Chapter XVI





CHAPTER XVI

Diana Is Invited to Tea with Tragic Results


OCTOBER was a beautiful month at Green Gables, when the birches
in the hollow turned as golden as sunshine and the maples behind
the orchard were royal crimson and the wild cherry trees along
the lane put on the loveliest shades of dark red and bronzy
green, while the fields sunned themselves in aftermaths.

Anne reveled in the world of color about her.

"Oh, Marilla," she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing
in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs" 'I'm so glad I live in
a world where there are Octobers.  It would be terrible if we
just skipped from September to November, wouldn't it?  Look at
these maple branches.  Don't they give you a thrill--several
thrills?  I'm going to decorate my room with them."

"Messy things," said Marilla, whose aesthetic sense was not
noticeably developed.  "You clutter up your room entirely too
much with out-of-doors stuff, Anne.  Bedrooms were made to sleep
in."

"Oh, and dream in too, Marilla.  And you know one can dream so
much better in a room where there are pretty things.  I'm going
to put these boughs in the old blue jug and set them on my
table."

"Mind you don't drop leaves all over the stairs then.  I'm going
on a meeting of the Aid Society at Carmody this afternoon, Anne,
and I won't likely be home before dark.  You'll have to get
Matthew and Jerry their supper, so mind you don't forget to put
the tea to draw until you sit down at the table as you did last
time."

"It was dreadful of me to forget," said Anne apologetically, "but
that was the afternoon I was trying to think of a name for Violet
Vale and it crowded other things out.  Matthew was so good.  He
never scolded a bit.  He put the tea down himself and said we
could wait awhile as well as not.  And I told him a lovely fairy
story while we were waiting, so he didn't find the time long at
all.  It was a beautiful fairy story, Marilla.  I forgot the end
of it, so I made up an end for it myself and Matthew said he
couldn't tell where the join came in."

"Matthew would think it all right, Anne, if you took a notion to
get up and have dinner in the middle of the night.  But you keep
your wits about you this time.  And--I don't really know if I'm
doing right--it may make you more addlepated than ever--but you
can ask Diana to come over and spend the afternoon with you and
have tea here."

"Oh, Marilla!" Anne clasped her hands.  "How perfectly lovely!
You ARE able to imagine things after all or else you'd never have
understood how I've longed for that very thing.  It will seem so
nice and grown-uppish.  No fear of my forgetting to put the tea
to draw when I have company.  Oh, Marilla, can I use the rosebud
spray tea set?"

"No, indeed! The rosebud tea set! Well, what next?  You know I
never use that except for the minister or the Aids.  You'll put
down the old brown tea set.  But you can open the little yellow
crock of cherry preserves.  It's time it was being used anyhow--I
believe it's beginning to work.  And you can cut some fruit cake
and have some of the cookies and snaps."

"I can just imagine myself sitting down at the head of the table
and pouring out the tea," said Anne, shutting her eyes
ecstatically.  "And asking Diana if she takes sugar! I know she
doesn't but of course I'll ask her just as if I didn't know.  And
then pressing her to take another piece of fruit cake and another
helping of preserves.  Oh, Marilla, it's a wonderful sensation
just to think of it.  Can I take her into the spare room to lay
off her hat when she comes?  And then into the parlor to sit?"

"No.  The sitting room will do for you and your company.  But
there's a bottle half full of raspberry cordial that was left
over from the church social the other night.  It's on the second
shelf of the sitting-room closet and you and Diana can have it if
you like, and a cooky to eat with it along in the afternoon, for
I daresay Matthew'll be late coming in to tea since he's hauling
potatoes to the vessel."

Anne flew down to the hollow, past the Dryad's Bubble and up the
spruce path to Orchard Slope, to ask Diana to tea.  As a result
just after Marilla had driven off to Carmody, Diana came over,
dressed in HER second-best dress and looking exactly as it is
proper to look when asked out to tea.  At other times she was
wont to run into the kitchen without knocking; but now she
knocked primly at the front door.  And when Anne, dressed in her
second best, as primly opened it, both little girls shook hands
as gravely as if they had never met before.  This unnatural
solemnity lasted until after Diana had been taken to the east
gable to lay off her hat and then had sat for ten minutes in the
sitting room, toes in position.

