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Anne's House of Dreams by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Part 4 out of 6

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now. I shall always see it. Anne, all I ask of heaven
is that that recollection shall be blotted out of my
memory. O my God!"

"Leslie, don't speak of it. I know the story--don't go
into details that only harrow your soul up
unavailingly. It WILL be blotted out."

After a moment's struggle, Leslie regained a measure of
self- control.

"Then father's health got worse and he grew
despondent--his mind became unbalanced--you've heard
all that, too?"

"Yes."

"After that I had just mother to live for. But I was
very ambitious. I meant to teach and earn my way
through college. I meant to climb to the very top--oh,
I won't talk of that either. It's no use. You know
what happened. I couldn't see my dear little
heart-broken mother, who had been such a slave all her
life, turned out of her home. Of course, I could have
earned enough for us to live on. But mother COULDN'T
leave her home. She had come there as a bride--and she
had loved father so--and all her memories were there.
Even yet, Anne, when I think that I made her last year
happy I'm not sorry for what I did. As for Dick--I
didn't hate him when I married him--I just felt for him
the indifferent, friendly feeling I had for most of my
schoolmates. I knew he drank some--but I had never
heard the story of the girl down at the fishing cove.
If I had, I COULDN'T have married him, even for
mother's sake. Afterwards--I DID hate him--but mother
never knew. She died--and then I was alone. I was
only seventeen and I was alone. Dick had gone off in
the Four Sisters. I hoped he wouldn't be home very
much more. The sea had always been in his blood. I
had no other hope. Well, Captain Jim brought him home,
as you know--and that's all there is to say. You know
me now, Anne--the worst of me--the barriers are all
down. And you still want to be my friend?"

Anne looked up through the birches, at the white
paper-lantern of a half moon drifting downwards to the
gulf of sunset. Her face was very sweet.

"I am your friend and you are mine, for always," she
said. "Such a friend as I never had before. I have
had many dear and beloved friends--but there is a
something in you, Leslie, that I never found in anyone
else. You have more to offer me in that rich nature of
yours, and I have more to give you than I had in my
careless girlhood. We are both women--and friends
forever."

They clasped hands and smiled at each other through the
tears that filled the gray eyes and the blue.

CHAPTER 22

MISS CORNELIA ARRANGES MATTERS

Gilbert insisted that Susan should be kept on at the
little house for the summer. Anne protested at first.

"Life here with just the two of us is so sweet,
Gilbert. It spoils it a little to have anyone else.
Susan is a dear soul, but she is an outsider. It won't
hurt me to do the work here."

"You must take your doctor's advice," said Gilbert.
"There's an old proverb to the effect that shoemakers'
wives go barefoot and doctors' wives die young. I
don't mean that it shall be true in my household. You
will keep Susan until the old spring comes back into
your step, and those little hollows on your cheeks fill
out."

"You just take it easy, Mrs. Doctor, dear," said
Susan, coming abruptly in. "Have a good time and do
not worry about the pantry. Susan is at the helm.
There is no use in keeping a dog and doing your own
barking. I am going to take your breakfast up to you
every morning."

"Indeed you are not," laughed Anne. "I agree with
Miss Cornelia that it's a scandal for a woman who isn't
sick to eat her breakfast in bed, and almost justifies
the men in any enormities."

"Oh, Cornelia!" said Susan, with ineffable contempt.
"I think you have better sense, Mrs. Doctor, dear, than
to heed what Cornelia Bryant says. I cannot see why
she must be always running down the men, even if she is
an old maid. _I_ am an old maid, but you never hear ME
abusing the men. I like 'em. I would have married one
if I could. Is it not funny nobody ever asked me to
marry him, Mrs. Doctor, dear? I am no beauty, but I am
as good-looking as most of the married women you see.
But I never had a beau. What do you suppose is the
reason?"

"It may be predestination," suggested Anne, with
unearthly solemnity.

Susan nodded.

"That is what I have often thought, Mrs. Doctor, dear,
and a great comfort it is. I do not mind nobody
wanting me if the Almighty decreed it so for His own
wise purposes. But sometimes doubt creeps in, Mrs.
Doctor, dear, and I wonder if maybe the Old Scratch has
not more to do with it than anyone else. I cannot feel
resigned THEN. But maybe," added Susan, brightening
up, "I will have a chance to get married yet. I often
and often think of the old verse my aunt used to
repeat:

There never was a goose so gray but sometime soon or
late Some honest gander came her way and took her for
his mate!

A woman cannot ever be sure of not being married till
she is buried, Mrs. Doctor, dear, and meanwhile I will
make a batch of cherry pies. I notice the doctor
favors 'em, and I DO like cooking for a man who
appreciates his victuals."

Miss Cornelia dropped in that afternoon, puffing a
little.

"I don't mind the world or the devil much, but the
flesh DOES rather bother me," she admitted. "You
always look as cool as a cucumber, Anne, dearie. Do I
smell cherry pie? If I do, ask me to stay to tea.
Haven't tasted a cherry pie this summer. My cherries
have all been stolen by those scamps of Gilman boys
from the Glen."

"Now, now, Cornelia," remonstrated Captain Jim, who
had been reading a sea novel in a corner of the living
room, "you shouldn't say that about those two poor,
motherless Gilman boys, unless you've got certain
proof. Jest because their father ain't none too honest
isn't any reason for calling them thieves. It's more
likely it's been the robins took your cherries.
They're turrible thick this year."

"Robins!" said Miss Cornelia disdainfully. "Humph!
Two- legged robins, believe ME!"

"Well, most of the Four Winds robins ARE constructed on
that principle," said Captain Jim gravely.

Miss Cornelia stared at him for a moment. Then she
leaned back in her rocker and laughed long and
ungrudgingly.

"Well, you HAVE got one on me at last, Jim Boyd, I'll
admit. Just look how pleased he is, Anne, dearie,
grinning like a Chessy-cat. As for the robins' legs if
robins have great, big, bare, sunburned legs, with
ragged trousers hanging on 'em, such as I saw up in my
cherry tree one morning at sunrise last week, I'll beg
the Gilman boys' pardon. By the time I got down they
were gone. I couldn't understand how they had
disappeared so quick, but Captain Jim has enlightened
me. They flew away, of course."

Captain Jim laughed and went away, regretfully
declining an invitation to stay to supper and partake
of cherry pie.

"I'm on my way to see Leslie and ask her if she'll take
a boarder," Miss Cornelia resumed. "I'd a letter
yesterday from a Mrs. Daly in Toronto, who boarded a
spell with me two years ago. She wanted me to take a
friend of hers for the summer. His name is Owen Ford,
and he's a newspaper man, and it seems he's a grandson
of the schoolmaster who built this house. John
Selwyn's oldest daughter married an Ontario man named
Ford, and this is her son. He wants to see the old
place his grandparents lived in. He had a bad spell of
typhoid in the spring and hasn't got rightly over it,
so his doctor has ordered him to the sea. He doesn't
want to go to the hotel--he just wants a quiet home
place. I can't take him, for I have to be away in
August. I've been appointed a delegate to the W.F.M.S.
convention in Kingsport and I'm going. I don't know
whether Leslie'll want to be bothered with him, either,
but there's no one else. If she can't take him he'll
have to go over the harbor."

"When you've seen her come back and help us eat our
cherry pies," said Anne. "Bring Leslie and Dick, too,
if they can come. And so you're going to Kingsport?
What a nice time you will have. I must give you a
letter to a friend of mine there--Mrs. Jonas Blake."

"I've prevailed on Mrs. Thomas Holt to go with me,"
said Miss Cornelia complacently. "It's time she had a
little holiday, believe ME. She has just about worked
herself to death. Tom Holt can crochet beautifully,
but he can't make a living for his family. He never
seems to be able to get up early enough to do any work,
but I notice he can always get up early to go fishing.
Isn't that like a man?"

Anne smiled. She had learned to discount largely Miss
Cornelia's opinions of the Four Winds men. Otherwise
she must have believed them the most hopeless
assortment of reprobates and ne'er-do-wells in the
world, with veritable slaves and martyrs for wives.
This particular Tom Holt, for example, she knew to be a
kind husband, a much loved father, and an excellent
neighbor. If he were rather inclined to be lazy,
liking better the fishing he had been born for than the
farming he had not, and if he had a harmless
eccentricity for doing fancy work, nobody save Miss
Cornelia seemed to hold it against him. His wife was
a "hustler," who gloried in hustling; his family got a
comfortable living off the farm; and his strapping sons
and daughters, inheriting their mother's energy, were
all in a fair way to do well in the world. There was
not a happier household in Glen St. Mary than the
Holts'.

Miss Cornelia returned satisfied from the house up the
brook.

"Leslie's going to take him," she announced. "She
jumped at the chance. She wants to make a little money
to shingle the roof of her house this fall, and she
didn't know how she was going to manage it. I expect
Captain Jim'll be more than interested when he hears
that a grandson of the Selwyns' is coming here. Leslie
said to tell you she hankered after cherry pie, but she
couldn't come to tea because she has to go and hunt up
her turkeys. They've strayed away. But she said, if
there was a piece left, for you to put it in the pantry
and she'd run over in the cat's light, when prowling's
in order, to get it. You don't know, Anne, dearie,
what good it did my heart to hear Leslie send you a
message like that, laughing like she used to long ago.

