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Anne of Green Gables


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CHAPTER XVI.
Diana Is Invited to Tea with Tragic Results


OCTOBER was a beautiful month at Green Gables, when the birches in the hollow turned as golden as sunshine and the maples behind the orchard were royal crimson and the wild cherry trees along the lane put on the loveliest shades of dark red and bronzy green, while the fields sunned themselves in aftermaths.

Anne reveled in the world of color about her.

“Oh, Marilla,” she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill—several thrills? I’m going to decorate my room with them.”

“Messy things,” said Marilla, whose aesthetic sense was not noticeably developed. “You clutter up your room entirely too much with out-of-doors stuff, Anne. Bedrooms were made to sleep in.”

“Oh, and dream in too, Marilla. And you know one can dream so much better in a room where there are pretty things. I’m going to put these boughs in the old blue jug and set them on my table.”

“Mind you don’t drop leaves all over the stairs then. I’m going on a meeting of the Aid Society at Carmody this afternoon, Anne, and I won’t likely be home before dark. You’ll have to get Matthew and Jerry their supper, so mind you don’t forget to put the tea to draw until you sit down at the table as you did last time.”

“It was dreadful of me to forget,” said Anne apologetically, “but that was the afternoon I was trying to think of a name for Violet Vale and it crowded other things out. Matthew was so good. He never scolded a bit. He put the tea down himself and said we could wait awhile as well as not. And I told him a lovely fairy story while we were waiting, so he didn’t find the time long at all. It was a beautiful fairy story, Marilla. I forgot the end of it, so I made up an end for it myself and Matthew said he couldn’t tell where the join came in.”

“Matthew would think it all right, Anne, if you took a notion to get up and have dinner in the middle of the night. But you keep your wits about you this time. And—I don’t really know if I’m doing right—it may make you more addlepated than ever—but you can ask Diana to come over and spend the afternoon with you and have tea here.”

“Oh, Marilla!” Anne clasped her hands. “How perfectly lovely! You are able to imagine things after all or else you’d never have understood how I’ve longed for that very thing. It will seem so nice and grown-uppish. No fear of my forgetting to put the tea to draw when I have company. Oh, Marilla, can I use the rosebud spray tea set?”

“No, indeed! The rosebud tea set! Well, what next? You know I never use that except for the minister or the Aids. You’ll put down the old brown tea set. But you can open the little yellow crock of cherry preserves. It’s time it was being used anyhow—I believe it’s beginning to work. And you can cut some fruit cake and have some of the cookies and snaps.”

“I can just imagine myself sitting down at the head of the table and pouring out the tea,” said Anne, shutting her eyes ecstatically. “And asking Diana if she takes sugar! I know she doesn’t but of course I’ll ask her just as if I didn’t know. And then pressing her to take another piece of fruit cake and another helping of preserves. Oh, Marilla, it’s a wonderful sensation just to think of it. Can I take her into the spare room to lay off her hat when she comes? And then into the parlor to sit?”

“No. The sitting room will do for you and your company. But there’s a bottle half full of raspberry cordial that was left over from the church social the other night. It’s on the second shelf of the sitting-room closet and you and Diana can have it if you like, and a cooky to eat with it along in the afternoon, for I daresay Matthew ‘ll be late coming in to tea since he’s hauling potatoes to the vessel.”

Anne flew down to the hollow, past the Dryad’s Bubble and up the spruce path to Orchard Slope, to ask Diana to tea. As a result just after Marilla had driven off to Carmody, Diana came over, dressed in her second-best dress and looking exactly as it is proper to look when asked out to tea. At other times she was wont to run into the kitchen without knocking; but now she knocked primly at the front door. And when Anne, dressed in her second best, as primly opened it, both little girls shook hands as gravely as if they had never met before. This unnatural solemnity lasted until after Diana had been taken to the east gable to lay off her hat and then had sat for ten minutes in the sitting room, toes in position.

“How is your mother?” inquired Anne politely, just as if she had not seen Mrs. Barry picking apples that morning in excellent health and spirits.

“She is very well, thank you. I suppose Mr. Cuthbert is hauling potatoes to the lily sands this afternoon, is he?” said Diana, who had ridden down to Mr. Harmon Andrews’s that morning in Matthew’s cart.

“Yes. Our potato crop is very good this year. I hope your father’s crop is good too.”

“It is fairly good, thank you. Have you picked many of your apples yet?”

“Oh, ever so many,” said Anne forgetting to be dignified and jumping up quickly. “Let’s go out to the orchard and get some of the Red Sweetings, Diana. Marilla says we can have all that are left on the tree. Marilla is a very generous woman. She said we could have fruit cake and cherry preserves for tea. But it isn’t good manners to tell your company what you are going to give them to eat, so I won’t tell you what she said we could have to drink. Only it begins with an R and a C and it’s bright red color. I love bright red drinks, don’t you? They taste twice as good as any other color.”

The orchard, with its great sweeping boughs that bent to the ground with fruit, proved so delightful that the little girls spent most of the afternoon in it, sitting in a grassy corner where the frost had spared the green and the mellow autumn sunshine lingered warmly, eating apples and talking as hard as they could. Diana had much to tell Anne of what went on in school. She had to sit with Gertie Pye and she hated it; Gertie squeaked her pencil all the time and it just made her—Diana’s—blood run cold; Ruby Gillis had charmed all her warts away, true’s you live, with a magic pebble that old Mary Joe from the Creek gave her. You had to rub the warts with the pebble and then throw it away over your left shoulder at the time of the new moon and the warts would all go. Charlie Sloane’s name was written up with Em White’s on the porch wall and Em White was awful mad about it; Sam Boulter had “sassed” Mr. Phillips in class and Mr. Phillips whipped him and Sam’s father came down to the school and dared Mr. Phillips to lay a hand on one of his children again; and Mattie Andrews had a new red hood and a blue crossover with tassels on it and the airs she put on about it were perfectly sickening; and Lizzie Wright didn’t speak to Mamie Wilson because Mamie Wilson’s grown-up sister had cut out Lizzie Wright’s grown-up sister with her beau; and everybody missed Anne so and wished she’s come to school again; and Gilbert Blythe—

But Anne didn’t want to hear about Gilbert Blythe. She jumped up hurriedly and said suppose they go in and have some raspberry cordial.

