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"Well, here's my masterpiece. Note its cheerful title -- `My Graves.'
I shed quarts of tears while writing it, and the other girls shed gallons
while I read it. Jane Andrews' mother scolded her frightfully because
she had so many handkerchiefs in the wash that week. It's a harrowing
tale of the wanderings of a Methodist minister's wife. I made her a
Methodist because it was necessary that she should wander. She buried
a child every place she lived in. There were nine of them and their
graves were severed far apart, ranging from Newfoundland to Vancouver.
I described the children, pictured their several death beds, and
detailed their tombstones and epitaphs. I had intended to bury the
whole nine but when I had disposed of eight my invention of horrors
gave out and I permitted the ninth to live as a hopeless cripple."

While Stella read My Graves, punctuating its tragic paragraphs
with chuckles, and Rusty slept the sleep of a just cat who has
been out all night curled up on a Jane Andrews tale of a beautiful
maiden of fifteen who went to nurse in a leper colony -- of course
dying of the loathsome disease finally -- Anne glanced over the other
manuscripts and recalled the old days at Avonlea school when the members
of the Story Club, sitting under the spruce trees or down among the
ferns by the brook, had written them. What fun they had had!
How the sunshine and mirth of those olden summers returned as she read.
Not all the glory that was Greece or the grandeur that was Rome could
weave such wizardry as those funny, tearful tales of the Story Club.
Among the manuscripts Anne found one written on sheets of wrapping paper.
A wave of laughter filled her gray eyes as she recalled the time and
place of its genesis. It was the sketch she had written the day she
fell through the roof of the Cobb duckhouse on the Tory Road.

Anne glanced over it, then fell to reading it intently. It was a
little dialogue between asters and sweet-peas, wild canaries in the
lilac bush, and the guardian spirit of the garden. After she had
read it, she sat, staring into space; and when Stella had gone she
smoothed out the crumpled manuscript.

"I believe I will," she said resolutely.

Chapter XXXVI

The Gardners'Call

"Here is a letter with an Indian stamp for you, Aunt Jimsie,"
said Phil. "Here are three for Stella, and two for Pris, and a
glorious fat one for me from Jo. There's nothing for you, Anne,
except a circular."

Nobody noticed Anne's flush as she took the thin letter Phil tossed
her carelessly. But a few minutes later Phil looked up to see a
transfigured Anne.

"Honey, what good thing has happened?"

"The Youth's Friend has accepted a little sketch I sent them a
fortnight ago," said Anne, trying hard to speak as if she were
accustomed to having sketches accepted every mail, but not
quite succeeding.

"Anne Shirley! How glorious! What was it? When is it to be
published? Did they pay you for it?"

"Yes; they've sent a check for ten dollars, and the editor writes
that he would like to see more of my work. Dear man, he shall.
It was an old sketch I found in my box. I re-wrote it and sent
it in -- but I never really thought it could be accepted because
it had no plot," said Anne, recalling the bitter experience of
Averil's Atonement.

"What are you going to do with that ten dollars, Anne? Let's all
go up town and get drunk," suggested Phil.

"I AM going to squander it in a wild soulless revel of some sort,"
declared Anne gaily. "At all events it isn't tainted money --
like the check I got for that horrible Reliable Baking Powder story.
I spent IT usefully for clothes and hated them every time I put them on."

"Think of having a real live author at Patty's Place," said Priscilla.

"It's a great responsibility," said Aunt Jamesina solemnly.

"Indeed it is," agreed Pris with equal solemnity. "Authors are
kittle cattle. You never know when or how they will break out.
Anne may make copy of us."

"I meant that the ability to write for the Press was a great
responsibility," said Aunt Jamesina severely. "and I hope Anne
realizes, it. My daughter used to write stories before she went
to the foreign field, but now she has turned her attention to
higher things. She used to say her motto was `Never write a line
you would be ashamed to read at your own funeral.' You'd better
take that for yours, Anne, if you are going to embark in literature.
Though, to be sure," added Aunt Jamesina perplexedly, "Elizabeth
always used to laugh when she said it. She always laughed so much
that I don't know how she ever came to decide on being a missionary.
I'm thankful she did -- I prayed that she might -- but -- I wish
she hadn't."

Then Aunt Jamesina wondered why those giddy girls all laughed.

Anne's eyes shone all that day; literary ambitions sprouted and
budded in her brain; their exhilaration accompanied her to Jennie
Cooper's walking party, and not even the sight of Gilbert and
Christine, walking just ahead of her and Roy, could quite subdue
the sparkle of her starry hopes. Nevertheless, she was not so
rapt from things of earth as to be unable to notice that
Christine's walk was decidedly ungraceful.

"But I suppose Gilbert looks only at her face. So like a man,"
thought Anne scornfully.

"Shall you be home Saturday afternoon?" asked Roy.

"Yes."

"My mother and sisters are coming to call on you," said Roy quietly.

Something went over Anne which might be described as a thrill, but
it was hardly a pleasant one. She had never met any of Roy's family;
she realized the significance of his statement; and it had, somehow,
an irrevocableness about it that chilled her.

"I shall be glad to see them," she said flatly; and then wondered
if she really would be glad. She ought to be, of course. But
would it not be something of an ordeal? Gossip had filtered to
Anne regarding the light in which the Gardners viewed the
"infatuation" of son and brother. Roy must have brought pressure
to bear in the matter of this call. Anne knew she would be
weighed in the balance. From the fact that they had consented to
call she understood that, willingly or unwillingly, they regarded
her as a possible member of their clan.

"I shall just be myself. I shall not TRY to make a good impression,"
thought Anne loftily. But she was wondering what dress she would
better wear Saturday afternoon, and if the new style of high
hair-dressing would suit her better than the old; and the walking
party was rather spoiled for her. By night she had decided that she
would wear her brown chiffon on Saturday, but would do her hair low.

Friday afternoon none of the girls had classes at Redmond.
Stella took the opportunity to write a paper for the Philomathic
Society, and was sitting at the table in the corner of the
living-room with an untidy litter of notes and manuscript on the
floor around her. Stella always vowed she never could write
anything unless she threw each sheet down as she completed it.
Anne, in her flannel blouse and serge skirt, with her hair rather
blown from her windy walk home, was sitting squarely in the
middle of the floor, teasing the Sarah-cat with a wishbone.
Joseph and Rusty were both curled up in her lap. A warm plummy
odor filled the whole house, for Priscilla was cooking in the
kitchen. Presently she came in, enshrouded in a huge work-apron,
with a smudge of flour on her nose, to show Aunt Jamesina the
chocolate cake she had just iced.

At this auspicious moment the knocker sounded. Nobody paid any
attention to it save Phil, who sprang up and opened it, expecting
a boy with the hat she had bought that morning. On the doorstep
stood Mrs. Gardner and her daughters.

