سال سوم - فصل 14

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سال سوم - فصل 14

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“Windy Poplars,

“Spook’s Lane,

“(For the last time),

“June 27th.


“I’ve come to another bend in the road. I’ve written you a good many letters in this old tower room these past three years. I suppose this is the last one I will write you for a long, long time. Because after this there won’t be any need of letters. In just a few weeks now we’ll belong to each other forever . . . we’ll be together. Just think of it . . . being together . . . talking, walking, eating.

dreaming, planning together . . . sharing each other’s wonderful moments . . . making a home out of our house of dreams. Our house! Doesn’t that sound ‘mystic and wonderful,’ Gilbert? I’ve been building dream houses all my life and now one of them is going to come true. As to whom I really want to share my house of dreams with . . . well, I’ll tell you that at four o’clock next year.

“Three years sounded endless at the beginning, Gilbert. And now they are gone like a watch in the night. They have been very happy years . . . except for those first few months with the Pringles. After that, life has seemed to flow by like a pleasant golden river. And my old feud with the Pringles seems like a dream.

They like me now for myself . . . they have forgotten they ever hated me. Cora Pringle, one of the Widow Pringle’s brood, brought me a bouquet of roses yesterday and twisted round the stems was a bit of paper bearing the legend, ‘To the sweetest teacher in the whole world.’ Fancy that for a Pringle!

“Jen is broken-hearted because I am leaving. I shall watch Jen’s career with interest. She is brilliant and rather unpredictable. One thing is certain . . . she will have no commonplace existence. She can’t look so much like Becky Sharp for nothing.

“Lewis Allen is going to McGill. Sophy Sinclair is going to Queen’s. Then she means to teach until she has saved up enough money to go to the School of Dramatic Expression in Kingsport. Myra Pringle is going to ‘enter society’ in the fall. She is so pretty that it won’t matter a bit that she wouldn’t know a past perfect participle if she met it on the street.231

“And there is no longer a small neighbor on the other side of the vine-hung gate.

Little Elizabeth has gone forever from that sunshineless house . . . gone into her Tomorrow. If I were staying on in Summerside I should break my heart, missing her. But as it is, I’m glad. Pierce Grayson took her away with him. He is not going back to Paris but will be living in Boston. Elizabeth cried bitterly at our parting but she is so happy with her father that I feel sure her tears will soon be dried. Mrs. Campbell and the Woman were very dour over the whole affair and put all the blame on me . . . which I accept cheerfully and unrepentantly.

“‘She has had a good home here,’ said Mrs. Campbell majestically.

“‘Where she never heard a single word of affection,’ I thought but did not say.

“‘I think I’ll be Betty all the time now, darling Miss Shirley,’ were Elizabeth’s last words. ‘Except,’ she called back, ‘when I’m lonesome for you, and then I’ll be Lizzie.’

“‘Don’t you ever dare to be Lizzie, no matter what happens,’ I said.

“We threw kisses to each other as long as we could see, and I came up to my tower room with tears in my eyes. She’s been so sweet, the dear little golden thing. She always seemed to me like a little aeolian harp, so responsive to the tiniest breath of affection that blew her way. It’s been an adventure to be her friend. I hope Pierce Grayson realizes what a daughter he has . . . and I think he does. He sounded very grateful and repentant.

“‘I didn’t realize she was no longer a baby,’ he said, ‘nor how unsympathetic her environment was. Thank you a thousand times for all you have done for her.’

“I had our map of fairyland framed and gave it to little Elizabeth for a farewell keepsake.

“I’m sorry to leave Windy Poplars. Of course, I’m really a bit tired of living in a trunk, but I’ve loved it here . . . loved my cool morning hours at my window . . . loved my bed into which I have veritably climbed every night . . . loved my blue doughnut cushion . . . loved all the winds that blew. I’m afraid I’ll never be quite so chummy with the winds again as I’ve been here. And shall I ever have a room again from which I can see both the rising and the setting sun?

“I’ve finished with Windy Poplars and the years that have been linked with it.

And I’ve kept the faith. I’ve never betrayed Aunt Chatty’s hidy-hole to Aunt Kate or the buttermilk secret of each to either of the others.

“I think they are all sorry to see me go . . . and I’m glad of it. It would be terrible to think they were glad I am going . . . or that they would not miss me a little when I’m gone. Rebecca Dew has been making all my favorite dishes for a week now . . . she even devoted ten eggs to angel-cake twice . . . and using the ‘company’ china. And Aunt Chatty’s soft brown eyes brim over whenever I mention my departure. Even Dusty Miller seems to gaze at me reproachfully as he sits about on his little haunches.

“I had a long letter from Katherine last week. She has a gift for writing letters.

She has got a position as private secretary to a globe-trotting M. P. What a fascinating phrase ‘globe-trotting’ is! A person who would say, ‘Let’s go to Egypt,’

as one might say, ‘Let’s go to Charlottetown’ . . . and go! That life will just suit Katherine.

