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Chapter XI


CHAPTER XI

Anne's Impressions of Sunday-School


"Well, how do you like them?" said Marilla.

Anne was standing in the gable room, looking solemnly
at three new dresses spread out on the bed.  One was of
snuffy colored gingham which Marilla had been tempted to
buy from a peddler the preceding summer because it looked
so serviceable; one was of black-and-white checkered
sateen which she had picked up at a bargain counter in the
winter; and one was a stiff print of an ugly blue shade
which she had purchased that week at a Carmody store.

She had made them up herself, and they were all made
alike--plain skirts fulled tightly to plain waists, with
sleeves as plain as waist and skirt and tight as sleeves
could be.

"I'll imagine that I like them," said Anne soberly.

"I don't want you to imagine it," said Marilla, offended.
"Oh, I can see you don't like the dresses!  What is the
matter with them?  Aren't they neat and clean and new?"

"Yes."

"Then why don't you like them?"

"They're--they're not--pretty," said Anne reluctantly.

"Pretty!" Marilla sniffed.  "I didn't trouble my head about
getting pretty dresses for you.  I don't believe in pampering
vanity, Anne, I'll tell you that right off.  Those dresses
are good, sensible, serviceable dresses, without any frills
or furbelows about them, and they're all you'll get this
summer.  The brown gingham and the blue print will do
you for school when you begin to go.  The sateen is for
church and Sunday school.  I'll expect you to keep them
neat and clean and not to tear them.  I should think you'd
be grateful to get most anything after those skimpy wincey
things you've been wearing."

"Oh, I AM grateful," protested Anne.  "But I'd be ever
so much gratefuller if--if you'd made just one of them
with puffed sleeves.  Puffed sleeves are so fashionable now.
It would give me such a thrill, Marilla, just to wear a dress
with puffed sleeves."

"Well, you'll have to do without your thrill.  I hadn't any
material to waste on puffed sleeves.  I think they are
ridiculous-looking things anyhow.  I prefer the plain,
sensible ones."

"But I'd rather look ridiculous when everybody else does than
plain and sensible all by myself," persisted Anne mournfully.

"Trust you for that!  Well, hang those dresses carefully
up in your closet, and then sit down and learn the Sunday
school lesson.  I got a quarterly from Mr. Bell for you and
you'll go to Sunday school tomorrow," said Marilla, disap-
pearing downstairs in high dudgeon.

Anne clasped her hands and looked at the dresses.

"I did hope there would be a white one with puffed
sleeves," she whispered disconsolately.  "I prayed for one,
but I didn't much expect it on that account.  I didn't
suppose God would have time to bother about a little
orphan girl's dress.  I knew I'd just have to depend on
Marilla for it.  Well, fortunately I can imagine that one
of them is of snow-white muslin with lovely lace frills and
three-puffed sleeves."

The next morning warnings of a sick headache prevented
Marilla from going to Sunday-school with Anne.

"You'll have to go down and call for Mrs. Lynde, Anne."
she said.  "She'll see that you get into the right class.
Now, mind you behave yourself properly.  Stay to preaching
afterwards and ask Mrs. Lynde to show you our pew.  Here's
a cent for collection.  Don't stare at people and don't fidget.
I shall expect you to tell me the text when you come home."

Anne started off irreproachable, arrayed in the stiff black-
and-white sateen, which, while decent as regards length
and certainly not open to the charge of skimpiness, contrived
to emphasize every corner and angle of her thin figure.
Her hat was a little, flat, glossy, new sailor, the
extreme plainness of which had likewise much disappointed
Anne, who had permitted herself secret visions of ribbon
and flowers.  The latter, however, were supplied before
Anne reached the main road, for being confronted halfway
down the lane with a golden frenzy of wind-stirred buttercups
and a glory of wild roses, Anne promptly and liberally
garlanded her hat with a heavy wreath of them.  Whatever
other people might have thought of the result it satisfied
Anne, and she tripped gaily down the road, holding her ruddy
head with its decoration of pink and yellow very proudly.

When she had reached Mrs. Lynde's house she found that
lady gone.  Nothing daunted, Anne proceeded onward to the
church alone.  In the porch she found a crowd of little
girls, all more or less gaily attired in whites and blues
and pinks, and all staring with curious eyes at this stranger
in their midst, with her extraordinary head adornment.  Avonlea
little girls had already heard queer stories about Anne.
Mrs. Lynde said she had an awful temper; Jerry Buote, the
hired boy at Green Gables, said she talked all the time
to herself or to the trees and flowers like a crazy girl.
They looked at her and whispered to each other behind their
quarterlies.  Nobody made any friendly advances, then or later on
when the opening exercises were over and Anne found herself in
Miss Rogerson's class.