Anne scrambled to her feet somehow, emptying two indignant cats
out of her lap as she did so, and mechanically shifting her
wishbone from her right hand to her left. Priscilla, who would
have had to cross the room to reach the kitchen door, lost her
head, wildly plunged the chocolate cake under a cushion on the
inglenook sofa, and dashed upstairs. Stella began feverishly
gathering up her manuscript. Only Aunt Jamesina and Phil
remained normal. Thanks to them, everybody was soon sitting at
ease, even Anne. Priscilla came down, apronless and smudgeless,
Stella reduced her corner to decency, and Phil saved the
situation by a stream of ready small talk.

Mrs. Gardner was tall and thin and handsome, exquisitely
gowned, cordial with a cordiality that seemed a trifle forced.
Aline Gardner was a younger edition of her mother, lacking the
cordiality. She endeavored to be nice, but succeeded only in
being haughty and patronizing. Dorothy Gardner was slim and
jolly and rather tomboyish. Anne knew she was Roy's favorite
sister and warmed to her. She would have looked very much like
Roy if she had had dreamy dark eyes instead of roguish hazel
ones. Thanks to her and Phil, the call really went off very
well, except for a slight sense of strain in the atmosphere
and two rather untoward incidents. Rusty and Joseph, left to
themselves, began a game of chase, and sprang madly into
Mrs. Gardner's silken lap and out of it in their wild career.
Mrs. Gardner lifted her lorgnette and gazed after their flying
forms as if she had never seen cats before, and Anne, choking
back slightly nervous laughter, apologized as best she could.

"You are fond of cats?" said Mrs. Gardner, with a slight
intonation of tolerant wonder.

Anne, despite her affection for Rusty, was not especially fond of
cats, but Mrs. Gardner's tone annoyed her. Inconsequently she
remembered that Mrs. John Blythe was so fond of cats that she
kept as many as her husband would allow.

"They ARE adorable animals, aren't they?" she said wickedly.

"I have never liked cats," said Mrs. Gardner remotely.

"I love them," said Dorothy. "They are so nice and selfish.
Dogs are TOO good and unselfish. They make me feel uncomfortable.
But cats are gloriously human."

"You have two delightful old china dogs there. May I look at
them closely?" said Aline, crossing the room towards the fireplace
and thereby becoming the unconscious cause of the other accident.
Picking up Magog, she sat down on the cushion under which was
secreted Priscilla's chocolate cake. Priscilla and Anne exchanged
agonized glances but could do nothing. The stately Aline continued to
sit on the cushion and discuss china dogs until the time of departure.

Dorothy lingered behind a moment to squeeze Anne's hand and
whisper impulsively.

"I KNOW you and I are going to be chums. Oh, Roy has told me all
about you. I'm the only one of the family he tells things to,
poor boy -- nobody COULD confide in mamma and Aline, you know.
What glorious times you girls must have here! Won't you let me
come often and have a share in them?"

"Come as often as you like," Anne responded heartily, thankful
that one of Roy's sisters was likable. She would never like
Aline, so much was certain; and Aline would never like her,
though Mrs. Gardner might be won. Altogether, Anne sighed with
relief when the ordeal was over.

"`Of all sad words of tongue or pen
The saddest are it might have been,'"

quoted Priscilla tragically, lifting the cushion. "This cake is
now what you might call a flat failure. And the cushion is
likewise ruined. Never tell me that Friday isn't unlucky."

"People who send word they are coming on Saturday shouldn't come
on Friday," said Aunt Jamesina.

"I fancy it was Roy's mistake," said Phil. "That boy isn't really
responsible for what he says when he talks to Anne. Where IS Anne?"

Anne had gone upstairs. She felt oddly like crying. But she
made herself laugh instead. Rusty and Joseph had been TOO awful!
And Dorothy WAS a dear.

Chapter XXXVII

Full-fledged B.A.'s

"I wish I were dead, or that it were tomorrow night," groaned Phil.

"If you live long enough both wishes will come true," said Anne calmly.

"It's easy for you to be serene. You're at home in Philosophy.
I'm not -- and when I think of that horrible paper tomorrow I quail.
If I should fail in it what would Jo say?"

"You won't fail. How did you get on in Greek today?"

"I don't know. Perhaps it was a good paper and perhaps it was
bad enough to make Homer turn over in his grave. I've studied
and mulled over notebooks until I'm incapable of forming an
opinion of anything. How thankful little Phil will be when all
this examinating is over."

"Examinating? I never heard such a word."

"Well, haven't I as good a right to make a word as any one else?"
demanded Phil.

"Words aren't made -- they grow," said Anne.

"Never mind -- I begin faintly to discern clear water ahead where
no examination breakers loom. Girls, do you -- can you realize
that our Redmond Life is almost over?"

"I can't," said Anne, sorrowfully. "It seems just yesterday
that Pris and I were alone in that crowd of Freshmen at Redmond.
And now we are Seniors in our final examinations."

"`Potent, wise, and reverend Seniors,'" quoted Phil. "Do you
suppose we really are any wiser than when we came to Redmond?"

"You don't act as if you were by times," said Aunt Jamesina severely.

"Oh, Aunt Jimsie, haven't we been pretty good girls, take us by
and large, these three winters you've mothered us?" pleaded Phil.

"You've been four of the dearest, sweetest, goodest girls that
ever went together through college," averred Aunt Jamesina, who
never spoiled a compliment by misplaced economy.

"But I mistrust you haven't any too much sense yet. It's not to
be expected, of course. Experience teaches sense. You can't
learn it in a college course. You've been to college four years
and I never was, but I know heaps more than you do, young ladies."

"`There are lots of things that never go by rule,
There's a powerful pile o' knowledge
That you never get at college,
There are heaps of things you never learn at school,'"

quoted Stella.

"Have you learned anything at Redmond except dead languages and
geometry and such trash?" queried Aunt Jamesina.

"Oh, yes. I think we have, Aunty," protested Anne.

"We've learned the truth of what Professor Woodleigh told us
last Philomathic," said Phil. "He said, `Humor is the spiciest
condiment in the feast of existence. Laugh at your mistakes
but learn from them, joke over your troubles but gather strength
from them, make a jest of your difficulties but overcome them.'
Isn't that worth learning, Aunt Jimsie?"

"Yes, it is, dearie. When you've learned to laugh at the things
that should be laughed at, and not to laugh at those that shouldn't,
you've got wisdom and understanding."

"What have you got out of your Redmond course, Anne?" murmured
Priscilla aside.

"I think," said Anne slowly, "that I really have learned to look
upon each little hindrance as a jest and each great one as the
foreshadowing of victory. Summing up, I think that is what
Redmond has given me."