Anne looked on the second shelf of the room pantry but there was no bottle of raspberry cordial there. Search revealed it away back on the top shelf. Anne put it on a tray and set it on the table with a tumbler.

“Now, please help yourself, Diana,” she said politely. “I don’t believe I’ll have any just now. I don’t feel as if I wanted any after all those apples.”

Diana poured herself out a tumblerful, looked at its bright-red hue admiringly, and then sipped it daintily.

“That’s awfully nice raspberry cordial, Anne,” she said. “I didn’t know raspberry cordial was so nice.”

“I’m real glad you like it. Take as much as you want. I’m going to run out and stir the fire up. There are so many responsibilities on a person’s mind when they’re keeping house, isn’t there?”

When Anne came back from the kitchen Diana was drinking her second glassful of cordial; and, being entreated thereto by Anne, she offered no particular objection to the drinking of a third. The tumblerfuls were generous ones and the raspberry cordial was certainly very nice.

“The nicest I ever drank,” said Diana. “It’s ever so much nicer than Mrs. Lynde’s, although she brags of hers so much. It doesn’t taste a bit like hers.”

“I should think Marilla’s raspberry cordial would prob’ly be much nicer than Mrs. Lynde’s,” said Anne loyally. “Marilla is a famous cook. She is trying to teach me to cook but I assure you, Diana, it is uphill work. There’s so little scope for imagination in cookery. You just have to go by rules. The last time I made a cake I forgot to put the flour in. I was thinking the loveliest story about you and me, Diana. I thought you were desperately ill with smallpox and everybody deserted you, but I went boldly to your bedside and nursed you back to life; and then I took the smallpox and died and I was buried under those poplar trees in the graveyard and you planted a rosebush by my grave and watered it with your tears; and you never, never forgot the friend of your youth who sacrificed her life for you. Oh, it was such a pathetic tale, Diana. The tears just rained down over my cheeks while I mixed the cake. But I forgot the flour and the cake was a dismal failure. Flour is so essential to cakes, you know. Marilla was very cross and I don’t wonder. I’m a great trial to her. She was terribly mortified about the pudding sauce last week. We had a plum pudding for dinner on Tuesday and there was half the pudding and a pitcherful of sauce left over. Marilla said there was enough for another dinner and told me to set it on the pantry shelf and cover it. I meant to cover it just as much as could be, Diana, but when I carried it in I was imagining I was a nun—of course I’m a Protestant but I imagined I was a Catholic—taking the veil to bury a broken heart in cloistered seclusion; and I forgot all about covering the pudding sauce. I thought of it next morning and ran to the pantry. Diana, fancy if you can my extreme horror at finding a mouse drowned in that pudding sauce! I lifted the mouse out with a spoon and threw it out in the yard and then I washed the spoon in three waters. Marilla was out milking and I fully intended to ask her when she came in if I’d give the sauce to the pigs; but when she did come in I was imagining that I was a frost fairy going through the woods turning the trees red and yellow, whichever they wanted to be, so I never thought about the pudding sauce again and Marilla sent me out to pick apples. Well, Mr. and Mrs. Chester Ross from Spencervale came here that morning. You know they are very stylish people, especially Mrs. Chester Ross. When Marilla called me in dinner was all ready and everybody was at the table. I tried to be as polite and dignified as I could be, for I wanted Mrs. Chester Ross to think I was a ladylike little girl even if I wasn’t pretty. Everything went right until I saw Marilla coming with the plum pudding in one hand and the pitcher of pudding sauce warmed up, in the other. Diana, that was a terrible moment. I remembered everything and I just stood up in my place and shrieked out ‘Marilla, you mustn’t use that pudding sauce. There was a mouse drowned in it. I forgot to tell you before.’ Oh, Diana, I shall never forget that awful moment if I live to be a hundred. Mrs. Chester Ross just looked at me and I thought I would sink through the floor with mortification. She is such a perfect housekeeper and fancy what she must have thought of us. Marilla turned red as fire but she never said a word—then. She just carried that sauce and pudding out and brought in some strawberry preserves. She even offered me some, but I couldn’t swallow a mouthful. It was like heaping coals of fire on my head. After Mrs. Chester Ross went away, Marilla gave me a dreadful scolding. Why, Diana, what is the matter?”

Diana had stood up very unsteadily; then she sat down again, putting her hands to her head.

“I’m—I’m awful sick,” she said, a little thickly. “I—I—must go right home.”

“Oh, you mustn’t dream of going home without your tea,” cried Anne in distress. “I’ll get it right off—I’ll go and put the tea down this very minute.”

“I must go home,” repeated Diana, stupidly but determinedly.

“Let me get you a lunch anyhow,” implored Anne. “Let me give you a bit of fruit cake and some of the cherry preserves. Lie down on the sofa for a little while and you’ll be better. Where do you feel bad?”

“I must go home,” said Diana, and that was all she would say. In vain Anne pleaded.

“I never heard of company going home without tea,” she mourned. “Oh, Diana, do you suppose that it’s possible you’re really taking the smallpox? If you are I’ll go and nurse you, you can depend on that. I’ll never forsake you. But I do wish you’d stay till after tea. Where do you feel bad?”

“I’m awful dizzy,” said Diana.

And indeed, she walked very dizzily. Anne, with tears of disappointment in her eyes, got Diana’s hat and went with her as far as the Barry yard fence. Then she wept all the way back to Green Gables, where she sorrowfully put the remainder of the raspberry cordial back into the pantry and got tea ready for Matthew and Jerry, with all the zest gone out of the performance.

The next day was Sunday and as the rain poured down in torrents from dawn till dusk Anne did not stir abroad from Green Gables. Monday afternoon Marilla sent her down to Mrs. Lynde’s on an errand. In a very short space of time Anne came flying back up the lane with tears rolling down her cheeks. Into the kitchen she dashed and flung herself face downward on the sofa in an agony.

“Whatever has gone wrong now, Anne?” queried Marilla in doubt and dismay. “I do hope you haven’t gone and been saucy to Mrs. Lynde again.”

No answer from Anne save more tears and stormier sobs!

“Anne Shirley, when I ask you a question I want to be answered. Sit right up this very minute and tell me what you are crying about.”

Anne sat up, tragedy personified.

“Mrs. Lynde was up to see Mrs. Barry today and Mrs. Barry was in an awful state,” she wailed. “She says that I set Diana drunk Saturday and sent her home in a disgraceful condition. And she says I must be a thoroughly bad, wicked little girl and she’s never, never going to let Diana play with me again. Oh, Marilla, I’m just overcome with woe.”

Marilla stared in blank amazement.

“Set Diana drunk!” she said when she found her voice. “Anne are you or Mrs. Barry crazy? What on earth did you give her?”

“Not a thing but raspberry cordial,” sobbed Anne. “I never thought raspberry cordial would set people drunk, Marilla—not even if they drank three big tumblerfuls as Diana did. Oh, it sounds so—so—like Mrs. Thomas’s husband! But I didn’t mean to set her drunk.”

“Drunk fiddlesticks!” said Marilla, marching to the sitting room pantry. There on the shelf was a bottle which she at once recognized as one containing some of her three-year-old homemade currant wine for which she was celebrated in Avonlea, although certain of the stricter sort, Mrs. Barry among them, disapproved strongly of it. And at the same time Marilla recollected that she had put the bottle of raspberry cordial down in the cellar instead of in the pantry as she had told Anne.

She went back to the kitchen with the wine bottle in her hand. Her face was twitching in spite of herself.

“Anne, you certainly have a genius for getting into trouble. You went and gave Diana currant wine instead of raspberry cordial. Didn’t you know the difference yourself?”

“I never tasted it,” said Anne. “I thought it was the cordial. I meant to be so—so—hospitable. Diana got awfully sick and had to go home. Mrs. Barry told Mrs. Lynde she was simply dead drunk. She just laughed silly-like when her mother asked her what was the matter and went to sleep and slept for hours. Her mother smelled her breath and knew she was drunk. She had a fearful headache all day yesterday. Mrs. Barry is so indignant. She will never believe but what I did it on purpose.”

“I should think she would better punish Diana for being so greedy as to drink three glassfuls of anything,” said Marilla shortly. “Why, three of those big glasses would have made her sick even if it had only been cordial. Well, this story will be a nice handle for those folks who are so down on me for making currant wine, although I haven’t made any for three years ever since I found out that the minister didn’t approve. I just kept that bottle for sickness. There, there, child, don’t cry. I can’t see as you were to blame although I’m sorry it happened so.”

“I must cry,” said Anne. “My heart is broken. The stars in their courses fight against me, Marilla. Diana and I are parted forever. Oh, Marilla, I little dreamed of this when first we swore our vows of friendship.”

“Don’t be foolish, Anne. Mrs. Barry will think better of it when she finds you’re not to blame. I suppose she thinks you’ve done it for a silly joke or something of that sort. You’d best go up this evening and tell her how it was.”

“My courage fails me at the thought of facing Diana’s injured mother,” sighed Anne. “I wish you’d go, Marilla. You’re so much more dignified than I am. Likely she’d listen to you quicker than to me.”

“Well, I will,” said Marilla, reflecting that it would probably be the wiser course. “Don’t cry any more, Anne. It will be all right.”

Marilla had changed her mind about it being all right by the time she got back from Orchard Slope. Anne was watching for her coming and flew to the porch door to meet her.

“Oh, Marilla, I know by your face that it’s been no use,” she said sorrowfully. “Mrs. Barry won’t forgive me?”

“Mrs. Barry indeed!” snapped Marilla. “Of all the unreasonable women I ever saw she’s the worst. I told her it was all a mistake and you weren’t to blame, but she just simply didn’t believe me. And she rubbed it well in about my currant wine and how I’d always said it couldn’t have the least effect on anybody. I just told her plainly that currant wine wasn’t meant to be drunk three tumblerfuls at a time and that if a child I had to do with was so greedy I’d sober her up with a right good spanking.”

Marilla whisked into the kitchen, grievously disturbed, leaving a very much distracted little soul in the porch behind her. Presently Anne stepped out bareheaded into the chill autumn dusk; very determinedly and steadily she took her way down through the sere clover field over the log bridge and up through the spruce grove, lighted by a pale little moon hanging low over the western woods. Mrs. Barry, coming to the door in answer to a timid knock, found a white-lipped eager-eyed suppliant on the doorstep.

Her face hardened. Mrs. Barry was a woman of strong prejudices and dislikes, and her anger was of the cold, sullen sort which is always hardest to overcome. To do her justice, she really believed Anne had made Diana drunk out of sheer malice prepense, and she was honestly anxious to preserve her little daughter from the contamination of further intimacy with such a child.

“What do you want?” she said stiffly.

Anne clasped her hands.

“Oh, Mrs. Barry, please forgive me. I did not mean to—to—intoxicate Diana. How could I? Just imagine if you were a poor little orphan girl that kind people had adopted and you had just one bosom friend in all the world. Do you think you would intoxicate her on purpose? I thought it was only raspberry cordial. I was firmly convinced it was raspberry cordial. Oh, please don’t say that you won’t let Diana play with me any more. If you do you will cover my life with a dark cloud of woe.”

This speech which would have softened good Mrs. Lynde’s heart in a twinkling, had no effect on Mrs. Barry except to irritate her still more. She was suspicious of Anne’s big words and dramatic gestures and imagined that the child was making fun of her. So she said, coldly and cruelly:

“I don’t think you are a fit little girl for Diana to associate with. You’d better go home and behave yourself.”

Anne’s lips quivered.

“Won’t you let me see Diana just once to say farewell?” she implored.

“Diana has gone over to Carmody with her father,” said Mrs. Barry, going in and shutting the door.

Anne went back to Green Gables calm with despair.

“My last hope is gone,” she told Marilla. “I went up and saw Mrs. Barry myself and she treated me very insultingly. Marilla, I do not think she is a well-bred woman. There is nothing more to do except to pray and I haven’t much hope that that’ll do much good because, Marilla, I do not believe that God Himself can do very much with such an obstinate person as Mrs. Barry.”

“Anne, you shouldn’t say such things” rebuked Marilla, striving to overcome that unholy tendency to laughter which she was dismayed to find growing upon her. And indeed, when she told the whole story to Matthew that night, she did laugh heartily over Anne’s tribulations.

But when she slipped into the east gable before going to bed and found that Anne had cried herself to sleep an unaccustomed softness crept into her face.

“Poor little soul,” she murmured, lifting a loose curl of hair from the child’s tear-stained face. Then she bent down and kissed the flushed cheek on the pillow.


CHAPTER XVII.
A New Interest in Life


THE next afternoon Anne, bending over her patchwork at the kitchen window, happened to glance out and beheld Diana down by the Dryad’s Bubble beckoning mysteriously. In a trice Anne was out of the house and flying down to the hollow, astonishment and hope struggling in her expressive eyes. But the hope faded when she saw Diana’s dejected countenance.

“Your mother hasn’t relented?” she gasped.

Diana shook her head mournfully.

“No; and oh, Anne, she says I’m never to play with you again. I’ve cried and cried and I told her it wasn’t your fault, but it wasn’t any use. I had ever such a time coaxing her to let me come down and say good-bye to you. She said I was only to stay ten minutes and she’s timing me by the clock.”

“Ten minutes isn’t very long to say an eternal farewell in,” said Anne tearfully. “Oh, Diana, will you promise faithfully never to forget me, the friend of your youth, no matter what dearer friends may caress thee?”

“Indeed I will,” sobbed Diana, “and I’ll never have another bosom friend—I don’t want to have. I couldn’t love anybody as I love you.”

“Oh, Diana,” cried Anne, clasping her hands, “do you love me?”

“Why, of course I do. Didn’t you know that?”

“No.” Anne drew a long breath. “I thought you liked me of course but I never hoped you loved me. Why, Diana, I didn’t think anybody could love me. Nobody ever has loved me since I can remember. Oh, this is wonderful! It’s a ray of light which will forever shine on the darkness of a path severed from thee, Diana. Oh, just say it once again.”

“I love you devotedly, Anne,” said Diana stanchly, “and I always will, you may be sure of that.”

“And I will always love thee, Diana,” said Anne, solemnly extending her hand. “In the years to come thy memory will shine like a star over my lonely life, as that last story we read together says. Diana, wilt thou give me a lock of thy jet-black tresses in parting to treasure forevermore?”

“Have you got anything to cut it with?” queried Diana, wiping away the tears which Anne’s affecting accents had caused to flow afresh, and returning to practicalities.

“Yes. I’ve got my patchwork scissors in my apron pocket fortunately,” said Anne. She solemnly clipped one of Diana’s curls. “Fare thee well, my beloved friend. Henceforth we must be as strangers though living side by side. But my heart will ever be faithful to thee.”

Anne stood and watched Diana out of sight, mournfully waving her hand to the latter whenever she turned to look back. Then she returned to the house, not a little consoled for the time being by this romantic parting.

“It is all over,” she informed Marilla. “I shall never have another friend. I’m really worse off than ever before, for I haven’t Katie Maurice and Violetta now. And even if I had it wouldn’t be the same. Somehow, little dream girls are not satisfying after a real friend. Diana and I had such an affecting farewell down by the spring. It will be sacred in my memory forever. I used the most pathetic language I could think of and said ‘thou’ and ‘thee.’ ‘Thou’ and ‘thee’ seem so much more romantic than ‘you.’ Diana gave me a lock of her hair and I’m going to sew it up in a little bag and wear it around my neck all my life. Please see that it is buried with me, for I don’t believe I’ll live very long. Perhaps when she sees me lying cold and dead before her Mrs. Barry may feel remorse for what she has done and will let Diana come to my funeral.”

“I don’t think there is much fear of your dying of grief as long as you can talk, Anne,” said Marilla unsympathetically.

The following Monday Anne surprised Marilla by coming down from her room with her basket of books on her arm and hip and her lips primmed up into a line of determination.

“I’m going back to school,” she announced. “That is all there is left in life for me, now that my friend has been ruthlessly torn from me. In school I can look at her and muse over days departed.”

“You’d better muse over your lessons and sums,” said Marilla, concealing her delight at this development of the situation. “If you’re going back to school I hope we’ll hear no more of breaking slates over people’s heads and such carryings on. Behave yourself and do just what your teacher tells you.”

“I’ll try to be a model pupil,” agreed Anne dolefully. “There won’t be much fun in it, I expect. Mr. Phillips said Minnie Andrews was a model pupil and there isn’t a spark of imagination or life in her. She is just dull and poky and never seems to have a good time. But I feel so depressed that perhaps it will come easy to me now. I’m going round by the road. I couldn’t bear to go by the Birch Path all alone. I should weep bitter tears if I did.”

Anne was welcomed back to school with open arms. Her imagination had been sorely missed in games, her voice in the singing and her dramatic ability in the perusal aloud of books at dinner hour. Ruby Gillis smuggled three blue plums over to her during testament reading; Ella May MacPherson gave her an enormous yellow pansy cut from the covers of a floral catalogue—a species of desk decoration much prized in Avonlea school. Sophia Sloane offered to teach her a perfectly elegant new pattern of knit lace, so nice for trimming aprons. Katie Boulter gave her a perfume bottle to keep slate water in, and Julia Bell copied carefully on a piece of pale pink paper scalloped on the edges the following effusion:

“TO ANNE

“When twilight drops her curtain down
And pins it with a star
Remember that you have a friend
Though she may wander far.”

“It’s so nice to be appreciated,” sighed Anne rapturously to Marilla that night.

The girls were not the only scholars who “appreciated” her. When Anne went to her seat after dinner hour—she had been told by Mr. Phillips to sit with the model Minnie Andrews—she found on her desk a big luscious “strawberry apple.” Anne caught it up all ready to take a bite when she remembered that the only place in Avonlea where strawberry apples grew was in the old Blythe orchard on the other side of the Lake of Shining Waters. Anne dropped the apple as if it were a red-hot coal and ostentatiously wiped her fingers on her handkerchief. The apple lay untouched on her desk until the next morning, when little Timothy Andrews, who swept the school and kindled the fire, annexed it as one of his perquisites. Charlie Sloane’s slate pencil, gorgeously bedizened with striped red and yellow paper, costing two cents where ordinary pencils cost only one, which he sent up to her after dinner hour, met with a more favorable reception. Anne was graciously pleased to accept it and rewarded the donor with a smile which exalted that infatuated youth straightway into the seventh heaven of delight and caused him to make such fearful errors in his dictation that Mr. Phillips kept him in after school to rewrite it.

But as,

The C├Žsar’s pageant shorn of Brutus’ bust
Did but of Rome’s best son remind her more,

so the marked absence of any tribute or recognition from Diana Barry who was sitting with Gertie Pye embittered Anne’s little triumph.

“Diana might just have smiled at me once, I think,” she mourned to Marilla that night. But the next morning a note most fearfully and wonderfully twisted and folded, and a small parcel were passed across to Anne.

“Dear Anne, ran the former, “Mother says I’m not to play with you or talk to you even in school. It isn’t my fault and don’t be cross at me, because I love you as much as ever. I miss you awfully to tell all my secrets to and I don’t like Gertie Pye one bit. I made you one of the new bookmarkers out of red tissue paper. They are awfully fashionable now and only three girls in school know how to make them. When you look at it remember

Your true friend,
Diana Barry.

Anne read the note, kissed the bookmark, and dispatched a prompt reply back to the other side of the school.

My own darling Diana:—
    Of course I am not cross at you because you have to obey your mother. Our spirits can commune. I shall keep your lovely present forever. Minnie Andrews is a very nice little girl—although she has no imagination—but after having been Diana’s busum friend I cannot be Minnie’s. Please excuse mistakes because my spelling isn’t very good yet, although much improoved.

Yours until death us do part
Anne or Cordelia Shirley.

P.S. I shall sleep with your letter under my pillow tonight.

A. or C.S.

Marilla pessimistically expected more trouble since Anne had again begun to go to school. But none developed. Perhaps Anne caught something of the “model” spirit from Minnie Andrews; at least she got on very well with Mr. Phillips thenceforth. She flung herself into her studies heart and soul, determined not to be outdone in any class by Gilbert Blythe. The rivalry between them was soon apparent; it was entirely good natured on Gilbert’s side; but it is much to be feared that the same thing cannot be said of Anne, who had certainly an unpraiseworthy tenacity for holding grudges. She was as intense in her hatreds as in her loves. She would not stoop to admit that she meant to rival Gilbert in schoolwork, because that would have been to acknowledge his existence which Anne persistently ignored; but the rivalry was there and honors fluctuated between them. Now Gilbert was head of the spelling class; now Anne, with a toss of her long red braids, spelled him down. One morning Gilbert had all his sums done correctly and had his name written on the blackboard on the roll of honor; the next morning Anne, having wrestled wildly with decimals the entire evening before, would be first. One awful day they were ties and their names were written up together. It was almost as bad as a take-notice and Anne’s mortification was as evident as Gilbert’s satisfaction. When the written examinations at the end of each month were held the suspense was terrible. The first month Gilbert came out three marks ahead. The second Anne beat him by five. But her triumph was marred by the fact that Gilbert congratulated her heartily before the whole school. It would have been ever so much sweeter to her if he had felt the sting of his defeat.

Mr. Phillips might not be a very good teacher; but a pupil so inflexibly determined on learning as Anne was could hardly escape making progress under any kind of teacher. By the end of the term Anne and Gilbert were both promoted into the fifth class and allowed to begin studying the elements of “the branches”—by which Latin, geometry, French, and algebra were meant. In geometry Anne met her Waterloo.

“It’s perfectly awful stuff, Marilla,” she groaned. “I’m sure I’ll never be able to make head or tail of it. There is no scope for imagination in it at all. Mr. Phillips says I’m the worst dunce he ever saw at it. And Gil—I mean some of the others are so smart at it. It is extremely mortifying, Marilla.

“Even Diana gets along better than I do. But I don’t mind being beaten by Diana. Even although we meet as strangers now I still love her with an inextinguishable love. It makes me very sad at times to think about her. But really, Marilla, one can’t stay sad very long in such an interesting world, can one?”


CHAPTER XVIII.
Anne to the Rescue


ALL things great are wound up with all things little. At first glance it might not seem that the decision of a certain Canadian Premier to include Prince Edward Island in a political tour could have much or anything to do with the fortunes of little Anne Shirley at Green Gables. But it had.

It was a January the Premier came, to address his loyal supporters and such of his nonsupporters as chose to be present at the monster mass meeting held in Charlottetown. Most of the Avonlea people were on Premier’s side of politics; hence on the night of the meeting nearly all the men and a goodly proportion of the women had gone to town thirty miles away. Mrs. Rachel Lynde had gone too. Mrs. Rachel Lynde was a red-hot politician and couldn’t have believed that the political rally could be carried through without her, although she was on the opposite side of politics. So she went to town and took her husband—Thomas would be useful in looking after the horse—and Marilla Cuthbert with her. Marilla had a sneaking interest in politics herself, and as she thought it might be her only chance to see a real live Premier, she promptly took it, leaving Anne and Matthew to keep house until her return the following day.

Hence, while Marilla and Mrs. Rachel were enjoying themselves hugely at the mass meeting, Anne and Matthew had the cheerful kitchen at Green Gables all to themselves. A bright fire was glowing in the old-fashioned Waterloo stove and blue-white frost crystals were shining on the windowpanes. Matthew nodded over a Farmers’ Advocate on the sofa and Anne at the table studied her lessons with grim determination, despite sundry wistful glances at the clock shelf, where lay a new book that Jane Andrews had lent her that day. Jane had assured her that it was warranted to produce any number of thrills, or words to that effect, and Anne’s fingers tingled to reach out for it. But that would mean Gilbert Blythe’s triumph on the morrow. Anne turned her back on the clock shelf and tried to imagine it wasn’t there.

“Matthew, did you ever study geometry when you went to school?”

“Well now, no, I didn’t,” said Matthew, coming out of his doze with a start.

“I wish you had,” sighed Anne, “because then you’d be able to sympathize with me. You can’t sympathize properly if you’ve never studied it. It is casting a cloud over my whole life. I’m such a dunce at it, Matthew.”

“Well now, I dunno,” said Matthew soothingly. “I guess you’re all right at anything. Mr. Phillips told me last week in Blair’s store at Carmody that you was the smartest scholar in school and was making rapid progress. ‘Rapid progress’ was his very words. There’s them as runs down Teddy Phillips and says he ain’t much of a teacher, but I guess he’s all right.”

Matthew would have thought anyone who praised Anne was “all right.”

“I’m sure I’d get on better with geometry if only he wouldn’t change the letters,” complained Anne. “I learn the proposition off by heart and then he draws it on the blackboard and puts different letters from what are in the book and I get all mixed up. I don’t think a teacher should take such a mean advantage, do you? We’re studying agriculture now and I’ve found out at last what makes the roads red. It’s a great comfort. I wonder how Marilla and Mrs. Lynde are enjoying themselves. Mrs. Lynde says Canada is going to the dogs the way things are being run at Ottawa and that it’s an awful warning to the electors. She says if women were allowed to vote we would soon see a blessed change. What way do you vote, Matthew?”

“Conservative,” said Matthew promptly. To vote Conservative was part of Matthew’s religion.

“Then I’m Conservative too,” said Anne decidedly. “I’m glad because Gil—because some of the boys in school are Grits. I guess Mr. Phillips is a Grit too because Prissy Andrews’s father is one, and Ruby Gillis says that when a man is courting he always has to agree with the girl’s mother in religion and her father in politics. Is that true, Matthew?”

“Well now, I dunno,” said Matthew.

“Did you ever go courting, Matthew?”

“Well now, no, I dunno’s I ever did,” said Matthew, who had certainly never thought of such a thing in his whole existence.

Anne reflected with her chin in her hands.

“It must be rather interesting, don’t you think, Matthew? Ruby Gillis says when she grows up she’s going to have ever so many beaus on the string and have them all crazy about her; but I think that would be too exciting. I’d rather have just one in his right mind. But Ruby Gillis knows a great deal about such matters because she has so many big sisters, and Mrs. Lynde says the Gillis girls have gone off like hot cakes. Mr. Phillips goes up to see Prissy Andrews nearly every evening. He says it is to help her with her lessons but Miranda Sloane is studying for Queen’s too, and I should think she needed help a lot more than Prissy because she’s ever so much stupider, but he never goes to help her in the evenings at all. There are a great many things in this world that I can’t understand very well, Matthew.”

“Well now, I dunno as I comprehend them all myself,” acknowledged Matthew.

“Well, I suppose I must finish up my lessons. I won’t allow myself to open that new book Jane lent me until I’m through. But it’s a terrible temptation, Matthew. Even when I turn my back on it I can see it there just as plain. Jane said she cried herself sick over it. I love a book that makes me cry. But I think I’ll carry that book into the sitting room and lock it in the jam closet and give you the key. And you must not give it to me, Matthew, until my lessons are done, not even if I implore you on my bended knees. It’s all very well to say resist temptation, but it’s ever so much easier to resist it if you can’t get the key. And then shall I run down the cellar and get some russets, Matthew? Wouldn’t you like some russets?”

“Well now, I dunno but what I would,” said Matthew, who never ate russets but knew Anne’s weakness for them.

Just as Anne emerged triumphantly from the cellar with her plateful of russets came the sound of flying footsteps on the icy board walk outside and the next moment the kitchen door was flung open and in rushed Diana Barry, white faced and breathless, with a shawl wrapped hastily around her head. Anne promptly let go of her candle and plate in her surprise, and plate, candle, and apples crashed together down the cellar ladder and were found at the bottom embedded in melted grease, the next day, by Marilla, who gathered them up and thanked mercy the house hadn’t been set on fire.

“Whatever is the matter, Diana?” cried Anne. “Has your mother relented at last?”

“Oh, Anne, do come quick,” implored Diana nervously. “Minnie May is awful sick—she’s got croup. Young Mary Joe says—and Father and Mother are away to town and there’s nobody to go for the doctor. Minnie May is awful bad and Young Mary Joe doesn’t know what to do—and oh, Anne, I’m so scared!”

Matthew, without a word, reached out for cap and coat, slipped past Diana and away into the darkness of the yard.

“He’s gone to harness the sorrel mare to go to Carmody for the doctor,” said Anne, who was hurrying on hood and jacket. “I know it as well as if he’d said so. Matthew and I are such kindred spirits I can read his thoughts without words at all.”

“I don’t believe he’ll find the doctor at Carmody,” sobbed Diana. “I know that Dr. Blair went to town and I guess Dr. Spencer would go too. Young Mary Joe never saw anybody with croup and Mrs. Lynde is away. Oh, Anne!”

“Don’t cry, Di,” said Anne cheerily. “I know exactly what to do for croup. You forget that Mrs. Hammond had twins three times. When you look after three pairs of twins you naturally get a lot of experience. They all had croup regularly. Just wait till I get the ipecac bottle—you mayn’t have any at your house. Come on now.”

The two little girls hastened out hand in hand and hurried through Lover’s Lane and across the crusted field beyond, for the snow was too deep to go by the shorter wood way. Anne, although sincerely sorry for Minnie May, was far from being insensible to the romance of the situation and to the sweetness of once more sharing that romance with a kindred spirit.

The night was clear and frosty, all ebony of shadow and silver of snowy slope; big stars were shining over the silent fields; here and there the dark pointed firs stood up with snow powdering their branches and the wind whistling through them. Anne thought it was truly delightful to go skimming through all this mystery and loveliness with your bosom friend who had been so long estranged.

Minnie May, aged three, was really very sick. She lay on the kitchen sofa feverish and restless, while her hoarse breathing could be heard all over the house. Young Mary Joe, a buxom, broad-faced French girl from the creek, whom Mrs. Barry had engaged to stay with the children during her absence, was helpless and bewildered, quite incapable of thinking what to do, or doing it if she thought of it.

Anne went to work with skill and promptness.

“Minnie May has croup all right; she’s pretty bad, but I’ve seen them worse. First we must have lots of hot water. I declare, Diana, there isn’t more than a cupful in the kettle! There, I’ve filled it up, and, Mary Joe, you may put some wood in the stove. I don’t want to hurt your feelings but it seems to me you might have thought of this before if you’d any imagination. Now, I’ll undress Minnie May and put her to bed and you try to find some soft flannel cloths, Diana. I’m going to give her a dose of ipecac first of all.”

Minnie May did not take kindly to the ipecac but Anne had not brought up three pairs of twins for nothing. Down that ipecac went, not only once, but many times during the long, anxious night when the two little girls worked patiently over the suffering Minnie May, and Young Mary Joe, honestly anxious to do all she could, kept up a roaring fire and heated more water than would have been needed for a hospital of croupy babies.

It was three o’clock when Matthew came with a doctor, for he had been obliged to go all the way to Spencervale for one. But the pressing need for assistance was past. Minnie May was much better and was sleeping soundly.

“I was awfully near giving up in despair,” explained Anne. “She got worse and worse until she was sicker than ever the Hammond twins were, even the last pair. I actually thought she was going to choke to death. I gave her every drop of ipecac in that bottle and when the last dose went down I said to myself—not to Diana or Young Mary Joe, because I didn’t want to worry them any more than they were worried, but I had to say it to myself just to relieve my feelings—‘This is the last lingering hope and I fear, tis a vain one.’ But in about three minutes she coughed up the phlegm and began to get better right away. You must just imagine my relief, doctor, because I can’t express it in words. You know there are some things that cannot be expressed in words.”

“Yes, I know,” nodded the doctor. He looked at Anne as if he were thinking some things about her that couldn’t be expressed in words. Later on, however, he expressed them to Mr. and Mrs. Barry.

“That little redheaded girl they have over at Cuthbert’s is as smart as they make ‘em. I tell you she saved that baby’s life, for it would have been too late by the time I got there. She seems to have a skill and presence of mind perfectly wonderful in a child of her age. I never saw anything like the eyes of her when she was explaining the case to me.”

Anne had gone home in the wonderful, white-frosted winter morning, heavy eyed from loss of sleep, but still talking unweariedly to Matthew as they crossed the long white field and walked under the glittering fairy arch of the Lover’s Lane maples.

“Oh, Matthew, isn’t it a wonderful morning? The world looks like something God had just imagined for His own pleasure, doesn’t it? Those trees look as if I could blow them away with a breath—pouf! I’m so glad I live in a world where there are white frosts, aren’t you? And I’m so glad Mrs. Hammond had three pairs of twins after all. If she hadn’t I mightn’t have known what to do for Minnie May. I’m real sorry I was ever cross with Mrs. Hammond for having twins. But, oh, Matthew, I’m so sleepy. I can’t go to school. I just know I couldn’t keep my eyes open and I’d be so stupid. But I hate to stay home, for Gil—some of the others will get head of the class, and it’s so hard to get up again—although of course the harder it is the more satisfaction you have when you do get up, haven’t you?”

“Well now, I guess you’ll manage all right,” said Matthew, looking at Anne’s white little face and the dark shadows under her eyes. “You just go right to bed and have a good sleep. I’ll do all the chores.”

Anne accordingly went to bed and slept so long and soundly that it was well on in the white and rosy winter afternoon when she awoke and descended to the kitchen where Marilla, who had arrived home in the meantime, was sitting knitting.

“Oh, did you see the Premier?” exclaimed Anne at once. “What did he look like Marilla?”

“Well, he never got to be Premier on account of his looks,” said Marilla. “Such a nose as that man had! But he can speak. I was proud of being a Conservative. Rachel Lynde, of course, being a Liberal, had no use for him. Your dinner is in the oven, Anne, and you can get yourself some blue plum preserve out of the pantry. I guess you’re hungry. Matthew has been telling me about last night. I must say it was fortunate you knew what to do. I wouldn’t have had any idea myself, for I never saw a case of croup. There now, never mind talking till you’ve had your dinner. I can tell by the look of you that you’re just full up with speeches, but they’ll keep.”

Marilla had something to tell Anne, but she did not tell it just then for she knew if she did Anne’s consequent excitement would lift her clear out of the region of such material matters as appetite or dinner. Not until Anne had finished her saucer of blue plums did Marilla say:

“Mrs. Barry was here this afternoon, Anne. She wanted to see you, but I wouldn’t wake you up. She says you saved Minnie May’s life, and she is very sorry she acted as she did in that affair of the currant wine. She says she knows now you didn’t mean to set Diana drunk, and she hopes you’ll forgive her and be good friends with Diana again. You’re to go over this evening if you like for Diana can’t stir outside the door on account of a bad cold she caught last night. Now, Anne Shirley, for pity’s sake don’t fly up into the air.”

The warning seemed not unnecessary, so uplifted and aerial was Anne’s expression and attitude as she sprang to her feet, her face irradiated with the flame of her spirit.

“Oh, Marilla, can I go right now—without washing my dishes? I’ll wash them when I come back, but I cannot tie myself down to anything so unromantic as dishwashing at this thrilling moment.”

“Yes, yes, run along,” said Marilla indulgently. “Anne Shirley—are you crazy? Come back this instant and put something on you. I might as well call to the wind. She’s gone without a cap or wrap. Look at her tearing through the orchard with her hair streaming. It’ll be a mercy if she doesn’t catch her death of cold.”

Anne came dancing home in the purple winter twilight across the snowy places. Afar in the southwest was the great shimmering, pearl-like sparkle of an evening star in a sky that was pale golden and ethereal rose over gleaming white spaces and dark glens of spruce. The tinkles of sleigh bells among the snowy hills came like elfin chimes through the frosty air, but their music was not sweeter than the song in Anne’s heart and on her lips.

“You see before you a perfectly happy person, Marilla,” she announced. “I’m perfectly happy—yes, in spite of my red hair. Just at present I have a soul above red hair. Mrs. Barry kissed me and cried and said she was so sorry and she could never repay me. I felt fearfully embarrassed, Marilla, but I just said as politely as I could, ‘I have no hard feelings for you, Mrs. Barry. I assure you once for all that I did not mean to intoxicate Diana and henceforth I shall cover the past with the mantle of oblivion.’ That was a pretty dignified way of speaking wasn’t it, Marilla?”

“I felt that I was heaping coals of fire on Mrs. Barry’s head. And Diana and I had a lovely afternoon. Diana showed me a new fancy crochet stitch her aunt over at Carmody taught her. Not a soul in Avonlea knows it but us, and we pledged a solemn vow never to reveal it to anyone else. Diana gave me a beautiful card with a wreath of roses on it and a verse of poetry:”

“If you love me as I love you
Nothing but death can part us two.”

“And that is true, Marilla. We’re going to ask Mr. Phillips to let us sit together in school again, and Gertie Pye can go with Minnie Andrews. We had an elegant tea. Mrs. Barry had the very best china set out, Marilla, just as if I was real company. I can’t tell you what a thrill it gave me. Nobody ever used their very best china on my account before. And we had fruit cake and pound cake and doughnuts and two kinds of preserves, Marilla. And Mrs. Barry asked me if I took tea and said ‘Pa, why don’t you pass the biscuits to Anne?’ It must be lovely to be grown up, Marilla, when just being treated as if you were is so nice.”

“I don’t know about that,” said Marilla, with a brief sigh.

“Well, anyway, when I am grown up,” said Anne decidedly, “I’m always going to talk to little girls as if they were too, and I’ll never laugh when they use big words. I know from sorrowful experience how that hurts one’s feelings. After tea Diana and I made taffy. The taffy wasn’t very good, I suppose because neither Diana nor I had ever made any before. Diana left me to stir it while she buttered the plates and I forgot and let it burn; and then when we set it out on the platform to cool the cat walked over one plate and that had to be thrown away. But the making of it was splendid fun. Then when I came home Mrs. Barry asked me to come over as often as I could and Diana stood at the window and threw kisses to me all the way down to Lover’s Lane. I assure you, Marilla, that I feel like praying tonight and I’m going to think out a special brand-new prayer in honor of the occasion.”