“She persists in ascribing all her changed outlook and prospects to me. ‘I wish I could tell you what you’ve brought into my life,’ she wrote. I suppose I did help.

And it wasn’t easy at first. She seldom said anything without a sting in it, and listened to any suggestion I made in regard to the school work with an air of disdainfully humoring a lunatic. But somehow, I’ve forgotten it all. It was just born of her secret bitterness against life.

“Everybody has been inviting me to supper . . . even Pauline Gibson. Old Mrs. Gibson died a few months ago, so Pauline dared do it. And I’ve been to Tomgallon House for another supper with Miss Minerva of that ilk and another one-sided conversation. But I had a very good time, eating the delicious meal Miss Minerva provided, and she had a good time airing a few more tragedies.

She couldn’t quite hide the fact that she was sorry for any one who was not a Tomgallon, but she paid me several nice compliments and gave me a lovely ring set with an aquamarine . . . a moonlight blend of blue and green . . . that her father had given her on her eighteenth birthday . . . ‘when I was young and handsome, dear . . . quite handsome. I may say that now, I suppose.’ I was glad it belonged to Miss Minerva and not to the wife of Uncle Alexander. I’m sure I could never have worn it if it had. It is very beautiful. There is a mysterious charm about the jewels of the sea.

“Tomgallon House is certainly very splendid, especially now when its grounds are all a-leaf and a-flower. But I wouldn’t give my as yet unfounded house of dreams for Tomgallon House and grounds with the ghosts thrown in.

“Not but what a ghost might be a nice, aristocratic sort of thing to have around.

My only quarrel with Spook’s Lane is that there are no spooks.233 “I went to my old graveyard yesterday evening for a last prowl . . . walked all round it and wondered if Herbert Pringle occasionally chuckled to himself in his grave. And I’m saying good-by tonight to the old Storm King, with the sunset on its brow, and my little winding valley full of dusk.

“I’m a wee bit tired after a month of exams and farewells and ‘last things.’ For a week after I get back to Green Gables I’m going to be lazy . . . do absolutely nothing but run free in a green world of summer loveliness. I’ll dream by the Dryad’s Bubble in the twilight. I’ll drift on the Lake of Shining Waters in a shallop shaped from a moonbeam . . . or in Mr. Barry’s flat, if moonbeam shallops are not in season. I’ll gather starflowers and June bells in the Haunted Wood. I’ll find plots of wild strawberries in Mr. Harrison’s hill pasture. I’ll join the dance of fireflies in Lover’s Lane and visit Hester Gray’s old, forgotten garden . . . and sit out on the back door-step under the stars and listen to the sea calling in its sleep.

“And when the week is ended you will be home . . . and I won’t want anything else.”

When the time came the next day for Anne to say good-by to the folks at Windy Poplars, Rebecca Dew was not on hand. Instead, Aunt Kate gravely handed Anne a letter.

“Dear Miss Shirley,” wrote Rebecca Dew, “I am writing this to bid my farewell because I cannot trust myself to say it. For three years you have sojourned under our roof. The fortunate possessor of a cheerful spirit and a natural taste for the gaieties of youth, you have never surrendered yourself to the vain pleasures of the giddy and fickle crowd. You have conducted yourself on all occasions and to every one, especially the one who pens these lines, with the most refined delicacy. You have always been most considerate of my feelings and I find a heavy gloom on my spirits at the thought of your departure. But we must not repine at what Providence has ordained. (First Samuel, 29th and 18th.) “You will be lamented by all in Summerside who had the privilege of knowing you, and the homage of one faithful though humble heart will ever be yours, and my prayer will ever be for your happiness and welfare in this world and your eternal felicity in that which is to come.234

“Something whispers to me that you will not be long ‘Miss Shirley’ but that you will erelong be linked together in a union of souls with the choice of your heart, who, I understand from what I have heard, is a very exceptional young man. The writer, possessed of but few personal charms and beginning to feel her age (not but what I’m good for a good few years yet), has never permitted herself to cherish any matrimonial aspirations. But she does not deny herself the pleasure of an interest in the nuptials of her friends and may I express a fervent wish that your married life will be one of continued and uninterrupted Bliss? (Only do not expect too much of a man.)

“My esteem and, may I say, my affection for you will never lessen, and once in a while when you have nothing better to do will you kindly remember that there is such a person as

“Your obedient servant,


“P.S. God bless you.”

Anne’s eyes were misty as she folded the letter up. Though she strongly suspected Rebecca Dew had got most of her phrases out of her favorite “Book of Deportment and Etiquette,” that did not make them any the less sincere, and the P. S. certainly came straight from Rebecca Dew’s affectionate heart.

“Tell dear Rebecca Dew I’ll never forget her and that I’m coming back to see you all every summer.”

“We have memories of you that nothing can take away,” sobbed Aunt Chatty.

“Nothing,” said Aunt Kate, emphatically.

But as Anne drove away from Windy Poplars the last message from it was a large white bath-towel fluttering frantically from the tower window. Rebecca Dew was waving it.

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