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The Greatest Works of L. M. Montgomery

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Chapter XIV

Table of Contents

It was what Susan called a streaky winter … all thaws and freezes that kept Ingleside decorated with fantastic fringes of icicles. The children fed seven bluejays who came regularly to the orchard for their rations and let Jem pick them up, though they flew from everybody else. Anne sat up o’ nights to pore over seed catalogues in January and February. Then the winds of March swirled over the dunes and up the harbors and over the hills. Rabbits, said Susan, were laying Easter eggs.

“Isn’t March an INciting month, Mummy?” cried Jem, who was a little brother to all the winds that blew.

They could have spared the “incitement” of Jem scratching his hand on a rusty nail and having a nasty time of it for some days, while Aunt Mary Maria told all the stories of blood-poisoning she had ever heard. But that, Anne reflected when the danger was over, was what you must expect with a small son who was always trying experiments.

And lo, it was April! With the laughter of April rain … the whisper of April rain … the trickle, the sweep, the drive, the lash, the dance, the splash of April rain. “Oh, Mummy, hasn’t the world got its face washed nice and clean?” cried Di, on the morning sunshine returned.

There were pale spring stars shining over fields of mist, there were pussywillows in the marsh. Even the little twigs on the trees seemed all at once to have lost their clear cold quality and to have become soft and languorous. The first robin was an event; the Hollow was once more a place full of wild free delight; Jem brought his mother the first mayflowers … rather to Aunt Mary Maria’s offence, since she thought they should have been offered to her; Susan began sorting over the attic shelves, and Anne, who had hardly had a minute to herself all winter, put on spring gladness as a garment and literally lived in her garden, while the Shrimp showed his spring raptures by writhing all over the paths.

“You care more for that garden than you do for your husband, Annie,” said Aunt Mary Maria.

“My garden is so kind to me,” answered Anne dreamily … then, realizing the implications that might be taken out of her remark, began to laugh.

“You do say the most extraordinary things, Annie. Of course I know you don’t mean that Gilbert isn’t kind … but what if a stranger heard you say such a thing?”

“Dear Aunt Mary Maria,” said Anne gaily, “I’m really not responsible for the things I say this time of the year. Everybody around here knows that. I’m always a little mad in spring. But it’s such a divine madness. Do you notice those mists over the dunes like dancing witches? And the daffodils? We’ve never had such a show of daffodils at Ingleside before.”

“I don’t care much for daffodils. They are such flaunting things,” said Aunt Mary Maria, drawing her shawl around her and going indoors to protect her back.

“Do you know, Mrs. Dr. dear,” said Susan ominously, “what has become of those new irises you wanted to plant in that shady corner? She planted them this afternoon when you were out right in the sunniest part of the back yard.”

“Oh, Susan! And we can’t move them because she’d be so hurt!”

“If you will just give me the word, Mrs. Dr. dear …”

“No, no, Susan, we’ll leave them there for the time being. She cried, you remember, when I hinted that she shouldn’t have pruned the spirea before blooming.”

“But sneering at our daffodils, Mrs. Dr. dear … and them famous all around the harbour …”

“And deserve to be. Look at them laughing at you for minding Aunt Mary Maria. Susan, the nasturtiums are coming up in this corner, after all. It’s such fun when you’ve given up hope of a thing to find it has suddenly popped up. I’m going to have a little rose garden made in the southwest corner. The very name of rose garden thrills to my toes. Did you ever see such a blue blueness of sky before, Susan? And if you listen very carefully now at night you can hear all the little brooks of the countryside gossiping. I’ve half a notion to sleep in the Hollow tonight with a pillow of wild violets.”

“You would find it very damp,” said Susan patiently. Mrs. Dr. was always like this in the spring. It would pass.

“Susan,” said Anne coaxingly, “I want to have a birthday party next week.”

“Well, and why should you not?’ asked Susan. To be sure, none of the family had a birthday the last week in May, but if Mrs. Dr. wanted a birthday party why boggle over that?

“For Aunt Mary Maria,” went on Anne, as one determined to get the worst over. “Her birthday is next week. Gilbert says she is fifty-five and I’ve been thinking.”

“Mrs. Dr. dear, do you really mean to get up a party for that …”

“Count a hundred, Susan … count a hundred, Susan dear. It would please her so. What has she in life, after all?”

“That is her own fault …”

“Perhaps so. But, Susan, I really want to do this for her.”