There's a great change come over her lately. She
laughs and jokes like a girl, and from her talk I
gather she's here real often."

"Every day--or else I'm over there," said Anne. "I
don't know what I'd do without Leslie, especially just
now when Gilbert is so busy. He's hardly ever home
except for a few hours in the wee sma's. He's really
working himself to death. So many of the over-harbor
people send for him now."

"They might better be content with their own doctor,"
said Miss Cornelia. "Though to be sure I can't blame
them, for he's a Methodist. Ever since Dr. Blythe
brought Mrs. Allonby round folks think he can raise the
dead. I believe Dr. Dave is a mite jealous--just like
a man. He thinks Dr. Blythe has too many new-fangled
notions! `Well,' I says to him, `it was a new-fangled
notion saved Rhoda Allonby. If YOU'D been attending
her she'd have died, and had a tombstone saying it had
pleased God to take her away.' Oh, I DO like to speak
my mind to Dr. Dave! He's bossed the Glen for years,
and he thinks he's forgotten more than other people
ever knew. Speaking of doctors, I wish Dr. Blythe'd
run over and see to that boil on Dick Moore's neck.
It's getting past Leslie's skill. I'm sure I don't
know what Dick Moore wants to start in having boils
for--as if he wasn't enough trouble without that!"

"Do you know, Dick has taken quite a fancy to me,"
said Anne. "He follows me round like a dog, and smiles
like a pleased child when I notice him."

"Does it make you creepy?"

"Not at all. I rather like poor Dick Moore. He seems
so pitiful and appealing, somehow."

"You wouldn't think him very appealing if you'd see him
on his cantankerous days, believe ME. But I'm glad you
don't mind him-- it's all the nicer for Leslie. She'll
have more to do when her boarder comes. I hope he'll
be a decent creature. You'll probably like him--he's a
writer."

"I wonder why people so commonly suppose that if two
individuals are both writers they must therefore be
hugely congenial," said Anne, rather scornfully.
"Nobody would expect two blacksmiths to be violently
attracted toward each other merely because they were
both blacksmiths."

Nevertheless, she looked forward to the advent of Owen
Ford with a pleasant sense of expectation. If he were
young and likeable he might prove a very pleasant
addition to society in Four Winds. The latch-string of
the little house was always out for the race of Joseph.

CHAPTER 23

OWEN FORD COMES

One evening Miss Cornelia telephoned down to Anne.

"The writer man has just arrived here. I'm going to
drive him down to your place, and you can show him the
way over to Leslie's. It's shorter than driving round
by the other road, and I'm in a mortal hurry. The
Reese baby has gone and fallen into a pail of hot water
at the Glen, and got nearly scalded to death and they
want me right off--to put a new skin on the child, I
presume. Mrs. Reese is always so careless, and then
expects other people to mend her mistakes. You won't
mind, will you, dearie? His trunk can go down
tomorrow."

"Very well," said Anne. "What is he like, Miss
Cornelia?"

"You'll see what he's like outside when I take him
down. As for what he's like inside only the Lord who
made him knows THAT. I'm not going to say another
word, for every receiver in the Glen is down."

"Miss Cornelia evidently can't find much fault with Mr.
Ford's looks, or she would find it in spite of the
receivers," said Anne. "I conclude therefore, Susan,
that Mr. Ford is rather handsome than otherwise."

"Well, Mrs. Doctor, dear, I DO enjoy seeing a
well-looking man," said Susan candidly. "Had I not
better get up a snack for him? There is a strawberry
pie that would melt in your mouth."

"No, Leslie is expecting him and has his supper ready.
Besides, I want that strawberry pie for my own poor
man. He won't be home till late, so leave the pie and
a glass of milk out for him, Susan."

"That I will, Mrs. Doctor, dear. Susan is at the helm.
After all, it is better to give pie to your own men
than to strangers, who may be only seeking to devour,
and the doctor himself is as well-looking a man as you
often come across."

When Owen Ford came Anne secretly admitted, as Miss
Cornelia towed him in, that he was very "well-looking"
indeed. He was tall and broad-shouldered, with thick,
brown hair, finely-cut nose and chin, large and
brilliant dark-gray eyes.

"And did you notice his ears and his teeth, Mrs.
Doctor, dear?" queried Susan later on. "He has got
the nicest-shaped ears I ever saw on a man's head. I
am choice about ears. When I was young I was scared
that I might have to marry a man with ears like flaps.
But I need not have worried, for never a chance did I
have with any kind of ears."

Anne had not noticed Owen Ford's ears, but she did see
his teeth, as his lips parted over them in a frank and
friendly smile. Unsmiling, his face was rather sad and
absent in expression, not unlike the melancholy,
inscrutable hero of Anne's own early dreams; but mirth
and humor and charm lighted it up when he smiled.
Certainly, on the outside, as Miss Cornelia said, Owen
Ford was a very presentable fellow.

"You cannot realise how delighted I am to be here, Mrs.
Blythe," he said, looking around him with eager,
interested eyes. "I have an odd feeling of coming
home. My mother was born and spent her childhood
here, you know. She used to talk a great deal to me of
her old home. I know the geography of it as well as of
the one I lived in, and, of course, she told me the
story of the building of the house, and of my
grandfather's agonised watch for the Royal William. I
had thought that so old a house must have vanished
years ago, or I should have come to see it before
this."

"Old houses don't vanish easily on this enchanted
coast," smiled Anne. "This is a `land where all
things always seem the same'-- nearly always, at least.
John Selwyn's house hasn't even been much changed, and
outside the rose-bushes your grandfather planted for
his bride are blooming this very minute."

"How the thought links me with them! With your leave I
must explore the whole place soon."

"Our latch-string will always be out for you,"
promised Anne. "And do you know that the old sea
captain who keeps the Four Winds light knew John Selwyn
and his bride well in his boyhood? He told me their
story the night I came here--the third bride of the old
house."

"Can it be possible? This IS a discovery. I must hunt
him up."

"It won't be difficult; we are all cronies of Captain
Jim. He will be as eager to see you as you could be to
see him. Your grandmother shines like a star in his
memory. But I think Mrs. Moore is expecting you. I'll
show you our `cross-lots' road."

Anne walked with him to the house up the brook, over a
field that was as white as snow with daisies. A
boat-load of people were singing far across the harbor.
The sound drifted over the water like faint, unearthly
music wind-blown across a starlit sea. The big light
flashed and beaconed. Owen Ford looked around him with
satisfaction.

"And so this is Four Winds," he said. "I wasn't
prepared to find it quite so beautiful, in spite of all
mother's praises. What colors-- what scenery--what
charm! I shall get as strong as a horse in no time.
And if inspiration comes from beauty, I should
certainly be able to begin my great Canadian novel
here."

"You haven't begun it yet?" asked Anne.

"Alack-a-day, no. I've never been able to get the
right central idea for it. It lurks beyond me--it
allures--and beckons--and recedes-- I almost grasp it
and it is gone. Perhaps amid this peace and
loveliness, I shall be able to capture it. Miss Bryant
tells me that you write."

"Oh, I do little things for children. I haven't done
much since I was married. And--I have no designs on a
great Canadian novel," laughed Anne. "That is quite
beyond me."

Owen Ford laughed too.

"I dare say it is beyond me as well. All the same I
mean to have a try at it some day, if I can ever get
time. A newspaper man doesn't have much chance for
that sort of thing. I've done a good deal of short
story writing for the magazines, but I've never had the
leisure that seems to be necessary for the writing of a
book. With three months of liberty I ought to make a
start, though--if I could only get the necessary motif
for it--the SOUL of the book."

An idea whisked through Anne's brain with a suddenness
that made her jump. But she did not utter it, for they
had reached the Moore house. As they entered the yard
Leslie came out on the veranda from the side door,
peering through the gloom for some sign of her expected
guest. She stood just where the warm yellow light
flooded her from the open door. She wore a plain dress
of cheap, cream-tinted cotton voile, with the usual
girdle of crimson. Leslie was never without her touch
of crimson. She had told Anne that she never felt
satisfied without a gleam of red somewhere about her,
if it were only a flower. To Anne, it always seemed to
symbolise Leslie's glowing, pent-up personality,
denied all expression save in that flaming glint.
Leslie's dress was cut a little away at the neck and
had short sleeves. Her arms gleamed like ivory-tinted
marble. Every exquisite curve of her form was
outlined in soft darkness against the light. Her hair
shone in it like flame. Beyond her was a purple sky,
flowering with stars over the harbor.

Anne heard her companion give a gasp. Even in the dusk
she could see the amazement and admiration on his face.

"Who is that beautiful creature?" he asked.

"That is Mrs. Moore," said Anne. "She is very lovely,
isn't she?"

"I--I never saw anything like her," he answered,
rather dazedly. "I wasn't prepared--I didn't
expect--good heavens, one DOESN'T expect a goddess for
a landlady ! Why, if she were clothed in a gown of
sea-purple, with a rope of amethysts in her hair, she
would be a veritable sea-queen. And she takes in
boarders!"