"I shall have to fall back on another Professor Woodleigh
quotation to express what it has done for me," said Priscilla.
"You remember that he said in his address, `There is so much
in the world for us all if we only have the eyes to see it, and
the heart to love it, and the hand to gather it to ourselves --
so much in men and women, so much in art and literature, so much
everywhere in which to delight, and for which to be thankful.'
I think Redmond has taught me that in some measure, Anne."

"Judging from what you all, say" remarked Aunt Jamesina,
"the sum and substance is that you can learn -- if you've got
natural gumption enough -- in four years at college what it
would take about twenty years of living to teach you. Well,
that justifies higher education in my opinion. It's a matter
I was always dubious about before."

"But what about people who haven't natural gumption, Aunt Jimsie?"

"People who haven't natural gumption never learn," retorted
Aunt Jamesina, "neither in college nor life. If they live to
be a hundred they really don't know anything more than when they
were born. It's their misfortune not their fault, poor souls.
But those of us who have some gumption should duly thank the
Lord for it."

"Will you please define what gumption is, Aunt Jimsie?" asked Phil.

"No, I won't, young woman. Any one who has gumption knows what
it is, and any one who hasn't can never know what it is. So there
is no need of defining it."

The busy days flew by and examinations were over. Anne took
High Honors in English. Priscilla took Honors in Classics, and
Phil in Mathematics. Stella obtained a good all-round showing.
Then came Convocation.

"This is what I would once have called an epoch in my life,"
said Anne, as she took Roy's violets out of their box and gazed
at them thoughtfully. She meant to carry them, of course, but
her eyes wandered to another box on her table. It was filled
with lilies-of-the-valley, as fresh and fragrant as those which
bloomed in the Green Gables yard when June came to Avonlea.
Gilbert Blythe's card lay beside it.

Anne wondered why Gilbert should have sent her flowers for Convocation.
She had seen very little of him during the past winter. He had come to
Patty's Place only one Friday evening since the Christmas holidays,
and they rarely met elsewhere. She knew he was studying very hard,
aiming at High Honors and the Cooper Prize, and he took little part
in the social doings of Redmond. Anne's own winter had been quite
gay socially. She had seen a good deal of the Gardners; she and
Dorothy were very intimate; college circles expected the announcement
of her engagement to Roy any day. Anne expected it herself. Yet
just before she left Patty's Place for Convocation she flung Roy's
violets aside and put Gilbert's lilies-of-the-valley in their place.
She could not have told why she did it. Somehow, old Avonlea days
and dreams and friendships seemed very close to her in this attainment
of her long-cherished ambitions. She and Gilbert had once picturedout
merrily the day on which they should be capped and gowned graduates in
Arts. The wonderful day had come and Roy's violets had no place in it.
Only her old friend's flowers seemed to belong to this fruition of
old-blossoming hopes which he had once shared.

For years this day had beckoned and allured to her; but when it
came the one single, keen, abiding memory it left with her was
not that of the breathless moment when the stately president of
Redmond gave her cap and diploma and hailed her B.A.; it was not
of the flash in Gilbert's eyes when he saw her lilies, nor the
puzzled pained glance Roy gave her as he passed her on the platform.
It was not of Aline Gardner's condescending congratulations, or
Dorothy's ardent, impulsive good wishes. It was of one strange,
unaccountable pang that spoiled this long-expected day for her
and left in it a certain faint but enduring flavor of bitterness.

The Arts graduates gave a graduation dance that night. When Anne
dressed for it she tossed aside the pearl beads she usually wore
and took from her trunk the small box that had come to Green Gables
on Christmas day. In it was a thread-like gold chain with a tiny
pink enamel heart as a pendant. On the accompanying card was written,
"With all good wishes from your old chum, Gilbert." Anne, laughing
over the memory the enamel heart conjured up the fatal day when
Gilbert had called her "Carrots" and vainly tried to make his peace
with a pink candy heart, had written him a nice little note of thanks.
But she had never worn the trinket. Tonight she fastened it about her
white throat with a dreamy smile.

She and Phil walked to Redmond together. Anne walked in silence;
Phil chattered of many things. Suddenly she said,

"I heard today that Gilbert Blythe's engagement to Christine
Stuart was to be announced as soon as Convocation was over.
Did you hear anything of it?"

"No," said Anne.

"I think it's true," said Phil lightly.

Anne did not speak. In the darkness she felt her face burning.
She slipped her hand inside her collar and caught at the gold
chain. One energetic twist and it gave way. Anne thrust the
broken trinket into her pocket. Her hands were trembling and
her eyes were smarting.

But she was the gayest of all the gay revellers that night, and
told Gilbert unregretfully that her card was full when he came to
ask her for a dance. Afterwards, when she sat with the girls
before the dying embers at Patty's Place, removing the spring
chilliness from their satin skins, none chatted more blithely
than she of the day's events.

"Moody Spurgeon MacPherson called here tonight after you left,"
said Aunt Jamesina, who had sat up to keep the fire on. "He didn't
know about the graduation dance. That boy ought to sleep with a
rubber band around his head to train his ears not to stick out.
I had a beau once who did that and it improved him immensely.
It was I who suggested it to him and he took my advice, but he
never forgave me for it."

"Moody Spurgeon is a very serious young man," yawned Priscilla.
"He is concerned with graver matters than his ears. He is going
to be a minister, you know."

"Well, I suppose the Lord doesn't regard the ears of a man,"
said Aunt Jamesina gravely, dropping all further criticism of
Moody Spurgeon. Aunt Jamesina had a proper respect for the
cloth even in the case of an unfledged parson.

Chapter XXXVIII

False Dawn

"Just imagine -- this night week I'll be in Avonlea -- delightful thought!"
said Anne, bending over the box in which she was packing Mrs. Rachel Lynde's
quilts. "But just imagine -- this night week I'll be gone forever from
Patty's Place -- horrible thought!"

"I wonder if the ghost of all our laughter will echo through the maiden
dreams of Miss Patty and Miss Maria," speculated Phil.

Miss Patty and Miss Maria were coming home, after having trotted over
most of the habitable globe.

"We'll be back the second week in May" wrote Miss Patty. "I expect
Patty's Place will seem rather small after the Hall of the Kings at
Karnak, but I never did like big places to live in. And I'll be glad
enough to be home again. When you start traveling late in life you're
apt to do too much of it because you know you haven't much time left,
and it's a thing that grows on you. I'm afraid Maria will never be
contented again."

"I shall leave here my fancies and dreams to bless the next comer,"
said Anne, looking around the blue room wistfully -- her pretty blue
room where she had spent three such happy years. She had knelt at
its window to pray and had bent from it to watch the sunset behind
the pines. She had heard the autumn raindrops beating against it
and had welcomed the spring robins at its sill. She wondered if
old dreams could haunt rooms -- if, when one left forever the room
where she had joyed and suffered and laughed and wept, something
of her, intangible and invisible, yet nonetheless real, did not
remain behind like a voiceful memory.

