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  • 1917
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Anne looked and sprang up.

“That must be either Miss Cornelia Bryant or Mrs. Moore coming to call,” she said.

“I’m going into the office, and if it is Miss Cornelia I warn you that I’ll eavesdrop,” said Gilbert. “From all I’ve heard regarding Miss Cornelia I conclude that her conversation will not be dull, to say the least.”

“It may be Mrs. Moore.”

“I don’t think Mrs. Moore is built on those lines. I saw her working in her garden the other day, and, though I was too far away to see clearly, I thought she was rather slender. She doesn’t seem very socially inclined when she has never called on you yet, although she’s your nearest neighbor.”

“She can’t be like Mrs. Lynde, after all, or curiosity would have brought her,” said Anne. “This caller is, I think, Miss Cornelia.”

Miss Cornelia it was; moreover, Miss Cornelia had not come to make any brief and fashionable wedding call. She had her work under her arm in a substantial parcel, and when Anne asked her to stay she promptly took off her capacious sun-hat, which had been held on her head, despite irreverent September breezes, by a tight elastic band under her hard little knob of fair hair. No hat pins for Miss Cornelia, an it please ye! Elastic bands had been good enough for her mother and they were good enough for HER. She had a fresh, round, pink-and-white face, and jolly brown eyes. She did not look in the least like the traditional old maid, and there was something in her expression which won Anne instantly. With her old instinctive quickness to discern kindred spirits she knew she was going to like Miss Cornelia, in spite of uncertain oddities of opinion, and certain oddities of attire.

Nobody but Miss Cornelia would have come to make a call arrayed in a striped blue-and-white apron and a wrapper of chocolate print, with a design of huge, pink roses scattered over it. And nobody but Miss Cornelia could have looked dignified and suitably garbed in it. Had Miss Cornelia been entering a palace to call on a prince’s bride, she would have been just as dignified and just as wholly mistress of the situation. She would have trailed her rose-spattered flounce over the marble floors just as unconcernedly, and she would have proceeded just as calmly to disabuse the mind of the princess of any idea that the possession of a mere man, be he prince or peasant, was anything to brag of.

“I’ve brought my work, Mrs. Blythe, dearie,” she remarked, unrolling some dainty material. “I’m in a hurry to get this done, and there isn’t any time to lose.”

Anne looked in some surprise at the white garment spread over Miss Cornelia’s ample lap. It was certainly a baby’s dress, and it was most beautifully made, with tiny frills and tucks. Miss Cornelia adjusted her glasses and fell to embroidering with exquisite stitches.

“This is for Mrs. Fred Proctor up at the Glen,” she announced. “She’s expecting her eighth baby any day now, and not a stitch has she ready for it. The other seven have wore out all she made for the first, and she’s never had time or strength or spirit to make any more. That woman is a martyr, Mrs. Blythe, believe ME. When she married Fred Proctor _I_ knew how it would turn out. He was one of your wicked, fascinating men. After he got married he left off being fascinating and just kept on being wicked. He drinks and he neglects his family. Isn’t that like a man? I don’t know how Mrs. Proctor would ever keep her children decently clothed if her neighbors didn’t help her out.”

As Anne was afterwards to learn, Miss Cornelia was the only neighbor who troubled herself much about the decency of the young Proctors.

“When I heard this eighth baby was coming I decided to make some things for it,” Miss Cornelia went on. “This is the last and I want to finish it today.”

“It’s certainly very pretty,” said Anne. “I’ll get my sewing and we’ll have a little thimble party of two. You are a beautiful sewer, Miss Bryant.”

“Yes, I’m the best sewer in these parts,” said Miss Cornelia in a matter-of-fact tone. “I ought to be! Lord, I’ve done more of it than if I’d had a hundred children of my own, believe ME! I s’pose I’m a fool, to be putting hand embroidery on this dress for an eighth baby. But, Lord, Mrs. Blythe, dearie, it isn’t to blame for being the eighth, and I kind of wished it to have one real pretty dress, just as if it WAS wanted. Nobody’s wanting the poor mite–so I put some extra fuss on its little things just on that account.”

“Any baby might be proud of that dress,” said Anne, feeling still more strongly that she was going to like Miss Cornelia.

“I s’pose you’ve been thinking I was never coming to call on you,” resumed Miss Cornelia. “But this is harvest month, you know, and I’ve been busy–and a lot of extra hands hanging round, eating more’n they work, just like the men. I’d have come yesterday, but I went to Mrs. Roderick MacAllister’s funeral. At first I thought my head was aching so badly I couldn’t enjoy myself if I did go. But she was a hundred years old, and I’d always promised myself that I’d go to her funeral.”

“Was it a successful function?” asked Anne, noticing that the office door was ajar.

“What’s that? Oh, yes, it was a tremendous funeral. She had a very large connection. There was over one hundred and twenty carriages in the procession. There was one or two funny things happened. I thought that die I would to see old Joe Bradshaw, who is an infidel and never darkens the door of a church, singing `Safe in the Arms of Jesus’ with great gusto and fervor. He glories in singing– that’s why he never misses a funeral. Poor Mrs. Bradshaw didn’t look much like singing–all wore out slaving. Old Joe starts out once in a while to buy her a present and brings home some new kind of farm machinery. Isn’t that like a man? But what else would you expect of a man who never goes to church, even a Methodist one? I was real thankful to see you and the young Doctor in the Presbyterian church your first Sunday. No doctor for me who isn’t a Presbyterian.”

“We were in the Methodist church last Sunday evening,” said Anne wickedly.

“Oh, I s’pose Dr. Blythe has to go to the Methodist church once in a while or he wouldn’t get the Methodist practice.”

“We liked the sermon very much,” declared Anne boldly. “And I thought the Methodist minster’s prayer was one of the most beautiful I ever heard.”

“Oh, I’ve no doubt he can pray. I never heard anyone make more beautiful prayers than old Simon Bentley, who was always drunk, or hoping to be, and the drunker he was the better he prayed.”

“The Methodist minister is very fine looking,” said Anne, for the benefit of the office door.

“Yes, he’s quite ornamental,” agreed Miss Cornelia. “Oh, and VERY ladylike. And he thinks that every girl who looks at him falls in love with him–as if a Methodist minister, wandering about like any Jew, was such a prize! If you and the young doctor take MY advice, you won’t have much to do with the Methodists. My motto is–if you ARE a Presbyterian, BE a Presbyterian.”

“Don’t you think that Methodists go to heaven as well as Presbyterians?” asked Anne smilelessly.

“That isn’t for US to decide. It’s in higher hands than ours,” said Miss Cornelia solemnly. “But I ain’t going to associate with them on earth whatever I may have to do in heaven. THIS Methodist minister isn’t married. The last one they had was, and his wife was the silliest, flightiest little thing I ever saw. I told her husband once that he should have waited till she was grown up before he married her. He said he wanted to have the training of her. Wasn’t that like a man?”

“It’s rather hard to decide just when people ARE grown up,” laughed Anne.

“That’s a true word, dearie. Some are grown up when they’re born, and others ain’t grown up when they’re eighty, believe ME. That same Mrs. Roderick I was speaking of never grew up. She was as foolish when she was a hundred as when she was ten.”

“Perhaps that was why she lived so long,” suggested Anne.

“Maybe ’twas. _I_’d rather live fifty sensible years than a hundred foolish ones.”

“But just think what a dull world it would be if everyone was sensible,” pleaded Anne.

Miss Cornelia disdained any skirmish of flippant epigram.

“Mrs. Roderick was a Milgrave, and the Milgraves never had much sense. Her nephew, Ebenezer Milgrave, used to be insane for years. He believed he was dead and used to rage at his wife because she wouldn’t bury him. _I_’d a-done it.”

Miss Cornelia looked so grimly determined that Anne could almost see her with a spade in her hand.

“Don’t you know ANY good husbands, Miss Bryant?”

“Oh, yes, lots of them–over yonder,” said Miss Cornelia, waving her hand through the open window towards the little graveyard of the church across the harbor.

“But living–going about in the flesh?” persisted Anne.

“Oh, there’s a few, just to show that with God all things are possible,” acknowledged Miss Cornelia reluctantly. “I don’t deny that an odd man here and there, if he’s caught young and trained up proper, and if his mother has spanked him well beforehand, may turn out a decent being. YOUR husband, now, isn’t so bad, as men go, from all I hear. I s’pose”–Miss Cornelia looked sharply at Anne over her glasses–“you think there’s nobody like him in the world.”

“There isn’t,” said Anne promptly.

“Ah, well, I heard another bride say that once,” sighed Miss Cornelia. “Jennie Dean thought when she married that there wasn’t anybody like HER husband in the world. And she was right–there wasn’t! And a good thing, too, believe ME! He led her an awful life–and he was courting his second wife while Jennie was dying.

