Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter XXI


CHAPTER XXI

A New Departure in Flavorings


"Dear me, there is nothing but meetings and partings in this
world, as Mrs. Lynde says," remarked Anne plaintively, putting
her slate and books down on the kitchen table on the last day of
June and wiping her red eyes with a very damp handkerchief.
"Wasn't it fortunate, Marilla, that I took an extra handkerchief
to school today?  I had a presentiment that it would be needed."

"I never thought you were so fond of Mr. Phillips that you'd
require two handkerchiefs to dry your tears just because he was
going away," said Marilla.

"I don't think I was crying because I was really so very fond of
him," reflected Anne.  "I just cried because all the others did.
It was Ruby Gillis started it.  Ruby Gillis has always declared
she hated Mr. Phillips, but just as soon as he got up to make
his farewell speech she burst into tears.  Then all the girls
began to cry, one after the other.  I tried to hold out, Marilla.
I tried to remember the time Mr. Phillips made me sit with
Gil--with a, boy; and the time he spelled my name without an e
on the blackboard; and how he said I was the worst dunce he ever
saw at geometry and laughed at my spelling; and all the times he
had been so horrid and sarcastic; but somehow I couldn't,
Marilla, and I just had to cry too.  Jane Andrews has been
talking for a month about how glad she'd be when Mr. Phillips
went away and she declared she'd never shed a tear.  Well, she
was worse than any of us and had to borrow a handkerchief from
her brother--of course the boys didn't cry--because she hadn't
brought one of her own, not expecting to need it.  Oh, Marilla,
it was heartrending.  Mr. Phillips made such a beautiful
farewell speech beginning, `The time has come for us to part.'
It was very affecting.  And he had tears in his eyes too, Marilla.
Oh, I felt dreadfully sorry and remorseful for all the times I'd
talked in school and drawn pictures of him on my slate and made
fun of him and Prissy.  I can tell you I wished I'd been a model
pupil like Minnie Andrews.  She hadn't anything on her conscience.
The girls cried all the way home from school. Carrie Sloane kept
saying every few minutes, `The time has come for us to part,'
and that would start us off again whenever we were in any danger
of cheering up.  I do feel dreadfully sad, Marilla.  But one can't
feel quite in the depths of despair with two months' vacation
before them, can they, Marilla?  And besides, we met the new
minister and his wife coming from the station.  For all I was
feeling so bad about Mr. Phillips going away I couldn't help
taking a little interest in a new minister, could I?  His wife
is very pretty.  Not exactly regally lovely, of course--it
wouldn't do, I suppose, for a minister to have a regally lovely
wife, because it might set a bad example.  Mrs. Lynde says the
minister's wife over at Newbridge sets a very bad example because
she dresses so fashionably.  Our new minister's wife was dressed in
blue muslin with lovely puffed sleeves and a hat trimmed with roses.
Jane Andrews said she thought puffed sleeves were too worldly for a
minister's wife, but I didn't make any such uncharitable remark,
Marilla, because I know what it is to long for puffed sleeves.
Besides, she's only been a minister's wife for a little while,
so one should make allowances, shouldn't they?  They are going
to board with Mrs. Lynde until the manse is ready."

If Marilla, in going down to Mrs. Lynde's that evening, was
actuated by any motive save her avowed one of returning the
quilting frames she had borrowed the preceding winter, it was an
amiable weakness shared by most of the Avonlea people.  Many a
thing Mrs. Lynde had lent, sometimes never expecting to see it
again, came home that night in charge of the borrowers thereof.
A new minister, and moreover a minister with a wife, was a lawful
object of curiosity in a quiet little country settlement where
sensations were few and far between.

Old Mr. Bentley, the minister whom Anne had found lacking in
imagination, had been pastor of Avonlea for eighteen years.  He
was a widower when he came, and a widower he remained, despite
the fact that gossip regularly married him to this, that, or the
other one, every year of his sojourn.  In the preceding February
he had resigned his charge and departed amid the regrets of his
people, most of whom had the affection born of long intercourse for
their good old minister in spite of his shortcomings as an orator.
Since then the Avonlea church had enjoyed a variety of religious
dissipation in listening to the many and various candidates and
"supplies" who came Sunday after Sunday to preach on trial.
These stood or fell by the judgment of the fathers and mothers
in Israel; but a certain small, red-haired girl who sat meekly
in the corner of the old Cuthbert pew also had her opinions about
them and discussed the same in full with Matthew, Marilla always
declining from principle to criticize ministers in any shape or form.