"I think," said Phil, "that a room where one dreams and grieves
and rejoices and lives becomes inseparably connected with those
processes and acquires a personality of its own. I am sure if I
came into this room fifty years from now it would say 'Anne, Anne'
to me. What nice times we've had here, honey! What chats and
jokes and good chummy jamborees! Oh, dear me! I'm to marry Jo
in June and I know I will be rapturously happy. But just now
I feel as if I wanted this lovely Redmond life to go on forever."

"I'm unreasonable enough just now to wish that, too," admitted Anne.
"No matter what deeper joys may come to us later on we'll never again
have just the same delightful, irresponsible existence we've had here.
It's over forever, Phil."

"What are you going to do with Rusty?" asked Phil, as that
privileged pussy padded into the room.

"I am going to take him home with me and Joseph and the Sarah-cat,"
announced Aunt Jamesina, following Rusty. "It would be a shame
to separate those cats now that they have learned to live together.
It's a hard lesson for cats and humans to learn."

"I'm sorry to part with Rusty," said Anne regretfully, "but it
would be no use to take him to Green Gables. Marilla detests
cats, and Davy would tease his life out. Besides, I don't
suppose I'll be home very long. I've been offered the
principalship of the Summerside High School."

"Are you going to accept it?" asked Phil.

"I -- I haven't decided yet," answered Anne, with a confused flush.

Phil nodded understandingly. Naturally Anne's plans could not be
settled until Roy had spoken. He would soon -- there was no doubt
of that. And there was no doubt that Anne would say "yes" when he
said "Will you please?" Anne herself regarded the state of affairs
with a seldom-ruffled complacency. She was deeply in love with Roy.
True, it was not just what she had imagined love to be. But was
anything in life, Anne asked herself wearily, like one's imagination
of it? It was the old diamond disillusion of childhood repeated --
the same disappointment she had felt when she had first seen the
chill sparkle instead of the purple splendor she had anticipated.
"That's not my idea of a diamond," she had said. But Roy was a
dear fellow and they would be very happy together, even if some
indefinable zest was missing out of life. When Roy came down that
evening and asked Anne to walk in the park every one at Patty's
Place knew what he had come to say; and every one knew, or thought
they knew, what Anne's answer would be.

"Anne is a very fortunate girl," said Aunt Jamesina.

"I suppose so," said Stella, shrugging her shoulders. "Roy is a
nice fellow and all that. But there's really nothing in him."

"That sounds very like a jealous remark, Stella Maynard," said
Aunt Jamesina rebukingly.

"It does -- but I am not jealous," said Stella calmly. "I love
Anne and I like Roy. Everybody says she is making a brilliant
match, and even Mrs. Gardner thinks her charming now. It all
sounds as if it were made in heaven, but I have my doubts.
Make the most of that, Aunt Jamesina."

Roy asked Anne to marry him in the little pavilion on the harbor
shore where they had talked on the rainy day of their first meeting.
Anne thought it very romantic that he should have chosen that spot.
And his proposal was as beautifully worded as if he had copied it,
as one of Ruby Gillis' lovers had done, out of a Deportment of
Courtship and Marriage. The whole effect was quite flawless.
And it was also sincere. There was no doubt that Roy meant
what he said. There was no false note to jar the symphony.
Anne felt that she ought to be thrilling from head to foot.
But she wasn't; she was horribly cool. When Roy paused
for his answer she opened her lips to say her fateful yes.
And then -- she found herself trembling as if she were reeling
back from a precipice. To her came one of those moments when we
realize, as by a blinding flash of illumination, more than all
our previous years have taught us. She pulled her hand from Roy's.

"Oh, I can't marry you -- I can't -- I can't," she cried, wildly.

Roy turned pale -- and also looked rather foolish. He had --
small blame to him -- felt very sure.

"What do you mean?" he stammered.

"I mean that I can't marry you," repeated Anne desperately.
"I thought I could -- but I can't."

"Why can't you?" Roy asked more calmly.

"Because -- I don't care enough for you."

A crimson streak came into Roy's face.

"So you've just been amusing yourself these two years?" he said slowly.

"No, no, I haven't," gasped poor Anne. Oh, how could she explain?
She COULDN'T explain. There are some things that cannot be explained.
"I did think I cared -- truly I did -- but I know now I don't."

"You have ruined my life," said Roy bitterly.

"Forgive me," pleaded Anne miserably, with hot cheeks and
stinging eyes.

Roy turned away and stood for a few minutes looking out seaward.
When he came back to Anne, he was very pale again.

"You can give me no hope?" he said.

Anne shook her head mutely.

"Then -- good-bye," said Roy. "I can't understand it -- I
can't believe you are not the woman I've believed you to be.
But reproaches are idle between us. You are the only woman
I can ever love. I thank you for your friendship, at least.
Good-bye, Anne."

"Good-bye," faltered Anne. When Roy had gone she sat for a long
time in the pavilion, watching a white mist creeping subtly and
remorselessly landward up the harbor. It was her hour of humiliation
and self-contempt and shame. Their waves went over her. And yet,
underneath it all, was a queer sense of recovered freedom.

She slipped into Patty's Place in the dusk and escaped to her room.
But Phil was there on the window seat.

"Wait," said Anne, flushing to anticipate the scene. "Wait til
you hear what I have to say. Phil, Roy asked me to marry him-and
I refused."

"You -- you REFUSED him?" said Phil blankly.

"Yes."

"Anne Shirley, are you in your senses?"

"I think so," said Anne wearily. "Oh, Phil, don't scold me.
You don't understand."

"I certainly don't understand. You've encouraged Roy Gardner in
every way for two years -- and now you tell me you've refused him.
Then you've just been flirting scandalously with him. Anne, I
couldn't have believed it of YOU."

"I WASN'T flirting with him -- I honestly thought I cared up to the
last minute -- and then -- well, I just knew I NEVER could marry him."

"I suppose," said Phil cruelly, "that you intended to marry him
for his money, and then your better self rose up and prevented you."

"I DIDN'T. I never thought about his money. Oh, I can't explain
it to you any more than I could to him."

"Well, I certainly think you have treated Roy shamefully," said Phil
in exasperation. "He's handsome and clever and rich and good.
What more do you want?"

"I want some one who BELONGS in my life. He doesn't. I was
swept off my feet at first by his good looks and knack of paying
romantic compliments; and later on I thought I MUST be in love
because he was my dark-eyed ideal."

"I am bad enough for not knowing my own mind, but you are worse,"
said Phil.

"_I_ DO know my own mind," protested Anne. "The trouble is, my mind
changes and then I have to get acquainted with it all over again."

"Well, I suppose there is no use in saying anything to you."

"There is no need, Phil. I'm in the dust. This has spoiled
everything backwards. I can never think of Redmond days without
recalling the humiliation of this evening. Roy despises me --
and you despise me -- and I despise myself."