Wasn’t that like a man? However, I hope YOUR confidence will be better justified, dearie. The young doctor is taking real well. I was afraid at first he mightn’t, for folks hereabouts have always thought old Doctor Dave the only doctor in the world. Doctor Dave hadn’t much tact, to be sure–he was always talking of ropes in houses where someone had hanged himself. But folks forgot their hurt feelings when they had a pain in their stomachs. If he’d been a minister instead of a doctor they’d never have forgiven him. Soul-ache doesn’t worry folks near as much as stomach-ache. Seeing as we’re both Presbyterians and no Methodists around, will you tell me your candid opinion of OUR minister?”

“Why–really–I–well,” hesitated Anne.

Miss Cornelia nodded.

“Exactly. I agree with you, dearie. We made a mistake when we called HIM. His face just looks like one of those long, narrow stones in the graveyard, doesn’t it? `Sacred to the memory’ ought to be written on his forehead. I shall never forget the first sermon he preached after he came. It was on the subject of everyone doing what they were best fitted for–a very good subject, of course; but such illustrations as he used! He said, `If you had a cow and an apple tree, and if you tied the apple tree in your stable and planted the cow in your orchard, with her legs up, how much milk would you get from the apple tree, or how many apples from the cow?’ Did you ever hear the like in your born days, dearie? I was so thankful there were no Methodists there that day–they’d never have been done hooting over it. But what I dislike most in him is his habit of agreeing with everybody, no matter what is said. If you said to him, `You’re a scoundrel,’ he’d say, with that smooth smile of his, `Yes, that’s so.’ A minister should have more backbone. The long and the short of it is, I consider him a reverend jackass. But, of course, this is just between you and me. When there are Methodists in hearing I praise him to the skies. Some folks think his wife dresses too gay, but _I_ say when she has to live with a face like that she needs something to cheer her up. You’ll never hear ME condemning a woman for her dress. I’m only too thankful when her husband isn’t too mean and miserly to allow it. Not that I bother much with dress myself. Women just dress to please the men, and I’d never stoop to THAT. I have had a real placid, comfortable life, dearie, and it’s just because I never cared a cent what the men thought.”

“Why do you hate the men so, Miss Bryant?”

“Lord, dearie, I don’t hate them. They aren’t worth it. I just sort of despise them. I think I’ll like YOUR husband if he keeps on as he has begun. But apart from him about the only men in the world I’ve much use for are the old doctor and Captain Jim.”

“Captain Jim is certainly splendid,” agreed Anne cordially.

“Captain Jim is a good man, but he’s kind of vexing in one way. You CAN’T make him mad. I’ve tried for twenty years and he just keeps on being placid. It does sort of rile me. And I s’pose the woman he should have married got a man who went into tantrums twice a day.”

“Who was she?”

“Oh, I don’t know, dearie. I never remember of Captain Jim making up to anybody. He was edging on old as far as my memory goes. He’s seventy-six, you know. I never heard any reason for his staying a bachelor, but there must be one, believe ME. He sailed all his life till five years ago, and there’s no corner of the earth he hasn’t poked his nose into. He and Elizabeth Russell were great cronies, all their lives, but they never had any notion of sweet-hearting. Elizabeth never married, though she had plenty of chances. She was a great beauty when she was young. The year the Prince of Wales came to the Island she was visiting her uncle in Charlottetown and he was a Government official, and so she got invited to the great ball. She was the prettiest girl there, and the Prince danced with her, and all the other women he didn’t dance with were furious about it, because their social standing was higher than hers and they said he shouldn’t have passed them over. Elizabeth was always very proud of that dance. Mean folks said that was why she never married–she couldn’t put up with an ordinary man after dancing with a prince. But that wasn’t so. She told me the reason once–it was because she had such a temper that she was afraid she couldn’t live peaceably with any man. She HAD an awful temper–she used to have to go upstairs and bite pieces out of her bureau to keep it down by times. But I told her that wasn’t any reason for not marrying if she wanted to. There’s no reason why we should let the men have a monopoly of temper, is there, Mrs. Blythe, dearie?”

“I’ve a bit of temper myself,” sighed Anne.

“It’s well you have, dearie. You won’t be half so likely to be trodden on, believe ME! My, how that golden glow of yours is blooming! Your garden looks fine. Poor Elizabeth always took such care of it.”

“I love it,” said Anne. “I’m glad it’s so full of old-fashioned flowers. Speaking of gardening, we want to get a man to dig up that little lot beyond the fir grove and set it out with strawberry plants for us. Gilbert is so busy he will never get time for it this fall. Do you know anyone we can get?”

“Well, Henry Hammond up at the Glen goes out doing jobs like that. He’ll do, maybe. He’s always a heap more interested in his wages than in his work, just like a man, and he’s so slow in the uptake that he stands still for five minutes before it dawns on him that he’s stopped. His father threw a stump at him when he was small.

Nice gentle missile, wasn’t it? So like a man! Course, the boy never got over it. But he’s the only one I can recommend at all. He painted my house for me last spring. It looks real nice now, don’t you think?”

Anne was saved by the clock striking five.

“Lord, is it that late?” exclaimed Miss Cornelia. “How time does slip by when you’re enjoying yourself! Well, I must betake myself home.”

“No, indeed! You are going to stay and have tea with us,” said Anne eagerly.

“Are you asking me because you think you ought to, or because you really want to?” demanded Miss Cornelia.

“Because I really want to.”

“Then I’ll stay. YOU belong to the race that knows Joseph.”

“I know we are going to be friends,” said Anne, with the smile that only they of the household of faith ever saw.

“Yes, we are, dearie. Thank goodness, we can choose our friends. We have to take our relatives as they are, and be thankful if there are no penitentiary birds among them. Not that I’ve many– none nearer than second cousins. I’m a kind of lonely soul, Mrs. Blythe.”

There was a wistful note in Miss Cornelia’s voice.

“I wish you would call me Anne,” exclaimed Anne impulsively. “It would seem more HOMEY. Everyone in Four Winds, except my husband, calls me Mrs. Blythe, and it makes me feel like a stranger. Do you know that your name is very near being the one I yearned after when I was a child. I hated `Anne’ and I called myself `Cordelia’ in imagination.”

“I like Anne. It was my mother’s name. Old-fashioned names are the best and sweetest in my opinion. If you’re going to get tea you might send the young doctor to talk to me. He’s been lying on the sofa in that office ever since I came, laughing fit to kill over what I’ve been saying.”

“How did you know?” cried Anne, too aghast at this instance of Miss Cornelia’s uncanny prescience to make a polite denial.

“I saw him sitting beside you when I came up the lane, and I know men’s tricks,” retorted Miss Cornelia. “There, I’ve finished my little dress, dearie, and the eighth baby can come as soon as it pleases.”

CHAPTER 9

AN EVENING AT FOUR WINDS POINT

It was late September when Anne and Gilbert were able to pay Four Winds light their promised visit. They had often planned to go, but something always occurred to prevent them. Captain Jim had “dropped in” several times at the little house.

“I don’t stand on ceremony, Mistress Blythe,” he told Anne. “It’s a real pleasure to me to come here, and I’m not going to deny myself jest because you haven’t got down to see me. There oughtn’t to be no bargaining like that among the race that knows Joseph. I’ll come when I can, and you come when you can, and so long’s we have our pleasant little chat it don’t matter a mite what roof’s over us.”

Captain Jim took a great fancy to Gog and Magog, who were presiding over the destinies of the hearth in the little house with as much dignity and aplomb as they had done at Patty’s Place.

“Aren’t they the cutest little cusses?” he would say delightedly; and he bade them greeting and farewell as gravely and invariably as he did his host and hostess. Captain Jim was not going to offend household deities by any lack of reverence and ceremony.

“You’ve made this little house just about perfect,” he told Anne. “It never was so nice before. Mistress Selwyn had your taste and she did wonders; but folks in those days didn’t have the pretty little curtains and pictures and nicknacks you have. As for Elizabeth, she lived in the past. You’ve kinder brought the future into it, so to speak. I’d be real happy even if we couldn’t talk at all, when I come here–jest to sit and look at you and your pictures and your flowers would be enough of a treat. It’s beautiful–beautiful.”

Captain Jim was a passionate worshipper of beauty. Every lovely thing heard or seen gave him a deep, subtle, inner joy that irradiated his life. He was quite keenly aware of his own lack of outward comeliness and lamented it.

“Folks say I’m good,” he remarked whimsically upon one occasion, “but I sometimes wish the Lord had made me only half as good and put the rest of it into looks. But there, I reckon He knew what He was about, as a good Captain should. Some of us have to be homely, or the purty ones–like Mistress Blythe here–wouldn’t show up so well.”

One evening Anne and Gilbert finally walked down to the Four Winds light. The day had begun sombrely in gray cloud and mist, but it had ended in a pomp of scarlet and gold. Over the western hills beyond the harbor were amber deeps and crystalline shallows, with the fire of sunset below. The north was a mackerel sky of little, fiery golden clouds. The red light flamed on the white sails of a vessel gliding down the channel, bound to a southern port in a land of palms. Beyond her, it smote upon and incarnadined the shining, white, grassless faces of the sand dunes. To the right, it fell on the old house among the willows up the brook, and gave it for a fleeting space casements more splendid than those of an old cathedral. They glowed out of its quiet and grayness like the throbbing, blood-red thoughts of a vivid soul imprisoned in a dull husk of environment.

