anne gloomily.

"I do, honey. It's one of my few -- sadly few -- useful accomplishments.
I've disposed of several at home. You take the cat in the morning and
give him a good breakfast. Then you take an old burlap bag -- there's
one in the back porch -- put the cat on it and turn over him a wooden box.
Then take a two-ounce bottle of chloroform, uncork it, and slip it under
the edge of the box. Put a heavy weight on top of the box and leave it
till evening. The cat will be dead, curled up peacefully as if he
were asleep. No pain -- no struggle."

"It sounds easy," said Anne dubiously.

"It IS easy. Just leave it to me. I'll see to it," said Phil reassuringly.

Accordingly the chloroform was procured, and the next morning Rusty was
lured to his doom. He ate his breakfast, licked his chops, and climbed
into Anne's lap. Anne's heart misgave her. This poor creature loved her
-- trusted her. How could she be a party to this destruction?

"Here, take him," she said hastily to Phil. "I feel like a murderess."

"He won't suffer, you know," comforted Phil, but Anne had fled.

The fatal deed was done in the back porch. Nobody went near it
that day. But at dusk Phil declared that Rusty must be buried.

"Pris and Stella must dig his grave in the orchard," declared Phil,
"and Anne must come with me to lift the box off. That's the part
I always hate."

The two conspirators tip-toed reluctantly to the back porch.
Phil gingerly lifted the stone she had put on the box. Suddenly,
faint but distinct, sounded an unmistakable mew under the box.

"He -- he isn't dead," gasped Anne, sitting blankly down on the
kitchen doorstep.

"He must be," said Phil incredulously.

Another tiny mew proved that he wasn't. The two girls stared at
each other."

What will we do?" questioned Anne.

"Why in the world don't you come?" demanded Stella, appearing in
the doorway. "We've got the grave ready. `What silent still and
silent all?'" she quoted teasingly.

"`Oh, no, the voices of the dead Sound like the distant torrent's fall,'"
promptly counter-quoted Anne, pointing solemnly to the box.

A burst of laughter broke the tension.

"We must leave him here till morning," said Phil, replacing the stone.
"He hasn't mewed for five minutes. Perhaps the mews we heard were his
dying groan. Or perhaps we merely imagined them, under the strain of
our guilty consciences."

But, when the box was lifted in the morning, Rusty bounded at one gay
leap to Anne's shoulder where he began to lick her face affectionately.
Never was there a cat more decidedly alive.

"Here's a knot hole in the box," groaned Phil. "I never saw it.
That's why he didn't die. Now, we've got to do it all over again."

"No, we haven't," declared Anne suddenly. "Rusty isn't going to be
killed again. He's my cat -- and you've just got to make the best of it."

"Oh, well, if you'll settle with Aunt Jimsie and the Sarah-cat,"
said Stella, with the air of one washing her hands of the whole affair.

From that time Rusty was one of the family. He slept o'nights on the
scrubbing cushion in the back porch and lived on the fat of the land.
By the time Aunt Jamesina came he was plump and glossy and tolerably
respectable. But, like Kipling's cat, he "walked by himself."
His paw was against every cat, and every cat's paw against him.
One by one he vanquished the aristocratic felines of Spofford Avenue.
As for human beings, he loved Anne and Anne alone. Nobody else even
dared stroke him. An angry spit and something that sounded much like
very improper language greeted any one who did.

"The airs that cat puts on are perfectly intolerable," declared Stella.

"Him was a nice old pussens, him was," vowed Anne, cuddling her pet defiantly.

"Well, I don't know how he and the Sarah-cat will ever make out
to live together," said Stella pesimistically. "Cat-fights in
the orchard o'nights are bad enough. But cat-fights here in the
livingroom are unthinkable." In due time Aunt Jamesina arrived.
Anne and Priscilla and Phil had awaited her advent rather dubiously;
but when Aunt Jamesina was enthroned in the rocking chair before the
open fire they figuratively bowed down and worshipped her.

Aunt Jamesina was a tiny old woman with a little, softly-triangular face,
and large, soft blue eyes that were alight with unquenchable youth, and
as full of hopes as a girl's. She had pink cheeks and snow-white hair
which she wore in quaint little puffs over her ears.

"It's a very old-fashioned way," she said, knitting industriously
at something as dainty and pink as a sunset cloud. "But _I_ am old-fashioned.
My clothes are, and it stands to reason my opinions are, too. I don't say
they're any the better of that, mind you. In fact, I daresay they're a good
deal the worse. But they've worn nice and easy. New shoes are smarter than
old ones, but the old ones are more comfortable. I'm old enough to indulge
myself in the matter of shoes and opinions. I mean to take it real easy here.
I know you expect me to look after you and keep you proper, but I'm not going
to do it.

You're old enough to know how to behave if you're ever going to be.
So, as far as I am concerned," concluded Aunt Jamesina, with a twinkle
in her young eyes, "you can all go to destruction in your own way."

"Oh, will somebody separate those cats?" pleaded Stella, shudderingly.

Aunt Jamesina had brought with her not only the Sarah-cat but Joseph.
Joseph, she explained, had belonged to a dear friend of hers who had
gone to live in Vancouver.

"She couldn't take Joseph with her so she begged me to take him.
I really couldn't refuse. He's a beautiful cat -- that is, his
disposition is beautiful. She called him Joseph because his coat
is of many colors."

It certainly was. Joseph, as the disgusted Stella said, looked
like a walking rag-bag. It was impossible to say what his ground
color was. His legs were white with black spots on them.
His back was gray with a huge patch of yellow on one side and a
black patch on the other. His tail was yellow with a gray tip.
One ear was black and one yellow. A black patch over one eye gave
him a fearfully rakish look. In reality he was meek and inoffensive,
of a sociable disposition. In one respect, if in no other, Joseph
was like a lily of the field. He toiled not neither did he spin
or catch mice. Yet Solomon in all his glory slept not on softer
cushions, or feasted more fully on fat things.

Joseph and the Sarah-cat arrived by express in separate boxes.
After they had been released and fed, Joseph selected the cushion
and corner which appealed to him, and the Sarah-cat gravely sat
herself down before the fire and proceeded to wash her face. She
was a large, sleek, gray-and-white cat, with an enormous dignity
which was not at all impaired by any consciousness of her plebian
origin. She had been given to Aunt Jamesina by her washerwoman.

"Her name was Sarah, so my husband always called puss the
Sarah-cat," explained Aunt Jamesina. "She is eight years old,
and a remarkable mouser. Don't worry, Stella. The Sarah-cat
NEVER fights and Joseph rarely."

"They'll have to fight here in self-defense," said Stella.