"Even goddesses must live," said Anne. "And Leslie
isn't a goddess. She's just a very beautiful woman, as
human as the rest of us. Did Miss Bryant tell you
about Mr. Moore?"

"Yes,--he's mentally deficient, or something of the
sort, isn't he? But she said nothing about Mrs. Moore,
and I supposed she'd be the usual hustling country
housewife who takes in boarders to earn an honest
penny."

"Well, that's just what Leslie is doing," said Anne
crisply. "And it isn't altogether pleasant for her,
either. I hope you won't mind Dick. If you do, please
don't let Leslie see it. It would hurt her horribly.
He's just a big baby, and sometimes a rather annoying
one."

"Oh, I won't mind him. I don't suppose I'll be much in
the house anyhow, except for meals. But what a shame
it all is! Her life must be a hard one."

"It is. But she doesn't like to be pitied."

Leslie had gone back into the house and now met them at
the front door. She greeted Owen Ford with cold
civility, and told him in a business-like tone that his
room and his supper were ready for him. Dick, with a
pleased grin, shambled upstairs with the valise, and
Owen Ford was installed as an inmate of the old house
among the willows.

CHAPTER 24

THE LIFE-BOOK OF CAPTAIN JIM

"I have a little brown cocoon of an idea that may
possibly expand into a magnificent moth of
fulfilment," Anne told Gilbert when she reached home.
He had returned earlier than she had expected, and was
enjoying Susan's cherry pie. Susan herself hovered in
the background, like a rather grim but beneficent
guardian spirit, and found as much pleasure in watching
Gilbert eat pie as he did in eating it.

"What is your idea?" he asked.

"I sha'n't tell you just yet--not till I see if I can
bring the thing about."

"What sort of a chap is Ford?"

"Oh, very nice, and quite good-looking."

"Such beautiful ears, doctor, dear," interjected Susan
with a relish.

"He is about thirty or thirty-five, I think, and he
meditates writing a novel. His voice is pleasant and
his smile delightful, and he knows how to dress. He
looks as if life hadn't been altogether easy for him,
somehow."

Owen Ford came over the next evening with a note to
Anne from Leslie; they spent the sunset time in the
garden and then went for a moonlit sail on the harbor,
in the little boat Gilbert had set up for summer
outings. They liked Owen immensely and had that
feeling of having known him for many years which
distinguishes the freemasonry of the house of Joseph.
"He is as nice as his ears, Mrs. Doctor, dear," said
Susan, when he had gone. He had told Susan that he had
never tasted anything like her strawberry shortcake and
Susan's susceptible heart was his forever.

"He has got a way with him." she reflected, as she
cleared up the relics of the supper. "It is real queer
he is not married, for a man like that could have
anybody for the asking. Well, maybe he is like me, and
has not met the right one yet."

Susan really grew quite romantic in her musings as she
washed the supper dishes.

Two nights later Anne took Owen Ford down to Four Winds
Point to introduce him to Captain Jim. The clover
fields along the harbor shore were whitening in the
western wind, and Captain Jim had one of his finest
sunsets on exhibition. He himself had just returned
from a trip over the harbor.

"I had to go over and tell Henry Pollack he was dying.
Everybody else was afraid to tell him. They expected
he'd take on turrible, for he's been dreadful
determined to live, and been making no end of plans for
the fall. His wife thought he oughter be told and that
I'd be the best one to break it to him that he couldn't
get better. Henry and me are old cronies--we sailed in
the Gray Gull for years together. Well, I went over
and sat down by Henry's bed and I says to him, says I,
jest right out plain and simple, for if a thing's got
to be told it may as well be told first as last, says
I, `Mate, I reckon you've got your sailing orders this
time,' I was sorter quaking inside, for it's an awful
thing to have to tell a man who hain't any idea he's
dying that he is. But lo and behold, Mistress Blythe,
Henry looks up at me, with those bright old black eyes
of his in his wizened face and says, says he, `Tell me
something I don't know, Jim Boyd, if you want to give
me information. I've known THAT for a week.' I was
too astonished to speak, and Henry, he chuckled. `To
see you coming in here,' says he, `with your face as
solemn as a tombstone and sitting down there with your
hands clasped over your stomach, and passing me out a
blue-mouldy old item of news like that! It'd make a
cat laugh, Jim Boyd,' says he. `Who told you?' says I,
stupid like. `Nobody,' says he. `A week ago Tuesday
night I was lying here awake--and I jest knew. I'd
suspicioned it before, but then I KNEW. I've been
keeping up for the wife's sake. And I'd LIKE to have
got that barn built, for Eben'll never get it right.
But anyhow, now that you've eased your mind, Jim, put
on a smile and tell me something interesting,' Well,
there it was. They'd been so scared to tell him and he
knew it all the time. Strange how nature looks out for
us, ain't it, and lets us know what we should know when
the time comes? Did I never tell you the yarn about
Henry getting the fish hook in his nose, Mistress
Blythe?"

"No."

"Well, him and me had a laugh over it today. It
happened nigh unto thirty years ago. Him and me and
several more was out mackerel fishing one day. It was
a great day--never saw such a school of mackerel in
the gulf--and in the general excitement Henry got quite
wild and contrived to stick a fish hook clean through
one side of his nose. Well, there he was; there was
barb on one end and a big piece of lead on the other,
so it couldn't be pulled out. We wanted to take him
ashore at once, but Henry was game; he said he'd be
jiggered if he'd leave a school like that for anything
short of lockjaw; then he kept fishing away, hauling in
hand over fist and groaning between times. Fin'lly the
school passed and we come in with a load; I got a file
and begun to try to file through that hook. I tried to
be as easy as I could, but you should have heard
Henry--no, you shouldn't either. It was well no ladies
were around. Henry wasn't a swearing man, but he'd
heard some few matters of that sort along shore in his
time, and he fished 'em all out of his recollection and
hurled 'em at me. Fin'lly he declared he couldn't
stand it and I had no bowels of compassion. So we
hitched up and I drove him to a doctor in
Charlottetown, thirty-five miles--there weren't none
nearer in them days--with that blessed hook still
hanging from his nose. When we got there old Dr. Crabb
jest took a file and filed that hook jest the same as
I'd tried to do, only he weren't a mite particular
about doing it easy!"

Captain Jim's visit to his old friend had revived many
recollections and he was now in the full tide of
reminiscences.

"Henry was asking me today if I remembered the time old
Father Chiniquy blessed Alexander MacAllister's boat.
Another odd yarn--and true as gospel. I was in the
boat myself. We went out, him and me, in Alexander
MacAllister's boat one morning at sunrise. Besides,
there was a French boy in the boat--Catholic of course.
You know old Father Chiniquy had turned Protestant, so
the Catholics hadn't much use for him. Well, we sat
out in the gulf in the broiling sun till noon, and not
a bite did we get. When we went ashore old Father
Chiniquy had to go, so he said in that polite way of
his, `I'm very sorry I cannot go out with you dis
afternoon, Mr. MacAllister, but I leave you my
blessing. You will catch a t'ousand dis afternoon.
`Well, we did not catch a thousand, but we caught
exactly nine hundred and ninety-nine--the biggest catch
for a small boat on the whole north shore that summer.
Curious, wasn't it? Alexander MacAllister, he says to
Andrew Peters, `Well, and what do you think of Father
Chiniquy now?' `Vell,' growled Andrew, `I t'ink de old
devil has got a blessing left yet.' Laws, how Henry
did laugh over that today!"

"Do you know who Mr. Ford is, Captain Jim?" asked
Anne, seeing that Captain Jim's fountain of
reminiscence had run out for the present. "I want you
to guess."

Captain Jim shook his head.

"I never was any hand at guessing, Mistress Blythe, and
yet somehow when I come in I thought, `Where have I
seen them eyes before?'--for I HAVE seen 'em."

"Think of a September morning many years ago," said
Anne, softly. "Think of a ship sailing up the
harbor--a ship long waited for and despaired of. Think
of the day the Royal William came in and the first
look you had at the schoolmaster's bride."

Captain Jim sprang up.

"They're Persis Selwyn's eyes," he almost shouted.
"You can't be her son--you must be her--"

"Grandson; yes, I am Alice Selwyn's son."

Captain Jim swooped down on Owen Ford and shook his
hand over again.

"Alice Selwyn's son! Lord, but you're welcome! Many's
the time I've wondered where the descendants of the
schoolmaster were living. I knew there was none on the
Island. Alice--Alice--the first baby ever born in that
little house. No baby ever brought more joy! I've
dandled her a hundred times. It was from my knee she
took her first steps alone. Can't I see her mother's
face watching her--and it was near sixty years ago. Is
she living yet?"

"No, she died when I was only a boy."

"Oh, it doesn't seem right that I should be living to
hear that," sighed Captain Jim. "But I'm heart-glad
to see you. It's brought back my youth for a little
while. You don't know yet what a boon THAT is.
Mistress Blythe here has the trick--she does it quite
often for me."