Miss Rogerson was a middle-aged lady who had taught a
Sunday-school class for twenty years.  Her method of teaching
was to ask the printed questions from the quarterly and
look sternly over its edge at the particular little girl
she thought ought to answer the question.  She looked very
often at Anne, and Anne, thanks to Marilla's drilling,
answered promptly; but it may be questioned if she understood
very much about either question or answer.

She did not think she liked Miss Rogerson, and she felt
very miserable; every other little girl in the class had
puffed sleeves.  Anne felt that life was really not worth
living without puffed sleeves.

"Well, how did you like Sunday school?" Marilla wanted
to know when Anne came home.  Her wreath having faded,
Anne had discarded it in the lane, so Marilla was spared
the knowledge of that for a time.

"I didn't like it a bit.  It was horrid."

"Anne Shirley!" said Marilla rebukingly.

Anne sat down on the rocker with a long sigh, kissed one of
Bonny's leaves, and waved her hand to a blossoming fuchsia.

"They might have been lonesome while I was away," she
explained.  "And now about the Sunday school.  I behaved
well, just as you told me.  Mrs. Lynde was gone, but I
went right on myself.  I went into the church, with a
lot of other little girls, and I sat in the corner of a pew
by the window while the opening exercises went on.  Mr. Bell
made an awfully long prayer.  I would have been dreadfully
tired before he got through if I hadn't been sitting by
that window.  But it looked right out on the Lake of
Shining Waters, so I just gazed at that and imagined all
sorts of splendid things."

"You shouldn't have done anything of the sort.  You should
have listened to Mr. Bell."

"But he wasn't talking to me," protested Anne.  "He was
talking to God and he didn't seem to be very much inter-
ested in it, either.  I think he thought God was too far off
though.  There was long row of white birches hanging over
the lake and the sunshine fell down through them, 'way, 'way
down, deep into the water.  Oh, Marilla, it was like a
beautiful dream!  It gave me a thrill and I just said,
`Thank you for it, God,' two or three times."

"Not out loud, I hope," said Marilla anxiously.

"Oh, no, just under my breath.  Well, Mr. Bell did get through
at last and they told me to go into the classroom with Miss
Rogerson's class.  There were nine other girls in it.
They all had puffed sleeves.  I tried to imagine mine
were puffed, too, but I couldn't.  Why couldn't I?  It was
as easy as could be to imagine they were puffed when I was
alone in the east gable, but it was awfully hard there
among the others who had really truly puffs."

"You shouldn't have been thinking about your sleeves in
Sunday school.  You should have been attending to the lesson.
I hope you knew it."

"Oh, yes; and I answered a lot of questions.  Miss Rogerson
asked ever so many.  I don't think it was fair for her
to do all the asking.  There were lots I wanted to ask her,
but I didn't like to because I didn't think she was a kindred
spirit.  Then all the other little girls recited a paraphrase.
She asked me if I knew any.  I told her I didn't, but I could
recite, `The Dog at His Master's Grave' if she liked.
That's in the Third Royal Reader.  It isn't a really truly
religious piece of poetry, but it's so sad and melancholy
that it might as well be.  She said it wouldn't do and she
told me to learn the nineteenth paraphrase for next Sunday.
I read it over in church afterwards and it's splendid.  There
are two lines in particular that just thrill me.

     "`Quick as the slaughtered squadrons fell
      In Midian's evil day.'

I don't know what `squadrons' means nor `Midian,' either,
but it sounds SO tragical.  I can hardly wait until next
Sunday to recite it.  I'll practice it all the week.  After
Sunday school I asked Miss Rogerson--because Mrs. Lynde was
too far away--to show me your pew.  I sat just as still as
I could and the text was Revelations, third chapter, second
and third verses.  It was a very long text.  If I was a
minister I'd pick the short, snappy ones.  The sermon was
awfully long, too.  I suppose the minister had to match it
to the text.  I didn't think he was a bit interesting.  The
trouble with him seems to be that he hasn't enough imagination.
I didn't listen to him very much.  I just let my thoughts
run and I thought of the most surprising things."

Marilla felt helplessly that all this should be sternly
reproved, but she was hampered by the undeniable fact
that some of the things Anne had said, especially about the
minister's sermons and Mr. Bell's prayers, were what she
herself had really thought deep down in her heart for
years, but had never given expression to.  It almost seemed
to her that those secret, unuttered, critical thoughts
had suddenly taken visible and accusing shape and form in
the person of this outspoken morsel of neglected humanity.

Lucy Maud Montgomery