At this juncture Rusty arrived on the scene. He bounded
joyously half way across the room before he saw the intruders.
Then he stopped short; his tail expanded until it was as big as
three tails. The fur on his back rose up in a defiant arch;
Rusty lowered his head, uttered a fearful shriek of hatred and
defiance, and launched himself at the Sarah-cat.

The stately animal had stopped washing her face and was looking
at him curiously. She met his onslaught with one contemptuous
sweep of her capable paw. Rusty went rolling helplessly over on
the rug; he picked himself up dazedly. What sort of a cat was
this who had boxed his ears? He looked dubiously at the Sarah-cat.
Would he or would he not? The Sarah-cat deliberately turned her
back on him and resumed her toilet operations. Rusty decided that
he would not. He never did. From that time on the Sarah-cat ruled
the roost. Rusty never again interfered with her.

But Joseph rashly sat up and yawned. Rusty, burning to avenge
his disgrace, swooped down upon him. Joseph, pacific by nature,
could fight upon occasion and fight well. The result was a
series of drawn battles. Every day Rusty and Joseph fought at
sight. Anne took Rusty's part and detested Joseph. Stella was
in despair. But Aunt Jamesina only laughed.

Let them fight it out," she said tolerantly. "They'll make friends
after a bit. Joseph needs some exercise -- he was getting too fat.
And Rusty has to learn he isn't the only cat in the world."

Eventually Joseph and Rusty accepted the situation and from sworn
enemies became sworn friends. They slept on the same cushion with
their paws about each other, and gravely washed each other's faces.

"We've all got used to each other," said Phil. "And I've learned
how to wash dishes and sweep a floor."

"But you needn't try to make us believe you can chloroform a cat,"
laughed Anne.

"It was all the fault of the knothole," protested Phil.

"It was a good thing the knothole was there," said Aunt Jamesina
rather severely. "Kittens HAVE to be drowned, I admit, or the
world would be overrun. But no decent, grown-up cat should be
done to death -- unless he sucks eggs."

"You wouldn't have thought Rusty very decent if you'd seen him when
he came here," said Stella. "He positively looked like the Old Nick."

"I don't believe Old Nick can be so very, ugly" said Aunt Jamesina
reflectively. "He wouldn't do so much harm if he was. _I_ always
think of him as a rather handsome gentleman."

Chapter XVII

A Letter from Davy

"It's beginning to snow, girls," said Phil, coming in one
November evening, "and there are the loveliest little stars and
crosses all over the garden walk. I never noticed before what
exquisite things snowflakes really are. One has time to notice
things like that in the simple life. Bless you all for permitting
me to live it. It's really delightful to feel worried because
butter has gone up five cents a pound."

"Has it?" demanded Stella, who kept the household accounts.

"It has -- and here's your butter. I'm getting quite expert at marketing.
It's better fun than flirting," concluded Phil gravely.

"Everything is going up scandalously," sighed Stella.

"Never mind. Thank goodness air and salvation are still free,"
said Aunt Jamesina.

"And so is laughter," added Anne. "There's no tax on it yet
and that is well, because you're all going to laugh presently.
I'm going to read you Davy's letter. His spelling has improved
immensely this past year, though he is not strong on apostrophes,
and he certainly possesses the gift of writing an interesting letter.
Listen and laugh, before we settle down to the evening's study-grind."

"Dear Anne," ran Davy's letter, "I take my pen to tell you that
we are all pretty well and hope this will find you the same.
It's snowing some today and Marilla says the old woman in the sky
is shaking her feather beds. Is the old woman in the sky God's
wife, Anne? I want to know.

"Mrs. Lynde has been real sick but she is better now. She fell
down the cellar stairs last week. When she fell she grabbed hold
of the shelf with all the milk pails and stewpans on it, and it
gave way and went down with her and made a splendid crash.
Marilla thought it was an earthquake at first.

One of the stewpans was all dinged up and Mrs. Lynde straned her ribs.
The doctor came and gave her medicine to rub on her ribs but
she didn't under stand him and took it all inside instead.
The doctor said it was a wonder it dident kill her but it dident
and it cured her ribs and Mrs. Lynde says doctors dont know much
anyhow. But we couldent fix up the stewpan. Marilla had to
throw it out. Thanksgiving was last week. There was no school
and we had a great dinner. I et mince pie and rost turkey and
frut cake and donuts and cheese and jam and choklut cake.
Marilla said I'd die but I dident. Dora had earake after it,
only it wasent in her ears it was in her stummick. I dident
have earake anywhere.

"Our new teacher is a man. He does things for jokes. Last week
he made all us third-class boys write a composishun on what kind
of a wife we'd like to have and the girls on what kind of a
husband. He laughed fit to kill when he read them. This was
mine. I thought youd like to see it.

"`The kind of a wife I'd like to Have.

"`She must have good manners and get my meals on time and do
what I tell her and always be very polite to me. She must be
fifteen yers old. She must be good to the poor and keep her
house tidy and be good tempered and go to church regularly.
She must be very handsome and have curly hair. If I get a wife
that is just what I like Ill be an awful good husband to her.
I think a woman ought to be awful good to her husband. Some poor
women havent any husbands.

`THE END.'"

"I was at Mrs. Isaac Wrights funeral at White Sands last week.
The husband of the corpse felt real sorry. Mrs. Lynde says
Mrs. Wrights grandfather stole a sheep but Marilla says we mustent
speak ill of the dead. Why mustent we, Anne? I want to know.
It's pretty safe, ain't it?

"Mrs. Lynde was awful mad the other day because I asked her if
she was alive in Noah's time. I dident mean to hurt her feelings.
I just wanted to know. Was she, Anne?

"Mr. Harrison wanted to get rid of his dog. So he hunged him
once but he come to life and scooted for the barn while Mr.
Harrison was digging the grave, so he hunged him again and he
stayed dead that time. Mr. Harrison has a new man working for him.
He's awful okward. Mr. Harrison says he is left handed in both
his feet. Mr. Barry's hired man is lazy. Mrs. Barry says that
but Mr. Barry says he aint lazy exactly only he thinks it easier
to pray for things than to work for them.

"Mrs. Harmon Andrews prize pig that she talked so much of died
in a fit. Mrs. Lynde says it was a judgment on her for pride.
But I think it was hard on the pig. Milty Boulter has been sick.
The doctor gave him medicine and it tasted horrid. I offered to
take it for him for a quarter but the Boulters are so mean.
Milty says he'd rather take it himself and save his money.
I asked Mrs. Boulter how a person would go about catching a man and
she got awful mad and said she dident know, shed never chased men.

"The A.V.I.S. is going to paint the hall again. They're tired
of having it blue.

"The new minister was here to tea last night. He took three
pieces of pie.

If I did that Mrs. Lynde would call me piggy. And he et fast and
took big bites and Marilla is always telling me not to do that.
Why can ministers do what boys can't? I want to know.