"I don't think Mr. Smith would have done, Matthew" was Anne's
final summing up.  "Mrs. Lynde says his delivery was so poor,
but I think his worst fault was just like Mr. Bentley's--he had
no imagination.  And Mr. Terry had too much; he let it run away
with him just as I did mine in the matter of the Haunted Wood.
Besides, Mrs. Lynde says his theology wasn't sound.  Mr. Gresham
was a very good man and a very religious man, but he told too
many funny stories and made the people laugh in church; he was
undignified, and you must have some dignity about a minister,
mustn't you, Matthew?  I thought Mr. Marshall was decidedly
attractive; but Mrs. Lynde says he isn't married, or even
engaged, because she made special inquiries about him, and she
says it would never do to have a young unmarried minister in
Avonlea, because he might marry in the congregation and that
would make trouble.  Mrs. Lynde is a very farseeing woman, isn't
she, Matthew?  I'm very glad they've called Mr. Allan.  I liked
him because his sermon was interesting and he prayed as if he
meant it and not just as if he did it because he was in the habit
of it.  Mrs. Lynde says he isn't perfect, but she says she
supposes we couldn't expect a perfect minister for seven hundred
and fifty dollars a year, and anyhow his theology is sound
because she questioned him thoroughly on all the points of
doctrine.  And she knows his wife's people and they are most
respectable and the women are all good housekeepers.  Mrs. Lynde
says that sound doctrine in the man and good housekeeping in the
woman make an ideal combination for a minister's family."

The new minister and his wife were a young, pleasant-faced
couple, still on their honeymoon, and full of all good and
beautiful enthusiasms for their chosen lifework.  Avonlea
opened its heart to them from the start.  Old and young liked
the frank, cheerful young man with his high ideals, and the bright,
gentle little lady who assumed the mistress-ship of the manse.
With Mrs. Allan Anne fell promptly and wholeheartedly in love.
She had discovered another kindred spirit.

"Mrs. Allan is perfectly lovely," she announced one Sunday afternoon.
"She's taken our class and she's a splendid teacher.  She said right
away she didn't think it was fair for the teacher to ask all the
questions, and you know, Marilla, that is exactly what I've
always thought.  She said we could ask her any question we liked
and I asked ever so many.  I'm good at asking questions, Marilla."

"I believe you" was Marilla's emphatic comment.

"Nobody else asked any except Ruby Gillis, and she asked if there
was to be a Sunday-school picnic this summer.  I didn't think
that was a very proper question to ask because it hadn't any
connection with the lesson--the lesson was about Daniel in the
lions' den--but Mrs. Allan just smiled and said she thought there
would be.  Mrs. Allan has a lovely smile; she has such EXQUISITE
dimples in her cheeks.  I wish I had dimples in my cheeks, Marilla.
I'm not half so skinny as I was when I came here, but I have no
dimples yet.  If I had perhaps I could influence people for good.
Mrs. Allan said we ought always to try to influence other people
for good.  She talked so nice about everything.  I never knew before
that religion was such a cheerful thing.  I always thought it was
kind of melancholy, but Mrs. Allan's isn't, and I'd like to be a
Christian if I could be one like her.  I wouldn't want to be one
like Mr. Superintendent Bell."

"It's very naughty of you to speak so about Mr. Bell," said
Marilla severely.  "Mr. Bell is a real good man."

"Oh, of course he's good," agreed Anne, "but he doesn't seem to
get any comfort out of it.  If I could be good I'd dance and sing
all day because I was glad of it.  I suppose Mrs. Allan is too
old to dance and sing and of course it wouldn't be dignified in a
minister's wife.  But I can just feel she's glad she's a Christian
and that she'd be one even if she could get to heaven without it."

"I suppose we must have Mr. and Mrs. Allan up to tea someday
soon," said Marilla reflectively.  "They've been most everywhere
but here.  Let me see.  Next Wednesday would be a good time to
have them.  But don't say a word to Matthew about it, for if he
knew they were coming he'd find some excuse to be away that day.
He'd got so used to Mr. Bentley he didn't mind him, but he's
going to find it hard to get acquainted with a new minister, and
a new minister's wife will frighten him to death."

"I'll be as secret as the dead," assured Anne.  "But oh, Marilla,
will you let me make a cake for the occasion?  I'd love to do
something for Mrs. Allan, and you know I can make a pretty good
cake by this time."

"You can make a layer cake," promised Marilla.

Monday and Tuesday great preparations went on at Green Gables.
Having the minister and his wife to tea was a serious and
important undertaking, and Marilla was determined not to be
eclipsed by any of the Avonlea housekeepers.  Anne was wild with
excitement and delight.  She talked it all over with Diana
Tuesday night in the twilight, as they sat on the big red stones
by the Dryad's Bubble and made rainbows in the water with little
twigs dipped in fir balsam.