"You poor darling," said Phil, melting. "Just come here and let
me comfort you. I've no right to scold you. I'd have married
Alec or Alonzo if I hadn't met Jo. Oh, Anne, things are so
mixed-up in real life. They aren't clear-cut and trimmed off,
as they are in novels."

"I hope that NO one will ever again ask me to marry him as long as
I live," sobbed poor Anne, devoutly believing that she meant it.

Chapter XXXIX

Deals with Weddings

Anne felt that life partook of the nature of an anticlimax during
the first few weeks after her return to Green Gables. She missed
the merry comradeship of Patty's Place. She had dreamed some
brilliant dreams during the past winter and now they lay in the
dust around her. In her present mood of self-disgust, she could
not immediately begin dreaming again. And she discovered that,
while solitude with dreams is glorious, solitude without them
has few charms.

She had not seen Roy again after their painful parting in the
park pavilion; but Dorothy came to see her before she left Kingsport.

"I'm awfully sorry you won't marry Roy," she said. "I did want you
for a sister. But you are quite right. He would bore you to death.
I love him, and he is a dear sweet boy, but really he isn't a bit
interesting. He looks as if he ought to be, but he isn't."

"This won't spoil OUR friendship, will it, Dorothy?" Anne had
asked wistfully.

"No, indeed. You're too good to lose. If I can't have you for a
sister I mean to keep you as a chum anyway. And don't fret over
Roy. He is feeling terribly just now -- I have to listen to his
outpourings every day -- but he'll get over it. He always does."

"Oh -- ALWAYS?" said Anne with a slight change of voice.
"So he has `got over it' before?"

"Dear me, yes," said Dorothy frankly. "Twice before. And he
raved to me just the same both times. Not that the others
actually refused him -- they simply announced their engagements
to some one else. Of course, when he met you he vowed to me that
he had never really loved before -- that the previous affairs had
been merely boyish fancies. But I don't think you need worry."

Anne decided not to worry. Her feelings were a mixture of relief
and resentment. Roy had certainly told her she was the only one
he had ever loved. No doubt he believed it. But it was a comfort
to feel that she had not, in all likelihood, ruined his life.
There were other goddesses, and Roy, according to Dorothy, must
needs be worshipping at some shrine. Nevertheless, life was
stripped of several more illusions, and Anne began to think
drearily that it seemed rather bare.

She came down from the porch gable on the evening of her return
with a sorrowful face.

"What has happened to the old Snow Queen, Marilla?"

"Oh, I knew you'd feel bad over that," said Marilla. "I felt bad myself.
That tree was there ever since I was a young girl. It blew down in the
big gale we had in March. It was rotten at the core."

"I'll miss it so," grieved Anne. "The porch gable doesn't seem
the same room without it. I'll never look from its window again
without a sense of loss. And oh, I never came home to Green Gables
before that Diana wasn't here to welcome me."

"Diana has something else to think of just now," said Mrs. Lynde
significantly.

"Well, tell me all the Avonlea news," said Anne, sitting down on
the porch steps, where the evening sunshine fell over her hair
in a fine golden rain.

"There isn't much news except what we've wrote you," said Mrs. Lynde.
"I suppose you haven't heard that Simon Fletcher broke his leg last week.
It's a great thing for his family. They're getting a hundred things done
that they've always wanted to do but couldn't as long as he was about,
the old crank."

"He came of an aggravating family," remarked Marilla.

"Aggravating? Well, rather! His mother used to get up in
prayer-meeting and tell all her children's shortcomings and ask
prayers for them. `Course it made them mad, and worse than ever."

"You haven't told Anne the news about Jane," suggested Marilla.

"Oh, Jane," sniffed Mrs. Lynde. "Well," she conceded grudgingly,
"Jane Andrews is home from the West -- came last week -- and she's
going to be married to a Winnipeg millionaire. You may be sure
Mrs. Harmon lost no time in telling it far and wide."

"Dear old Jane -- I'm so glad," said Anne heartily. "She deserves
the good things of life."

"Oh, I ain't saying anything against Jane. She's a nice enough girl.
But she isn't in the millionaire class, and you'll find there's not
much to recommend that man but his money, that's what. Mrs. Harmon
says he's an Englishman who has made money in mines but _I_ believe
he'll turn out to be a Yankee. He certainly must have money, for
he has just showered Jane with jewelry. Her engagement ring is a
diamond cluster so big that it looks like a plaster on Jane's fat paw."

Mrs. Lynde could not keep some bitterness out of her tone.
Here was Jane Andrews, that plain little plodder, engaged
to a millionaire, while Anne, it seemed, was not yet bespoken
by any one, rich or poor. And Mrs. Harmon Andrews did brag
insufferably.

"What has Gilbert Blythe been doing to at college?" asked Marilla.
"I saw him when he came home last week, and he is so pale and thin
I hardly knew him."

"He studied very hard last winter," said Anne. "You know he
took High Honors in Classics and the Cooper Prize. It hasn't
been taken for five years! So I think he's rather run down.
We're all a little tired."

"Anyhow, you're a B.A. and Jane Andrews isn't and never will be,"
said Mrs. Lynde, with gloomy satisfaction.

A few evenings later Anne went down to see Jane, but the latter
was away in Charlottetown -- "getting sewing done," Mrs. Harmon
informed Anne proudly. "Of course an Avonlea dressmaker wouldn't
do for Jane under the circumstances."

"I've heard something very nice about Jane," said Anne.

"Yes, Jane has done pretty well, even if she isn't a B.A.," said
Mrs. Harmon, with a slight toss of her head. "Mr. Inglis is worth
millions, and they're going to Europe on their wedding tour.
When they come back they'll live in a perfect mansion of marble
in Winnipeg. Jane has only one trouble -- she can cook so well
and her husband won't let her cook. He is so rich he hires
his cooking done. They're going to keep a cook and two other
maids and a coachman and a man-of-all-work. But what about YOU,
Anne? I don't hear anything of your being married, after all
your college-going."

"Oh," laughed Anne, "I am going to be an old maid. I really
can't find any one to suit me." It was rather wicked of her.
She deliberately meant to remind Mrs. Andrews that if she became
an old maid it was not because she had not had at least one
chance of marriage. But Mrs. Harmon took swift revenge.

"Well, the over-particular girls generally get left, I notice.
And what's this I hear about Gilbert Blythe being engaged to a
Miss Stuart? Charlie Sloane tells me she is perfectly beautiful.
Is it true?"

"I don't know if it is true that he is engaged to Miss Stuart,"
replied Anne, with Spartan composure, "but it is certainly true
that she is very lovely."

"I once thought you and Gilbert would have made a match of it,"
said Mrs. Harmon. "If you don't take care, Anne, all of your
beaux will slip through your fingers."

Anne decided not to continue her duel with Mrs. Harmon.
You could not fence with an antagonist who met rapier thrust
with blow of battle axe.