"How is your mother?" inquired Anne politely, just as if she had
not seen Mrs. Barry picking apples that morning in excellent
health and spirits.

"She is very well, thank you.  I suppose Mr. Cuthbert is hauling
potatoes to the LILY SANDS this afternoon, is he?" said Diana,
who had ridden down to Mr. Harmon Andrews's that morning in
Matthew's cart.

"Yes.  Our potato crop is very good this year.  I hope your
father's crop is good too."

"It is fairly good, thank you.  Have you picked many of your
apples yet?"

"Oh, ever so many," said Anne forgetting to be dignified and
jumping up quickly.  "Let's go out to the orchard and get some of
the Red Sweetings, Diana.  Marilla says we can have all that are
left on the tree.  Marilla is a very generous woman.  She said we
could have fruit cake and cherry preserves for tea.  But it isn't
good manners to tell your company what you are going to give them
to eat, so I won't tell you what she said we could have to drink.
Only it begins with an R and a C and it's bright red color.  I
love bright red drinks, don't you?  They taste twice as good as
any other color."

The orchard, with its great sweeping boughs that bent to the
ground with fruit, proved so delightful that the little girls
spent most of the afternoon in it, sitting in a grassy corner
where the frost had spared the green and the mellow autumn
sunshine lingered warmly, eating apples and talking as hard as
they could.  Diana had much to tell Anne of what went on in
school.  She had to sit with Gertie Pye and she hated it; Gertie
squeaked her pencil all the time and it just made
her--Diana's--blood run cold; Ruby Gillis had charmed all her
warts away, true's you live, with a magic pebble that old Mary
Joe from the Creek gave her.  You had to rub the warts with the
pebble and then throw it away over your left shoulder at the time
of the new moon and the warts would all go.  Charlie Sloane's
name was written up with Em White's on the porch wall and Em
White was AWFUL MAD about it; Sam Boulter had "sassed" Mr.
Phillips in class and Mr. Phillips whipped him and Sam's father
came down to the school and dared Mr. Phillips to lay a hand on
one of his children again; and Mattie Andrews had a new red hood
and a blue crossover with tassels on it and the airs she put on
about it were perfectly sickening; and Lizzie Wright didn't speak
to Mamie Wilson because Mamie Wilson's grown-up sister had cut
out Lizzie Wright's grown-up sister with her beau; and everybody
missed Anne so and wished she's come to school again; and Gilbert
Blythe--

But Anne didn't want to hear about Gilbert Blythe.  She jumped up
hurriedly and said suppose they go in and have some raspberry
cordial.

Anne looked on the second shelf of the room pantry but there was
no bottle of raspberry cordial there .  Search revealed it away
back on the top shelf.  Anne put it on a tray and set it on the
table with a tumbler.

"Now, please help yourself, Diana," she said politely.  "I don't
believe I'll have any just now.  I don't feel as if I wanted any
after all those apples."

Diana poured herself out a tumblerful, looked at its bright-red
hue admiringly, and then sipped it daintily.

"That's awfully nice raspberry cordial, Anne," she said.  "I
didn't know raspberry cordial was so nice."

"I'm real glad you like it.  Take as much as you want.  I'm going
to run out and stir the fire up.  There are so many
responsibilities on a person's mind when they're keeping house,
isn't there?"

When Anne came back from the kitchen Diana was drinking her
second glassful of cordial; and, being entreated thereto by Anne,
she offered no particular objection to the drinking of a third.
The tumblerfuls were generous ones and the raspberry cordial was
certainly very nice.

"The nicest I ever drank," said Diana.  "It's ever so much nicer
than Mrs. Lynde's, although she brags of hers so much.  It
doesn't taste a bit like hers."

