"And what are your eyes popping out of your head about. Now?"
asked Marilla, when Anne had just come in from a run to the
post office. "Have you discovered another kindred spirit?"
Excitement hung around Anne like a garment, shone in her eyes,
kindled in every feature. She had come dancing up the lane, like
a wind-blown sprite, through the mellow sunshine and lazy shadows
of the August evening.
"No, Marilla, but oh, what do you think? I am invited to tea at
the manse tomorrow afternoon! Mrs. Allan left the letter for me
at the post office. Just look at it, Marilla. `Miss Anne Shirley,
Green Gables.' That is the first time I was ever called `Miss.'
Such a thrill as it gave me! I shall cherish it forever among
my choicest treasures."
"Mrs. Allan told me she meant to have all the members of her
Sunday-school class to tea in turn," said Marilla, regarding the
wonderful event very coolly. "You needn't get in such a fever
over it. Do learn to take things calmly, child."
For Anne to take things calmly would have been to change her
nature. All "spirit and fire and dew," as she was, the pleasures
and pains of life came to her with trebled intensity. Marilla
felt this and was vaguely troubled over it, realizing that the
ups and downs of existence would probably bear hardly on this
impulsive soul and not sufficiently understanding that the
equally great capacity for delight might more than compensate.
Therefore Marilla conceived it to be her duty to drill Anne into
a tranquil uniformity of disposition as impossible and alien to
her as to a dancing sunbeam in one of the brook shallows. She
did not make much headway, as she sorrowfully admitted to herself.
The downfall of some dear hope or plan plunged Anne into "deeps
of affliction." The fulfillment thereof exalted her to dizzy realms
of delight. Marilla had almost begun to despair of ever fashioning
this waif of the world into her model little girl of demure manners
and prim deportment. Neither would she have believed that she really
liked Anne much better as she was.
Anne went to bed that night speechless with misery because
Matthew had said the wind was round northeast and he feared it
would be a rainy day tomorrow. The rustle of the poplar leaves
about the house worried her, it sounded so like pattering
raindrops, and the full, faraway roar of the gulf, to which she
listened delightedly at other times, loving its strange,
sonorous, haunting rhythm, now seemed like a prophecy of storm
and disaster to a small maiden who particularly wanted a fine
day. Anne thought that the morning would never come.
But all things have an end, even nights before the day on which you are
invited to take tea at the manse. The morning, in spite of Matthew's
predictions, was fine and Anne's spirits soared to their highest.
"Oh, Marilla, there is something in me today that makes me just
love everybody I see," she exclaimed as she washed the breakfast
dishes. "You don't know how good I feel! Wouldn't it be nice if
it could last? I believe I could be a model child if I were just
invited out to tea every day. But oh, Marilla, it's a solemn
occasion too. I feel so anxious. What if I shouldn't behave
properly? You know I never had tea at a manse before, and I'm
not sure that I know all the rules of etiquette, although I've
been studying the rules given in the Etiquette Department of the
Family Herald ever since I came here. I'm so afraid I'll do
something silly or forget to do something I should do. Would it
be good manners to take a second helping of anything if you
wanted to VERY much?"
"The trouble with you, Anne, is that you're thinking too much
about yourself. You should just think of Mrs. Allan and what
would be nicest and most agreeable to her," said Marilla, hitting
for once in her life on a very sound and pithy piece of advice.
Anne instantly realized this.
"You are right, Marilla. I'll try not to think about myself at all."
Anne evidently got through her visit without any serious breach
of "etiquette," for she came home through the twilight, under a
great, high-sprung sky gloried over with trails of saffron and
rosy cloud, in a beatified state of mind and told Marilla all
about it happily, sitting on the big red-sandstone slab at the
kitchen door with her tired curly head in Marilla's gingham lap.
A cool wind was blowing down over the long harvest fields from
the rims of firry western hills and whistling through the
poplars. One clear star hung over the orchard and the fireflies
were flitting over in Lover's Lane, in and out among the ferns
and rustling boughs. Anne watched them as she talked and somehow
felt that wind and stars and fireflies were all tangled up
together into something unutterably sweet and enchanting.
"Oh, Marilla, I've had a most FASCINATING time. I feel that I
have not lived in vain and I shall always feel like that even if
I should never be invited to tea at a manse again. When I got
there Mrs. Allan met me at the door. She was dressed in the
sweetest dress of pale-pink organdy, with dozens of frills and
elbow sleeves, and she looked just like a seraph. I really think
I'd like to be a minister's wife when I grow up, Marilla. A
minister mightn't mind my red hair because he wouldn't be
thinking of such worldly things. But then of course one would
have to be naturally good and I'll never be that, so I suppose
there's no use in thinking about it. Some people are naturally
good, you know, and others are not. I'm one of the others. Mrs.
Lynde says I'm full of original sin. No matter how hard I try to
be good I can never make such a success of it as those who are
naturally good. It's a good deal like geometry, I expect. But
don't you think the trying so hard ought to count for something?
Mrs. Allan is one of the naturally good people. I love her
passionately. You know there are some people, like Matthew and
Mrs. Allan that you can love right off without any trouble. And
there are others, like Mrs. Lynde, that you have to try very
hard to love. You know you OUGHT to love them because they know
so much and are such active workers in the church, but you have
to keep reminding yourself of it all the time or else you forget.
There was another little girl at the manse to tea, from the White
Sands Sunday school. Her name was Laurette Bradley, and she was
a very nice little girl. Not exactly a kindred spirit, you know,
but still very nice. We had an elegant tea, and I think I kept
all the rules of etiquette pretty well. After tea Mrs. Allan
played and sang and she got Lauretta and me to sing too. Mrs.
Allan says I have a good voice and she says I must sing in the
Sunday-school choir after this. You can't think how I was
thrilled at the mere thought. I've longed so to sing in the
Sunday-school choir, as Diana does, but I feared it was an honor
I could never aspire to. Lauretta had to go home early because
there is a big concert in the White Sands Hotel tonight and her
sister is to recite at it. Lauretta says that the Americans at
the hotel give a concert every fortnight in aid of the
Charlottetown hospital, and they ask lots of the White Sands
people to recite. Lauretta said she expected to be asked
herself someday. I just gazed at her in awe. After she had
gone Mrs. Allan and I had a heart-to-heart talk. I told her
everything--about Mrs. Thomas and the twins and Katie Maurice
and Violetta and coming to Green Gables and my troubles over
geometry. And would you believe it, Marilla? Mrs. Allan told me
she was a dunce at geometry too. You don't know how that
encouraged me. Mrs. Lynde came to the manse just before I left,
and what do you think, Marilla? The trustees have hired a new
teacher and it's a lady. Her name is Miss Muriel Stacy. Isn't
that a romantic name? Mrs. Lynde says they've never had a female
teacher in Avonlea before and she thinks it is a dangerous
innovation. But I think it will be splendid to have a lady
teacher, and I really don't see how I'm going to live through the
two weeks before school begins. I'm so impatient to see her."
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