"Since Jane is away," she said, rising haughtily, "I don't think
I can stay longer this morning. I'll come down when she comes home."

"Do," said Mrs. Harmon effusively. "Jane isn't a bit proud.
She just means to associate with her old friends the same as ever.
She'll be real glad to see you."

Jane's millionaire arrived the last of May and carried her off in
a blaze of splendor. Mrs. Lynde was spitefully gratified to
find that Mr. Inglis was every day of forty, and short and thin
and grayish. Mrs. Lynde did not spare him in her enumeration of
his shortcomings, you may be sure.

"It will take all his gold to gild a pill like him, that's what,"
said Mrs. Rachel solemnly.

"He looks kind and good-hearted," said Anne loyally, "and I'm
sure he thinks the world of Jane."

"Humph!" said Mrs. Rachel.

Phil Gordon was married the next week and Anne went over to
Bolingbroke to be her bridesmaid. Phil made a dainty fairy of
a bride, and the Rev. Jo was so radiant in his happiness that
nobody thought him plain.

"We're going for a lovers' saunter through the land of Evangeline,"
said Phil, "and then we'll settle down on Patterson Street.
Mother thinks it is terrible -- she thinks Jo might at least
take a church in a decent place. But the wilderness of the
Patterson slums will blossom like the rose for me if Jo is there.
Oh, Anne, I'm so happy my heart aches with it."

Anne was always glad in the happiness of her friends; but it
is sometimes a little lonely to be surrounded everywhere by a
happiness that is not your own. And it was just the same when
she went back to Avonlea. This time it was Diana who was bathed
in the wonderful glory that comes to a woman when her first-born
is laid beside her. Anne looked at the white young mother with a
certain awe that had never entered into her feelings for Diana
before. Could this pale woman with the rapture in her eyes be
the little black-curled, rosy-cheeked Diana she had played with
in vanished schooldays? It gave her a queer desolate feeling
that she herself somehow belonged only in those past years and
had no business in the present at all.

"Isn't he perfectly beautiful?" said Diana proudly.

The little fat fellow was absurdly like Fred -- just as round,
just as red. Anne really could not say conscientiously that she
thought him beautiful, but she vowed sincerely that he was sweet
and kissable and altogether delightful.

"Before he came I wanted a girl, so that I could call her ANNE,"
said Diana. "But now that little Fred is here I wouldn't exchange
him for a million girls. He just COULDN'T have been anything but
his own precious self."

"`Every little baby is the sweetest and the best,' " quoted
Mrs. Allan gaily. "If little Anne HAD come you'd have felt
just the same about her."

Mrs. Allan was visiting in Avonlea, for the first time since
leaving it. She was as gay and sweet and sympathetic as ever.
Her old girl friends had welcomed her back rapturously.
The reigning minister's wife was an estimable lady, but she
was not exactly a kindred spirit.

"I can hardly wait till he gets old enough to talk," sighed Diana.
"I just long to hear him say `mother.' And oh, I'm determined that
his first memory of me shall be a nice one. The first memory I
have of my mother is of her slapping me for something I had done.
I am sure I deserved it, and mother was always a good mother and I
love her dearly. But I do wish my first memory of her was nicer."

"I have just one memory of my mother and it is the sweetest of
all my memories," said Mrs. Allan. "I was five years old, and I
had been allowed to go to school one day with my two older sisters.
When school came out my sisters went home in different groups, each
supposing I was with the other. Instead I had run off with a little
girl I had played with at recess. We went to her home, which was
near the school, and began making mud pies. We were having a
glorious time when my older sister arrived, breathless and angry.

"`You naughty girl" she cried, snatching my reluctant hand and
dragging me along with her. `Come home this minute. Oh, you're
going to catch it! Mother is awful cross. She is going to give
you a good whipping.'

"I had never been whipped. Dread and terror filled my poor
little heart. I have never been so miserable in my life as I was
on that walk home. I had not meant to be naughty. Phemy Cameron
had asked me to go home with her and I had not known it was wrong
to go. And now I was to be whipped for it. When we got home my
sister dragged me into the kitchen where mother was sitting by
the fire in the twilight. My poor wee legs were trembling so
that I could hardly stand. And mother -- mother just took me up
in her arms, without one word of rebuke or harshness, kissed me
and held me close to her heart. `I was so frightened you were
lost, darling,' she said tenderly. I could see the love shining
in her eyes as she looked down on me. She never scolded or
reproached me for what I had done -- only told me I must never go
away again without asking permission. She died very soon
afterwards. That is the only memory I have of her. Isn't it a
beautiful one?"

Anne felt lonelier than ever as she walked home, going by way of
the Birch Path and Willowmere. She had not walked that way for
many moons. It was a darkly-purple bloomy night. The air was
heavy with blossom fragrance -- almost too heavy. The cloyed
senses recoiled from it as from an overfull cup. The birches of
the path had grown from the fairy saplings of old to big trees.
Everything had changed. Anne felt that she would be glad when
the summer was over and she was away at work again. Perhaps life
would not seem so empty then.

"`I've tried the world -- it wears no more
The coloring of romance it wore,'"

sighed Anne -- and was straightway much comforted by the romance
in the idea of the world being denuded of romance!

Chapter XL

A Book of Revelation

The Irvings came back to Echo Lodge for the summer, and Anne spent
a happy three weeks there in July. Miss Lavendar had not changed;
Charlotta the Fourth was a very grown-up young lady now, but still
adored Anne sincerely.

"When all's said and done, Miss Shirley, ma'am, I haven't seen
any one in Boston that's equal to you," she said frankly.

Paul was almost grown up, too. He was sixteen, his chestnut
curls had given place to close-cropped brown locks, and he was
more interested in football than fairies. But the bond between
him and his old teacher still held. Kindred spirits alone do not
change with changing years.

It was a wet, bleak, cruel evening in July when Anne came back to
Green Gables. One of the fierce summer storms which sometimes
sweep over the gulf was ravaging the sea. As Anne came in the
first raindrops dashed against the panes.

"Was that Paul who brought you home?" asked Marilla. "Why didn't
you make him stay all night. It's going to be a wild evening."

"He'll reach Echo Lodge before the rain gets very heavy, I think.
Anyway, he wanted to go back tonight. Well, I've had a splendid
visit, but I'm glad to see you dear folks again. `East, west,
hame's best.' Davy, have you been growing again lately?"

"I've growed a whole inch since you left," said Davy proudly.
"I'm as tall as Milty Boulter now. Ain't I glad. He'll have to
stop crowing about being bigger. Say, Anne, did you know that
Gilbert Blythe is dying?" Anne stood quite silent and motionless,
looking at Davy. Her face had gone so white that Marilla thought
she was going to faint.

"Davy, hold your tongue," said Mrs. Rachel angrily. "Anne,
don't look like that -- DON'T LOOK LIKE THAT! We didn't mean
to tell you so suddenly."

