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A week later a letter came for Anne, written on pale blue paper edged with silver.
“DEAR MISS SHIRLEY:
“I am writing this to tell you that all misunderstanding is cleared away between Terry and me and we are so deeply, intensely, wonderfully happy that we have decided we can forgive you. Terry says he was just moonlighted into making love to you but that his heart never really swerved in its allegiance to me. He says he really likes sweet, simple girls . . . that all men do . . . and has no use for intriguing, designing ones. We don’t understand why you behaved to us as you did . . . we never will understand. Perhaps you just wanted material for a story and thought you could find it in tampering with the first sweet, tremulous love of a girl. But we thank you for revealing us to ourselves. Terry says he never realized the deeper meaning of life before. So really it was all for the best. We are so sympathetic . . . we can feel each other’s thoughts. Nobody understands him but me and I want to be a source of inspiration to him forever. I am not clever like you but I feel I can be that, for we are soul-mates and have vowed eternal truth and constancy to each other, no matter how many jealous people and false friends may try to make trouble between us.
“We are going to be married as soon as I have my trousseau ready. I am going up to Boston to get it. There really isn’t anything in Summerside. My dress is to be white moire and my traveling-suit will be dove gray with hat, gloves and blouse of delphinium blue. Of course I’m very young, but I want to be married when I am young, before the bloom goes off life.
“Terry is all that my wildest dreams could picture and every thought of my heart is for him alone. I know we are going to be rapturously happy. Once I believed all my friends would rejoice with me in my happiness, but I have learned a bitter lesson in worldly wisdom since then.
“P.S. 1. You told me Terry had such a temper. Why, he’s a perfect lamb, his sister says.
“P.S. 2. I’ve heard that lemon juice will bleach freckles. You might try it on your nose.
“To quote Rebecca Dew,” remarked Anne to Dusty Miller, “postscript Number Two is the last straw.”
Anne went home for her second Summerside vacation with mixed feelings.
Gilbert was not to be in Avonlea that summer. He had gone west to work on a new railroad that was being built. But Green Gables was still Green Gables and Avonlea was still Avonlea. The Lake of Shining Waters shone and sparkled as of old. The ferns still grew as thickly over the Dryad’s Bubble, and the log-bridge, though it was a little crumblier and mossier every year, still led up to the shadows and silences and wind-songs of the Haunted Wood.
And Anne had prevailed on Mrs. Campbell to let little Elizabeth go home with her for a fortnight . . . no more. But Elizabeth, looking forward to two whole weeks with Miss Shirley, asked no more of life.
“I feel like Miss Elizabeth today,” she told Anne with a sigh of delightful excitement, as they drove away from Windy Poplars. “Will you please call me ‘Miss Elizabeth’ when you introduce me to your friends at Green Gables? It would make me feel so grown up.”
“I will,” promised Anne gravely, remembering a small, red-headed damsel who had once begged to be called Cordelia.
Elizabeth’s drive from Blight River to Green Gables, over a road which only Prince Edward Island in June can show, was almost as ecstatic a thing for her as it had been for Anne that memorable spring evening so many years ago. The world was beautiful, with wind-rippled meadows on every hand and surprises lurking around every corner. She was with her beloved Miss Shirley; she would be free from the Woman for two whole weeks; she had a new pink gingham dress and a pair of lovely new brown boots. It was almost as if Tomorrow were already there . . . with fourteen Tomorrows to follow. Elizabeth’s eyes were shining with dreams when they turned into the Green Gables lane where the pink wild roses grew.
Things seemed to change magically for Elizabeth the moment she got to Green Gables. For two weeks she lived in a world of romance. You couldn’t step outside the door without stepping into something romantic. Things were just bound to happen in Avonlea . . . if not today, then tomorrow. Elizabeth knew she hadn’t quite got into Tomorrow yet, but she knew she was on the very fringes of it.172
Everything in and about Green Gables seemed to be acquainted with her. Even Marilla’s pink rosebud tea-set was like an old friend. The rooms looked at her as if she had always known and loved them; the very grass was greener than grass anywhere else; and the people who lived at Green Gables were the kind of people who lived in Tomorrow. She loved them and was beloved by them. Davy and Dora adored her and spoiled her; Marilla and Mrs. Lynde approved of her. She was neat, she was lady-like, she was polite to her elders. They knew Anne did not like Mrs. Campbell’s methods, but it was plain to be seen that she had trained her great-granddaughter properly.
“Oh, I don’t want to sleep, Miss Shirley,” Elizabeth whispered when they were in bed in the little porch gable, after a rapturous evening. “I don’t want to sleep away a single minute of these wonderful two weeks. I wish I could get along without any sleep while I’m here.”