"I should think Marilla's raspberry cordial would prob'ly be much
nicer than Mrs. Lynde's," said Anne loyally.  "Marilla is a
famous cook.  She is trying to teach me to cook but I assure you,
Diana, it is uphill work.  There's so little scope for
imagination in cookery.  You just have to go by rules.  The last
time I made a cake I forgot to put the flour in.  I was thinking
the loveliest story about you and me, Diana.  I thought you were
desperately ill with smallpox and everybody deserted you, but I
went boldly to your bedside and nursed you back to life; and then
I took the smallpox and died and I was buried under those poplar
trees in the graveyard and you planted a rosebush by my grave and
watered it with your tears; and you never, never forgot the
friend of your youth who sacrificed her life for you.  Oh, it was
such a pathetic tale, Diana.  The tears just rained down over my
cheeks while I mixed the cake.  But I forgot the flour and the
cake was a dismal failure.  Flour is so essential to cakes, you
know.  Marilla was very cross and I don't wonder.  I'm a great
trial to her.  She was terribly mortified about the pudding sauce
last week.  We had a plum pudding for dinner on Tuesday and there
was half the pudding and a pitcherful of sauce left over.
Marilla said there was enough for another dinner and told me to
set it on the pantry shelf and cover it.  I meant to cover it
just as much as could be, Diana, but when I carried it in I was
imagining I was a nun--of course I'm a Protestant but I imagined
I was a Catholic--taking the veil to bury a broken heart in
cloistered seclusion; and I forgot all about covering the pudding
sauce.  I thought of it next morning and ran to the pantry.
Diana, fancy if you can my extreme horror at finding a mouse
drowned in that pudding sauce! I lifted the mouse out with a
spoon and threw it out in the yard and then I washed the spoon in
three waters.  Marilla was out milking and I fully intended to
ask her when she came in if I'd give the sauce to the pigs; but
when she did come in I was imagining that I was a frost fairy
going through the woods turning the trees red and yellow,
whichever they wanted to be, so I never thought about the
pudding sauce again and Marilla sent me out to pick apples.
Well, Mr. and Mrs. Chester Ross from Spencervale came here that
morning.  You know they are very stylish people, especially Mrs.
Chester Ross.  When Marilla called me in dinner was all ready and
everybody was at the table.  I tried to be as polite and
dignified as I could be, for I wanted Mrs. Chester Ross to think
I was a ladylike little girl even if I wasn't pretty.  Everything
went right until I saw Marilla coming with the plum pudding in
one hand and the pitcher of pudding sauce WARMED UP, in the other.
Diana, that was a terrible moment.  I remembered everything and I
just stood up in my place and shrieked out `Marilla, you mustn't
use that pudding sauce.  There was a mouse drowned in it.  I
forgot to tell you before.' Oh, Diana, I shall never forget that
awful moment if I live to be a hundred.  Mrs. Chester Ross just
LOOKED at me and I thought I would sink through the floor with
mortification.  She is such a perfect housekeeper and fancy what
she must have thought of us.  Marilla turned red as fire but she
never said a word--then.  She just carried that sauce and
pudding out and brought in some strawberry preserves.  She even
offered me some, but I couldn't swallow a mouthful.  It was like
heaping coals of fire on my head.  After Mrs. Chester Ross went
away, Marilla gave me a dreadful scolding.  Why, Diana, what is
the matter?"

Diana had stood up very unsteadily; then she sat down again,
putting her hands to her head.

"I'm--I'm awful sick," she said, a little thickly.  "I--I--must go
right home."

"Oh, you mustn't dream of going home without your tea," cried
Anne in distress.  "I'll get it right off--I'll go and put the
tea down this very minute."

"I must go home," repeated Diana, stupidly but determinedly.

"Let me get you a lunch anyhow," implored Anne.  "Let me give you
a bit of fruit cake and some of the cherry preserves.  Lie down
on the sofa for a little while and you'll be better.  Where do
you feel bad?"

"I must go home," said Diana, and that was all she would say.  In
vain Anne pleaded.