"I haven't any more news. Here are six kisses. xxxxxx. Dora
sends one. Heres hers. x.

"Your loving friend
DAVID KEITH"

"P.S. Anne, who was the devils father? I want to know."

Chapter XVIII

Miss Josepine Remembers the Anne-girl

When Christmas holidays came the girls of Patty's Place scattered to
their respective homes, but Aunt Jamesina elected to stay where she was.

"I couldn't go to any of the places I've been invited and take
those three cats," she said. "And I'm not going to leave the
poor creatures here alone for nearly three weeks. If we had any
decent neighbors who would feed them I might, but there's nothing
except millionaires on this street. So I'll stay here and keep
Patty's Place warm for you."

Anne went home with the usual joyous anticipations -- which were
not wholly fulfilled. She found Avonlea in the grip of such an
early, cold, and stormy winter as even the "oldest inhabitant"
could not recall. Green Gables was literally hemmed in by huge
drifts. Almost every day of that ill-starred vacation it stormed
fiercely; and even on fine days it drifted unceasingly. No
sooner were the roads broken than they filled in again. It was
almost impossible to stir out. The A.V.I.S. tried, on three
evenings, to have a party in honor of the college students, and
on each evening the storm was so wild that nobody could go, so
they gave up the attempt in despair. Anne, despite her love of
and loyalty to Green Gables, could not help thinking longingly of
Patty's Place, its cosy open fire, Aunt Jamesina's mirthful eyes,
the three cats, the merry chatter of the girls, the pleasantness
of Friday evenings when college friends dropped in to talk of
grave and gay.

Anne was lonely; Diana, during the whole of the holidays, was
imprisoned at home with a bad attack of bronchitis. She could
not come to Green Gables and it was rarely Anne could get to
Orchard Slope, for the old way through the Haunted Wood was
impassable with drifts, and the long way over the frozen Lake of
Shining Waters was almost as bad. Ruby Gillis was sleeping in
the white-heaped graveyard; Jane Andrews was teaching a school on
western prairies. Gilbert, to be sure, was still faithful, and
waded up to Green Gables every possible evening. But Gilbert's
visits were not what they once were. Anne almost dreaded them.
It was very disconcerting to look up in the midst of a sudden
silence and find Gilbert's hazel eyes fixed upon her with a quite
unmistakable expression in their grave depths; and it was still
more disconcerting to find herself blushing hotly and
uncomfortably under his gaze, just as if -- just as if -- well,
it was very embarrassing. Anne wished herself back at Patty's
Place, where there was always somebody else about to take the
edge off a delicate situation. At Green Gables Marilla went
promptly to Mrs. Lynde's domain when Gilbert came and insisted
on taking the twins with her. The significance of this was
unmistakable and Anne was in a helpless fury over it.

Davy, however, was perfectly happy. He reveled in getting out in
the morning and shoveling out the paths to the well and henhouse.
He gloried in the Christmas-tide delicacies which Marilla and
Mrs. Lynde vied with each other in preparing for Anne, and he
was reading an enthralling tale, in a school library book, of a
wonderful hero who seemed blessed with a miraculous faculty for
getting into scrapes from which he was usually delivered by an
earthquake or a volcanic explosion, which blew him high and dry
out of his troubles, landed him in a fortune, and closed the
story with proper ECLAT.

"I tell you it's a bully story, Anne," he said ecstatically.
"I'd ever so much rather read it than the Bible."

"Would you?" smiled Anne.

Davy peered curiously at her.

"You don't seem a bit shocked, Anne. Mrs. Lynde was awful
shocked when I said it to her."

"No, I'm not shocked, Davy. I think it's quite natural that a
nine-year-old boy would sooner read an adventure story than the
Bible. But when you are older I hope and think that you will
realize what a wonderful book the Bible is."

"Oh, I think some parts of it are fine," conceded Davy. "That
story about Joseph now -- it's bully. But if I'd been Joseph _I_
wouldn't have forgive the brothers. No, siree, Anne. I'd have
cut all their heads off. Mrs. Lynde was awful mad when I said that
and shut the Bible up and said she'd never read me any more of it if
I talked like that. So I don't talk now when she reads it Sunday
afternoons; I just think things and say them to Milty Boulter next
day in school. I told Milty the story about Elisha and the bears
and it scared him so he's never made fun of Mr. Harrison's bald
head once. Are there any bears on P.E. Island, Anne? I want to know."

"Not nowadays," said Anne, absently, as the wind blew a scud of
snow against the window. "Oh, dear, will it ever stop storming."

"God knows," said Davy airily, preparing to resume his reading.

Anne WAS shocked this time.

"Davy!" she exclaimed reproachfully.

"Mrs. Lynde says that," protested Davy. "One night last week
Marilla said `Will Ludovic Speed and Theodora Dix EVER get
married" and Mrs. Lynde said, `God knows' -- just like that."

"Well, it wasn't right for her to say it," said Anne, promptly
deciding upon which horn of this dilemma to empale herself.
"It isn't right for anybody to take that name in vain or
speak it lightly, Davy. Don't ever do it again."

"Not if I say it slow and solemn, like the minister?" queried
Davy gravely.

"No, not even then."

"Well, I won't. Ludovic Speed and Theodora Dix live in Middle
Grafton and Mrs. Rachel says he has been courting her for a
hundred years. Won't they soon be too old to get married, Anne?
I hope Gilbert won't court YOU that long. When are you going to
be married, Anne? Mrs. Lynde says it's a sure thing."

"Mrs. Lynde is a --" began Anne hotly; then stopped. "Awful old
gossip," completed Davy calmly. "That's what every one calls her.
But is it a sure thing, Anne? I want to know."

"You're a very silly little boy, Davy," said Anne, stalking
haughtily out of the room. The kitchen was deserted and she sat
down by the window in the fast falling wintry twilight. The sun
had set and the wind had died down. A pale chilly moon looked
out behind a bank of purple clouds in the west. The sky faded
out, but the strip of yellow along the western horizon grew
brighter and fiercer, as if all the stray gleams of light were
concentrating in one spot; the distant hills, rimmed with
priest-like firs, stood out in dark distinctness against it.
Anne looked across the still, white fields, cold and lifeless
in the harsh light of that grim sunset, and sighed. She was
very lonely; and she was sad at heart; for she was wondering
if she would be able to return to Redmond next year. It did not
seem likely. The only scholarship possible in the Sophomore year
was a very small affair. She would not take Marilla's money;
and there seemed little prospect of being able to earn enough
in the summer vacation.

"I suppose I'll just have to drop out next year," she thought
drearily, "and teach a district school again until I earn enough
to finish my course. And by that time all my old class will have
graduated and Patty's Place will be out of the question. But there!
I'm not going to be a coward. I'm thankful I can earn my way through
if necessary."