“That old house up the brook always seems so lonely,” said Anne. “I never see visitors there. Of course, its lane opens on the upper road–but I don’t think there’s much coming and going. It seems odd we’ve never met the Moores yet, when they live within fifteen minutes’ walk of us. I may have seen them in church, of course, but if so I didn’t know them. I’m sorry they are so unsociable, when they are our only near neighbors.”

“Evidently they don’t belong to the race that knows Joseph,” laughed Gilbert. “Have you ever found out who that girl was whom you thought so beautiful?”

“No. Somehow I have never remembered to ask about her. But I’ve never seen her anywhere, so I suppose she must have been a stranger. Oh, the sun has just vanished–and there’s the light.”

As the dusk deepened, the great beacon cut swathes of light through it, sweeping in a circle over the fields and the harbor, the sandbar and the gulf.

“I feel as if it might catch me and whisk me leagues out to sea,” said Anne, as one drenched them with radiance; and she felt rather relieved when they got so near the Point that they were inside the range of those dazzling, recurrent flashes.

As they turned into the little lane that led across the fields to the Point they met a man coming out of it–a man of such extraordinary appearance that for a moment they both frankly stared. He was a decidedly fine-looking person-tall, broad-shouldered, well- featured, with a Roman nose and frank gray eyes; he was dressed in a prosperous farmer’s Sunday best; in so far he might have been any inhabitant of Four Winds or the Glen. But, flowing over his breast nearly to his knees, was a river of crinkly brown beard; and adown his back, beneath his commonplace felt hat, was a corresponding cascade of thick, wavy, brown hair.

“Anne,” murmured Gilbert, when they were out of earshot, “you didn’t put what Uncle Dave calls `a little of the Scott Act’ in that lemonade you gave me just before we left home, did you?”

“No, I didn’t,” said Anne, stifling her laughter, lest the retreating enigma should hear here. “Who in the world can he be?”

“I don’t know; but if Captain Jim keeps apparitions like that down at this Point I’m going to carry cold iron in my pocket when I come here. He wasn’t a sailor, or one might pardon his eccentricity of appearance; he must belong to the over-harbor clans. Uncle Dave says they have several freaks over there.”

“Uncle Dave is a little prejudiced, I think. You know all the over-harbor people who come to the Glen Church seem very nice. Oh, Gilbert, isn’t this beautiful?”

The Four Winds light was built on a spur of red sand-stone cliff jutting out into the gulf. On one side, across the channel, stretched the silvery sand shore of the bar; on the other, extended a long, curving beach of red cliffs, rising steeply from the pebbled coves. It was a shore that knew the magic and mystery of storm and star. There is a great solitude about such a shore. The woods are never solitary– they are full of whispering, beckoning, friendly life. But the sea is a mighty soul, forever moaning of some great, unshareable sorrow, which shuts it up into itself for all eternity. We can never pierce its infinite mystery–we may only wander, awed and spellbound, on the outer fringe of it. The woods call to us with a hundred voices, but the sea has one only–a mighty voice that drowns our souls in its majestic music. The woods are human, but the sea is of the company of the archangels.

Anne and Gilbert found Uncle Jim sitting on a bench outside the lighthouse, putting the finishing touches to a wonderful, full-rigged, toy schooner. He rose and welcomed them to his abode with the gentle, unconscious courtesy that became him so well.

“This has been a purty nice day all through, Mistress Blythe, and now, right at the last, it’s brought its best. Would you like to sit down here outside a bit, while the light lasts? I’ve just finished this bit of a plaything for my little grand nephew, Joe, up at the Glen. After I promised to make it for him I was kinder sorry, for his mother was vexed. She’s afraid he’ll be wanting to go to sea later on and she doesn’t want the notion encouraged in him. But what could I do, Mistress Blythe? I’d PROMISED him, and I think it’s sorter real dastardly to break a promise you make to a child. Come, sit down. It won’t take long to stay an hour.”

The wind was off shore, and only broke the sea’s surface into long, silvery ripples, and sent sheeny shadows flying out across it, from every point and headland, like transparent wings. The dusk was hanging a curtain of violet gloom over the sand dunes and the headlands where gulls were huddling. The sky was faintly filmed over with scarfs of silken vapor. Cloud fleets rode at anchor along the horizons. An evening star was watching over the bar.

“Isn’t that a view worth looking at?” said Captain Jim, with a loving, proprietary pride. “Nice and far from the market-place, ain’t it? No buying and selling and getting gain. You don’t have to pay anything–all that sea and sky free–`without money and without price.’ There’s going to be a moonrise purty soon, too–I’m never tired of finding out what a moonrise can be over them rocks and sea and harbor. There’s a surprise in it every time.”

They had their moonrise, and watched its marvel and magic in a silence that asked nothing of the world or each other. Then they went up into the tower, and Captain Jim showed and explained the mechanism of the great light. Finally they found themselves in the dining room, where a fire of driftwood was weaving flames of wavering, elusive, sea-born hues in the open fireplace.

“I put this fireplace in myself,” remarked Captain Jim. “The Government don’t give lighthouse keepers such luxuries. Look at the colors that wood makes. If you’d like some driftwood for your fire, Mistress Blythe, I’ll bring you up a load some day. Sit down. I’m going to make you a cup of tea.”

Captain Jim placed a chair for Anne, having first removed therefrom a huge, orange-colored cat and a newspaper.

“Get down, Matey. The sofa is your place. I must put this paper away safe till I can find time to finish the story in it. It’s called A Mad Love. ‘Tisn’t my favorite brand of fiction, but I’m reading it jest to see how long she can spin it out. It’s at the sixty-second chapter now, and the wedding ain’t any nearer than when it begun, far’s I can see. When little Joe comes I have to read him pirate yarns. Ain’t it strange how innocent little creatures like children like the blood-thirstiest stories?”

“Like my lad Davy at home,” said Anne. “He wants tales that reek with gore.”

Captain Jim’s tea proved to be nectar. He was pleased as a child with Anne’s compliments, but he affected a fine indifference.

“The secret is I don’t skimp the cream,” he remarked airily. Captain Jim had never heard of Oliver Wendell Holmes, but he evidently agreed with that writer’s dictum that “big heart never liked little cream pot.”

“We met an odd-looking personage coming out of your lane,” said Gilbert as they sipped. “Who was he?”

Captain Jim grinned.

“That’s Marshall Elliott–a mighty fine man with jest one streak of foolishness in him. I s’pose you wondered what his object was in turning himself into a sort of dime museum freak.”

“Is he a modern Nazarite or a Hebrew prophet left over from olden times?” asked Anne.

“Neither of them. It’s politics that’s at the bottom of his freak. All those Elliotts and Crawfords and MacAllisters are dyed-in-the-wool politicians. They’re born Grit or Tory, as the case may be, and they live Grit or Tory, and they die Grit or Tory; and what they’re going to do in heaven, where there’s probably no politics, is more than I can fathom. This Marshall Elliott was born a Grit. I’m a Grit myself in moderation, but there’s no moderation about Marshall. Fifteen years ago there was a specially bitter general election. Marshall fought for his party tooth and nail. He was dead sure the Liberals would win–so sure that he got up at a public meeting and vowed that he wouldn’t shave his face or cut his hair until the Grits were in power. Well, they didn’t go in–and they’ve never got in yet–and you saw the result today for yourselves. Marshall stuck to his word.”

“What does his wife think of it?” asked Anne.

“He’s a bachelor. But if he had a wife I reckon she couldn’t make him break that vow. That family of Elliotts has always been more stubborn than natteral. Marshall’s brother Alexander had a dog he set great store by, and when it died the man actilly wanted to have it buried in the graveyard, `along with the other Christians,’ he said. Course, he wasn’t allowed to; so he buried it just outside the graveyard fence, and never darkened the church door again. But Sundays he’d drive his family to church and sit by that dog’s grave and read his Bible all the time service was going on. They say when he was dying he asked his wife to bury him beside the dog; she was a meek little soul but she fired up at THAT. She said SHE wasn’t going to be buried beside no dog, and if he’d rather have his last resting place beside the dog than beside her, jest to say so. Alexander Elliott was a stubborn mule, but he was fond of his wife, so he give in and said, `Well, durn it, bury me where you please. But when Gabriel’s trump blows I expect my dog to rise with the rest of us, for he had as much soul as any durned Elliott or Crawford or MacAllister that ever strutted.’ Them was HIS parting words. As for Marshall, we’re all used to him, but he must strike strangers as right down peculiar- looking. I’ve known him ever since he was ten–he’s about fifty now–and I like him. Him and me was out cod-fishing today. That’s about all I’m good for now–catching trout and cod occasional. But ’tweren’t always so–not by no manner of means. I used to do other things, as you’d admit if you saw my life-book.”

Anne was just going to ask what his life-book was when the First Mate created a diversion by springing upon Captain Jim’s knee. He was a gorgeous beastie, with a face as round as a full moon, vivid green eyes, and immense, white, double paws. Captain Jim stroked his velvet back gently.

