سال سوم - فصل 07

مجموعه: آن شرلی با موهای قرمز / : آن در ویندی پاپلز / فصل 36

آن شرلی با موهای قرمز

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سال سوم - فصل 07

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7 Tuesday was a gloomy day in late November. Occasional cold, gusty showers drifted over the hills. The world seemed a dreary outlived place, seen through a gray drizzle.

“Poor Dovie hasn’t a very nice day for her wedding,” thought Anne. “Suppose . . . suppose . . .” she quaked and shivered . . . “suppose it doesn’t turn out well, after all. It will be my fault. Dovie would never have agreed to it if I hadn’t advised her to. And suppose Franklin Westcott never forgives her. Anne Shirley, stop this!

The weather is all that’s the matter with you.”

By night the rain had ceased but the air was cold and raw and the sky lowering.

Anne was in her tower room, correcting school papers, with Dusty Miller coiled up under her stove. There came a thunderous knock at the front door.

Anne ran down. Rebecca Dew poked an alarmed head out of her bedroom door.

Anne motioned her back.

“It’s some one at the front door!” said Rebecca hollowly.

“It’s all right, Rebecca dear. At least, I’m afraid it’s all wrong . . . but, anyway, it’s only Jarvis Morrow. I saw him from the side tower window and I know he wants to see me.”

“Jarvis Morrow!” Rebecca went back and shut her door. “This is the last straw.”

“Jarvis, whatever is the matter?”

“Dovie hasn’t come,” said Jarvis wildly. “We’ve waited hours . . . the minister’s there . . . and my friends . . . and Julia has supper ready . . . and Dovie hasn’t come. I waited for her at the end of the lane till I was half crazy. I didn’t dare go down to the house because I didn’t know what had happened. That old brute of a Franklin Westcott may have come back. Aunt Maggie may have locked her up.

But I’ve got to know. Anne, you must go to Elmcroft and find out why she hasn’t come.”

“Me?” said Anne incredulously and ungrammatically.199

“Yes, you. There’s no one else I can trust . . . no one else who knows. Oh, Anne, don’t fail me now. You’ve backed us up right along. Dovie says you are the only real friend she has. It isn’t late . . . only nine. Do go.”

“And be chewed up by the bulldog?” said Anne sarcastically.

“That old dog!” said Jarvis contemptuously. “He wouldn’t say boo to a tramp.

You don’t suppose I was afraid of the dog, do you? Besides, he’s always shut up at night. I simply don’t want to make any trouble for Dovie at home if they’ve found out. Anne, please!”

“I suppose I’m in for it,” said Anne with a shrug of despair.

Jarvis drove her to the long lane of Elmcroft, but she would not let him come further.

“As you say, it might complicate matters for Dovie in case her father has come home.”

Anne hurried down the long, tree-bordered lane. The moon occasionally broke through the windy clouds, but for the most part it was gruesomely dark and she was not a little dubious about the dog.

There seemed to be only one light in Elmcroft . . . shining from the kitchen window. Aunt Maggie herself opened the side door to Anne. Aunt Maggie was a very old sister of Franklin Westcott’s, a little bent, wrinkled woman who had never been considered very bright mentally, though she was an excellent housekeeper.

“Aunt Maggie, is Dovie home?”

“Dovie’s in bed,” said Aunt Maggie stolidly.

“In bed? Is she sick?”

“Not as I knows on. She seemed to be in a dither all day. After supper she says she was tired and ups and goes to bed.”

“I must see her for a moment, Aunt Maggie. I . . . I just want a little important information.”

“Better go up to her room then. It’s the one on the right side as you go up.”200 Aunt Maggie gestured to the stairs and waddled out to the kitchen.

Dovie sat up as Anne walked in, rather unceremoniously, after a hurried rap. As could be seen by the light of a tiny candle, Dovie was in tears, but her tears only exasperated Anne.

“Dovie Westcott, did you forget that you promised to marry Jarvis Morrow tonight . . . tonight?”

“No . . . no . . .” whimpered Dovie. “Oh, Anne, I’m so unhappy . . . I’ve put in such a dreadful day. You can never, never know what I’ve gone through.”