"Here's Mr. Harrison wading up the lane," announced Davy, running out.
"I hope he's brought the mail. It's three days since we got it.
I want to see what them pesky Grits are doing. I'm a Conservative, Anne.
And I tell you, you have to keep your eye on them Grits."

Mr. Harrison had brought the mail, and merry letters from Stella
and Priscilla and Phil soon dissipated Anne's blues. Aunt Jamesina,
too, had written, saying that she was keeping the hearth-fire alight,
and that the cats were all well, and the house plants doing fine.

"The weather has been real cold," she wrote, "so I let the cats sleep
in the house -- Rusty and Joseph on the sofa in the living-room, and
the Sarah-cat on the foot of my bed. It's real company to hear her
purring when I wake up in the night and think of my poor daughter in
the foreign field. If it was anywhere but in India I wouldn't worry,
but they say the snakes out there are terrible. It takes all the
Sarah-cats's purring to drive away the thought of those snakes.
I have enough faith for everything but the snakes. I can't think
why Providence ever made them. Sometimes I don't think He did.
I'm inclined to believe the Old Harry had a hand in making THEM."

Anne had left a thin, typewritten communication till the last,
thinking it unimportant. When she had read it she sat very
still, with tears in her eyes.

"What is the matter, Anne?" asked Marilla.

"Miss Josephine Barry is dead," said Anne, in a low tone.

"So she has gone at last," said Marilla. "Well, she has been
sick for over a year, and the Barrys have been expecting to hear
of her death any time. It is well she is at rest for she has
suffered dreadfully, Anne. She was always kind to you."

"She has been kind to the last, Marilla. This letter is from her lawyer.
She has left me a thousand dollars in her will."

"Gracious, ain't that an awful lot of money," exclaimed Davy.
"She's the woman you and Diana lit on when you jumped into
the spare room bed, ain't she? Diana told me that story.
Is that why she left you so much?"

"Hush, Davy," said Anne gently. She slipped away to the porch
gable with a full heart, leaving Marilla and Mrs. Lynde to talk
over the news to their hearts' content.

"Do you s'pose Anne will ever get married now?" speculated Davy
anxiously. "When Dorcas Sloane got married last summer she said
if she'd had enough money to live on she'd never have been
bothered with a man, but even a widower with eight children was
better'n living with a sister-in-law."

"Davy Keith, do hold your tongue," said Mrs. Rachel severely.
"The way you talk is scandalous for a small boy, that's what."

Chapter XIX

An Interlude

"To think that this is my twentieth birthday, and that I've left
my teens behind me forever," said Anne, who was curled up on the
hearth-rug with Rusty in her lap, to Aunt Jamesina who was reading
in her pet chair. They were alone in the living room. Stella and
Priscilla had gone to a committee meeting and Phil was upstairs
adorning herself for a party.

"I suppose you feel kind of, sorry" said Aunt Jamesina. "The teens are
such a nice part of life. I'm glad I've never gone out of them myself."

Anne laughed.

"You never will, Aunty. You'll be eighteen when you should be a
hundred. Yes, I'm sorry, and a little dissatisfied as well.
Miss Stacy told me long ago that by the time I was twenty my
character would be formed, for good or evil. I don't feel that
it's what it should be. It's full of flaws."

"So's everybody's," said Aunt Jamesina cheerfully. "Mine's cracked
in a hundred places. Your Miss Stacy likely meant that when you are
twenty your character would have got its permanent bent in one direction
or 'tother, and would go on developing in that line. Don't worry over it,
Anne. Do your duty by God and your neighbor and yourself, and have a good
time. That's my philosophy and it's always worked pretty well. Where's
Phil off to tonight?"

"She's going to a dance, and she's got the sweetest dress for it
-- creamy yellow silk and cobwebby lace. It just suits those
brown tints of hers."

"There's magic in the words `silk' and `lace,' isn't there?" said
Aunt Jamesina. "The very sound of them makes me feel like
skipping off to a dance. And YELLOW silk. It makes one think of
a dress of sunshine. I always wanted a yellow silk dress, but
first my mother and then my husband wouldn't hear of it. The
very first thing I'm going to do when I get to heaven is to get a
yellow silk dress."

Amid Anne's peal of laughter Phil came downstairs, trailing clouds
of glory, and surveyed herself in the long oval mirror on the wall.

"A flattering looking glass is a promoter of amiability," she
said. "The one in my room does certainly make me green. Do I
look pretty nice, Anne?"

"Do you really know how pretty you are, Phil?" asked Anne,
in honest admiration.

"Of course I do. What are looking glasses and men for? That wasn't
what I meant. Are all my ends tucked in? Is my skirt straight?
And would this rose look better lower down? I'm afraid it's too high
-- it will make me look lop-sided. But I hate things tickling my ears."

"Everything is just right, and that southwest dimple of yours is lovely."

"Anne, there's one thing in particular I like about you -- you're
so ungrudging. There isn't a particle of envy in you."

"Why should she be envious?" demanded Aunt Jamesina. "She's not quite
as goodlooking as you, maybe, but she's got a far handsomer nose."

"I know it," conceded Phil.

"My nose always has been a great comfort to me," confessed Anne.

"And I love the way your hair grows on your forehead, Anne. And
that one wee curl, always looking as if it were going to drop,
but never dropping, is delicious. But as for noses, mine is a
dreadful worry to me. I know by the time I'm forty it will be
Byrney. What do you think I'll look like when I'm forty, Anne?"

"Like an old, matronly, married woman," teased Anne.

"I won't," said Phil, sitting down comfortably to wait for her escort.
"Joseph, you calico beastie, don't you dare jump on my lap. I won't go
to a dance all over cat hairs. No, Anne, I WON'T look matronly. But no
doubt I'll be married."

"To Alec or Alonzo?" asked Anne.

"To one of them, I suppose," sighed Phil, "if I can ever decide which."

"It shouldn't be hard to decide," scolded Aunt Jamesina.

"I was born a see-saw Aunty, and nothing can ever prevent me from teetering."

"You ought to be more levelheaded, Philippa."

"It's best to be levelheaded, of course," agreed Philippa, "but you miss
lots of fun. As for Alec and Alonzo, if you knew them you'd understand
why it's difficult to choose between them. They're equally nice."

"Then take somebody who is nicer" suggested Aunt Jamesina.
"There's that Senior who is so devoted to you -- Will Leslie.
He has such nice, large, mild eyes."

"They're a little bit too large and too mild -- like a cow's,"
said Phil cruelly.

"What do you say about George Parker?"

"There's nothing to say about him except that he always looks as
if he had just been starched and ironed."

"Marr Holworthy then. You can't find a fault with him."