“I never fancied cats much till I found the First Mate,” he remarked, to the accompaniment of the Mate’s tremendous purrs. “I saved his life, and when you’ve saved a creature’s life you’re bound to love it. It’s next thing to giving life. There’s some turrible thoughtless people in the world, Mistress Blythe. Some of them city folks who have summer homes over the harbor are so thoughtless that they’re cruel. It’s the worst kind of cruelty–the thoughtless kind. You can’t cope with it. They keep cats there in the summer, and feed and pet ’em, and doll ’em up with ribbons and collars. And then in the fall they go off and leave ’em to starve or freeze. It makes my blood boil, Mistress Blythe. One day last winter I found a poor old mother cat dead on the shore, lying against the skin-and-bone bodies of her three little kittens. She’d died trying to shelter ’em. She had her poor stiff paws around ’em. Master, I cried. Then I swore. Then I carried them poor little kittens home and fed ’em up and found good homes for ’em. I knew the woman who left the cat and when she come back this summer I jest went over the harbor and told her my opinion of her. It was rank meddling, but I do love meddling in a good cause.”

“How did she take it?” asked Gilbert.

“Cried and said she `didn’t think.’ I says to her, says I, `Do you s’pose that’ll be held for a good excuse in the day of Jedgment, when you’ll have to account for that poor old mother’s life? The Lord’ll ask you what He give you your brains for if it wasn’t to think, I reckon.’ I don’t fancy she’ll leave cats to starve another time.”

“Was the First Mate one of the forsaken?” asked Anne, making advances to him which were responded to graciously, if condescendingly.

“Yes. I found HIM one bitter cold day in winter, caught in the branches of a tree by his durn-fool ribbon collar. He was almost starving. If you could have seen his eyes, Mistress Blythe! He was nothing but a kitten, and he’d got his living somehow since he’d been left until he got hung up. When I loosed him he gave my hand a pitiful swipe with his little red tongue. He wasn’t the able seaman you see now. He was meek as Moses. That was nine years ago. His life has been long in the land for a cat. He’s a good old pal, the First Mate is.”

“I should have expected you to have a dog,” said Gilbert.

Captain Jim shook his head.

“I had a dog once. I thought so much of him that when he died I couldn’t bear the thought of getting another in his place. He was a FRIEND–you understand, Mistress Blythe? Matey’s only a pal. I’m fond of Matey–all the fonder on account of the spice of devilment that’s in him–like there is in all cats. But I LOVED my dog. I always had a sneaking sympathy for Alexander Elliott about HIS dog. There isn’t any devil in a good dog. That’s why they’re more lovable than cats, I reckon. But I’m darned if they’re as interesting. Here I am, talking too much. Why don’t you check me? When I do get a chance to talk to anyone I run on turrible. If you’ve done your tea I’ve a few little things you might like to look at–picked ’em up in the queer corners I used to be poking my nose into.”

Captain Jim’s “few little things” turned out to be a most interesting collection of curios, hideous, quaint and beautiful. And almost every one had some striking story attached to it.

Anne never forgot the delight with which she listened to those old tales that moonlit evening by that enchanted driftwood fire, while the silver sea called to them through the open window and sobbed against the rocks below them.

Captain Jim never said a boastful word, but it was impossible to help seeing what a hero the man had been–brave, true, resourceful, unselfish. He sat there in his little room and made those things live again for his hearers. By a lift of the eyebrow, a twist of the lip, a gesture, a word, he painted a whole scene or character so that they saw it as it was.

Some of Captain Jim’s adventures had such a marvellous edge that Anne and Gilbert secretly wondered if he were not drawing a rather long bow at their credulous expense. But in this, as they found later, they did him injustice. His tales were all literally true. Captain Jim had the gift of the born storyteller, whereby “unhappy, far-off things” can be brought vividly before the hearer in all their pristine poignancy.

Anne and Gilbert laughed and shivered over his tales, and once Anne found herself crying. Captain Jim surveyed her tears with pleasure shining from his face.

“I like to see folks cry that way,” he remarked. “It’s a compliment. But I can’t do justice to the things I’ve seen or helped to do. I’ve ’em all jotted down in my life-book, but I haven’t got the knack of writing them out properly. If I could hit on jest the right words and string ’em together proper on paper I could make a great book. It would beat A Mad Love holler, and I believe Joe’d like it as well as the pirate yarns. Yes, I’ve had some adventures in my time; and, do you know, Mistress Blythe, I still lust after ’em. Yes, old and useless as I be, there’s an awful longing sweeps over me at times to sail out–out–out there–forever and ever.”

“Like Ulysses, you would

`Sail beyond the sunset and the baths Of all the western stars until you die,'”

said Anne dreamily.

“Ulysses? I’ve read of him. Yes, that’s just how I feel–jest how all us old sailors feel, I reckon. I’ll die on land after all, I s’pose. Well, what is to be will be. There was old William Ford at the Glen who never went on the water in his life, ’cause he was afraid of being drowned. A fortune-teller had predicted he would be. And one day he fainted and fell with his face in the barn trough and was drowned. Must you go? Well, come soon and come often. The doctor is to do the talking next time. He knows a heap of things I want to find out. I’m sorter lonesome here by times. It’s been worse since Elizabeth Russell died. Her and me was such cronies.”

Captain Jim spoke with the pathos of the aged, who see their old friends slipping from them one by one–friends whose place can never be quite filled by those of a younger generation, even of the race that knows Joseph. Anne and Gilbert promised to come soon and often.

“He’s a rare old fellow, isn’t he?” said Gilbert, as they walked home.

“Somehow, I can’t reconcile his simple, kindly personality with the wild, adventurous life he has lived,” mused Anne.

“You wouldn’t find it so hard if you had seen him the other day down at the fishing village. One of the men of Peter Gautier’s boat made a nasty remark about some girl along the shore. Captain Jim fairly scorched the wretched fellow with the lightning of his eyes. He seemed a man transformed. He didn’t say much–but the way he said it! You’d have thought it would strip the flesh from the fellow’s bones. I understand that Captain Jim will never allow a word against any woman to be said in his presence.”

“I wonder why he never married,” said Anne. “He should have sons with their ships at sea now, and grandchildren climbing over him to hear his stories–he’s that kind of a man. Instead, he has nothing but a magnificent cat.”

But Anne was mistaken. Captain Jim had more than that. He had a memory.

CHAPTER 10

LESLIE MOORE

“I’m going for a walk to the outside shore tonight,” Anne told Gog and Magog one October evening. There was no one else to tell, for Gilbert had gone over the harbor. Anne had her little domain in the speckless order one would expect of anyone brought up by Marilla Cuthbert, and felt that she could gad shoreward with a clear conscience. Many and delightful had been her shore rambles, sometimes with Gilbert, sometimes with Captain Jim, sometimes alone with her own thoughts and new, poignantly-sweet dreams that were beginning to span life with their rainbows. She loved the gentle, misty harbor shore and the silvery, wind-haunted sand shore, but best of all she loved the rock shore, with its cliffs and caves and piles of surf-worn boulders, and its coves where the pebbles glittered under the pools; and it was to this shore she hied herself tonight.

There had been an autumn storm of wind and rain, lasting for three days. Thunderous had been the crash of billows on the rocks, wild the white spray and spume that blew over the bar, troubled and misty and tempest-torn the erstwhile blue peace of Four Winds Harbor. Now it was over, and the shore lay clean-washed after the storm; not a wind stirred, but there was still a fine surf on, dashing on sand and rock in a splendid white turmoil–the only restless thing in the great, pervading stillness and peace.

“Oh, this is a moment worth living through weeks of storm and stress for,” Anne exclaimed, delightedly sending her far gaze across the tossing waters from the top of the cliff where she stood. Presently she scrambled down the steep path to the little cove below, where she seemed shut in with rocks and sea and sky.

“I’m going to dance and sing,” she said. “There’s no one here to see me–the seagulls won’t carry tales of the matter. I may be as crazy as I like.”

She caught up her skirt and pirouetted along the hard strip of sand just out of reach of the waves that almost lapped her feet with their spent foam. Whirling round and round, laughing like a child, she reached the little headland that ran out to the east of the cove; then she stopped suddenly, blushing crimson; she was not alone; there had been a witness to her dance and laughter.

The girl of the golden hair and sea-blue eyes was sitting on a boulder of the headland, half-hidden by a jutting rock. She was looking straight at Anne with a strange expression–part wonder, part sympathy, part–could it be?–envy. She was bare-headed, and her splendid hair, more than ever like Browning’s “gorgeous snake,” was bound about her head with a crimson ribbon. She wore a dress of some dark material, very plainly made; but swathed about her waist, outlining its fine curves, was a vivid girdle of red silk. Her hands, clasped over her knee, were brown and somewhat work- hardened; but the skin of her throat and cheeks was as white as cream. A flying gleam of sunset broke through a low-lying western cloud and fell across her hair. For a moment she seemed the spirit of the sea personified–all its mystery, all its passion, all its elusive charm.