"I never heard of company going home without tea," she mourned.
"Oh, Diana, do you suppose that it's possible you're really
taking the smallpox?  If you are I'll go and nurse you, you can
depend on that.  I'll never forsake you.  But I do wish you'd
stay till after tea.  Where do you feel bad?"

"I'm awful dizzy," said Diana.

And indeed, she walked very dizzily.  Anne, with tears of
disappointment in her eyes, got Diana's hat and went with her as
far as the Barry yard fence.  Then she wept all the way back to
Green Gables, where she sorrowfully put the remainder of the
raspberry cordial back into the pantry and got tea ready for
Matthew and Jerry, with all the zest gone out of the performance.

The next day was Sunday and as the rain poured down in torrents
from dawn till dusk Anne did not stir abroad from Green Gables.
Monday afternoon Marilla sent her down to Mrs. Lynde's on an
errand.  In a very short space of time Anne came flying back up
the lane with tears rolling down her cheeks.  Into the kitchen
she dashed and flung herself face downward on the sofa in an
agony.

"Whatever has gone wrong now, Anne?" queried Marilla in doubt and
dismay.  "I do hope you haven't gone and been saucy to Mrs. Lynde
again."

No answer from Anne save more tears and stormier sobs!

"Anne Shirley, when I ask you a question I want to be answered.
Sit right up this very minute and tell me what you are crying
about."

Anne sat up, tragedy personified.

"Mrs. Lynde was up to see Mrs. Barry today and Mrs. Barry was in
an awful state," she wailed.  "She says that I set Diana DRUNK
Saturday and sent her home in a disgraceful condition.  And she
says I must be a thoroughly bad, wicked little girl and she's
never, never going to let Diana play with me again.  Oh, Marilla,
I'm just overcome with woe."

Marilla stared in blank amazement.

"Set Diana drunk!" she said when she found her voice.  "Anne are
you or Mrs. Barry crazy?  What on earth did you give her?"

"Not a thing but raspberry cordial," sobbed Anne.  "I never
thought raspberry cordial would set people drunk, Marilla--not
even if they drank three big tumblerfuls as Diana did.  Oh, it
sounds so--so--like Mrs. Thomas's husband! But I didn't mean to
set her drunk."

"Drunk fiddlesticks!" said Marilla, marching to the sitting room
pantry.  There on the shelf was a bottle which she at once
recognized as one containing some of her three-year-old homemade
currant wine for which she was celebrated in Avonlea, although
certain of the stricter sort, Mrs. Barry among them, disapproved
strongly of it.  And at the same time Marilla recollected that
she had put the bottle of raspberry cordial down in the cellar
instead of in the pantry as she had told Anne.

She went back to the kitchen with the wine bottle in her hand.
Her face was twitching in spite of herself.

"Anne, you certainly have a genius for getting into trouble.  You
went and gave Diana currant wine instead of raspberry cordial.
Didn't you know the difference yourself?"

"I never tasted it," said Anne.  "I thought it was the cordial.
I meant to be so--so--hospitable.  Diana got awfully sick and had
to go home.  Mrs. Barry told Mrs. Lynde she was simply dead
drunk.  She just laughed silly-like when her mother asked her
what was the matter and went to sleep and slept for hours.  Her
mother smelled her breath and knew she was drunk.  She had a
fearful headache all day yesterday.  Mrs. Barry is so indignant.
She will never believe but what I did it on purpose."

"I should think she would better punish Diana for being so greedy
as to drink three glassfuls of anything," said Marilla shortly.
"Why, three of those big glasses would have made her sick even if
it had only been cordial.  Well, this story will be a nice handle
for those folks who are so down on me for making currant wine,
although I haven't made any for three years ever since I found
out that the minister didn't approve.  I just kept that bottle
for sickness.  There, there, child, don't cry.  I can't see as
you were to blame although I'm sorry it happened so."

"I must cry," said Anne.  "My heart is broken.  The stars in their
courses fight against me, Marilla.  Diana and I are parted forever.
Oh, Marilla, I little dreamed of this when first we swore our vows
of friendship."