"No, he would do if he wasn't poor. I must marry a rich man,
Aunt Jamesina. That -- and good looks -- is an indispensable
qualification. I'd marry Gilbert Blythe if he were rich."

"Oh, would you?" said Anne, rather viciously.

"We don't like that idea a little bit, although we don't want
Gilbert ourselves, oh, no," mocked Phil. "But don't let's talk
of disagreeable subjects. I'll have to marry sometime, I suppose,
but I shall put off the evil day as long as I can."

"You mustn't marry anybody you don't love, Phil, when all's said
and done," said Aunt Jamesina.

"`Oh, hearts that loved in the good old way
Have been out o' the fashion this many a day.'"

trilled Phil mockingly. "There's the carriage. I fly -- Bi-bi,
you two old-fashioned darlings."

When Phil had gone Aunt Jamesina looked solemnly at Anne.

"That girl is pretty and sweet and goodhearted, but do you think
she is quite right in her mind, by spells, Anne?"

"Oh, I don't think there's anything the matter with Phil's mind,"
said Anne, hiding a smile. "It's just her way of talking."

Aunt Jamesina shook her head.

"Well, I hope so, Anne. I do hope so, because I love her. But _I_
can't understand her -- she beats me. She isn't like any of the
girls I ever knew, or any of the girls I was myself."

"How many girls were you, Aunt Jimsie?"

"About half a dozen, my dear."

Chapter XX

Gilbert Speaks

"This has been a dull, prosy day," yawned Phil, stretching
herself idly on the sofa, having previously dispossessed two
exceedingly indignant cats.

Anne looked up from Pickwick Papers. Now that spring
examinations were over she was treating herself to Dickens.

"It has been a prosy day for us," she said thoughtfully, "but to
some people it has been a wonderful day. Some one has been
rapturously happy in it. Perhaps a great deed has been done
somewhere today -- or a great poem written -- or a great man born.
And some heart has been broken, Phil."

"Why did you spoil your pretty thought by tagging that last
sentence on, honey?" grumbled Phil. "I don't like to think of
broken hearts -- or anything unpleasant."

"Do you think you'll be able to shirk unpleasant things all your
life, Phil?"

"Dear me, no. Am I not up against them now? You don't call Alec and
Alonzo pleasant things, do you, when they simply plague my life out?"

"You never take anything seriously, Phil."

"Why should I? There are enough folks who do. The world needs
people like me, Anne, just to amuse it. It would be a terrible
place if EVERYBODY were intellectual and serious and in deep,
deadly earnest. MY mission is, as Josiah Allen says, `to charm
and allure.' Confess now. Hasn't life at Patty's Place been
really much brighter and pleasanter this past winter because
I've been here to leaven you?"

"Yes, it has," owned Anne.

"And you all love me -- even Aunt Jamesina, who thinks I'm stark mad.
So why should I try to be different? Oh, dear, I'm so sleepy. I was
awake until one last night, reading a harrowing ghost story. I read
it in bed, and after I had finished it do you suppose I could get out
of bed to put the light out? No! And if Stella had not fortunately
come in late that lamp would have burned good and bright till morning.
When I heard Stella I called her in, explained my predicament, and got
her to put out the light. If I had got out myself to do it I knew
something would grab me by the feet when I was getting in again.
By the way, Anne, has Aunt Jamesina decided what to do this summer?"

"Yes, she's going to stay here. I know she's doing it for the
sake of those blessed cats, although she says it's too much
trouble to open her own house, and she hates visiting."

"What are you reading?"

"Pickwick."

"That's a book that always makes me hungry," said Phil. "There's so
much good eating in it. The characters seem always to be reveling
on ham and eggs and milk punch. I generally go on a cupboard rummage
after reading Pickwick. The mere thought reminds me that I'm starving.
Is there any tidbit in the pantry, Queen Anne?"

"I made a lemon pie this morning. You may have a piece of it."

Phil dashed out to the pantry and Anne betook herself to the
orchard in company with Rusty. It was a moist, pleasantly-
odorous night in early spring. The snow was not quite all gone
from the park; a little dingy bank of it yet lay under the pines
of the harbor road, screened from the influence of April suns.
It kept the harbor road muddy, and chilled the evening air.
But grass was growing green in sheltered spots and Gilbert
had found some pale, sweet arbutus in a hidden corner.
He came up from the park, his hands full of it.

Anne was sitting on the big gray boulder in the orchard looking
at the poem of a bare, birchen bough hanging against the pale red
sunset with the very perfection of grace. She was building a
castle in air -- a wondrous mansion whose sunlit courts and
stately halls were steeped in Araby's perfume, and where she
reigned queen and chatelaine. She frowned as she saw Gilbert
coming through the orchard. Of late she had managed not to be
left alone with Gilbert. But he had caught her fairly now; and
even Rusty had deserted her.

Gilbert sat down beside her on the boulder and held out his Mayflowers.

"Don't these remind you of home and our old schoolday picnics, Anne?"

Anne took them and buried her face in them.

"I'm in Mr. Silas Sloane's barrens this very minute," she said rapturously.

"I suppose you will be there in reality in a few days?"

"No, not for a fortnight. I'm going to visit with Phil in Bolingbroke
before I go home. You'll be in Avonlea before I will."

"No, I shall not be in Avonlea at all this summer, Anne. I've been
offered a job in the Daily News office and I'm going to take it."

"Oh," said Anne vaguely. She wondered what a whole Avonlea summer
would be like without Gilbert. Somehow she did not like the prospect.
"Well," she concluded flatly, "it is a good thing for you, of course."

"Yes, I've been hoping I would get it. It will help me out next year."

"You mustn't work too HARD," said Anne, without any very clear
idea of what she was saying. She wished desperately that Phil
would come out. "You've studied very constantly this winter.
Isn't this a delightful evening? Do you know, I found a cluster
of white violets under that old twisted tree over there today?
I felt as if I had discovered a gold mine."

"You are always discovering gold mines," said Gilbert -- also absently.

"Let us go and see if we can find some more," suggested Anne eagerly.
"I'll call Phil and -- "

"Never mind Phil and the violets just now, Anne," said Gilbert quietly,
taking her hand in a clasp from which she could not free it. "There is
something I want to say to you."

"Oh, don't say it," cried Anne, pleadingly. "Don't -- PLEASE, Gilbert."

"I must. Things can't go on like this any longer. Anne, I love you.
You know I do. I -- I can't tell you how much. Will you promise me
that some day you'll be my wife?"

"I -- I can't," said Anne miserably. "Oh, Gilbert -- you --
you've spoiled everything."

"Don't you care for me at all?" Gilbert asked after a very
dreadful pause, during which Anne had not dared to look up.

"Not -- not in that way. I do care a great deal for you as a friend.
But I don't love you, Gilbert."