“You–you must think me crazy,” stammered Anne, trying to recover her self-possession. To be seen by this stately girl in such an abandon of childishness–she, Mrs. Dr. Blythe, with all the dignity of the matron to keep up–it was too bad!

“No,” said the girl, “I don’t.”

She said nothing more; her voice was expressionless; her manner slightly repellent; but there was something in her eyes–eager yet shy, defiant yet pleading–which turned Anne from her purpose of walking away. Instead, she sat down on the boulder beside the girl.

“Let’s introduce ourselves,” she said, with the smile that had never yet failed to win confidence and friendliness. “I am Mrs. Blythe–and I live in that little white house up the harbor shore.”

“Yes, I know,” said the girl. “I am Leslie Moore–Mrs. Dick Moore,” she added stiffly.

Anne was silent for a moment from sheer amazement. It had not occurred to her that this girl was married–there seemed nothing of the wife about her. And that she should be the neighbor whom Anne had pictured as a commonplace Four Winds housewife! Anne could not quickly adjust her mental focus to this astonishing change.

“Then–then you live in that gray house up the brook,” she stammered.

“Yes. I should have gone over to call on you long ago,” said the other. She did not offer any explanation or excuse for not having gone.

“I wish you WOULD come,” said Anne, recovering herself somewhat. “We’re such near neighbors we ought to be friends. That is the sole fault of Four Winds–there aren’t quite enough neighbors. Otherwise it is perfection.”

“You like it?”

“LIKE it! I love it. It is the most beautiful place I ever saw.”

“I’ve never seen many places,” said Leslie Moore, slowly, “but I’ve always thought it was very lovely here. I–I love it, too.”

She spoke, as she looked, shyly, yet eagerly. Anne had an odd impression that this strange girl–the word “girl” would persist– could say a good deal if she chose.

“I often come to the shore,” she added.

“So do I,” said Anne. “It’s a wonder we haven’t met here before.”

“Probably you come earlier in the evening than I do. It is generally late–almost dark–when I come. And I love to come just after a storm–like this. I don’t like the sea so well when it’s calm and quiet. I like the struggle–and the crash–and the noise.”

“I love it in all its moods,” declared Anne. “The sea at Four Winds is to me what Lover’s Lane was at home. Tonight it seemed so free–so untamed–something broke loose in me, too, out of sympathy. That was why I danced along the shore in that wild way. I didn’t suppose anybody was looking, of course. If Miss Cornelia Bryant had seen me she would have forboded a gloomy prospect for poor young Dr. Blythe.”

“You know Miss Cornelia?” said Leslie, laughing. She had an exquisite laugh; it bubbled up suddenly and unexpectedly with something of the delicious quality of a baby’s. Anne laughed, too.

“Oh, yes. She has been down to my house of dreams several times.”

“Your house of dreams?”

“Oh, that’s a dear, foolish little name Gilbert and I have for our home. We just call it that between ourselves. It slipped out before I thought.”

“So Miss Russell’s little white house is YOUR house of dreams,” said Leslie wonderingly. “_I_ had a house of dreams once–but it was a palace,” she added, with a laugh, the sweetness of which was marred by a little note of derision.

“Oh, I once dreamed of a palace, too,” said Anne. “I suppose all girls do. And then we settle down contentedly in eight-room houses that seem to fulfill all the desires of our hearts–because our prince is there. YOU should have had your palace really, though–you are so beautiful. You MUST let me say it–it has to be said–I’m nearly bursting with admiration. You are the loveliest thing I ever saw, Mrs. Moore.”

“If we are to be friends you must call me Leslie,” said the other with an odd passion.

“Of course I will. And MY friends call me Anne.”

“I suppose I am beautiful,” Leslie went on, looking stormily out to sea. “I hate my beauty. I wish I had always been as brown and plain as the brownest and plainest girl at the fishing village over there. Well, what do you think of Miss Cornelia?”

The abrupt change of subject shut the door on any further confidences.

“Miss Cornelia is a darling, isn’t she?” said Anne. “Gilbert and I were invited to her house to a state tea last week. You’ve heard of groaning tables.”

“I seem to recall seeing the expression in the newspaper reports of weddings,” said Leslie, smiling.

“Well, Miss Cornelia’s groaned–at least, it creaked–positively. You couldn’t have believed she would have cooked so much for two ordinary people. She had every kind of pie you could name, I think–except lemon pie. She said she had taken the prize for lemon pies at the Charlottetown Exhibition ten years ago and had never made any since for fear of losing her reputation for them.”

“Were you able to eat enough pie to please her?”

“_I_ wasn’t. Gilbert won her heart by eating–I won’t tell you how much. She said she never knew a man who didn’t like pie better than his Bible. Do you know, I love Miss Cornelia.”

“So do I,” said Leslie. “She is the best friend I have in the world.”

Anne wondered secretly why, if this were so, Miss Cornelia had never mentioned Mrs. Dick Moore to her. Miss Cornelia had certainly talked freely about every other individual in or near Four Winds.

“Isn’t that beautiful?” said Leslie, after a brief silence, pointing to the exquisite effect of a shaft of light falling through a cleft in the rock behind them, across a dark green pool at its base. “If I had come here–and seen nothing but just that–I would go home satisfied.”

“The effects of light and shadow all along these shores are wonderful,” agreed Anne. “My little sewing room looks out on the harbor, and I sit at its window and feast my eyes. The colors and shadows are never the same two minutes together.”

“And you are never lonely?” asked Leslie abruptly. “Never– when you are alone?”

“No. I don’t think I’ve ever been really lonely in my life,” answered Anne. “Even when I’m alone I have real good company– dreams and imaginations and pretendings. I LIKE to be alone now and then, just to think over things and TASTE them. But I love friendship– and nice, jolly little times with people. Oh, WON’T you come to see me–often? Please do. I believe,” Anne added, laughing, “that you’d like me if you knew me.”

“I wonder if YOU would like ME,” said Leslie seriously. She was not fishing for a compliment. She looked out across the waves that were beginning to be garlanded with blossoms of moonlit foam, and her eyes filled with shadows.

“I’m sure I would,” said Anne. “And please don’t think I’m utterly irresponsible because you saw me dancing on the shore at sunset. No doubt I shall be dignified after a time. You see, I haven’t been married very long. I feel like a girl, and sometimes like a child, yet.”

“I have been married twelve years,” said Leslie.

Here was another unbelievable thing.

“Why, you can’t be as old as I am!” exclaimed Anne. “You must have been a child when you were married.”

“I was sixteen,” said Leslie, rising, and picking up the cap and jacket lying beside her. “I am twenty-eight now. Well, I must go back.”

“So must I. Gilbert will probably be home. But I’m so glad we both came to the shore tonight and met each other.”

Leslie said nothing, and Anne was a little chilled. She had offered friendship frankly but it had not been accepted very graciously, if it had not been absolutely repelled. In silence they climbed the cliffs and walked across a pasture-field of which the feathery, bleached, wild grasses were like a carpet of creamy velvet in the moonlight. When they reached the shore lane Leslie turned.

“I go this way, Mrs. Blythe. You will come over and see me some time, won’t you?”

Anne felt as if the invitation had been thrown at her. She got the impression that Leslie Moore gave it reluctantly.

“I will come if you really want me to,” she said a little coldly.

“Oh, I do–I do,” exclaimed Leslie, with an eagerness which seemed to burst forth and beat down some restraint that had been imposed on it.

“Then I’ll come. Good-night–Leslie.”

“Good-night, Mrs. Blythe.”

Anne walked home in a brown study and poured out her tale to Gilbert.

“So Mrs. Dick Moore isn’t one of the race that knows Joseph?” said Gilbert teasingly.

“No–o–o, not exactly. And yet–I think she WAS one of them once, but has gone or got into exile,” said Anne musingly. “She is certainly very different from the other women about here. You can’t talk about eggs and butter to HER. To think I’ve been imagining her a second Mrs. Rachel Lynde! Have you ever seen Dick Moore, Gilbert?”

“No. I’ve seen several men working about the fields of the farm, but I don’t know which was Moore.”

“She never mentioned him. I KNOW she isn’t happy.”

“From what you tell me I suppose she was married before she was old enough to know her own mind or heart, and found out too late that she had made a mistake. It’s a common tragedy enough, Anne.

A fine woman would have made the best of it. Mrs. Moore has evidently let it make her bitter and resentful.”

“Don’t let us judge her till we know,” pleaded Anne. “I don’t believe her case is so ordinary. You will understand her fascination when you meet her, Gilbert. It is a thing quite apart from her beauty. I feel that she possesses a rich nature, into which a friend might enter as into a kingdom; but for some reason she bars every one out and shuts all her possibilities up in herself, so that they cannot develop and blossom. There, I’ve been struggling to define her to myself ever since I left her, and that is the nearest I can get to it. I’m going to ask Miss Cornelia about her.”