Captain Jim was still more excited when he discovered
that Owen Ford was what he called a "real writing
man." He gazed at him as at a superior being.
Captain Jim knew that Anne wrote, but he had never
taken that fact very seriously. Captain Jim thought
women were delightful creatures, who ought to have the
vote, and everything else they wanted, bless their
hearts; but he did not believe they could write.

"Jest look at A Mad Love," he would protest. "A woman
wrote that and jest look at it--one hundred and three
chapters when it could all have been told in ten. A
writing woman never knows when to stop; that's the
trouble. The p'int of good writing is to know when to
stop."

"Mr. Ford wants to hear some of your stories, Captain
Jim" said Anne. "Tell him the one about the captain
who went crazy and imagined he was the Flying
Dutchman."

This was Captain Jim's best story. It was a compound
of horror and humor, and though Anne had heard it
several times she laughed as heartily and shivered as
fearsomely over it as Mr. Ford did. Other tales
followed, for Captain Jim had an audience after his own
heart. He told how his vessel had been run down by a
steamer; how he had been boarded by Malay pirates; how
his ship had caught fire; how he helped a political
prisoner escape from a South African republic; how he
had been wrecked one fall on the Magdalens and stranded
there for the winter; how a tiger had broken loose on
board ship; how his crew had mutinied and marooned him
on a barren island--these and many other tales, tragic
or humorous or grotesque, did Captain Jim relate. The
mystery of the sea, the fascination of far lands, the
lure of adventure, the laughter of the world--his
hearers felt and realised them all. Owen Ford
listened, with his head on his hand, and the First
Mate purring on his knee, his brilliant eyes fastened
on Captain Jim's rugged, eloquent face.

"Won't you let Mr. Ford see your life-book, Captain
Jim?" asked Anne, when Captain Jim finally declared
that yarn-spinning must end for the time.

"Oh, he don't want to be bothered with THAT,"
protested Captain Jim, who was secretly dying to show
it.

"I should like nothing better than to see it, Captain
Boyd," said Owen. "If it is half as wonderful as your
tales it will be worth seeing."

With pretended reluctance Captain Jim dug his life-book
out of his old chest and handed it to Owen.

"I reckon you won't care to wrastle long with my old
hand o' write. I never had much schooling," he
observed carelessly. "Just wrote that there to amuse
my nephew Joe. He's always wanting stories. Comes
here yesterday and says to me, reproachful-like, as I
was lifting a twenty-pound codfish out of my boat,
`Uncle Jim, ain't a codfish a dumb animal?' I'd been
a-telling him, you see, that he must be real kind to
dumb animals, and never hurt 'em in any way. I got out
of the scrape by saying a codfish was dumb enough but
it wasn't an animal, but Joe didn't look satisfied, and
I wasn't satisfied myself. You've got to be mighty
careful what you tell them little critters. THEY can
see through you."

While talking, Captain Jim watched Owen Ford from the
corner of his eye as the latter examined the life-book;
and presently observing that his guest was lost in its
pages, he turned smilingly to his cupboard and
proceeded to make a pot of tea. Owen Ford separated
himself from the life-book, with as much reluctance as
a miser wrenches himself from his gold, long enough to
drink his tea, and then returned to it hungrily.

"Oh, you can take that thing home with you if you want
to," said Captain Jim, as if the "thing" were not his
most treasured possession. "I must go down and pull my
boat up a bit on the skids. There's a wind coming.
Did you notice the sky tonight?

Mackerel skies and mares' tails Make tall ships
carry short sails."

Owen Ford accepted the offer of the life-book gladly.
On their way home Anne told him the story of lost
Margaret.

"That old captain is a wonderful old fellow," he said.
"What a life he has led! Why, the man had more
adventures in one week of his life than most of us have
in a lifetime. Do you really think his tales are all
true?"

"I certainly do. I am sure Captain Jim could not tell
a lie; and besides, all the people about here say that
everything happened as he relates it. There used to be
plenty of his old shipmates alive to corroborate him.
He's one of the last of the old type of P.E. Island
sea-captains. They are almost extinct now."

CHAPTER 25

THE WRITING OF THE BOOK

Owen Ford came over to the little house the next
morning in a state of great excitement. "Mrs. Blythe,
this is a wonderful book--absolutely wonderful. If I
could take it and use the material for a book I feel
certain I could make the novel of the year out of it.
Do you suppose Captain Jim would let me do it?"

"Let you! I'm sure he would be delighted," cried
Anne. "I admit that it was what was in my head when I
took you down last night. Captain Jim has always been
wishing he could get somebody to write his life-book
properly for him."

"Will you go down to the Point with me this evening,
Mrs. Blythe? I'll ask him about that life-book myself,
but I want you to tell him that you told me the story
of lost Margaret and ask him if he will let me use it
as a thread of romance with which to weave the stories
of the life-book into a harmonious whole."

Captain Jim was more excited than ever when Owen Ford
told him of his plan. At last his cherished dream was
to be realized and his "life-book" given to the world.
He was also pleased that the story of lost Margaret
should be woven into it.

"It will keep her name from being forgotten," he said
wistfully.

"That's why I want it put in."

"We'll collaborate," cried Owen delightedly. "You
will give the soul and I the body. Oh, we'll write a
famous book between us, Captain Jim. And we'll get
right to work."

"And to think my book is to be writ by the
schoolmaster's grandson!" exclaimed Captain Jim.
"Lad, your grandfather was my dearest friend. I
thought there was nobody like him. I see now why I had
to wait so long. It couldn't be writ till the right
man come. You BELONG here--you've got the soul of this
old north shore in you-- you're the only one who COULD
write it."

It was arranged that the tiny room off the living room
at the lighthouse should be given over to Owen for a
workshop. It was necessary that Captain Jim should be
near him as he wrote, for consultation upon many
matters of sea-faring and gulf lore of which Owen was
quite ignorant.

He began work on the book the very next morning, and
flung himself into it heart and soul. As for Captain
Jim, he was a happy man that summer. He looked upon
the little room where Owen worked as a sacred shrine.
Owen talked everything over with Captain Jim, but he
would not let him see the manuscript.

"You must wait until it is published," he said. "Then
you'll get it all at once in its best shape."

He delved into the treasures of the life-book and used
them freely. He dreamed and brooded over lost Margaret
until she became a vivid reality to him and lived in
his pages. As the book progressed it took possession
of him and he worked at it with feverish eagerness. He
let Anne and Leslie read the manuscript and criticise
it; and the concluding chapter of the book, which the
critics, later on, were pleased to call idyllic, was
modelled upon a suggestion of Leslie's.

Anne fairly hugged herself with delight over the
success of her idea.

"I knew when I looked at Owen Ford that he was the very
man for it," she told Gilbert. "Both humor and
passion were in his face, and that, together with the
art of expression, was just what was necessary for the
writing of such a book. As Mrs. Rachel would say, he
was predestined for the part."

Owen Ford wrote in the mornings. The afternoons were
generally spent in some merry outing with the Blythes.
Leslie often went, too, for Captain Jim took charge of
Dick frequently, in order to set her free. They went
boating on the harbor and up the three pretty rivers
that flowed into it; they had clambakes on the bar and
mussel-bakes on the rocks; they picked strawberries on
the sand-dunes; they went out cod-fishing with Captain
Jim; they shot plover in the shore fields and wild
ducks in the cove--at least, the men did. In the
evenings they rambled in the low-lying, daisied, shore
fields under a golden moon, or they sat in the living
room at the little house where often the coolness of
the sea breeze justified a driftwood fire, and talked
of the thousand and one things which happy, eager,
clever young people can find to talk about.

Ever since the day on which she had made her confession
to Anne Leslie had been a changed creature. There was
no trace of her old coldness and reserve, no shadow of
her old bitterness. The girlhood of which she had been
cheated seemed to come back to her with the ripeness of
womanhood; she expanded like a flower of flame and
perfume; no laugh was readier than hers, no wit
quicker, in the twilight circles of that enchanted
summer. When she could not be with them all felt that
some exquisite savor was lacking in their intercourse.
Her beauty was illumined by the awakened soul within,
as some rosy lamp might shine through a flawless vase
of alabaster. There were hours when Anne's eyes seemed
to ache with the splendor of her. As for Owen Ford,
the "Margaret" of his book, although she had the soft
brown hair and elfin face of the real girl who had
vanished so long ago, "pillowed where lost Atlantis
sleeps," had the personality of Leslie Moore, as it
was revealed to him in those halcyon days at Four Winds
Harbor.

All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer--one
of those summers which come seldom into any life, but
leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their
going--one of those summers which, in a fortunate
combination of delightful weather, delightful friends
and delightful doings, come as near to perfection as
anything can come in this world.

"Too good to last," Anne told herself with a little
sigh, on the September day when a certain nip in the
wind and a certain shade of intense blue on the gulf
water said that autumn was hard by.

That evening Owen Ford told them that he had finished
his book and that his vacation must come to an end.

"I have a good deal to do to it yet--revising and
pruning and so forth," he said, "but in the main it's
done. I wrote the last sentence this morning. If I
can find a publisher for it it will probably be out
next summer or fall."

Owen had not much doubt that he would find a publisher.
He knew that he had written a great book--a book that
would score a wonderful success--a book that would
LIVE. He knew that it would bring him both fame and
fortune; but when he had written the last line of it he
had bowed his head on the manuscript and so sat for a
long time. And his thoughts were not of the good work
he had done.