"But can't you give me some hope that you will -- yet?"

"No, I can't," exclaimed Anne desperately. "I never, never can
love you -- in that way -- Gilbert. You must never speak of this
to me again."

There was another pause -- so long and so dreadful that Anne was
driven at last to look up. Gilbert's face was white to the lips.
And his eyes -- but Anne shuddered and looked away. There was
nothing romantic about this. Must proposals be either grotesque
or -- horrible? Could she ever forget Gilbert's face?

"Is there anybody else?" he asked at last in a low voice.

"No -- no," said Anne eagerly. "I don't care for any one like
THAT -- and I LIKE you better than anybody else in the world,
Gilbert. And we must -- we must go on being friends, Gilbert."

Gilbert gave a bitter little laugh.

"Friends! Your friendship can't satisfy me, Anne. I want your love
-- and you tell me I can never have that."

"I'm sorry. Forgive me, Gilbert," was all Anne could say.
Where, oh, where were all the gracious and graceful speeches
wherewith, in imagination, she had been wont to dismiss
rejected suitors?

Gilbert released her hand gently.

"There isn't anything to forgive. There have been times when I thought
you did care. I've deceived myself, that's all. Goodbye, Anne."

Anne got herself to her room, sat down on her window seat behind
the pines, and cried bitterly. She felt as if something incalculably
precious had gone out of her life. It was Gilbert's friendship,
of course. Oh, why must she lose it after this fashion?

"What is the matter, honey?" asked Phil, coming in through
the moonlit gloom.

Anne did not answer. At that moment she wished Phil were a
thousand miles away.

"I suppose you've gone and refused Gilbert Blythe. You are an idiot,
Anne Shirley!"

"Do you call it idiotic to refuse to marry a man I don't love?"
said Anne coldly, goaded to reply.

"You don't know love when you see it. You've tricked something
out with your imagination that you think love, and you expect the
real thing to look like that. There, that's the first sensible
thing I've ever said in my life. I wonder how I managed it?"

"Phil," pleaded Anne, "please go away and leave me alone for
a little while. My world has tumbled into pieces. I want to
reconstruct it."

"Without any Gilbert in it?" said Phil, going.

A world without any Gilbert in it! Anne repeated the words drearily.
Would it not be a very lonely, forlorn place? Well, it was all
Gilbert's fault. He had spoiled their beautiful comradeship.
She must just learn to live without it.

Chapter XXI

Roses of Yesterday

The fortnight Anne spent in Bolingbroke was a very pleasant one,
with a little under current of vague pain and dissatisfaction
running through it whenever she thought about Gilbert. There was
not, however, much time to think about him. "Mount Holly," the
beautiful old Gordon homestead, was a very gay place, overrun by
Phil's friends of both sexes. There was quite a bewildering
succession of drives, dances, picnics and boating parties, all
expressively lumped together by Phil under the head of "jamborees";
Alec and Alonzo were so constantly on hand that Anne wondered if
they ever did anything but dance attendance on that will-o'-the-wisp
of a Phil. They were both nice, manly fellows, but Anne would not
be drawn into any opinion as to which was the nicer.

"And I depended so on you to help me make up my mind which of them I
should promise to marry," mourned Phil.

"You must do that for yourself. You are quite expert at making
up your mind as to whom other people should marry," retorted Anne,
rather caustically.

"Oh, that's a very different thing," said Phil, truly.

But the sweetest incident of Anne's sojourn in Bolingbroke was the
visit to her birthplace -- the little shabby yellow house in an
out-of-the-way street she had so often dreamed about. She looked
at it with delighted eyes, as she and Phil turned in at the gate.

"It's almost exactly as I've pictured it," she said. "There is
no honeysuckle over the windows, but there is a lilac tree by the
gate, and -- yes, there are the muslin curtains in the windows.
How glad I am it is still painted yellow."

A very tall, very thin woman opened the door.

"Yes, the Shirleys lived here twenty years ago," she said, in
answer to Anne's question. "They had it rented. I remember 'em.
They both died of fever at onct. It was turrible sad. They left
a baby. I guess it's dead long ago. It was a sickly thing. Old
Thomas and his wife took it -- as if they hadn't enough of their own."

"It didn't die," said Anne, smiling. "I was that baby."

"You don't say so! Why, you have grown," exclaimed the woman,
as if she were much surprised that Anne was not still a baby.
"Come to look at you, I see the resemblance. You're complected
like your pa. He had red hair. But you favor your ma in your
eyes and mouth. She was a nice little thing. My darter went to
school to her and was nigh crazy about her. They was buried in
the one grave and the School Board put up a tombstone to them as
a reward for faithful service. Will you come in?"

"Will you let me go all over the house?" asked Anne eagerly.

"Laws, yes, you can if you like. 'Twon't take you long -- there
ain't much of it. I keep at my man to build a new kitchen, but
he ain't one of your hustlers. The parlor's in there and there's
two rooms upstairs. Just prowl about yourselves. I've got to
see to the baby. The east room was the one you were born in.
I remember your ma saying she loved to see the sunrise; and I
mind hearing that you was born just as the sun was rising and
its light on your face was the first thing your ma saw."

Anne went up the narrow stairs and into that little east room
with a full heart. It was as a shrine to her. Here her mother
had dreamed the exquisite, happy dreams of anticipated motherhood;
here that red sunrise light had fallen over them both in the sacred
hour of birth; here her mother had died. Anne looked about her
reverently, her eyes with tears. It was for her one of the jeweled
hours of life that gleam out radiantly forever in memory.

"Just to think of it -- mother was younger than I am now when I was born,"
she whispered.

When Anne went downstairs the lady of the house met her in the hall.
She held out a dusty little packet tied with faded blue ribbon.

"Here's a bundle of old letters I found in that closet upstairs
when I came here," she said. "I dunno what they are -- I never
bothered to look in 'em, but the address on the top one is
`Miss Bertha Willis,' and that was your ma's maiden name.
You can take 'em if you'd keer to have 'em."

"Oh, thank you -- thank you," cried Anne, clasping the packet rapturously.

"That was all that was in the house," said her hostess. "The furniture
was all sold to pay the doctor bills, and Mrs. Thomas got your ma's
clothes and little things. I reckon they didn't last long among that
drove of Thomas youngsters. They was destructive young animals,
as I mind 'em."

"I haven't one thing that belonged to my mother," said Anne,
chokily. "I -- I can never thank you enough for these letters."

"You're quite welcome. Laws, but your eyes is like your ma's.
She could just about talk with hers. Your father was sorter
homely but awful nice. I mind hearing folks say when they was
married that there never was two people more in love with each
other -- Pore creatures, they didn't live much longer; but they
was awful happy while they was alive, and I s'pose that counts
for a good deal."