“Mrs. Dr. dear,” said Susan ominously, “you have always been kind enough to give me a week’s vacation whenever I felt I needed it. Perhaps I had better take it next week! I will ask my niece Gladys to come and help you out. And then Miss Mary Maria Blythe can have a dozen birthday parties, for all of me.”

“If you feel like that about it, Susan, I’ll give up the idea, of course,” said Anne slowly.

“Mrs. Dr. dear, that woman has foisted herself upon you and means to stay here forever. She has worried you … and henpecked the doctor … and made the children’s lives miserable. I say nothing about myself, for who am I? She has scolded and nagged and insinuated and whined … and now you want to get up a birthday party for her! Well, all I can say is, if you want to do that … we’ll just have to go ahead and have it!”

“Susan, you old duck!”

Plotting and planning followed. Susan, having yielded, was determined that for the honour of Ingleside the party must be something that even Mary Maria Blythe could not find fault with.

“I think we’ll have a luncheon, Susan. Then they’ll be away early enough for me to go to the concert at Lowbridge with the doctor. We’ll keep it a secret and surprise her. She shan’t know a thing about it till the last minute. I’ll invite all the people in the Glen she likes… .”

“And who may they be, Mrs. Dr. dear?”

“Well, tolerates, then. And her cousin, Adella Carey from Lowbridge, and some people from town. We’ll have a big plummy birthday cake with fifty-five candles on it …”

“Which I am to make, of course …”

“Susan, you know you make the best fruitcake in P. E. Island …”

“I know that I am as wax in your hands, Mrs. Dr. dear.”

A mysterious week followed. An air of hush-hush pervaded Ingleside. Everybody was sworn not to give the secret away to Aunt Mary Maria. But Anne and Susan had reckoned without gossip. The night before the party Aunt Mary Maria came home from a call in the Glen to find them sitting rather wearily in the unlighted sun-room.

“All in the dark, Annie? It beats me how anyone can like sitting in the dark. It gives me the blues.”

“It isn’t dark … it’s twilight … there has been a love-match between light and dark and beautiful exceedingly is the offspring thereof,” said Anne, more to herself than anybody else.

“I suppose you know what you mean yourself, Annie. And so you’re having a party tomorrow?”

Anne suddenly sat bolt upright. Susan, already sitting so, could not sit any uprighter.

“Why … why … Aunty …”

“You always leave me to hear things from outsiders,” said Aunt Mary Maria, but seemingly more in sorrow than in anger.

“We … we meant it for a surprise, Aunty …”

“I don’t know what you want of a party this time of year when you can’t depend on the weather, Annie.”

Anne drew a breath of relief. Evidently Aunt Mary Maria knew only that there was to be a party, not that it had any connexion with her.

“I … I wanted to have it before the spring flowers were done, Aunty.”

“I shall wear my garnet taffeta. I suppose, Annie, if I had not heard of this in the village I should have been caught by all your fine friends tomorrow in a cotton dress.”

“Oh, no, Aunty. We meant to tell you in time to dress, of course …”

“Well, if my advice means anything to you, Annie … and sometimes I am almost compelled to think it does not … I would say that in future it would be better for you not to be quite so secretive about things. By the way, are you aware that they are saying in the village that it was Jem who threw the stone through the window of the Methodist church?”

“He did not,” said Anne quietly. “He told me he did not.”

“Are you sure, Annie dear, that he was not fibbing?”

“Annie dear” still spoke quietly.

“Quite sure, Aunt Mary Maria. Jem has never told me an untruth in his life.”

“Well, I thought you ought to know what was being said.”

Aunt Mary Maria stalked off in her usual gracious manner, ostentatiously avoiding the Shrimp, who was lying on his back on the floor entreating someone to tickle his stomach.

Susan and Anne drew a long breath.

“I think I’ll go to bed, Susan. And I do hope it is going to be fine tomorrow. I don’t like the look of that dark cloud over the harbour.”

“It will be fine, Mrs. Dr. dear,” reassured Susan. “The almanack says so.”

 

Susan had an almanack which foretold the whole year’s weather and was right often enough to keep up its credit.

“Leave the side door unlocked for the doctor, Susan. He may be late getting home from town. He went in for the roses … fifty-five golden roses, Susan … I’ve heard Aunt Mary Maria say that yellow roses were the only flowers she liked.”

