سال اول - فصل 08

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آن شرلی با موهای قرمز

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سال اول - فصل 08

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8 (Extract from letter to Gilbert)

“I am in my tower and Rebecca Dew is caroling Could I but climb? in the kitchen. Which reminds me that the minister’s wife has asked me to sing in the choir! Of course the Pringles have told her to do it. I may do it on the Sundays I don’t spend at Green Gables. The Pringles have held out the right hand of fellowship with a vengeance . . . accepted me lock, stock and barrel. What a clan!

“I’ve been to three Pringle parties. I set nothing down in malice but I think all the Pringle girls are imitating my style of hair-dressing. Well, ‘imitation is the sincerest flattery.’ And, Gilbert, I’m really liking them . . . as I always knew I would if they would give me a chance. I’m even beginning to suspect that sooner or later I’ll find myself liking Jen. She can be charming when she wants to be and it is very evident she wants to be.

“Last night I bearded the lion in his den . . . in other words, I went boldly up the front steps of The Evergreens to the square porch with the four whitewashed iron urns in its corners, and rang the bell. When Miss Monkman came to the door I asked her if she would lend little Elizabeth to me for a walk. I expected a refusal, but after the Woman had gone in and conferred with Mrs. Campbell, she came back and said dourly that Elizabeth could go but, please, I wasn’t to keep her out late. I wonder if even Mrs. Campbell has got her orders from Miss Sarah.

“Elizabeth came dancing down the dark stairway, looking like a pixy in a red coat and little green cap, and almost speechless for joy.

“‘I feel all squirmy and excited, Miss Shirley,’ she whispered as soon as we got away. ‘I’m Betty . . . I’m always Betty when I feel like that.’

“We went as far down the Road that Leads to the End of the World as we dared and then back. Tonight the harbor, lying dark under a crimson sunset, seemed full of implications of ‘fairylands forlorn’ and mysterious isles in uncharted seas. I thrilled to it and so did the mite I held by the hand.

“‘If we ran hard, Miss Shirley, could we get into the sunset?’ she wanted to know.

I remembered Paul and his fancies about the ‘sunset land.’52

“‘We must wait for Tomorrow before we can do that,’ I said. ‘Look, Elizabeth, at that golden island of cloud just over the harbor mouth. Let’s pretend that’s your island of Happiness.’

“‘There is an island down there somewhere,’ said Elizabeth dreamily. ‘Its name is Flying Cloud. Isn’t that a lovely name . . . a name just out of Tomorrow? I can see it from the garret windows. It belongs to a gentleman from Boston and he has a summer home there. But I pretend it’s mine.’

“At the door I stooped and kissed Elizabeth’s cheek before she went in. I shall never forget her eyes. Gilbert, that child is just starved for love.

“Tonight, when she came over for her milk, I saw that she had been crying.

“‘They . . . they made me wash your kiss off, Miss Shirley,’ she sobbed. ‘I didn’t want ever to wash my face again. I vowed I wouldn’t. Because, you see, I didn’t want to wash your kiss off. I got away to school this morning without doing it, but tonight the Woman just took me and scrubbed it off.’

“I kept a straight face.

“‘You couldn’t go through life without washing your face occasionally, darling.

But never mind about the kiss. I’ll kiss you every night when you come for the milk and then it won’t matter if it is washed off the next morning.’

“‘You are the only person who loves me in the world,’ said Elizabeth. ‘When you talk to me I smell violets.’

“Was anybody ever paid a prettier compliment? But I couldn’t quite let the first sentence pass.

“‘Your grandmother loves you, Elizabeth.’

“‘She doesn’t . . . she hates me.’

“‘You’re just a wee bit foolish, darling. Your grandmother and Miss Monkman are both old people and old people are easily disturbed and worried. Of course you annoy them sometimes. And . . . of course . . . when they were young, children were brought up much more strictly than they are now. They cling to the old way.’53

“But I felt I was not convincing Elizabeth. After all, they don’t love her and she knows it. She looked carefully back at the house to see if the door was shut. Then she said deliberately:

“‘Grandmother and the Woman are just two old tyrants and when Tomorrow comes I’m going to escape them forever.’

“I think she expected I’d die of horror. . . . I really suspect Elizabeth said it just to make a sensation. I merely laughed and kissed her. I hope Martha Monkman saw it from the kitchen window.

“I can see over Summerside from the left window in the tower. Just now it is a huddle of friendly white roofs . . . friendly at last since the Pringles are my friends. Here and there a light is gleaming in gable and dormer. Here and there is a suggestion of gray-ghost smoke. Thick stars are low over it all. It is ‘a dreaming town.’ Isn’t that a lovely phrase? You remember . . . ‘Galahad through dreaming towns did go’?

“I feel so happy, Gilbert. I won’t have to go home to Green Gables at Christmas, defeated and discredited. Life is good . . . good!

“So is Miss Sarah’s pound cake. Rebecca Dew made one and ‘sweated’ it according to directions . . . which simply means that she wrapped it in several thicknesses of brown paper and several more towels and left it for three days. I can recommend it.

“(Are there, or are there not, two ‘c’s’ in recommend’? In spite of the fact that I am a B.A. I can never be certain. Fancy if the Pringles had discovered that before I found Andy’s diary!)”54

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