سال اول - فصل 11

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آن شرلی با موهای قرمز

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سال اول - فصل 11

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11

(Extract from letter to Gilbert two weeks later.)

“Esme Taylor’s engagement to Dr. Lennox Carter is announced. By all I can gather from various bits of local gossip I think he decided that fatal Friday night that he wanted to protect her, and save her from her father and her family . . . and perhaps from her friends! Her plight evidently appealed to his sense of chivalry.

Trix persists in thinking I was the means of bringing it about and perhaps I did take a hand, but I don’t think I’ll ever try an experiment like that again. It’s too much like picking up a lightning flash by the tail.

“I really don’t know what got into me, Gilbert. It must have been a hangover from my old detestation of anything savoring of Pringleism. It does seem old now. I’ve almost forgotten it. But other folks are still wondering. I hear Miss Valentine Courtaloe says she isn’t at all surprised I have won the Pringles over, because I have ‘such a way with me’; and the minister’s wife thinks it is an answer to the prayer she put up. Well, who knows but that it was?

“Jen Pringle and I walked part of the way home from school yesterday and talked of ‘ships and shoes and sealing wax’ . . . of almost everything but geometry. We avoid that subject. Jen knows I don’t know too much about geometry, but my own wee bit of knowledge about Captain Myrom balances that. I lent Jen my Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. I hate to lend a book I love . . . it never seems quite the same when it comes back to me . . . but I love Foxe’s Martyrs only because dear Mrs. Allan gave it to me for a Sunday-school prize years ago. I don’t like reading about martyrs because they always make me feel petty and ashamed . . . ashamed to admit I hate to get out of bed on frosty mornings and shrink from a visit to the dentist!

“Well, I’m glad Esme and Trix are both happy. Since my own little romance is in flower I am all the more interested in other people’s. A nice interest, you know.

Not curious or malicious but just glad there’s such a lot of happiness spread about.

“It’s still February and ‘on the convent roof the snows are sparkling to the moon’ . . . only it isn’t a convent . . . just the roof of Mr. Hamilton’s barn. But I’m beginning to think, ‘Only a few more weeks till spring . . . and a few more weeks then till summer . . . and holidays . . . and Green Gables . . . and golden sunlight67 on Avonlea meadows . . . and a gulf that will be silver at dawn and sapphire at noon and crimson at sunset . . . and you.’

“Little Elizabeth and I have no end of plans for spring. We are such good friends.

I take her milk every evening and once in so long she is allowed to go for a walk with me. We have discovered that our birthdays are on the same day and Elizabeth flushed ‘divinest rosy red’ with the excitement of it. She is so sweet when she blushes. Ordinarily she is far too pale and doesn’t get any pinker because of the new milk. Only when we come back from our twilight trysts with evening winds does she have a lovely rose color in her little cheeks. Once she asked me gravely, ‘Will I have a lovely creamy skin like yours when I grow up, Miss Shirley, if I put buttermilk on my face every night?’ Buttermilk seems to be the preferred cosmetic in Spook’s Lane. I have discovered that Rebecca Dew uses it. She has bound me over to keep it secret from the widows because they would think it too frivolous for her age. The number of secrets I have to keep at Windy Poplars is aging me before my time. I wonder if I buttermilked my nose if it would banish those seven freckles. By the way, did it ever occur to you, sir, that I had a ‘lovely creamy skin’? If it did, you never told me so. And have you realized to the full that I am ‘comparatively beautiful’? Because I have discovered that I am.

“‘What is it like to be beautiful, Miss Shirley?’ asked Rebecca Dew gravely the other day . . . when I was wearing my new biscuit-colored voile.

“‘I’ve often wondered,’ said I.

“‘But you are beautiful,’ said Rebecca Dew.

“‘I never thought you could be sarcastic, Rebecca,’ I said reproachfully.

“‘I did not mean to be sarcastic, Miss Shirley. You are beautiful . . . comparatively.’

“‘Oh! Comparatively!’ said I.

“‘Look in the sideboard glass,’ said Rebecca Dew, pointing. ‘Compared to me, you are.’

“Well, I was!

“But I hadn’t finished with Elizabeth. One stormy evening when the wind was howling along Spook’s Lane, we couldn’t go for a walk, so we came up to my68 room and drew a map of fairyland. Elizabeth sat on my blue doughnut cushion to make her higher, and looked like a serious little gnome as she bent over the map.

(By the way, no phonetic spelling for me! ‘Gnome’ is far eerier and fairy-er than ‘nome.’)

“Our map isn’t completed yet . . . every day we think of something more to go in it. Last night we located the house of the Witch of the Snow and drew a triple hill, covered completely with wild cherry trees in bloom, behind it. (By the way, I want some wild cherry trees near our house of dreams, Gilbert.) Of course we have a Tomorrow on the map . . . located east of Today and west of Yesterday . . . and we have no end of ‘times’ in fairyland. Spring-time, long time, short time, new-moon time, good-night time, next time . . . but no last time, because that is too sad a time for fairyland; old time, young time . . . because if there is an old time there ought to be a young time, too; mountain time . . . because that has such a fascinating sound; night-time and day-time . . . but no bed-time or school-time; Christmas-time; no only time, because that also is too sad . . . but lost time, because it is so nice to find it; some time, good time, fast time, slow time, halfpast kissing-time, going-home time, and time immemorial . . . which is one of the most beautiful phrases in the world. And we have cunning little red arrows everywhere, pointing to the different ‘times.’ I know Rebecca Dew thinks I’m quite childish. But, oh, Gilbert, don’t let’s ever grow too old and wise . . . no, not too old and silly for fairyland.

“Rebecca Dew, I feel sure, is not quite certain that I am an influence for good in Elizabeth’s life. She thinks I encourage her in being ‘fanciful.’ One evening when I was away Rebecca Dew took the milk to her and found her already at the gate, looking at the sky so intently that she never heard Rebecca’s (anything but) fairy footfalls.

“‘I was listening, Rebecca,’ she explained.

“‘You do too much listening,’ said Rebecca disapprovingly.

“Elizabeth smiled, remotely, austerely. (Rebecca Dew didn’t use those words but I know exactly how Elizabeth smiled.)

“‘You would be surprised, Rebecca, if you knew what I hear sometimes,’ she said, in a way that made Rebecca Dew’s flesh creep on her bones . . . or so she avers.

“But Elizabeth is always touched with faery and what can be done about it?

“Your Very Anne-est ANNE.69

“P.S.1. Never, never, never shall I forget Cyrus Taylor’s face when his wife accused him of crocheting. But I shall always like him because he hunted for those kittens. And I like Esme for standing up for her father under the supposed wreck of all her hopes.

“P.S.2. I have put in a new pen. And I love you because you aren’t pompous like Dr. Carter . . . and I love you because you haven’t got sticky-out ears like Johnny.

And . . . the very best reason of all . . . I love you for just being Gilbert!”

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