CHAPTER 11

THE STORY OF LESLIE MOORE

“Yes, the eighth baby arrived a fortnight ago,” said Miss Cornelia, from a rocker before the fire of the little house one chilly October afternoon. “It’s a girl. Fred was ranting mad–said he wanted a boy–when the truth is he didn’t want it at all. If it had been a boy he’d have ranted because it wasn’t a girl. They had four girls and three boys before, so I can’t see that it made much difference what this one was, but of course he’d have to be cantankerous, just like a man. The baby is real pretty, dressed up in its nice little clothes. It has black eyes and the dearest, tiny hands.”

“I must go and see it. I just love babies,” said Anne, smiling to herself over a thought too dear and sacred to be put into words.

“I don’t say but what they’re nice,” admitted Miss Cornelia. “But some folks seem to have more than they really need, believe ME. My poor cousin Flora up at the Glen had eleven, and such a slave as she is! Her husband suicided three years ago. Just like a man!”

“What made him do that?” asked Anne, rather shocked.

“Couldn’t get his way over something, so he jumped into the well . A good riddance! He was a born tyrant. But of course it spoiled the well. Flora could never abide the thought of using it again, poor thing! So she had another dug and a frightful expense it was, and the water as hard as nails. If he HAD to drown himself there was plenty of water in the harbor, wasn’t there? I’ve no patience with a man like that. We’ve only had two suicides in Four Winds in my recollection. The other was Frank West–Leslie Moore’s father. By the way, has Leslie ever been over to call on you yet?”

“No, but I met her on the shore a few nights ago and we scraped an acquaintance,” said Anne, pricking up her ears.

Miss Cornelia nodded.

“I’m glad, dearie. I was hoping you’d foregather with her. What do you think of her?”

“I thought her very beautiful.”

“Oh, of course. There was never anybody about Four Winds could touch her for looks. Did you ever see her hair? It reaches to her feet when she lets it down. But I meant how did you like her?”

“I think I could like her very much if she’d let me,” said Anne slowly.

“But she wouldn’t let you–she pushed you off and kept you at arm’s length. Poor Leslie! You wouldn’t be much surprised if you knew what her life has been. It’s been a tragedy–a tragedy!” repeated Miss Cornelia emphatically.

“I wish you would tell me all about her–that is, if you can do so without betraying any confidence.”

“Lord, dearie, everybody in Four Winds knows poor Leslie’s story. It’s no secret–the OUTSIDE, that is. Nobody knows the INSIDE but Leslie herself, and she doesn’t take folks into her confidence. I’m about the best friend she has on earth, I reckon, and she’s never uttered a word of complaint to me. Have you ever seen Dick Moore?”

“No.”

“Well, I may as well begin at the beginning and tell you everything straight through, so you’ll understand it. As I said, Leslie’s father was Frank West. He was clever and shiftless–just like a man. Oh, he had heaps of brains–and much good they did him! He started to go to college, and he went for two years, and then his health broke down. The Wests were all inclined to be consumptive. So Frank came home and started farming. He married Rose Elliott from over harbor. Rose was reckoned the beauty of Four Winds–Leslie takes her looks from her mother, but she has ten times the spirit and go that Rose had, and a far better figure. Now you know, Anne, I always take the ground that us women ought to stand by each other. We’ve got enough to endure at the hands of the men, the Lord knows, so I hold we hadn’t ought to clapper-claw one another, and it isn’t often you’ll find me running down another woman. But I never had much use for Rose Elliott. She was spoiled to begin with, believe ME, and she was nothing but a lazy, selfish, whining creature. Frank was no hand to work, so they were poor as Job’s turkey. Poor! They lived on potatoes and point, believe ME. They had two children–Leslie and Kenneth. Leslie had her mother’s looks and her father’s brains, and something she didn’t get from either of them. She took after her Grandmother West–a splendid old lady. She was the brightest, friendliest, merriest thing when she was a child, Anne. Everybody liked her. She was her father’s favorite and she was awful fond of him. They were `chums,’ as she used to say. She couldn’t see any of his faults–and he WAS a taking sort of man in some ways.

“Well, when Leslie was twelve years old, the first dreadful thing happened. She worshipped little Kenneth–he was four years younger than her, and he WAS a dear little chap. And he was killed one day–fell off a big load of hay just as it was going into the barn, and the wheel went right over his little body and crushed the life out of it. And mind you, Anne, Leslie saw it. She was looking down from the loft. She gave one screech–the hired man said he never heard such a sound in all his life–he said it would ring in his ears till Gabriel’s trump drove it out. But she never screeched or cried again about it. She jumped from the loft onto the load and from the load to the floor, and caught up the little bleeding, warm, dead body, Anne–they had to tear it from her before she would let it go. They sent for me–I can’t talk of it.”

Miss Cornelia wiped the tears from her kindly brown eyes and sewed in bitter silence for a few minutes.

“Well,” she resumed, “it was all over–they buried little Kenneth in that graveyard over the harbor, and after a while Leslie went back to her school and her studies. She never mentioned Kenneth’s name–I’ve never heard it cross her lips from that day to this. I reckon that old hurt still aches and burns at times; but she was only a child and time is real kind to children, Anne, dearie. After a while she began to laugh again–she had the prettiest laugh. You don’t often hear it now.”

“I heard it once the other night,” said Anne. “It IS a beautiful laugh.”

“Frank West began to go down after Kenneth’s death. He wasn’t strong and it was a shock to him, because he was real fond of the child, though, as I’ve said, Leslie was his favorite. He got mopy and melancholy, and couldn’t or wouldn’t work. And one day, when Leslie was fourteen years of age, he hanged himself–and in the parlor, too, mind you, Anne, right in the middle of the parlor from the lamp hook in the ceiling. Wasn’t that like a man? It was the anniversary of his wedding day, too. Nice, tasty time to pick for it, wasn’t it? And, of course, that poor Leslie had to be the one to find him. She went into the parlor that morning, singing, with some fresh flowers for the vases, and there she saw her father hanging from the ceiling, his face as black as a coal. It was something awful, believe ME!”

“Oh, how horrible!” said Anne, shuddering. “The poor, poor child!”

“Leslie didn’t cry at her father’s funeral any more then she had cried at Kenneth’s. Rose whooped and howled for two, however, and Leslie had all she could do trying to calm and comfort her mother. I was disgusted with Rose and so was everyone else, but Leslie never got out of patience. She loved her mother. Leslie is clannish–her own could never do wrong in her eyes. Well, they buried Frank West beside Kenneth, and Rose put up a great big monument to him. It was bigger than his character, believe ME! Anyhow, it was bigger than Rose could afford, for the farm was mortgaged for more than its value. But not long after Leslie’s old grandmother West died and she left Leslie a little money–enough to give her a year at Queen’s Academy. Leslie had made up her mind to pass for a teacher if she could, and then earn enough to put herself through Redmond College. That had been her father’s pet scheme–he wanted her to have what he had lost. Leslie was full of ambition and her head was chock full of brains. She went to Queen’s, and she took two years’ work in one year and got her First; and when she came home she got the Glen school. She was so happy and hopeful and full of life and eagerness. When I think of what she was then and what she is now, I say–drat the men!”

Miss Cornelia snipped her thread off as viciously as if, Nero-like, she was severing the neck of mankind by the stroke.

“Dick Moore came into her life that summer. His father, Abner Moore, kept store at the Glen, but Dick had a sea-going streak in him from his mother; he used to sail in summer and clerk in his father’s store in winter. He was a big, handsome fellow, with a little ugly soul. He was always wanting something till he got it, and then he stopped wanting it–just like a man. Oh, he didn’t growl at the weather when it was fine, and he was mostly real pleasant and agreeable when everything went right. But he drank a good deal, and there were some nasty stories told of him and a girl down at the fishing village. He wasn’t fit for Leslie to wipe her feet on, that’s the long and short of it. And he was a Methodist! But he was clean mad about her–because of her good looks in the first place, and because she wouldn’t have anything to say to him in the second. He vowed he’d have her–and he got her!”

“How did he bring it about?”

“Oh, it was an iniquitous thing! I’ll never forgive Rose West. You see, dearie, Abner Moore held the mortgage on the West farm, and the interest was overdue some years, and Dick just went and told Mrs. West that if Leslie wouldn’t marry him he’d get his father to foreclose the mortgage. Rose carried on
terrible–fainted and wept, and pleaded with Leslie not to let her be turned out of her home. She said it would break her heart to leave the home she’d come to as a bride. I wouldn’t have blamed her for feeling dreadful bad over it–but you wouldn’t have thought she’d be so selfish as to sacrifice her own flesh and blood because of it, would you? Well, she was.

And Leslie gave in–she loved her mother so much she would have done anything to save her pain. She married Dick Moore. None of us knew why at the time. It wasn’t till long afterward that I found out how her mother had worried her into it. I was sure there was something wrong, though, because I knew how she had snubbed him time and again, and it wasn’t like Leslie to turn face–about like that. Besides, I knew that Dick Moore wasn’t the kind of man Leslie could ever fancy, in spite of his good looks and dashing ways. Of course, there was no wedding, but Rose asked me to go and see them married. I went, but I was sorry I did. I’d seen Leslie’s face at her brother’s funeral and at her father’s funeral–and now it seemed to me I was seeing it at her own funeral. But Rose was smiling as a basket of chips, believe ME!