For a while she didn’t sleep. It was heavenly to lie there and listen to the splendid low thunder Miss Shirley had told her was the sound of the sea. Elizabeth loved it and the sigh of the wind around the eaves as well. Elizabeth had always been “afraid of the night.” Who knew what queer thing might jump at you out of it?
But now she was afraid no longer. For the first time in her life the night seemed like a friend to her.
They would go to the shore tomorrow, Miss Shirley had promised, and have a dip in those silver-tipped waves they had seen breaking beyond the green dunes of Avonlea when they drove over the last hill. Elizabeth could see them coming in, one after the other. One of them was a great dark wave of sleep . . . it rolled right over her . . . Elizabeth drowned in it with a delicious sigh of surrender.
“It’s . . . so . . . easy . . . to . . . love . . . God . . . here,” was her last conscious thought.
But she lay awake for a while every night of her stay at Green Gables, long after Miss Shirley had gone to sleep, thinking over things. Why couldn’t life at The Evergreens be like life at Green Gables?
Elizabeth had never lived where she could make a noise if she wanted to.
Everybody at The Evergreens had to move softly . . . speak softly . . . even, so Elizabeth felt, think softly. There were times when Elizabeth desired perversely to yell loud and long.
“You may make all the noise you want to here,” Anne had told her. But it was strange . . . she no longer wanted to yell, now that there was nothing to prevent173 her. She liked to go quietly, stepping gently among all the lovely things around her. But Elizabeth learned to laugh during that sojourn at Green Gables. And when she went back to Summerside she carried delightful memories with her and left equally delightful ones behind her. To the Green Gables folks Green Gables seemed for months full of memories of little Elizabeth. For “little Elizabeth” she was to them in spite of the fact that Anne had solemnly introduced her as “Miss Elizabeth.” She was so tiny, so golden, so elf-like, that they couldn’t think of her as anything but little Elizabeth . . . little Elizabeth dancing in a twilight garden among the white June lilies . . . coiled up on a bough of the big Duchess apple tree reading fairy tales, unlet and unhindered . . . little Elizabeth half drowned in a field of buttercups where her golden head seemed just a larger buttercup . . . chasing silver-green moths or trying to count the fireflies in Lover’s Lane . . . listening to the bumblebees zooming in the canterbury-bells . . . being fed strawberries and cream by Dora in the pantry or eating red currants with her in the yard . . . “Red currants are such beautiful things, aren’t they, Dora? It’s just like eating jewels, isn’t it?” . . . little Elizabeth singing to herself in the haunted dusk of the firs . . . with fingers sweet from gathering the big, fat, pink “cabbage roses” . . . gazing at the great moon hanging over the brook valley . . . “I think the moon has worried eyes, don’t you, Mrs. Lynde?” . . . crying bitterly because a chapter in the serial story in Davy’s magazine left the hero in a sad predicament . . . “Oh, Miss Shirley, I’m sure he can never live through it!” . . . little Elizabeth curled up, all flushed and sweet like a wild rose, for an afternoon nap on the kitchen sofa with Dora’s kittens cuddled about her . . . shrieking with laughter to see the wind blowing the dignified old hens’ tails over their backs . . . could it be little Elizabeth laughing like that? . . . helping Anne frost cupcakes, Mrs. Lynde cut the patches for a new “double Irish chain” quilt, and Dora rub the old brass candlesticks till they could see their faces in them . . . cutting out tiny biscuits with a thimble under Marilla’s tutelage. Why, the Green Gables folks could hardly look at a place or thing without being reminded of little Elizabeth.
“I wonder if I’ll ever have such a happy fortnight again,” thought little Elizabeth, as she drove away from Green Gables. The road to the station was just as beautiful as it had been two weeks before, but half the time little Elizabeth couldn’t see it for tears.
“I couldn’t have believed I’d miss a child so much,” said Mrs. Lynde.
When little Elizabeth went, Katherine Brooke and her dog came for the rest of the summer. Katherine had resigned from the staff of the High School at the close of the year and meant to go to Redmond in the fall to take a secretarial course at Redmond University. Anne had advised this.174
“I know you’d like it and you’ve never liked teaching,” said the latter, as they sat one evening in a ferny corner of a clover field and watched the glories of a sunset sky.
“Life owes me something more than it has paid me and I’m going out to collect it,” said Katherine decidedly. “I feel so much younger than I did this time last year,” she added with a laugh.
“I’m sure it’s the best thing for you to do, but I hate to think of Summerside and the High without you. What will the tower room be like next year without our evenings of confab and argument, and our hours of foolishness, when we turned everybody and everything into a joke?”
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