"Is -- it -- true?" asked Anne in a voice that was not hers.

"Gilbert is very ill," said Mrs. Lynde gravely. "He took down
with typhoid fever just after you left for Echo Lodge. Did you
never hear of it?"

"No," said that unknown voice.

"It was a very bad case from the start. The doctor said he'd
been terribly run down. They've a trained nurse and everything's
been done. DON'T look like that, Anne. While there's life
there's hope."

"Mr. Harrison was here this evening and he said they had no hope of him,"
reiterated Davy.

Marilla, looking old and worn and tired, got up and marched Davy grimly
out of the kitchen.

"Oh, DON'T look so, dear," said Mrs. Rachel, putting her kind old arms
about the pallid girl. "I haven't given up hope, indeed I haven't.
He's got the Blythe constitution in his favor, that's what."

Anne gently put Mrs. Lynde's arms away from her, walked blindly
across the kitchen, through the hall, up the stairs to her old room.
At its window she knelt down, staring out unseeingly. It was very dark.
The rain was beating down over the shivering fields. The Haunted Woods
was full of the groans of mighty trees wrung in the tempest, and the
air throbbed with the thunderous crash of billows on the distant shore.
And Gilbert was dying!

There is a book of Revelation in every one's life, as there is in the Bible.
Anne read hers that bitter night, as she kept her agonized vigil through
the hours of storm and darkness. She loved Gilbert -- had always loved him!
She knew that now. She knew that she could no more cast him out of her life
without agony than she could have cut off her right hand and cast it from her.
And the knowledge had come too late -- too late even for the bitter solace
of being with him at the last. If she had not been so blind -- so foolish
-- she would have had the right to go to him now. But he would never know
that she loved him -- he would go away from this life thinking that she
did not care. Oh, the black years of emptiness stretching before her!
She could not live through them -- she could not! She cowered down by
her window and wished, for the first time in her gay young life, that
she could die, too. If Gilbert went away from her, without one word or
sign or message, she could not live. Nothing was of any value without him.
She belonged to him and he to her. In her hour of supreme agony she had
no doubt of that. He did not love Christine Stuart -- never had loved
Christine Stuart. Oh, what a fool she had been not to realize what the
bond was that had held her to Gilbert -- to think that the flattered
fancy she had felt for Roy Gardner had been love. And now she must pay
for her folly as for a crime.

Mrs. Lynde and Marilla crept to her door before they went to bed,
shook their heads doubtfully at each other over the silence,
and went away. The storm raged all night, but when the dawn came
it was spent. Anne saw a fairy fringe of light on the skirts of
darkness. Soon the eastern hilltops had a fire-shot ruby rim.
The clouds rolled themselves away into great, soft, white masses
on the horizon; the sky gleamed blue and silvery. A hush fell
over the world.

Anne rose from her knees and crept downstairs. The freshness of
the rain-wind blew against her white face as she went out into
the yard, and cooled her dry, burning eyes. A merry rollicking
whistle was lilting up the lane. A moment later Pacifique Buote
came in sight.

Anne's physical strength suddenly failed her. If she had not
clutched at a low willow bough she would have fallen. Pacifique
was George Fletcher's hired man, and George Fletcher lived
next door to the Blythes. Mrs. Fletcher was Gilbert's aunt.
Pacifique would know if -- if -- Pacifique would know what there
was to be known.

Pacifique strode sturdily on along the red lane, whistling. He
did not see Anne. She made three futile attempts to call him.
He was almost past before she succeeded in making her quivering
lips call, "Pacifique!"

Pacifique turned with a grin and a cheerful good morning.

"Pacifique," said Anne faintly, "did you come from George
Fletcher's this morning?"

"Sure," said Pacifique amiably. "I got de word las' night dat my
fader, he was seeck. It was so stormy dat I couldn't go den, so I
start vair early dis mornin'. I'm goin' troo de woods for short cut."

"Did you hear how Gilbert Blythe was this morning?" Anne's
desperation drove her to the question. Even the worst would be
more endurable than this hideous suspense.

"He's better," said Pacifique. "He got de turn las' night.
De doctor say he'll be all right now dis soon while. Had close
shave, dough! Dat boy, he jus' keel himself at college.
Well, I mus' hurry. De old man, he'll be in hurry to see me."

Pacifique resumed his walk and his whistle. Anne gazed after him
with eyes where joy was driving out the strained anguish of the night.
He was a very lank, very ragged, very homely youth. But in her sight
he was as beautiful as those who bring good tidings on the mountains.
Never, as long as she lived, would Anne see Pacifique's brown, round,
black-eyed face without a warm remembrance of the moment when he had
given to her the oil of joy for mourning.

Long after Pacifique's gay whistle had faded into the phantom of
music and then into silence far up under the maples of Lover's
Lane Anne stood under the willows, tasting the poignant sweetness
of life when some great dread has been removed from it. The
morning was a cup filled with mist and glamor. In the corner
near her was a rich surprise of new-blown, crystal-dewed roses.
The trills and trickles of song from the birds in the big tree
above her seemed in perfect accord with her mood. A sentence
from a very old, very true, very wonderful Book came to her lips,

"Weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning."

XLI

Love Takes Up the Glass of Time

"I've come up to ask you to go for one of our old-time rambles
through September woods and `over hills where spices grow,' this
afternoon," said Gilbert, coming suddenly around the porch corner.
"Suppose we visit Hester Gray's garden."

Anne, sitting on the stone step with her lap full of a pale,
filmy, green stuff, looked up rather blankly.

"Oh, I wish I could," she said slowly, "but I really can't,
Gilbert. I'm going to Alice Penhallow's wedding this evening,
you know. I've got to do something to this dress, and by
the time it's finished I'll have to get ready. I'm so sorry.
I'd love to go."

"Well, can you go tomorrow afternoon, then?" asked Gilbert,
apparently not much disappointed.

"Yes, I think so."

"In that case I shall hie me home at once to do something I
should otherwise have to do tomorrow. So Alice Penhallow is
to be married tonight. Three weddings for you in one summer,
Anne -- Phil's, Alice's, and Jane's. I'll never forgive Jane
for not inviting me to her wedding."

"You really can't blame her when you think of the tremendous
Andrews connection who had to be invited. The house could hardly
hold them all. I was only bidden by grace of being Jane's old
chum -- at least on Jane's part. I think Mrs. Harmon's motive
for inviting me was to let me see Jane's surpassing gorgeousness."

"Is it true that she wore so many diamonds that you couldn't tell
where the diamonds left off and Jane began?"

Anne laughed.

"She certainly wore a good many. What with all the diamonds and
white satin and tulle and lace and roses and orange blossoms,
prim little Jane was almost lost to sight. But she was VERY
happy, and so was Mr. Inglis -- and so was Mrs. Harmon."