"Everything is ready, Diana, except my cake which I'm to make in
the morning, and the baking-powder biscuits which Marilla will
make just before teatime.  I assure you, Diana, that Marilla and
I have had a busy two days of it.  It's such a responsibility
having a minister's family to tea.  I never went through such an
experience before.  You should just see our pantry.  It's a sight
to behold.  We're going to have jellied chicken and cold tongue.
We're to have two kinds of jelly, red and yellow, and whipped
cream and lemon pie, and cherry pie, and three kinds of cookies,
and fruit cake, and Marilla's famous yellow plum preserves that
she keeps especially for ministers, and pound cake and layer
cake, and biscuits as aforesaid; and new bread and old both, in
case the minister is dyspeptic and can't eat new.  Mrs. Lynde
says ministers are dyspeptic, but I don't think Mr. Allan has been
a minister long enough for it to have had a bad effect on him.
I just grow cold when I think of my layer cake.  Oh, Diana, what
if it shouldn't be good!  I dreamed last night that I was chased
all around by a fearful goblin with a big layer cake for a head."

"It'll be good, all right," assured Diana, who was a very comfortable
sort of friend.  "I'm sure that piece of the one you made that we had
for lunch in Idlewild two weeks ago was perfectly elegant."

"Yes; but cakes have such a terrible habit of turning out bad just when
you especially want them to be good," sighed Anne, setting a particularly
well-balsamed twig afloat.  "However, I suppose I shall just have to
trust to Providence and be careful to put in the flour.  Oh, look, Diana,
what a lovely rainbow!  Do you suppose the dryad will come out after we
go away and take it for a scarf?"

"You know there is no such thing as a dryad," said Diana.
Diana's mother had found out about the Haunted Wood and had been
decidedly angry over it.  As a result Diana had abstained from
any further imitative flights of imagination and did not think it
prudent to cultivate a spirit of belief even in harmless dryads.

"But it's so easy to imagine there is," said Anne.  "Every night
before I go to bed, I look out of my window and wonder if the
dryad is really sitting here, combing her locks with the spring
for a mirror.  Sometimes I look for her footprints in the dew in
the morning.  Oh, Diana, don't give up your faith in the dryad!"

Wednesday morning came.  Anne got up at sunrise because she was
too excited to sleep.  She had caught a severe cold in the head
by reason of her dabbling in the spring on the preceding evening;
but nothing short of absolute pneumonia could have quenched her
interest in culinary matters that morning.  After breakfast she
proceeded to make her cake.  When she finally shut the oven door
upon it she drew a long breath.

"I'm sure I haven't forgotten anything this time, Marilla.  But
do you think it will rise?  Just suppose perhaps the baking powder
isn't good?  I used it out of the new can.  And Mrs. Lynde says
you can never be sure of getting good baking powder nowadays when
everything is so adulterated.  Mrs. Lynde says the Government ought
to take the matter up, but she says we'll never see the day when a
Tory Government will do it.  Marilla, what if that cake doesn't rise?"

"We'll have plenty without it" was Marilla's unimpassioned way of
looking at the subject.

The cake did rise, however, and came out of the oven as light and
feathery as golden foam.  Anne, flushed with delight, clapped it
together with layers of ruby jelly and, in imagination, saw Mrs.
Allan eating it and possibly asking for another piece!

"You'll be using the best tea set, of course, Marilla," she said.
"Can I fix the table with ferns and wild roses?"

"I think that's all nonsense," sniffed Marilla.  "In my opinion
it's the eatables that matter and not flummery decorations."

"Mrs. Barry had HER table decorated," said Anne, who was not
entirely guiltless of the wisdom of the serpent, "and the
minister paid her an elegant compliment.  He said it was a feast
for the eye as well as the palate."

"Well, do as you like," said Marilla, who was quite determined
not to be surpassed by Mrs. Barry or anybody else.  "Only mind
you leave enough room for the dishes and the food."

Anne laid herself out to decorate in a manner and after a fashion
that should leave Mrs. Barry's nowhere.  Having abundance of roses
and ferns and a very artistic taste of her own, she made that tea
table such a thing of beauty that when the minister and his wife
sat down to it they exclaimed in chorus over it loveliness.

"It's Anne's doings," said Marilla, grimly just; and Anne felt
that Mrs. Allan's approving smile was almost too much happiness
for this world.

Matthew was there, having been inveigled into the party only
goodness and Anne knew how.  He had been in such a state of
shyness and nervousness that Marilla had given him up in despair,
but Anne took him in hand so successfully that he now sat at the
table in his best clothes and white collar and talked to the
minister not uninterestingly.  He never said a word to Mrs. Allan,
but that perhaps was not to be expected.