Anne longed to get home to read her precious letters; but she
made one little pilgrimage first. She went alone to the green
corner of the "old" Bolingbroke cemetery where her father and
mother were buried, and left on their grave the white flowers
she carried. Then she hastened back to Mount Holly, shut herself
up in her room, and read the letters. Some were written by her
father, some by her mother. There were not many -- only a dozen
in all -- for Walter and Bertha Shirley had not been often
separated during their courtship. The letters were yellow
and faded and dim, blurred with the touch of passing years.
No profound words of wisdom were traced on the stained and
wrinkled pages, but only lines of love and trust. The sweetness
of forgotten things clung to them -- the far-off, fond imaginings
of those long-dead lovers. Bertha Shirley had possessed the gift
of writing letters which embodied the charming personality of
the writer in words and thoughts that retained their beauty and
fragrance after the lapse of time. The letters were tender,
intimate, sacred. To Anne, the sweetest of all was the one
written after her birth to the father on a brief absence.
It was full of a proud young mother's accounts of "baby" --
her cleverness, her brightness, her thousand sweetnesses.

"I love her best when she is asleep and better still when she is awake,"
Bertha Shirley had written in the postscript. Probably it was the last
sentence she had ever penned. The end was very near for her.

"This has been the most beautiful day of my life," Anne said to Phil
that night. "I've FOUND my father and mother. Those letters have
made them REAL to me. I'm not an orphan any longer. I feel as if
I had opened a book and found roses of yesterday, sweet and beloved,
between its leaves."

Chapter XXII

Spring and Anne Return to Green Gables

The firelight shadows were dancing over the kitchen walls at
Green Gables, for the spring evening was chilly; through the open
east window drifted in the subtly sweet voices of the night.
Marilla was sitting by the fire -- at least, in body. In spirit
she was roaming olden ways, with feet grown young. Of late
Marilla had thus spent many an hour, when she thought she should
have been knitting for the twins.

"I suppose I'm growing old," she said.

Yet Marilla had changed but little in the past nine years, save
to grow something thinner, and even more angular; there was a
little more gray in the hair that was still twisted up in the
same hard knot, with two hairpins -- WERE they the same hairpins?
-- still stuck through it. But her expression was very different;
the something about the mouth which had hinted at a sense of humor
had developed wonderfully; her eyes were gentler and milder, her
smile more frequent and tender.

Marilla was thinking of her whole past life, her cramped but not
unhappy childhood, the jealously hidden dreams and the blighted
hopes of her girlhood, the long, gray, narrow, monotonous years
of dull middle life that followed. And the coming of Anne --
the vivid, imaginative, impetuous child with her heart of love,
and her world of fancy, bringing with her color and warmth and
radiance, until the wilderness of existence had blossomed like
the rose. Marilla felt that out of her sixty years she had
lived only the nine that had followed the advent of Anne.
And Anne would be home tomorrow night.

The kitchen door opened. Marilla looked up expecting to see Mrs.
Lynde. Anne stood before her, tall and starry-eyed, with her
hands full of Mayflowers and violets.

"Anne Shirley!" exclaimed Marilla. For once in her life she was
surprised out of her reserve; she caught her girl in her arms and
crushed her and her flowers against her heart, kissing the bright
hair and sweet face warmly. "I never looked for you till
tomorrow night. How did you get from Carmody?"

"Walked, dearest of Marillas. Haven't I done it a score of times
in the Queen's days? The mailman is to bring my trunk tomorrow;
I just got homesick all at once, and came a day earlier. And oh!
I've had such a lovely walk in the May twilight; I stopped by the
barrens and picked these Mayflowers; I came through Violet-Vale;
it's just a big bowlful of violets now -- the dear, sky-tinted
things. Smell them, Marilla -- drink them in."

Marilla sniffed obligingly, but she was more interested in Anne
than in drinking violets.

"Sit down, child. You must be real tired. I'm going to get you
some supper."

"There's a darling moonrise behind the hills tonight, Marilla,
and oh, how the frogs sang me home from Carmody! I do love the
music of the frogs. It seems bound up with all my happiest
recollections of old spring evenings. And it always reminds me
of the night I came here first. Do you remember it, Marilla?"

"Well, yes," said Marilla with emphasis. "I'm not likely to
forget it ever."

"They used to sing so madly in the marsh and brook that year.
I would listen to them at my window in the dusk, and wonder how
they could seem so glad and so sad at the same time. Oh, but
it's good to be home again! Redmond was splendid and Bolingbroke
delightful -- but Green Gables is HOME."

"Gilbert isn't coming home this summer, I hear," said Marilla.

"No." Something in Anne's tone made Marilla glance at her
sharply, but Anne was apparently absorbed in arranging her
violets in a bowl. "See, aren't they sweet?" she went on
hurriedly. "The year is a book, isn't it, Marilla? Spring's
pages are written in Mayflowers and violets, summer's in roses,
autumn's in red maple leaves, and winter in holly and evergreen."

"Did Gilbert do well in his examinations?" persisted Marilla.

"Excellently well. He led his class. But where are the twins
and Mrs. Lynde?"

"Rachel and Dora are over at Mr. Harrison's. Davy is down at
Boulters'. I think I hear him coming now."

Davy burst in, saw Anne, stopped, and then hurled himself upon
her with a joyful yell.

"Oh, Anne, ain't I glad to see you! Say, Anne, I've grown two inches
since last fall. Mrs. Lynde measured me with her tape today, and say,
Anne, see my front tooth. It's gone. Mrs. Lynde tied one end of a
string to it and the other end to the door, and then shut the door.
I sold it to Milty for two cents. Milty's collecting teeth."

"What in the world does he want teeth for?" asked Marilla.

"To make a necklace for playing Indian Chief," explained Davy,
climbing upon Anne's lap. "He's got fifteen already, and
everybody's else's promised, so there's no use in the rest of us
starting to collect, too. I tell you the Boulters are great
business people."

"Were you a good boy at Mrs. Boulter's?" asked Marilla severely.

"Yes; but say, Marilla, I'm tired of being good."

"You'd get tired of being bad much sooner, Davy-boy," said Anne.

"Well, it'd be fun while it lasted, wouldn't it?" persisted Davy.
"I could be sorry for it afterwards, couldn't I?"

"Being sorry wouldn't do away with the consequences of being bad,
Davy. Don't you remember the Sunday last summer when you ran
away from Sunday School? You told me then that being bad wasn't
worth while. What were you and Milty doing today?"

"Oh, we fished and chased the cat, and hunted for eggs, and
yelled at the echo. There's a great echo in the bush behind the
Boulter barn. Say, what is echo, Anne; I want to know."

"Echo is a beautiful nymph, Davy, living far away in the woods,
and laughing at the world from among the hills."