"Is that the dress you're going to wear tonight?" asked Gilbert,
looking down at the fluffs and frills.

"Yes. Isn't it pretty? And I shall wear starflowers in my hair.
The Haunted Wood is full of them this summer."

Gilbert had a sudden vision of Anne, arrayed in a frilly green gown,
with the virginal curves of arms and throat slipping out of it,
and white stars shining against the coils of her ruddy hair.
The vision made him catch his breath. But he turned lightly away.

"Well, I'll be up tomorrow. Hope you'll have a nice time tonight."

Anne looked after him as he strode away, and sighed. Gilbert was
friendly -- very friendly -- far too friendly. He had come quite
often to Green Gables after his recovery, and something of their
old comradeship had returned. But Anne no longer found it satisfying.
The rose of love made the blossom of friendship pale and scentless
by contrast. And Anne had again begun to doubt if Gilbert now felt
anything for her but friendship. In the common light of common
day her radiant certainty of that rapt morning had faded. She was
haunted by a miserable fear that her mistake could never be rectified.
It was quite likely that it was Christine whom Gilbert loved after all.
Perhaps he was even engaged to her. Anne tried to put all unsettling
hopes out of her heart, and reconcile herself to a future where work
and ambition must take the place of love. She could do good, if not
noble, work as a teacher; and the success her little sketches were
beginning to meet with in certain editorial sanctums augured well
for her budding literary dreams. But -- but -- Anne picked up her
green dress and sighed again.

When Gilbert came the next afternoon he found Anne waiting for him,
fresh as the dawn and fair as a star, after all the gaiety of the
preceding night. She wore a green dress -- not the one she had
worn to the wedding, but an old one which Gilbert had told her
at a Redmond reception he liked especially. It was just the shade
of green that brought out the rich tints of her hair, and the starry
gray of her eyes and the iris-like delicacy of her skin. Gilbert,
glancing at her sideways as they walked along a shadowy woodpath,
thought she had never looked so lovely. Anne, glancing sideways
at Gilbert, now and then, thought how much older he looked since
his illness. It was as if he had put boyhood behind him forever.

The day was beautiful and the way was beautiful. Anne was almost
sorry when they reached Hester Gray's garden, and sat down on the
old bench. But it was beautiful there, too -- as beautiful as it
had been on the faraway day of the Golden Picnic, when Diana and
Jane and Priscilla and she had found it. Then it had been lovely
with narcissus and violets; now golden rod had kindled its fairy
torches in the corners and asters dotted it bluely. The call of
the brook came up through the woods from the valley of birches
with all its old allurement; the mellow air was full of the purr
of the sea; beyond were fields rimmed by fences bleached silvery
gray in the suns of many summers, and long hills scarfed with the
shadows of autumnal clouds; with the blowing of the west wind old
dreams returned.

"I think," said Anne softly, "that `the land where dreams come true'
is in the blue haze yonder, over that little valley."

"Have you any unfulfilled dreams, Anne?" asked Gilbert.

Something in his tone -- something she had not heard since that
miserable evening in the orchard at Patty's Place -- made Anne's
heart beat wildly. But she made answer lightly.

"Of course. Everybody has. It wouldn't do for us to have all
our dreams fulfilled. We would be as good as dead if we had
nothing left to dream about. What a delicious aroma that
low-descending sun is extracting from the asters and ferns.
I wish we could see perfumes as well as smell them. I'm sure
they would be very beautiful."

Gilbert was not to be thus sidetracked.

"I have a dream," he said slowly. "I persist in dreaming it,
although it has often seemed to me that it could never come true.
I dream of a home with a hearth-fire in it, a cat and dog, the
footsteps of friends -- and YOU!"

Anne wanted to speak but she could find no words. Happiness was
breaking over her like a wave. It almost frightened her.

"I asked you a question over two years ago, Anne. If I ask it
again today will you give me a different answer?"

Still Anne could not speak. But she lifted her eyes, shining
with all the love-rapture of countless generations, and looked
into his for a moment. He wanted no other answer.

They lingered in the old garden until twilight, sweet as dusk in
Eden must have been, crept over it. There was so much to talk
over and recall -- things said and done and heard and thought and
felt and misunderstood.

"I thought you loved Christine Stuart," Anne told him, as
reproachfully as if she had not given him every reason to
suppose that she loved Roy Gardner.

Gilbert laughed boyishly.

"Christine was engaged to somebody in her home town. I knew it
and she knew I knew it. When her brother graduated he told me
his sister was coming to Kingsport the next winter to take music,
and asked me if I would look after her a bit, as she knew no one
and would be very lonely. So I did. And then I liked Christine
for her own sake. She is one of the nicest girls I've ever
known. I knew college gossip credited us with being in love with
each other. I didn't care. Nothing mattered much to me for a
time there, after you told me you could never love me, Anne.
There was nobody else -- there never could be anybody else for me
but you. I've loved you ever since that day you broke your slate
over my head in school."

"I don't see how you could keep on loving me when I was such a
little fool," said Anne.

"Well, I tried to stop," said Gilbert frankly, "not because I
thought you what you call yourself, but because I felt sure there
was no chance for me after Gardner came on the scene. But I
couldn't -- and I can't tell you, either, what it's meant to me
these two years to believe you were going to marry him, and be
told every week by some busybody that your engagement was on the
point of being announced. I believed it until one blessed day
when I was sitting up after the fever. I got a letter from Phil
Gordon -- Phil Blake, rather -- in which she told me there was
really nothing between you and Roy, and advised me to `try again.'
Well, the doctor was amazed at my rapid recovery after that."

Anne laughed -- then shivered.

"I can never forget the night I thought you were dying, Gilbert.
Oh, I knew -- I KNEW then -- and I thought it was too late."

"But it wasn't, sweetheart. Oh, Anne, this makes up for
everything, doesn't it? Let's resolve to keep this day sacred to
perfect beauty all our lives for the gift it has given us."

"It's the birthday of our happiness," said Anne softly.
"I've always loved this old garden of Hester Gray's,
and now it will be dearer than ever."

"But I'll have to ask you to wait a long time, Anne,"
said Gilbert sadly. "It will be three years before
I'll finish my medical course. And even then there
will be no diamond sunbursts and marble halls."

Anne laughed.

"I don't want sunbursts and marble halls. I just want YOU.
You see I'm quite as shameless as Phil about it. Sunbursts and
marble halls may be all very well, but there is more `scope for
imagination' without them. And as for the waiting, that doesn't
matter. We'll just be happy, waiting and working for each other
-- and dreaming. Oh, dreams will be very sweet now."

Gilbert drew her close to him and kissed her. Then they walked
home together in the dusk, crowned king and queen in the bridal
realm of love, along winding paths fringed with the sweetest
flowers that ever bloomed, and over haunted meadows where winds
of hope and memory blew.

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