“Leslie and Dick settled down on the West place–Rose couldn’t bear to part with her dear daughter!–and lived there for the winter. In the spring Rose took pneumonia and died–a year too late! Leslie was heart-broken enough over it. Isn’t it terrible the way some unworthy folks are loved, while others that deserve it far more, you’d think, never get much affection? As for Dick, he’d had enough of quiet married life–just like a man. He was for up and off. He went over to Nova Scotia to visit his relations–his father had come from Nova Scotia–and he wrote back to Leslie that his cousin, George Moore, was going on a voyage to Havana and he was going too. The name of the vessel was the Four Sisters and they were to be gone about nine weeks.

“It must have been a relief to Leslie. But she never said anything. From the day of her marriage she was just what she is now–cold and proud, and keeping everyone but me at a distance. I won’t BE kept at a distance, believe ME! I’ve just stuck to Leslie as close as I knew how in spite of everything.”

“She told me you were the best friend she had,” said Anne.

“Did she?” exclaimed Miss Cornelia delightedly. “Well, I’m real thankful to hear it. Sometimes I’ve wondered if she really did want me around at all–she never let me think so. You must have thawed her out more than you think, or she wouldn’t have said that much itself to you. Oh, that poor, heart-broken girl! I never see Dick Moore but I want to run a knife clean through him.”

Miss Cornelia wiped her eyes again and having relieved her feelings by her blood-thirsty wish, took up her tale.

“Well, Leslie was left over there alone. Dick had put in the crop before he went, and old Abner looked after it. The summer went by and the Four Sisters didn’t come back. The Nova Scotia Moores investigated, and found she had got to Havana and discharged her cargo and took on another and left for home; and that was all they ever found out about her. By degrees people began to talk of Dick Moore as one that was dead. Almost everyone believed that he was, though no one felt certain, for men have turned up here at the harbor after they’d been gone for years. Leslie never thought he was dead–and she was right. A thousand pities too! The next summer Captain Jim was in Havana–that was before he gave up the sea, of course. He thought he’d poke round a bit–Captain Jim was always meddlesome, just like a man–and he went to inquiring round among the sailors’ boarding houses and places like that, to see if he could find out anything about the crew of the Four Sisters. He’d better have let sleeping dogs lie, in my opinion! Well, he went to one out-of-the-way place, and there he found a man he knew at first sight it was Dick Moore, though he had a big beard. Captain Jim got it shaved off and then there was no doubt–Dick Moore it was–his body at least. His mind wasn’t there–as for his soul, in my opinion he never had one!”

“What had happened to him?”

“Nobody knows the rights of it. All the folks who kept the boarding house could tell was that about a year before they had found him lying on their doorstep one morning in an awful condition–his head battered to a jelly almost. They supposed he’d got hurt in some drunken row, and likely that’s the truth of it. They took him in, never thinking he could live. But he did–and he was just like a child when he got well. He hadn’t memory or intellect or reason. They tried to find out who he was but they never could. He couldn’t even tell them his name–he could only say a few simple words. He had a letter on him beginning `Dear Dick’ and signed `Leslie,’ but there was no address on it and the envelope was gone. They let him stay on–he learned to do a few odd jobs about the place–and there Captain Jim found him. He brought him home– I’ve always said it was a bad day’s work, though I s’pose there was nothing else he could do. He thought maybe when Dick got home and saw his old surroundings and familiar faces his memory would wake up. But it hadn’t any effect. There he’s been at the house up the brook ever since. He’s just like a child, no more nor less. Takes fractious spells occasionally, but mostly he’s just vacant and good humored and harmless. He’s apt to run away if he isn’t watched. That’s the burden Leslie has had to carry for eleven years–and all alone. Old Abner Moore died soon after Dick was brought home and it was found he was almost bankrupt. When things were settled up there was nothing for Leslie and Dick but the old West farm. Leslie rented it to John Ward, and the rent is all she has to live on. Sometimes in summer she takes a boarder to help out. But most visitors prefer the other side of the harbor where the hotels and summer cottages are. Leslie’s house is too far from the bathing shore. She’s taken care of Dick and she’s never been away from him for eleven years–she’s tied to that imbecile for life. And after all the dreams and hopes she once had! You can imagine what it has been like for her, Anne, dearie–with her beauty and spirit and pride and cleverness. It’s just been a living death.”

“Poor, poor girl!” said Anne again. Her own happiness seemed to reproach her. What right had she to be so happy when another human soul must be so miserable?

“Will you tell me just what Leslie said and how she acted the night you met her on the shore?” asked Miss Cornelia.

She listened intently and nodded her satisfaction.

“YOU thought she was stiff and cold, Anne, dearie, but I can tell you she thawed out wonderful for her. She must have taken to you real strong. I’m so glad. You may be able to help her a good deal. I was thankful when I heard that a young couple was coming to this house, for I hoped it would mean some friends for Leslie; especially if you belonged to the race that knows Joseph. You WILL be her friend, won’t you, Anne, dearie?”

“Indeed I will, if she’ll let me,” said Anne, with all her own sweet, impulsive earnestness.

“No, you must be her friend, whether she’ll let you or not,” said Miss Cornelia resolutely. “Don’t you mind if she’s stiff by times– don’t notice it. Remember what her life has been–and is–and must always be, I suppose, for creatures like Dick Moore live forever, I understand. You should see how fat he’s got since he came home. He used to be lean enough. Just MAKE her be friends–you can do it–you’re one of those who have the knack. Only you mustn’t be sensitive. And don’t mind if she doesn’t seem to want you to go over there much. She knows that some women don’t like to be where Dick is–they complain he gives them the creeps. Just get her to come over here as often as she can. She can’t get away so very much–she can’t leave Dick long, for the Lord knows what he’d do–burn the house down most likely. At nights, after he’s in bed and asleep, is about the only time she’s free. He always goes to bed early and sleeps like the dead till next morning. That is how you came to meet her at the shore likely. She wanders there considerable.”

“I will do everything I can for her,” said Anne. Her interest in Leslie Moore, which had been vivid ever since she had seen her driving her geese down the hill, was intensified a thousand fold by Miss Cornelia’s narration. The girl’s beauty and sorrow and loneliness drew her with an irresistible fascination. She had never known anyone like her; her friends had hitherto been wholesome, normal, merry girls like herself, with only the average trials of human care and bereavement to shadow their girlish dreams. Leslie Moore stood apart, a tragic, appealing figure of thwarted womanhood. Anne resolved that she would win entrance into the kingdom of that lonely soul and find there the comradeship it could so richly give, were it not for the cruel fetters that held it in a prison not of its own making.

“And mind you this, Anne, dearie,” said Miss Cornelia, who had not yet wholly relieved her mind, “You mustn’t think Leslie is an infidel because she hardly ever goes to church–or even that she’s a Methodist. She can’t take Dick to church, of course–not that he ever troubled church much in his best days. But you just remember that she’s a real strong Presbyterian at heart, Anne, dearie.”

CHAPTER 12

LESLIE COMES OVER

Leslie came over to the house of dreams one frosty October night, when moonlit mists were hanging over the harbor and curling like silver ribbons along the seaward glens. She looked as if she repented coming when Gilbert answered her knock; but Anne flew past him, pounced on her, and drew her in.

“I’m so glad you picked tonight for a call,” she said gaily. “I made up a lot of extra good fudge this afternoon and we want someone to help us eat it–before the fire–while we tell stories. Perhaps Captain Jim will drop in, too. This is his night.”

“No. Captain Jim is over home,” said Leslie. “He–he made me come here,” she added, half defiantly.

“I’ll say a thank-you to him for that when I see him,” said Anne, pulling easy chairs before the fire.

“Oh, I don’t mean that I didn’t want to come,” protested Leslie, flushing a little. “I–I’ve been thinking of coming–but it isn’t always easy for me to get away.”

“Of course it must be hard for you to leave Mr. Moore,” said Anne, in a matter-of-fact tone. She had decided that it would be best to mention Dick Moore occasionally as an accepted fact, and not give undue morbidness to the subject by avoiding it. She was right, for Leslie’s air of constraint suddenly vanished. Evidently she had been wondering how much Anne knew of the conditions of her life and was relieved that no explanations were needed. She allowed her cap and jacket to be taken, and sat down with a girlish snuggle in the big armchair by Magog. She was dressed prettily and carefully, with the customary touch of color in the scarlet geranium at her white throat. Her beautiful hair gleamed like molten gold in the warm firelight. Her sea-blue eyes were full of soft laughter and allurement. For the moment, under the influence of the little house of dreams, she was a girl again–a girl forgetful of the past and its bitterness. The atmosphere of the many loves that had sanctified the little house was all about her; the companionship of two healthy, happy, young folks of her own generation encircled her; she felt and yielded to the magic of her surroundings–Miss Cornelia and Captain Jim would scarcely have recognized her; Anne found it hard to believe that this was the cold, unresponsive woman she had met on the shore–this animated girl who talked and listened with the eagerness of a starved soul. And how hungrily Leslie’s eyes looked at the bookcases between the windows!