All went merry as a marriage bell until Anne's layer cake was
passed.  Mrs. Allan, having already been helped to a bewildering
variety, declined it.  But Marilla, seeing the disappointment on
Anne's face, said smilingly:

"Oh, you must take a piece of this, Mrs. Allan.  Anne made it on
purpose for you."

"In that case I must sample it," laughed Mrs. Allan, helping
herself to a plump triangle, as did also the minister and
Marilla.

Mrs. Allan took a mouthful of hers and a most peculiar expression
crossed her face; not a word did she say, however, but steadily
ate away at it.  Marilla saw the expression and hastened to
taste the cake.

"Anne Shirley!" she exclaimed, "what on earth did you put into
that cake?"

"Nothing but what the recipe said, Marilla," cried Anne with a
look of anguish.  "Oh, isn't it all right?"

"All right!  It's simply horrible.  Mr. Allan, don't try to eat
it.  Anne, taste it yourself.  What flavoring did you use?"

"Vanilla," said Anne, her face scarlet with mortification after
tasting the cake.  "Only vanilla.  Oh, Marilla, it must have been
the baking powder.  I had my suspicions of that bak--"

"Baking powder fiddlesticks!  Go and bring me the bottle of
vanilla you used."

Anne fled to the pantry and returned with a small bottle
partially filled with a brown liquid and labeled yellowly,
"Best Vanilla."

Marilla took it, uncorked it, smelled it.

"Mercy on us, Anne, you've flavored that cake with ANODYNE
LINIMENT.  I broke the liniment bottle last week and poured what
was left into an old empty vanilla bottle.  I suppose it's partly
my fault--I should have warned you--but for pity's sake why
couldn't you have smelled it?"

Anne dissolved into tears under this double disgrace.

"I couldn't--I had such a cold!" and with this she fairly fled to
the gable chamber, where she cast herself on the bed and wept as
one who refuses to be comforted.

Presently a light step sounded on the stairs and somebody entered the room.

"Oh, Marilla," sobbed Anne, without looking up, "I'm disgraced forever.
I shall never be able to live this down.  It will get out--things
always do get out in Avonlea.  Diana will ask me how my cake turned out
and I shall have to tell her the truth.  I shall always be pointed at
as the girl who flavored a cake with anodyne liniment.  Gil--the boys
in school will never get over laughing at it.  Oh, Marilla, if you have
a spark of Christian pity don't tell me that I must go down and wash the
dishes after this.  I'll wash them when the minister and his wife are gone,
but I cannot ever look Mrs. Allan in the face again.  Perhaps she'll think
I tried to poison her.  Mrs. Lynde says she knows an orphan girl who tried
to poison her benefactor.  But the liniment isn't poisonous.  It's meant
to be taken internally--although not in cakes.  Won't you tell Mrs. Allan
so, Marilla?"

"Suppose you jump up and tell her so yourself," said a merry voice.

Anne flew up, to find Mrs. Allan standing by her bed, surveying her
with laughing eyes.

"My dear little girl, you musn't cry like this," she said,
genuinely disturbed by Anne's tragic face.  "Why, it's all just a
funny mistake that anybody might make."

"Oh, no, it takes me to make such a mistake," said Anne forlornly.
"And I wanted to have that cake so nice for you, Mrs. Allan."

"Yes, I know, dear.  And I assure you I appreciate your kindness
and thoughtfulness just as much as if it had turned out all right.
Now, you mustn't cry any more, but come down with me and show me your
flower garden.  Miss Cuthbert tells me you have a little plot all
your own.  I want to see it, for I'm very much interested in flowers."

Anne permitted herself to be led down and comforted, reflecting
that it was really providential that Mrs. Allan was a kindred
spirit.  Nothing more was said about the liniment cake, and when
the guests went away Anne found that she had enjoyed the evening
more than could have been expected, considering that terrible
incident.  Nevertheless, she sighed deeply.

"Marilla, isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with
no mistakes in it yet?"

"I'll warrant you'll make plenty in it," said Marilla.  "I never
saw your beat for making mistakes, Anne."

"Yes, and well I know it," admitted Anne mournfully.  "But
have you ever noticed one encouraging thing about me, Marilla?
I never make the same mistake twice."

"I don't know as that's much benefit when you're always making new ones."

"Oh, don't you see, Marilla?  There must be a limit to the mistakes
one person can make, and when I get to the end of them, then I'll be
through with them.  That's a very comforting thought."

"Well, you'd better go and give that cake to the pigs," said Marilla.
"It isn't fit for any human to eat, not even Jerry Boute."

Lucy Maud Montgomery