CHAPTER 26

OWEN FORD'S CONFESSION

"I'm so sorry Gilbert is away," said Anne. "He had to
go--Allan Lyons at the Glen has met with a serious
accident. He will not likely be home till very late.
But he told me to tell you he'd be up and over early
enough in the morning to see you before you left. It's
too provoking. Susan and I had planned such a nice
little jamboree for your last night here."

She was sitting beside the garden brook on the little
rustic seat Gilbert had built. Owen Ford stood before
her, leaning against the bronze column of a yellow
birch. He was very pale and his face bore the marks of
the preceding sleepless night. Anne, glancing up at
him, wondered if, after all, his summer had brought him
the strength it should. Had he worked too hard over
his book? She remembered that for a week he had not
been looking well.

"I'm rather glad the doctor is away," said Owen
slowly. "I wanted to see you alone, Mrs. Blythe.
There is something I must tell somebody, or I think it
will drive me mad. I've been trying for a week to look
it in the face--and I can't. I know I can trust
you--and, besides, you will understand. A woman with
eyes like yours always understands. You are one of the
folks people instinctively tell things to. Mrs.
Blythe, I love Leslie. LOVE her! That seems too weak
a word!"

His voice suddenly broke with the suppressed passion of
his utterance. He turned his head away and hid his
face on his arm. His whole form shook. Anne sat
looking at him, pale and aghast. She had never
thought of this! And yet--how was it she had never
thought of it? It now seemed a natural and inevitable
thing. She wondered at her own blindness.
But--but--things like this did not happen in Four
Winds. Elsewhere in the world human passions might set
at defiance human conventions and laws--but not HERE,
surely. Leslie had kept summer boarders off and on for
ten years, and nothing like this had happened. But
perhaps they had not been like Owen Ford; and the
vivid, LIVING Leslie of this summer was not the cold,
sullen girl of other years. Oh, SOMEBODY should have
thought of this! Why hadn't Miss Cornelia thought of
it? Miss Cornelia was always ready enough to sound the
alarm where men were concerned. Anne felt an
unreasonable resentment against Miss Cornelia. Then
she gave a little inward groan. No matter who was to
blame the mischief was done. And Leslie--what of
Leslie? It was for Leslie Anne felt most concerned.

"Does Leslie know this, Mr. Ford?" she asked quietly.

"No--no,--unless she has guessed it. You surely don't
think I'd be cad and scoundrel enough to tell her, Mrs.
Blythe. I couldn't help loving her--that's all--and my
misery is greater than I can bear."

"Does SHE care?" asked Anne. The moment the question
crossed her lips she felt that she should not have
asked it. Owen Ford answered it with overeager
protest.

"No--no, of course not. But I could make her care if
she were free--I know I could."

"She does care--and he knows it," thought Anne. Aloud
she said, sympathetically but decidedly:

"But she is not free, Mr. Ford. And the only thing you
can do is to go away in silence and leave her to her
own life."

"I know--I know," groaned Owen. He sat down on the
grassy bank and stared moodily into the amber water
beneath him. "I know there's nothing to do--nothing
but to say conventionally, `Good- bye, Mrs. Moore.
Thank you for all your kindness to me this summer,'
just as I would have said it to the sonsy, bustling,
keen-eyed housewife I expected her to be when I came.
Then I'll pay my board money like any honest boarder
and go! Oh, it's very simple. No doubt--no
perplexity--a straight road to the end of the world!

And I'll walk it--you needn't fear that I won't, Mrs.
Blythe. But it would be easier to walk over red-hot
ploughshares."

Anne flinched with the pain of his voice. And there
was so little she could say that would be adequate to
the situation. Blame was out of the question--advice
was not needed--sympathy was mocked by the man's stark
agony. She could only feel with him in a maze of
compassion and regret. Her heart ached for Leslie!
Had not that poor girl suffered enough without this?

"It wouldn't be so hard to go and leave her if she were
only happy," resumed Owen passionately. "But to think
of her living death--to realise what it is to which I
do leave her! THAT is the worst of all. I would give
my life to make her happy--and I can do nothing even to
help her--nothing. She is bound forever to that poor
wretch--with nothing to look forward to but growing old
in a succession of empty, meaningless, barren years.
It drives me mad to think of it. But I must go through
my life, never seeing her, but always knowing what she
is enduring. It's hideous--hideous!"

"It is very hard," said Anne sorrowfully. "We--her
friends here--all know how hard it is for her."

"And she is so richly fitted for life," said Owen
rebelliously.

"Her beauty is the least of her dower--and she is the
most beautiful woman I've ever known. That laugh of
hers! I've angled all summer to evoke that laugh, just
for the delight of hearing it. And her eyes-- they are
as deep and blue as the gulf out there. I never saw
such blueness--and gold! Did you ever see her hair
down, Mrs. Blythe?"

"No."

"I did--once. I had gone down to the Point to go
fishing with Captain Jim but it was too rough to go
out, so I came back. She had taken the opportunity of
what she expected to be an afternoon alone to wash her
hair, and she was standing on the veranda in the
sunshine to dry it. It fell all about her to her feet
in a fountain of living gold. When she saw me she
hurried in, and the wind caught her hair and swirled it
all around her--Danae in her cloud. Somehow, just then
the knowledge that I loved her came home to me--and
realised that I had loved her from the moment I first
saw her standing against the darkness in that glow of
light. And she must live on here--petting and soothing
Dick, pinching and saving for a mere existence, while I
spend my life longing vainly for her, and debarred, by
that very fact, from even giving her the little help a
friend might. I walked the shore last night, almost
till dawn, and thrashed it all out over and over again.
And yet, in spite of everything, I can't find it in my
heart to be sorry that I came to Four Winds. It seems
to me that, bad as everything is, it would be still
worse never to have known Leslie. It's burning,
searing pain to love her and leave her--but not to have
loved her is unthinkable. I suppose all this sounds
very crazy--all these terrible emotions always do sound
foolish when we put them into our inadequate words.
They are not meant to be spoken--only felt and endured.
I shouldn't have spoken--but it has helped-- some. At
least, it has given me strength to go away respectably
tomorrow morning, without making a scene. You'll write
me now and then, won't you, Mrs. Blythe, and give me
what news there is to give of her?"

"Yes," said Anne. "Oh, I'm so sorry you are
going--we'll miss you so--we've all been such friends!
If it were not for this you could come back other
summers. Perhaps, even yet--by-and-by--when you've
forgotten, perhaps--"

"I shall never forget--and I shall never come back to
Four Winds," said Owen briefly.

Silence and twilight fell over the garden. Far away
the sea was lapping gently and monotonously on the bar.
The wind of evening in the poplars sounded like some
sad, weird, old rune--some broken dream of old
memories. A slender shapely young aspen rose up before
them against the fine maize and emerald and paling rose
of the western sky, which brought out every leaf and
twig in dark, tremulous, elfin loveliness.

"Isn't that beautiful?" said Owen, pointing to it with
the air of a man who puts a certain conversation behind
him.

"It's so beautiful that it hurts me," said Anne
softly. "Perfect things like that always did hurt
me--I remember I called it `the queer ache' when I was
a child. What is the reason that pain like this seems
inseparable from perfection? Is it the pain of
finality--when we realise that there can be nothing
beyond but retrogression?"

"Perhaps," said Owen dreamily, "it is the prisoned
infinite in us calling out to its kindred infinite as
expressed in that visible perfection."

"You seem to have a cold in the head. Better rub some
tallow on your nose when you go to bed," said Miss
Cornelia, who had come in through the little gate
between the firs in time to catch Owen's last remark.
Miss Cornelia liked Owen; but it was a matter of
principle with her to visit any "high-falutin"
language from a man with a snub.

Miss Cornelia personated the comedy that ever peeps
around the corner at the tragedy of life. Anne, whose
nerves had been rather strained, laughed hysterically,
and even Owen smiled. Certainly, sentiment and
passion had a way of shrinking out of sight in Miss
Cornelia's presence. And yet to Anne nothing seemed
quite as hopeless and dark and painful as it had seemed
a few moments before. But sleep was far from her eyes
that night.

CHAPTER 27

ON THE SAND BAR

Owen Ford left Four Winds the next morning. In the
evening Anne went over to see Leslie, but found nobody.
The house was locked and there was no light in any
window. It looked like a home left soulless. Leslie
did not run over on the following day--which Anne
thought a bad sign.

Gilbert having occasion to go in the evening to the
fishing cove, Anne drove with him to the Point,
intending to stay awhile with Captain Jim. But the
great light, cutting its swathes through the fog of the
autumn evening, was in care of Alec Boyd and Captain
Jim was away.

"What will you do?" asked Gilbert. "Come with me?"

"I don't want to go to the cove--but I'll go over the
channel with you, and roam about on the sand shore till
you come back. The rock shore is too slippery and grim
tonight."