"What does she look like?"

"Her hair and eyes are dark, but her neck and arms are white as snow.
No mortal can ever see how fair she is. She is fleeter than a deer,
and that mocking voice of hers is all we can know of her. You can
hear her calling at night; you can hear her laughing under the stars.
But you can never see her. She flies afar if you follow her, and
laughs at you always just over the next hill."

"Is that true, Anne? Or is it a whopper?" demanded Davy staring.

"Davy," said Anne despairingly, "haven't you sense enough to
distinguish between a fairytale and a falsehood?"

"Then what is it that sasses back from the Boulter bush? I want
to know," insisted Davy.

"When you are a little older, Davy, I'll explain it all to you."

The mention of age evidently gave a new turn to Davy's thoughts
for after a few moments of reflection, he whispered solemnly:

"Anne, I'm going to be married."

"When?" asked Anne with equal solemnity.

"Oh, not until I'm grown-up, of course."

"Well, that's a relief, Davy. Who is the lady?"

"Stella Fletcher; she's in my class at school. And say, Anne,
she's the prettiest girl you ever saw. If I die before I grow up
you'll keep an eye on her, won't you?"

"Davy Keith, do stop talking such nonsense," said Marilla severely.

" 'Tisn't nonsense," protested Davy in an injured tone. "She's
my promised wife, and if I was to die she'd be my promised widow,
wouldn't she? And she hasn't got a soul to look after her except
her old grandmother."

"Come and have your supper, Anne," said Marilla, "and don't
encourage that child in his absurd talk."

Chapter XXIII

Paul Cannot Find the Rock People

Life was very pleasant in Avonlea that summer, although Anne,
amid all her vacation joys, was haunted by a sense of "something
gone which should be there." She would not admit, even in her
inmost reflections, that this was caused by Gilbert's absence.
But when she had to walk home alone from prayer meetings and
A.V.I.S. pow-wows, while Diana and Fred, and many other gay couples,
loitered along the dusky, starlit country roads, there was a queer,
lonely ache in her heart which she could not explain away. Gilbert
did not even write to her, as she thought he might have done.
She knew he wrote to Diana occasionally, but she would not inquire
about him; and Diana, supposing that Anne heard from him, volunteered
no information. Gilbert's mother, who was a gay, frank, light-hearted
lady, but not overburdened with tact, had a very embarrassing habit of
asking Anne, always in a painfully distinct voice and always in the
presence of a crowd, if she had heard from Gilbert lately. Poor Anne
could only blush horribly and murmur, "not very lately," which was
taken by all, Mrs. Blythe included, to be merely a maidenly evasion.

Apart from this, Anne enjoyed her summer. Priscilla came for a
merry visit in June; and, when she had gone, Mr. and Mrs. Irving,
Paul and Charlotta the Fourth came "home" for July and August.

Echo Lodge was the scene of gaieties once more, and the echoes
over the river were kept busy mimicking the laughter that rang in
the old garden behind the spruces.

"Miss Lavendar" had not changed, except to grow even sweeter and
prettier. Paul adored her, and the companionship between them
was beautiful to see.

"But I don't call her `mother' just by itself," he explained to
Anne. "You see, THAT name belongs just to my own little mother,
and I can't give it to any one else. You know, teacher. But I
call her `Mother Lavendar' and I love her next best to father.
I -- I even love her a LITTLE better than you, teacher."

"Which is just as it ought to be," answered Anne.

Paul was thirteen now and very tall for his years. His face and
eyes were as beautiful as ever, and his fancy was still like a prism,
separating everything that fell upon it into rainbows. He and Anne
had delightful rambles to wood and field and shore. Never were there
two more thoroughly "kindred spirits."

Charlotta the Fourth had blossomed out into young ladyhood. She
wore her hair now in an enormous pompador and had discarded the
blue ribbon bows of auld lang syne, but her face was as freckled,
her nose as snubbed, and her mouth and smiles as wide as ever.

"You don't think I talk with a Yankee accent, do you, Miss
Shirley, ma'am?" she demanded anxiously.

"I don't notice it, Charlotta."

"I'm real glad of that. They said I did at home, but I thought
likely they just wanted to aggravate me. I don't want no Yankee
accent. Not that I've a word to say against the Yankees, Miss
Shirley, ma'am. They're real civilized. But give me old P.E.
Island every time."

Paul spent his first fortnight with his grandmother Irving in
Avonlea. Anne was there to meet him when he came, and found him
wild with eagerness to get to the shore -- Nora and the Golden
Lady and the Twin Sailors would be there. He could hardly wait
to eat his supper. Could he not see Nora's elfin face peering
around the point, watching for him wistfully? But it was a very
sober Paul who came back from the shore in the twilight.

"Didn't you find your Rock People?" asked Anne.

Paul shook his chestnut curls sorrowfully.

"The Twin Sailors and the Golden Lady never came at all," he said.
"Nora was there -- but Nora is not the same, teacher. She is changed."

"Oh, Paul, it is you who are changed," said Anne. "You have
grown too old for the Rock People. They like only children for
playfellows. I am afraid the Twin Sailors will never again come
to you in the pearly, enchanted boat with the sail of moonshine;
and the Golden Lady will play no more for you on her golden harp.
Even Nora will not meet you much longer. You must pay the penalty
of growing-up, Paul. You must leave fairyland behind you."

"You two talk as much foolishness as ever you did," said old
Mrs. Irving, half-indulgently, half-reprovingly.

"Oh, no, we don't," said Anne, shaking her head gravely. "We are
getting very, very wise, and it is such a pity. We are never
half so interesting when we have learned that language is given
us to enable us to conceal our thoughts."

"But it isn't -- it is given us to exchange our thoughts," said
Mrs. Irving seriously. She had never heard of Tallyrand and did
not understand epigrams.

Anne spent a fortnight of halcyon days at Echo Lodge in the
golden prime of August. While there she incidentally contrived
to hurry Ludovic Speed in his leisurely courting of Theodora Dix,
as related duly in another chronicle of her history.[1] Arnold
Sherman, an elderly friend of the Irvings, was there at the same
time, and added not a little to the general pleasantness of life.

([1] Chronicles of Avonlea.)

"What a nice play-time this has been," said Anne. "I feel like a
giant refreshed. And it's only a fortnight more till I go back
to Kingsport, and Redmond and Patty's Place. Patty's Place
is the dearest spot, Miss Lavendar. I feel as if I had two homes
-- one at Green Gables and one at Patty's Place. But where has the
summer gone? It doesn't seem a day since I came home that spring
evening with the Mayflowers. When I was little I couldn't see from
one end of the summer to the other. It stretched before me like
an unending season. Now, `'tis a handbreadth, 'tis a tale.'"

Book of the day: