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Around the Bend
Thomas Lynde faded out of life as quietly and unobtrusively as he had
lived it. His wife was a tender, patient, unwearied nurse. Sometimes
Rachel had been a little hard on her Thomas in health, when his slowness
or meekness had provoked her; but when he became ill no voice could be
lower, no hand more gently skillful, no vigil more uncomplaining.
"You've been a good wife to me, Rachel," he once said simply, when she was
sitting by him in the dusk, holding his thin, blanched old hand in her
work-hardened one. "A good wife. I'm sorry I ain't leaving you better off;
but the children will look after you. They're all smart, capable children,
just like their mother. A good mother . . . a good woman . . . ."
He had fallen asleep then, and the next morning, just as the white dawn
was creeping up over the pointed firs in the hollow, Marilla went softly
into the east gable and wakened Anne.
"Anne, Thomas Lynde is gone . . . their hired boy just brought the word.
I'm going right down to Rachel."
On the day after Thomas Lynde's funeral Marilla went about Green Gables
with a strangely preoccupied air. Occasionally she looked at Anne, seemed
on the point of saying something, then shook her head and buttoned up her
mouth. After tea she went down to see Mrs. Rachel; and when she returned
she went to the east gable, where Anne was correcting school exercises.
"How is Mrs. Lynde tonight?" asked the latter.
"She's feeling calmer and more composed," answered Marilla, sitting down
on Anne's bed . . . a proceeding which betokened some unusual mental
excitement, for in Marilla's code of household ethics to sit on a bed
after it was made up was an unpardonable offense. "But she's very lonely.
Eliza had to go home today . . . her son isn't well and she felt she
couldn't stay any longer."
"When I've finished these exercises I'll run down and chat awhile with
Mrs. Lynde," said Anne. "I had intended to study some Latin composition
tonight but it can wait."
"I suppose Gilbert Blythe is going to college in the fall," said Marilla
jerkily. "How would you like to go too, Anne?"
Anne looked up in astonishment.
"I would like it, of course, Marilla. But it isn't possible."
"I guess it can be made possible. I've always felt that you should go.
I've never felt easy to think you were giving it all up on my account."
"But Marilla, I've never been sorry for a moment that I stayed home. I've
been so happy . . . Oh, these past two years have just been delightful."
"Oh, yes, I know you've been contented enough. But that isn't the question
exactly. You ought to go on with your education. You've saved enough to
put you through one year at Redmond and the money the stock brought in
will do for another year . . . and there's scholarships and things you
"Yes, but I can't go, Marilla. Your eyes are better, of course; but I
can't leave you alone with the twins. They need so much looking after."
"I won't be alone with them. That's what I meant to discuss with you. I
had a long talk with Rachel tonight. Anne, she's feeling dreadful bad over
a good many things. She's not left very well off. It seems they mortgaged
the farm eight years ago to give the youngest boy a start when he went
west; and they've never been able to pay much more than the interest
since. And then of course Thomas' illness has cost a good deal, one way or
another. The farm will have to be sold and Rachel thinks there'll be
hardly anything left after the bills are settled. She says she'll have to
go and live with Eliza and it's breaking her heart to think of leaving
Avonlea. A woman of her age doesn't make new friends and interests easy.
And, Anne, as she talked about it the thought came to me that I would ask
her to come and live with me, but I thought I ought to talk it over with
you first before I said anything to her. If I had Rachel living with me
you could go to college. How do you feel about it?"
"I feel . . . as if . . . somebody . . . had handed me . . . the moon . .
. and I didn't know . . . exactly . . . what to do . . . with it," said
Anne dazedly. "But as for asking Mrs. Lynde to come here, that is for you
to decide, Marilla. Do you think . . . are you sure . . . you would like
it? Mrs. Lynde is a good woman and a kind neighbor, but . . . but . . ."
"But she's got her faults, you mean to say? Well, she has, of course; but
I think I'd rather put up with far worse faults than see Rachel go away
from Avonlea. I'd miss her terrible. She's the only close friend I've got
here and I'd be lost without her. We've been neighbors for forty-five
years and we've never had a quarrel . . . though we came rather near it
that time you flew at Mrs. Rachel for calling you homely and redhaired. Do
you remember, Anne?"
"I should think I do," said Anne ruefully. "People don't forget things
like that. How I hated poor Mrs. Rachel at that moment!"
"And then that 'apology' you made her. Well, you were a handful, in all
conscience, Anne. I did feel so puzzled and bewildered how to manage you.
Matthew understood you better."
"Matthew understood everything," said Anne softly, as she always spoke of
"Well, I think it could be managed so that Rachel and I wouldn't clash at
all. It always seemed to me that the reason two women can't get along in
one house is that they try to share the same kitchen and get in each
other's way. Now, if Rachel came here, she could have the north gable for
her bedroom and the spare room for a kitchen as well as not, for we don't
really need a spare room at all. She could put her stove there and what
furniture she wanted to keep, and be real comfortable and independent.
She'll have enough to live on of course...her children'll see to that...so
all I'd be giving her would be house room. Yes, Anne, far as I'm concerned
I'd like it."
"Then ask her," said Anne promptly. "I'd be very sorry myself to see Mrs.
Rachel go away."
"And if she comes," continued Marilla, "You can go to college as well as
not. She'll be company for me and she'll do for the twins what I can't do,
so there's no reason in the world why you shouldn't go."
Anne had a long meditation at her window that night. Joy and regret
struggled together in her heart. She had come at last . . . suddenly and
unexpectedly . . . to the bend in the road; and college was around it,
with a hundred rainbow hopes and visions; but Anne realized as well that
when she rounded that curve she must leave many sweet things behind. . .
all the little simple duties and interests which had grown so dear to her
in the last two years and which she had glorified into beauty and delight
by the enthusiasm she had put into them. She must give up her school . . .
and she loved every one of her pupils, even the stupid and naughty ones.
The mere thought of Paul Irving made her wonder if Redmond were such a
name to conjure with after all.
"I've put out a lot of little roots these two years," Anne told the moon,
"and when I'm pulled up they're going to hurt a great deal. But it's best
to go, I think, and, as Marilla says, there's no good reason why I
shouldn't. I must get out all my ambitions and dust them."
Anne sent in her resignation the next day; and Mrs. Rachel, after a heart
to heart talk with Marilla, gratefully accepted the offer of a home at
Green Gables. She elected to remain in her own house for the summer,
however; the farm was not to be sold until the fall and there were many
arrangements to be made.
"I certainly never thought of living as far off the road as Green Gables,"
sighed Mrs. Rachel to herself. "But really, Green Gables doesn't seem as
out of the world as it used to do . . . Anne has lots of company and the
twins make it real lively. And anyhow, I'd rather live at the bottom of a
well than leave Avonlea."
These two decisions being noised abroad speedily ousted the arrival of
Mrs. Harrison in popular gossip. Sage heads were shaken over Marilla
Cuthbert's rash step in asking Mrs. Rachel to live with her. People opined
that they wouldn't get on together. They were both "too fond of their own
way," and many doleful predictions were made, none of which disturbed the
parties in question at all. They had come to a clear and distinct
understanding of the respective duties and rights of their new
arrangements and meant to abide by them.
"I won't meddle with you nor you with me," Mrs. Rachel had said decidedly,
"and as for the twins, I'll be glad to do all I can for them; but I won't
undertake to answer Davy's questions, that's what. I'm not an
encyclopedia, neither am I a Philadelphia lawyer. You'll miss Anne for
"Sometimes Anne's answers were about as queer as Davy's questions," said
Marilla drily. "The twins will miss her and no mistake; but her future
can't be sacrificed to Davy's thirst for information. When he asks
questions I can't answer I'll just tell him children should be seen and
not heard. That was how I was brought up, and I don't know but what it was
just as good a way as all these new-fangled notions for training
"Well, Anne's methods seem to have worked fairly well with Davy," said
Mrs. Lynde smilingly. "He is a reformed character, that's what."
"He isn't a bad little soul," conceded Marilla. "I never expected to get
as fond of those children as I have. Davy gets round you somehow . . . and
Dora is a lovely child, although she is . . . kind of . . . well, kind of
. . ."
"Monotonous? Exactly," supplied Mrs. Rachel. "Like a book where every page
is the same, that's what. Dora will make a good, reliable woman but she'll
never set the pond on fire. Well, that sort of folks are comfortable to
have round, even if they're not as interesting as the other kind."
Gilbert Blythe was probably the only person to whom the news of Anne's
resignation brought unmixed pleasure. Her pupils looked upon it as a sheer
catastrophe. Annetta Bell had hysterics when she went home. Anthony Pye
fought two pitched and unprovoked battles with other boys by way of
relieving his feelings. Barbara Shaw cried all night. Paul Irving
defiantly told his grandmother that she needn't expect him to eat any
porridge for a week.
"I can't do it, Grandma," he said. "I don't really know if I can eat
ANYTHING. I feel as if there was a dreadful lump in my throat. I'd have
cried coming home from school if Jake Donnell hadn't been watching me. I
believe I will cry after I go to bed. It wouldn't show on my eyes
tomorrow, would it? And it would be such a relief. But anyway, I can't eat
porridge. I'm going to need all my strength of mind to bear up against
this, Grandma, and I won't have any left to grapple with porridge. Oh
Grandma, I don't know what I'll do when my beautiful teacher goes away.
Milty Boulter says he bets Jane Andrews will get the school. I suppose
Miss Andrews is very nice. But I know she won't understand things like
Diana also took a very pessimistic view of affairs.
"It will be horribly lonesome here next winter," she mourned, one twilight
when the moonlight was raining "airy silver" through the cherry boughs and
filling the east gable with a soft, dream-like radiance in which the two
girls sat and talked, Anne on her low rocker by the window, Diana sitting
Turkfashion on the bed. "You and Gilbert will be gone . . . and the Allans
too. They are going to call Mr. Allan to Charlottetown and of course he'll
accept. It's too mean. We'll be vacant all winter, I suppose, and have to
listen to a long string of candidates . . . and half of them won't be any
"I hope they won't call Mr. Baxter from East Grafton here, anyhow," said
Anne decidedly. "He wants the call but he does preach such gloomy sermons.
Mr. Bell says he's a minister of the old school, but Mrs. Lynde says
there's nothing whatever the matter with him but indigestion. His wife
isn't a very good cook, it seems, and Mrs. Lynde says that when a man has
to eat sour bread two weeks out of three his theology is bound to get a
kink in it somewhere. Mrs. Allan feels very badly about going away. She
says everybody has been so kind to her since she came here as a bride that
she feels as if she were leaving lifelong friends. And then, there's the
baby's grave, you know. She says she doesn't see how she can go away and
leave that . . . it was such a little mite of a thing and only three
months old, and she says she is afraid it will miss its mother, although
she knows better and wouldn't say so to Mr. Allan for anything. She says
she has slipped through the birch grove back of the manse nearly every
night to the graveyard and sung a little lullaby to it. She told me all
about it last evening when I was up putting some of those early wild roses
on Matthew's grave. I promised her that as long as I was in Avonlea I
would put flowers on the baby's grave and when I was away I felt sure that
. . ."
"That I would do it," supplied Diana heartily. "Of course I will. And I'll
put them on Matthew's grave too, for your sake, Anne."
"Oh, thank you. I meant to ask you to if you would. And on little Hester
Gray's too? Please don't forget hers. Do you know, I've thought and
dreamed so much about little Hester Gray that she has become strangely
real to me. I think of her, back there in her little garden in that cool,
still, green corner; and I have a fancy that if I could steal back there
some spring evening, just at the magic time 'twixt light and dark, and
tiptoe so softly up the beech hill that my footsteps could not frighten
her, I would find the garden just as it used to be, all sweet with June
lilies and early roses, with the tiny house beyond it all hung with vines;
and little Hester Gray would be there, with her soft eyes, and the wind
ruffling her dark hair, wandering about, putting her fingertips under the
chins of the lilies and whispering secrets with the roses; and I would go
forward, oh, so softly, and hold out my hands and say to her, 'Little
Hester Gray, won't you let me be your playmate, for I love the roses too?'
And we would sit down on the old bench and talk a little and dream a
little, or just be beautifully silent together. And then the moon would
rise and I would look around me . . . and there would be no Hester Gray
and no little vine-hung house, and no roses . . . only an old waste garden
starred with June lilies amid the grasses, and the wind sighing, oh, so
sorrowfully in the cherry trees. And I would not know whether it had been
real or if I had just imagined it all." Diana crawled up and got her back
against the headboard of the bed. When your companion of twilight hour
said such spooky things it was just as well not to be able to fancy there
was anything behind you.
"I'm afraid the Improvement Society will go down when you and Gilbert are
both gone," she remarked dolefully.
"Not a bit of fear of it," said Anne briskly, coming back from dreamland
to the affairs of practical life. "It is too firmly established for that,
especially since the older people are becoming so enthusiastic about it.
Look what they are doing this summer for their lawns and lanes. Besides,
I'll be watching for hints at Redmond and I'll write a paper for it next
winter and send it over. Don't take such a gloomy view of things, Diana.
And don't grudge me my little hour of gladness and jubilation now. Later
on, when I have to go away, I'll feel anything but glad."
"It's all right for you to be glad . . . you're going to college and
you'll have a jolly time and make heaps of lovely new friends."
"I hope I shall make new friends," said Anne thoughtfully. "The
possibilities of making new friends help to make life very fascinating.
But no matter how many friends I make they'll never be as dear to me as
the old ones . . . especially a certain girl with black eyes and dimples.
Can you guess who she is, Diana?"
"But there'll be so many clever girls at Redmond," sighed Diana, "and I'm
only a stupid little country girl who says 'I seen' sometimes. . . though
I really know better when I stop to think. Well, of course these past two
years have really been too pleasant to last. I know SOMEBODY who is glad
you are going to Redmond anyhow. Anne, I'm going to ask you a question . .
. a serious question. Don't be vexed and do answer seriously. Do you care
anything for Gilbert?"
"Ever so much as a friend and not a bit in the way you mean," said Anne
calmly and decidedly; she also thought she was speaking sincerely.
Diana sighed. She wished, somehow, that Anne had answered differently.
"Don't you mean EVER to be married, Anne?"
"Perhaps . . . some day . . . when I meet the right one," said Anne,
smiling dreamily up at the moonlight.
"But how can you be sure when you do meet the right one?" persisted Diana.
"Oh, I should know him . . . SOMETHING would tell me. You know what my
ideal is, Diana."
"But people's ideals change sometimes."
"Mine won't. And I COULDN'T care for any man who didn't fulfill it."
"What if you never meet him?"
"Then I shall die an old maid," was the cheerful response. "I daresay it
isn't the hardest death by any means."
"Oh, I suppose the dying would be easy enough; it's the living an old maid
I shouldn't like," said Diana, with no intention of being humorous.
"Although I wouldn't mind being an old maid VERY much if I could be one
like Miss Lavendar. But I never could be. When I'm forty-five I'll be
horribly fat. And while there might be some romance about a thin old maid
there couldn't possibly be any about a fat one. Oh, mind you, Nelson
Atkins proposed to Ruby Gillis three weeks ago. Ruby told me all about it.
She says she never had any intention of taking him, because any one who
married him will have to go in with the old folks; but Ruby says that he
made such a perfectly beautiful and romantic proposal that it simply swept
her off her feet. But she didn't want to do anything rash so she asked for
a week to consider; and two days later she was at a meeting of the Sewing
Circle at his mother's and there was a book called 'The Complete Guide to
Etiquette,' lying on the parlor table. Ruby said she simply couldn't
describe her feelings when in a section of it headed, 'The Deportment of
Courtship and Marriage,' she found the very proposal Nelson had made, word
for word. She went home and wrote him a perfectly scathing refusal; and
she says his father and mother have taken turns watching him ever since
for fear he'll drown himself in the river; but Ruby says they needn't be
afraid; for in the Deportment of Courtship and Marriage it told how a
rejected lover should behave and there's nothing about drowning in THAT.
And she says Wilbur Blair is literally pining away for her but she's
perfectly helpless in the matter."
Anne made an impatient movement.
"I hate to say it . . . it seems so disloyal . . . but, well, I don't like
Ruby Gillis now. I liked her when we went to school and Queen's together .
. . though not so well as you and Jane of course. But this last year at
Carmody she seems so different . . . so . . . so . . ."
"I know," nodded Diana. "It's the Gillis coming out in her . . . she can't
help it. Mrs. Lynde says that if ever a Gillis girl thought about anything
but the boys she never showed it in her walk and conversation. She talks
about nothing but boys and what compliments they pay her, and how crazy
they all are about her at Carmody. And the strange thing is, they ARE, too
. . ." Diana admitted this somewhat resentfully. "Last night when I saw
her in Mr. Blair's store she whispered to me that she'd just made a new
'mash.' I wouldn't ask her who it was, because I knew she was dying to BE
asked. Well, it's what Ruby always wanted, I suppose. You remember even
when she was little she always said she meant to have dozens of beaus when
she grew up and have the very gayest time she could before she settled
down. She's so different from Jane, isn't she? Jane is such a nice,
sensible, lady-like girl."
"Dear old Jane is a jewel," agreed Anne, "but," she added, leaning forward
to bestow a tender pat on the plump, dimpled little hand hanging over her
pillow, "there's nobody like my own Diana after all. Do you remember that
evening we first met, Diana, and 'swore' eternal friendship in your
garden? We've kept that 'oath,' I think . . . we've never had a quarrel
nor even a coolness. I shall never forget the thrill that went over me the
day you told me you loved me. I had had such a lonely, starved heart all
through my childhood. I'm just beginning to realize how starved and lonely
it really was. Nobody cared anything for me or wanted to be bothered with
me. I should have been miserable if it hadn't been for that strange little
dream-life of mine, wherein I imagined all the friends and love I craved.
But when I came to Green Gables everything was changed. And then I met
you. You don't know what your friendship meant to me. I want to thank you
here and now, dear, for the warm and true affection you've always given
"And always, always will," sobbed Diana. "I shall NEVER love anybody . . .
any GIRL . . . half as well as I love you. And if I ever do marry and have
a little girl of my own I'm going to name her ANNE."