Alone on the sands of the bar Anne gave herself up to
the eerie charm of the night. It was warm for
September, and the late afternoon had been very foggy;
but a full moon had in part lessened the fog and
transformed the harbor and the gulf and the surrounding
shores into a strange, fantastic, unreal world of pale
silver mist, through which everything loomed
phantom-like. Captain Josiah Crawford's black
schooner sailing down the channel, laden with potatoes
for Bluenose ports, was a spectral ship bound for a far
uncharted land, ever receding, never to be reached.
The calls of unseen gulls overhead were the cries of
the souls of doomed seamen. The little curls of foam
that blew across the sand were elfin things stealing up
from the sea-caves. The big, round-shouldered
sand-dunes were the sleeping giants of some old
northern tale. The lights that glimmered palely across
the harbor were the delusive beacons on some coast of
fairyland. Anne pleased herself with a hundred fancies
as she wandered through the mist. It was
delightful--romantic-- mysterious to be roaming here
alone on this enchanted shore.

But was she alone? Something loomed in the mist before
her--took shape and form--suddenly moved towards her
across the wave-rippled sand.

"Leslie!" exclaimed Anne in amazement. "Whatever are
you doing--HERE--tonight?"

"If it comes to that, whatever are YOU doing here?"
said Leslie, trying to laugh. The effort was a
failure. She looked very pale and tired; but the love
locks under her scarlet cap were curling about her
face and eyes like little sparkling rings of gold.

"I'm waiting for Gilbert--he's over at the Cove. I
intended to stay at the light, but Captain Jim is
away."

"Well, _I_ came here because I wanted to walk--and
walk--and WALK," said Leslie restlessly. "I couldn't
on the rock shore--the tide was too high and the rocks
prisoned me. I had to come here--or I should have gone
mad, I think. I rowed myself over the channel in
Captain Jim's flat. I've been here for an hour.
Come--come--let us walk. I can't stand still. Oh,
Anne!"

"Leslie, dearest, what is the trouble?" asked Anne,
though she knew too well already.

"I can't tell you--don't ask me . I wouldn't mind your
knowing-- I wish you did know--but I can't tell you--I
can't tell anyone. I've been such a fool, Anne--and
oh, it hurts so terribly to be a fool. There's nothing
so painful in the world."

She laughed bitterly. Anne slipped her arm around her.

"Leslie, is it that you have learned to care for Mr.
Ford?"

Leslie turned herself about passionately.

"How did you know?" she cried. "Anne, how did you
know? Oh, is it written in my face for everyone to
see? Is it as plain as that?"

"No, no. I--I can't tell you how I knew. It just came
into my mind, somehow. Leslie, don't look at me like
that!"

"Do you despise me?" demanded Leslie in a fierce, low
tone. "Do you think I'm wicked--unwomanly? Or do you
think I'm just plain fool?"

"I don't think you any of those things. Come, dear,
let's just talk it over sensibly, as we might talk over
any other of the great crises of life. You've been
brooding over it and let yourself drift into a morbid
view of it. You know you have a little tendency to do
that about everything that goes wrong, and you promised
me that you would fight against it."

"But--oh, it's so--so shameful," murmured Leslie. "To
love him--unsought--and when I'm not free to love
anybody."

"There's nothing shameful about it. But I'm very sorry
that you have learned to care for Owen, because, as
things are, it will only make you more unhappy."

"I didn't LEARN to care," said Leslie, walking on and
speaking passionately. "If it had been like that I
could have prevented it. I never dreamed of such a
thing until that day, a week ago, when he told me he
had finished his book and must soon go away. Then--
then I knew. I felt as if someone had struck me a
terrible blow. I didn't say anything--I couldn't
speak--but I don't know what I looked like. I'm so
afraid my face betrayed me. Oh, I would die of shame
if I thought he knew--or suspected."

Anne was miserably silent, hampered by her deductions
from her conversation with Owen. Leslie went on
feverishly, as if she found relief in speech.

"I was so happy all this summer, Anne--happier than I
ever was in my life. I thought it was because
everything had been made clear between you and me, and
that it was our friendship which made life seem so
beautiful and full once more. And it WAS, in part--but
not all--oh, not nearly all. I know now why everything
was so different. And now it's all over--and he has
gone. How can I live, Anne? When I turned back into
the house this morning after he had gone the solitude
struck me like a blow in the face."

"It won't seem so hard by and by, dear," said Anne,
who always felt the pain of her friends so keenly that
she could not speak easy, fluent words of comforting.
Besides, she remembered how well- meant speeches had
hurt her in her own sorrow and was afraid.

"Oh, it seems to me it will grow harder all the time,"
said Leslie miserably. "I've nothing to look forward
to. Morning will come after morning--and he will not
come back--he will never come back. Oh, when I think
that I will never see him again I feel as if a great
brutal hand had twisted itself among my heartstrings,
and was wrenching them. Once, long ago, I dreamed of
love--and I thought it must be beautiful--and NOW--its
like THIS. When he went away yesterday morning he was
so cold and indifferent. He said `Good- bye, Mrs.
Moore' in the coldest tone in the world--as if we had
not even been friends--as if I meant absolutely nothing
to him. I know I don't--I didn't want him to
care--but he MIGHT have been a little kinder."

"Oh, I wish Gilbert would come," thought Anne. She
was racked between her sympathy for Leslie and the
necessity of avoiding anything that would betray Owen's
confidence. She knew why his good-bye had been so
cold--why it could not have the cordiality that their
good-comradeship demanded--but she could not tell
Leslie.

"I couldn't help it, Anne--I couldn't help it," said
poor Leslie.

"I know that."

"Do you blame me so very much?"

"I don't blame you at all."

"And you won't--you won't tell Gilbert?"

" Leslie! Do you think I would do such a thing?"

"Oh, I don't know--you and Gilbert are such CHUMS. I
don't see how you could help telling him everything."

"Everything about my own concerns--yes. But not my
friends' secrets."

"I couldn't have HIM know. But I'm glad YOU know. I
would feel guilty if there were anything I was ashamed
to tell you. I hope Miss Cornelia won't find out.
Sometimes I feel as if those terrible, kind brown eyes
of hers read my very soul. Oh, I wish this mist would
never lift--I wish I could just stay in it forever,
hidden away from every living being. I don't see how I
can go on with life. This summer has been so full. I
never was lonely for a moment. Before Owen came there
used to be horrible moments--when I had been with you
and Gilbert--and then had to leave you. You two would
walk away together and I would walk away ALONE. After
Owen came he was always there to walk home with me--we
would laugh and talk as you and Gilbert were
doing--there were no more lonely, envious moments for
me. And NOW! Oh, yes, I've been a fool. Let's have
done talking about my folly. I'll never bore you with
it again."

"Here is Gilbert, and you are coming back with us,"
said Anne, who had no intention of leaving Leslie to
wander alone on the sand-bar on such a night and in
such a mood. "There's plenty of room in our boat for
three, and we'll tie the flat on behind."

"Oh, I suppose I must reconcile myself to being the odd
one again," said poor Leslie with another bitter
laugh. "Forgive me, Anne--that was hateful. I ought
to be thankful--and I AM--that I have two good friends
who are glad to count me in as a third. Don't mind my
hateful speeches. I just seem to be one great pain all
over and everything hurts me."

"Leslie seemed very quiet tonight, didn't she?" said
Gilbert, when he and Anne reached home. "What in the
world was she doing over there on the bar alone?"

"Oh, she was tired--and you know she likes to go to the
shore after one of Dick's bad days."

"What a pity she hadn't met and married a fellow like
Ford long ago," ruminated Gilbert. "They'd have made
an ideal couple, wouldn't they?"

"For pity's sake, Gilbert, don't develop into a
match-maker. It's an abominable profession for a
man," cried Anne rather sharply, afraid that Gilbert
might blunder on the truth if he kept on in this
strain.

"Bless us, Anne-girl, I'm not matchmaking," protested
Gilbert, rather surprised at her tone. "I was only
thinking of one of the might-have-beens."

"Well, don't. It's a waste of time," said Anne. Then
she added suddenly:

"Oh, Gilbert, I wish everybody could be as happy as we
are."

CHAPTER 28

ODDS AND ENDS

"I've been reading obituary notices," said Miss
Cornelia, laying down the Daily Enterprise and taking
up her sewing.

The harbor was lying black and sullen under a dour
November sky; the wet, dead leaves clung drenched and
sodden to the window sills; but the little house was
gay with firelight and spring-like with Anne's ferns
and geraniums.

"It's always summer here, Anne," Leslie had said one
day; and all who were the guests of that house of
dreams felt the same.

"The Enterprise seems to run to obituaries these
days," quoth Miss Cornelia. "It always has a couple
of columns of them, and I read every line. It's one of
my forms of recreation, especially when there's some
original poetry attached to them. Here's a choice
sample for you:

She's gone to be with her Maker, Never more to
roam. She used to play and sing with joy The
song of Home, Sweet Home.