“Our library isn’t very extensive,” said Anne, “but every book in it is a FRIEND. We’ve picked our books up through the years, here and there, never buying one until we had first read it and knew that it belonged to the race of Joseph.”

Leslie laughed–beautiful laughter that seemed akin to all the mirth that had echoed through the little house in the vanished years.

“I have a few books of father’s–not many,” she said. “I’ve read them until I know them almost by heart. I don’t get many books. There’s a circulating library at the Glen store–but I don’t think the committee who pick the books for Mr. Parker know what books are of Joseph’s race–or perhaps they don’t care. It was so seldom I got one I really liked that I gave up getting any.”

“I hope you’ll look on our bookshelves as your own,” said Anne.

“You are entirely and wholeheartedly welcome to the loan of any book on them.”

“You are setting a feast of fat things before me,” said Leslie, joyously. Then, as the clock struck ten, she rose, half unwillingly.

“I must go. I didn’t realise it was so late. Captain Jim is always saying it doesn’t take long to stay an hour. But I’ve stayed two–and oh, but I’ve enjoyed them,” she added frankly.

“Come often,” said Anne and Gilbert. They had risen and stood together in the firelight’s glow. Leslie looked at them–youthful, hopeful, happy, typifying all she had missed and must forever miss. The light went out of her face and eyes; the girl vanished; it was the sorrowful, cheated woman who answered the invitation almost coldly and got herself away with a pitiful haste.

Anne watched her until she was lost in the shadows of the chill and misty night. Then she turned slowly back to the glow of her own radiant hearthstone.

“Isn’t she lovely, Gilbert? Her hair fascinates me. Miss Cornelia says it reaches to her feet. Ruby Gillis had beautiful hair–but Leslie’s is ALIVE–every thread of it is living gold.”

“She is very beautiful,” agreed Gilbert, so heartily that Anne almost wished he were a LITTLE less enthusiastic.

“Gilbert, would you like my hair better if it were like Leslie’s?” she asked wistfully.

“I wouldn’t have your hair any color but just what it is for the world,” said Gilbert, with one or two convincing accompaniments.

You wouldn’t be ANNE if you had golden hair–or hair of any color but”–

“Red,” said Anne, with gloomy satisfaction.

“Yes, red–to give warmth to that milk-white skin and those shining gray-green eyes of yours. Golden hair wouldn’t suit you at all Queen Anne–MY Queen Anne–queen of my heart and life and home.”

“Then you may admire Leslie’s all you like,” said Anne magnanimously.

CHAPTER 13

A GHOSTLY EVENING

One evening, a week later, Anne decided to run over the fields to the house up the brook for an informal call. It was an evening of gray fog that had crept in from the gulf, swathed the harbor, filled the glens and valleys, and clung heavily to the autumnal meadows. Through it the sea sobbed and shuddered. Anne saw Four Winds in a new aspect, and found it weird and mysterious and fascinating; but it also gave her a little feeling of loneliness. Gilbert was away and would be away until the morrow, attending a medical pow-wow in Charlottetown. Anne longed for an hour of fellowship with some girl friend. Captain Jim and Miss Cornelia were “good fellows” each, in their own way; but youth yearned to youth.

“If only Diana or Phil or Pris or Stella could drop in for a chat,” she said to herself, “how delightful it would be! This is such a GHOSTLY night. I’m sure all the ships that ever sailed out of Four Winds to their doom could be seen tonight sailing up the harbor with their drowned crews on their decks, if that shrouding fog could suddenly be drawn aside. I feel as if it concealed innumerable mysteries–as if I were surrounded by the wraiths of old generations of Four Winds people peering at me through that gray veil. If ever the dear dead ladies of this little house came back to revisit it they would come on just such a night as this. If I sit here any longer I’ll see one of them there opposite me in Gilbert’s chair. This place isn’t exactly canny tonight. Even Gog and Magog have an air of pricking up their ears to hear the footsteps of unseen guests. I’ll run over to see Leslie before I frighten myself with my own fancies, as I did long ago in the matter of the Haunted Wood. I’ll leave my house of dreams to welcome back its old inhabitants. My fire will give them my good-will and greeting–they will be gone before I come back, and my house will be mine once more. Tonight I am sure it is keeping a tryst with the past.”

Laughing a little over her fancy, yet with something of a creepy sensation in the region of her spine, Anne kissed her hand to Gog and Magog and slipped out into the fog, with some of the new magazines under her arm for Leslie.

“Leslie’s wild for books and magazines,” Miss Cornelia had told her, “and she hardly ever sees one. She can’t afford to buy them or subscribe for them. She’s really pitifully poor, Anne. I don’t see how she makes out to live at all on the little rent the farm brings in. She never even hints a complaint on the score of poverty, but I know what it must be. She’s been handicapped by it all her life. She didn’t mind it when she was free and ambitious, but it must gall now, believe ME. I’m glad she seemed so bright and merry the evening she spent with you. Captain Jim told me he had fairly to put her cap and coat on and push her out of the door. Don’t be too long going to see her either. If you are she’ll think it’s because you don’t like the sight of Dick, and she’ll crawl into her shell again. Dick’s a great, big, harmless baby, but that silly grin and chuckle of his do get on some people’s nerves. Thank goodness, I’ve no nerves myself. I like Dick Moore better now than I ever did when he was in his right senses–though the Lord knows that isn’t saying much. I was down there one day in housecleaning time helping Leslie a bit, and I was frying doughnuts. Dick was hanging round to get one, as usual, and all at once he picked up a scalding hot one I’d just fished out and dropped it on the back of my neck when I was bending over. Then he laughed and laughed. Believe ME, Anne, it took all the grace of God in my heart to keep me from just whisking up that stew-pan of boiling fat and pouring it over his head.”

Anne laughed over Miss Cornelia’s wrath as she sped through the darkness. But laughter accorded ill with that night. She was sober enough when she reached the house among the willows. Everything was very silent. The front part of the house seemed dark and deserted, so Anne slipped round to the side door, which opened from the veranda into a little sitting room. There she halted noiselessly.

The door was open. Beyond, in the dimly lighted room, sat Leslie Moore, with her arms flung out on the table and her head bent upon them. She was weeping horribly–with low, fierce, choking sobs, as if some agony in her soul were trying to tear itself out. An old black dog was sitting by her, his nose resting on his lap, his big doggish eyes full of mute, imploring sympathy and devotion. Anne drew back in dismay. She felt that she could not intermeddle with this bitterness. Her heart ached with a sympathy she might not utter. To go in now would be to shut the door forever on any possible help or friendship. Some instinct warned Anne that the proud, bitter girl would never forgive the one who thus surprised her in her abandonment of despair.

Anne slipped noiselessly from the veranda and found her way across the yard. Beyond, she heard voices in the gloom and saw the dim glow of a light. At the gate she met two men–Captain Jim with a lantern, and another who she knew must be Dick Moore–a big man, badly gone to fat, with a broad, round, red face, and vacant eyes. Even in the dull light Anne got the impression that there was something unusual about his eyes.

“Is this you, Mistress Blythe?” said Captain Jim. “Now, now, you hadn’t oughter be roaming about alone on a night like this. You could get lost in this fog easier than not. Jest you wait till I see Dick safe inside the door and I’ll come back and light you over the fields. I ain’t going to have Dr. Blythe coming home and finding that you walked clean over Cape Leforce in the fog. A woman did that once, forty years ago.

“So you’ve been over to see Leslie,” he said, when he rejoined her.

“I didn’t go in,” said Anne, and told what she had seen. Captain Jim sighed.

“Poor, poor, little girl! She don’t cry often, Mistress Blythe– she’s too brave for that. She must feel terrible when she does cry. A night like this is hard on poor women who have sorrows. There’s something about it that kinder brings up all we’ve suffered–or feared.”

“It’s full of ghosts,” said Anne, with a shiver. “That was why I came over–I wanted to clasp a human hand and hear a human voice.

There seem to be so many INHUMAN presences about tonight. Even my own dear house was full of them. They fairly elbowed me out. So I fled over here for companionship of my kind.”

“You were right not to go in, though, Mistress Blythe. Leslie wouldn’t have liked it. She wouldn’t have liked me going in with Dick, as I’d have done if I hadn’t met you. I had Dick down with me all day. I keep him with me as much as I can to help Leslie a bit.”

“Isn’t there something odd about his eyes?” asked Anne.

“You noticed that? Yes, one is blue and t’other is hazel–his father had the same. It’s a Moore peculiarity. That was what told me he was Dick Moore when I saw him first down in Cuby. If it hadn’t a-bin for his eyes I mightn’t a-known him, with his beard and fat. You know, I reckon, that it was me found him and brought him home. Miss Cornelia always says I shouldn’t have done it, but I can’t agree with her. It was the RIGHT thing to do–and so ’twas the only thing. There ain’t no question in my mind about THAT. But my old heart aches for Leslie. She’s only twenty-eight and she’s eaten more bread with sorrow than most women do in eighty years.”

They walked on in silence for a little while. Presently Anne said, “Do you know, Captain Jim, I never