"Don't be foolish, Anne.  Mrs. Barry will think better of it
when she finds you're not to blame.  I suppose she thinks you've
done it for a silly joke or something of that sort.  You'd best
go up this evening and tell her how it was."

"My courage fails me at the thought of facing Diana's injured
mother," sighed Anne.  "I wish you'd go, Marilla.  You're so much
more dignified than I am.  Likely she'd listen to you quicker
than to me."

"Well, I will," said Marilla, reflecting that it would probably
be the wiser course.  "Don't cry any more, Anne.  It will be all
right."

Marilla had changed her mind about it being all right by the time
she got back from Orchard Slope.  Anne was watching for her
coming and flew to the porch door to meet her.

"Oh, Marilla, I know by your face that it's been no use," she
said sorrowfully.  "Mrs. Barry won't forgive me?"

"Mrs. Barry indeed!" snapped Marilla.  "Of all the unreasonable
women I ever saw she's the worst.  I told her it was all a
mistake and you weren't to blame, but she just simply didn't
believe me.  And she rubbed it well in about my currant wine and
how I'd always said it couldn't have the least effect on anybody.
I just told her plainly that currant wine wasn't meant to be
drunk three tumblerfuls at a time and that if a child I had to do
with was so greedy I'd sober her up with a right good spanking."

Marilla whisked into the kitchen, grievously disturbed, leaving a
very much distracted little soul in the porch behind her.
Presently Anne stepped out bareheaded into the chill autumn dusk;
very determinedly and steadily she took her way down through the
sere clover field over the log bridge and up through the spruce
grove, lighted by a pale little moon hanging low over the western
woods.  Mrs. Barry, coming to the door in answer to a timid
knock, found a white-lipped eager-eyed suppliant on the doorstep.

Her face hardened.  Mrs. Barry was a woman of strong prejudices
and dislikes, and her anger was of the cold, sullen sort which is
always hardest to overcome.  To do her justice, she really
believed Anne had made Diana drunk out of sheer malice prepense,???
and she was honestly anxious to preserve her little daughter from
the contamination of further intimacy with such a child.

"What do you want?" she said stiffly.

Anne clasped her hands.

"Oh, Mrs. Barry, please forgive me.  I did not mean
to--to--intoxicate Diana.  How could I?  Just imagine if you were
a poor little orphan girl that kind people had adopted and you
had just one bosom friend in all the world.  Do you think you
would intoxicate her on purpose?  I thought it was only raspberry
cordial.  I was firmly convinced it was raspberry cordial.  Oh,
please don't say that you won't let Diana play with me any more.
If you do you will cover my life with a dark cloud of woe."

This speech which would have softened good Mrs. Lynde's heart in
a twinkling, had no effect on Mrs. Barry except to irritate her
still more.  She was suspicious of Anne's big words and dramatic
gestures and imagined that the child was making fun of her.  So
she said, coldly and cruelly:

"I don't think you are a fit little girl for Diana to associate
with.  You'd better go home and behave yourself."

Anne's lips quivered.

"Won't you let me see Diana just once to say farewell?" she
implored.

"Diana has gone over to Carmody with her father," said Mrs.
Barry, going in and shutting the door.

Anne went back to Green Gables calm with despair.

"My last hope is gone," she told Marilla.  "I went up and saw
Mrs. Barry myself and she treated me very insultingly.  Marilla,
I do NOT think she is a well-bred woman.  There is nothing more
to do except to pray and I haven't much hope that that'll do much
good because, Marilla, I do not believe that God Himself can do
very much with such an obstinate person as Mrs. Barry."

"Anne, you shouldn't say such things" rebuked Marilla, striving
to overcome that unholy tendency to laughter which she was
dismayed to find growing upon her.  And indeed, when she told the
whole story to Matthew that night, she did laugh heartily over
Anne's tribulations.

But when she slipped into the east gable before going to bed and
found that Anne had cried herself to sleep an unaccustomed
softness crept into her face.

"Poor little soul," she murmured, lifting a loose curl of hair
from the child's tear-stained face.  Then she bent down and
kissed the flushed cheek on the pillow.




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