Who says we haven't any poetical talent on the Island!
Have you ever noticed what heaps of good people die,
Anne, dearie? It's kind of pitiful. Here's ten
obituaries, and every one of them saints and models,
even the men. Here's old Peter Stimson, who has `left
a large circle of friends to mourn his untimely loss.'
Lord, Anne, dearie, that man was eighty, and everybody
who knew him had been wishing him dead these thirty
years. Read obituaries when you're blue, Anne,
dearie--especially the ones of folks you know. If
you've any sense of humor at all they'll cheer you up,
believe ME. I just wish _I_ had the writing of the
obituaries of some people. Isn't `obituary' an awful
ugly word? This very Peter I've been speaking of had a
face exactly like one. I never saw it but I thought of
the word OBITUARY then and there. There's only one
uglier word that I know of, and that's RELICT. Lord,
Anne, dearie, I may be an old maid, but there's this
comfort in it--I'll never be any man's `relict.'"

"It IS an ugly word," said Anne, laughing. "Avonlea
graveyard was full of old tombstones `sacred to the
memory of So-and-So, RELICT of the late So-and-So.' It
always made me think of something worn out and moth
eaten. Why is it that so many of the words connected
with death are so disagreeable? I do wish that the
custom of calling a dead body `the remains' could be
abolished. I positively shiver when I hear the
undertaker say at a funeral, `All who wish to see the
remains please step this way.' It always gives me the
horrible impression that I am about to view the scene
of a cannibal feast."

"Well, all I hope," said Miss Cornelia calmly, "is
that when I'm dead nobody will call me `our departed
sister.' I took a scunner at this
sister-and-brothering business five years ago when
there was a travelling evangelist holding meetings at
the Glen. I hadn't any use for him from the start. I
felt in my bones that there was something wrong with
him. And there was. Mind you, he was pretending to be
a Presbyterian--PresbyTARian, HE called it--and all the
time he was a Methodist. He brothered and sistered
everybody. He had a large circle of relations, that
man had. He clutched my hand fervently one night, and
said imploringly, `My DEAR sister Bryant, are you a
Christian?' I just looked him over a bit, and then I
said calmly, `The only brother I ever had, MR. Fiske,
was buried fifteen years ago, and I haven't adopted any
since. As for being a Christian, I was that, I hope
and believe, when you were crawling about the floor in
petticoats.' THAT squelched him, believe ME. Mind
you, Anne dearie, I'm not down on all evangelists.
We've had some real fine, earnest men, who did a lot of
good and made the old sinners squirm. But this
Fiske-man wasn't one of them. I had a good laugh all
to myself one evening. Fiske had asked all who were
Christians to stand up. _I_ didn't, believe me! I
never had any use for that sort of thing. But most of
them did, and then he asked all who wanted to be
Christians to stand up. Nobody stirred for a spell, so
Fiske started up a hymn at the top of his voice. Just
in front of me poor little Ikey Baker was sitting in
the Millison pew. He was a home boy, ten years old,
and Millison just about worked him to death. The poor
little creature was always so tired he fell asleep
right off whenever he went to church or anywhere he
could sit still for a few minutes. He'd been sleeping
all through the meeting, and I was thankful to see the
poor child getting a rest, believe ME. Well, when
Fiske's voice went soaring skyward and the rest joined
in, poor Ikey wakened with a start. He thought it was
just an ordinary singing and that everybody ought to
stand up, so he scrambled to his feet mighty quick,
knowing he'd get a combing down from Maria Millison for
sleeping in meeting. Fiske saw him, stopped and
shouted, `Another soul saved! Glory Hallelujah!' And
there was poor, frightened Ikey, only half awake and
yawning, never thinking about his soul at all. Poor
child, he never had time to think of anything but his
tired, overworked little body.

"Leslie went one night and the Fiske-man got right
after her--oh, he was especially anxious about the
souls of the nice-looking girls, believe me!--and he
hurt her feelings so she never went again. And then he
prayed every night after that, right in public, that
the Lord would soften her hard heart. Finally I went
to Mr. Leavitt, our minister then, and told him if he
didn't make Fiske stop that I'd just rise up the next
night and throw my hymn book at him when he mentioned
that `beautiful but unrepentant young woman.' I'd have
done it too, believe ME. Mr. Leavitt did put a stop to
it, but Fiske kept on with his meetings until Charley
Douglas put an end to his career in the Glen. Mrs.
Charley had been out in California all winter. She'd
been real melancholy in the fall--religious
melancholy--it ran in her family. Her father worried
so much over believing that he had committed the
unpardonable sin that he died in the asylum. So when
Rose Douglas got that way Charley packed her off to
visit her sister in Los Angeles. She got perfectly
well and came home just when the Fiske revival was in
full swing. She stepped off the train at the Glen,
real smiling and chipper, and the first thing she saw
staring her in the face on the black, gable-end of the
freight shed, was the question, in big white letters,
two feet high, `Whither goest thou--to heaven or hell?'
That had been one of Fiske's ideas, and he had got
Henry Hammond to paint it. Rose just gave a shriek and
fainted; and when they got her home she was worse than
ever. Charley Douglas went to Mr. Leavitt and told him
that every Douglas would leave the church if Fiske was
kept there any longer. Mr. Leavitt had to give in, for
the Douglases paid half his salary, so Fiske departed,
and we had to depend on our Bibles once more for
instructions on how to get to heaven. After he was
gone Mr. Leavitt found out he was just a masquerading
Methodist, and he felt pretty sick, believe ME. Mr.
Leavitt fell short in some ways, but he was a good,
sound Presbyterian."

"By the way, I had a letter from Mr. Ford yesterday,"
said Anne. "He asked me to remember him kindly to
you."

"I don't want his remembrances," said Miss Cornelia,
curtly.

"Why?" said Anne, in astonishment. "I thought you
liked him."

"Well, so I did, in a kind of way. But I'll never
forgive him for what he done to Leslie. There's that
poor child eating her heart out about him--as if she
hadn't had trouble enough--and him ranting round
Toronto, I've no doubt, enjoying himself same as ever.
Just like a man."

"Oh, Miss Cornelia, how did you find out?"

"Lord, Anne, dearie, I've got eyes, haven't I? And
I've known Leslie since she was a baby . There's been
a new kind of heartbreak in her eyes all the fall, and
I know that writer-man was behind it somehow. I'll
never forgive myself for being the means of bringing
him here. But I never expected he'd be like he was. I
thought he'd just be like the other men Leslie had
boarded--conceited young asses, every one of them, that
she never had any use for. One of them did try to
flirt with her once and she froze him out--so bad, I
feel sure he's never got himself thawed since. So I
never thought of any danger."

"Don't let Leslie suspect you know her secret," said
Anne hurriedly. "I think it would hurt her."

"Trust me, Anne, dearie. _I_ wasn't born yesterday.
Oh, a plague on all the men! One of them ruined
Leslie's life to begin with, and now another of the
tribe comes and makes her still more wretched. Anne,
this world is an awful place, believe me."

"There's something in the world amiss Will be
unriddled by and by,"

quoted Anne dreamily.

"If it is, it'll be in a world where there aren't any
men," said Miss Cornelia gloomily.

"What have the men been doing now?" asked Gilbert,
entering.

"Mischief--mischief! What else did they ever do?"

"It was Eve ate the apple, Miss Cornelia."

" 'Twas a he-creature tempted her," retorted Miss
Cornelia triumphantly.

Leslie, after her first anguish was over, found it
possible to go on with life after all, as most of us
do, no matter what our particular form of torment has
been. It is even possible that she enjoyed moments of
it, when she was one of the gay circle in the little
house of dreams. But if Anne ever hoped that she was
forgetting Owen Ford she would have been undeceived by
the furtive hunger in Leslie's eyes whenever his name
was mentioned. Pitiful to that hunger, Anne always
contrived to tell Captain Jim or Gilbert bits of news
from Owen's letters when Leslie was with them. The
girl's flush and pallor at such moments spoke all too
eloquently of the emotion that filled her being. But
she never spoke of him to Anne, or mentioned that night
on the sand-bar.

One day her old dog died and she grieved bitterly over
him.

"He's been my friend so long," she said sorrowfully to
Anne. "He was Dick's old dog, you know--Dick had him
for a year or so before we were married. He left him
with me when he sailed on the Four Sisters. Carlo got
very fond of me--and his dog-love helped me through
that first dreadful year after mother died, when I was
alone. When I heard that Dick was coming back I was
afraid Carlo wouldn't be so much mine. But he never
seemed to care for Dick, though he had been so fond of
him once. He would snap and growl at him as if he were
a stranger. I was glad. It was nice to have one thing
whose love was all mine. That old dog has been such a
comfort to me, Anne. He got so feeble in the fall that
I was afraid he couldn't live long--but I hoped I could
nurse him through the winter. He seemed pretty well
this morning. He was lying on the rug before the fire;
then, all at once, he got up and crept over to me; he
put his head on my lap and gave me one loving look out
of his big, soft, dog eyes--and then he just shivered
and died. I shall miss him so."

"Let me give you another dog, Leslie," said Anne .
"I'm getting a lovely Gordon setter for a Christmas
present for Gilbert. Let me give you one too."

Leslie shook her head.

"Not just now, thank you, Anne. I don't feel like
having another dog yet. I don't seem to have any
affection left for another. Perhaps--in time--I'll let
you give me one. I really need one as a kind of
protection. But there was something almost human about
Carlo-- it wouldn't be DECENT to fill his place too
hurriedly, dear old fellow ."