“I know what poor Jarvis has gone through, waiting for two hours at that lane in the cold and drizzle,” said Anne mercilessly.

“Is he . . . is he very angry, Anne?”

“Just what you could notice” . . . bitingly.

“Oh, Anne, I just got frightened. I never slept one wink last night. I couldn’t go through with it . . . I couldn’t. I . . . there’s really something disgraceful about eloping, Anne. And I wouldn’t get any nice presents . . . well, not many, anyhow.

I’ve always wanted to be m . . . m . . . arried in church . . . with lovely decorations . . . and a white veil and dress . . . and s . . . s . . . ilver slippers!”

“Dovie Westcott, get right out of that bed . . . at once . . . and get dressed . . . and come with me.”

“Anne . . . it’s too late now.”

“It isn’t too late. And it’s now or never . . . you must know that, Dovie, if you’ve a grain of sense. You must know Jarvis Morrow will never speak to you again if you make a fool of him like this.”

“Oh, Anne, he’ll forgive me when he knows . . .”

“He won’t. I know Jarvis Morrow. He isn’t going to let you play indefinitely with his life. Dovie, do you want me to drag you bodily out of bed?”

Dovie shuddered and sighed.

“I haven’t any suitable dress . . .”201

“You’ve half-a-dozen pretty dresses. Put on your rose taffeta.”

“And I haven’t any trousseau. The Morrows will always cast that up to me. . . .”

“You can get one afterwards. Dovie, didn’t you weigh all these things in the balance before?”

“No . . . no . . . that’s just the trouble. I only began to think of them last night.

And Father . . . you don’t know Father, Anne. . . .”

“Dovie. I’ll give you just ten minutes to get dressed!”

Dovie was dressed in the specified time.

“This dress is g . . . g . . . getting too tight for me,” she sobbed as Anne hooked her up. “If I get much fatter I don’t suppose Jarvis will l . . . l . . . love me. I wish I was tall and slim and pale, like you, Anne. Oh, Anne, what if Aunt Maggie hears us!”

“She won’t. She’s shut in the kitchen and you know she’s a little deaf. Here’s your hat and coat and I’ve tumbled a few things into this bag.”

“Oh, my heart is fluttering so. Do I look terrible, Anne?”

“You look lovely,” said Anne sincerely. Dovie’s satin skin was rose and cream and all her tears hadn’t spoiled her eyes. But Jarvis couldn’t see her eyes in the dark and he was just a little annoyed with his adored fair one and rather cool during the drive to town.

“For Heaven’s sake, Dovie, don’t look so scared over having to marry me,” he said impatiently as she came down the stairs of the Stevens house. “And don’t cry . . . it will make your nose swell. It’s nearly ten o’clock and we’ve got to catch the eleven o’clock train.”

Dovie was quite all right as soon as she found herself irrevocably married to Jarvis. What Anne rather cattishly described in a letter to Gilbert as “the honeymoon look” was already on her face.

“Anne, darling, we owe it all to you. We’ll never forget it, will we, Jarvis? And, oh, Anne darling, will you do just one more thing for me? Please break the news to Father. He’ll be home early tomorrow evening . . . and somebody has got to tell him. You can smooth him over if anybody can. Please do your best to get him to forgive me.”202

Anne felt she rather needed some smoothing-over herself just then; but she also felt rather uneasily responsible for the outcome of the affair, so she gave the required promise.

“Of course he’ll be terrible . . . simply terrible, Anne . . . but he can’t kill you,”

said Dovie comfortingly. “Oh, Anne, you don’t know . . .you can’t realize . . . how safe I feel with Jarvis.”

When Anne got home Rebecca Dew had reached the point where she had to satisfy her curiosity or go mad. She followed Anne to the tower room in her night-dress, with a square of flannel wrapped round her head, and heard the whole story.

“Well, I suppose this is what you might call ‘life,’” she said sarcastically. “But I’m real glad Franklin Westcott has got his come-uppance at last, and so will Mrs.

Captain MacComber be. But I don’t envy you the job of breaking the news to him. He’ll rage and utter vain things. If I was in your shoes, Miss Shirley, I wouldn’t sleep one blessed wink tonight.”

“I feel that it won’t be a very pleasant experience,” agreed Anne ruefully.

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