Half an hour later, Susan, reading her nightly chapter in her Bible, came across the verse, “Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour’s house lest he weary of thee and hate thee.” She put a sprig of southernwood in it to mark the spot. “Even in those days,” she reflected.

Anne and Susan were both up early, desiring to complete certain last preparations before Aunt Mary Maria should be about. Anne always liked to get up early and catch that mystical half-hour before sunrise when the world belongs to the fairies and the old gods. She liked to see the morning sky of pale rose and gold behind the church spire, the thin, translucent glow of sunrise spreading over the dunes, the first violet spirals of smoke floating up from the village roofs.

“It’s as if we had had a day made to order, Mrs. Dr. dear,” said Susan complacently, as she feathered an orange-frosted cake with cocoanut. “I will try my hand at them new-fangled butterballs after breakfast and I will phone Carter Flagg every half-hour to make sure that he will not forget the ice-cream. And there will be time to scrub the verandah steps.”

“Is that necessary, Susan?”

“Mrs. Dr. dear, you have invited Mrs. Marshall Elliott, have you not? She shall not see our verandah steps otherwise than spotless. But you will see to the decorations, Mrs. Dr. dear? I was not born with the gift of arranging flowers.”

“Four cakes! Gee!” said Jem.

“When we give a party,” said Susan grandly, “we give a party.”

The guests came in due time and were received by Aunt Mary Maria in garnet taffeta and by Anne in biscuit-coloured voile. Anne thought of putting on her white muslin, for the day was summer-warm, but decided otherwise.

“Very sensible of you, Annie,” commented Aunt Mary Maria. “White, I always say, is only for the young.”

Everything went according to schedule. The table looked beautiful with Anne’s prettiest dishes and the exotic beauty of white and purple iris. Susan’s butterballs made a sensation, nothing like them having been seen in the Glen before; her cream soup was the last word in soups; the chicken salad had been made of Ingleside “chickens that are chickens”; the badgered Carter Flagg sent up the ice-cream on the tick of the dot. Finally Susan, bearing the birthday cake with its fifty-five lighted candles as if it were the Baptist’s head on a charger, marched in and set it down before Aunt Mary Maria.

Anne, outwardly the smiling serene hostess, had been feeling very uncomfortable for some time. In spite of all outward smoothness she had an ever-deepening conviction that something had gone terribly wrong. On the guests’ arrival she had been too much occupied to notice the change that came over Aunt Mary Maria’s face when Mrs. Marshall Elliott cordially wished her many happy returns of the day. But when they were all finally seated around the table Anne wakened up to the fact that Aunt Mary Maria was looking anything but pleased. She was actually white … it couldn’t be with fury! … and not one word did she say as the meal progressed, save curt replies to remarks addressed to her. She took only two spoonfuls of soup and three mouthfuls of salad; as for the ice-cream, she behaved to it as if it wasn’t there.

When Susan set the birthday cake, with its flickering candles, down before her, Aunt Mary Maria gave a fearful gulp which was not quite successful in swallowing a sob and consequently issued as a strangled whoop.

“Aunty, aren’t you feeling well?” cried Anne.

Aunt Mary Maria stared at her icily.

“Quite well, Annie. Remarkably well, indeed, for such an aged person as myself.”

At this auspicious moment the twins popped in, carrying between them the basketful of fifty-five yellow roses, and, amid a suddenly frozen silence, presented it to Aunt Mary Maria, with lisped congratulations and good wishes. A chorus of admiration went up from the table, but Aunt Mary Maria did not join in it.

“The … the twins will blow out the candles for you, Aunty,” faltered Anne nervously, “and then … will you cut the birthday cake?”

“Not being quite senile … yet … Annie, I can blow the candles out myself.”

Aunt Mary Maria proceeded to blow them out, painstakingly and deliberately. With equal painstaking and deliberation she cut the cake. Then she laid the knife down.

“And now perhaps I may be excused, Annie. Such an old woman as I am needs rest after so much excitement.”

Swish went Aunt Mary Maria’s taffeta skirt. Crash went the basket of roses as she swept past it. Click went Aunt Mary Maria’s high heels up the stairs. Bang went Aunt Mary Maria’s door in the distance.

The dumfounded guests ate their slices of birthday cake with such appetite as they could muster, in a strained silence broken only by a story Mrs. Amos Martin told desperately of a doctor in Nova Scotia who had poisoned several patients by injecting diphtheria germs into them. The others, feeling that this might not be in the best of taste, did not back up her laudable effort to “liven things up” and all went away as soon as they decently could.

A distracted Anne rushed to Aunt Mary Maria’s room.

“Aunty, what is the matter? …”

“Was it necessary to advertise my age in public, Annie? And to ask Adella Carey here … to have her find out how old I am … she’s been dying to know for years!”

“Aunty, we meant … we meant …”

“I don’t know what your purpose was, Annie. That there is something back of all this I know very well … oh, I can read your mind, dear Annie … but I shall not try to ferret it out … I shall leave it between you and your conscience.”

“Aunt Mary Maria, my only intention was to give you a happy birthday. I’m dreadfully sorry… .”

Aunt Mary Maria put her handkerchief to her eyes and smiled bravely.

“Of course I forgive you, Annie. But you must realize that after such a deliberate attempt to injure my feelings I cannot stay here any longer.”

“Amity, won’t you believe …”

Aunt Mary Maria lifted a long, thin, knobby hand.

“Don’t let us discuss it, Annie. I want peace … just peace. ‘A wounded spirit who can bear?’”

Anne went to the concert with Gilbert that night, but it could not be said she enjoyed it. Gilbert took the whole matter “just like a man,” as Miss Cornelia might have said.

“I remember she was always a little touchy about her age. Dad used to rag her. I should have warned you … but it had slipped my memory. If she goes, don’t try to stop her” … and refrained through clannishness from adding “good riddance!”

“She will not go. No such good luck, Mrs. Dr. dear,” said Susan incredulously.

But for once Susan was wrong. Aunt Mary Maria went away the very next day, forgiving everybody with her parting breath.

“Don’t blame Annie, Gilbert,” she said magnanimously. “I acquit her of all intentional insult. I never minded her having secrets from me … though to a sensitive mind like mine … but in spite of everything I’ve always liked poor Annie” … this with the air of one confessing a weakness. “But Susan Baker is a cat of another colour. My last word to you, Gilbert, is … put Susan Baker in her place and keep her there.”

Nobody could believe in their good luck at first. Then they woke up to the fact that Aunt Mary Maria had really gone … that it was possible to laugh again without hurting anyone’s feelings … open all the windows without anyone complaining of draughts … eat a meal without anyone telling you that something you specially liked was liable to produce cancer of the stomach.

“I’ve never sped a parting guest so willingly,” thought Anne, half guiltily. “It is nice to call your soul your own again.”

The Shrimp groomed himself meticulously, feeling that, after all, there was some fun in being a cat. The first peony burst into bloom in the garden.

“The world is just full of poetry, isn’t it, Mummy?” said Walter.

“It is going to be a real nice June,” foretold Susan. “The almanack says so. There are going to be a few brides and most likely at least two funerals. Does it not seem strange to be able to draw a free breath again? When I think that I did all that in me lay to prevent you giving that party, Mrs. Dr. dear, I realize afresh that there is an overruling Providence. And don’t you think, Mrs. Dr. dear, that the doctor would relish some onions with his fried steak today?”

Chapter XV

Table of Contents

“I felt I had to come up, dearie,” said Miss Cornelia, “and explain about that telephone. It was all a mistake … I’m so sorry … Cousin Sarah isn’t dead, after all.” Anne, smothering a smile, offered Miss Cornelia a chair on the verandah, and Susan, looking up from the collar of Irish-crochet lace she was making for her niece Gladys, uttered a scrupulously polite, “Good-evening, Mrs. Marshall Elliott.”

“The word came out from the hospital this morning that she had passed away in the night, and I felt I ought to inform you, since she was the doctor’s patient. But it was another Sarah Chase and Cousin Sarah is living and likely to live, I’m thankful to say. It’s real nice and cool here, Anne. I always say if there’s a breeze to be had anywhere it’s at Ingleside.”

“Susan and I have been enjoying the charm of this starlit evening,” said Anne, laying aside the dress of pink, smocked muslin she was making for Nan and clasping her hands over her knees. An excuse to be idle for a little while was not unwelcome. Neither she nor Susan had many idle moments nowadays.

There was going to be a moonrise and the prophecy of it was even lovelier than the moonrise itself would be. Tiger lilies were “burning bright” along the walk and whiffs of honeysuckle went and came on the wings of the dreaming wind.

“Look at that wave of poppies breaking against the garden wall, Miss Cornelia. Susan and I are very proud of our poppies this year, though we hadn’t a single thing to do with them. Walter spilt a packet of seed there by accident in the spring and this is the result. Every year we have some delightful surprise like that.”

“I’m partial to poppies,” said Miss Cornelia, “though they don’t last long.”

“They have only a day to live,” admitted Anne, “but how imperially, how gorgeous they live it! Isn’t that better than being a stiff horrible zinnia that lasts practically for ever? We have no zinnias at Ingleside. They’re the only flowers we are not friends with. Susan won’t even speak to them.”

“Anybody being murdered in the Hollow?” asked Miss Cornelia. Indeed, the sounds that came drifting up would seem to indicate that someone was being burned at the stake. But Anne and Susan were too accustomed to that to be disturbed.

“Persis and Kenneth have been here all day and they wound up by a banquet in the Hollow. As for Mrs. Chase, Gilbert went to town this morning, so he would know the truth about her. I am glad for everyone’s sake she is doing so well … the other doctors did not agree with Gilbert’s diagnosis and he was a little worried.”

“Sarah warned us when she went to the hospital that we were not to bury her unless we were sure she was dead,” said Miss Cornelia, fanning herself majestically and wondering how the doctor’s wife always managed to look so cool. “You see, we were always a little afraid her husband was buried alive … he looked so lifelike. But nobody thought of it until it was too late. He was a brother of this Richard Chase who bought the old Moorside farm and moved there from Lowbridge in the spring. He’s a card. Said he came to the country to get some peace … he had to spend all his time in Lowbridge dodging widows” … “and old maids,” Miss Cornelia might have added but did not, out of regard for Susan’s feelings.

“I’ve met his daughter Stella … she comes to choir practice. We’ve taken quite a fancy to each other.”

“Stella is a sweet girl … one of the few girls left that can blush. I’ve always loved her. Her mother and I used to be great cronies. Poor Lisette!”

 

“She died young?”

“Yes, when Stella was only eight. Richard brought Stella up himself. And him an infidel if he’s anything! He says women are only important biologically … whatever that may mean. He’s always shooting off some big talk like that.”

“He doesn’t seem to have made such a bad job of bringing her up,” said Anne, who thought Stella Chase one of the most charming girls she had ever met.

“Oh, you couldn’t spoil Stella. And I’m not denying Richard has got a good deal in his headpiece. But he’s a crank about young men … he has never let poor Stella have a single beau in her life! All the young men who tried to go with her he simply terrified out of their senses with sarcasm. He is the most sarcastic creature you ever heard of. Stella can’t manage him … her mother before her couldn’t manage him. They didn’t know how. He goes by contraries but neither of them ever seemed to catch on to that.”

“I thought Stella seemed very devoted to her father.”

“Oh, she is. She adores him. He is a most agreeable man when he gets his own way about everything. But he should have more sense about Stella’s marrying. He must know he can’t live forever … though to hear him talk you’d think he meant to. He isn’t an old man, of course … he was very young when he was married. But strokes run in that family. And what is Stella to do after he’s gone? Just shrivel up, I suppose.”

Susan looked up from the intricate rose of her Irish crochet long enough to say decidedly:

“I do not hold with old folks spoiling young ones lives in that fashion.”

“Perhaps if Stella really cared for anyone her father’s objections might not weight much with her.”

“That’s where you’re mistaken, Anne dearie. Stella would never marry anyone her father didn’t like. And I can tell you another whose life is going to be spoiled, and that’s Marshall’s nephew, Alden Churchill. Mary is determined he shan’t marry as long as she can keep him from it. She’s even more contrary than Richard … if she was a weather-vane she’d point north when the wind was south. The property is hers till Alden marries and then it goes to him, you know. Every time he’s gone about with a girl she has contrived to put a stop to it somehow.”

“Indeed, is it all her doings, Mrs. Marshall Elliott?” queried Susan dryly. “Some folks think that Alden is very changeable. I have heard him called a flirt.”

“Alden is handsome and the girls chase him,” retorted Miss Cornelia. “I don’t blame him for stringing them along a bit and dropping them when he’s taught them a lesson. But there’s been one or two nice girls he really liked and Mary just blocked it every time. She told me so herself … told me she went to the Bible … she’s always ‘going to the Bible’ … and turned up a verse and every time it was a warning against Alden getting married. I’ve no patience with her and her odd ways. Why can’t she go to church and be a decent creature like the rest of us around Four Winds? But no, she must set up a religion for herself, consisting of ‘going to the Bible.’ Last fall, when that valuable horse took sick … worth four hundred if a dollar … instead of sending for the Lowbridge vet she ‘went to the Bible’ and turned up a verse … ‘The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ So send for the vet she would not and the horse died. Fancy applying that verse in such a way, Anne dearie. I call it irreverent. I told her so flat but all the answer I got was a dirty look. And she won’t have the phone put in. ‘Do you think I’m going to talk into a box on the wall?’ she says when anyone broaches it.”

Miss Cornelia paused, rather out of breath. Her sister-in-law’s vagaries always made her impatient.

“Alden isn’t at all like his mother,” said Anne.

“Alden’s like his father … a finer man never stepped … as men go. Why he ever married Mary was something the Elliotts could never fathom. Though they were more than glad to get her married off so well … she always had a screw loose and such a beanpole of a girl. Of course she had lots of money … her Aunt Mary left her everything … but that wasn’t the reason, George Churchill was really in love with her. I don’t know how Alden stands his mother’s whims; but he’s been a good son.”

“Do you know what has just occurred to me, Miss Cornelia?” said Anne with an impish smile. “Wouldn’t it be a nice thing if Alden and Stella should fall in love with each other?”

“There isn’t much chance of that and they wouldn’t get anywhere if they did. Mary would tear up the turf and Richard would show a plain farmer the door in a minute, even if he is a farmer himself now. But Stella isn’t the kind of a girl Alden fancies … he likes the high-coloured laughing ones. And Stella wouldn’t care for his type. I did hear the new minister at Lowbridge was making sheep’s eyes at her.”

“Isn’t he rather anemic and shortsighted?” asked Anne.

“And his eyes bulge,” said Susan. “They must be dreadful when he tries to look sentimental.”

“At least he’s a Presbyterian,” said Miss Cornelia, as if that atoned for much. “Well, I must be going. I find if I’m out in the dew much my neuralgia troubles me.”

“I’ll walk down to the gate with you.”

“You always looked like a queen in that dress, Anne dearie,” said Miss Cornelia, admiringly and irrelevantly.

Anne met Owen and Leslie Ford at the gate and brought them back to the verandah. Susan had vanished to get lemonade for the doctor, who had just arrived home, and the children came swarming up from the Hollow sleepy and happy.

“You were making dreadful noise as I drove in,” said Gilbert. “The whole countryside must have heard you.”

Persis Ford, shaking back her thick honey-tinted curls, stuck out her tongue at him. Persis was a great favourite with “Uncle Gil.”

“We were just imitating howling dervishes, so of course we had to howl,” explained Kenneth.

“Look at the state your blouse is in,” said Leslie rather severely.

“I fell in Di’s mud-pie,” said Kenneth, with decided satisfaction in his tone. He loathed those starched, spotless blouses Mother made him wear when he came up to the Glen.

“Mother dearwums,” said Jem, “can I have those old ostrich feathers in the garret to sew in the back of my pants for a tail? We’re going to have a circus tomorrow and I’m to be the ostrich. And we’re going to get an elephant.”

“Do you know that it costs six hundred dollars a year to feed an elephant?” said Gilbert solemnly.

“An imaginary elephant doesn’t cost anything,” explained Jem patiently.

Anne laughed. “We never need to be economical in our imaginations, thank heaven.”

Walter said nothing. He was a little tired and quite content to sit down beside Mother on the steps and lean his black head against her shoulder. Leslie Ford, looking at him, thought that he had the face of a genius … the remote, detached look of a soul from another star. Earth was not his habitat.

Everybody was very happy in this golden hour of a golden day. A bell in a church across the harbour rang faintly and sweetly. The moon was making patterns on the water. The dunes shimmered in hazy silver. There was a tang of mint in the air and some unseen roses were unbearably sweet. And Anne, looking dreamily over the lawn with eyes that, in spite of six children, were still very young, thought there was nothing in the world so slim and elfin as a very young lombardy poplar by moonlight.

Then she began to think about Stella Chase and Alden Churchill, until Gilbert offered her a penny for her thoughts.

“I’m thinking seriously of trying my hand at matchmaking,” retorted Anne.

Gilbert looked at the others in mock despair.

“I was afraid it would break out again some day. I’ve done my best, but you can’t reform a born matchmaker. She has a positive passion for it. The number of matches she has made is incredible. I couldn’t sleep o’ nights if I had such responsibilities on my conscience.”