Anne went to Avonlea a week before Christmas and stayed
until after the holidays. Gilbert came up for her, and
there was a glad New Year celebration at Green Gables,
when Barrys and Blythes and Wrights assembled to devour
a dinner which had cost Mrs. Rachel and Marilla much
careful thought and preparation. When they went back
to Four Winds the little house was almost drifted over,
for the third storm of a winter that was to prove
phenomenally stormy had whirled up the harbor and
heaped huge snow mountains about everything it
encountered. But Captain Jim had shovelled out doors
and paths, and Miss Cornelia had come down and kindled
the hearth-fire.

"It's good to see you back, Anne, dearie! But did you
ever see such drifts? You can't see the Moore place at
all unless you go upstairs. Leslie'll be so glad
you're back. She's almost buried alive over there.
Fortunately Dick can shovel snow, and thinks it's great
fun. Susan sent me word to tell you she would be on
hand tomorrow. Where are you off to now, Captain?"

"I reckon I'll plough up to the Glen and sit a bit with
old Martin Strong. He's not far from his end and he's
lonesome. He hasn't many friends--been too busy all
his life to make any. He's made heaps of money,
though."

"Well, he thought that since he couldn't serve God and
Mammon he'd better stick to Mammon," said Miss
Cornelia crisply. "So he shouldn't complain if he
doesn't find Mammon very good company now."

Captain Jim went out, but remembered something in the
yard and turned back for a moment.

"I'd a letter from Mr. Ford, Mistress Blythe, and he
says the life-book is accepted and is going to be
published next fall. I felt fair uplifted when I got
the news. To think that I'm to see it in print at
last."

"That man is clean crazy on the subject of his
life-book," said Miss Cornelia compassionately. "For
my part, I think there's far too many books in the
world now."

CHAPTER 29

GILBERT AND ANNE DISAGREE

Gilbert laid down the ponderous medical tome over which
he had been poring until the increasing dusk of the
March evening made him desist. He leaned back in his
chair and gazed meditatively out of the window. It was
early spring--probably the ugliest time of the year.
Not even the sunset could redeem the dead, sodden
landscape and rotten black harbor ice upon which he
looked. No sign of life was visible, save a big black
crow winging his solitary way across a leaden field.
Gilbert speculated idly concerning that crow. Was he a
family crow, with a black but comely crow wife
awaiting him in the woods beyond the Glen? Or was he a
glossy young buck of a crow on courting thoughts
intent? Or was he a cynical bachelor crow, believing
that he travels the fastest who travels alone?
Whatever he was, he soon disappeared in congenial gloom
and Gilbert turned to the cheerier view indoors.

The firelight flickered from point to point, gleaming
on the white and green coats of Gog and Magog, on the
sleek, brown head of the beautiful setter basking on
the rug, on the picture frames on the walls, on the
vaseful of daffodils from the window garden, on Anne
herself, sitting by her little table, with her sewing
beside her and her hands clasped over her knee while
she traced out pictures in the fire--Castles in Spain
whose airy turrets pierced moonlit cloud and sunset
bar-ships sailing from the Haven of Good Hopes straight
to Four Winds Harbor with precious burthen. For Anne
was again a dreamer of dreams, albeit a grim shape of
fear went with her night and day to shadow and darken
her visions.

Gilbert was accustomed to refer to himself as "an old
married man." But he still looked upon Anne with the
incredulous eyes of a lover. He couldn't wholly
believe yet that she was really his. It MIGHT be only
a dream after all, part and parcel of this magic house
of dreams. His soul still went on tip-toe before her,
lest the charm be shattered and the dream dispelled.

"Anne," he said slowly, "lend me your ears. I want to
talk with you about something."

Anne looked across at him through the fire-lit gloom.

"What is it?" she asked gaily. "You look fearfully
solemn, Gilbert. I really haven't done anything
naughty today. Ask Susan."

"It's not of you--or ourselves--I want to talk. It's
about Dick Moore."

"Dick Moore?" echoed Anne, sitting up alertly. "Why,
what in the world have you to say about Dick Moore?"

"I've been thinking a great deal about him lately. Do
you remember that time last summer I treated him for
those carbuncles on his neck?"

"Yes--yes."

" I took the opportunity to examine the scars on his
head thoroughly. I've always thought Dick was a very
interesting case from a medical point of view. Lately
I've been studying the history of trephining and the
cases where it has been employed. Anne, I have come to
the conclusion that if Dick Moore were taken to a good
hospital and the operation of trephining performed on
several places in his skull, his memory and faculties
might be restored."

"Gilbert!" Anne's voice was full of protest. "Surely
you don't mean it!"

"I do, indeed. And I have decided that it is my duty
to broach the subject to Leslie."

"Gilbert Blythe, you shall NOT do any such thing,"
cried Anne vehemently. "Oh, Gilbert, you won't--you
won't. You couldn't be so cruel. Promise me you
won't."

"Why, Anne-girl, I didn't suppose you would take it
like this. Be reasonable--"

"I won't be reasonable--I can't be reasonable--I AM
reasonable. It is you who are unreasonable. Gilbert,
have you ever once thought what it would mean for
Leslie if Dick Moore were to be restored to his right
senses? Just stop and think! She's unhappy enough
now; but life as Dick's nurse and attendant is a
thousand times easier for her than life as Dick's wife.
I know--I KNOW! It's unthinkable. Don't you meddle
with the matter. Leave well enough alone."

"I HAVE thought over that aspect of the case
thoroughly, Anne. But I believe that a doctor is
bound to set the sanctity of a patient's mind and body
above all other considerations, no matter what the
consequences may be. I believe it his duty to endeavor
to restore health and sanity, if there is any hope
whatever of it."

"But Dick isn't your patient in that respect," cried
Anne, taking another tack. "If Leslie had asked you if
anything could be done for him, THEN it might be your
duty to tell her what you really thought. But you've
no right to meddle ."

"I don't call it meddling. Uncle Dave told Leslie
twelve years ago that nothing could be done for Dick.
She believes that, of course."

"And why did Uncle Dave tell her that, if it wasn't
true?" cried Anne, triumphantly. "Doesn't he know as
much about it as you?"

"I think not--though it may sound conceited and
presumptuous to say it. And you know as well as I
that he is rather prejudiced against what he calls
`these new-fangled notions of cutting and carving.'
He's even opposed to operating for appendicitis."

"He's right," exclaimed Anne, with a complete change
of front. `I believe myself that you modern doctors
are entirely too fond of making experiments with human
flesh and blood."

"Rhoda Allonby would not be a living woman today if I
had been afraid of making a certain experiment,"
argued Gilbert. "I took the risk--and saved her
life."

"I'm sick and tired of hearing about Rhoda Allonby,"
cried Anne--most unjustly, for Gilbert had never
mentioned Mrs. Allonby's name since the day he had told
Anne of his success in regard to her. And he could not
be blamed for other people's discussion of it.

Gilbert felt rather hurt.

"I had not expected you to look at the matter as you
do, Anne," he said a little stiffly, getting up and
moving towards the office door. It was their first
approach to a quarrel.

But Anne flew after him and dragged him back.

"Now, Gilbert, you are not `going off mad.' Sit down
here and I'll apologise bee-YEW-ti-fully, I shouldn't
have said that. But--oh, if you knew--"

Anne checked herself just in time. She had been on the
very verge of betraying Leslie's secret.

"Knew what a woman feels about it," she concluded
lamely.

"I think I do know. I've looked at the matter from
every point of view--and I've been driven to the
conclusion that it is my duty to tell Leslie that I
believe it is possible that Dick can be restored to
himself; there my responsibility ends. It will be for
her to decide what she will do."

"I don't think you've any right to put such a
responsibility on her. She has enough to bear. She is
poor--how could she afford such an operation?"

"That is for her to decide," persisted Gilbert
stubbornly.

"You say you think that Dick can be cured. But are you
SURE of it?"

"Certainly not. Nobody could be sure of such a thing.
There may have been lesions of the brain itself, the
effect of which can never be removed. But if, as I
believe, his loss of memory and other faculties is due
merely to the pressure on the brain centers of certain
depressed areas of bone, then he can be cured."

"But it's only a possibility!" insisted Anne. "Now,
suppose you tell Leslie and she decides to have the
operation. It will cost a great deal. She will have
to borrow the money, or sell her little property. And
suppose the operation is a failure and Dick remains the
same.

How will she be able to pay back the money she borrows,
or make a living for herself and that big helpless
creature if she sells the farm?"

"Oh, I know--I know. But it is my duty to tell her. I
can't get away from that conviction."

"Oh, I know the Blythe stubbornness," groaned Anne.
"But don't do this solely on your own responsibility.
Consult Doctor Dave."

"I HAVE done so," said Gilbert reluctantly.

"And what did he say?"

"In brief--as you say--leave well enough alone. Apart
from his prejudice against new-fangled surgery, I'm
afraid he looks at the case from your point of
view--don't do it, for Leslie's sake."

"There now," cried Anne triumphantly. "I do think,
Gilbert, that you ought to abide by the judgment of a
man nearly eighty, who has seen a great deal and saved

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